E. H. B.
Inferiority of rank as man, as mediator, as the apostle and servant of His Father — having for us spontaneously stooped from the throne of His glory — is asserted in John 14:28: equality of nature as to co-operation, self-existence, infinite knowledge, universal trust, is proved in John 5:17-23. The texts which declare the humanity of Jesus, are sufficient to refute those who from them would deny His Deity. How could a mere man, without absurd presumption, solemnly announce that God the Father was no greater then He? How could He be made flesh? How could it be a proof of His humility that He was made in the likeness of men? The Jews accused our Lord of making Himself equal with God, because He said God was His Father. Instead of protesting against their construction of His words, which, if only a man,
He would have done with indignation and abhorrence, He proceeded, while acknowledging the subordination of His mission as man, to set forth the essential supremacy of His person as God. For if the Son doeth whatsoever the Father doeth: if the Son quickeneth whom He will: if the dead shall hear His voice and live: if He executes judgment on the universe: if all men must honour the Son, even as they honour the Father: then is He equally Almighty, the communicative fountain of life, God who alone can raise the dead, the Omniscient who alone can judge an assembled world, and equally the centre of universal homage and adoration!
If our souls are filled with the condescension of God we shall not be stumbled at passages which speak of his exceeding humiliation. As we assign no limit to the height of His glory, we shall assign none to the depths of His grace. Yea, so far from taking offence at the inferiority of the position which He assumed, the very lowliness of his incarnation and degradation of His death will kindle in us a brighter and more burning gratitude, when we remember that though rich it was for our sakes He became poor; and that for us, His wayward and wandering sheep, the chief Shepherd offered up Himself as the Lamb of God, laying down His life of His own accord and taking it again to die no more. Every generous feeling brands it as the basest ingratitude to allege these proofs of His humanity in disproof of His Deity, trampling on His lowliness to pluck the diadem from His brow, finding cause in the true sympathy of Him who was in all points tempted like as we are, and touched witch the feeling of our infirmities, for denying the excellence of that glory which He had with the Father before the world was. If a sick prisoner in Newgate, nursed and taught by the philanthropic Howard, had argued from the self-devotion of that noble man spending long hours in the loathsome cell, that he could not possess a princely mansion and a fortune. Even if he had reproached that ministering angel, saying, "You must surely be a wretched convict like myself," we might pity his infatuation and pardon his ingratitude: but can we forgive ourselves, if we deliberately select the instances of our Lord's humiliation and cast them in His teeth, as proving that He never dwelt from eternity in the light that no man can approach, nor inhabited from everlasting that shrine of unfathomable delight, the bosom of the Father? Let us beware and remember the solemn warning, "Whosoever shall fall on this stone (Himself in prostrate humility) shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall (Himself returning in glory), it will grind him to powder."
If our doctrine is the truth, that there subsist in the essence of One Jehovah, three who are called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, co-equal and co-eternal; and that it is the design of the Father and the will of the Son with the consenting pleasure of the Holy Spirit, that the Son, for the recovery of fallen man, should empty Himself, not of His Godhead, which were impossible, but of His glory, and take our human nature into mysterious union with His Divine nature, so that God and man make one Christ: if this is spoken of in Scripture as the extremity of Divine condescension and humiliation that hereby guilty men might have a medium of access to the Holy Deity or have a mediator betwixt us and God, one with God by reason of His eternal essence, one with us by reason of the humanity He deigned to assume: how otherwise could such a relationship have been expressed than, "There is one God and one mediator betwixt God and man, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all?" or such a salvation than, "This is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent?" Looking forward, as the man Christ Jesus, to translation from this world of suffering to the glory of His Father's throne, how otherwise could He describe His return from that present estate of afflicted humanity, than, "If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I?" Having descended with the express design of doing the Father's pleasure, of serving a perfect service, of rendering a spotless obedience to the law, of exhibiting a Divine model of self-denial; how otherwise could He declare His mission than "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me?" Standing forth the exemplar of that faith we are to copy; as man, working His miracles not by virtue of His Divinity ever inherent in Him, but by virtue of a perfect faith in the power of the Father; that faith which with us is intermittent, being with Him constant without defect and victorious without defeat; how otherwise could He reveal the entire dependence of His soul on God, than, "I can of mine own self do nothing." "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works?" E. H. B.