<< DISCOURSE XI: The Lord Jesus Christ >>
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, IN WHOM DWELLS ALL THE FULNESS OF THE GODHEAD BODILY, THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT. THE ONLY HEAD OF THE NEW CHURCH, SIGNIFIED BY THE NEW JERUSALEM.
For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and ye are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power –COL. ii. 9, 10.
THE church of prophecy, the church of the latter days, the church into which all other churches should merge and culminate, is always described as one that should be blessed by a full knowledge of the Lord, and the worship of one God, Jehovah, only. How clearly is this set forth by the prophet Zechariah–And the Lord (Jehovah) shall be King over all the earth. In that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one. (Chap. xiv. 9.) It is, indeed, the burden of every prophetic announcement. The consecrated seers saw the glory of mankind in the love and knowledge of God, and they incessantly pointed to this, as it really is the foundation of all other well-being and happiness. The Lord would be the sun of a new heaven, whose splendor would never go down (Isa. lx. 20); of a new earth, free from injustice and wrong, of which it could he said, Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord (Jehovah), as the waters cover the sea. (Isa x. 9.)
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and above all the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. (Isa. ii. 2.)
These, and a multitude of confirmatory testimonies, obviously unfold the truth that Divine Providence will, in the progress of mankind, lead the notions of the earth to states of righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, all founded upon a true knowledge of (Jehovah) God, and a holier love for His will. Seer and sage, the one by direct disclosure from the Highest, the other by reflections on the tendencies of men and things, alike unfold the glorious ending of the weary ages of the worlds conflicts in a paradise renewed, when our Heavenly Father would be adored by obedient children, whose love for the universal Parent would be shown in the service they render to His sons and daughters, and the reverence they yield to His laws. Earth would be a preparation for, and a resemblance of, heaven.
The Lord Jesus confirmed this feature of the latter-day glory. The time cometh. He said, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I will show you plainly of the Father. (John xvi. 25.) This knowledge of God is the most glorious of all knowledge; for it the soul most deeply seeks. To know God in His infinite love, in His fatherly care, in His watchfulness, and His wisdom, in His Word, and in His mercies,–this is life eternal. It is to be had, and only to be had, as we believe, in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest to man.
The knowledge of God is presented to us in the Scriptures under three aspects.
1st. Jehovah as He was known to the Jews, before His incarnation.
2nd. As Jehovah, in the humanity, during the progress of its glorification, as He was known during the period of His incarnation under the name of Jesus Christ.
3rd. Jehovah in His glorified humanity, the only God in human form, King of Kings, and Lord of Lord’s; Him in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily.
These three aspects belong to three periods, which should be kept perfectly distinct the pre-incarnation, the incarnation, and the post-ascension periods.
Let us regard Him in His first aspect–Jehovah, as He was known to the Jews. He was their only God: their all in all, their Father, their Savior, their Redeemer, their King. The Jews themselves believe that they were a nation selected and set apart, to testify to all other nations and to every age, the unity of God. And though their dispensation had; no doubt, other collateral aims and uses, to hold up to all the families of mankind the sacred truth of the Divine unity, does seem to be one of the great ends of their mission. Hence, the incessant assurances to them, and through them to us, that Jehovah was one God, only. No one can read the Old Testament without noticing the remarkable prominence of this great truth. It was, as it were, the head stone of the corner throughout their dispensation. Moses said to Pharaoh, That thou mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord (Jehovah), our God. (Ex. viii. 10.) The commencement of the Divine law was, Hear, O Israel, the Lord (Jehovah) our God, is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thins heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deu. vi. 4, 5.)
The books of the law are continually offering to us declarations such as these. The Lord (Jehovah) He is God: there is none else beside Him. (Deu. iv. 35); Know, therefore, this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord (Jehovah) He is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath; there is none else (v. 39): See, now, that I, even I, am He, and there is no God with me. (Deu. xxxii. 39.)
These declarations of the law, are reiterated in the Psalms, and in the prophets. What can be more express and emphatic than such declarations as these: That men may know that then whose name alone is Jehovah, art the Most High over all the earth. (Ps. lxxxiii. 16.) Thou art good, and doest wondrous things, then art God alone. (Ps. lxxxvi. 10.) For who is God save the Lord (Jehovah), and who is a rock save our God? (Ps. xviii. 31.)
What at a later period was ascribed to different Divine persons, is in the Old Testament, in this pre-incarnation period, attributed to Jehovah alone.
Jehovah is the Shepherd of His people: the Redeemer, the Light, the Salvation, of those who trust in Him.
The Lord (Jehovah) is my Shepherd, I shall not want. (Ps. xxiii. 1.)
The Lord (Jehovah) is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. xxvii. 1.) And they remembered that God was their rock, and the High God their Redeemer. (Ps. lxxviii. 35.)
In the prophets, this ascription to Jehovah, of all that man seeks for in God, is at least equally evident. He is the only source of help and blessing, the only Fountain of good. He alone is the Creator, the Provider, the Lawgiver, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Spiritual King of man. How numerous are the declarations to this effect he can only know who gives himself to the search. We would affectionately urge all to read, with a deep conviction of the importance of the inquiry, the prophetical books; and let each render open his mind to the sacred impressions the Divine language will make, and me are assured he will arise with the devout conviction that the disclosures of Eternal Wisdom they give, center all faith upon one Divine person, one Everlasting God. He is the Omnipotent Ruler of all worlds, the only Deity there ever has been, or ever will be. He is the Savior, and Redeemer of man as well as the Maker of all things. He has been sufficient for all His peoples wants, and he will be sufficient in all future time; He would come into the world as a man, to be our Savior.
Let us listen to these prophetic teachings, and mark this defined character. Ye are my witnesses saith the Lord (Jehovah), and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am He; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord (Jehovah), and beside me there is no Savior. (Isa. xliii. 10, 11.) How common is it for many to regard the Creator as one person, the Savior as another; But surely language cannot more positively declare their unity. There was no God before Jehovah, there would be none after Him, and He would become our Savior. To the same effect we read in the following: Surely, God is in thee, and there is none else; there is no God, verily, then art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel the Savior. (Isa. xliii. 14, 15.)
Again and again is the same truth proclaimed. I am the Lord (Jehovah) thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior. (Isa. xliii. 3.) There is no God else, beside me: a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. (Isa. lilv. 21.) Look, unto me, and be ye saved, for I am God, and there is none else. (22.)
