Divine Relations Before The Incarnation.

(The Eternal Sonship Question).
Articles reprinted by request from "The Believer's Magazine," with additional Appendix.
By Wm. Hoste, B.A.
Kilmarnock, Scotland: John Ritchie, Ltd., Printers and Publishers of Christian Literature.

  Chapter 1—The Case Stated,
  Chapter 2—What is at Stake,
  Chapter 3—How this Question has been Raised,
  Chapter 4—Some Fallacies Exposed,
  Chapter 5—Objections Considered,
  Chapter 6—Personal Differences in the Godhead,
  Chapter 7—Proofs from the Old Testament,
  Chapter 8—The Theophanies,
  Chapter 9— "This day have I begotten Thee."
  Chapter 10—Summary and Conclusion,
  Appendix on Luke 1:35,

Chapter 1.
The Case Stated.

The Person of Christ occupies such a pre-eminent place in Divine Revelation, as to be altogether essential to its completeness and stability. As soon think to alter the sun's place without affecting the equilibrium of the Solar System, as to tamper with the Person of Christ without dislocating the whole body of Divine Truth.

Not only so, but that Person is a complete entity which cannot be impaired in any respect without the integrity of the whole being compromised. A maimed Christ is not the Christ of God, however much those who derogate from His Person may assure us to the contrary, or indeed believe it to be so.

Nor is it necessary for this, to deny our Lord's eternal pre-existence or essential Deity: Satan has a snare for every circle of believers, and where he knows that mere crude attacks on such truths would be rejected, he has other ways of "casting Him down from His excellency," by denials, for instance, such as those, we have specially in view, of the pre-existence of the Divine Logos, as such, or of His eternal relations in the Godhead, as Son to the Father.

Those who propagate such views have been accused of what is known as Sabellianism. This is a mistake. Sabellius of N. Africa (200 A.D.) taught that God is essentially Uni-personal, and that what we speak of as three Personal Subsistencies in the Unity of the Godhead, were really only threefold in manifestation; that the same Person, as Father, purposed to save; as Son, accomplished redemption, and, as Holy Spirit, came to lead sinners to Christ. Popular illustrations of the "Three in One"—from the nature of light or the mode of existence of certain substances are essentially Sabellian and should be avoided. Such teaching is of course fundamentally unsound. But the special denials combated here lend themselves more to tritheism. Instead of a past eternity and an Old and a New Testament, full of the relations of three Divine Persons in the Unity of the Godhead in intimate relation one to another, as Father, Son and Spirit (and no other possible relation is suggested), we are told to think of three Divine Beings, how related is not revealed, in a cold, colourless, blank eternity as far as Divine affections are concerned. Beings all the replica one of another, and of course without any subordination for mutual purposes, which in their shallow way these errorists declare to be incompatible, "if words mean anything," a favourite phrase of their school, with the equality of the Divine Persons, as they understand the phrase.

Having been called some years ago to engage in this controversy, I sought to meet my opponent by pointing out that, if he took from us the Eternal Sonship, the Eternal Fatherhood must go too. This logical necessity he did not seem ready to admit. Indeed I did not expect him to; as it would have given away his case.

But how solemnly true it is that those who deviate ever so little from the truth, are on a fatal incline; the very thing I warned of, has come true; the denial of the Eternal Fatherhood of God and the relation of the Spirit to the other Persons. But it is surprising that teachers who confessedly know so little, should dogmatize so much. If they are so sure that the familiar relations of Father, Son and Spirit are not revealed before the incarnation, how can they be sure that any relations existed?

It is very easy to affirm that Scripture is silent on such a point, but it presumes a very deep acquaintance with all the depths and breadths of Scripture, which those who know it best would hesitate to claim. We may well be slow to accept such a statement, especially as the Church has practically unanimously held down the ages just the contrary. Surely to thrust aside all God's servants in the past, as though He had only spoken to His people in these last few decades, involves some pretension and self-deception. We should resist with every fibre of our being the theory that God has to-day set over the Church of God on earth some human Leader to convey His message to His people, and to whom we must humbly bow as to an oracle. This is to deny the indwelling Spirit given to all the saints, and of Whom we read "Ye have an unction from the Holy One and ye know all things." "Ye need not that any man teach you." If however we fall under the spell of a man, then what the Scriptures actually say means nothing. All must be read in the light of his official interpretation, and a sad twisting of Scripture is the result. Truly, our Lord's words "Be not ye called Rabbi, for One is your Master (Gk. Teacher) even Christ" (Matt. 23:8) are needed to-day.

Certainly we are nowhere warned concerning Divine Relations, as of "the mystery of Christ"; that they were hidden in God in past ages. Nor are we told anywhere that the relations of Father, Son and Spirit only began at the Incarnation. The Father's recognition of the Lord Jesus as His Son at His baptism and on the Holy Mount is certainly a shallow argument for denying the pre-existence of that relation; there was indeed something peculiarly fitting in the One who had ever been in the relation of Son becoming Son of Man. By such arguments the pre-existence of Christ or even His deity might be denied. It is indeed a significant fact that though the denial of the Eternal Sonship* does not in the case before us involve the denial of His Deity, yet those we are here seeking to meet, do find themselves in the same camp with Arians, Socinians, Unitarians and such like, are all of whom agree in denying the former truth, and it can hardly be questioned that this denial does weaken the defence of His Deity. I remember being invited by one who is now an active propagandist of the error opposed here, to be present at a meeting, where the Deity of Christ was being considered. To my concern I soon discovered that my convener, while professing to uphold the Deity of Christ was coolly taking from us one after another the passages generally taken as proving it. Subsequently light was thrown on the incident by his coming out boldly as a denier of the "Eternal Sonship," so that all the verses that spoke of our Lord as "Son of God" or Son of the Living God, etc., could only refer to the Incarnation.

It is commonly asserted by the deniers of this truth that after all it is not a question of real moment, affecting the truth of God to any great extent.

I think this is an untenable position.

We believe the Scriptures are full of testimony to the truth, as we know it, and that the Divine Relation so clearly revealed in the New Testament, illumines the whole Old Testament and a past eternity, and immensely augments our knowledge of God and His ways.

If this be an error, we are found false witnesses for Christ, and our whole system of interpretation is a mistake and a delusion. We have embellished the truth by adding our erroneous notions to it. If, on the other hand, such relations of love and fellowship have existed from all eternity, can it be a light thing to deny them? It can be nothing less than a shutting out of God's revelation as to the mode of His eternal existence.

The "Eternal Sonship,"* etc., is a most serious belief to hold if false, it is more serious still to deny if true, as the Divine Being that results from such manipulation is quite different from the Triune God—eternally the same—Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
  {* It is not very ingenuous to try and cast suspicion on the truth expressed by such a phrase as this, which is only used to avoid a long paraphrase, by saying, "We do not find it in Scripture." The same might be said of such phrases as the fall, substitution, the Trinity.}

Chapter 2.
What is at stake.

What is meant by the Eternal Sonship is, not that a Divine Person, in becoming flesh became the Son of God, but that the One we know as the Lord Jesus Christ, had always borne to the First Person of the Godhead, the relation of Son to the Father; that there never was a moment in the past eternity when He was not the Son, and that this relation was as necessary in the mystery of the Godhead as the Divine Existence itself.

