a short defence of the truth with a review of recent theories.
W. R. E.
Five years ago, in 1890, when Mr. Raven publicly propounded his theories, it was conclusively shown that these speculations were not only false in their relationship to eternal life, but that they absolutely necessitated those holding them to go on to apply the same principles to the person of the Lord, so as to divide His person, and thus destroy Christian truth.
In his last paper Mr. R. boldly does this—he applies his false "key" to the person of the Lord, and in so doing exposes to every intelligent Christian the folly and presumption of his whole system.
Mr. Raven's two formal propositions are as follows:—
“In what I have to say I adhere therefore to two points that have been in question, which are these
“1. As to whether Christ is ever viewed in Scripture as Man, distinct and apart from what He is as God.
“2. As to whether the truth of His Person consists in the union in Him of God and Man; a favourite formula with those so holding is 'God and Man, one Christ'—and with this is connected the idea that every title referring to Christ covers the whole truth of His Person.
"Now I affirm that the denial of the first, while claiming to maintain orthodoxy, is destructive of Christianity in its real power; and I would affectionately warn saints against giving up, in zeal for orthodoxy, the blessed foundations of Christianity. Further, that the assertion of the second is derogatory and dishonouring to the Son; and I proceed to show that both the denial and the assertion are contrary to the teaching of Scripture.
"The second error maintains that the truth of Christ's Person consists in the union in Him of God and man."
Now to consider his various points. Laying aside (as it was partly denied and partly withdrawn) the doctrine taught at Witney that only the "fathers" of 1 John 2 had eternal life, what was objected to in Mr. R.'s doctrine was that eternal life is not life, but a "technical expression," expressing a condition of blessedness—the blessedness in which Christ was as man with the Father. This formula destroys the reality of what "eternal life" is, instead of being (what Scripture tells us it is) God's life communicated to our souls by being born again—born from above. It makes eternal life an attainment, a condition in which you may be at one time and not at another; it separates eternal life from life. As if an adjective put before a noun, entirely alters the force of the noun in place of qualifying it. In the phrase "eternal Spirit," does "eternal" make it a technical expression and apart from the Spirit altogether? Does "eternal," in the phrase "eternal redemption," destroy the force of the noun, and make "redemption" a totally different thing from "eternal redemption"? And so when "eternal" is placed before "life," does it, or can it, so alter the force of "life," that it no longer means life, but a condition of blessedness, enjoyed (as his followers have been bold enough, with heartless levity, to write) by the blessed Lord Himself in varying degrees, one of the most forward saying, "Eternal life did not weep," when speaking of the Lord in that wondrous moment in John 11 when the Scripture records that "Jesus wept."
In thus dealing with eternal life he divorced it from Christians as such, teaching that the early Christians (Stephen, &c.) had not eternal life in the sense he taught, that this only came in with Paul's testimony, and was thus a thing that some had, repeating in different words what was "tentatively introduced, seeking for greater light," at Witney. One text in John is sufficient to overturn all this reasoning: "These things I write unto you that ye may know that ye have eternal life." (1 John 5:13.)
Can we limit it thus to a class, or make it a matter of attainment?
Arising from this was the second proposition, namely this, "the term—eternal life—always stands in connection with manhood, whether in Christ or us."
This doctrine is even worse, if possible, than the confusion as to eternal life itself; for here, to carry out and demonstrate his theory, he had to separate the manhood from the divinity of the blessed Lord, and thus to divide His Person—he denied this, and said we must not separate, but distinguish. But who can distinguish without separating, when a condition is said to be only connected with manhood, and that in the Person of the Incarnate Word?
1 John 1:1 shows plainly his error. "The eternal life which was with the Father," was with the Father before Incarnation, and therefore cannot only be connected with manhood.
In this passage He Himself is the eternal life—the Word of Life, with the Father, manifested, and then manifested to the Apostles.
