THERE is a vast difference between the belief of the prominent truths involved in a doctrine of God's word and the belief of the doctrine itself with the power to state it accurately. The former may often be accompanied by a distortion of the truth, resulting either from pressing some point of it to an extreme, or restricting it within too narrow limits. The latter necessarily involves its reception in all the fullness and exactness with which it is revealed, and such an accurate definition of it as displays the harmony of its parts and its completeness as a whole. Every student of the history of doctrine is aware of this. The leading truths involved in every prominent doctrine of the word of God were held and maintained long before the doctrine itself became the subject of definition and the common faith of the Christian world relative to it was distinctly declared. Such definition has by some been erroneously supposed to be the assertion of new truth or the foisting in of additional matter. If this were so, it would be blameworthy, inasmuch as it would be adding to God's word that which it has not taught. Any doctrine thus established ought certainly to be rejected. But when all that has been done has been to gather together all the teachings of the word of God, to weigh them separately and unitedly, to give to each of them the place in the doctrine which the Scripture assigns to it,
and to set forth a statement which excludes nothing and comprehends everything, it is manifest that thus only have we the whole truth which God has revealed in such a form as to exclude erroneous statements of its parts. It is a matter of congratulation, therefore, whenever such a statement has been attained, and especially so when, having been made known and examined again and again during centuries of Christian study and thought, it continues to be accepted as correct.
It is manifestly important also that these definitions of doctrine should frequently be re-stated and reexamined. The Christian who is ignorant of them is left to the same vague impressions and the same liability to misstatements which existed before the definition was made. Besides, it is well that they should be tested in the crucible of every age and every mind, that if there be any error it may be detected and the correction applied.
It is never, therefore, a matter of regret when the activity of Christian thought at any time, or in any locality, is directed towards even the best established, most universally received, and most accurately defined truths of God's word. If the spirit of the investigator be candid and teachable, the cause of God must be advanced by a more universal and correct reception of his revelations to man.
Let the above considerations be our apology, if any be needed, for a discussion at this time of the doctrine of the Scriptures as to the sufferings of Christ. The main facts of that doctrine are so plainly taught in the word of God that few have denied them. They were almost universally received before the doctrine was harmoniously stated. They have been so since. Yet in the absence of that statement, - both before it was made and, as the result of ignorance of it, since, - not only have vague ideas prevailed almost among all, but here and there, in almost every age, persons have arisen who have failed properly to define the teachings of Scripture, and have thus innocently stated opinions whose logical result is doctrine which they themselves would repudiate as heresy.
The Scripture doctrine of the Triune God lies at the foundation of that of Christ's sufferings. Not, as has been said by some, that the threefold personality is essential to the incarnation, but that it is essential to the work which was accomplished in it. We can see no reason why a single person subsisting in the divine essence could not become man as well as one person of the three. But were God only one person, he could not at the same time manifest his rule and authority, and yet empty himself of it. He could not send himself to become his own servant. He could not be at once the lawgiver,
maintaining his law, and its obedient though voluntary subject. Especially could he not make atonement to himself, and pour out his wrath upon his own head at the same time that he endures it. It is not necessary, nor would it be agreable, to mention the many absurdities which Socinians and others have charged upon the doctrine of the atonement, under the idea that we make one and the same person of the Father and Son, by regarding them as one God. Many of their charges would be just were their supposition correct, and they serve to show us how essential to the work of atonement is that distinction in the Godhead which the Scriptures so plainly reveal.
It is important, therefore, to remember that the Scriptures declare to us that the divine nature or essence is one; that whatever distinctions exist in the Godhead, there is but one God. The divine nature is not divided. It is not separately possessed by different persons, as is our human nature. Each person has not his share of it. It is the one common, undivided, indivisible essence, in which all the persons subsist. Each has the whole of it, so that each is fully God. But each has the whole of it only in the sense that each subsists alike with the others in the one common essence or nature. Were this not so, there would be three gods and not one God; as among men three separate persons, although possessed of a common human nature, are three men. The essence or nature of God is not only essentially, but numerically, one.
But while the Scriptures thus reveal the divine nature as one, so that there is but one God, they also teach that in this divine nature or essence subsists three, who are distinguished from each other by distinct personality and personal acts. The Father is not the Son nor the Spirit, - the Son not the Father nor the Spirit, neither is the Spirit the Father or the Son. Each is distinct, and so far as personality is concerned, as much so as though there were no union in a common subsistence in one undivided essence. In virtue of this subsistence each person is God, - yet each is not a god, nor are there three gods, but one only.
Now these are statements of plain Scripture facts. If any doubt that the divine nature is ascribed to Christ and to the Spirit in the word of God, with such we have no controversy here. Our argument is meant only for those who admit the doctrine of the Trinity. To all such the declarations of the unity of God, and of the threefold personal distinction in which he reveals himself, show the oneness of the divine nature or essence, and yet the distinct threeness, so to speak, of the personalities which subsist in it.
When, now, we turn to the word of God, to study its teachings as
to the incarnation, we find that the second person of the Trinity, called in Scripture the Son of God, and the Logos, or Word, was made flesh. It was not the Father nor the Spirit that became man. Neither was it the divine nature common to the three. In the last case, the Father and the Spirit would have become incarnate equally with the Son, but the incarnation is plainly of the Son only. The Scriptures nowhere speak of the incarnation of the Godhead, or of the divine nature. That only became incarnate which the Son possessed distinctively from the Father and Spirit, namely, his personality, yet without ceasing to subsist in the divine nature. Christ speaks of his body as the temple of God, which it certainly was, as the person which dwelt in it was divine; as in a somewhat similar sense our bodies, because of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, are also called the temples of God. Even by the common text of the famous passage in Timothy, "God was manifest in the flesh," the doctrine is only of a manifestation of divinity, not of its incarnation. It tells us not so much of a union effected between divinity and humanity, as that by the incarnation of a divine person the power and glory of God were manifested in that flesh. The same is true also of our bodies when God is glorified in them, though in a much lower sense; and true of Christ's body in its highest sense, because of the union with human nature of that person who is also essentially divine. To the person, indeed, belongs proper divinity equally with the Father and the Spirit; but it is not the divinity which constitutes the person, nor the person that is the divinity, but the person is a distinction which subsists in the Godhead, the nature of which we do not understand, but the existence of which is distinctly taught, - and to that person essentially and inseparably belongs true and undivided divinity. He partakes of the whole essence; but the essence is not the person, for the essence is undividedly common to all, while the persons are distinct and separate from each other. In the incarnation of the Logos, therefore, it is not God in human flesh that we see, except in the sense that the person in human flesh is himself God. It is on this account that the Scriptures so persistently state not that "God came," that "God was sent," that "God was made flesh;" but that "God gave his only-begotten Son," that "God sent not his Son to condemn the world," that "God sent forth his Son made of a woman," that "God sent his only-begotten Son into the world," that "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." This is the universal usage. The Scripture is full of such language, and uses no other. Indeed, in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, in which the doctrines of the
Trinity and the incarnation are so plainly taught, the apostle emphatically declares in the eighteenth verse, that "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."