As we read in John 1:1-2, He Who "in the beginning was* the Word"; Who "was with (pros—in relation to) God," and so a distinct Person; Who "was God," and therefore a Divine Person, and Who was "in the beginning with (again, pros) God," that is Who was no emanation from, or subsequent development in the Godhead, but had always existed in this relation, that One "became flesh," that is "entered into complete manhood, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory," etc. And what glory should we expect this to be? Do not the above majestic periods oblige us instinctively to connect it with the moral glory of a past eternity, rather than with His subsequent birth at Bethlehem, glorious though that was in its voluntary abasement? The Lord when down here in incarnation became "the first-born of every creature,"** for what other place than the firstborn's could the Creator have in descending into His own creation (Col. 1:15)? In resurrection He became "the first-begotten of the dead" (Rev. 1:5), and that in association with "many brethren"; but the term "Only-Begotten" marks His unique relation to the Father from all eternity, to be shared by no one else to all eternity, not even by "the many sons" whom God is bringing to glory, with the Captain of their salvation.
  {* The verb here employed is not "became," as in v. 14. "The Word became flesh," but in contrast, "was" of the indefinite past—implying, as Dean Alford remarks, "existence of an enduring and unlimited state of being contrasting with 'became' in v. 3 and especially v. 14." (my emphasis). Surely such a distinction ought to engage the attention of those denying the Eternal existence of the Logos as such!
  ** The exact meaning of the phrase will be discussed later.}

The further reference to the Only-Begotten Son in v. 18, seems to lead to the same conclusion. "No man has seen God at any time: the Only-Begotten Son, which is in (eis) the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." The words "at any time" surely must include Old Testament times, and show that the One, spoken of sometimes as a man, sometimes as an angel or the angel of the Lord, Who frequently appeared in the Theophanies of the Old Testament, declaring God to His people, and Who can be shown to be divine, was the Person, Who even then was in relation to the Father as "the Only-Begotten Son." Alford remarks that "eis" carries on the thought of the "pros" in vv. 1 and 2. You can no more force the sense of "into" into the first named, than of "toward" in the latter. Chrysostom, who, as a distinguished Christian teacher and Greek theologian, may be supposed to know the Greek idiom, points out that the form of the Greek—again, being (not becoming) in the bosom of the Father denotes much more than mere position "in the bosom"; but "relationship and oneness of being," the present participle as in chap. 3:13, "is used to signify essential truth without any particular regard to time." The Son was eternally in the bosom of the Father, the place of infinite nearness and affection. It is a sheer wresting of Scripture to say that "He Who became flesh became subsequently the Word," when what is specifically stated is, that He Who was the Word became flesh, and almost a bathos to be informed that this was "a name He acquired among the saints." In fact such an idea is contrary both to the usage of the disciples, there being no recorded instance of such a custom, and to the statement of Christ, "ye call Me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am." The Lord did not recognise "the Word" as an appellation they used of Him. Long before John wrote thus of the Word, such a description was attributed by Greek religious writers and others, to a mysterious Person in the Old Testament, distinct from the Divine Being, and yet His equal, and it is this Memra or Word which John adopts as applying to the Lord. This we shall refer to again.

It may seem a small matter to some minds to modify Divine Names, but in reality it is nothing short of tampering with Divine Persons, for the Names of God are His qualities, His character, Himself. To substitute for the majestic "Word," denoting not merely the expression of His purposes, but the very reason of those purposes—the glorious Person of the Son, a mere human "name acquired among the saints," is to play fast and loose with Divine realities, and to rob the saints of a Divine revelation. To deny the Eternal Relations of the Father, Son and Spirit is to deprive the Father of an Eternal and sufficient object of His affections, and of the One Who could alone adequately respond by the Eternal Spirit to those affections.

We cannot afford, as members of Christ's Body to ignore our fellow-members in other ages:—Christian teachers—many of whom sealed their testimony with their blood. God has not left Himself without a witness, nor His true Church in darkness as to the Person of Christ. We believe that He has had His servants in every age, perhaps poorly instructed in Assembly truth, but mighty in the Scriptures, along certain lines, and patterns of good works. We will close this paper then with a quotation from one such, who is generally considered to have been not only a true and humble Christian, but a sound theologian. He thus writes of the Lord: "Meanwhile being divine, being properly God, He is filial, He is the Son …" See e.g., John 1:18; 17:5, 24; Col. 1:13-17; Heb. 1:2, 8; 2:14-17; 1 John 4:9. Not only as He is Man, but as He is God, He is so related to the Father, that in divine reality, eternally and necessarily, He is the Son; as such, truly possessing the whole nature of "His own Father" (John 5:18). The inscrutable mode of this blessed Filiation is named in the theology of the Christian Church "the Eternal Generation" … Scripture reveals that the Christ is the Son antecedent to Incarnation. It also reveals that He is eternal … The Christ did not become, but necessarily and Eternally is the Son.* Such has been the general faith of the elect in all ages.
  {*See "Outlines of Christian Doctrine" (Dr. Handley Moule) pp. 58, 59.}

Chapter 3.
How this question has been raised.

It would have been preferable to the present writer in some ways, as on a previous occasion* to leave out all personal references, but now it is proposed to follow apostolic example, and name some who are propagating the denial of the Eternal Sonship, among saints, who are led astray, little suspecting how this "new light" detracts from the glory of the Triune God, and obscures Divine Relations in the Old Testament.
  {* In his pamphlet "The Eternal Sonship of Christ" (now out of print).}

Nearly thirty years ago, as Mr. J. Taylor, so highly esteemed for his work's sake among certain brethren, informs us, the late Mr. F. E. Raven, in a Bible-reading in the U.S.A., put forward the teaching that the Lord's Sonship dated from His incarnation, and that nothing is revealed of any such relations in the Godhead, before that, as Father, Son and Spirit. Such teaching, though not unknown among individuals here and there in the past history of the Church had never, except in the case of Unitarian connections, formed part of the confession of faith of any church as such. It was moreover in direct opposition to the teaching of those known as "brethren" from the first, and indeed of Mr. F. E. R. himself. This item was accordingly cut out of the published report. But the seed had fallen into favourable soil, i.e., the mind of Mr. J. T., where however it was allowed to lie quiescent for twenty-five years, while half a generation of "Ravenites" were passing away, innocently singing the praises of the Eternal Son from an unrevised hymn-book, without suspecting the error (!) they were in.

At last, however, in 1929, at a Conference at Barnet, the psychological moment arrived for disseminating the new teaching, as "the spiritual condition of the saints was supposed to warrant it." Another reason has been suggested, and one that saddens those who have a heart for the saints and the truth of God. A foundation principle of what is known as the "brethren movement," had been from the first, the continual presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit indwelling the saints, individually and collectively, as their sufficient guide and teacher through the Word, and the direct responsibility of each and all to hear and obey His voice. Sad to say this principle has been largely ousted by a new and contrary principle, namely subservience to one man as a kind of official mouth-piece of that Spirit. A movement that began as a protest against human pretensions has ended in subservience to human dictatorship. The circle has completed itself. To the dismay and grief of a faithful minority, the whole "Ravenite" circle executed a right-about face, and new converts like Mr. C. A. Coates, so widely esteemed hitherto for his written ministry, are found contraverting with some little heat, brethren who are only seeking to defend the truth, he and others till lately held as vital.