The One whom their eyes saw, their ears heard, their hands handled, was the One who, before Incarnation, was the eternal life with the Father, and did not cease to be the eternal life when He became Man.
When pressed on this point, Mr. R. took refuge in what he said he gathered from the whole tenor of Scripture, viz., that Christ was a Man before the Incarnation—a Man "not only in the purpose, but in the presence of God"; and tried still to connect eternal life only with manhood, by the curious speculation of "humanity in essence"—humanity not yet "taken form."
Such were the exigencies of his theory, that he actually quoted "The second man, out of heaven," to try and support this speculation. But any simple believer can see that the Spirit is speaking of Him in contrast to Adam. The "first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is out of heaven"—not sprung out of the dust, not descended from or in any federal relationship to the first man, not born under the command to Adam—"Be fruitful and multiply"; but born of a Virgin by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, a true real man, as truly human as if He had been only human, yet "out of heaven," for He was "God's Son, made of a woman," "God manifest in flesh."
Mr. R. also quoted, "The Son of Man ascend where He was before." But every Christian knows that this does not refer to His Manhood, but to His Person, the mystery of His Person, "God and Man, one Christ" The same as we have in John 3:13, the One who descended out of heaven is the Son of Man, "Who is in heaven," when the Mystery of His Person is again revealed—that He, though on earth, can speak of Himself as being "in heaven."
Mr. R.'s followers ran riot with this. One of them distinguished between the time of the Word's taking flesh and His becoming a Man—the first he said he knew; the second he did not, speaking of the blessed Lord as "a Man before He came down," that "He could be eternal life, and have a surplus over that," and others were just as bad. But why encumber our pages, and defile our minds with repeating these profane triflings? From one, we can know all; and it only wants, for any simple Christian, a very small sense of what is due to the Lord Christ, to dismiss and to hate these vain puerilities.
Another point of this teaching is equally bad, viz.: That the "life" which the Lord tells us (John 10) He lays down, is only a "condition."
"He lays down," says Mr. R., "His life (human condition) to take it again," and in the same paper he writes, too, "the truth of a Divine Person assuming human condition, the Word becoming flesh, and in such wise as that He can be viewed objectively as man, I believe; but that is not a question of Unity of a Person. It is a Person in a condition in which He was not previously."
These statements, reducing our blessed Lord's manhood to mere "condition," destroy the central truth of Christianity: "Jesus Christ come in flesh."
The life He laid down is said to be "human condition," but where is the word "life" (psyche) ever used in this signification?
The word denotes "life in the distinctness of individual existence, and, except in two instances, is in the New Testament used of man alone, and, indeed, primarily of the life belonging to the individual," and never signifies the condition a person is in at any given epoch of his life, for this is what Mr. R. argues for: the Person, he says, is the Son; He came into a certain position; no change in His Person; He put on a condition and again laid it aside.
But how could the Lord, in accordance with these statements, be said to die? How could a Person so acting—only taking up and laying down a condition or position (for he uses the words as synonymous)—be said to die? for, if there was any truth in these theories, what the Lord did was to lay aside a condition which did not enter into His personality, and which no more belonged to Him personally than a garment.
A moment's reflection will show that this not only dishonours Him, Who is as truly the Son of David, Jesus Christ come in flesh, as He is God over all, blessed for ever, but destroys the reality of the Atonement, for a little attention to, and consideration of Scripture will show that it was necessary that the One who alone could make propitiation, must be both God and man, the God-man, God and man, one Christ, one Person.
The second of Hebrews tells us that He had to become man in order to make propitiation, but if manhood was only a condition, an accident, a position that the Eternal Son assumed, and if the human nature was not in personal union with the Godhead — one Christ—no propitiation was made nor could be made, for the human nature being a created, and, therefore, dependent thing, could not offer nor be offered for others; and if not in personal union with the Godhead, would require a Personality of its own, could therefore only offer for itself.
