The Divinity of
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the Prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that l am?—ST. MATT. xvi. 13.
Thus did our Lord propose to His first followers the momentous question, which for eighteen centuries has riveted the eye of thinking and adoring Christendom. The material setting, if we may so term it, of a great intellectual or moral event ever attracts the interest and lives in the memory of men; and the Evangelist is careful to note that the question of our Lord was asked in the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus Christ had reached the northernmost point of His journeyings. He was close to the upper source of the Jordan, and at the base of the majestic mountain which forms a natural barrier to the Holy Land at its northern extremity. His eye rested upon a scenery in the more immediate foreground, which from its richness and variety has been compared by travellers to the Italian Tivoli1. Yet there belonged to this spot a higher interest than any which the beauty of merely inanimate or irrational nature can furnish; it bore visible traces of the hopes, the errors, and the struggles of the human soul. Around a grotto which Greek settlers had assigned to the worship of the sylvan Pan, a Pagan settlement had gradually formed itself. Herod the Great had adorned the spot with a temple of white marble, dedicated to his patron Augustus; and more recently, the rising city, enlarged and beautified by Philip the tetrarch, had received a new name which combined the memory of the Caesar Tiberius with that of the local potentate. It is probable that our Lord at least had the city in view2, even if He did not enter it. He was standing on the geographical frontier of Judaism and Heathendom. Paganism was visibly before Him in each of its two most typical forms of perpetual and world-wide degradation. It was burying its scant but not utterly lost idea of an Eternal Power and Divinity3 beneath a gross materialistic nature-worship; and it was prostituting the sanctities of the human conscience to the lowest purposes of an unholy and tyrannical statecraft. And behind and around our Lord was that peculiar people, of whom, as concerning the flesh, He came Himself4, and to which His first followers belonged. Israel too was there; alone in her memory of a past history such as no other race could boast; alone in her sense of a present degradation, political and moral, such as no other people could feel; alone in her strong expectation of a Deliverance which to men who were ‘aliens from’ her sacred ‘commonwealth’ seemed but the most chimerical of delusions. On such a spot does Jesus Christ raise the great question which is before us in the text, and this, as we may surely believe, not without a reference to the several wants and hopes and efforts of mankind thus visibly pictured around Him. How was the human conscience to escape from that political violence and from that degrading sensualism which had riveted the yoke of Pagan superstition? How was Israel to learn the true drift and purpose of her marvellous past? How was she to be really relieved of her burden of social and moral misery? How were her high anticipations of a brighter future to be explained and justified? And although that ‘middle wall of partition,’ which so sharply divided off her inward and outward life from that of Gentile humanity, had been built up for such high and necessary ends by her great inspired lawgiver, did not such isolation also involve manifest counterbalancing risks and loss? was it to be eternal? could it, might it be ‘broken down’? These questions could only be answered by some further Revelation, larger and clearer than that already possessed by Israel, and absolutely new to Heathendom. They demanded some nearer, fuller, more persuasive self-unveiling than any which the Merciful and Almighty God had as yet vouchsafed to His reasonable creatures. May not then the suggestive scenery of Caesarea Philippi have been chosen by our Lord, as well fitted to witness that solemn enquiry in the full answer to which Jew and Gentile were alike to find a rich inheritance of light, peace and freedom? Jesus ‘asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?’
Let us pause to mark the significance of the fact that our Lord Himself proposes this consideration to His disciples and to His Church.
It has been often maintained of late that the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself differs from that of His Apostles and of their successors, in that He only taught religion, while they have taught dogmatic theology5.
This statement appears to proceed upon a presumption that religion and theology can be separated, not merely in idea and for the moment, by some process of definition, but permanently and in the world of fact. What then is religion? If you say that religion is essentially thought whereby man unites himself to the Eternal and Unchangeable Being6, it is at least plain that the object-matter of such a religious activity as this is exactly identical with the object-matter of theology. Nay more, it would seem to follow that a religious life is simply a life of theological speculation. If you make religion to consist in ‘the knowledge of our practical duties considered as God’s commandments7,’ your definition irresistibly suggests God in His capacity of universal Legislator, and it thus carries the earnestly and honestly religious man into the heart of theology. If you protest that religion has nothing to do with intellectual skill in projecting definitions, and that it is at bottom a feeling of tranquil dependence upon some higher Power8, you cannot altogether set aside the capital question which arises as to the nature of that Power upon which religion thus depends. Even if you should contend that feeling is the essential element in religion, still you cannot seriously maintain that the reality of that to which such feeling relates is altogether a matter of indifference9. For the adequate satisfaction of this religious feeling lies not in itself but in its object; and therefore it is impossible to represent religion as indifferent to the absolute truth of that object, and in a purely aesthetical spirit, concerned only with the beauty of the idea before it, even in a case where the reflective understanding may have condemned that idea as logically false. Religion, to support itself, must rest consciously on its object: the intellectual apprehension of that object as true is an integral element of religion. In other words, religion is practically inseparable from theology. The religious Mahommedan sees in Allah a being to whose absolute decrees he must implicitly resign himself; a theological dogma then is the basis of the specific Mahommedan form of religion. A child reads in the Sermon on the Mount that our Heavenly Father takes care of the sparrows, and of the lilies of the field10, and the child prays to Him accordingly. The truth upon which the child rests is the dogma of the Divine Providence, which encourages trust, and warrants prayer, and lies at the root of the child’s religion. In short, religion cannot exist without some view of its object, namely, God; but no sooner do you introduce any intellectual aspect whatever of God, nay, the bare idea that such a Being exists, than you have before you not merely a religion, but at least, in some sense, a theology11.
Had our Lord revealed no one truth except the Parental character of God, while at the same time He insisted upon a certain morality and posture of the soul as proper to man’s reception of this revelation, He would have been the Author of a theology as well as of a religion. In point of fact, besides teaching various truths concerning God, which were unknown before, or at most only guessed at, He did that which in a merely human teacher of high purpose would have been morally intolerable. He drew the eyes of men towards Himself. He claimed to be something more than the Founder of a new religious spirit, or than the authoritative promulgator of a higher truth than men had yet known. He taught true religion indeed as no man had yet taught it, but He bent the religious spirit which He had summoned into life to do homage to Himself, as being its lawful and adequate Object. He taught the highest theology, but He also placed Himself at the very center of His doctrine, and He announced Himself as sharing the very throne of that God Whom He so clearly unveiled. If He was the organ and author of a new and final revelation, He also claimed to be the very substance and material of His own message; His most startling revelation was Himself.