As for the grounds for such a change, we are persuaded that as good and solid arguments could be adduced for accepting Arianism or denying the Deity of the Spirit. We are told that, "the words, Eternal Sonship are not found in Scripture." Arius might ask us to show in Scripture, in so many words the Son's "Eternal pre-existence," or His essential deity or His co-substantiality* with the Father. I can imagine some of these brethren holding up such a phrase as this last to contempt and derision, and yet it was this very phrase which was used of God finally to defeat the deadly system of Arius, which under guise of caressing Christianity was surely strangling it. Could Arius come to life to-day with his plausible manners and seductive teachings, he would, to judge from recent happenings, make short work of some who profess to be deeply taught in God's truth.
  {* "Homoousia" instead of the "homoiousia" of Arius.}

At a recent Conference in Birmingham, Mr. J. Taylor is reported to have said that though we read of the Spirit being sent from heaven, nowhere is this said of Christ: the idea of being sent involving inferiority. We could only then deduce from this that the Spirit must be an inferior Person of the Godhead, which is Arianism and fundamental heresy. We deny both premises, that being sent necessarily involves inferiority, and that the Lord is never said to be sent from heaven. Peter and John were sent by their fellow-apostles at Jerusalem (Acts 8:14); Paul and Barnabas from Antioch (Acts 11:30), not as inferiors, but because specially suitable for the service in hand. The Lord Jesus says Himself "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me" (John 6:38), where the conclusion seems inevitable that the coming down and the sending were equally from heaven. This involves not inferiority but subordination to common ends, with which agree the words "My Father gives you the true bread from (out of) heaven." If sending a Person involved inferiority in the sent one, giving Him would equally. We read again and again of God sending His Son into the world. "Say ye of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest because I said unto you, I am the Son of God"? Now we know the Lord was "foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1 Peter 1:20). Would it not be very arbitrary to dissociate His being "set apart" for this eternal purpose, from His being sent into the world? or to maintain that though the former divine operation took place in the heavenly sphere, the sending into the world must be limited to the earthly—namely that of the Incarnation? It reads more naturally to take them together. Let us not "put asunder, what God has joined together." For mark, it was the Father who sanctified and sent Him, so that He was the Son when sanctified as well as when sent.

It is true that the Lord compares the apostles' mission with His own, "As Thou has sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (John 17:18), and much is made by these teachers of this comparison. But if the emphasis is on the "whither" of the mission, rather than on the fact of the mission, the comparison breaks down, for ex hypothesi the incarnation was the great crisis for the Lord. It was then He was sent, whereas it was not at birth that the apostles were sent. As a matter of fact "world" has the two senses in Greek, as with us, of a geographical locality, and a moral sphere. The Lord was sent from heaven to earth as the former, as well as to the latter, not to do His own will, but the Father's, so it was as the Son He came, for "in the volume* of the book it was written of Him, Lo I come to do Thy will, Oh God." In any case it is not legitimate to force a comparison to cover all the points in the two terms. During the War the King may have sent the Prince of Wales to the front from Buckingham Palace, and he, as Colonel of the Welsh Guards, may have sent them, using some phrase analogous to the words we are considering, "As the King, my father, has sent me to the front, so I send you," but without prejudice to the fact that his mission started from the Palace; theirs from their barracks. So the Lord's mission started from heaven, and theirs from Galilee, but their destination was the same—the world. Again we read in Gal. 4:4, "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under law." The word sent is the same full word (Exapostello: send away out of) as in verse 6 of the sending of the Spirit. Surely the sending forth in both cases is from the same heavenly sphere. "He sent forth His Son": was it from heaven or from Bethlehem—the following phrase replies the former—for he was both made of a woman:—His birth as man, and made under law:—His birth as a Jew, after being sent. The order is divine and to tamper with it is a solemn responsibility—sent forth as Son, born at Bethlehem, circumcized the eighth day. This is the true order. The same is clear in Heb. 1:2, to him that has ears to hear: "God in these last days has spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He has appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds." Now we never speak of an "heir and son" being born, but of "a son and heir." So the Lord was Son before He was heir, and heir before creation, for that followed, to provide the inheritance. The truth is dislocated, if we reverse the order.
  {* This "volume" cannot well be the Old Testament, for the words occur in Psalm 40. It is rather, we would suggest, the book of God's Eternal Counsels.}

Of course there are cases where it is permissible to refer to a person by a name subsequently acquired, that is when there is no ambiguity. Thus a man might say "I met my wife"; meaning the one who subsequently became his wife. But the phrase does not lose its ordinary meaning, because of this exceptional use. Pharaoh's daughter never said we may be sure, "I found my son in an ark of bulrushes," meaning I found a babe who afterwards became my son; yet this is what Son is always forced to mean by these new teachers. To attach to the frequent phrases "God gave His only begotten Son," "God sent His only Son," etc., the meaning of one who subsequently became His Son, is arbitrarily to make of an exceptional use, the rule, and has the appearance at least of reversing the Word of God in the most unjustifiable way.

Chapter 4.
Some Fallacies Exposed.

The sublime sentences at the beginning of John's Gospel, to recur to them once more, have always been understood by Christian teachers to be an unequivocal revelation of the reality and character of Divine Relations in a past Eternity. Present-day deniers of any such revelation ask us to substitute in each of the nine occurrences of "the Word" (Gk. Logos), expressed or understood, in John 1:1-14, the periphrasis "the One who afterwards acquired this name among the saints." Such a request puts too great a strain on the spiritual intelligence of most saints. There is no tangible proof that the Lord Jesus ever did acquire such a name among the saints; we certainly never hear Him addressed as such. Such an idea must have been invented for the occasion. The only possible instance is a doubtful one in Luke 1:2, without serious authority* It rests primarily on a mistaken meaning assigned to "The Word," as the "One Who spoke God's word," or "Who was the word spoken," either of which meanings as Dr. Alford shows, would be otherwise represented in the Greek. The "Logos" means rather God's "Reason" for all His purposes—the One in Whom they all centre. If this be so, could a greater bathos be conceived than the suggested reversal?** Mr. C. A. Coates, however, tries to justify it with Scriptural examples. He cites Exodus 6:3 and Ephesians 1:3. Let us see what these really mean. In the first the Lord says, "I am Jehovah, and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them." Mr. C. points out what has often been noticed, that the name Jehovah does occur frequently in Genesis and not least in connection with the patriarchs. To explain this apparent discrepancy, he asserts that Moses must have written Genesis, after the Divine declaration, in Exodus 6. (which is doubtful), and that in every previous occurrence of the name "Jehovah," we must understand their favourite turn of phrase—"the one afterwards known as Jehovah." But by what right could Moses make such a change or for what object? seeing the Divine names "God," "Most High," "Almighty God," were more suited to the epoch? It is an impossible explanation, seeing it would involve changing the very words of God, e.g., to Jacob—"I am Jehovah God of Abraham" (Gen. 28:13). What does Mr. C. suppose this was originally? or the direct words of Jacob—"Then shall Jehovah be my God" (v. 21), or the plain statement concerning Isaac—"He called upon the name of Jehovah" (Gen. 20:25). And by what name did Abraham call the Mount, if not "Jehovah-Jireh"? (Gen. 22). The whole theory is fantastical. There is a simple explanation. God does not say that the name Jehovah was not known, but that He was not known in that name, that is the patriarchs did not yet know its divine meaning. To illustrate further Israel knew well the name of Father (see Isa. 63:16; Jer. 31:9; Matt. 1:17), but not God as Father. Many know the name of Jesus, who do not know the Lord Jesus!
  {* These teachers would set on one side, as out of date, Mr. J. N. Darby, who certainly was by grace a giant doctrinally, because he held fast the "Eternal Sonship," and as though we could have "new light" from God's Spirit to reverse foundation truths. But in a matter of Greek scholarship, on which, if for no other reason, he had not time to be equally schooled, they magnify his authority to assert that in Luke 1:2 "word" (see A.V. and R.V.) ought to be "Word." If so the mass of Christian teachers, commentators, Versions, English and foreign, are wrong. The present writer only has Darby's French Version and that gives "word" in the text and in a footnote, "or Word." And this was, as we know, his original version.
  **The Bible of these beloved brethren ought almost to be called "The Reversed Version."}

The second verse is equally inconclusive. "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" had just been mentioned as the Blesser of His people. Mr. C. argues that when it is added "Who chose us," we must understand "the One Whom we know as above." Perfectly right, none would dispute it; but this is the reverse of what Mr. C. wants to prove. We can always go backwards and speak of our Lord Jesus as "the One who was with God in the beginning," etc., but we nowhere read "In the beginning was Jesus"; meaning the One who acquired the name subsequently at His birth.