This necessity that, for the work He came to do, He should be God and man in unity of Person, appears also from the nature of that work, which is that of a Mediator between God and men.
If He had not been a partaker of the Divine nature He could not have been able to treat with God, if He had not been a partaker of the human nature He could not have been able to treat for or with man. The Eternal Son, therefore, assumed our nature, coming in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, in all things made like unto His brethren, that He might be fitted to be the Mediator, the One who could lay His hand upon both; bring from God what man needed, and bring to God what He required.
One wonders at the metaphysical acumen that would divide His Person, in order to interpret, or rather misinterpret, such simple words.
He stood before these unbelieving Jews in living humanity, the Shepherd of Israel manifesting Himself to His own people. Among other truths to produce and strengthen their faith, or to leave them responsible for rejecting Him, He tells them that He can protect His sheep, and that nothing can exercise power over them as belonging to Him; so speaking to convince them that He was the Life, and that all who trusted in Him could be eternally safe, and that none could pluck them out of His hand; and, for their comfort and deeper assurance of faith, He adds, as to His own life, that death could have no power over Him, that He had power to lay it down and power to take it again at His own sovereign pleasure, yet as a commandment received from His Father.
Since He was God—the man who stood before them—and since the human life which He had assumed was as truly His own life, as His Deity was His own, He possessed the right to dispose of it as He wished, and in sovereign grace and yet in obedience to the will of the Father, He lays it down, He dies, as Peter speaks in Acts ii. 31, that, as was prophesied of Him in the i6th Psalm, "His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption," thus telling us that the laying down His life was the separation of soul and body, He no more for a time in living humanity, but laying down His life and taking it again.
No question at all of change of position outside His Personality, but what was true of Him personally, no matter what the condition or position might be. This quotation from the Psalms, and the inspired commentary on it, is one of the simplest and clearest proofs of the Indivisibility of His Person. So Scripture shows that such must be His Person, perfect God and perfect Man, in order that He could do the will of God. "A body hast Thou prepared Me," tells us how He came; and that that "body" was part of His Person, and not a "condition" or "position" assumed, is apparent from the same Epistle, when it says, "He offered Himself," and also "the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
As it has been well written:
"Pure deity could not be offered. It was requisite, therefore, that He should become Man and be taken from among men, and had He not been God, as He could not have had an absolute power over His own life, to lay it down and take it up at His pleasure, so the offering of the human nature, if not in union with the Divine, would not have made a proper atonement, would by no means have expiated that enormous load of human guilt which was to be borne by Him, and for which He was to suffer. But when we consider that He who suffered, the just for the unjust, was the God-Man, we cannot but look upon Him as perfectly able to bear the punishment, and perform the work.
"For as the infinite evil of sin arises from the majesty and glory of Him against whom it is committed, so the merit of our Surety's obedience and sufferings must be equal to the dignity of His Person. How great, how transcendently glorious, are the perfections of the Eternal Jehovah!—so great, so superlatively excellent is the atonement of the dying Jesus!"
Thus we know that the infinite glory of His Divine Person cannot be separated from His humanity in His death for us, and that it was no condition laid aside when the Lord tells us that He would lay down His life and take it again, saying, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, nor wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption" (R.V.); and the Holy Ghost explains that David "spake this of the Christ, that neither was He left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption." Where "flesh" is the explanation of "Holy One," and the Person spoken of as God's Holy One, is identified with the body of the Lord Jesus; so indissoluble was the union, so inscrutable the Person of the Son. How any man who reads his Bible could argue that when it speaks of Christ's dying for us, the just for the unjust, that He was "put to death in the flesh," that Christ, "our Passover, was slain," that "He was cut off out of the land of the living," that "He gave up the Ghost," that "by wicked hands He was crucified and slain," that we are "redeemed to God by His blood" (and "the blood is the life"), that Jesus our Lord was "raised from the dead," that "we are reconciled to God through the death of His Son," that He Himself announces that He must go to Jerusalem and "be killed"; and again, "I am He that liveth, and became dead," and that "the God of Peace brought again from the dead the Great Shepherd," that it means simply laying aside condition or position is almost past comprehension.
