« PreviousContinue »
1. To this it is objected that "it divides the one Supreme Being, or essence.
2. It ascribes to one part of the indivisible and immutable essence, a property, or properties, which the others do not possess.
3. It ascribes two natures to the person of Christ, each of which separately considered, possesses all the properties necessary to constitute personality.
4. It ascribes all acts and sufferings to the human nature, that can be ascribed to the Mediator, or else supposes the immutable Essence capable of change, suffering, and death." (See Purve's Humble Attempt, &c. p. 87.)
These consequences, it is apprehended, do not follow from the admission of the doctrine under consideration. Spirit is not, like matter, divisible. When we speak of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we do not mean three distinct and separate beings. If any infer from the doctrine, this distinction in the divine nature, the inference is their own, not ours. We do not attempt to explain the mode, in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit subsist. But we maintain, that we find it in the Scriptures, as we apprehend, that the Father is divine; that the Son is divine; that the Holy Spirit is divine; and that there is but one God.
It is admitted that the subject is mysterious; but it no more implies a division of divine nature, than the omnipresence of God. Those, who believe his existence, believe this is an attribute of his nature. They believe that he is in this world, and exercises his power, wisdom, and goodness. They believe that he is at the same time in heaven, exercising his power, wisdom, and goodness. But they do not believe there are two Gods; nor do they believe that divine nature is divided; nor do we infer this from their belief. We believe that the Father was in heaven exercising divine attributes, while the Son was upon earth exercising divine attributes. If a division of divine nature can be justly inferred from our belief, with equal
ustice can it be inferred from theirs. Let us, for a noment, apply their argument to the omnipresence of God. The divine Being is present in this world either wholly, or in part. If he be wholly in this world, then he is not in heaven. If he be partly in this world and partly in heaven, then the divine Spirit is divisible and is composed of parts. Again, these parts are either finite, or infinite. If they be finite, it follows that two finite parts make one infinite whole. If they be infinite, it follows that there are two infinities in the divine nature. These inferences as naturally follow from their belief, as from ours. As they have drawn these conclusions themselves, it belongs to them, not to us, to dispose of them.
The second inference of the objector is founded on the first, as far as it relates to the divisibility of the divine nature; and we would apply the same observations. But we do not apply properties to the Father, which are not applied to the Son, nor do we apply properties to the Son, which are not applied to the Father and the Holy Spirit. By properties we understand qualities of a nature. The same qualities are attributed by the inspired writers to the Son, which are attributed to the Father. Still there is something peculiar to each. What this something is, which is the ground of their distinction is not revealed. But it appears that as the Son doeth nothing without the Father, so the Father doeth nothing without the Son; and that they, with the Holy Spirit, are united in their operation in every work.
We shall not attempt to explain the union of the Son of God with the Son of man. We cannot explain the union of body and soul. It is not surprising then that we cannot explain the union of divine and human nature. This union appears to be taught in the Scriptures; and it appears no more like absurdity and contradiction than the union of divine fulness with the man Christ Jesus. Are we charged with dividing the divine Essence, because we maintain that the Son of God was united with the Son of man? The charge
lies with equal weight against those, who maintain that divine fulness, or the immeasurable gift of the Spirit dwelt in Christ. The fulness of the Godhead, or divinity embraces all the divine perfections. If all divine perfections dwelt in Christ when he was upon earth, we retort the question upon the objector, where is the fulness of perfection of the Father? If the Father, in the plenitude of his perfections, dwelt in the man Christ Jesus on earth, how could he be, at the same time, in heaven without a division of his essence? If all the fulness of the Godhead was united with the human nature of Jesus, it follows, according to the argument of the objector, that the person of divinity is united to the person of humanity; and of course, "the Lord Jesus Christ consists of two persons, or else two persons are one person, or united in one."