It is perfectly right of course to find in Gen. 1:2 "The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters," because He, "the Eternal Spirit," was existing then as such, but to find the name of "Jesus" in that chapter would be quite out of place. I remember in a discussion some years ago with one of these men, who denied, as is the case to-day, that even the Holy Spirit had been revealed before the Incarnation, pointing out to him the above reference to the Spirit as proving the opposite. He at once replied "That could not be the Holy Spirit"; "And why not, pray?" I asked: "Because He was not then revealed" (!) To such a point can prejudice blind the eyes!

Chapter 5.
Objections Considered.

Objections To Eternal Relations, as usually understood, in the Godhead, are based on philosophic difficulties, rather than on the Scriptures. Inferences are drawn from our human use of the words "Generation," "Fatherhood," "Sonship," and analogies are treated as identities. But this we must carefully avoid, as we do instinctively, when we speak of Christ as the Head of the Body, or as the Bridegroom of the Church. Certainly there are difficulties, but how expect to understand the Being of God, when we do not even understand our own? If we could explain Divine Relations, either they would cease to be Divine, or we should be so. It is "by faith we understand." But no, everything must be made intelligible; there must be no mysteries. Heresies are usually intellectual efforts by self-sufficient persons to explain Divine Truth. If anything, they explain it away. The Monophysite heresy was to explain the difficulty of the two natures in One Person; the Monothelite, that of the two wills in One Person; Nestorianism the difficulty of One Person in two natures. Any Sunday School scholar could grasp the Arian "Trinity"—God created the Son: the Son created the Spirit. But the Scriptural doctrine of the Triune God transcends man's highest thought; and so with the truth of Divine Relations. Any natural man can apprehend the human modern theory, here combated:—"God became the Father of Jesus at Bethlehem, and He the Son." But, as a fact, the Father is never mentioned as the Agent of the Incarnation, but always and only the Holy Spirit. Thus, "She was found with Child of the Holy Ghost"; "That which is conceived (Gk. begotten) in her is of the Holy Ghost." "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee" (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35), and yet the Lord is never spoken as the Son of the Spirit.

Still Zophar's question challenges the "explainers," "Canst thou by searching find out God?" Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection (Job 11:7). "No man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him" (Matt. 11:27). It is not equally the Father's will to explain the complex Person of the Son, as it is the Son's to reveal the Father. But a son does not know his father by the fact of human birth. And how can this unique mutual knowledge, existing between the Father and the Son, depend on or originate in the Incarnation?

But some who admit the Eternal Fatherhood and Sonship are deceived by the reasonings of Arius, "If the Father begat the Son, He who was begotten had a beginning of existence, so there was a time when the Son did not exist." But would an arch-heretic like Arius be capable of correct inferences from Divine truth? However we are asked in face of what one writer calls "the inexorable logic of Arius" to revise the meaning of "only-begotten," to signify merely "beloved." But the Greek word—monogenes, is translated in all its nine occurrences in the New Testament "only begotten" or its equivalent; five times of our Lord (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18, and 1 John 4:9); and of only children in Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38, and Heb. 11:17. Though in the last passage Isaac had a brother Ishmael, Genesis 22:2 makes it plain that God did not reckon him, the brother after the flesh, as a true son of Abraham. Authorised Version and Revised Version are at one in maintaining "Only-begotten," and with them agree most with any claim to be authorities.*
  {* Grimm does not recognise the possibility of such a change. Alford is dead against it. Ellicott says "the sense is fixed as" the Eternal Generation of the Word, "the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds." J. N. Darby translates in his French version, "fils unique,"which is the French equivalent for "only Son."}

If people say they do not understand, it only proves in fact that they do not understand. Perhaps some day we will. In the meantime what God has clearly revealed persists in spite of our nescience.

As one has well said, "The relation which … has always subsisted and actually subsists in the Godhead between the Father and the Son,—whatever may be its precise nature … is that which truly and properly constitutes Sonship, and is the original idea or archetype of filiation." And again "we ought to regulate our conceptions of what sonship is and implies, not from the defective and imperfect human relations, but from the original and only true idea of it as subsisting between the First and Second Persons of the Godhead."* In other words we must not argue from the human to the Divine, but from the Divine to the human.
  {* "Historic Theology," Principal Cunningham. Vol. I. page 301.}

Another fallacy underlies the above argument of Arius, and of those who espouse his logic. It is of attaching time to Divine Relations; in fact, of confusing time and its concomitant ideas of "beginning," "priority," "subsequence," etc., with Eternity, in which these cannot subsist.

As another has said "Let the notion of time come into the conception given of God-head, and of the Persons—Father, Son and Holy Ghost and all would be falsehood and confusion"* and higher: "The Son of God never was made the Son. He is never even called the child (teknon) of God." Surely the fact should give pause to those who connect Sonship with the Lord's human birth. Even the new-birth, does not in the strict sense constitute a believer a son, but a child of God. At His birth our Lord was not born, but given as a Son (see Isa. 9:6). To be thus given He must have been Son before the Virgin birth. For when God calls by a Name, the reality is there first. So that in this passage we read of that Son, "His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God," etc. He did not become these for the first time then. Likewise in Luke 1:35 "That Holy Thing that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God," because He was it before. The same is true of the name "Jesus" (Jehovah is Salvation) for the name of Saviour already belonged to Jehovah (Isa. 45:21).
  {*W. Kelly on the Ephesians, p. 196.}

Chapter 6.
Personal Differences in the Godhead.