The reality of His death is a fundamental truth of Christianity, and to fritter this truth away by reducing it to a Person laying aside "human condition," or ascribing death only to the human nature of a composite Christ, is merely the vain effort of a speculative mind, anxious to reduce this wondrous and unsearchable mystery to what may be grasped by any finite mind.
May the Lord, in His grace, keep us from such speculations.
The proposition of Mr. R. that the "truth of His Person does not consist in the union in Him of God and Man," and that the assertion, "God and Man, one Christ," is "derogatory and dishonouring to the Son, and contrary to Scripture," is the full fruit of this system, the necessary result of these unhallowed speculations.
In endeavouring to examine these two propositions, we are well aware of what holy ground we tread when we approach such a subject as the Person of Christ. We must needs be careful not to indulge in any speculations, but simply to find what Scripture teaches—not to attempt to define where Scripture does not, but humbly and reverently inquire what God has been pleased to reveal to faith, so that our souls may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus approach this holy subject in a kindred spirit with a French writer on John 1:
"He contents Himself with demonstrating to our faith, His Eternity, His life-communion with the Father, and His Deity, without unfolding these mysteries to us. Our faith must also be content with this. In reference to this eternal, unspeakable, and inconceivable mystery, we must believe more than we reason, adore more than we define, think more than we investigate, love more than we know, humble ourselves more than we speak."
Mr. R. quotes the Athanasian Creed, and says that the assertion, "God and Man, one Christ," is "derogatory and dishonouring to the Son, and contrary to Scripture." This is a plain statement of his matured teaching, not now encumbered with a cloud of words. All orthodox Christians hold and confess, on the contrary, that the assertion, "God and Man, one Christ," is according to Scripture; and, therefore, as revealed therein, honouring to the Son, since it is the truth of God.
Mr. R. quotes the last clause of the Athanasian Creed, as to the Person of the Lord. Let us quote more fully:—
"For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;
"God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world;
"Perfect God, and perfect Man: of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting;
"Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood.
"Who although he be God and Man: yet he is not two, but one Christ;
"One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking of the Manhood into God;
"One altogether; not by confusion of Substance: but by unity of Person.
"For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ."
Here we see that the whole confession as to Christ is summed up in the last clause, "God and Man, one Christ," and this is what all orthodox Christians mean by the phrase, the unity of the Person of Christ; or, to put it into the simplest possible English, we hold that when the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, the Word, became incarnate, He took "human nature into such a union with Himself, as forbade its Personality to be, for a single moment, distinct." As Scripture speaks, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt amongst us." Did Christ cease to be the Word when He became flesh at any moment of His sojourn down here? By becoming man, He became what He was not before. He assumed humanity never to lay it aside. The union now in Him of Deity and humanity constitutes One Person, the Christ of God, "God and Man, one Christ "; and, more, that it is a fundamental doctrine, and by "fundamental" is meant such a doctrine as is of the very essence of Christianity, the denial of which is fatal to, and the belief of which is absolutely necessary to, the very being of Christianity; and we hope to prove to any soul, subject to Scripture, that to call the truth expressed in the formula "God and Man, one Christ," an error, and derogatory and dishonouring to the Son, as Mr. Raven does, impugns "the faith of God's elect," and is a metaphysical attempt (however unintentional) to lower the mystery of the Incarnation to what any one can understand, if his two postulates are granted—first, that these conceptions "cannot be" grasped at one and the same time by any finite mind "; and, secondly, that these same conceptions "must of necessity be separately and distinctly apprehended."