We thus see that the Scripture doctrine of the Trinity is an essential element of that of the incarnation and work of Christ. Of the three persons there revealed to us as essentially subsisting in the one God, one only, the Word, has become man. The incarnation has therefore been of a divine person, not of the divine nature. It is that which distinguishes him from the Father and the Spirit, and not that which makes him one with them which assumes flesh, and does the work of salvation. This fact is sufficiently important in itself or us to have made it thus prominent, but in the further discussion of this subject we shall have occasion to refer to it in connection with other points.
Another important fact taught in the word of God, is that in this incarnation and work the Son of God maintains his essential relations to the divine nature unchanged. He was therefore as truly God during his incarnation as before that event.
In making this statement we are not unmindful of the declaration made by the Apostle to the Philippians, that Christ Jesus "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, [emptied himself], and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." The subordination to the Father, thus voluntarily assumed by the Son, was manifestly official, and a subordination of one divine person to another. It could not have been a subordination of his divine nature to that of the Father; for, as we have seen, there is but the one divine nature, and that nature is common to both. The subordination, therefore, is of one person to another, the Son to the Father. Neither in that subordination was there any separation of Christ from his divine nature. Such separation was not necessary to the incarnation. But it was necessary that, in his incarnation, he should appear in this world as a man, and not as God. The manifestation of his divine nature was therefore concealed in his assumption of a human form. But more than this, he, equally with the Father and the Spirit, possessed of right, as God, the position of rule and authority over the world. And it is this position which he possessed, and continued to possess essentially as God, which, as the Son, he yielded exclusively into the hands of the Father; so that during the period of his earthly residence, he consented to be as one that was
sent, and thus as the servant, even the slave of his Father, to do his will, and to become obedient to His absolute authority. That this alone is the teaching of the Apostle is plain from the context. The object with which he introduces this statement is to induce the Philippian brethren, in a like spirit of self-submission, to esteem others better than themselves. And after this statement, he enforces this obligation by showing how the Father had so rewarded this act of the Son, that the rightful dominion and power which belonged essentially only to God, and therefore to Christ in his divine nature only, had been so conferred upon him in his human nature, that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." It was this official position of rightful rule and dominion which constituted the glory which he had with the Father, and which he prayed the Father to bestow upon him again. Not that the prayer was necessary to restore it to him in his divine nature, in which he had continued to possess, although not to exercise it; but it was necessary in view of the fact that that position was to be conferred upon him as man, in which respect it could only be attained as a reward, and by the consent of the whole Godhead.
It is well that we should realize that the Scriptures teach no more as to Christ's subordination than that he thus consented, in the retention of his essential equality, to be the messenger and servant of the Father, by whom officially the office of rule and authority was to be exercised, while as God he exacted from the Son the obedience unto death demanded for our salvation. They certainly go no farther. They say nothing of his leaving his divinity behind him, as if it could be put off as a garment, as is indiscreetly said by some. They do not tell us that, in order to dwell upon earth, that divinity had either to cease, or to be absorbed in that of the Father and the Spirit. They never allow that it even had an indefinite existence in a kind of transition state, awaiting the reunion with it of the divine person after the completion of the incarnation work. It is well to remember that they say none of these things, and that they could say none of them; for sometimes men are apt to imagine some such act of Christ, and to overlook the fact so plainly taught us, that while incarnate he was truly God. So full are the teachings upon this point that we have no evidence of Christ's divinity at all which is not with equal force presented with reference to him while here ou earth. All the attributes of divinity are ascribed to him, - eternity of existence, self-existence, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, presence in
heaven and on earth, the contemplation of and unity with the Father. These are declared of him, and manifested by him, while he stood in the form of man, in the midst of his disciples and the multitude. It was while in the same form that he performed acts which none other than God could do, declaring that these acts were done by his own power. He turns water into wine, not through, the ordinary and slow processes of God's general action, but in an instant and without a word. He creates the bread and fish in the very hands of his disciples. He controls the winds and waves. He forgives sin. He gives life to the dead. He makes known events in distant places and at distant times. He lays down his own life; he takes it up again. Nor is it here the prophet, giving the sign while the miracle is wrought by the unseen God. It is his own act of his own power. The constant workings of his divine power and energy, by which he was essentially as God always working with the Father, were, indeed concealed; but thus at times before the people at large, and more frequently before his disciples, the divinity shone forth through the veil which ordinarily concealed it, and testified that he was as truly God as he was also man. If it were not so, how could he be called God during his days in the flesh, - how could he receive worship as such? How could it be the will of the Father that men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father? How could Elizabeth call Mary "the mother of my Lord?" How could the angels announce to the shepherds that Christ the Lord was born? How could Peter declare to the Jews that they had crucified the Lord of glory? How could the Apostle describe the people of God to the Ephesian elders as the church of God [of the Lord] which he hath bought with his own blood? How can men be warned lest they crucify the Son of God afresh and tread him under foot? How could Thomas cry out to him, My Lord and my God? and how Peter confess, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God? It was because, though a servant, he was still the Lord, having his relations to his divine nature unimpaired, and entitled to the names, as he was able also to display the acts and attributes of God.
The importance of this fact of the Scripture teaching cannot be over-estimated. In its appropriate relations to the other truths taught, it becomes the foundation of every hope. It is not a mere speculation. It enters into the very life of the Christian, enabling him to say, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day." It is not sufficient for us to know that the person who died for us was divine before he came into the world. The Scriptures
assure us, and we need to comfort ourselves with the assurance, that he was equally divine when a babe in Bethlehem, when suffering upon the cross, when ascending from Olivet, and even now, while in human nature he rules as mediatorial King, or as our great High Priest, makes intercession for us with the Father. We must even go beyond the idea of some kind of divinity, and recognize him as the unchangeable God who was, and is, and ever shall be, the Almighty, the well beloved Son of the Father, whom he always hears, and to whom all things have been entrusted, in order that the consummation of his glorious kingdom may be fully attained. The incarnation has been indeed of one person only of the Godhead, but of a person truly and essentially divine, whose relations to the divine nature remain unaltered during his incarnation on earth and in heaven.