The denial by these teachers of any revelation in the Old Testament concerning Divine Relations* or of the retrospective character of much revealed in the New, is a claim to know exhaustively the whole range of revelation. "But if any man think that he knows anything (i.e., exhaustively) he knows nothing yet as he ought to know." The result is the veiling for all time of the Divine glory, up to the Incarnation; and, more serious even than that, a tampering with the true character of the Divine mode of existence, because in order as they think, to safeguard the equality of Divine Persons, which we too, firmly hold, they describe them as identical in every respect in a condition of "Absolute Deity" and deny all relations of subordination between them. The result is "tritheism," as has already been pointed out; and a Unitarian might object—"Why should three Divine Persons, all infinite, eternal, omnipotent, be needed, and One not suffice? This would be sound reasoning were the Persons such as these teachers depict them. But what does the expression that is met with in these writers, "absolute deity" mean? Is not the Deity of the Father, Son and Spirit absolute? or are there two kinds of Deity? Did the Incarnation deprive Divine Persons of "absolute deity"? The unchangeableness of God is insisted on again and again in the Scriptures: "I am the Lord, I change not." "With Him is no variableness neither shadow of turning." But if these teachers were right, God would have changed, would have proved variable. His Deity is not now, what it once was—absolute! There is, of course, not a scintilla of proof of such an unsound and dangerous theory. But this fictitious equality did not exist even between Jehovah and the Angel of the Covenant, or between Jehovah and the One whom He calls His Spirit. The root error of all this defective "theology"** is the failure to recognize the functional differences between the Persons of the Trinity. "There is but one God, the Father," (1 Cor. 8:6). To Him belongs origination: "of whom are all things, and we in Him": election, "according to His own foreknowledge," "and times and seasons" (Acts 1:7), etc. How is it conceivable that, if "all things are of the Father," He did not exist as such before all things, and a fortiori before the Incarnation? How else could He choose His people, or have foreknowledge of them? And yet we are blandly told, "Scripture does not say so." But Scripture does say so, unless it be twisted out of all recognition. It is an echo of the "Has God said?" of Eden, and the same "twister" of God's word is, it is to be sadly feared, behind both twistings.
  {*They do make a tardy admission that relations of love and glory must have existed, in the Godhead, but deny a revelation of such.
  ** "Theology," which these teachers profess to hold in such disrepute, though indulging in it when it seems convenient, is only an orderly apprehension of what it has pleased God to reveal in His word. John was a theologian, for "John the divine" is only "John the theologian" (theologos):—of course every teacher must be more or less a theologian.}

To resume, to the Son belongs execution and administration "by whom are all things and we in Him," He carries out the Divine purposes; He is the agent in Creation and Redemption. He does not send or give the Father, but the Father Him, and that "from heaven." To this the Lord bears clear testimony: "The bread of God is He which comes down from heaven and gives life unto the world" (John 6:33). "My Father gives you the true bread from heaven" (v. 32) "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me." This Scripture clearly affirms that the coming and the sending were both from heaven. The Lord came because He was sent. "I came forth from the Father and am come into the world; again I leave the world and go to the Father" (John 16:28). I should have thought it clear that the "leaving the world" in the second part of this verse describes the ascension, marking the return journey to the very point from whence the coming forth from the Father started. Therefore our Lord did come forth from the Father, and knew Him in that relation before the Incarnation. One more verse may suffice:—"And now, O Father, glorify thou me with Thine own self with the glory, which I had with thee, before the world was" (John 17). By what feat of religious leger-de-main the above verses can be made to harmonize with this sad denial of the Eternal Relations of the Father and the Son, I do not profess to understand. I am afraid the only thing to say is with the Apostle Paul, "Let God be true and every man (even though he come to us with the highest claims to spiritual intelligence) a liar"! They say they "shrink from going a hair-breadth beyond what Scripture says," but ought we not equally to shrink from stopping a hair-breadth short of what Scripture says? To take away, is as serious as to add. To recur to our thesis, the Holy Spirit, though co-equal with the Father and the Son, was sent forth by them (John 14:26; 16:7). One of these teachers, as we have seen, affirmed that it would be derogatory for a Divine Person to be sent by another; and therefore our Lord could only have been sent after Incarnation, but if this were so, it would deny the Deity both of the Lord Jesus and, as we have seen, of the Spirit, and land us in Arianism right away. It is by His power that the Divine purposes are fulfilled; by Him—the Eternal Spirit—"Christ offered Himself without spot to God." He convicts, converts, sanctifies, reveals Christ and things to come. The Spirit is named throughout the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi as "the Spirit," "the Spirit of God," "My Spirit" (e.g., Gen. 1:2; 6:3; Ezek. 11:24; Zech. 4:6) and is clearly the One and only Divine Spirit of Scripture. To talk about "Inscrutability" to nullify all this, is to throw dust in the saints' eyes. "The things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children." We do know the "Only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent," etc., etc. "Inscrutability" can only mean that we cannot know Him, apart from, and beyond His Self-revelation.

Chapter 7.
Proofs from the Old Testament.

Must we then admit that nothing is revealed of Divine Relations in the Old Testament Scriptures? We cannot, with those Scriptures in our hands. It may, of course, be premised, that we do not expect in the Old Testament a full revelation of this any more than of other truths, but we have the foreshadowings, as well as the retrospective revelation of the New. The truth is "patent in the New, latent in the Old"; "The New unfolds, what the Old enfolds."

Certainly the great truth of the Old Testament is the Unity of the Godhead, in contrast with the polytheistic idolatory, into which man had fallen. But the first verse of Genesis reveals that the Unity of the Godhead does not preclude a plurality of Persons in the Godhead, and this is manifest, as we proceed, both in the theophanies and in the direct teaching of Scripture. This is admitted by all who hold Trinitarian truth. But we go further; we find definite indications in the Old Testament that the relations described in the New Testament, as those of Father and Son, already existed. Let us turn, for instance, to Psalm 2. No doubt this is mainly prophetic to the end of verse 9, but as is frequent in prophecy, we come in the last three verses to truth of present application, introduced as it is in the Hebrew text by the words "And now." This was an actual appeal (no doubt true in all time also) to Kings whom David had primarily in view. "And now be wise, oh ye kings … serve Jehovah with fear … Kiss the Son, lest He be angry … blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." Who then is this Son? Although the word (bar) is not the usual one, its only other occurrence being Prov. 31:2, yet it is frequently used in names such as Bar-jonah, Barnabas, Barsabas, Bar-Jesus. Here the Son is mentioned side by side with Jehovah as His equal, the final arbiter of man's destinies—the sufficient object of his trust, clearly therefore a Divine Person. How rash then to affirm that such relations as Father and Son (in the Godhead) are quite foreign to the Old Testament. It is to deny the force of plain expressions used by the Spirit Himself.

One word of God outweighs all other words. "Every word of God is pure." It is noteworthy that the passage which precedes these words bears explicit witness to Sonship in the Godhead. We have here the remarkable sevenfold question of Agur as to Creation and then as to the names of Creator and His Son. "What is His name, and what is His Son's name if thou canst tell" (Prov. 30:4). This is evaded in the usual way, it is prophetical. Are we not told as much? Well at any rate it is not a prophecy that the Creator should have a Son: that is taken for granted, but as to that Son's name. There is nothing really prophetical in the passage. As a matter of fact the word translated here "prophecy," is only so translated in one other of its 70 occurrences in the Old Testament, and that is in the following chapter 31:1, "the prophecy that his mother taught him," where again there is nothing prophetical in the whole context, but rather a weighty warning against vice and strong drink. The root meaning is really "a burden" or something of weight. Gesenius translates in Prov. 32:1, "sentences": the Revised Version in both places "burden" or "oracle." It is what we would call a "weighty statement." Surely to affirm then that Sonship in the Godhead is unknown in the Old Testament is to deny what is plainly written. Agur had no pretension, as he tells us himself, to be highly educated or gifted or deeply taught in divine truth, but he knew more than some who make these claims to-day, and yet have let go what he knew. May the Lord give us more Agurs, simple men who hold the truth tenaciously, and enquire for more!