The Westminster Confession gives the same scriptural statement of doctrine:
"The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God of one substance and equal to the Father, did, when the fulness of the time was come, take upon Him man's nature, with all the essential proportions and infirmities thereof, yet without sin, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole perfect and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion, which person is very God and very Man, yet one Christ."
Mr. Raven has never, to my knowledge, been charged with intending to deny either the true Divinity or the true humanity of our blessed Lord, but what he now affirms we pointed out that his first speculations would lead him on to, viz., that he divides the person of the Lord, using language which would give Him not only two natures but two personalities, a divine, doing certain things, and a human, doing certain things—two personalities to either of which, by his method of distinguishing, the acts and motions of the respected natures can be referred, and although he uses the phrase "One Person," he uses language which denies the indivisible personality of the Lord Jesus Christ, making the One Person, the Son, the second person of the Trinity, and thus reducing the incarnation down to a condition or position assumed—the One Person in a new condition; reducing this great, unsearchable Mystery, "God and Man, one Christ" down to something which can be, if "separately and distinctly apprehended," quite grasped by any finite mind.
Many years ago a servant of God wrote:
"I know that He is truly God, from heaven, incapable of suffering. I know that He was of the seed of David, according to the flesh, a man and capable of suffering. I do not inquire how the same Person is both capable of suffering and incapable of suffering, how He is both God and Man, lest while I busy myself about the how, and am investigating the mode, I should miss that good thing which is set before us."
And another has written:
"Do not be too curiously inquisitive into what is not revealed. There is something hid in whatsoever is revealed. We know the Son of God was begotten from eternity, but how He was begotten we are ignorant. We know there is a union of the Divine nature with the human, and that the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily, but the manner of His habitation we are in a great part ignorant of."
This breaking up of our Lord's personality into two, is a scheme which enables its holder to use very pious and exalted language as to the Divine nature which dwelt in Jesus, but really it gives nothing exclusive to Christ, since, in this sense, Deity might have dwelt in many men; and its infallible result is to lower and depreciate the humanity, and into this error and snare Mr. R. and his followers have fallen, as we see in Mr. R.'s comment on the Lord's words addressed to Peter in Matt. 16:17, where, after Peter's confession of Him as the Son of the living God, He replies, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee," "Which means, I judge," says Mr. R., "that the flesh and blood condition, even in Christ, had not in itself revealed it." Comment is needless, for if our souls have not lost all sensibility of what is due to our Saviour, they must shrink from this and other like depreciations of the blessed Lord.
The Word did not acquire Personality by Incarnation. The Word is always spoken of as a Person, not as an essence, or a principle, or as an energy; and so when it is written, "The Word became flesh"; the Holy Spirit goes on, "and dwelt among us," without any change in the subject of the verb. "He who was God and with God," now become man, is One Person; not a dual Personality, acquired with the human nature He was pleased to take, but the same Person, having become Man, is still but One Person, since He took flesh into personal union with Himself, and not a union of two personalities, though a union of two natures. And thus, after Incarnation, Scripture always speaks of Him. His being the eternal Son, is the ground of our Lord's indivisible personality; and "His coming in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin," "being made of a woman," did not alter this, since He is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." If we look at John 4:2, Heb. 2:14, Rom. 8:3, Phil. 2:7, and 1 Tim. 3:16, we find in each of these passages, as well as John 1:14, that "Jesus Christ is come in flesh"; the One made like unto His brethren; the One, "come in the likeness of sinful flesh"; the One, who, being in the form of God, came in the form of a servant. "God, manifest in flesh," is the "Man, Christ Jesus." There is only one I, one He, one Me, each passage proving conclusively that, "although He be God and man, yet He is not two, but One Christ; One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by Unity of Person."