These are statements which will be justified, it is hoped, hereafter12; and, if some later portions of our subject are for a moment anticipated, it is only that we may note the true and extreme significance of our Lord’s question in the text. But let us also ask ourselves what would be the duty of a merely human teacher of the highest moral aim, entrusted with a great spiritual mission and lesson for the benefit of mankind? The example of St. John Baptist is an answer to this enquiry. Such a teacher would represent himself as a mere ‘voice’ crying aloud in the moral wilderness around him, and anxious, beyond aught else, to shroud his own insignificant person beneath the majesty of his message. Not to do this would be to proclaim his own moral degradation; it would be a public confession that he could only regard a great spiritual work for others as furnishing an opportunity for adding to his own social capital, or to his official reputation. When then Jesus Christ so urgently draws the attention of men to His Personal Self, He places us in a dilemma. We must either say that He was unworthy of His own words in the Sermon on the Mount13, or we must confess that He has some right, and is under the pressure of some necessity, to do that which would be morally insupportable in a merely human teacher. Now if this right and necessity exist, it follows that when our Lord bids us to consider His Personal rank in the hierarchy of beings, He challenges an answer. Remark moreover that in the popular sense of the term the answer is not less a theological answer if it be that of the Ebionitic heresy than if it be the language of the Nicene Creed. The Christology of the Church is in reality an integral part of its theology; and Jesus Christ raises the central question of Christian theology when He asks, ‘Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?’
It may be urged that our Lord is inviting attention, not to His essential Personality, but to His assumed office as the Jewish Messiah; that He is, in fact, asking for a confession of His Messiahship.
Now observe the exact form of our Lord’s question, as given in St. Matthew’s Gospel; which, as Olshausen has remarked, is manifestly here the leading narrative: ‘Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?’ This question involves an assertion, namely, that the Speaker is the Son of Man. What did He mean by that designation? It is important to remember that with two exceptions14 the title is only applied to our Lord in the New Testament by His own lips. It was His self-chosen Name: why did He choose it?
First, then, it was in itself, to Jewish ears, a clear assertion of Messiahship. In the vision of Daniel ‘One like unto the Son of Man15 had come with the clouds of heaven,....and there was given Him dominion and glory and a kingdom.’ This kingdom succeeded in the prophet’s vision to four inhuman kingdoms, correspondent to the four typical beasts; it was the kingdom of a prince, human indeed, and yet from heaven. In consequence of this prophecy, the ‘Son of Man’ became a popular and official title of the Messiah. In the Book of Enoch, which is assigned with the highest probability by recent criticism to the second century before our era16, this and kindred titles are continually applied to Messiah. Our Lord in His prophecy over Jerusalem predicted that at the last day ‘they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with power and great glory17.’ And when standing at the tribunal of Caiaphas He thus addressed His judges: ‘I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven18.’ In these passages there is absolutely no room for doubting either His distinct reference to the vision in Daniel, or the claim which the title Son of Man was intended to assert. As habitually used by our Lord, it was a constant setting forth of His Messianic dignity, in the face of the people of Israel19.
Why indeed He chose this one, out of the many titles of Messiah, is a further question, a brief consideration of which lies in the track of the subject before us.
It would not appear to be sufficient to reply that the title Son of Man is the most unpresuming, the least glorious of the titles of Messiah, and was adopted by our Lord as such. For if such a title claimed, as it did claim, Messiahship, the precise etymological force of the word could not neutralize its current and recognized value in the estimation of the Jewish people. The claim thus advanced was independent of any analysis of the exact sense of the title which asserted it. The title derived its popular force from the office with which it was associated. To adopt the title, however humble might be its strict and intrinsic meaning, was to claim the great office to which in the minds of men it was indissolubly attached.
As it had been addressed to the prophet Ezekiel20, the title Son of Man seemed to contrast the frail and shortlived life of men with the boundless strength and the eternal years of the Infinite GOD. And as applied to Himself by Jesus, it doubtless expresses a real Humanity, a perfect and penetrating community of nature and feeling with the lot of human kind. Thus, when our Lord says that authority was given Him to execute judgment because He is the Son of Man, it is plain that the point of the reason lies, not in His being Messiah, but in His being Human. He displays a genuine Humanity which could deem nothing human strange, and could be touched with a feeling of the infirmities of the race which He was to judge21. But the title Son of Man means more than this in its application to our Lord. It does not merely assert His real incorporation with our kind; it exalts Him indefinitely above us all as the representative, the ideal, the pattern Man22. He is, in a special sense, the Son of Mankind, the genuine offspring of the race. His is the Human Life which does justice to the idea of Humanity. All human history tends to Him or radiates from Him. He is the point in which humanity finds its unity; as St. Irenaeus says, He ‘recapitulates’ it23. He closes the earlier history of our race; He inaugurates its future. Nothing local, transient, individualizing, national, sectarian, dwarfs the proportions of His world-embracing Character; He rises above the parentage, the blood, the narrow horizon which bounded, as it seemed, His Human Life; He is the Archetypal Man in Whose presence distinctions of race, intervals of ages, types of civilization, degrees of mental culture are as nothing. This sense of the title seems to be implied in such passages as that in which He contrasts ‘the foxes which have holes, and the birds of the air which have nests,’ with ‘the Son of Man Who hath not where to lay His Head24.’ It is not the official Messiah, as such; but ‘the fairest among the children of men,’ the natural Prince and Leader, the very prime and flower of human kind, Whose lot is thus harder than that of the lower creatures, and in Whose humiliation humanity itself is humbled below the level of its natural dignity.
As the Son of Man then, our Lord is the Messiah; He is a true member of our human race, and He is moreover its Pattern and Representative; since He fulfills and exhausts that moral Ideal to which man’s highest and best aspirations have ever pointed onward. Of these senses of the term the first was the more popular and obvious; the last would be discerned as latent in it by the devout reflection of His servants. For the disciples the term Son of Man implied first of all the Messiahship of their Master, and next, though less prominently, His true Humanity. When then our Lord enquires ‘Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?’ He is not merely asking whether men admit what the title Son of Man itself imports, that is to say, the truth of His Humanity or the truth of His Messiahship. The point of His question is this:—what is He besides being the Son of Man? As the Son of Man, He is Messiah; but what is the Personality which sustains the Messianic office? As the Son of Man, He is truly Human; but what is the Higher Nature with which this emphatic claim to Humanity is in tacit, but manifest contrast? What is He in the seat and root of His Being? Is His Manhood a robe which He has thrown around a Higher form of pre-existent Life, or is it His all? Has He been in existence some thirty years at most, or are the august proportions of His Life only to be meted out by the days of eternity? ‘Whom say men that I the Son of Man am?’
The disciples reply, that at that time, in the public opinion of Galilee, our Lord was, at the least, a preternatural personage. On this point there was, it would seem, a general consent. The cry of a petty local envy which had been raised at Nazareth, ‘Is not this the Carpenter’s Son?’ did not fairly represent the matured or prevalent opinion of the people. The people did not suppose that Jesus was in truth merely one of themselves, only endued with larger powers and with a finer religious instinct. They thought that His Personality reached back somehow into the past of their own wonderful history. They took Him for a saint of ancient days, who had been re-invested with a bodily form. He was the great expected miracle-working Elijah; or He was the disappointed prophet who had followed His country to its grave at the Captivity; or He was the recently-martyred preacher and ascetic John the Baptist; or He was, at any rate, one of the order which for four hundred years had been lost to Israel; He was one of the Prophets.