Can the Unity of God, and His character of Savior, be more strongly enforced then we find it in these declarations. We cannot conceive of language more positive and clear. There is no trace in these descriptions of any demand on the part of the Father of mankind of any satisfaction to vengeance which only another Divine person could supply. On the contrary, Jehovah, Himself, is always the Savior and Redeemer. Hear Him: I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions FOR MINE OWN SAKE, and will not remember thy sins. (Isa. xliii. 25.) For thy Maker is thine Husband, the Lord (Jehovah) THY REDEEMER, and He that formed thee from the womb,; I am the Lord (Jehovah), that maketh all things, that stretched forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself. (Isa. xl. 24.) Doubtless thou art OUR FATHER, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not, thou, O Lord (Jehovah), art OUR FATHER, our Redeemer; Thy name is from everlasting. (Isa. lxiii. 16.) Now, what shall we any to these things? Is it possible to doubt that Jehovah Himself declares that He blots out mans transgressions for His own sake, and not for the sake of another? Can hesitate to believe that He, the Lord of hosts, the God of the whole earth, was our Redeemer; that our Creator, who made all things alone, would become our Deliverer? Can we imagine that any one else would redeem mankind, but their heavenly Father Himself, when we hear the church’s pathetic acknowledgment through the prophet, Thou art our Father, our Redeemer! Surely we must admit, once for all, the Divine declaration in another prophet: Thou shalt know no God but me, for there is no Savior beside me. (Hosea xiii. 4.) Which is reiterated again a little further on in the chapter, I will ransom them from the power of the grave (hell), I will redeem them from death.
O death, I will be thy plagues, O grave (hell) I will be thy destruction. Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. (v. 14)
These testimonies are so direct, and so conclusive, that me see not how any one who meditates upon them, and believes their authority as the Word of God, can do otherwise than gratefully accept their lesson,–that in the pre-incarnation period, Jehovah, the Creator Himself teaches that He is the only God, the only Redeemer, and the only Savior.
Besides all this, me may truly say, the reader will look in vain through the Psalms, and the Prophets for any trace of the Deity conceived in mediaeval times, who stood sullenly off, demanding the infinite sacrifice due to vengeance, excited by Adams sin, and refusing to be appeased except by the infinite punishment of some one. The God of the Psalmist is merciful, tender, pitiful, consolatory, to whom the soul can say, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth that I desire beside thee. But we have stated, also, that it is declared in the prophetic records that Jehovah Himself would come into the world, as A MAN, to save and redeem it.
The prophecies upon this subject are very full and striking. Take the first, indeed the first prophecy on the subject, in the Bible. It (the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise His heel. (Gen. iii. 15.) Divine Love filling human nature, assumed and glowing through it, could alone put down the selfish soul of which the serpent was the symbol. Hear. again, the prophet Isaiah, Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and thou shall call His name Immanuel. (Isa. vii. 14.) A prophecy that is both applied, explained, and enforced in the gospel. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matt. i. 22, 23.) Take, again, Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, and the Prince of Peace. (Isa. ix. 6.)
Thus we learn that the everlasting Father would, once more say, to them that are of a fearful heart, fear not; behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense, He will come, and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and springs in the desert. Here is not only the promise that God Himself would come into the world, but the signs are given by which the time of His coming might be known, signs which were fulfilled only in the period of the gospel, but mere manifest then, and to which the Great Savior Himself appealed in the reply to the disciples of John. (Matt. xi. 4, 5.) In the 40th chapter of Isaiah, there are some announcements especially forcible. Take the first, The voice of Him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Jehovah), make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (v. 3.) Every gospel refers to this passage and applies it to our Lord Jesus as being the person whose way was to be prepared, and John the Baptist as the one whose voice would be heard crying in the wilderness. (See Matt. iii. 3; Mark i. 3; Luke iii. 4; John i. 23.) But the declaration of the passage is that it was the way of Jehovah Himself OUR GOD, which was to be prepared; and in the same chapter there is another passage equally pointed and clear, Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold his reward is with Him, and his work before Him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; His shall gather His lambs in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (v. 10, 11.) The first part of this prophecy is alluded to, as fulfilled in the Savior, by John the Baptist, (Matt. iii. 15); and the second part by the Savior in person (John x. 11.) The Lord Jesus was undoubtedly the great fulfiller of both, but in the prophecy it is the Lord God who would come as a shepherd. Call we avoid affirming the direct conclusion, that the Lord Jesus and the Lord God are the same.
One more passage we will cite, as it shows the mode by which the Divine manifestation would take place in the world; it would be as a man, a Divine Man.
Behold a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment, and a MAN shall be a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of waters in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. (Isa. xxxii. 1, 2.)
Our hope is to draw mens souls to this manifested God. He has assured us that He stands at the door of every heart and knocks. If any man will open the door He, will come in and sop with him. Where He is, the Godhead is. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. The Christians God, the Christians Redeemer when truly understood, supplies all that the spirit wants. He blesses early youth, He soothes and sanctifies latest age. Suffer little children to come unto me, He says, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Be thou faithful unto death, He says to the suffering tried believer, and I will give thee a crown of life. Address Him in prayer, and the heart will surely obtain an answer of peace. I am the door, He declares, by me if any man will enter in, he shall be saved and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John. x. 9.) He is the God of the philosopher as well as of the simple. How finely does Hugh Miller recognize this sublime truth in what is virtually his autobiography. The true center of an efficient Christianity is, as the name ought of itself to indicate, the Word made flesh. Around this central sun of the Christian system, appreciated not as a doctrine, which is a mere abstraction, but as a Divine Person, so truly man that the affections of the human heart can lay hold upon Him, and so truly God, that the mind through faith, can at all times and at all places be brought into direct contact with Him; all that is really religious takes its place, in a subsidiary and subordinate relation. I say subsidiary and subordinate. The Divine Men is the great attractive center, the sole gravitating point of a system which owes to Him all its coherency, and which would be but a chaos, were he away. It seems to be the existence of the human nature, in this central and paramount object, that imparts to Christianity, in its subjective character, its peculiar power of influencing and controlling the human mind.
There may be men who, through a peculiar idiosyncrasy of constitution, are capable of loving, after a sort, a mere abstract God, unseen and inconceivable; thought as shown by the air of sickly sentimentality borne by almost all that has been said and written on the subject, the feeling in its true form must be a very rare and exceptional one. In all my experience of men I never knew a genuine instance of it. The love of an abstract God seems to be as little natural in the ordinary human constitution as the love of an abstract planet…. The true Humanity and the true divinity of the adorable Savior is a truth equally receivable by at once the humblest and the loftiest intellects. Poor dying children, possessed of but a few simple ideas, and men of the most robust intellects, such as the Chalmers, Forsters, and Halls, of the Christian Church, find themselves equally able to rest their salvation on the man Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever.* So, in like manner, confess the chief authors of the Essays and Reviews. It must be confessed that amongst the many redeeming features in that celebrated compilation which. tend to compensate for many things to be regretted, one, and that no slight one, is, that our Divine Redeemer is ever referred to as God manifest, the Divine Human center of light and life to the Church and to the world. Thus, Dr. Temple, The second stage, therefore, in the education of man, was the presence of our Lord upon the earth. Those few years of His Divine Presence seem as it were to balance in the systems, and creeds, and worships, which preceded all the church’s life which has followed since. Saints had gone before, and saints have been given since; great men and good men had lived among the heathen; there were never at any time examples wanting to teach either the chosen people or any other. But the one example of all examples came in the fullness of time, just when the world was fitted to feel the power of His presence. (p. 24.) So, again, Dr. Williams on Bunsen. The unity of God as the Eternal Father is the fundamental doctrine of Christianity. But the Divine consciousness or wisdom, consubstantial with the eternal will, becoming personal in the Son of man is the express image of the Father, and Jesus actually, but also mankind ideally, is the Son of God. (p. 89.)