When spoken of as born of Mary, He is called the Son of God—the Babe of Bethlehem is Emmanuel, God with us; He is declared by resurrection from the dead, to be God's Son, though, if we deny the unity of the Person, this proof would attach itself only to the manhood. In Matt. 28:6, the angel says, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay," not where the Lord's body lay, true though that is, but where the Lord lay, thus, in the strongest manner, making His body, Himself, not separating nor distinguishing between His humanity and divinity; and in Hebrews, "He offered Himself," is synonymous with "the offering of the body of Jesus Christ"; but we might quote any passage in the New Testament, and would find that it never uses language in regard to any department of Christ's Person, which cannot be properly used with regard to the whole undivided Person. For instance, we are said to be "reconciled to God by the death of His Son," when, if we discard, by Mr. R.'s method, the unity of the Person, He did not die as God's Son, but as Man; and in Gal. 2:20, it is "the Son of God, who gave Himself."
Another proof of the indivisibility of His Person is, that Scripture habitually gives Him all the attributes of a divine Person, ascribing their exercise to Him as "Jesus Christ, come in flesh," and characterizing the Son of Man, possessor as such, of all divine attributes.
In Rev. 1:5, 8, 18, proper eternity is ascribed to the One "who became dead." The One who died is the same Person who lives from everlasting to everlasting. I became dead; I, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last—all true on account of His indivisible Personality.
In Micah 5:1-3, the One who is born in Bethlehem is said to have His goings forth from everlasting, ascribing thus to the Babe, born in time, eternal existence. The One Person is said to have two goings forth, and this is true in virtue of the indivisible Personality—God and man, one Christ.
In John 16:30, 21:17, 2:24-25, Omniscience is ascribed to Him.
In Matt. 28:20, He claims Omnipresence.
In Ps. 102:24 compared with Heb. 1:10-12, we find that the One who says to God, "I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days," is addressed by God as Creator and immutable—" Thou art the same," "Thou remainest."
And in John 10, the One whom the Jews were about to stone claims equality with God—equality in purpose, equality in power, and equality in love.
Let us weigh well the 30th verse.
"I and the Father are one." It is "I" and the (not my) Father, not the Eternal Son and the Father, not the Word and the Father, but "I"—the One who stood before them—and the Father are one; not one in Person, but, as the neuter is used, one in essence, and primarily here, from the context, one in power and care of the sheep.
Who could separate here His divine and His human natures? How could He use the word "I" if there was not absolutely in Him an indivisible and abiding union of both natures in one Person—" God and man, one Christ?"
But it would be useless to go through Scripture to prove a negative. Let one passage be produced where Christ is viewed as man distinct and apart from what He is as God.
Bishop Ellicott, in writing against the Lux Mundi school, says, "It does seem that the holy doctrine of the two natures does need reiteration and re-enforcement "; and so, in the narrower school of Greenwich, we can say that this holy doctrine needs to be believed, for if believed, the only formula which would express the truth is, "God and man, one Christ "; for to believe in "two natures," and yet to deny the one Christ, in the undividedness of His Person, would be greater folly than we could believe even a follower of this teaching guilty of.
In the various defences of Mr. R.'s doctrines by his followers, they seldom quote Scripture, but quote the late J. N. Darby's writings freely. I shall follow their example, not quoting him as authoritative, but to show that what he taught is diametrically opposed to these speculations; and I also append an extract from J. G. Bellett's well-known work, "The Son of God"—
"'Out of heaven.' It is characteristic, but because of the place of origin. He has not ceased to be it now; but what is expressed is not what He is now, because gone to heaven, but His character because of His origin. It attaches to His person. He is so now, because He cannot be otherwise; because His origin was such, He was so on earth." (Letters, vol. iii. 274.)
"If there is the Divine and human nature in Him, there is only One Person." (Letters, vol. iii. 130.)
"To separate the Son of Man and Son of God is to dissolve Christ." (Do.)
"There is a most striking passage, in 1 John 2:28, and 3:1-2. The inseparableness of personality and the distinction of nature is very striking. 'Before Him at His coming,' 'is born of Him' in verse 29, so that 'we are sons of God,' and yet the world knew Him not, sons of God, but we like Him when He shall appear.