We are prepared now to consider the humanity of Christ, and to inquire what he became in his incarnation. The Scripture tells us that he was made flesh and dwelt among us, that he was made like unto his brethren, that he was the Son of man, that he was man. By this is certainly not meant that this divine person co-existed with a human person so as to be, after all, two distinct existences or persons, the one receiving grace and favor from the other. In this sense God may be said to co-exist with all men, at least with all the righteous. Nor can the language be confined to the idea of such indwelling that the glory of God is manifested as so specially present that the human person was the temple of the divine. In this sense God dwells even in material substances, as in the tabernacle and temple of old. In this sense the Holy Ghost dwells in the bodies of believers in a still more perfect union. And such indwelling will attain its highest form when God shall dwell in the temple to be composed of his redeemed saints. But though the body of Christ is the temple of God, it is such as the result of a union not less strict than one which made the indwelling person actually and truly a man. While the relation to the divine nature remains unchanged and Christ is still truly God, the relation to the human nature is so assumed that Christ also becomes truly man. He is born of a virgin. He comes in the flesh. He assumes a human nature, which becomes as truly and really, though not as eternally and essentially his, as his divine nature.
We shall hereafter see in what manner the closeness and perfection of the union of these two natures was attained in the oneness of his person. At present let us consider the statements of the Scripture as to the reality of that humanity.
The birth of the humanity of the Son of God was miraculous, -
being begotten of the Holy Ghost in the womb of his virgin mother, just as that mystical body, the church, to which Christ should be united as its head through that humanity, is also the miraculous creation of the same divine Spirit. It was meet that thus all the persons of the Trinity should unite in bringing Christ into his work, - the Father sending the Son, the Son assuming the body prepared for him, and the Holy Ghost preparing that body. The revelation to us of this fact saves ua from the mistake of ascribing the relation of Father and Son to the incarnation of Christ, and shows us that the epithet, Son of God, is due to the eternal relations in the Godhead. The same revelation should also have saved the followers of Apollinaris from supposing that "Christ's humanity was derived from the essence of the Logos" [Dorner I. ii. 354], and that the Logos formed a body capable of suffering out of His own substance by conversion, and that "as to one aspect of His essence he renounced his immutability, fell away from his own nature, and thus converted himself into flesh, bones, and an entire body" [Dorner I. ii. 355]. Even upon the simplest subjects we can scarcely estimate the importance of clinging closely to the word of God, and receiving its statements with childlike faith. But we have here a signal warning of the danger upon those so mysterious of venturing a single step beyond the plain teachings of inspiration.
Those Scriptures reveal to us a proper humanity, consisting of a real body and a rational soul. Christ is represented as combining in his humanity all that is in ours, except that he, being without sin, exhibited that perfection of humanity which has appeared in no other of the race except in Adam, before his fall.
That the body of Christ was truly human is no longer questioned. In the earliest times heretical views appeared upon this subject. It was supposed that matter is inherently evil, and, therefore, that Christ could have connection with it. His body, therefore, was regarded as an appearance only, a mere phantom or form, which to the eyes of men appeared to exercise the functions of a body, but which had no real existence. It is generally supposed that it was to a heresy of this kind that the Apostle John alludes in his epistles. Certainly such heresies existed in the age next to the Apostles. But they soon entirely disappeared, and there is no longer any dispute as to the fact that Christ had a true human body, composed of bones and flesh and blood, as are the bodies of other men.
The Scripture statements as to the fact are unquestionable. Christ is spoken of as conceived in his mother's womb, as born, as receiving nourishment from her breast, as receiving circumcision, as growing in .
stature, as hungering, thirsting, as being wearied, as eating, drinking, sleeping. We are told of his bodily pain, of his bloody sweat, of his sinking under exhaustion, of his pierced body, of his bones that were not broken, of the wounds made in his hands by the nailing to the cross. We are told of the parts of his body, - his hands, his feet, his side, his head, his brow, his cheek, and of his breast, on which the beloved disciple leaned. In short, the entire representation presents him possessed of such outward form, influenced by such bodily feelings, and engaged in such bodily acts, as assure us of the reality of his body. No other idea is possible, unless we can adopt the Docetic theory referred to above. Could we mention no other reason, it is plain that if the real assumption of a real body was derogatory to Christ, the effort would not have been so persistently made to present that body as real, and to induce the multitude and his disciples to believe it such.
But the testimony of Scripture settles this very question. The Epistle to the Hebrews declares that "forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also likewise took part of the same." If it be objected that these words refer not to the constituents of human nature specified as "flesh and blood," but simply to the complete humanity; certainly such an interpretation, which we believe to be correct, cannot be accepted without including as a part of the human nature thus ascribed to Christ, the very constituents of it which are used to describe that nature.
But we have two remarkable accounts in Scripture which are exactly applicable to this Docetic theory. Matthew tells us that "when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit, and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid." Here the fact that it was himself, is presented by Christ in order to deny that what they saw was a spirit. The other instance is even stronger. On the resurrection day he appeared to two, on their way to Emmaus. These returned, and told to the "eleven gathered together, and them that were with them," what things were done in the way. Luke tells us that, "as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold, my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed
not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of broiled fish and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them." The evidence, therefore, that Christ in his incarnation possessed a real human body, subject to all the sinless infirmities of our bodies, is thus put beyond all question.
The evidence that in like manner he possessed a real human soul, has been almost universally regarded as equally conclusive. The only difficulty in the way of its acknowledgement has arisen from the manifest Scripture teaching of the unity of his person. It has been supposed by some that if he had a human soul he must have been two persons, and not one only. It was because of this that Apollinaris taught that he had no human soul, but that his divine nature occupied the place of the thinking and spiritual part of his humanity. His theory, however, even at the time it was originated, was rejected with singular unanimity, although the exact statement of the true nature of the union had not then been developed. It has, however, been revived from time to time, and has maintained again and again a brief notoriety, only to be again forgotten in the general reception of the truth. It is however, proper to give it due consideration, as it is held by a few persons even at the present day, and is the only theory which disputes the proper and complete humanity of our Lord. We proceed, therefore, to discuss this theory in connection with the presentation of the Scripture teachings as to the human soul of Christ.
