Page images

that as the period approached for the appearance of the Son of God, there was a general expectation of such a personage. The words of Suetonius and Tacitus, two Roman historians, are very remarkable.* It seems that Herod imbibed the prevailing opinion, insomuch that he was alarmed for the safety of his throne. Moved by personal interest, he 'gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, and demanded where Christ should be born. They cited to him the words of the prophet, which we have taken for our motto as presented by the Evangelist. Not content with this, he 'privily calls in the wise men,' and inquires 'what time the star appeared.' And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go, and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. What consummate hypocrisy! Under religious pretensions, he wished to know where the child was that he might destroy him. His character and reign fully justify the remark. From this time, he sought the life of the child Jesus. But Providence, ever watchful for those who are designed to be blessings to our race, 'warned the wise men that they should not return to Herod, and they departed into their own country another way.' Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and

old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. What is there that ambition when unguided by benevolence will not do !*

* See title MESSIAH.

But Jesus is born; prophecy has been fulfilled; his empire has commenced, and he will reign over all the nations of the earth. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.'t

* Josephus thus sums up the character of Herod : 'He was a man universally cruel, and of an ungovernable anger; and though he trampled justice under foot, he was ever the favorite of fortune. From a private station, he rose to the throne. Beset on every side with a thousand dangers, he escaped them all; and prolonged his life to the full boundary of old age. They who considered what befell him in the bosom of his own family, pronounced him a man most miserable; but to himself he ever seemed most prosperous, for, of all his enemies, there was not one whom he did not overcome.'

+ Psa. ii. 148.


But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ ;

and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.'

1 Cor. xi. 3.

We are here presented with a very interesting passage, the design of which appears to be to show the relation in which Christ stands to man; the pre-eminence of sex, and the connection existing between Jesus and God. Christ is considered as the head in a variety of senses.

I. Head of man.
II. Head of the church.
III. Head of the corner.
IV. Head of all principality and power.

From such phrases, we may well infer a fullness and sufficiency in the Saviour. 'For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is at the head of all principality and power.'*

I. Head of man. Adam stands at the head of the intellectual and moral creation; Jesus at the head of the spiritual creation. The metaphor is finely carried out by the Apostle in his epistle to the church at Ephesus: 'But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined

* Col. ii. 9, 10.

together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.'* Let us look at this in its bearing upon our future destiny. It is well known that when any member of the body suffers, not only the head, but every member suffers with it. Saul of Tarsus went forth "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.”'t It was immediately felt by their Head in heaven, who accused the young zealot of persecuting Him. Let "a cup of cold water" be given--let the smallest act of kindness be done to the least of Christ's little ones,

- he receives it as done to himself.' It would seem, therefore, that if any one member of the human family is rendered miserable forever, it will affect Jesus and the whole humanity. So that the doctrine of endless misery would involve the misery of the Redeemer and the whole human race. It may be replied, that this is the reasoning of an opponent, and that a believer in the doctrine alluded to is not accountable for all that may be drawn from his premises. Let it be shown then wherein such reasoning is unwarranted by the word of God. If the metaphor will not bear all this, let its limits be fixed, that we may no longer go beyond the truth. That there is a sympathy between man and man, and between Jesus and the human race, is evident from many parts of Revelation. Angels are also represented as taking an interest in the destiny of mankind, and even the fulness of their joys seems in some measure to depend on the return of sinners to God:

* Eph. iv. 15, 16.

Acts ix. 1.

There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.'* But we dare not, for want of time, and the immensity of such a theme, pursue the thoughts that crowd upon us. Our limits are marked out and cannot be exceeded.

II. Head of the Church. It would appear from several expressions in the epistles that the church is considered as the body of Christ: “And he is the head of the body, the church;'t And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.'I From him the church receives light, life and intelligence. The church has no other ruler or head than Jesus Christ. His authority there is paramount to all other authority in creation. There he stands as supreme, and ever' will stand till the consummation of all things, when God shall be all in all.' Christ 'loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish.'s In connection with the phrase "head of the church,' Christ is called the 'Saviour of the body,' which evidently means that he is the Saviour of the church.

* Luke xv. 10. To those who would see this thought finely illustrated and eloquently enforced from this passage, the writer would recommend the reading of a Discourse entitled, 'Sympathy for Man in Distant Places of Creation,' by Thomas CHALMERS, D. D., p. 96; Phil., 1830.

+ Col. i. 18. Eph. v. 23. * Eph. i. 22, 23. § Eph. v. 25—27.

« PreviousContinue »