"All this blessed truth is lost if we dissolve, as I have called it, Christ." (Do. 131.)
The late J. G. Bellett thus expresses the truth:
"This is the mystery. It is the same Jesus, Emmanuel, the Son, and yet the kinsman of the seed of Abraham. And here I would say, for there is a call for it, I know we are not to confound the natures in this glorious and blessed One. . . . I avow with my whole soul the true humanity in His Person. . . . But I ask with that, Is there not some unsuspected and yet real unbelief, touching the mystery of the Person in the minds of many?
"Is the undividedness of the Person, throughout all the periods and transitions of this glorious, mysterious history, kept in the view of the soul?"
• • • •
"And still again I say the Person in its undividedness is to be kept in view of the soul.
"The perfect and complete work of Christ in every act of His office, in all that He did, in all that He suffered, in all that He continues to do, is the act and work of His whole person.
"Yea, indeed, and His whole person was on the cross as everywhere else. The Person was the sacrifice, and in that Person was the Son 'God over all, blessed for ever.' . . . His Person is the Rock; therefore His work is perfect. It is the mystery of mysteries. But it is not presented for our discussion, but for our apprehension, faith, confidence, love, and worship.
"The efficacy of the Priesthood of Christ depends entirely on His Person.
"Faith acquaints itself with the whole path of Jesus. It owns in Him the Son, while He tabernacled in the flesh amongst us; and when His course of humiliation and suffering had ended here, faith owns the once rejected and crucified Man, glorified in the heavens—the One Person."
Mr. R.'s last proposition is really only a modification of the previous one, viz., that Christ is viewed in Scripture as man, distinct and apart from what He is as God.
We might well ask for any passage which even would give colour to this statement. Mr. R. adduces a few which really prove the opposite, viz., that Scripture never views Him after "He became man," "distinct and apart from what He is as God," but always in the unity of Person—God and man.
The two sentences, "apart from God," and "apart from what He is as God," have been treated by this school as synonymous, endeavouring in this way to make out that their doctrine is the same as that professed hitherto by all intelligent Christians; but let the reader carefully consider the essential difference in meaning and doctrine of these two phrases. "Apart from God" raises no question as to His Person, but emphasises His position as the dependent One (Ps. 16), and the place He took in grace; while the sentence, "apart from what He is as God," raises the question of who He was, and divides His Person. Apply these sentences to Christ in His death on the Cross. When forsaken of God, is He not viewed as "apart from God"? But if it should be said,"apart from what He is as God," His Deity is eliminated from the work of atonement, and thus propitiation is made the work of His human nature only, and not, as it is, the work of His Person—indivisible—God and man, one Christ.
"Our kinsman He was indeed; very flesh and blood of man He took; very Man and very God; in One Person, He was. All depends on this 'great mystery.' The death of the Cross would be nothing without it, as all would be nothing without that death."
"Let us watch, beloved, against the attempt of the enemy to corrupt the meat of the household . . . and we are not to attemper the food, stored up of God for His saints, to man's taste or reasonings." (The Son of God, pages 11-19.)
If there is any force in the concluding remark of Mr. R. (p. 4), "that those who have of late come forward to expose what they deemed to be error, have shown a tendency in their minds in the direction of a kind of Tritheism," it consists in that those who hold that the Son is God equally with the Father and the Holy Spirit, no matter in what form or condition He assumed or entered into, must be guilty of holding what he sneeringly calls "a kind of Tritheism." Those who found their faith on such Scriptures as John 1, Luke 3:22, Eph. 3:18, can well afford to bear unshakingly this infidel taunt. On divine authority, through grace, we believe in three distinct Persons, and can say at the same time, "To us there is but one God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we by Him," and that "there is none other God but one." (1 Cor. 8:4-6.)
James Carter, 13, Paternoster Row, London, E.C.