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He asserts his own divinity in the words of my text. I am God and there is none else. Whether the Divine Being speaks this in the person of the Father, or in the person of Jesus Christ the Son, is not of absolute necessity to be determined in this place. Perhaps it could not be expounded under the Old Testament any otherwise than concerning the great God, considered as the Father of all, the only true God, whose name is Jehovah, and who was then chiefly known to the Jews as the God of Israel. It is the God of the Jews calling the Gentiles to partake of his salvation. He is their strength and their Saviour, and their righteousness is derived from him, as in the foregoing and following verses.
But when under the New Testament we explain these words, we must rather consider God in Christ reconciling the world of Jews and Gentiles to himself: It is the same one godhead which dwells bodily in the man Christ Jesus; for the Father and the Son are not two Gods. It is God, the only true God, manifest in the flesh: It is Immanuel, or God with us, who speaks these words: It is Christ Jesus the Lord, who is one with the Father, and in whom the fulness of the godhead dwells, who call the ends of the earth to look unto him and be saved. And there are some special reasons that incline me to suppose these words of the prophet should chiefly be applied in the New Testament to our Lord Jesus Christ, who makes this blessed offer of grace.
(1.) It is the same person to whom the salvation of Israel is ascribed, and who is called a Saviour so often in the context, ver. 15, 17, 21. which is the very meaning of the name Jesus, and the frequent appellation of Christ in the New 'Testament, and his particular office is to be a Saviour, and to bring salvation.
(2.) It is he who is appointed to be the righteousness and the strength of his people. Ver. 24, 25. Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified. Now this is the very name of the Messiah ; Jer. xxiii. 6. The Lord our righteousness: And it is Christ who is made righteousness unto us: 1 Cor. i. 23. And by and in whom all the saints are to be justified in the language of the gospel. It is from him also that his people derive strength. St. Paul bids Timothy be strong in the grace which is in Christ ; ? Tim. ii. 1. The Epliesian converts must be strong in the Lor.l; Eph. vi. 10. And the apostle himself could do all things through Christ, who strengthened him; Phil. iv. 13. Now the New Testament (to which times the words of my text chiefly refer) does not usually represent God, under the idea of the Father, as the strength of believers, nor is he ever described there as their righteousness.
Again, (3.) This is the person that brings salvation to the ends of the earth, which is the very character of the Messiah in the writings of the same prophet. Is. xlix. 6. I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, (says God the Father) that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
(4.) I add further, that part of this context, even the very next words, are applied to our Lord Jesus Christ by St. Paul. The prophet saith, I am the Lord, and there is none else; ver. 18. Unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear; ver. 23. The apostle, citing the words of the prophet, speaks thus; Rom. xiv. 9, 10, 11. Christ died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living : All must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ: For it is written, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. Where the words Christ, Lord, and God, seem to be used promiscuously for the same person. Nor would the apostle's argument seem strong and cogent in that place, if the word God were applied only to the Father; for it is his design there to shew that the advancement and glory of Christ was the aim and the effect of our Saviour's death and resurrection, that he might be Lord and Judge of all, and that every knee and tongue might own his lordship and sovereignty. The application of these words to Christ, is again evident in Phil. ii. 10, 11. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Though there the glory of the Father is expressed also.
(5.) The last reason why this text may be properly applied to Christ, is because many other expressions of the prophets, that plainly belong to the great God, the God of Israel, as coming to bring salvation to the Gentiles, are plainly applied to Christ in the New Testament; Ps. cii. 22, 25. 'When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord, &c. Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth. This is applied to Christ; Heb. i. 10. So Ps. xcvii. 1. 7. The Lord reigneth, let the multitude of isles be glad thereof: Worship him all ye Gods. Which is applied to Christ; Heb. i. 6. Şo Is. xxxv. 4, 5, 6. compared with Mark ix. 27. So Is. xl. 5. compared with Mat. iii. 3. So Joel v. 32. compared with Rom. x. 13. which would be too large now to rehcarse.
It will be objected indeed, how can it be said, that Christ is God, and there is none else ? Is not the Father God also? I answer, this does no more exclude the godhead of the Father, than our Saviour's own words; John xvii. 3. exclude his own divinity, where he calls the father the only true God. I think it is sufficiently evident from many places of scripture, that the Father and the Son have an inconceivable communion, and that one and the same divine nature which is in the Father, dwells in the Son: For since divine names and attributes, works and worship, are ascribed to both, therefore they must both be in some sense true God; and since there is but one true God, they must both have fellowship in the same godhead; or else the Son would be another God different from the Father, which the bible neither knows nor allows.
These words therefore, I am God, and there is none else, if applied to Christ mcan no more than this : There is no other godhead but that which dwells in me; but that godhead in which I partake, by intimate communion or one-ness with the Father. I am in the Father, and the Father is in me; Johın xiv. 10, 11. In Christ dwells" all the fulness of the godhead bodily; Col. ii. 9. After all, if we should ascribe this speech entirely to God the Father, yet it must be confessed, as I hinted before, it is God in Christ, God as reconciling the world to himself in and by Jesus Christ, and saving the Gentiles as his people, with an everlasting salvation; so that Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of men, cannot be left out of my text.
The second enquiry is this, who are the persons to whom this gracious invitation is made? The text tells us, that the call reaches to all the ends of the earth, which we are to understand in a literal or in a figurative sense.
I. In a literal sense, and thus it signifies the Gentile nations, who dwell afar off from Judea, those that inhabit the distant corners of the world, and the islands that are afar off, that have not heard of the fame of the grace or glory of God: As Is. Ixvi. 19. For the Jews fancied themselves to be placed in the middle of the earth, by the peculiar favour of God; and indeed they were so in one respect, for the land of Canaan is near the borders of Asia, where it joins to Africa, and not very far off from the limits of Europe ; which three were the only known parts of the world in that day.