And lastly, Professor Jowett. The noblest study of history and antiquity is contained in it (the Scripture); a poetry which is also the highest form of moral teaching; there, too, are lives of heroes and prophets, and especially of one, whom we do not name with them because he is above them. (P. 428.) rejoice to notice these recognitions of the Divine Person of the Savior and the oneness of the Eternal, for He is the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Him. (John xiv.) Soon will the mourning heart of the world find peace, when it finds Him in whom the Father dwells: and in Him sees the Father (John xiv. 9); and, permeated by His spirit, obtains a true salvation from evil, by its victories over self. Oh, when shall every one of us hear in the spirit of faith and love the Divine words, Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. xi. 35.) Rest is His, and will become ours if me abide in Him. Light is His, life is His, power is His, and will be ours if we worship, love, and abide in the manifested God, the adored Divine Man.
My Schools and Schoolmasters, p. 182, 183.
This promise of the appearance of God as a man, a Divine Man, promised through all ages, and really yearned for, by the highest inmost feelings, and the purest reason of all generations, as the hope in which, when realized, all nations could be blessed, has excited in the lower nature, and in reasoning founded upon that, the sternest opposition How can it be, it has been said, that God could become a man? God and man, it has been asserted, are antipodes. What is Divine cannot be human; what is human cannot be Divine.
But of this reasoning, it may well be doubted whether it is sound either in principle, or in form. The foundation of all true reason either on spiritual or secular subjects, is fact. It takes on scientific subjects the facts which nature discloses, in a spirit of childlike trust; takes them carefully and conscientiously, weighs and compares them duly, and then reasons upon them, and arrives at conclusions or in other words, perceives, and states the principles which underlie the facts, and are their causes. So, on spiritual subjects, true reason never sets itself up against Revelation, and declares what must be, but with childlike faith, grounded in childlike love, enquires what is revealed, enquires confidingly, rationally, conscientiously, carefully, certain that what is truly revealed, will be reasonable, as it flows from the highest wisdom.
This is the true order of things. It is not the province of reason to dictate facts, but to learn them, and accept them. simply. If therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (Matt. vi 22.)
He therefore, who permits himself to assume what facts there should be, or what not, is himself pursuing a method altogether irrational; and ought rather to pause, and ponder upon his position, than to presume to dictate what will be in accordance, or what not in accordance, with Divine Revelation. True reason goes to be illuminated by Divine Light, satisfied that as He who made the natural eye has made it in accordance with the laws of light, and he who lawfully, that is naturally, uses his eye, may safely trust it, so with the mental eye, or the rational faculty, God, who made it, has formed it for the perception of truth, if it is used lawfully; but he uses it most unlawfully who attempts to make it see without objects, and without illumination. This is done by those who form fancies of themselves, and declare what Scripture must teach or what it must not, instead of ascertaining what it does teach. We have seen it does teach, even in the Old Testament, and thus in the pre-incarnation period, that Jehovah Himself, and Jehovah alone, was and would be the Spiritual King, Redeemer, and Savior of his people, as He was their only God, and further, that Re would manifest Himself as a man. But we go farther, and we beg to say, that God has always manifested Himself as a Divine Man, though before the incarnation, in first principles, only, dimly and distantly, to fallen man, who had departed from those heights of holiness and purity, in which inner things are distinctly and clearly seen. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
To an impure nature, God is distant, repulsive, darkened by the atmosphere which surrounds it, and faintly beheld. He feels God opposed to him, and he concludes that God, in all respects, is entirely opposed to humanity. An irreligious and rebellious reason may do this, although the life of its possessor may be morally correct; the reason may not be humble and teachable, but haughty and dictatorial, and there, may be the fountain of error.
But the truth is, there is no refuge from the idea of God as a Divine Man, but in Atheism, God is Love: love is a human feeling. God is wisdom: wisdom is also human. Goodness, holiness, purity justice, mercy, rectitude, tenderness, providence, are attributes of God, and these are all human. True, in God they are all infinite and underived; in man they are all finite and derived. Man is the image–God the underived and eternal original. Yet it is only because God can be regarded as a Divine Man, distant or near, that we can regard Him at all. When a man has resolved he will put away from his idea of God all human attributes, and will not assume to Him the possession of the human form, he has simply shut his eyes, and he sees nothing.
If any one says he forms an abstract idea of God, it is still human, for abstract ideas are human. If any one regards God as infinite power, it is still human, for power exists from order, intelligence, wisdom and energy, and these are all things human. Hence, in all religions the Divine Being is worshipped as human. Brahma, Zeus, Jupiter Omnipotent, Allah, all are conceptions of God as a Divine Man. The universe echoes this. It is such a creation as a Divine Men would have formed, man is its highest type, and comprehends every other. Animals are perfect, as they most nearly resemble man; trees are perfect, as their circulatory systems most nearly approximate the human; minerals are the servants and supplies of the higher formations. Take the especially distinguishing duality out of every animal that exists and recompose them into one form, and you would have a tolerably correct resemblance to the affections, appetites, and instincts, which form the lower degree of one human mind. All things announce their origin from one Eternal Infinite, Divine-Human mind, and whenever the Eternal mind reveals itself, He must reveal Himself as human.
But one who objects to God being thought of as an Infinite Divine Man, may do so chiefly because he imagines manhood has mainly to do with shape. He thinks of infinity as infinite space, and he thinks of God as omnipresent, that is, filling infinite space; and if a person has a form, he has a boundary, and there is something outside of that boundary, and, therefore, the enclosed form is not infinite.
He would, however, do well to remember, that infinite space is itself a contradiction in terms. Space is that which is enclosed between boundaries, and infinite that which has no boundary. Space and time belong to matter only, and have nothing to do with spiritual existence, still less should we connect them with the Divine Being. Infinity is not a thing of space and size. but of interior fullness, and perfection without end. Human principles produce the human form; but the greatness or littleness of a man does not depend upon the space he occupies. The grandeur of some men seems almost to approach the Divine, but it has been the grandeur of their goodness, their intellect, and their virtue, not at all of their size.
The infinite grandeur of God manifest, would be the grandeur of infinite goodness, wisdom, and purity, not the grandeur of infinite size. God, must be the same in least things, as in greatest. Such is the character of all things: water is the same in a drop, as in an ocean. God manifested to one heart, is in the same infinite fullness as God manifest to all heaven in that glorious sun of which the apostle speaks, the light which no man can approach unto. (i Tim. vi. 16.)
It may he said, that the reason why we can only regard God with Divine Human attributes, is, that we are human beings, and from the constitution of the human mind, we cannot do otherwise than clothe the objects of our thought with human properties. But what then? Why may not this be the true light in which to regard them? Man is undoubtedly the being formed to know, love, acknowledge, and worship the Divine Creator, and surely we cannot do wrong in concluding that He who gave us faculties of apprehending Him for these purposes, has made them so that we can apprehend Him rightly. That character in which our best faculties behold Him must be His real character. To judge otherwise would be to charge idolatry upon our Maker.