This agrees too with what devout students of the Word have learnt of the Divine Wisdom (Prov. 8). This has been held from time immemorial by Christian and Jewish interpreters, as revealing a mysterious plurality in the Divine Being. But these men brush it all on one side, on some tiny pretext which proves their point, as they assert. One wonders at their facile logic* Only those already persuaded could attach weight to it. How could a mere attribute, reprove, demand obedience, counsel, rejoice before God, be sinned against? How strikingly reminiscent of the statements of John 1 are such words as, "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way before His works of old." "I was set up from everlasting or ever the earth was." "When there were no depths I was brought forth!" (vv. 22, 25). Here we have twice the thought of "generation" - "I was brought forth," "I was brought forth" (Heb. chul. see Job 15:7, "Wast thou made before the hills?" Ps. 51:5, "shapen in iniquity"). How can we avoid the conclusion that it is the Eternal Son who was then brought forth? Clearly eternal filiation and eternal existence in the past are not incompatible, however much human reason may stumble.
  {* The whole argument from Prov. 8. is waived aside in oracular fashion. "It must be admitted by all (!) that the thought of Son is simply not to be found there, wisdom being personified as a woman" (C. A. C. Remarks p. 45). This is only because wisdom is feminine in Hebrew, as in Greek. By the same showing any Frenchman could prove that the Word in John 1:3 is "personified as a woman"—as the word "Parole" is feminine and the pronouns are feminine. The same is true of Light in v. 8—it must be a woman, because the word is feminine in French. We have seen that the thought of Son is anything but foreign to such an expression as "I was brought forth" (vv. 24 and 25). To this Mr. J. Taylor himself once bore unswerving testimony. In a book entitled "Resurrection and Levitical Privilege" (1911). Referring to this very passage far from admitting what C. A. C. asserts, he writes, "The expression 'Brought up with Him,' 'daily His delight,' that was not Adam that was 'THE SON.'" What is there to show that Mr. J. T. was not taught of God, when he held this view? Evidently he attached no importance to the shallow reasoning which to C. A. C. is now determinant.}

The truth is further illustrated by the familiar words of Micah 5:2, "Out of thee (Bethlehem) shall He come forth unto Me, that is to be the ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old from everlasting." The first phrase without controversy foretells the human birth, but the same root yat-tzah is used of "the goings forth from everlasting." The word is used frequently for birth (e.g., Gen. 25:26; 18:28-30; Ex. 21:22; Job 1:21; 3:11; 38:29; Ecc. 5:18). It seems difficult to believe that the Holy Spirit can have used the same word in juxta-position, unless He had wished to emphasize the fact that the One born in Bethlehem, had already existed in the eternal past as the Divine Son. This exactly harmonizes with the expression in Isa. 9, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given."—the very One who had been from the beginning, the Word, the Eternal Son of God.

Chapter 8.
The Theophanies.

One of the essential attributes of God is His Invisibility; He is aoratos: Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17, etc. This, when applied to Him in His Essence must mean, not only that He cannot, but may not be seen; "Whom no man has seen, nor can see" (1 Tim. 6:16). Not even Moses could have looked on the face of God and lived. If God is to reveal Himself to the creature, it must be by an interpreting medium.

Who then could fulfil this function of Intermediary? The truth of John 1:18 is of the first importance in replying to this question. Let us note once more its terms; "No man (Greek: 'no one') has seen God AT ANY TIME; the only Begotten Son, which is in* the bosom of the Father, He has declared him." Which is (in the bosom) is lit.: "the One being," not "becoming" as it would have been had it been a relation begun in time. The phrase denotes, not mere position, but relationship and oneness of being, essential truth without any particular regard to time. He knows and declares as none other could. This was true before the worlds were made. As we do not see the Sun itself, but its effulgence, so no angel ever saw God, except through the Son, who was "the brightness (lit. 'reflected brightness') of His glory" (Heb. 1:3). This was also true in Old Testament times. The appearances of God to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, etc., usually called "Theophanies," ought rather to be called "Huiophanies,"** for none but the only begotten Son could have declared Him even then; and such has been the belief of the Church from the beginning, based on the explicit statement of John 1:18. How great the dishonour done to the Glorious Person of the Son of God, that this, His peculiar prerogative, as Revealer of God, should be snatched from Him! Truly the present-day denial that we are seeking to combat here, is (unknown to its authors) only one more Satanic attempt to "cast Him down from His Excellency!"
  {* The Preposition "eis," here translated "in," has usually, but not always, the sense of "into"; but it does not alter the truth of the verse whichever it is here.
  ** From two words "Huios" (a Son) and "Phaino" (to appear).}

We will now briefly consider some of these appearances … It is true that the one who appears is often called "the Angel of the Lord," "Angel of the Covenant," or simply "Angel," but the Hebrew "malach" has, like its Greek equivalent, the double sense of angel and messenger. Jacob uses the word in his review of God's dealings. "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads" (Gen. 48:16). This would undoubtedly include the incidents of Bethel (Gen. 28:13), of Haran (Gen. 31:10), of Peniel (Gen. 32:35), of Beersheba (Gen. 41:1). Would the patriarch at such a moment call on a mere angel to bless his grand-sons. None but the Son of God could redeem? Stephen speaks of the "Angel of the Lord," who appeared to Moses out of the midst of a bush. But in Exodus 3 that very Angel becomes, a moment later, God Himself, affirming, "I am the God of Abraham," etc. Certainly a mere angel could not render the place too holy for Moses to stand on with unshodden feet, or be too much for his eyes to look on. That would be to give the glory of God to another. The "brightness of His glory," which the Son was, was seen in the Shekinah Glory, and in the pillar of fire. It is true that angels had their subordinate share in the events of Sinai, but no one can read Exodus 11 and doubt who was the ultimate Lawgiver. Exodus 19:3, 5, and 20 settle the matter. "All the earth is mine" (v. 5). "God spake all these words" (Ex. 20:1). And then we read in Exodus 24: "They saw the God of Israel," it was no similitude that they beheld, but the glory of "the only-begotten Son."

The same august Person must be referred to in Exodus 23:20, "Behold I send an Angel before thee," for no one but a Divine Person can "pardon transgressions," or have God's name in Him. Also in Joshua 5:14, the "Captain of the host of the Lord," before whom the lesser captain took off his shoes and worshipped, was none other than Jehovah Himself, again revealed in the Son. He was the Mediator, and there is only One.

Further examples might be cited in the lives of Hagar, Balaam, Gideon, and from the prophecy of Zechariah, but one more may suffice— the Angel that appeared to Manoah and his wife (Judges 13). None but the Son of God would have dared to identify himself with the burnt offering, by ascending in its smoke and savour to God? This name "Secret" (pahlah) (v. 18) identifies Him with the Son, who should be called "Wonderful" (pahlah) (Isa. 9:6). It is a serious error, as John found, to mistake an angel for the Lord (Rev. 19:10; 20:9); but much more to mistake the Son of God for an angel! But the proof would be strengthened could a passage be found explicitly identifying the "Angel of the Covenant" with "the Lord Jesus." We find such in Malachi 3:1, "Behold I will send my Messenger (John the Baptist) and he shall prepare the way before Me, and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts." Clearly the Lord here spoken of as "the Messenger (or Angel—Malach) of the covenant," whom we have seen to be the Revealer of God throughout the Old Testament, and therefore "the only-begotten Son" of John 1:18, is none other than the Lord Jesus. How then can it be denied that He was Son before the Incarnation. In the New Testament the Revelation becomes clearer. In the Old Testament we catch glimpses of a living stream in the distance reflecting the glory of the sun; now it passes in full flood with golden waves, but it is the same river. God is revealing Himself in a new and fuller way. "The brightness of His glory" is now focussed in "the express image of His Person."