The fact that the almost universal conviction of Christendom has been that the Scriptures teach a human soul in Christ, is strong presumptive evidence in its favor. As a matter of course it is not conclusive, but the probabilities are greatly in its favor. The theory that is opposed to it has been generally known. There have been no reasons from prejudice or otherwise to cause its rejection. The only ground that can be alleged is, that in the study of the word of God an actual conviction has been attained that it teaches that Christ had a human soul, and that it does not teach that his divine nature occupied the place of that soul, or by any change became itself a human soul. The objection that thus two persons must exist in Christ, is not an objection to the existence of a human soul, but to the unity of his nature. If, therefore, such be the union that Christ can as one person subsist in two natures without involving that personal duality, the full objection to the human soul is removed. If we admit, however, that this position cannot be proved, the two theories present themselves accompanied by their respective difficulties, - the one which amounts only to a difficulty in our conception of a psychological fact, the very existence of which difficulty may be a matter of fancy
or apprehension only, the other which involves such an explanation of the statements made of Christ's life and acts as to deny that to be human action which would be so regarded in any other person, and to ascribe to divinity suffering, temptation, and death. Surely there can be no wonder that the plain common sense of the Christian world, even where untaught as to the full meaning of the Scripture doctrine, and unable to remove the difficulties urged against it, has accepted this mere conviction of inability to reconcile the Scripture statements of One truly God and truly man, and yet but one person, rather than adopt a theory which partially denies the facts themselves.
We shall show before we conclude that this difficulty is not incapable of explanation. At present let us examine these contending theories in the light of Scripture.
In this examination we ought not to forget what we have before stated, as to the relations of the persons of the Godhead to the divine nature. Because of the unity of God the Son does not possess a different nor a separate divine nature from the Father and the Spirit. When it is said, therefore, that Christ's divine nature became his human soul, is it meant that the divine nature which he possessed in common with the Father and the Spirit assumed humanity? If so, then the incarnation was of the whole Godhead, - of the Father and the Spirit as well as the Son. Or is it meant that that divine nature of Christ, which belonged to him separately from the Father and the Spirit, assumed a human body and became its soul? If so, what was that divine nature? As we have seen, he had none except that one in which he subsists with the Father and the Spirit. To maintain otherwise is to assert not a trinity of persons in the Godhead, but three persons, each with a divine nature separate from the others; in other words, to assert three Gods. The very unity of God's essence, therefore, forbids the doctrine of Christ's divine nature as a substitute for the human soul. That only has become incarnate which has multiplicity, namely, a divine person and not a divine nature. It is God as the Son of God, and not God as essentially God, that has become man. It is not the Godhead, the divine nature or essence, but one of the persons subsisting in the Godhead. But if so, there is no divine nature here becoming a human soul.
But to proceed to a comparison of the two theories with the Scriptural statements as to Christ's intellectual and spiritual life here on earth. Neither of them denies that there were intellectual and spiritual acts of Christ performed while he was in the flesh. The common theory asserts that some of these were performed by Christ in virtue of his divine nature, and some of them in virtue of his
human soul. Those which are manifestly divine acts are ascribed to Christ as God; those which are manifestly human actions are ascribed to him as man, and are supposed to be due to his possession of similar powers of thinking, willing and doing as other men. That there are divine acts, therefore, is allowed by those maintaining both theories, and also that there are some acts which, if he had a human soul, it would be difficult to classify, or to say whether they are the acts of his divine or his human nature. The only question, therefore, is, were there any acts or experiences of Christ here on earth which could not have resulted from a divine nature, but which are stamped with a distinctively human character?
We are willing to narrow the question down to this point, although it would be perfectly legitimate to press the arguments presented by the ancients against Apollinaris and his followers, and inquire, how the Scriptures can be justified in calling Christ a man, and in representing his humanity as a qualification for his work of righteousness and atonement if he had but a human body only. Does the body alone constitute humanity? If the body alone suffered, how then are the souls of men healed? If when he appeared upon earth as a man, he had only the body of man, was he not, in the most important element of humanity, only an appearance or phantom of a man? Was it the body only of mankind that had sinned and was condemned, and did the soul need no redemption? Was the virtue secured by the divine nature in such incarnation human virtue, - was it, indeed, any virtue at all? But justifiable as such inquiries would be, we prefer not to venture even upon such plain metaphysical questions. Any one curious in this direction will find them amply stated by Dorner, in his history of the arguments of that day. We shall rest upon the simple statements of the Scriptures. They are abundantly sufficient to put this question at rest.
The question then recurs, Were there any acts or experiences of Christ here on earth which could not have resulted from a merely divine, intellectual, and spiritual nature, but which are stamped with a distinctively human character?
When we approach the word of God, it is a matter of surprise and congratulation that we find so much said in proof of such acts. Of the theory of the substitution of the divine nature for the human soul, not one hint is given throughout the entire Scriptures. Not a syllable is written there which teaches any thing more than that a divine person became incarnate. Nothing is said of. the absence of a human soul; nothing of the incarnation being in only a partial human nature; nothing to show that the divine nature had any thing
to do with the work, except that the divine nature was possessed by him who became incarnate, but possessed by him not separately from, but unitedly with, the other persons of the Godhead. The Scriptures teach not that the divine nature, that God became incarnate, but that he, who aa well as the Father and the Spirit is God, became man.
But while the Scriptures are thus silent, - a most unaccountable fact if this theory be true, — the instances of mere human emotion and action are abundant. Let the statements already referred to in connection with the body be here again recalled, that it was not simply the temple in which Deity dwelt, but that it was affected by all those passions and desires which arise from association with a human soul. Whence do weariness, fatigue, toil, suffering, desire arise? When separated from the soul, does the body ever experience such emotions and passions? Are they to be accounted for upon the supposition that the body affected in this manner also the divine nature acting as the soul? Is the divine nature capable of such affection from a mere material organization, a mere shell of a man, the mere tabernacle in which it dwells? Would such an idea be admitted for a moment of the influence of our bodies upon the Holy Ghost which dwells within them? A more vital union than what is taught of us must exist. That which can so affect must be not a mere dwelling-place, but must be personally united with the nature thus affected. Are they prepared to admit that the body of a man may be thus personally united with the divine nature of Christ? If so, why may not the same union be admitted of the soul also? Is a twofold personality created in the one case more than in the other? Yet the objection is made to the existence of a human soul that thus twofold personality must exist, and that as Christ is but one person, his divine nature must have been his human soul or have been substituted for it.