To obviate this conclusion, recourse has been had to the apostle's prayer for the Ephesians, in which he requests that they "might be filled with all the fulness of God;" Eph. 3:19. From this it is inferred that the fulness of the Godhead, which dwelt in Christ, does not differ in its nature from that divine fulness, which is communicated to saints; that it means no more than that divine blessings or influences were abundantly bestowed upon him. But these passages do not appear to be parallel. John testifies that "of his (i. e. Christ's) fulness, have all we received." From this it appears that it was the same thing to receive the fulness of Christ, and the fulness of God. But what saint, prophet, or apostle had a divine fulness, which they could impart to others? The primitive Christians occasionally received those extraordinary influences of the Spirit, which were called the fulness of Christ or God. But it is not said, and it does not appear that this fulness was permanent in them. There is evidence to the contrary. The fulness of God, of which they were partakers, was, therefore, occasional and temporary. But in Christ all the fulness of the God
head (divinity) dwelleth, narofneí. The preposition connected with this verb adds force to its meaning. It therefore signifies, not to occupy occasionally, but to dwell permanently. This divine fulness not only dwelt permanently in Christ, but it dwelt in him bodily; i. e. truly and substantially. We find that holy men have resembled, in a degree, almost all the features of Christ's character. But in every trait of his character there is a visible superiority, which distinguishes divinity from humanity. Another conse quence, which has been drawn from the doctrine of the union of human and divine nature in Jesus Christ is, "It ascribes all acts and sufferings to the human nature, that can be ascribed to the Mediator, or else supposes the immutable Essence capable of change, suffering and death." This consequence does not appear to follow from the doctrine. It is not admitted that the sufferings of the humanity of Christ wholly constituted the atonement. It is maintained that the divine Son, if he did not suffer pain, suffered ignominy. He suffered a state of humiliation. He suffered the condition of a servant, the reproach of the cross. It is maintained that this suffering gave value, gave efficacy to the sacrifice, which was offered upon the cross. The Son of God could suffer this without sustaining any change in his nature. The perfections of divinity were not diminished by union with humanity. The Son of God was no less entitled to divine honors, when he was reviled upon the cross, than when he was seated on the right hand of the Father. We do not hold that merely the human nature of Christ mediates between God and man. We maintain that in both natures he acts in the office of Mediator. This does not involve the inconsistency of mediating between himself and the human race; because he mediates between the Father and them, and the Father is not the Son.
To the doctrine of Christ's divinity and humanity it is objected, "He would not say, himself could not
do, or did not know the things which all this while himself could do and did know very well; as to be sure, if he was the supreme God, he could and did. For this were to make him say what is most false, and to equivocate in the most deceitful manner." (See Emlyn.) This position is not correct. Christ could, with truth and agreeably to the common usage of language, deny that of one nature, which belongs to the other. He could, as Son of man, truly say, he knew not the day of the dissolution of the world, while, as Son of God, he knew the time. The Scriptures represent man as mortal. Job calls him "mortal man." The same volume of inspiration represents man to be immortal. Christ hath brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel. Must the Scriptures be charged with deceit, equivocation and falsehood, because, at one time, they call man mortal; and at other times represent him to be immortal; because, at those particular times, they do not express any limitation? This accusation lies with as much force against the word of God in its representation of man, as against Jesus Christ in speaking of himself, sometimes in one nature, sometimes in the other. It is a usual manner of speaking among people to say, I am mortal; and at other times to say, I am immortal; and at the time to express no limitation. They are understood. They are not charged with falsehood, be-' cause it is known and admitted that they are composed of a material and mortal nature; and also of an immaterial and immortal nature. If we admit that human and divine nature were united in Jesus Christ, we perceive that he might, without equivocation, sometimes speak of himself as human, and at other times as divine; that the apostle might, at one time, call him "the man Christ Jesus;" and, at another time, call him "the Lord from heaven." If Christ and his apostles had always spoken of him as a man, the conclusion would be fair, that he was only a man. If they had always spoken of him as God, it would be a fair con