Our Lord turns from these public misconceptions to the judgment of that little Body which was already the nucleus of His future Church: ‘But whom say ye that I am?’ St. Peter replies, in the name of the other disciples25, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ In marked contrast to the popular hesitation which refused to recognize explicitly the justice of the claim so plainly put forward by the assumption of the title ‘Son of Man,’ the Apostle confesses, ‘Thou art the Christ.’ But St. Peter advances a step beyond this confession, and replies to the original question of our Lord, when he adds ‘The Son of the Living God.’ In the first three Evangelists, as well as in St. John, this solemn designation expresses something more than a merely theocratic or ethical relationship to God26. If St. Peter had meant that Christ was the Son of God solely in virtue of His membership in the old Theocracy, or by reason of His consummate moral glory27, the confession would have involved nothing distinctive with respect to Jesus Christ, nothing that was not in a measure true of every good Jew, and that may not be truer far of every good Christian. If St. Peter had intended only to repeat another and a practically equivalent title of the Messiah, he would not have equalled the earlier confession of a Nathanael28, or have surpassed the subsequent admission of a Caiaphas29, If we are to construe his language thus, it is altogether impossible to conceive why ‘flesh and blood’ could not have ‘revealed’ to him so obvious and trivial an inference from his previous knowledge, or why either the Apostle or his confession should have been solemnly designated as the selected Rock on which the Redeemer would build His imperishable Church.
Leaving however a fuller discussion of the interpretation of this particular text, let us note that the question raised at Caesarea Philippi is still the great question before the modern world. Whom do men say now that Jesus, the Son of Man, is?
I. No serious and thoughtful man can treat such a subject with indifference. I merely do you justice, my brethren, when I defy you to murmur that we are entering upon a merely abstract discussion, which has nothing in common with modern human interests, congenial as it may have been to those whom some writers have learnt to describe as the professional wordwarriors of the fourth and fifth centuries. You would not be guilty of including the question of our Lord’s Divinity in your catalogue of tolerabiles ineptiae. There is that in the Form of the Son of Man which prevails to command something more than attention, even in an age so conspicuous for its boisterous self-assertion as our own, and in intellectual atmospheres as far as possible removed from the mind of His believing and adoring Church. Never since He ascended to His Throne was He the object of a more passionate adoration than now; never did He encounter the glare of a hatred more intense and more defiant: and between these, the poles of a contemplation incessantly directed upon His Person, there are shades and levels of thought and feeling, many and graduated, here detracting from the highest expressions of faith, there shrinking from the most violent extremities of blasphemy. A real indifference to the claims of Jesus Christ upon the thoughts and hearts of men is scarcely less condemned by some of the erroneous tendencies of our age than by its characteristic excellences. An age which has a genuine love of historical truth must needs fix its eye on that august Personality which is to our European world, in point of creative influence, what no other has been or can be. An age which is distinguished by a keen aesthetic appreciation, if not by any very earnest practical culture of moral beauty, cannot but be enthusiastic when it has once caught sight of that incomparable Life which is recorded in the Gospels. But also, an anti-dogmatic age is nervously anxious to attack dogma in its central stronghold, and to force the Human Character and Work of the Savior, though at the cost of whatever violence of critical manipulation, to detach themselves from the great belief with which they are indissolubly associated in the mind of Christendom. And an age, so impatient of the supernatural as our own, is irritated to the highest possible point of disguised irritability by the spectacle of a Life which is supernatural throughout, which positively bristles with the supernatural, which begins with a supernatural birth, and ends in a supernatural ascent to heaven, which is prolific of physical miracle, and of which the moral wonders are more startling than the physical. Thus it is that the interest of modern physical enquiries into the laws of the Cosmos or into the origin of Man is immediately heightened when these enquiries are suspected to have a bearing, however indirect, upon Christ’s Sacred Person. Thus your study of the mental sciences, aye, and of philology, ministers whether it will or no to His praise or His dishonor, and your ethical speculations cannot complete themselves without raising the whole question of His Authority. And such is Christ’s place in history, that a line of demarcation between its civil and its ecclesiastical elements seems to be practically impossible; your ecclesiastical historians are prone to range over the annals of the world, while your professors of secular history habitually deal with the central problems and interests of theology.
If Christ could have been ignored, He would have been ignored in Protestant Germany, when Christian Faith had been eaten out of the heart of that country by the older Rationalism. Yet scarcely any German ‘thinker’ of note can be named who has not projected what is termed a Christology. The Christ of Kant is the Ideal of Moral Perfection, and as such, we are told, he is to be carefully distinguished from the historical Jesus, since of this Ideal alone, and in a transcendental sense, can the statements of the orthodox creed be predicated30. The Christ of Jacobi is a Religious Ideal, and worship addressed to the historical Jesus is denounced as sheer idolatry, unless beneath the recorded manifestation the Ideal itself be discerned and honored31. According to Fichte, on the contrary, the real interest of philosophy in Jesus is historical and not metaphysical; Jesus first possessed an insight into the absolute unity of the being of man with that of God, and in revealing this insight He communicated the highest knowledge which man can possess32. Of the later Pantheistic philosophers, Schelling proclaims that the Christian theology is hopelessly in error, when it teaches that at a particular moment of time God became Incarnate, since God is ‘external to’ all time, and the Incarnation of God is an eternal fact. But Schelling contends that the man Christ Jesus is the highest point or effort of this eternal incarnation, and the beginning of its real manifestation to men: ‘none before Him after such a manner has revealed to man the Infinite33.’ And the Christ of Hegel is not the actual Incarnation of God in Jesus of Nazareth, but the symbol of His incarnation in humanity at large34. Fundamentally differing, as do these conceptions, in various ways, from the creed of the Church of Christ, they nevertheless represent so many efforts of non-Christian thought to do such homage as is possible to its great Object; they are so many proofs of the interest which Jesus Christ necessarily provokes in the modern world, even when it is least disposed to own His true supremacy.
Nor is the direction which this interest has taken of late years in the sphere of unbelieving theological criticism less noteworthy in its bearings on our present subject. The earlier Rationalism concerned itself chiefly with the Apostolical age. It was occupied with a perpetual analysis and recombination of the various influences which were supposed to have created the Catholic Church and the orthodox creed. St. Paul was the most prominent person in the long series of hypotheses by which Rationalism professed to account for the existence of Catholic Christianity. St. Paul was said to be the ‘author’ of that idea of a universal religion which was deemed to be the most fundamental and creative element in the Christian creed: St. Paul’s was the vivid imagination which had thrown around the life and death of the Prophet of Nazareth a halo of superhuman glory, and had fired an obscure Jewish sect with the ambition of founding a spiritual empire able to control and embrace the world. St. Paul, in short, was held to be the real creator of Christianity; and our Lord was thrown into the background, whether from a surviving instinct of awe, or on the ground of His being relatively insignificant. This studied silence of active critical speculation with respect to Jesus Christ might indeed have been the instinct of reverence, but it was at least susceptible of a widely different interpretation.