Instead, therefore, of there being any good reason to object against God manifesting Himself as a man, we conceive that sound reason acknowledges that God from eternity must have been a man in first principles in that love, wisdom, and power, which are the essence of true manhood; and when the necessities of His creatures demanded His presence in a more external and personal manner to redeem them, and will them back to Himself, no other than the human form could possibly have been the means by which our Divine Immanuel could present Himself.
How could the love of the Divine Shepherd he revealed, except in the infinite tenderness of a Divine Man? How could the infinite spiritual wisdom of Jehovah appear, except in the utterances of Divine-Human lips? How could the infinite mercy, goodness, loving-kindness, and purity of Jehovah as a Savior appear, except in the acts of One who went about doing good, and who would lay down His life for the sheep? No man had seen God at any time. He had shone and spoken in the personality of an angel when it was required from time to time; but now a Son, an only-begotten Son, would bring Him forth to view. God would be in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. (2 Cor. v. 19.) The power of the Highest would overshadow a virgin, and that Holy One who should be born of her; would be called the Son of God, (Luke i. 35.) The Humanity by which Jehovah would come into the world and save His people from their sins (Matt. i. 21) would be called the Son, and when the infant Lord was brought; forth, well might the angels sing Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men. The incarnation period had begun.
But in all our research thus far we have met with no trace of any other, but one Divine Person. In the language of the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah is oar Judge. Jehovah is our Lawgiver, Jehovah is our King; He will save us. (Isaiah xxxiii. 22.) True, there is the passage in Gen. i. 26, Let us make man, in our image, after our likeness, but this has been abundantly shewn to be addressed to the angels, who are ministering spirits in Jehovah’s hands when He makes man, and there is also the plural form of the word God, Elohim, but this can give no difficulty to one who knows that the singular, El, means power, and the plural consequently expresses those powers by the name Elohim which belong to the laws and truths by which the universe has been formed and is governed.
By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. But the truths of the Word are many–are, in fact, infinite; and that plurality is expressed by the word Elohim; but innumerable as are the truths and powers which flow from the Divine Wisdom, they are all the outflowings of that Divine Love which is Jehovah. God is Love; and from the one Adorable Love came Creation, came Redemption, and has come and will come Regeneration for every soul of the unnumbered and ever-increasing multitudes of the saved. Before Him, there was no God formed, neither would there be after Him.
THE INCARNATION PERIOD.
This period, which embraces the Lord’s life in the world from His birth to His ascension, has laws and circumstances peculiar to itself, and which are needful to be remembered. In this period, the Divine clothed itself with the human, as it existed on the mothers side, in fallen humanity. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. He had no human father. In an ordinary human being there is an inner spiritual organization from the father, a body and a mental organization connected with it, from the mother. What man has from his father, in the Savior was the Everlasting Father Himself: what man has from his mother, the Lord had from the Virgin Mary. And, thus, because it was the common heritage of our race, He had our infirmities, that He might be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and tempted in all points like as we are, yet, without sin. (Heb. iv. 15.) He had our hereditary tendencies. He had also our weakness, wants, and limits, but also accompanied with a Divine Human germ in the lower degree of His Humanity, and in the body, from the very first. That He might lead us in the regeneration, and teach us to be victorious in all things over sin, Jehovah caused to meet in him (according to the marginal reading of Isaiah liii. 6), the iniquity of us all. The intention was, that Jehovah should take our nature upon Him, so far as the mothers part was concerned, that He might in our nature be tempted, in our nature conquer, consecrate, and glorify that nature, reveal himself more and more in that nature as our Heavenly Father, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Teacher, and our Infinite Friend.
Our nature glorified would form a Divine Humanity. Thus He would form a center from which the Holy Spirit would proceed, to defend, to attract, to illuminate, and to regenerate, all who were willing to be saved.
Now, when we say the Lord assumed our nature, we must not forget that human nature is a willing and thinking nature. Though there was a Divine element in it, yet there was every human quality in it. He had all human sympathies. He would hunger and thirst, sleep and wake, want and will, with a certain likeness to human acts of the same kind, but also with a Divine, quality in them, so that every act of His was representative of the Divine dealings with man in his spiritual life. The lower degree of a mans spirit lives from the life that flows through the upper degree; yet that life gives to the degree below, the appearance as if it lived of itself. The body seems to live of itself, although it lives entirely from the soul; so each little vessel seems to have its small independent life, and take from the circulating streams, the sustentation requisite for its strength and reparation. The soul does not use the body, as a mere garment for itself, but it communicates to the body a capability to live, through all its organisms, through all its myriad vessels, to feel, speak, and act, as a human body only can, as if the power to do so were self-derived. So the spiritual degree of a mans mind, the pneuma, does not use the natural degree, the psyche, as the swordsman uses the sheath, or a hand uses a glove, but so as to give it what seems like an independent power to will and to think, in all their innumerable applications and varieties of will and thought, as if the power were self-derived. Each human person has within him two great degrees of mind, each enclosing innumerable principles and particulars, called in the Scriptures, the inward man, and the outward man. The outward man is the seat of the corrupt lusts, passions, and appetites, which, when a person indulges them, enslave to ruin; it has however from the Lord the commencement of better things, the good ground, into which the seed of heaven can be sown, and when, its willing conscious power is adjoined to these heavenly things, ability is given from the Lord, to man, in this degree, to work out his salvation with fear and trembling.
He must, however, pray as from himself, fight as from himself, learn as from himself, labor as from himself; and the natural man must, as from himself, offer himself up to be a holy sacrifice to the angelic affections and interior purities of the spiritual man. It is thus that at last we are regenerated, by the natural man being purified and restored to the order of heaven in perfect freedom. The struggle in the human soul is not that of the purely spiritual degree against the natural, but in the natural degree, a new birth takes place, a new man is formed, and gradually grows and increases in power, and vanquishes all opposition, until no temper, no wish, no thought, remains, that is not in harmony, willingly in harmony, with the spiritual degree; the earth, in man, smiles in unison with the heaven. All is now spiritual, not because the natural man has been abolished, but he has been spiritualized, consecrated, and sanctified with many a struggle and many a sacrifice, but with his own constantly free consent. Man is never so free as when he is striving against himself, or in other words, his lower self is striving to become like his higher.
During the struggles through which man passes, there are constant aspirations, prayers, yearnings, breathings, after the purity, the wisdom, the innocence and order, he inwardly sees and longs for. On the other hand, there are deficiencies, infirmities, pronenesses to evil, and a thousand defects in the old man, which struggle against the new. For a long time the struggle is precisely that described by the Apostle; For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not, but what I hate that do I. For I know that in me, that is in my flesh (the carnal mind) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good. I find not. For the good that I would, I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do. I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after THE INWARD MAN: but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity, to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death. (Rom. vii. 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24.)
