in identifying a subject with its notion or appearance, the difficulty of separating the notion from the subject, or of conceiving one of them apart from the other, would be found still greater : indeed it must lead to endless scepticism, if we should conceive a subject to be other than what its genuine appearance bespeaks it; or we may say, than what it appears; that is, its genuine appearance. Therefore the revelation that God was pleased to make of himself, as it is said, “ in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, and latterly by his Son whom he hath appointed heir of all things ” (Heb. i. 1, 2), and also the feeling that we perceive of God by the communion of the Spirit, in short all that we learn or feel truly of God, must be God to us, however perceived, or if he only be felt without a perception. For God may be with us, and is, unperceived-in Power, or Spirit. But as soon as we are conscious of that Power or Spirit, he is with us in Word, or in Wisdom and in Truth. For example, “ If we love one another, God dwelleth in us” (John I. iv. 12); that is spiritually : and“ hereby know we, that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit" (Ib. 13). Now he also dwelleth with us intellectually; as David said,“ the Lord is my Light” (Ps. xxvii. 1): being the same God in either Type, and equally efficient in each ; but there unperceived and here evident, being reflected as it were in the light of the understanding, or rather in the light shed thereon by the Image itself, “ For whatsoever doth make manifest is light" (Eph. v. 13), says St. Paul : and, as St. John

says, was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John i. 9). And whether God be with us spiritually or intellectually, the medium of his Presence will be clearly the same, which is our own nature; being one with God both in Spirit and Intellect, or in Wisdom and Power, through “ Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God” (Cor. I. i. 24). Therefore without going out of ourselves we may find an example of unity in duality, if it be only by that of one God in two modes of per

- That

ception. But another domestic example will also apply to the relation of a duality in unity, and that most completely; being the two opposite natures that meet in every convert to Christianity, and pervade not only the general subject, but every element, every property and almost every action, if not every passion or consequence also, of a man's life; whether it be “ of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (Rom. vi. 16), through the inseparable connexion of the subjective and objective characteristics of either kind respectively, as above described. Wherefore proceeding from this example to a higher for the sake of which it is produced, let us now consider the divine subject in this dual relation, deducing it from the beginning. And

§ 1. The relation of the Father and Son in unity, or the unity of the Father and Son in duality. The unity of the divine nature whenever it occurs in any relation, but particularly in and through Christ, is the very axis of Christian doctrine and the key of its secret treasures. No one can properly understand the writings of the apostles, and of St. Paul particularly, without such an introduction. But let a man take up any of that profound teacher's epistles, as his epistle to the Ephesians for example, bearing in mind the said introduction; and he will soon perceive, whether God ONE IN ALL whom he has chosen to himself, beginning with his Christ, be not its scope or burden. What else can expressions like the following refer to? “In whom (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence'...... that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in ONE all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will ...... And hath put all things under his feet, and given him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness OF HIM THAT FILLETH ALL IN ALL" (Eph. i. 7, 8, 10, 11, 22, 23); if these expressions do not refer to such an unity as there intimated, they have no meaning

Every mention of Christ as the Image of God the Father, and every allusion to him as the Sign of God, or his Ensign or Standard; as for example, " In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious ” (Isai. xi. 10)—is to be construed on the forementioned principle; namely, that“ to us there is but one God, the Father; of whom are all things, and we in Him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (Cor. I. viii. 6). Such are the Father and Son to us in unity : which, notwithstanding a personal distinction between them, is still to be expected; and for the reason before assigned, v. g. that such a relation could not exist without it. Indeed it would appear from the Son's own confession, that his unity with the Father does not extend to every point; as for example, to private purpose, or uncommunicated knowledge; as when speaking of the last day he says, “ But of that day and that hour knoweth no man: no, not the angels which are in Heaven, neither THE SON; but the Father” (Mark xiii. 32); the same being also implied in St. Matthew's account (Matt. xxiv. 36); and also to be inferred from that passage of St. John which says,

“The Father loveth the Son; and sheweth him all things that himself doeth," &c. (John v. 20). For when any purpose is to be shewn, the object to whom it is to be shewn cannot be one in every conception with its subject or the party conceiving and disclosing such purpose. And in every account of the Son's anticipations concerning that day, the same duality or distinction of identity is also proved in respect of it: so that admitting a very peculiar consciousness to subsist between the Father and the Son, and much more perfect than can possibly subsist between two persons of the human or any other

kind, still a difference, disunion and inequality between the two must be owned IN THAT RESPECT.

For whatever distinction or duality there may be between the Father and the Son in some respects, the unity between them in others is also more strict and complete, if one might so say, than can be found perhaps in subjects of any finite nature or species; as 1, in respect of Cooperation; 2, in the important respect of inverse evidence or mutual Attestation; besides the very peculiar, though not perfect consciousness before mentioned.

1. Respecting the Cooperation, or rather, common performance, of these two divine persons we are informed by a saying of one of them, even of the Son himself; intimating a perpetual agency, and by consequence a perpetual cooperation between them,-or rather an unity of action, without which it could not be perpetual. “My Father worketh hitherto; and I work” (John v. 17); said he. And this deserves to be remembered; particularly, as the speaker would appear to sanction by his sayings on other occasions a notion that has been very common, and not the less erroneous, of the Son's absolute

in the great work of redemption which was confided to his good will and direction. Thus he says in one place, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hands” (lb.iii. 35): by “Things" being here meant, as it would seem from corresponding passages, the power, sovereignty or disposal of them, and especially with reference to this high trust or commission : for example, "As Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given him ” (Ib. xvii. 2): and not only over "all flesh" either, but over every other constituent of the Kingdom likewise; as it would seem from his parting declaration, “All power is given unto me in heaven, and in earth” (Matt. xxviii. 18). But the forecited passage (John v. 17) makes it evident that the exercise of such power in the Son is rather by communion, than by what we should call Deputation; and that in fact“ the Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father do” (Ib. 19), as it follows in another verse. And if in ordinary matters the agency of the Son is so involved in permission and precedent-for it is here said he can do nothing of himself, and he can do nothing but what he seeth the Father do-we are not to expect so great a boon as that of eternal life from the Son's own absolute gift; as if he had life of himself a sort of intermediate origin distinct from that of God or man; which were as derogatory to the Subject, as it is inconsistent with reason and truth. He says indeed,“ As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (Ib. vi. 57): from which it would also appear, as if the dependence of the Son on the Father was the same as our dependence on the Son. But he no where intimates such a reciprocity, as the Father living by him ; nor consequently that he is more one, or more equal, with the Father in this respect likewise, than we are equal with him. A little farther reflection and comparing of texts may also satisfy us, that both the eternal life of Christ and our eternal life in him, with every benefit in short derived by him, are all in the same way of communion; that in fact "it is the same God which worketh all in all” (Cor. I. xii. 6); " my Father, and your Father ; my God, and your God," as he told Mary Magdalene (John xx. 17). “And truly (says the divine St. John) our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (John I. i. 3). For, as St. Paul likewise observes to the Ephesians, “ there is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. iv. 4, &c.).


2. Respecting the second part, v. g. of inverse evidence or mutual Attestation between these two first persons of the Godhead, Father and Son, only, and not of the three at present; it may be worth while to notice here the particu

« VorigeDoorgaan »