In our day this equivocal reserve is no longer possible. The passion for reality, for fact, which is so characteristic of the thought of recent years, has carried critical enquiry backwards from the consciousness of the Apostle to that on which it reposed. The interest of modern criticism centers in Him Who is ever most prominently and uninterruptedly present to the eye of faith. The popular controversies around us tend more and more to merge in the one great question respecting our Lord’s Person : that question, it is felt, is bound up with the very existence of Christianity. And a discussion respecting Christ’s Person obliges us to consider the mode of His historical manifestation; so that His Life was probably never studied before by those who practically or avowedly reject Him so eagerly as it is at this moment. For Strauss He may be no more than a leading illustration of the applicability of the Hegelian philosophy to purposes of historical analysis; for Schenkel He may be a sacred impersonation of the anti-hierarchical and democratic temper, which aims at revolutionizing Germany. Ewald may see in Him the altogether human source of the highest spiritual life of humanity; and Renan, the semi-fabulous and somewhat immoral hero of an oriental story, fashioned to the taste of a modern Parisian public. And what if you yourselves are even now eagerly reading an anonymous writer, of far nobler aim and finer moral insight than these, who has endeavored, by a brilliant analysis of one side of Christ’s moral action, to represent Him as embodying and originating all that is best and most hopeful in the spirit of modern philanthropy, but who seems not indisposed to substitute for the creed of His Church, only the impatient proclamation of His Roman judge. Aye, though you salute your Savior in Pilate’s words, Behold the Man! at least you cannot ignore Him; you cannot resist the moral and intellectual forces which converge in our day with an ever-increasing intensity upon His Sacred Person; you cannot turn a deaf ear to the question which He asks of His followers in each generation, and which He never asked more solemnly than now: ‘Whom say men that I the Son of Man am35?’
II. Now all serious Theists, who believe that God is a Personal Being essentially distinct from the work of His hands, must make one of three answers, whether in terms or in substance, to the question of the text.
1. The Ebionite of old, and the Socinian now, assert that Jesus Christ is merely man, whether (as Faustus Socinus himself teaches) supernaturally born of a Virgin36, or (as modern Rationalists generally maintain) in all respects subject to ordinary natural laws37, although of such remarkable moral eminence, that He may, in the enthusiastic language of ethical admiration, be said to be ‘Divine.’ And when Sabellianism would escape from the manifold self-contradictions of Patripassianism38, it too becomes no less Humanitarian in its doctrine as to the Person of our Lord, than Ebionitism itself. The Monarchianism of Praxeas or of Noetus, which denied the distinct Personality of Christ39 while proclaiming His Divinity in the highest terms, was practically coincident in its popular result with the coarse assertions of Theodotus and Artemon40. And in modern days, the phenomenon of practical Humanitarianism, disguised but not proscribed by very vehement protestations apparently condemning it, is reproduced in the case of such well-known writers as Schleiermacher or Ewald. They use language at times which seems to do the utmost justice to the truth of Christ’s Divinity: they recognize in Him the perfect Revelation of God, the true Head and Lord of human kind; but they deny the existence of an immanent Trinity in the Godhead; they recognize in God no pre-existent Personal Form as the basis of His Self-Manifestation to man; they are really Monarchianists in the sense of Praxeas; and their keen appreciation of the ethical glory of Christ’s Person cannot save them from consequences with which it is ultimately inconsistent, but which are on other grounds logically too inevitable to be permanently eluded41. A Christ who is ‘the perfect Revelation of God,’ yet who ‘is not personally God,’ does not really differ from the altogether human Christ of Socinus; and the assertion of the Personal Godhead of Christ can only escape from the profane absurdities of Patripassianism, when it presupposes the eternal and necessary existence in God of a Threefold Personality.
2. The Arian maintains that our Lord Jesus Christ existed before His Incarnation, that by Him, as by an instrument, the Supreme God made the worlds, and that, as being the most ancient and the highest of created beings, He is to be worshipped; that, however, Christ had a beginning of existence ('archen huparxeos'), that there was a time when He did not exist ('en hote ouk en'); that He has His subsistence from what once was not ('ex ouk onton exei ten hupostasin'42), and cannot therefore be called God in the sense in which that term is applied by Theists to the Supreme Being43.
3. In contrast with these two leading forms of heresy stands that which has ever been and is the faith of the whole Catholic Church of Christ: ‘I believe in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten not made, Being OF ONE SUBSTANCE WITH the Father; By Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made Man.’
Practically indeed these three answers may be still further reduced to two, the first and the third; for Arianism, no less than Sabellianism, is really a form of the Humanitarian or naturalist reply to the question. Arianism does indeed admit the existence of a pre-existent being who became incarnate in Jesus, but it parts company with the Catholic belief, by asserting that this being is himself a creature, and not of the very Substance of the Supreme God. Thus Arianism is weighted with the intellectual difficulties of a purely supernatural Christology, while yet it forfeits all hold upon the Great Truth which to a Catholic believer sustains and justifies the remainder of his creed. The real question at issue is not merely whether Christ is only a man; it is whether or not He is only a created being. When the question is thus stated, Arianism must really take its place side by side with the most naked Deism; while at the same time it suggests, by its incarnation of a created Logos, the most difficult among the problems which meet a believer in the Hypostatic Union of our Lord’s Two Natures. In order to escape from this position, it virtually teaches the existence of two Gods, each of whom is an object of worship, one of whom has been created by the Other; One of whom might, if He willed, annihilate the other44. Thus in Arianism reason and faith are equally disappointed: the largest demands are made upon faith, yet the Arian Christ after all is but a fellow-creature; and reason is encouraged to assail the mysteries of the Catholic creed in behalf of a theory which admits of being reduced to an irrational absurdity. Arianism therefore is really at most a resting-point for minds which are sinking from the Catholic creed downwards to pure Humanitarianism; or which are feeling their way upwards from the depths of Ebionitism, or Socinianism, towards the Church. This intermediate, transient, and essentially unsubstantial character of the Arian position was indeed made plain, in theory, by the vigorous analysis to which the heresy was subjected on its first appearance by St. Athanasius45, and again in the last century, when, at its endeavor to make a home for itself in the Church of England, in the person of Dr. Samuel Clarke, it was crushed out, under God, mainly by the genius and energy of the great Waterland. And history has verified the anticipations of argument. Arianism at this day has a very shadowy, if any real, existence; and the Church of Christ, holding in her hands the Creed of Nicaea, stands face to face with sheer Humanitarianism, more or less disguised, according to circumstances, by the thin varnish of an admiration yielded to our Lord on aesthetic or ethical grounds.
