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discussing such questions as these : ‘Had Christ always the consciousness of being Messiah ?' 'Did He ever regret having adopted that rôle?' How near such a view is to disbelief in the Incarnation is very evident.
There is only one other point connected with this view that we need advert to. We have seen that, starting from a union of natures, it is held that the Personality of Christ is not the Person of the coeternal Son, but a new Personality which is the result of the union of the two natures. Surely all must see that this position is perfectly fatal to the doctrine of the Incarnation viewed in any real sense. Let us first of all test it by the doctrine of Christ's pre-existence. St. John says of Christ : 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' But it will be more convenient in this connexion to take as expressing the doctrine of His pre-existence Christ's own words. The Jews said unto Him, ‘Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?' Jesus said unto them, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.'2 It is clear that if the Personality in Christ--that which is denoted by the pronoun 'I'
was the Person of the coeternal Son, these words of Christ are literally true. But if the Personality of Christ was not the Person of the co-eternal Son, the words are not true. sense could it be said that Christ pre-existed ; for clearly He did not come into being at all till what we choose to call the Incarnation occurred. This view, in fact, is perfectly fatal to the doctrine of Christ's pre-existence ; nor to that only, for, when looked at closely, it is hard to see how it is compatible with any remnant of our old Christian faith. One single illustration will show this. Churchmen, at least, must acknowledge that it is part of the faith that we believe that Christ is 'perfect God and perfect man. But how could He beperfect God'unless He existed from all eternity? If He began to exist when He appeared in our world, He could not be God. In fact, this idea of a new Personality not only takes away from Christ His Godhead, but even His manhood. Instead of being perfect God and perfect man, He is neither God nor man, but a new being-a being composed of Divine and human elements. And thus the whole blessing and purpose of the Incarnation vanishes. Christ is no longer one with us. He is a being of a different order. He is as far apart from us as are the holy angels. The more, in fact, this is meditated, the more clearly it is seen that the doctrine of the Incarnation is not at all tenable except on the grand lines of the ancient 1 St. John i. 1.
? Ibid. viii. 58.
Church that the Person of Christ is the Person of the coeternal Son, and that the union with the manhood is a personal or hypostatic union, not a union or unifying of the two natures.
We need not, however, pursue this subject further. And there is only one word we would add by way of caution. We have had in the preceding pages to argue against the identification or unifying of the attributes of the two natures in the Person of Christ; but this must not be taken as implying our belief that there is anything like contrariety or incompatibility between the two. On the contrary, it is to be remembered that man is made in the image of God; he is the finite image or reflection of the Infinite God. And human nature in its perfect form--in that form in which it subsisted in the Person of the Son-is like God, and is capable of receiving and being united to God. Perhaps the best mode of looking at the Incarnate Son is to view Him as possessing in His own Person two spheres of being, a higher and a lower, the two being intimately related to and adapted to each other, so that the lower is that through which the higher acts and manifests itself in the finite world. In the same way, in the human personality there are two spheres—the sphere of the soul and the sphere of the body. We see at a glance how absurd and impracticable it would be, by paring down the attributes of the soul and enlarging those of the body, to attempt to bring about a unification or identification of attributes. We see, in fact, that soul and body constitute two spheres quite different and that such unification is impossible. Yet in the human personality the two coincide in perfect harmony, and are indeed, made for each other. So we may suppose it is in the case of the Incarnation. The Son of God descends into the sphere of humanity. He assumes our human nature; and the nature so assumed becomes the instrument through which He acts and manifests Himself in our world. In fact, this is the way in which the Church would have us conceive and think of it: For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ.'
We have been thus particular in dealing with this new view of the Incarnation for two reasons. First, because we are distressed to see the extent to which it has been admitted, we think unwittingly, in many quarters; and we wished to raise a note of warning, and, if it might be, to show what it really is and whither it tends. But, secondly, such consideration was necessary before approaching the special subject we have in hand-viz., our Lord's knowledge as man. For this latter question cannot be properly dealt with till we have repelled a view
of the Incarnation which at every point of the discussion would come in as a disturbing force.
Mr. Swayne in his essay commences with a reference to the questions of Biblical criticism which were the occasion of raising the question of our Lord's knowledge as man. He then considers the Scriptural passages bearing on the question, giving more particular consideration to the two passages in the Gospel, one of which states our Lord's increase in wisdom, and the other His not knowing the day of Judgment. But before these particulars can be studied with any effect, there is a more general question that ought to be considered ; and it is to this more general question, as it appears to us, looking at it from the Catholic point of view, that we would first invite the reader's attention.
We hardly think that Mr. Swayne has stated correctly the question when he says: 'The question to be approached is, was our Lord even as man omniscient?' We scarcely think that any well-informed Catholic theologian would give an affirmative answer in this sense. What is affirmed is that the Divine Person of the Son of God was omniscient, and that He continued omniscient, as before, so subsequently to the Incarnation. His human nature, it would be allowed, was not omniscient. And here the enormous difficulty of the question
How could Christ with any truth and reality be said to know and not to know a thing-to know it as Logos and not to know it as man ? That is how St. Athanasius puts it. He knew the day of Judgment as Logos, He was ignorant of it as man.