Here, there are two wills, two classes of thought, two antagonistic consciousnesses, in the same person, in the same mind; and this continues with more or less of distinctness, and vigor, through the whole period of mans regenerate life. Sometimes this state approaches to unity, sometimes the antagonism is most opposed and marked, as if two powerful men, or kingdoms rather, were struggling in one; at length in the regenerating person the better mind increasingly prevails, and the soul in order, at the termination of the spirits labors becomes, like Canaan in the reign of Solomon, a kingdom of prosperity and peace. Like Bunyan’s city of Mansoul, brought under the government of Immanuel, all is then harmony, unity, and peace. This series of struggles, is seldom: concluded, long before the conclusion of life. The Apostle wrote the Epistle to the Romans when he was an aged man, and still later that to the Philippians, but in both he describes himself as struggling, and as not having yet attained to the perfection which he sought, of everlasting unity, and everlasting peace. Such, we believe, is the experience of all true Christians. The human soul is a wondrous structure, far more wondrous than the human body. To restore and build it up for an eternal state of happiness, is a wonderful operation, which only the ignorant and inexperienced can suppose will be quickly done. It is a happy thing however, to know that whenever we sincerely begin, we are on the Lord’s side, under His care, and in His hand, and shall in good time, if we persevere in co-operating with Him, complete that most sacred and important of all works, the formation of the soul for heaven.
In this description of the soul, its degrees, and its regeneration, we have all that is necessary to illustrate and explain the duality, and sometimes the diversity of the Father and the Son during the Lord’s life in the world. The diversity we cannot too often repent, and impress upon all, was one exhibited only during the Redeemers life on earth, during the struggles of temptation, and the imperfection of the Son, for the Son was made perfect by suffering. (Heb. ii. 10; v. 9.) It ceased with our blessed Lord’s ascension, after which there is no prayer described from the Son to the Father, and no speech between the Father and the Son, but the one glorious Jesus is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, as before the incarnation the one Jehovah was the Creator, the Savior, and King of his people.
The circumstance of the Lord having no human father, at once indicated the distinction between Himself and any merely human being. He was a Divine Human being. What any one or anything is in whole, so is it in every part; this is an universal law, and as the Lord Jesus was in His whole being God-man, so was He in every part, in every act, Divinely human; He was Divinely human in affection, thought, learning, and suffering. Regard every circumstance of His life and actions, and you find the human, but touched with, and manifesting, the Divine. It was Jehovah manifesting Himself in all the circumstances of a human and redeeming life. And the mystery of the incarnation, and the hidden wisdom (1 Cor. ii. 7.), the true definition of mystery, which is associated with all the words and deeds of the Word made flesh, becomes revealed to the adoring gaze of the thoughtful worshiper of the Lord. The infant Lord was a true child, born of his mother like other children; but He was a Divine child from the Father the Son of God was there, as well as the Son of Mary. Not only wise men worshiped him (Matt. ii. 11.), but the angels of God also. And when He bringeth the first-begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of good worship Him. (Heb. 1. 6.) When He was a boy in the temple, learning and observing as a boy, He was still about His Fathers business. He was a Divine boy, and while He sat amongst the doctors hearing and asking them questions, all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and His answers. (Luke n. 46, 47.) When on the Sea of Galilee, and after a toilsome day, He slept on the troubled waters as man, until the raging sea threatened to engulf the little bark, and the terrified disciples exclaimed, Master, carest then not that we all perish? He arose, and the Divine Man was manifest in the tranquil and majestic power that accompanied the words, Peace, be still! and compelled all who saw the sudden calm, by which nature recognized Her Lord, to say, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?
In His friendship for Lazarus and his sisters, in His sorrow for their sufferings and his death, we see the human sympathies of the Savior but in the might that broke the bonds of death, and restored the dead to life, at the simple command Lazarus come forth, we cannot fail to see that God was manifest in the flesh. There was a Divinity as well as a humanity even in the sorrows of the Redeemer. Weeping is often regarded as a sign of weakness, but there is more strength in the manly tear which is wept for the sorrows of others, than in the sordid joy which is delighted only for self. While the Great Savior groaned and wept, while He suffered and died, we see the Human in weakness, distress, pain, and death. But in the freedom with which the bitter cup was undertaken and exhausted to the dregs, not for Himself but for every man, in the extent and depth of his sorrows, in the Divine Tenderness of the Infinite Sufferer for the salvation of all men, even of His taunting, bitterest enemies, we recognize a Divinity in His sufferings as much as in the unutterable perfection which appeared in the risen and glorified Savior. In all things He was a Divine Man. Every act, too, in Him had this peculiar Divinity, that it was representative. His birth, life, speech, actions, miracles, death, resurrection, and glorification in the world, were all symbolic of His dealings in the human soul, when the heart has opened to his invitation, and He has become Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col. i. 27.) The Father was manifested in the Son, the Father glorified the Son, and was glorified in the Son.
But while we thus speak of the Divinity of the Humanity, the Son, in the Lord, we would never cease to inculcate the all-important truth, that it was the Divinity, from the Father, and, of the Father, manifested in the Son. It was not the Divinity of another, separate, co-eternal, Divine person called the Eternal Son, revealed in the human Son, it was the Divinity of the Father, the only Divine person who was from eternity, a Divine Human Being in first principles, and who had become for the Redemption and Salvation of His creatures sunk so low, as to make it necessary, a Divine Man in last principles, down to the very body, so that He could say to the intelligent universe; Fear not, I am the first and the last. (Rev. i. l7.)
The Father out of the Son is the Divine Love and Wisdom, so infinitely pure and exalted that no man hath seen him at any time (John i. 19.), no man could see Him and live. (Exodus xxxiii. 20.) Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape. (John v. 37.)
The Father, however, the Infinite Divine Love, out of which the universe originated, who is therefore rightly called the Father, and who created all things that He might form immortals, and train them in ever-increasing multitudes for heaven, and bless them as their Father, must be revealed. Nothing but the revelation of their Father in His love, tenderness, and desire to bless, as mans Savior, could melt obdurate hearts, sunk into the depths of selfishness, and win them to unselfishness and to Him. To reveal the Father there must be the Son, an Only Begotten Son: a Humanity from the mother, capable of coming into contact with men, and even with fiends; yet, a Humanity interiorly Divine from the Father, and whose progress would reveal the Father more and more, until He became the embodied Divine Love, His countenance shining as the sun shineth in his strength, whose head and whose hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes flames of fire, and His feet like unto fine brass, and His voice as the sound of many waters. (Rev. i. 14-16.)
This is the Only Begotten Son, in whom the Father is fully manifest, who has brought Him to view [scanner unable to insert phrase], in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
The Son, thus begotten of the Father, thus Divinely Human, had a capacity of receiving the Father, and manifesting Him; such as no merely human being, saint, or sage, could possible have. No man knew His wondrous capabilities. He could say, No man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him. (Matt. xi. 27.)
No man knoweth the Son, but the Father! what majesty of nature, what depth of capability do those words impart! Scarcely more conceivable is the full import of those further words, no man knoweth the Father, but the Son. He who can grasp, can comprehend as it were, the infinitudes of the Divine Love, must be Himself Divine.
