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where is mine honour; and if I be a master, where is my fear?" Again; "Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?" Thus the prophet Isaiah, in pleading with Jehovah, complains, "Thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us because of our iniquity. But now, O Lord! thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thine hand."
In these, and a few other instances, the Israelites were occasionally reminded of a filial relation, subsisting between them and their Creator; but the leading character by which he manifested himself to them, was not that of a Father. He sometimes styled himself the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, in honour of their faith and piety; sometimes the God of Israel, as they were the select and chosen people. When Moses received the commission to liberate the Israelites from their bondage, "God said unto Moses, I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, in the name of God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them." The great I AM, the true, the living, the universal Sovereign; in contradistinction to the despicable idols, the
nonentities, to which the corrupt imaginations of an ignorant world, had transferred all authority and all honour.
To neither Jews nor Heathens, therefore, was the title of Universal Father clearly promulgated, in the manner which characterises and distinguishes the dispensation that is emphatically termed, a Dispensation of Grace.
This honour, the most exalted which can possibly be conferred upon the human race, is introduced by the promised Messiah. He takes the lead in this new designation; as he is the medium through whom its blessings are imparted to us. Adam, by his disobedience, lost his title to be the head of a favoured race. The righteous Noah had the honour of introducing a new progeny. Abraham, by his ready obedience, became the father of the faithful. The wise, the meek, and intrepid Moses was qualified, and appointed, to rescue the people of God from captivity; to become their legislator, to watch over their morals, and to conduct them to the Land of Canaan. These were the faithful Servants of the Most High; and they were greatly honoured. But " "God, who at sundry times and in divers, manners spake in time
past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath, in these last days, spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things.' After this divine Messenger had been initiated into his office, by the baptism of John, he received," from God the Father, honour and glory; when there came a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."* This unequalled
mark of approbation from heaven was repeated at the hour of his transfiguration : "Behold a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold a voice out of the cloud which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."" For this is he of whom the prophet spake, "Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles," &c. &c.†
Being thus authorised and sanctioned to consider God as his heavenly Father, the language he reverentially adopted, manifests his habitual sense of the exalted honour. When he speaks of himself individually, it is under the humble appellation of the Son of Man; but as he was declared to be the Son of God, with power; in his official, or mediatorial character, he delighted in
* 2 Pet. ch. i. 17. † Is. ch. xlii. v. 1.
the title. To his Father he ascribes all the powers with which he was invested. "Verily I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what thing soever he doth, these also doth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things which himself doth."* All his addresses to heaven were as praying to the Father; and from the Father he expected all his consolations and support. In the agonies of his mind, previous to his being taken before his judges, as an afflicted, but obedient Son, he prayed, "saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done;" and he described his ascension as going to the Father.
Nor does he appropriate this honoured title to himself exclusively, in consequence of the perfection of his obedience. That Being whom he denominates his Father, he uniformly considers as the Father of his disciples also. He exhorted all who came to him, in order to receive instructions from him, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." "Love your enemies, that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven. Be ye merciful, as your Father who is in heaven
* John v. 19.
"Call no man Father," says he,
upon earth, for one is your Father, who is in heaven." "When ye pray, say our Father who art in heaven." As he was taking a final leave of his disciples, he consoled their minds with this assurance, "I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God."*
The Apostles, after they had been fully instructed in the nature of Christianity, adopted a similar language. The usual salutation of St. Paul in his Epistles is, "Grace be with you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. All his admonitions, reproofs, exhortations, and encouragements, are in perfect unison with the declaration made in his Epistle to the Romans. "As many
as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear (which was the prevalent spirit, and the predominant sensation under the Jewish economy,) but ye have received the spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, abba Father. The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God; and if children, then Heirs; Heirs of God, and joint Heirs with Christ." The Apos
* Ch. viii. v. 14. + See Note A.