III. At the risk of partial repetition, but for the sake of clearness, let us here pause to make two observations respecting that complete assertion of the Divinity of our Lord for which His Church is responsible at the bar of human opinion.
1. The Catholic doctrine, then, of Christ’s Divinity in no degree interferes with or overshadows the complemental truth of His perfect Manhood. It is perhaps natural that a greater emphasis should be laid upon the higher truth which could be apprehended only by faith than on the lower one which, during the years of our Lord’s earthly Life, was patent to the senses of men. And Holy Scripture might antecedently be supposed to take for granted the reality of Christ’s Manhood, on the ground of there being no adequate occasion for full, precise, and reiterated assertions of so obvious a fact. But nothing is more remarkable in Scripture than its provision for the moral and intellectual needs of ages far removed from those which are traversed by the books included in the Sacred Canon. In the present instance, by a series of incidental although most significant statements, the Gospels guard us with nothing less than an exhaustive precaution against the fictions of a Docetic or of an Apollinarian Christ. We are told that the Eternal Word 'sarx egeneto'46, that He took human nature upon Him in its reality and completeness47. The Gospel narrative, after the pattern of His own words in the text, exhibits Jesus as the Son of Man, while yet it draws us on by an irresistible attraction to contemplate that Higher Nature which was the seat of His eternal Personality. The superhuman character of some most important details of the Gospel history does not disturb the broad scope of that history as being the record of a Human Life, with Its physical and mental affinities to our own daily experience.
The great Subject of the Gospel narratives has a true human Body. He is conceived in the womb of a human Mother48. He is by her brought forth into the world49; He is fed at her breast during infancy50. As an Infant, He is made to undergo the painful rite of circumcision51. He is a Babe in swaddling-clothes lying in a manger52. He is nursed in the arms of the aged Simeon53. His bodily growth is traced up to His attaining the age of twelve54, and from that point to manhood55. His presence at the marriage-feast in Cana56, at the great entertainment in the house of Levi57, and at the table of Simon the Pharisee58; the supper which He shared at Bethany with the friend whom He had raised from the grave59, the Paschal festival which He desired so earnestly to eat before He suffered60, the bread and fish of which He partook before the eyes of His disciples in the early dawn on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, even after His Resurrection61,—are witnesses that He came, like one of ourselves, ‘eating and drinking62.’ When He is recorded to have taken no food during the forty days of the Temptation, this implies the contrast presented by His ordinary habit63. Indeed, He seemed to the men of His day much more dependent on the physical supports of life than the great ascetic who had preceded Him64. He knew, by experience, what are the pangs of hunger, after the forty days’ fast in the wilderness65, and in a lesser degree, as may be supposed, when walking into Jerusalem on the Monday before His Passion66. The profound spiritual sense of His redemptive cry, ‘I thirst,’ uttered while He was hanging on the Cross, is not obscured, when its primary literal meaning, that while dying He actually endured that wellnigh sharpest form of bodily suffering, is explicitly recognized67. His deep sleep on the Sea of Galilee in a little bark which the waves threatened momentarily to engulf68, and His sitting down at the well of Jacob, through great exhaustion produced by a long journey on foot from Judaea69, proved that He was subject at times to the depression of extreme fatigue. And, not to dwell at length upon those particular references to the several parts of His bodily frame which occur in Holy Scripture70, it is obvious to note that the evangelical account of His physical Sufferings, of His Death71, of His Burial72, and of the Wounds in His Hands and Feet and Side after His Resurrection73, are so many emphatic attestations to the fact of His true and full participation in the material side of our common nature.
Equally explicit and vivid is the witness which Scripture affords to the true Human Soul of our Blessed Lord74. Its general movements are not less spontaneous, nor do Its affections flow less freely, because no sinful impulse finds a place in It, and each pulse of Its moral and mental Life is in conscious harmony with, and subjection to, an all-holy Will. Jesus rejoices in spirit on hearing of the spread of the kingdom of heaven among the simple and the poor75: He beholds the young ruler, and forthwith loves him76. He loves Martha and her sister and Lazarus with a common, yet, as seems to be implied, with a discriminating affection77. His Eye on one occasion betrays a sudden movement of deliberate anger at the hardness of heart which could steel itself against truth by maintaining a dogged silence78. The scattered and fainting multitude melts Him to compassion79: He sheds tears of sorrow at the grave of Lazarus80, and at the sight of the city which has rejected His Love81. In contemplating His approaching Passion82 and the ingratitude of the traitor-Apostle83, His Soul is shaken by a vehement agitation which He does not conceal from His disciples. In the garden of Gethsemane He wills to enter into an agony of amazement and dejection. His mental sufferings are so keen and piercing that His tender frame gives way beneath the trial, and He sheds His Blood before they nail Him to the Cross84. His Human Will consciously submits itself to a Higher Will85, and He learns obedience by the discipline of pain86. He carries His dependence still further, He is habitually subject to His parents87; He recognizes the fiscal regulations of a pagan state88; He places Himself in the hands of His enemies89, He is crucified through weakness90. If an Apostle teaches that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him91, an Evangelist records that He increases in wisdom as He increases in stature92. Conformably with these representations, we find Him as Man expressing creaturely dependence upon God by prayer. He rises up a great while before day at Capernaum, and departs into a solitary place, that He may pass the hours in uninterrupted devotion93. He makes intercession for His whole redeemed Church in the Paschal supper-room94; He offers to Heaven strong crying with tears in Gethsemane95; He asks pardon for His Jewish and Gentile murderers at the very moment of His Crucifixion96; He resigns His departing Spirit into His Father’s Hands97.
Thus, as one Apostle teaches, He took a Body of Flesh98, and His whole Humanity both of Soul and Body shared in the sinless infirmities which belong to our common nature99. To deny this fundamental truth, ‘that Jesus Christ is come in the Flesh,’ is, in the judgment of another Apostle, the mark of the Deceiver, of the Antichrist100. Nor do the prerogatives of our Lord’s Manhood destroy Its perfection and reality, although they do undoubtedly invest It with a robe of mystery, which Faith must acknowledge, but which she cannot hope to penetrate. Christ’s Manhood is not unreal because It is impersonal; because in Him the place of any created individuality at the root of thought and feeling and will is supplied by the Person of the Eternal Word, Who has wrapped around His Being a created Nature through which, in its unmutilated perfection, He acts upon humankind101. Christ’s Manhood is not unreal, because It is sinless; because the entail of any taint of transmitted sin is in Him cut off by a supernatural birth of a Virgin Mother; and because His whole life of thought, feeling, will, and action is in unfaltering harmony with the law of absolute Truth102. Nor is the reality of His Manhood impaired by any exceptional beauty whether of outward form or of mental endowment, such as might become One ‘fairer than the children of men103,’ and taking precedence of them in all things104; since in Him our nature does but resume its true and typical excellence as the crowning glory of the visible creation of God105.