Theophany gives place to Incarnation. Can there be a doubt through whom this supreme revelation is to be made? God had already prepared His Revealer, "When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His SON, born of a woman, made under the Law to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Here we have four things in their true moral and historical order; first a Divine relationship previously enjoyed:—"His Son"; then a human condition entered upon; "made of a woman"; a particular connection with the chosen nation—"made under the Law," and a twofold result—redemption and adoption.

Chapter 9.
"This day have I begotten Thee" (Psalm 2:7).

Before leaving the Old Testament we will consider the above words from the second Psalm, a psalm already referred to in the last paper. This sentence is taken for granted by the new teaching to refer prophetically to the Lord's birth at Bethlehem. But this is not at all the subject of the Psalm, which starts, as Acts 4:2 shows, with the Lord's final rejection, by Jew and Gentile. The fact that these words are thrice quoted in the New Testament ought to simplify the discovery of their reference, for if in any of the three places the context rules out the Lord's human birth, then it seems clear that another meaning must be sought in the other occurrences. The words in their original setting form part of Jehovah's reply to His enemies. It was not likely that at such a moment He should refer to the Incarnation. The importance of that in its place cannot be over estimated, as we have seen; it is fundamental. The virgin birth was the greatest sign ever wrought in the earth till then. Apart from it Jesus could not be the seed of the woman, bruiser of the serpent's head, nor the seed of Abraham, heir to the promises, nor the Son of David, heir to the throne of Israel, nor the sinless Saviour of men. Nor was His humanity docetic, that is only in appearance. Nothing was lacking which constitutes real and complete humanity, spirit, soul and body, otherwise the Atonement was vitiated to the core. But like foundations generally, though prominent at first, and never losing their essentiality, this foundation truth faded from view and was never referred to specifically after the event. It had served its purpose. A fresh sign is introduced after the crucifixion—the resurrection, and this seems undoubtedly the reference. Not that the words "Thou art my Son, etc., apply directly to resurrection but it is to the risen Christ that God bears witness as His eternally Begotten Son.

The three quotations of the words are in Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5, and 5:5.

In the last-named passage the subject is Christ's call to priesthood. This could not be by the fact of incarnation, seeing He was of the tribe of Judah. He must first ascend on to a higher plane, where He becomes priest of another order than that of Aaron:—"Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." This is quoted from Psalm 110—a Davidic Psalm from which our Lord argues the superiority of David's son—the Messiah, to David from the fact that David acknowledges Him as Lord—a truth explained in Rom. 1:3-4, "Made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness by the resurrection from the dead.

In Heb. 7 the writer by the Spirit deduces from the silences of the Genesis record in chapter 14 concerning Melchizedek's parentage, etc., a likeness between him and the Son of God. As far as the record goes the King of Salem was "without father, without mother, without descent, (lit. genealogy), having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God." The great point of similarity, really the only point emphasized, is the idea of eternal continuance, both in the past and in the future. Such qualities could not properly be predicated of the Lord in His humanity, as such. The facts are against it. Certainly our Lord had no earthly father, but by Jewish law Joseph became His legal father. Certainly He was not without mother, nor was He "without descent," for the word is as above "without Genealogy" (see Matt. 1 and Luke 3); as Man too he had beginning of days at Bethlehem, and end of days at Calvary. The points of similarity then between Melchizedek and our Lord, do not attach, in any way, to His incarnation, but to His Sonship in a past eternity, which was therefore prior to the other, and in no way dependent on it.

The quotation in Heb. 1:5, though spoken of Christ after His resurrection goes back to a past eternity, for it was by inheritance that He obtained the name of Son, more excellent than any angel's, not by incarnation or resurrection, though He has not yet entered into the glorious inheritance, to which as Son He was appointed Heir. Acts 13:33 seems clearly to refer to Resurrection. In verse 24 the Incarnation is referred to "of this Man's seed has God raised (agein. lit. to lead) unto Israel a Saviour. In verse 30 it is a general word for raised (egeirein) the same word as in ver. 22 of David's appointment as king, but in verses 33, 34, we have another word anistesthai, which is found 11 times in the Acts, of resurrection. As Alford points out "the meaning: raised from the dead," is absolutely required by the context, both because the word is repeated with "from among the dead" (ver. 34), and because the apostle's emphasis throughout is on the resurrection (v. 30) as the supreme fulfilment of God's promises concerning Jesus. The point of the quotation from Isa. 55 is the permanence of His resurrection condition, "now no more to return to corruption." In the words "Thou art my Son, etc.," God recognizes the One who had ever been to Him in relation as Son.

Dr. Alford fully discusses the force of these words, and while admitting this declarative sense in the New Testament considers that the primary reference of the words in the Psalm is to the Eternal generation of the Son; "to-day" (seemeron) bearing the well-known definite meaning of the "ever present now" of a past eternity. With this view agree a number of well-known writers, both Latin and Greek, as Origen,* Athanasius, Basil, Augustine of Hippo, Chrysostom, Eusebius and Cyril of Alexandria; he also refers to Philo** of Alexandria, who also attaches the sense of "the eternal now" to the word***
  {* Johan. Tim. 1:32. For other references see Alford on the Acts 13 quotation.
  ** De Profugis, § 11.
  ***See also "Creed or No Creeds," by Dr. Harris who writes p. 368 (footnote). "Seemeron," in the sense of eternally or in eternity, is well established (see Philo). Consequently any orthodox reader would understand the words, as "Thou art My Son, I have eternally begotten Thee."}

It is evident that in no sense did our Lord become in Resurrection for the first time the Son of God, nor yet by human birth, but He who was the Babe of Bethlehem, and Who in bodily form, bearing the scars of Calvary, entered the "Holy places not made with hands," was the same who, as the Eternal Son of God, had in the beginning created the heavens and the earth, and Who "begotten before all worlds," had been "in the beginning with God."

Chapter 10.
Summary and Conclusion.

We may remind ourselves in this our closing chapter, that the difficulties involved in such expressions as "the Eternal generation"; or "the communication of the divine essence" need not perplex us. The greatest difficulty would be, were there no difficulties. If we understand so little the processes of human generation, how may we hope to fathom the Divine? But many of the difficulties, no doubt honestly felt by some, are based on fallacies, such as pressing the analogy of human generation; importing into a past eternity ideas of precedence or subsequence, which belong exclusively to time; confusing the original interrelations of Divine Persons with questions of deity, equality, eternity, etc. The new teachers seem to substitute for the Divine Trinity, a triad of Gods: they are in reality, it is to be feared, tri-theists.

It is not that the Scriptures fail to teach the Eternal Sonship to the simple believer, but the wording must be twisted round to fit in with the new "thoughts of men which are vain." Such expressions as those quoted above do not describe a supposed isolated act in the past, but an eternal and essential relation existing between the Father and Son (see, e.g., John 5:26); and the "Procession of the Spirit" an eternal relation between Him and the other Divine Persons (John 15:26). It was not a solitary act which supervened, but a condition which necessarily existed in the Divine Being. The Son is necessarily the Brightness (lit. outshining) of the Divine glory, as the photosphere may be regarded as a necessary condition of the Sun's existence.

The testimony of the Father from heaven, This is my Beloved Son, at the Jordan, and the Holy Mount is adduced to prove that the Divine Sonship began at Bethlehem, but the logic of this does not lie on the surface. It is quite simple to understand the words as a divine testimony that the humbled One—Jesus, was none other than the Eternal Son. The words no more deny this, than the father's "This my son" of Luke 15:24 deny that the relation of son already existed.