The British islands may, in a special manner, be included in this expression, for they were the very farthest parts of the earth, that could be kpown in the age of Isaiah. This voice of compassion is therefore eminently sent to us in England; the Lord says to every one of us, bebold me, behold me, ye that were not called by my name; Is. xlv. l. Look unto me from these isles afar of, ye Britons, look unto me from the ends of the earth, and be saved. O Sirs, if you and I could but imagine that Jesus Christ calls us, as it were by name, surely it would allure us to hearken to the voice of such divine compassion.
II. The words may be understood in a figurative sense, and so they may signify all those persons who are under the same sort of character and circumstance as the Gentiles were in that
age. 1. Ye that are in the ends of the earth, that are afar off from the church of God, his knowledge and his worship. - Ye ihat are at the greatest distance from the true Jerusalem. Ye who are the vilest of sinners, utterly unholy, and without God in the world. Ye that have nothing of grace or religion in you, look unto Christ and be saved, for he came to save the sinners of the Gentiles, and the vilest of mankind.
2. Ye that have not known the blessing of holy parents, but were bred like heathens, who know not God, and born in families that call not on his name : Ye that never were trained up in religious education, that were never brouglit near to God by a father that was in his covenant, or a mother that believed in his gospel : Ye that were never solemnly devoted to God, nor acknowledge any relation to him, he calls you this day to accept his salvation. Or,
3. Ye that have broke the bonds of a pious education, and ran away from God and his house, and his worship, as the Gentiles had done from the religion and instructions of Noah their ancestor. Ye that have wandered afar off from your Father's house, even to the ends of the earth, and are perishing with the prodigal son, at a dreadful distance from God and heaven: Come, look unto Christ and be sured.
4. Ye that are mourning in darkness, as it were at the ends of the earth, and on the very borders of hell, without hope, as the Gentiles were; Eph. ii. 12. almost giving up all for lost, yielding to final despair, look to Jesus the Saviour, lay hold on the hope that is set before you, and live.
‘And while I am preaching in this place*, I may add also,
5. You that dwell in dark corners of this our land, far from any place of religious worship: Ye who live by the sides of the forest, or on bare and solitary commons, in a poor ignorant village, or in lonesome cottages, where letters and reading are not known, and a bible is a strange thing, where books are seldom seen, and the word of God never sounds: Ye that have lived hitherto like wild heathens in the ends of the earth, if any such are present in this assembly, remember you are this day called as it were by the prophet from heaven, and by the word of the living God, from the lips of his ministers on earth, to look to God in Christ, as reconciling the world to himself; to look to Jesus the Saviour, in whom all the fulness of the godhead dwells.
The third enquiry proceeds thus : What is this salvation to which we are invited? It is the same salvation that Israel shall enjoy, the Israel of God, the people of his love : They shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation ; ver. 17. In general, it is a salvation from sin, and all the dismal conseqnences of it. This is the reason of the name Jesus, or the
* This was delivered in a village in the country.
Saviour; Mat. i. 21. He shall save his people from their sins. And it is the same Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come ; 1 Thess. i. 10.
Particularly, (1.) It is a salvation from the guilt of past sins, which exposes us to divine vengeance, and a restoration of the person to the present love and favour of God, to peace of conscience, and to the hope of eternal life. (2.) It is a salvation and a recovery from the power of sin to the power of holiness. It is a deliverance from vile affections and sinful practices to the practice and the love of all piety and goodness: It is a recovery of our nature from the lusts of the flesh, and the life of a brute, to the reasonable and becoming life of a man or an angel. It is a rescue of the soul from the tyranny of its own lusts, and the foul image of Satan, to a sweet and sacred liberty, to a religious self-government, and to the image of God. (3.) It is a deliverance from all the future punishments due to sin, from the everlasting misery of hell, together with the conveyance of a right and title to the everlasting happiness of heaven. It is a blessing that runs through this world and the world to come. It is a total and complete deliverance from all that you feel, and all that you fear. It is all-sufficient and eternal salvation.
Whatsoever your ruin, your distress, or your danger be, there is something in this salvation that is suited to relieve them all; there is relief and hope in Christ. Let us then awaken all the powers within us to attend to the invitations of divine mercy. Are we blind and ignorant of God, and heaven, and divine things ? Christ is the light of this lower world; John i. 9. Не has compassion on them that are ignorant and out of the way ; Heb. v. 2. Are we foolish? He is made of God wisdom to us; 1 Cor. i. 30. Are we unclean and defiled with many iniquities? The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin; 1 John i. 7. Are we guilty before God? He is our propitiation and atonement ; Rom. iii. 25. and the Lord our righteousness ; Jer. xxiii. 6. Have we lost the divine favour? He is the only Mediator betwixt God and man; 1 Tim. ii. 5. And the great Reconciler to make our peace; Eph. ii. 15. Are we unholy? He can change our natures, and sanctify our souls ; Heb. ii. ii. Are we hard-hearted and impenitent, so that we cannot mourn for our sins as we would do ? He is exalted to bestow repentance, as well as forgiveness; Acts v. 31. Are we weak, and unable to resist temptation, or to perform our duty ? He is our strength ; Is. xlv. 24. Are we sick and dying He is our physician ; Mat. ix. 12. Are we dead in trespasses and sins? He can quicken us, to a divine life, and make us live to God; for the - living Spirit is with him. Christ himself is our life; and though the body of the saint must die ; yet he shall raise it again to life everlasting ; John v. 21, 26, 29.