This reality and perfection of our Lord’s Manhood has been not less jealously maintained by the Church than it is clearly asserted in the pages of Scripture. From the first the Church has taught that Jesus Christ is ‘Perfect Man, of a reasonable Soul and Human Flesh subsisting.’ It is sometimes hinted that believers in our Savior’s Godhead must necessarily entertain some prejudice against those passages of Scripture which expressly assert the truth of His Manhood. It is presumed that such passages must be regarded by them as so many difficulties106 to be surmounted or evaded by a theory which is supposed to be conscious of their hostility to itself. Whereas, in truth, to a Catholic instinct, each declaration of Scripture, whatever be its apparent bearing, is welcome as being an unveiling of the Mind of God, and therefore as certainly reconcileable with other sides of truth, whether or no the method of such reconciliation be immediately obvious. As a matter of fact, our Lord’s Humanity has been insisted upon by the great Church teachers of antiquity not less earnestly than His Godhead. They habitually argue that it belonged to His essential Truth to be in reality what He seemed to be. He seemed to be human; therefore He was Human107. Yet His Manhood, so they proceed to maintain, would have been fictitious, if any one faculty or element of human nature had been wanting to It. Therefore His Reasonable Soul was as essential as His Bodily Frame108. Without a Reasonable Soul His Humanity would have been but an animal existence109; and the intellectual side of man’s nature would have been unredeemed110. Nor did the Church in her collective capacity ever so insist on Christ’s Godhead as to lose sight of the truth of His Perfect Manhood. Whether by the silent force of the belief of her children, or by her representative writers on behalf of the faith, or by the formal decisions of her councils, she has ever resisted the disposition to sacrifice the confession of Christ’s created nature to that of His uncreated Godhead111. She kept at bay intellectual temptations and impulses which might have easily overmastered the mind of a merely human society. When Ebionites were abroad, she maintained against the Docetae that our Savior’s body was not fictitious or apparitional. When the mutterings of that Humanitarian movement which culminated in the great scandal of Paulus of Samosata were distinctly audible, she asserted the truth of our Lord’s Human Soul against Beryllus of Bostra112. When Arianism had not as yet ceased to be formidable, she was not tempted by Apollinaris to admit that the Logos in Christ took the place of the rational element in man. While Nestorianism was still vigorous, she condemned the Monophysite formula which practically made Christ an unincarnate God: nor did she rest until the Monothelite echo of the more signal error had been silenced by her assertion of the reality of His Human Will.
Nor is the Manhood of our Savior prized by the Church only as a revealed dogma intellectually essential to the formal integrity of the Creed. Every believing Christian knows that it touches the very heart of his inner life. What becomes of the one Mediator between God and man, if the Manhood whereby He places Himself in contact with us men is but unreal and fictitious? What becomes of His Human Example, of His genuine Sympathy, of His agonizing and world-redeeming Death, of His plenary representation of our race in heaven, of the recreative virtue of His Sacraments, of the ‘touch of nature’ which makes Him, most holy as He is, in very deed kin with us? All is forthwith uncertain, evanescent, unreal. If Christ be not truly Man, the chasm which parted earth and heaven has not been bridged over. God, as before the Incarnation, is still awful, remote, inaccessible. Tertullian’s inference is no exaggeration: ‘Cum mendacium depreheuditur Christi Caro....omnia quae per Carnem Christi gesta sunt, mendacio gesta sunt.....Eversum est totum Dei opus113.’ Or, as St. Cyril of Jerusalem tersely presses the solemn argument: 'ei fantasma hn h enanqrwphsij, fantasma kai h swthria.'114
2. Let it be observed, on the other hand, that the Nicene assertion of our Blessed Lord’s Divinity does not involve any tacit mutilation or degradation of the idea conveyed by the sacred Name of God. When Jesus Christ is said by His Church to be God, that word is used in its natural, its absolute, its incommunicable sense. This must be constantly borne in mind, if we would escape from equivocations which might again and again obscure the true point before us. For Arianism will confess Christ’s Divinity, if, when it terms Him God, it may really mean that He is only a being of an inferior and created nature. Socinianism will confess Christ’s Divinity, if this confession involves nothing more emphatic than an acknowledgement of the fact that certain moral features of God’s character shone forth from the Human Life of Christ with an absolutely unrivalled splendor. Pantheism will confess Christ’s Divinity, but then it is a Divinity which He must share with the universe. Christ may well be divine, when all is divine, although Pantheism too may admit that Christ is divine in a higher sense than any other man, because He has more clearly recognized or exhibited ‘the eternal oneness of the finite and the Infinite, of God and humanity.’ The coarsest forms of unbelief will confess our Lord’s Divinity, if they may proceed to add, by way of explanation, that such language is but the echo of an apotheosis, informally decreed to the prophet of Nazareth by the fervid but uncritical enthusiasm of His Church.
No: the Divinity of Jesus Christ is not to be thus emptied of its most solemn and true significance. It is no mere titular distinction, such as the hollow or unthinking flattery of a multitude might yield to a political chief, or to a distinguished philanthropist. Indeed Jesus Christ Himself, by His own teaching, had made such an apotheosis of Himself morally impossible. He had, as no teacher before Him, raised, expanded, spiritualized man’s idea of the Being and Nature of the Great Creator. Baur has remarked that this higher exhibition of the solitary and incommunicable Life of God is nowhere so apparent as in that very Gospel the special object of which is to exhibit Christ Himself as the eternal Word made Flesh115. Indeed God was too vividly felt to be a living Presence by the early Christians, to be transformed by them upon occasion into a decoration which might wreathe the brow of any, though it were the highest human virtue. In heathendom this was naturally otherwise. Yet animal indulgence and intellectual skepticism must have killed out the sense of primary truths which nature and conscience had originally taught, before imperial Rome could feel no difficulty in decreeing temples and altars to such samples of our race as were not a few of the men who successively filled the throne of the Caesars116. The Church, with her eye upon the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible117, could never have raised Jesus to the full honors of Divinity, had He been merely Man. And Christianity from the first has proclaimed herself, not the authoress of an apotheosis, but the child and the product of an Incarnation.
She could not have been both. Speaking historically, an apotheosis belongs to the Greek world; while half-mimicries of the Incarnation are characteristically oriental. Speaking philosophically, the god of an apotheosis is a creation of human thought or of human fancy; the God of an incarnation is presupposed as an objectively existing Being, Who manifests Himself by it in the sphere of sense. Speaking religiously, belief in an apotheosis must be fatal to the primary movements of piety towards its object, whenever men are capable of earnest and honest reflection; while it is incontestable that the doctrine of an incarnation stimulates piety in a degree precisely proportioned to the sincerity of the faith which welcomes it. Thus the ideas of an apotheosis and an incarnation stand towards each other in historical, philosophical, and religious contrast. Need I add that religiously, philosophically, and historically, Christianity is linked to the one, and is simply incompatible with the other?