If the Sonship of our Lord depended on His incarnation, how could Mark, who from the first indicates that his Gospel was "the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the Son of God," make no specific reference to the human birth? nor could John, whose defined object it was to prove the Divine Sonship, i.e., that "Jesus is the Christ—the Son of God (John 20:31), refrain from referring to it in plain terms.

Moreover, if our Lord's incarnation introduced into the Trinity entirely new relations, it would be, not an emptying, but a filling; not a humbling, but an exaltation; not a revelation of God, but a revolution in God. It is incredible that any such radical changes could take place in the inner relations of the Unchangeable God. The Incarnation did reveal what was there before, it could not create entirely new relations. Our Lord's transcendental attributes did not issue from His human birth alone, though by the operation of the Holy Spirit, else His humanity had been unreal, but from the fact that the Person, who entered into Manhood was Divine.

Thus, human birth does not constitute "sons" but "chidren"; and this is consistently true in the New Testament use of "child" and "son," in the Spiritual sense. The term child denotes relationship; son, known and enjoyed relationship. One is born a child; one becomes a son.

Human birth does not make a child one with its father, yet the Lord in John 10:30 claims this as Son of God (see v. 36)—"I and my Father are one," connecting it with Himself as the One "whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world."

Nor can the child, by the mere fact of birth, do its father's works, but "the Son" could His Father's (John 5:19).

Nor does human birth make a child equal with its father, yet the Lord claimed this: "My Father works hitherto and I work." The Jews understood it so, "because He said that God was His (Gk. idios: His own) Father, making Himself equal with God." Our Lord did not deny the inference, though he explained that this equality was of a kind not incompatible with subordination (v. 19). Nor does human birth confer on a child equal honours with its father; yet these the Lord claims for Himself, as Son, a relation which must therefore have existed apart from Incarnation. The same may be said of such divine attributes as the omnipotence of v. 19, and "the possession of life in Himself" of v. 26, which belong to Him, not in virtue of the Incarnation, but as the Divine Son.

We may now enquire whether the testimonies to Christ as the Son of God during His ministry were in the Gospels based on the fact of the Virgin Birth? the answer is—Never. The testimonies of fallen spiritual powers to the Sonship were frequent, but we seek in vain for one hint that such knowledge, as they possessed was connected with the Virgin birth. Had they recognized this as the determinant factor, as we are asked to do to-day, they would have referred to it, whereas they seem rather to have been convinced by our Lord's personal qualities and powers. At the temptation Satan sought for proofs of quite a different order, "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread," etc., etc. It was the personal glory of Christ which convinced him and the demons that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed that Divine Being, whom they knew and had reason to fear, as the Son of God (see Matt. 8:29; Mark 3:11; Luke 4:3, 9, 41; 8:28; John 6:69; 11:27).

Never is the Lord recorded as basing His claims to Divine Sonship on His incarnation nor did He once refer to it. It is, of course, possible that John the Baptist had heard of it from his mother, Elizabeth, though it is an unlikely secret for a mother to confide to her young son. It needed the voice from heaven, and the promised sign of the descent of the Spirit, in form like a dove, to convince him that He who was his younger cousin according to the flesh was indeed the Son of God.

It was clearly no knowledge of the Virgin Birth that led Nathaniel to cry "Thou art the Son of God." There is indeed no proof that Philip knew of it himself; certainly there is no mention of his having divulged it to Nathaniel.

It was the display of Christ's omniscience that convicted this latter of His Divine Sonship. The same holds good of the disciples in the storm; they knew nothing of the circumstances of His birth, but they saw His omnipotence writ large in His power over the waves, and accordingly acknowledged Him as Son of God. Had Peter received his knowledge of Christ as Son of God, from Mary, the Lord's mother, it would have been "flesh and blood" that had revealed it to him, but this Christ specifically rules out, and ascribes it to the revelation of His Father in heaven; and so with the Centurion at the cross, and every other witness to His Divine Sonship, recorded in the Scriptures, including that of Thomas after His resurrection. It was by the resurrection that to this last-named apostle, as to numberless others since, Jesus was declared with power to be the Son of God.

Surely were the Human birth the crucial event—the crisis, in the sense which this theory demands, it must have been prominent in every Gospel and Epistle, instead of being mentioned so sparingly. Did the Lord's Divine Sonship result from the miraculous conception, both would be linked in equal prominence and frequency.

That our Lord might share in true and spotless humanity certainly His miraculous birth was indispensible, but these other glories rest on something on an altogether different plane. Did the Lord who claims equal honours with the Father, never enjoy them till He entered into manhood? Such a theory almost makes His Deity depend on His incarnation. Again how impossible to limit such words as "My Father works hitherto and I work" to a time subsequent to the Incarnation! as though God's rest had not been broken till then. The Incarnation could not exhaust the deep meaning of such words as "If God were your Father ye would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent Me" (John 8:42), or "Say ye of Him Whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, etc." (John 10:36), or again, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world, etc." (John 16:28). Or, "Father glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." What deadly darkness must have fallen upon the minds of men, to deny in spite of such Scriptures, the Eternal Fatherhood of God, and the Eternal Sonship of the Lord!

As one* has well said "How fearful we should be, lest we admit of any confession of faith (rather indeed of unbelief) that would defraud the Divine bosom of its eternal ineffable delights, and which should tell our God He knew not a Father's joy, and would tell our Lord that He knew not a Son's joy in that bosom from all eternity."
  {* J. G. Bellett in "The Son of God."}

Again he asks, "Can the love of God be understood according to Scripture, if this Sonship be not owned? Does not the love get its character from that very doctrine —"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son"? Does not this love lose its unparalleled glory if this truth be questioned?

To a mind delivered from mere human reasonings (how distinct these are from reasons!) and subject simply to the Word of God, how clearly such words speak, as "God gave His only begotten Son," "God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him!"

Appendix on Luke 1:35.

Gabriel's words in Luke 1:35, especially the concluding sentence:—"Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called (the) Son of God," are used to support the new theory, that the Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ dated from His birth at Bethlehem. What then is the logical force of the "therefore," or the reason that the "also" is introduced? We have already seen that the fact of the bestowal of a name or title in the Word of God in no way precludes the previous existence of the quality or relation so described, as Isa. 9:6 proves. The names "Wonderful, Counsellor," etc., were not new attributes of the "Son given," but would be vested in Him for the first time as "the child born." The "therefore" goes back naturally to the preceding sentence, in which there are two distinct facts:—the coming on Mary of the Holy Ghost, in view of the conception of the humanity of Christ, and also the separate fact of her being overshadowed* by the Power of the Highest. This last is no mere repetition of the former phrase, but an additional statement, that at the moment of the conception, the Divine Logos, the Eternal Son, as we believe, united Himself for ever with the newly created humanity of Christ, and thus entered into manhood. If the Lord were called "Son of God" on account of His Divinely conceived Humanity, then in the same respect in which our Lord was the Son of God, the Spirit would be the Father. But He is never thus entitled, therefore Christ is never called the Son of God in His relation as man to the Divine producer of His manhood, to which the agency of the Spirit was confined. To make the expression "Son" attach merely to the humanity of Christ, is to make someone of something and to attach to Him a double Personality. We must therefore refer back His title to be "called Son of God," not to the operation of the Holy Spirit, but to the intervening phrase—"the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee."**
  {* Used in Septuagint of the cloud abiding (shah-chan) on the tabernacle (Ex. 40:35).
  **See Treffry on the Eternal Sonship, page 133.}