No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and, he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him. But wondrous as is this Divine nature and character of the Son, it must not for a moment be forgotten that it is derived from the Father, the Divine Love with Him. All things, He said, are delivered unto Me of my Father. This office of the Savior to reveal the Father; who was His inner Self is exhibited in the whole Gospel. His Divine deeds, were not the manifestation or revealing of any other Divine Person, any second, separate Divine Person. They were the manifestation of the Father. When men truly understood the Son, they would truly understand the Father, for the Son was the express image, the very Person of the Father. (Heb. i. ,2.)
At first, this manifestation was somewhat straitened and limited, for our infirmities were taken into His Humanity, but as these were cleared away by temptations, and victories; temptations from all the powers of darkness, and victories by His own Divine strength, He came into that fullness of Divine possession, to which He refers in those memorable words, All power is given unto me, in heaven and on earth. (Matt. xxviii. 18.)
All these views, which are the plain teachings of the Gospel, and so completely enable us to have a comprehensive faith, which embraces all the declaration of the New Testament, and sees their application to the one Divine Person of the blessed Jesus, who was Jehovah manifest, will possibly become still clearer, if we refer to the sacred teachings somewhat more in detail, and illustrate them by the light of the constitution of man, who is the Divinely created image of God (Gen. i. 26), and whose spiritual constitution of finite humanity, will best serve us to comprehend the Divine Humanity, from which it sprung, and of which it is the likeness. Let us draw this parallel, then, in its leading particulars; and we venture to hope it will enable us to sec that the Lord’s life in the world only conducts us to one Divine Person, as the center of all love, faith, and worship, as we trust was seen in the doctrine of the Old Testament respecting God, before the incarnation.
First, then, the Savior plainly teaches that the Father was in Him, as the inward man is in the outward man, or as the soul is in the body. He says, The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me; He doeth the works. (John. xiv. 10.) Again, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father bat by me. (John xiv. 6.) I am not alone, because the Father is with me. (John xvi. 38.) I in them and thou in me, that they may be perfect, in me. (John xvii. 23.) God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. (2 Cor. v. 19.) There can surely be no doubt that these words plainly teach the same lesson which was taught by prophecy that He who would be seen among men as a Divine Child for our Redemption, would as to His inner nature be the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isa. ix. 6.)
Secondly. The Father gave to the Son, all the life, power, and capability, He possessed. It was not ally second Divine person, an eternal Son, who did so. Although the Son was capable of doing all things for oar redemption, and salvation, it was from the Father within Him, He was so. This may also be illustrated by the reflection that all the life that displays itself in our outward man, and in the body, including tempers, affections and thoughts, not only distinct from, but opposite to, those of the inward man, from whom the life and power proceed, is derived from the Lord, through our inward man.
Let us attend to this Divine teaching The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do, for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (John v. 19.) Again, the Savior said, I can of my own self do nothing, as I hear I judge, because I seek not my own will, but the will of my Father that sent me. (John v. 30.) Again, As the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son, to have life in Himself (John v. 26.) Again, Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee; as thou hast given Him power over ALL FLESH, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. Thus it is clearly taught, that all the power of the Son is from the Father.
The distinct consciousness in the outward man, often expressing itself in soliloquy, in speech, in addresses to our better self, or from our higher self to our lower, as seen in David’s address to his soul, Why art thou cast down O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me (Ps. xlii. 11.–xliii. 5), was paralleled in the prayers of the Savior;
and His addresses to His Father. As David and His soul were only one person, and the outward and the inward man in the daily experience of every individual are only one person, notwithstanding these diversities of consciousness, so the Son and the Father within, were only one Divine Person, notwithstanding the very distinct consciousness for a time of the Son from the Father.
Thirdly. In the regeneration of man, the outward man has to learn knowledge from an ability as if it were his own, and as he does so with zeal, the light of truth descends through his inward man, and illuminates him. So the Son increased in wisdom, was subject to Joseph and His mother, and thus prepared Himself to receive the Divine Wisdom in all fullness from within, for unto him God gave not the spirit by measure. (John iii. 34.) It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell (Coll. i. 19.)*
Professor Jowett, Essays, &c., 355, refers to Mark xiii. 23, respecting the Son not knowing the time of Judgment, as a great difficulty, but offers no solution. Yet, if the Lord’s Humanity obtained knowledge and grew in wisdom, there could be no great difficulty in recognizing before the humanity was perfected, there would be some things externally unknown, although afterwards he knew all things. (John xxi. 17.) We all know many things by interior intuition, which we do not yet know as scientific facts. Besides, the spiritually-minded will remember that the Lord does not KNOW the workers of iniquity, that is, has no conjunction with them. And He will perceive that at the end of a church, the Son, the Divine Truth, in the spiritual sense, the manifestation of God to the soul, is rejected and does not know or conjoin itself with that state of the church, only the Divine Love, the Father still knows it, and provides for its restoration by new methods of mercy, and a new church.
Fourthly. As the Divine truth was unfolded in the Son, there would be opened also, as from Himself but really from the Father the constant yearning to do good, and to perform the work of redemption, by casting out evil spirits, healing the sorrows of men of every kind, thus glorifying the Divine Love upon earth (John xvii. 4), by doing its dictates constantly, and bringing Himself day by day more perfectly into harmony with the will of the Father, which was the desire of Infinite Love for the salvation of man.
This performance in Him of redeeming works, both in the world of spirits and the world of men is referred to by the Baptist, when He said, He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to wear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor. He will gather the wheat into His garner, and He will burn up the chaff with file unquenchable. For their sakes, He said, I sanctify myself, that they may be sanctified by the truth. (John xvii. 19.) Those redeeming words none but God Incarnate could do. No man can redeem his brother. Thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called. (Isa liv. 5.) The Lord’s baptism represented the purification of His Humanity, and when He came out of the water, heaven opened to Him, that is the Divine Love flowed fully down into His external man, and a testification that so far it was glorified. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
The Divine Truth from the Father in the Son, and which therefore had been with the Father before the world was, excited the prayer for full personal union with the OWN SELF of the Father. (John xvii. 5.)
In man’s case, the daily performance of duty in outward life, and the rejection of evils as they present themselves, is what symbolizes this portion of the Lord’s work, and as it is done faithfully, the outward man prepares for union with the inward, and the inward man opens and blesses him with love, light, and joy. In the Lord’s case, He acted for the universe. Man acts only in and for His own little world.
Fifthly. The terrible ordeal of the temptation in Gethsemane brings out another manifestation of the Father in the Son. The will of the Son shrunk from the appalling test. To come into contact with falsehood in its most malignant form, the human will shrunk from for a moment and said, Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me, but soon felt that it must be endured, and so conquered. The perfect Divine Love of the Father suggested everything to be endured which was essential to Mans Redemption, and the Son said, not my will, but thins be done; and so the will of the Son became as the will of the Father.
All was dark, gloomy, and appalling, but the Son must endure it as if of Himself
In the case of human beings the outward man is often deeply tried. False accusations, scorn, contumely; are heaped upon Him. He is misunderstood, and misrepresented. He has to drink the cup of sorrow to the dregs, and no cheering ray from within; all is gloomy. If however the disciple is as His master, and he manfully endures and works, and waits in faith, all will be well. His trial approaches its end, but yet another and a deeper is to be endured by him who would be perfect, before the inward man fully shines forth in the outer.