No: the Divinity of Jesus is not such divinity as Pantheism might ascribe to Him. In the belief of the Church Jesus stands alone among the sons of men as He of Whom it can be said without impiety, that He is not merely divine, but God. Such a restriction in favor of a Single Personality, contradicts the very vital principle of Pantheistic thought. Schelling appropriately contends that the Indians with their many incarnations show more intelligence respecting the real relations of God and the world than is implied by the doctrine of a solitary incarnation, as taught in the Creed of Christendom. Upon Pantheistic grounds, this is perfectly reasonable; although it might be added that any limited number of incarnations, however considerable, would only approximate to the real demands of the theory which teaches that God is incarnate in everything. But then, such divinity as Pantheism can ascribe to Christ is, in point of fact, no divinity at all. When God is nature, and nature is God, everything indeed is divine, but also nothing is Divine; and Christ shares this phantom-divinity with the universe, nay with the agencies of moral evil itself. In truth, our God does not exist in the apprehension of Pantheistic thinkers; since, when such truths as creation and personality are denied, the very idea of God is fundamentally sapped, and although the prevailing belief of mankind may still be humored by a discreet retention of its conventional language, the broad practical result is in reality neither more nor less than Atheism.
You may indeed remind me of an ingenious distinction, by which it is suggested that the idea of God is not thus sacrificed in Pantheistic systems, and on the ground that although God and the universe are substantially identical, they are not logically so. Logically speaking, then, you proceed to distinguish between God and the universe. You look out upon the universe, and you arrive at the idea of God by a double process, by a process of abstraction, and by a process of synthesis. In the visible world you come into sensible contact with the finite, the contingent, the relative, the imperfect, the individual. Then, by a necessary operation of your reason, you disengage from these ideas their correlatives; you ascend to a contemplation of infinity, of necessity, of the absolute, the perfect, the universal. Here abstraction has done its work, and synthesis begins. By synthesis you combine the general ideas which have been previously reached through abstraction. These general ideas are made to converge in your brain under the presidency of one central and unifying idea, which you call God. You are careful to insist that this god is not a real but an ideal being; indeed it appears that he is so ideal, that he would cease to be god if he could be supposed to become real. God, you say, is the ‘Idea’ of the universe; the universe is the ‘realization’ of God. The god who is enthroned in your thought must have abandoned all contact with reality; let him re-enter but for a moment upon the domain of reality, and, such are the exigencies of your doctrine, that he must forthwith be compelled to abdicate his throne118. But meanwhile, as you contend, he is logically distinct from the universe; and you repel with some warmth the orthodox allegation, that to identify him substantially with the universe, amounts to a practical denial of his existence.
Yet after all, let us ask what is really gained by thus distinguishing between a logical and a substantial identity? What is this god, who is to be thus rescued from the religious ruins which mark the track of Pantheistic thought? Is he, by the terms of your own distinction, anything more than an ‘Idea’; and must he not vary in point of perfection with the accuracy and exhaustiveness of those processes of abstraction and synthesis by which you undertake to construct him? And if this be so, is it worth our while to discuss the question whether or not so precarious an ‘Idea’ was or was not incarnate in Jesus Christ? Upon the terms of the theory, would not an incarnation of God be fatal to His ‘logical,’ that is to His only admitted mode of existence? or would such divinity, if we could ascribe it to Jesus Christ, be anything higher than the fleeting and more or less imperfect speculation of a finite brain?
Certainly Pantheism would never have attained to so strong a position as that which it actually holds in European as well as in Asiatic thought, unless it had embodied a great element of truth, which is too often ignored by some arid Theistic systems. To that element of truth we Christians do justice, when we confess the Omnipresence and Incomprehensibility of God; and still more, when we trace the gracious consequences of His actual Incarnation in Jesus Christ. But we Christians know also that the Great Creator is essentially distinct from the work of His Hands, and that He is What He is, in utter independence of the feeble thought whereby He enables us to apprehend His Existence. We know that all which is not Himself, is upheld in being from moment to moment by the fiat of His Almighty Will. We know that His Existence is, strictly and in the highest sense, Personal. Could we deny these truths, it would be as easy to confess the Divinity of Christ, as it would be impossible to deny the divinity of any created being. If we are asked to believe in an impersonal God, who has no real existence apart from creation or from created thought, in order that we may experience fewer philosophical difficulties in acknowledging our Lord’s Divinity, we reply that our faith cannot consent thus ‘propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.’ We cannot thus sacrifice the substance of the first truth of the Creed that we may retain the phraseology of the second. We dare not thus degrade, or rather annihilate, the very idea of God, even for the sake of securing a semblance (more it could not be) of those precious consolations which the Christian heart seeks and finds at the Manger of the Divine Child in Bethlehem, or before the Cross of the Lord of Glory on Mount Calvary.
No: the Divinity of Jesus is not divinity in the sense of Socinianism. It is no mere manifestation whether of the highest human goodness, or of the noblest of divine gifts. It is not merely a divine presence vouchsafed to the soul; it is not merely an intercommunion of the soul and God, albeit maintained even ceaselessly—maintained in its fullness from moment to moment. Such indeed was the high grace of our Lord’s sinless Humanity, but that grace was not itself His Divinity. For a work of grace, however beautiful and perfect, is one thing; an Uncreated Divine Essence is another. In the Socinian sense of the term, you all, my Christian brethren, are, or may be, divine; you may show forth God’s moral glory, if less fully, yet not less truly, than did Jesus. By adoption, you too are sons of God; and the Church teaches that each of you was made a partaker of the Divine Nature at his baptism. But suppose that neither by act, nor word, nor thought, you have done aught to forfeit that blessed gift, do I forthwith proceed to profess my belief in your divinity? And why not? Is it not because I may not thus risk a perilous confusion of thought, issuing in a degradation of the Most Holy Name? Your life of grace is as much a gift as your natural life; but however glorious may be the gift, aye, though it raise you from the dust to the very steps of God’s Throne, the gift is a free gift after all, and its greatness does but suggest the interval which parts the recipient from the inexhaustible and boundless Life of the Giver.