But it may be said that the affections referred to are those of the body only, and that even among men they are not associated with the soul, and that the life indicated in them is only the physical life possessed by all animals, and that such life is not inconsistent with the absence of a rational soul. The position assumed would not be correct; but if we grant that it is so ordinarily, what advantage would the opposing theory have? Is if, not still a fact that the body exercises, in some cases at least, great influence over the mind, as well as the mind over the body? Does not bodily disease often enfeeble the powers of the mind and affect its action? Does not the mind often maintain the body by its will, and depress it by its mental trials ? When, therefore, we see such results produced in Christ, are we not forced to suppose them due to the same causes as produce
them among men? What was it, then, that gave occasion and power to the Tempter in the wilderness, except the bodily desire arising from the preceding fast of forty days? To what was due the inability of Christ to carry his cross to crucifixion, if not to the failure of his bodily powers, due to the deep mental agony which he had endured in the garden and the judgment hall? In his temptations, too, what was it that was tempted? Was it God? Was it the divine nature of Christ, which had taken the place of a human soul? What is the testimony of the apostle James? - "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." In the face of a declaration so positive and so unqualified, written, too, after the temptation of Christ, and with a full knowledge of all the facts of that temptation, can we for a moment hesitate to believe that the intellectual and spiritual nature of Christ, which was then tempted, was not divine, and must therefore have been human?
But the Scriptures not only present Christ to us liable to the mutual influences of body and mind, and to the temptations arising from them under the influences of Satan, but they teach us that he received also the gracious influences of the Holy Ghost. That the body was thus affected is undoubted, for the body was conceived by the Holy Ghost. But the influence of the Spirit over the soul is also taught. At the baptism of Jesus, we are told that "the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove, upon him." After the baptism, "Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness." After the temptation, "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee." At Nazareth, in his first recorded public discourse, "he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor." . . . "And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled In your ears." What now is the nature of these influences, and why were they exerted? They were certainly influences upon his soul, and why should they have been exerted if that soul was the divine nature? What need could divinity have for consecration, for grace; what need to be led, or, as Mark expresses it, to be driven into the wilderness? How could a divine being lack in that which constituted his divinity? That the wants of the body might be supplied is not strange. The body is human, but if he had no human soul, what was it that the Holy Ghost influenced?
The Scriptures, however, do not present Christ as receiving aid from a divine person only. At the close of the temptation, angels
came and ministered to him. It may be said that this was only to the body; and we care not to dispute the position, although as much of his temptation had been mental and not corporal, it is not probable. But certainly it was the agony of the spirit of Christ, and not of the body, which that angel was sent to relieve, which strengthened him in Gethsemane.
We have not only these Scripture declarations of assistance and gracious influences exerted upon Jesus, but such action of Christ is spoken of as is not consistent with the idea that he had no human soul. If his divine nature was his only intellectual and spiritual condition, it must always have been present operating in him, or when it ceased he could have had no intellectual and spiritual action. Yet we find him thus exercised when it is impossible to account for such action except upon the supposition of such restraint, limit, and subjection as cannot be true of God.
The declaration that Christ marvelled at the unbelief of certain persons, is perfectly intelligible when spoken of a human soul, but not when ascribed to the mind of Deity. So also that statement of Luke, that "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man," and that other assertion of Christ, so plainly and distinctly made, of his ignorance of the time of the final judgment, can be comprehended as possible only of his human soul, to which had not been imparted the knowledge which he must have possessed as God. What shall be said also of his subjection to his parents after the dispute with the doctors in the temple? Was it only bodily subjection? What could exclusively bodily subjection mean? Is it not the mind and the heart that yields obedience and submits, to authority? What then was it that was thus subject? Was it his divine nature? Was it God himself? Can God be thus subjected to a creature? Yet if Christ had no human soul, there were then, at Nazareth, two persons to whom the infinite and omnipotent God, the Ruler of the Universe, was subject in his real divine nature, giving them reverence and obedience, recognizing in them an official superiority, and submitting to their will. Ought not a theory to be well supported by the word of God, instead of coming to us without a particle of such authority, when it requires us to entertain such belief?
What reason also can be assigned for the prayers of Jesus, if so far as his soul is concerned he is only divine? Is the body under such obligation or necessity to humble itself before God, that the divine nature must cast it upon the ground, and accompany that prostration with words and cries which seem to be prayer, but which are not so; or do we find here a soul really oppressed with heavy burdens,
delighting in converse with God, knowing that there is a place for prayer, and seeking and rejoicing in the privilege of offering it? Is that soul God? Is it itself the object to which earnest appeals are made? or is the man Christ Jesus lifting up the voice of supplication to his Divine Father for aid and blessing? Let not the fact be overlooked that these prayers are for himself, and not for others only; most frequently for himself. From time to time it is recorded that he withdraws himself, sometimes alone, sometimes with a chosen few, often spends the whole night in prayer, and in that delightful duty forgets the body and its wants, as he once did in preaching the gospel at the well to the Samaritan woman. A signal instance of this is given at the approach of the hour of his death. He proposes to withdraw for prayer with three of his disciples, telling them that his soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death. Mark tells us that this was because "he began to be sore amazed and to be very heavy." "He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass from him." He returned and found them sleeping, and spoke to them, "and again he went away and prayed, and spake the same words." Matthew tells us that he did this three times. Now, is not this human actio? What is there in it that is befitting or possible to a merely divine intelligence and spirit? He is troubled, is sore amazed, and goes and asks and comes back, and, restless and anxious, returns a second and a third time. If his were a human soul, how otherwise would he have done? But, if divine, what reality could there be in these emotions, what need could he have, what comfort, what strength could he gain in such an act? Upon the supposition of a human soul, the presence of that strengthening angel is accounted for; but how explain the strength which any creature, however exalted, can give to the Almighty Creator?