Sixthly. The Cross. This was the trial most terrible of all. This too, must be endured apparently alone. The direst fiends tried their utmost malice. It appeared that life itself must be lost in the terrible struggle, if the will of the Divine Love must be carried out. Every feature of hate, that earth and hell could exhibit, was brought out by the powers of darkness (Luke xxii. 52). These horrible disclosures were to be brought into contact with tenderness the purest and the best. The Son was to endure this not for Himself, but for the world. He would not have a thought or feeling contrary to the Divine Love, and though at the extremity of His trial the despairing cry, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me, was uttered, yet He endured on, and at last would have nothing, and be nothing, but what the Divine Love, the Father, would, and said, Father into thy hands I commit my spirit. Then was the terrible agony over, the worlds Redemption was worked out, and the Son was finally prepared to be glorified by complete union with the Father. He had willingly laid down His life for the sheep. No man taketh my life from me, He had said, lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father: (John x. 18.) He had obeyed, and revealed the Father to the very last, and now He was prepared for everlasting personal oneness, the Father being visible in every word, work, tone, and appearance, so that He who saw Him would see the Father.
The Lord said to Mary after His resurrection, Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father to my God and your God. (John xx. 17.)
These words relate not to ascent in space, but in quality. They mean, that entire and everlasting union with the Inmost Love and Wisdom of the Divine nature had not yet taken place. All was prepared for it, and it would be speedily consummated; but, no doubt, the redeeming works which the Lord was still engaged in completing, in the world of spirits, where the spirits in prison referred to by Peter (1 Peter iii. 18, 19) were, and required to be fully prepared to ascend with Him to heaven, required that the display of the full glories of Godhead should be moderated and restrained. But soon this full union, which He had been prepared for on the cross, and which had thus virtually been accomplished then, would manifestly be accomplished by the Son being for ever one with the Father. The distance was not one of space, but of state, for the Father was with Him. (John xvi. 32.) And the distance of state was about to cease, for He said, I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.
The full union between the Father and the Son in the one Divine person of the Savior, was accomplished through successive alternations of state during the Lord’s whole life in the world, just as the full regeneration of a man is accomplished. When he has attained a victory over one evil, and is in peace, he feels quite angel-like and happy; one with heaven; and as if his whole work were done; after a time some fresh infirmities of his nature infest him, and he is cast down, seems distant from all that is heavenly, and as if his state were not at all improved.
Thus did the alternations of state proceed with the Savior-only with Him the struggles He underwent were with all the powers of darkness, through the medium of hereditary evils assumed in His Humanity from the mother, and at each successive victory there was union, not with an angelic state, but with the Father, the Divine Love and Wisdom within Him, in all fullness. These struggles and victories, with the states involved in each, and imaged by corresponding states in a finite degree in mans regeneration; fully explain those sentences uttered by the Redeemer from time to time, and so different in their character.
At one time, My Father is greater than I: prayer to the Father, and the despairing My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me. At another, I and the Father are one. (John x. 30.) All things that the Father hath are mine. (John xvi. 15.) He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father. (John xiv. 9.) That men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father: All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth: Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matt. xxviii. 18-20.) Language which manifestly imports that now, and henceforth for ever, all power in heaven will radiate from the Divine Humanity, the Son glorified and made Divine by the Father, who is, indeed, the revealment and the embodiment of the Father. In Him is the whole Divine Trinity, therefore, all the power of Godhead is in Him. His name, Jesus Christ, is the name of the Divine person in whom is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He would be present with His people always, while that dispensation lasted (until the end of the world), and when a new dispensation would commence, it would embrace Him more fondly deeply, and adoringly than any before; it would, in all fullness, be the bride, the Lambs wife.
When, therefore, the disciples went forth and baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts x. 48, xix. 5), they obeyed their Lord’s commandment, for that name was the name of Him who was Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When they preached Jesus and His resurrection, they preached the only name given under heaven by which men could be saved (Acts iv. 12); the name above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and in earth, and under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. ii. 10, 11.)
The great truth, we would humbly hope, has now been clearly shown that the Lord’s life in the world was the manifestation, not of a second Divine Person, of whom the Scriptures never speak, but of the Only Divine Person, the Eternal Father, by means of a Humanity called the Son, which He assumed and glorified, that He might reveal Himself to man, in the only way in which the Eternal Love could reveal Himself so that the human heart could be touched, and changed, and at the same time, the human race delivered from those powers of darkness which inwardly enslaved and debased them.
The varying character of the Saviors language, we have endeavored to show, was the accompaniment of the varying states of His Humanity during the course of its glorification, and described those states only during that period, and are not at all descriptive of the Lord’s state since His ascension. The states of inferiority to the Father, of distinct consciousness from the Father, of prayer to the Father, all ceased when the glorification of the humanity was perfected (Luke xiii. 32; Heb. ii. 10; v. 9); and He rose far above all heavens, as the apostle says, that He might fill all things. (Eph. iv. 10.)
Let the student of this sacred subject bear this well in mind, and it will deliver him from much perplexity him think of the Lord of all things, to whom he is now to address his prayers and adorations, not as He was in the changing states of His Divine Human life, but as He is, the Glorious One, on whose shoulder is the government of all things; the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.
The one great aim we have had is to relieve, from the idea of a divided God, from the incomprehensible perplexity of a Trinity of separate Divine Persons, all who will, in deep and earnest thought, study this subject in the spirit of prayer to the Lord for His aid, and faith in the truth, with a desire to divest themselves of any views which have prejudices, and not Scriptural principles for their support. We wish to bring the hearts of men, for help and blessing, direct to their Savior; not to ask Him to pray to another Divine Being for them, but Himself to heal their sorrows, restore them to the image of heaven, and prepare them for the celestial abodes. Even in the days of His flesh, He heard the prayer of the afflicted, and healed them at once. He removed disease, He raised the dead, He forgave sins, He fed the multitudes, and stilled the waves, directly by His own command; not by promising to entreat another Being to do so, nor by a power rival to the Father, but by the simple utterance of His own I will, because He was the Father in the Son.
If men were blest THEN by appealing to Him alone, when occasionally there seemed to be a Father distinct from, and above Him, how much more might restoration and blessing be confidently expected to follow prayer to the Blessed Savior, when it may be so fully understood, that in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and we are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
THE POST-ASCENSION PERIOD.
We come now to the Lord in the post-ascension period. And, so far as worship is concerned, it is evident that it is with Him as the risen Lord we are especially concerned. We noticed the Saviors words to Mary immediately after His resurrection, in which He says He has not yet ascended to the Father, and we suggested that these words should not be regarded as implying any local distance between them, but only that the external was not yet fully transfused by the Inmost Divine Love and Wisdom. This state seems soon to have been changed for eight days after, we find the Lord Jesus receiving the worship of Thomas, as His Lord and God. (John xx. 28.)