There is a solution of the difficulty which comes to us from that view of the Incarnation which we have been combating. Those who take that view, ignoring as they do the infinite and essential attributes of the Godhead, and regarding God simply from an ethical point of view as a Being whose essence is righteousness, holiness, love, have suggested that just as our Lord, out of love to us, subjected Himself to the other limitations of human nature, so He voluntarily limited Himself in knowledge. Before going further we must examine this solution ; and we would ask, Is such a voluntary limitation of knowledge at all thinkable? We think, if regard be had to the essential characteristics of knowledge, it will be seen that it is quite unthinkable—that the words are, in fact, devoid of meaning. There are two peculiarities of knowledge which will quite show this.
In the first place, it is a peculiarity of knowledge that it is
necessarily connected with a person. No knowledge is possible unless there is a personality which knows. It is true that Hegel conceived the idea of impersonal knowledge, or, as he called it, the movement of the idea, and on this basis attempted to construct a philosophy. And, following the suggestion of Hegel, we have had wild theories of unconsciousthat is, impersonal-reason in nature. But the utter collapse of such theories shows their untenability. They are simply unintelligible to us. There is no point at which they touch our intelligence. To speak of unconscious reason or knowledge is just as intelligible to us as it would be to speak of a triangle which had no sides. We may therefore set it down that knowledge as we know it is necessarily connected with a person. The form of all knowledge is, 'I know.'
Again, a second peculiarity of knowledge is that it lies outside the will. It is not subject to the will.
the will. Knowledge rather is absolute. If some fact comes within the sphere of our knowledge, we cannot by an act of will determine not to know it. We have no power to do so. We say of something which we know, It is an absolute fact. And however much we might wish to be ignorant of it, still we have no power, having once known it, not to know it. We thus see that knowledge stands in a different category from the other powers and faculties of our minds. We can set limits to other powers which are subject to the will ; we cannot set limits to our knowledge.
These two peculiarities of knowledge show us that the solution we are examining is impossible. The first shows us that all knowledge which our Lord possessed, whether as God or as man, was inherent in and inseparable from His Person as coeternal Son. The second shows us that this knowledge could not by an act of will be limited, seeing that knowledge stands outside the will and is absolute. We thus see in its full force the difficulty which besets us. The Person who knew as man was the Person of the Son. · This we must fix clearly in our mind. To suppose that there was a personality in His human nature different from the Person of the Son would be Nestorianism. It was the Person of the coeternal Son, who as God filled heaven and earth with His presence, who upheld and ruled and ordered all things; it was He and none else who, having assumed our nature, knew and thought and acted as man. It is admitted that as God He knew all things : how, then, could He as man be ignorant of anything? It is no use, as we have seen, to say that He voluntarily limited His knowledge, for, knowledge being what it is, such a saying is devoid of meaning. And yet, on the other hand, we see clearly that some limitation there must have been. So far as we can see, it is incompatible with the truth of human nature that it should know all things.
We could have wished that the whole question might have remained untouched. There is enough in the knowledge that our Lord as Son knows all things to satisfy the religious cravings of our hearts; and the further question how much He knows as man is rather a curious question without practical bearing. It is, however, the misfortune of the theologian that he cannot abstain from enquiries from which he naturally shrinks.
Others step in, and solutions are given which are seen to be wrong. In order to obviate dangers to the faith, such solutions must be combated, and there is no other way of doing so but by substituting for them others which appear to be right. Yet in matters so high above us the best human wisdom is but folly; and, this being so, if we proceed in this enquiry, it is rather in the hope of pulling down what we believe to be wrong than of building up.
Being obliged to reject as unmeaning the suggestion that the coeternal Son out of love to us voluntarily set limits to His knowledge, where shall we find a principle on which to base that limitation which we conceive to be a fact? Perhaps such may be found in the distinction between Divine and human knowledge. Human knowledge is identical with Divine knowledge in so far as it is knowledge ; for in respect of knowledge man's mind is constituted in the image of God. Yet in respect of form it may turn out that the two are different. It may turn out that Divine knowledge not only exceeds human in perfection and reach, but that it differs from it in form and make. If this should turn out to be the case, it would follow that our Lord's Divine knowledge would not be available in the human sphere, except in so far as it was translated into human form. No doubt His Divine know. ledge would encompass, penetrate, and influence His human knowledge in every part, communicating to it a perfection, a certainty, and an infallibility unspeakable; but still what He knew as God would not be intelligible or usable in the human sphere, except in so far as it was divested of its Divine and ciad in a human form. It is just possible that this may afford us the principle we are in search of. At any rate, we may address ourselves to the enquiry. There are three points in which human knowledge contrasts with Divine to which we will draw attention. Let us take human knowledge first.
1. In the first place, human knowledge is derived from the