The very language of Scripture, too, is expressive as to the condition of his soul in that hour of trial. "He began to be sore amazed and to be very heavy." He says, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death." He prays, "that if it were possible the hour might pass from him." He asks the Father, "take away this cup from me." "My soul is troubled," says he, "and what shall I say. Father, save me from this hour; but for this purpose came I to this hour. Father, glorify thyself. Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." What have we here but trouble and anguish, and doubt and fear, and trust and desire of release, and yet full resignation? Are these characteristics of a divine mind, or do we not see here the blessed truth of the complete humanity of Christ revealed for our comfort and
assurance? For what other purpose the record of such facts? Can God be honored by showing his divine nature thus racked and agonized in the performance of that great work which it is claimed must be done by God alone? Surely, it is the humanity of the Saviour that is here revealed, even before the final agony and triumph. The proof that this same person is God is not lacking. It is indeed the Son of God who thus, in human soul and body, is doing the work. God has plainly revealed that the union with the divine nature remained unchanged throughout even these scenes of suffering and trial, but has also at the same time given to us these proofs of the complete human nature, both soul and body. He has done it that we may not be left in doubt as to the fullness and completeness of that salvation which demanded a victim who should be truly man as well as truly God, that in both human soul and body he might endure suffering to which the dignity of his divine person gives an inestimable value. Even in the hour of crucifixion, it is not the body only, not the body chiefly, that is racked with agony. It is the soul that had begun the shedding of blood in the garden, which now causes the heart to break in its deep felt agony at the Bin with which it is burdened, at the wrath which it endures. Even that wondrous excellence which Christ displayed in this last day of suffering is only human. It has been approached, as the disciple may approach the Master, by many of his suffering martyrs, guided by the perfect example there displayed. Where, but unto this, shall we look for the embodiment of ideal humanity, the type of the race as it came from the hands of God? With what tenderness and self-forgetfulness does he address the daughters of Jerusalem, who bewailed and lamented him as he tottered toward his crucifixion? With what filial affection for his mother, and tender love for his friend, does he, while on the cross, forget his own agony, that he might provide for the welfare of her who bore him! Yet not thus alone does his soul rise above the awful scenes which surrounded him. For the very enemies which were inflicting death upon him ascends his prayer of gracious entreaty. By his side, also, there hung a criminal who had looked upon the wounds of Jesus, and learned to know the wondrous sacrifice he was making for sinners. From that thief, who but a short time since had joined his companion in his revilings, breaks forth the prayer for remembrance when Christ should come in his kingdom. Christ casts upon him the glance of pity, and assures him that upon that very day they should meet in Paradise. Was this divine action? The compassion is indeed Godlike, but it is still exercised according to that human nature which is in the likeness of God. We have here but additional displays of the
tenderness of that heart which condemned not the woman that had sinned, which could not repress its tears at the grave of Lazarus, which lamented and wept over the beloved Jerusalem, and which on that last night displayed itself, when Christ washed the feet of his disciples. Oh, perfection of humanity, may we well exclaim, which finds its joy in ministrations of love; which fears not to humble itself; which even withholds not its own life from those it loves; why rob thee of thy beauty and thy glory, to weave a chaplet for the brow of divinity! Let that glory be acknowledged as seen in him who has thus in thine own nature redeemed thy lost and ruined race. But call not this divinity. The distance between even this and God is infinite; this the creature, the finite, the mutable, the suffering, the dying, and He the creator, the infinite, the immutable, who cannot suffer, who cannot die. It is when we recognize this difference between such humanity and God, that we understand why, to the one who called him good Master, Christ said, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God." God alone is good as well as great. In the presence of his infinite, eternal, and essential goodness, all creature excellence is folly. The distance between the divine and the human excellence, even where united in Christ, is immeasurable. The acts due to the divine nature are marked and characteristic, and so also are those of his human nature. While we look at the former, we must say this is God; none but he can perform such acts, can possess such attributes, can be called such names. Equally while we look at the latter, must we say this is man. None but man can thus suffer, can thus be limited, can thus pray, can thus sympathize. The very nature of God forbids that he should change, that he should be limited, that he should be dependent, that he should be affected by anything outside of himself, that he should be ignorant of any future event. The familiar passages of Scripture which teach this, suggest themselves at once. "I am the Lord, I change not." "The heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee." "None can stay his hand or say unto him, What doest thou?" "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." These passages, conclusive as they are, express but feebly the invariable teachings of the word of God. A remarkable testimony is given by the Psalmist: "Thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth ; and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end." The most stable parts of
God's creation are here adduced, and the statement made that even these shall change, but not he. Thou art the same. How strange, too, that he says of the mere law of God, permanent only because it is the exponent of his will and nature, that these same heavens and earth shall pass away without one jot or one tittle of change in it, while himself experiencing changes in the conditions of that very divine nature of which it is the exponent. Yet just to the assumption of this position are they driven who maintain that Christ had no human soul, but that his divine nature occupied its place. All of the suffering, limitation, dependence, ignorance, is ascribed by them to divinity itself. They admit, they even claim, that the divine nature suffered upon the cross, at least participated in the suffering. It experienced change. It was subordinated to that of the Father. It was ignorant of certain future events. When confronted with the teachings of the word of God, as to the immutability and independence of God, they say that this has reference only to involuntary suffering and change, not to that to which he chooses to subject himself. They give us, however, no evidence from the word of God that the divine nature could thus choose to suffer or change, nor any that it has ever thus chosen. The language spoken of Christ they assume to be spoken of the two natures unitedly, instead of the one person in whom they were united; and, therefore, they argue that the suffering of Christ must have been the suffering of both natures, and not of that one nature in which alone, according to all the rest of God's word, he could thus suffer. It is especially unfortunate for the advocates of this theory of voluntary suffering and change, that the declaration, "I am the Lord, I change not," has especial reference to immutability, where it might have been supposed that God would have chosen to change, - if, like man, he could have been capable of change If this doctrine of divine mutability were pressed to its logical conclusions, one can scarcely imagine what a revolution would be produced in the doctrine of God, in the foundation of virtue, and in the moral government of the universe. Could we think that God were such an one as to change himself, into what might we not imagine that choice to lead him? The Universalist might then depict him without his essential justice, the voluptuary make him a God of pleasure and lust, the despot describe him as filled with savage hate; but not to multiply examples, each would make him such an one as himself. With such a theory, what assurance have we that right and wrong would continue to be right and wrong? The foundation of morals is in the nature of God; but if, according to this theory, that nature can be changed, what certainty would we have as
to the Supreme Ruler of the universe? God may choose voluntarily to subject himself, and yield his authority to a creature.