The apostles evidently regarded the Lord as the only visible Deity, the Lord of all (Acts x. 36.), the Lord of the dead and the living. (Rom. xiv. 9.) Not, let us unceasingly repeat, as a rival Deity, or to the exclusion of the Father, but to the inclusion of the Father, as, in fact, the Father Himself in a Divine Human Form. Hence Paul calls Him God over all, blessed for ever (Rom. ix. 5); the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (Tit. ii. 13); and gives that synopsis of the mystery of godliness which we find in the Epistle to Timothy, not the perplexing and contradicting mystery of three Divine persons, each by himself being God and Lord; but the comprehensible mystery of the incarnation, which when revealed is seen to be full of wisdom and mercy; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory (Tim. Iii. 16); and lastly the words of our text, In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power.
Can anything be more comprehensive than these last declarations of the Apostle? In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead. Infinite love, infinite wisdom, infinite power, omnipresence; whatever constitutes the fullness of the Godhead, the whole Divine Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all are in Him, all the fullness of the Godhead. Ye are complete in Him: all your necessities and your wants will find in him a supply. You were created by Him (John i. 3), you were redeemed by Him (Tim. ii. 14), you will be saved by Him (Matt. i. 21), you are complete in Him. Whom then, do we wish for more? The position we take is, not that there is no Divine Trinity, but that the Trinity is not a Trinity of persons, and that it is all in the Lord Jesus, the Father is the Inmost Soul, the Son is the Divine Humanity, the Holy Spirit is the outflowing spirit of the Lord Jesus. The Savior is spoken of after His resurrection, not only as having all power (Matt. xxviii. 18), but as knowing all things (John xxi. 17), and being everywhere (Matt. xxviii. 20).
In the book of Revelations, the Savior presents Himself for our adoration in the most complete and comprehensive manner; I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty; and subsequently in the same chapter, Fear not He pays, I am the First and the Last. (Rev. i. 8, 17.) Can any person seriously admit these words to be true, and not admit what we have endeavored to show is the doctrine of the whole Word.
He is the Alpha, the Beginning, the First. Can any one be the first, but the Eternal Himself–Jehovah. But He is also the Omega, The Ending, The Last. Is not this, to announce that He has manifested Himself as the Son down to the last and lowest forms of the Universe, even before the eyes of men. WHO IS. He is the all in all of His people; the Ruler of angels and men. Who is the Creator; the Redeemer and Regenerator, the Shepherd, the Pardoner, the Sanctifier, the ever-present Revealer of peace, of light, of power, of joy.
WHO IS wherever His children need His help, in darkness their companion, in hunger their bread, in weakness their strength, in death, their life and resurrection. WHO IS King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s. (Rev. xix. 16.) Wherever His children may be, there He is. (Matt. xviii. 20.) Their Omnipotent and Omnipresent helper. WHO IS.
But He is no new God. He is the Eternal Father manifested. Before Abraham was I am, He said. (John viii. 58). He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. (John i. 10.) HE WAS. But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth to me, that is to be ruler in Israel: whose goings forth have been from of old, FROM EVERLASTING. (Micah v. 2.) HE WAS, Jehovah, our Father, our Friend, our only Savior. And it is He WHO IS TO COME. Who is to come for the church on earth; who is to come for the church in heaven. The especial glory of the church of the future, as we have previously said, is to be, that the Lord Jesus, according to His promise, would show it plainly of the Father. (John xvi. 25.) And when He Himself is seen to be the Father, He then shows us plainly of the Father indeed. And this is truly, everywhere represented as the relation of the Divine Savior to the crowning church among men. Hear another announcement: And, the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev. xi. 15.) Lord and Christ mean the Essential Divinity and the Divine Humanity both in the Lord Jesus. God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts ii. 36.) The kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdoms of Him, who is Lord and Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever.
The Lord Jesus will also be the Rewarder and Blesser, whom we had all adore in heaven. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life. (Rev. ii. 10.) HE WHO IS TO COME. All the angels are progressing, and ever will be, but they will lever equal or exhaust the Divine fullness; He will always be, He who is to come–the Revealer of fresh stores for all, of wisdom, glory, and blessing.
And, lastly, He is the Almighty. There can only be one Almighty, no other is possible. Jehovah is Almighty, Jesus is Almighty. This can only be, if Jehovah and Jesus are one.
An exception has been taken to the eternity of the Saviors reign founded on the words of the apostle Paul, 1. Cor. xv. 24-28, Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
The apostle himself teaches elsewhere that the reign of the Lord Jesus, yes, of the Son, shall be perpetual. But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. (Heb. i. 8.) Jesus Christ, the same today, yesterday, and for (Heb. xiii. 8.) The prophet Isaiah wrote, Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth, even for ever. (Isaiah ix. 7.) And the angel said to Mary, He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be NO END. (Luke i. 33.)
The Lord Jesus, we have abundantly seen, is both the Father and the Son. The apostle, therefore, cannot intend, against his own teaching, and against the other Scriptures, that the Lord Jesus will absolutely resign His government, and leave the reins in other hands than His. But this may be done in relation to the church. Mankind hitherto have not seen Him in His full, true character, of the Eternal Father manifest in the Son, notwithstanding His own plain, direct teaching. The rule they have submitted to has been a subordinate rule–the rule of the Son only as Mediator and Vicegerent. But a, grander light is opening upon the world. The New Jerusalem is gradually descending. Her glory is to acknowledge the glory of God as her light, and the Lamb as the lamp thereof. (Rev. xxi. 23.) She is the bride, the Lambs wife.
The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, in one Divine Person, are her one central temple, the source of all her graces and her blessings. In her, and by her, mankind will learn to know that the Son was but their Father, who had stooped to veil Himself, to reveal as much of His nature and person as they could bear; and now He is unveiling His greater splendors, softer and deeper, and opening eyes and hearts to behold and embrace the Father in the Son. They who have loved Him and been ruled by Him as the Son, will now bow to His paternal scepter, and hail Him with another, sweeter name–their Father; and a Father who has been to them everything–their Prophet, their Teacher, their Priest, their King, their Shepherd, their Guardian, who has been afflicted in all their afflictions, who sought them in all their wanderings, and now is found to be that Glorious One whom they supposed was infinitely far off. Surely they will say, as the patriarch said of old, God was in this place, and I knew it not. This is no other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. We thought He was the Son only; but we find His own words have a meaning in them we never before perceived. If ye had known the Son, ye should have known the Father also. (John viii. 12.) He that believeth me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me, and He that seeth me, seeth Him that sent me. (John xii. 44, 45.)
And lastly, let us listen to the Saviors own teaching once more near the close of the volume of Revelation. I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify these things unto the churches. I am the root, and the offspring of David, the bright and the morning star. The Trinity placed before us by the adorable speaker, seems the precise equivalent of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For what is the root of all things, but the Divine Love, the Father? what is the offspring of David but the Divine Humanity, the Son? and what is the bright and morning Star, but that Holy Spirit which beams upon the benighted soul as a star of hope, to usher in a new day, and gradually gathers splendor as the heart and mind open to the Divine Redeemer, until it blazes at last as a sun that will never withdraw itself and the days of our mourning are ended.
Author: Jonathan Bayley—Twelve Discourses (1862)