Most true indeed it is that the perfect holiness which shone forth from our Lord’s Human Life has led thousands of souls to perceive the truth of His essential Godhead. When once it is seen that His moral greatness is really unique, it is natural to seek and to accept, as a basis of this greatness, His possession of a unique relationship to the Fountain of all goodness119. Thus the Sermon on the Mount leads us naturally on to those discourses in St. John’s Gospel in which Christ unveils His Essential Oneness with the Father. But the ethical premiss is not to be confused with the ontological conclusion. It is true that a boundless love of man shone forth from the Life of Christ; it is true that each of the Divine attributes is commensurate with the Divine Essence. It is true that ‘he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.’ But it is not true that every moral being which God blesses by His Presence is God. The Divine Presence, as vouchsafed to Christian men, is a gift superadded to and distinct from the created personality to which it is accorded: there was a time when it had not been given, and a time may come when it will be withdrawn. Such a Presence may indeed in a certain secondary sense ‘divinize’ a created person120, robing him with so much of moral beauty and force of deity as a creature can bear. But this blessed gift does not justify us in treating the creature to whom it is vouchsafed as the Infinite and Eternal God. When Socinianism deliberately names God, it means equally with ourselves, not merely a Perfect Moral Being, not merely Perfect Love and Perfect Justice, but One Whose Knowledge and Whose Power are as boundless as His Love. It does not mean that Christ is God in this, the natural sense of the word, when it confesses His moral divinity; yet, beyond all controversy, this full and natural sense of the term is the sense of the Nicene Creed.
No: Jesus Christ is not divine in the sense of Arius. He is not the most eminent and ancient of the creatures, decorated by the necessities of a theological controversy with That Name which a serious piety can dare to yield to One Being alone. Ascribe to the Christ of Arius an antiquity as remote as you will from the age of the Incarnation, place him at a height as high as any you can conceive, above the highest archangel; still what, after all, is this ancient, this super-angelic being but a creature who had a beginning, and who, if the Author of his existence should so will, may yet cease to be? Such a being, however exalted, is parted from the Divine Essence by a fathomless chasm; whereas the Christ of Catholic Christendom is internal to That Essence; He is of one Substance with the Father—'omoousioj tw Patri': and in this sense, as distinct from any other, He is properly and literally Divine.
This assertion of the Divinity of Jesus Christ depends on a truth beyond itself. It postulates the existence in God of certain real distinctions having their necessary basis in the Essence of the Godhead. That Three such distinctions exist is a matter of Revelation. In the common language of the Western Church these distinct forms of Being are named Persons. Yet that term cannot be employed to denote Them, without considerable intellectual caution. As applied to men, Person implies the antecedent conception of a species, which is determined for the moment, and by the force of the expression, into a single incommunicable modification of being121. But the conception of species is utterly inapplicable to That One Supreme Essence Which we name God; and, according to the terms of the Catholic doctrine, the same Essence belongs to Each of the Divine Persons. Not however that we are therefore to suppose nothing more to be intended by the revealed doctrine than three varying relations of God in His dealings with the world. On the contrary, His Self-Revelation has for its basis certain eternal distinctions in His Nature, which are themselves altogether anterior to and independent of any relation to created life. Apart from these distinctions, the Christian Revelation of an Eternal Fatherhood, of a true Incarnation of God, and of a real communication of His Spirit, is but the baseless fabric of a dream122. These three distinct ‘Subsistences123,’ which we name Father, Son, and Spirit, while they enable us the better to understand the mystery of the Self-sufficing and Blessed Life of God before He surrounded Himself with created beings, are also strictly compatible with the truth of the Divine Unity124. And when we say that Jesus Christ is God, we mean that in the Man Christ Jesus, the second of these Persons or Subsistences, One in Essence with the First and with the Third, vouchsafed to become Incarnate.
IV. The position then which is before us in these lectures is briefly the following: Our Lord Jesus Christ, being truly and perfectly Man, is also, according to His Higher Pre-existent Nature, Very and Eternal God; since it was the Second Person of the Ever Blessed Trinity, Who, at the Incarnation, robed Himself with a Human Body and a Human Soul. Such explicit language will of course encounter objections in more than one quarter of the modern world; and if of these objections one or two prominent samples be rapidly noticed, it is possible that, at least in the case of certain minds, the path of our future discussion will be cleared of difficulties which are at present more or less distinctly supposed to obstruct it.
(a) One objection to our attempt in these lectures may be expected to proceed from that graceful species of literary activity which may be termed, without our discrediting it, Historical Aestheticism. The protest will take the form of an appeal to the sense of beauty. True beauty, it will be argued, is a creation of nature; it is not improved by being meddled with. The rocky hill-side is no longer beautiful when it has been quarried; nor is the river-course, when it has been straightened and deepened for purposes of navigation; nor is the forest which has been fenced and planted, and made to assume the disciplined air of a symmetrical plantation. In like manner, you urge, that incomparable Figure whom we meet in the pages of the New Testament, has suffered in the apprehensions of orthodox Christians, from the officious handling of a too inquisitive Scholasticism. As cultivation robs wild nature of its beauty, even so, you maintain, is ‘definition’ the enemy of the fairest creations of our sacred literature. You represent ‘definition’ as ruthlessly invading regions which have been beautified by the freshness and originality of the moral sentiment, and as substituting for the indefinable graces of a living movement, the grim and stiff artificialities of a heartless logic. You wonder at the bad taste of men who can bring the decisions of Nicaea and Chalcedon into contact with the story of the Gospels. What is there in common, you ask, between these dead metaphysical formulae and the ever-living tenderness of that matchless Life? You protest that you would as readily essay to throw the text of Homer or of Milton into a series of syllogisms, that you would with as little scruple scratch the paint from a masterpiece of Raffaelle with the intention of subjecting it to a chemical analysis, as go hand in hand with those Church-doctors who force Jesus of Nazareth into rude juxtaposition with a world of formal thought, from which, as you conceive, He is severed by the intervention of three centuries of disputation, and still more by all which raises the highest forms of natural beauty above the awkward pedantry of debased art.
Well, my brethren, if the object of the Gospel be attained when it has added one more chapter to the poetry of human history, when it has contributed one more Figure to the world’s gallery of historical portraits, upon which a few educated persons may periodically expend some spare thought and feeling;—if this be so, you are probably right. Plainly you are in pursuit of that which may nourish sentiment, rather than of that which can support moral vigor or permanently satisfy the instinct of truth. Certainly your sentiment of beauty may be occasionally shocked by those direct questions and rude processes, which are necessary to the investigation of intellectual truth and to the sustenance of moral life. You would repress these processes; you would silence these questions; or at least you would not explicitly state your own answer to them. Whether, for instance, the stupendous miracle of the Resurrection be or be not as certain as any event of public interest which has taken place in Europe during the present year, is a point which does not affect, as it seems, the worth or the completeness of your Christology. Your Christ is an Epic; and you will suffer no prosaic scholiast to try his hand upon its pages. Your Christ is a portrait; and, as we are all agreed, a portrait is a thing to admire, and not to touch.
But there is a solemn question which must be asked, and which, if a man is in earnest, he will inevitably ask; and that question will at once carry him beyond the narrow horizon of a literary aestheticism in his treatment of the matter before us....My brethren, where is Jesus Christ now? and what is He? Does He only speak to us from the pages which were traced by His followers eighteen centuries ago? