J. A. Trench.
Article 8 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.
That there was distinct individual personality in the "man Christ Jesus" seems to me so clear that I cannot understand any thoughtful person questioning it. But if it is meant that there was a "human personality" in the Lord Jesus here (and now?) as distinct and separate from His divine personality as the Son, then I should ask for an explanation of what is meant by it. Two distinct personalities in one person? If I look at Scripture I find He could say "I" as God "Before Abraham was I am." And He could say "I" as man — "I will put my trust in him." But these were not two "I"s, the person was one — "the Son." Individual personality was there beyond a question, a true "ego" — but who was the person?
Depend upon it we shall gain greatly in our souls, and in our knowledge of the truth, if we adhere to Scripture. I read there of a Person — the Word, existing in eternity, Himself the Creator. I read of that same Person become flesh, a man on earth amongst men, a true, real, individual man, but the same blessed Person — God manifest in flesh, the Son whom God sent in likeness of flesh of sin, God's Son, come of a woman. There is no thought of a change in the Person, the real "I." He is always the same, though His "form" is changed, and the condition in which He has life.
When "He" took part in flesh and blood, who was "He"? Personal identity does not change, though form and condition may. It lies behind all that we commonly think of in a person. If "I" depart to be with Christ, all the affections and interests I have as a man belonging to this condition of life are left behind with the condition to which they belonged; but the "I" remains, and it is the same "I" when in a spiritual body, "I" shall be "for ever with the Lord," though the conditions of life are totally different.
In our case personality began to exist when we were born, but in the case of the Lord "he came down from heaven." His existence was eternal. He was the "I AM," but there was a moment when He "became flesh." In doing so He entered into the feelings and affections which belong to the nature of a man.
It seems to me most beautifully simple if we allow the plain words of Scripture to have their place in our hearts. There we find a Man — a perfect, blessed Man "full of grace and truth." He was "wearied" at the well; He "loved" Martha, etc.; "he groaned in spirit and was troubled"; He "wept" — all beautiful expressions of human feelings in perfection; but who was "He"? The eternal Word, the Son of God, one with the Father. If you bring in another personality the truth of incarnation is gone.
The fact is, in my opinion, that we are scarcely conscious how material our ideas of Scriptural things are, and even of God Himself; and how largely they are formed by the creeds, and theology, instead of by Scripture.
As regards Matthew 11:27, it does not seem to me to refer exclusively to the Son come as man into the world, but to the character of the Son, who never "began to be" — who was eternally such.
It is a very solemn feature of the times that the question of the humanity of the Lord Jesus should be rife everywhere. And this does not to me indicate a leading of the Spirit, and is rather a warning against our being occupied with it. I cannot think that sufficient cause has been shown to take exception to the expression "unity" as applied to the Lord's Person. It is certain that the word itself does not necessarily involve any such meaning as two beings joined together; nor do we so understand it in ordinary theological use. As, for instance, unity when applied to the Persons of the Godhead; we do not understand that the three Persons are joined together.
Take Loche, "Whatever we can consider as one thing, suggests to the understanding the idea of unity." Or the very ordinary definition, "the state of being one." It is applied to what is absolutely indivisible.