The truth is, that the advocates of no human soul and of suffering divinity have yet to learn the first principles of the Christian doctrine of God's nature and attributes. To sustain their view they must deny the unity of God, which establishes the undivided nature of His essence, - a truth ignored by them when they suppose the divine nature of the Son to be separable from that of the Father and the Spirit, or to be capable of separate incarnation. They have also to learn the boundless perfection of that being to whom nothing can be added, from whom nothing can be taken away, whose life is neither measured by increase nor diminution, nor marked by succession or duration, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
To realize the complete humanity, which we have thus established as belonging to Christ, is as important as to recognize his proper divinity. Both, as we have seen, are plainly revealed to us in the word of God, and revealed as possessing, still in their union in Christ, all of their characteristic peculiarities. As vitally united, however, in the one person, who subsists in both natures, they fully concur together in that work of salvation which neither of them could separably have accomplished. Thus is given to us the one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, the Son of God. Thus is given an atonement and a righteousness of ample merit for all our sins. Thus is presented a sympathizing High Priest "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," "in all points tempted like as we are, but without sin." As we draw nigh nigh unto the sacrifice, and learn whose blood it is that is offered for us, we can realize the completeness of salvation. And as we read from time to time the story of the days of his incarnation, and remember that in the same perfect humanity in which he then appeared he now officiates as our intercessor, with what confidence of sympathy, with what assurance of tender pity and gracious condescension are we filled in our approaches to him to be healed of our sicknesses, to find consolation in our sorrows, and to pour out before him those secret woes of horror and dismay, which we dare breathe to no other, but which may go up with deep contrition and humbleness of heart indeed to him, yet through him and because of him, with boldness unto a throne of grace.
While we are thus, however, forced to recognize the separation of the two natures of Christ, considered in themselves, we are also taught that they are vitally united, in that they both belong to one divine person. The closeness and perfection of their union consists in this: We have
not here a God and a man, but we have one who is God and who also is man, and who thus, being the one person, unites in himself through these two natures the many exactly opposite characteristics needed for his work. Despite the contradictory character of his natures, the personality is but one. That in him, which we call the ego, the myself which marks individuality, that in which he was in the Godhead, not the Father nor the Spirit, was common to both natures. With the divine nature, however, it is inseparably, necessarily, eternally and essentially united; for that nature cannot change nor assume new relations, not even doing so when the divine person which subsists in it assumes humanity. But with the human nature the personality was associated voluntarily and separably, though permanently, the human nature having been created for the purpose, and assumed by the divine person of his own will, in the fullness of time. It is because of these facts that our Lord invariably uses the expression "I" of himself, either in his human or divine nature, or in both, whether speaking of himself as Son of God, or as Son of Man, or as the Messiah; and whether referring to his human actions and emotions, or his divine works and attributes, or his official work as Mediator.
But inasmuch as thus Christ assumed no additional personality, and as personality in man is certainly essential, the question arises, Did he thus really become a man ? Is this being made like unto his brethren?
To this it may be said, that if the Scriptures represent Christ as becoming man, and yet teach that this is all that is done, that teaching is alone sufficient. We need no further testimony. God, who has made us, knows better than we do what is essential to the constitution of man.
But let us consider the difficulty which is here thought to need explanation. It is said that, to be completely a man, Christ must also be a human person. Let this be granted, and we ask, Is his person not a human person, so far as respects his humanity alone, just as it is a divine person, so far as it respects divinity? Does individuality acquire character separated from the nature which belongs to it? Would Christ be any longer divine if separated from his divine nature? If he were at any time to cease from his incarnation, would he be any longer a man? What is personality except individual existence, and what gives to it its character, except the nature in which it inheres? What difference is there in the personality of a man or an angel, of Abraham and of Gabriel, separated from their respective natures?
Within the same race, too, what constitutes personality? Is it the continued retention, unchanged, of the same identical portion of the
common nature, the same body and the same soul? Science teaches that such complete changes occur in our bodies, that there is at no time a particle left of what existed a few years before. While the soul cannot be measured in like manner, experience teaches us of great changes even here, in its capacities, emotions, habits, tendencies, and in numerous other respects. Yet amid all these changes the personality remains unchanged. Newton, in the strength and ripeness of his maturer years, is after all the same person that was once a child, without training or knowledge.
Even the moral nature undergoes change, without the change of personality. It was the same Adam that dressed and kept the garden in Eden, in the purity and innocence of a perfect man, who, yielding to the temptation, eat the fruit; who felt the sting of conscience when the voice of the Lord was heard within the garden; and who, receiving the curse which his transgression had merited, went forth an exiled sinner from the home God had created for him. It was the same Paul that held the clothes of the martyr Stephen, who, in the contemplation of his own martyrdom, exclaimed, I am now ready to be offered.
Nor is personality even destroyed by actual separation from a part of the nature which belongs to it. The thief, to whom Christ spoke peace, was the same person afterward in Paradise, though he had left his body hanging upon the cross. The saints, who are with Christ, are the same persons that once dwelt on earth, in bodies now mouldered into dust.
Personality is still recognized, as existing unimpaired, even in a state of utterly unconscious connection with the nature in which it inheres. Instances of this are frequent. The pressure of the skull upon the brain produces this result. The condition arising from trance, or from the use of chloroform and other anaesthetics, is also of this kind, if such may not be regarded as the normal condition of healthy slumber.
If, now, all these are facts, why may not a person who possesses one nature assume another also, and yet be as truly a person in that nature as any others who possess it?
But some one may object, that the difficulty arises, in the case of Christ, from the union in the one person of the two natures, essentially different, - in one of which Christ had before existed, and with which he is essentially united, while the other is only assumed in time, and that, too, voluntarily. We would ask such an objector, if this does not find sufficient analogy in the twofold nature united in ordinary human persons? Does not personality seem to exist inseparably
from the soul and separably from the body? Even in this life, because of the changes of body before referred to, this is constantly, though not so ostensibly, the case; but at death the personality is with the soul, in the presence of God; not at all with the body, in the corruption of the grave. So also shall it remain, until, at the resurrection, the matter which composes the body shall be reunited to the personality, which hascontinued to subsist with the spiritual nature. It is true that we cannot speak of these two elements of our nature, as separated from each other as widely as humanity and divinity, because in the one case we are comparing the finite and the infinite, and in the other two finite existences only. Yet how vast is the distance between matter and spirit, — so vast, indeed, as to be only surpassed by that between the finite and the infinite.
It is likewise true that we cannot speak of such essential union between the human soul and its personality, as we can between Christ and his divine nature. Yet we have reason to believe the union so complete, that from the beginning of the soul's existence throughout all eternity there shall be no separation.
Upon what grounds, then, can it be asserted that the absence of a separate personality, for Christ's human nature, made Jesus in any respect not like unto his brethren? Scripture affirms, and reason supports the idea, that the same person existing and operating, we know not how, but according to the nature of God, was truly God; and also existing in human nature, and operating as we do, through its conscious relations to the real body and human soul, of which that nature was composed, was truly man. In each nature he knew of his relation to the other, as God knowing that he was man, as man knowing that he was God. Yet the divine nature did not partake of that human knowledge and experience which he had of affliction, suffering and temptation, any more than the human nature experienced the conscious relation of Christ to the Father in the divine nature, or possessed the attributes of omniscience or omnipresence. No limitations, nor changes, which he experienced in his human nature, could deprive him of complete divinity; nor could any influence, or any value arising from the essential union of his person with his divine nature, take away from the absolute and real humanity assumed by Christ, and consciously realized by him when he became man. However united, he was capable of separate experience, action, thought and knowledge, and, indeed, of separate conscious existence in the two natures. Thus is it, at least, with us. We have separate experience of the sufferings and joys of our souls and of our bodies, and this fact removes any difficulty in believing that it was so with Christ,
as to his divine and human natures, when we find the Bible thus teaching.
It is here that we are to find the full explanation of the many seeming contradictions involved in what is taught us of the person and work of Christ. So intimate is the union of the one person with two such distinct natures, that we cannot always separate what Christ says of himself, as God, from what is said as man. This, however, may puzzle us in interpreting the word of God, but not in harmonizing its statements. But without this doctrine the word of God cannot be made at one with itself. When, however, we remember that, though truly divine, he is truly human, and that, because of the one person, all that he does in either nature may be as fully said to be done by him, as though he had no other; we can then see how beautifully and regularly the Scripture statements fall into their respective ranks, and in that twofold unity each statement receives its full force. It is thus that he, who is said to fill the universe, was contained in the womb of Mary; that he, whose are the cattle upon a thousand hills, felt the pangs of famishing hunger; that he, who made the world, had not where to lay his head; that he, who had given to the fig-tree its fruit, and knew what it bore, came to it, if haply he might find anything thereon; that he, to whom as God are known all things from the foundations of the world, yet offered up fervent prayers, with agony and strong supplication, not for others only, but chiefly for himself, and also declared that he knew not the judgment day; that he, who, as God, had given salvation to men before his incarnation, because of the certainty of the work he would accomplish, yet as man approached with shrinking, and perhaps with fear of failure in his work, praying the Father that the cup might pass from him. And, hanging upon that cross, how amazing the mystery of contradiction! As God, he enjoys supreme felicity in the unchanged blessedness of his divine nature. As man, he is in vital agony both of body and soul. As God, the eternal outflowings of the mutual love of the Father and the Spirit, and of himself, the eternal Son, continue to bestow unabated mutual bliss. As man, he is the victim of the Father's wrath, which, because of the sin upon him, culminates in that Father's withdrawal amid the agonizing cry of the Son, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? With a loud cry the mortal man dies, but the eternal life of God remains unchanged.
Thus have we seen in the review of the Scripture teachings, as to the doctrine of the suffering Christ, that in the possession of an unchanged and proper divine nature, and a complete human nature, Christ suffered on our behalf. The sufferer was God and was man.
Yet it was not God that suffered, but he that is God, being also man, suffered in his human nature. As the same person, however, was united with both natures, and as that person was the Son of God, so may we say that the Son of God suffered. This, however, is the suffering of a divine person, not of the divine nature, and of that person, otherwise incapable of suffering, through the assumption of human nature. If, therefore, called upon to give expression to the Scripture statements upon this whole subject, we may express it thus: There is one God, in three persons, distinct in personality, but undividedly and unchangeably the same in essence and nature. We may speak of a divine person, but not of a divine nature; we must say the divine nature. A divine person may, therefore, become incarnate, and yet the incarnation be not of the whole Godhead, for the persons are distinct; but the divine nature cannot, because, as common to all, its incarnation would be that of the whole Godhead. It was a person of this Godhead, the Son, the Word, who so united to himself human nature, as to become a person in that nature, a man. In this union he assumed all that constitutes a man. The fact that he had no other personality than such as had always subsisted in the divine nature, does not make him an impersonal man. It only forbids the idea of an additional personality exclusively in the human nature. This human nature was assumed because necessary to the work of salvation, it being impossible that a being only divine could undergo the experience necessary to redeem man. In its assumption the divine nature of Christ was wholly unchanged, and the human nature still remained purely human. The nature of personality, however, allows a most vital union of the two natures in his one person. Thus, uniting in himself God and man, Christ suffered. There was here, therefore, no participation of the divine nature in the suffering. Such participation would involve actual suffering of that nature. But there was this connection of God, even of the undivided divine essence, that he who thus suffered subsists eternally and essentially in that essence, and is God. Yet, intimate as is the connection of the two natures, they are not merged in each other, nor does either of them lose its separate conscious existence, nor the possession of those peculiarities which make the one divine and the other human. It is one person, truly God and truly man, — as much God as though not man, as much man as though not God. The human can add nothing to the divine, except that it gives to the person that is divine the means of suffering for and sympathizing with us. The divine adds to the human only that it gives to him that is thus man that dignity and glory and power, which enables him to perform
the work of salvation, and to give to that work an inestimable value.
We believe that in the statements thus made, will be found all the elements which the word of God and the experience and need of Christian hearts demand. They present Christ as God and man, as suffering, and yet not so as to require change in the divine nature. They account for the human as well as the divine experience of Christ, as the natural results of the two natures. They show that, with all these, he was one person, clothed with all the dignity and worth, as well as the nature, of God, yet capable of all the temptation and suffering, as well as possessed of the nature of man. In short, they present to us the Lord Jesus Christ as the suffering Saviour, capable of being a sufferer because a man, and of being a Saviour because also God. We have seen this to be the doctrine of the word of God. It is because so plainly such, that it has been almost universally held by Christians in all ages.
======= Greenville, S. C. JAMES P. BOYCE.
[From Henry C. Weston, editor, The Baptist Quarterly, Volume IV, 1870, pp. 385-411. Document from Google Books. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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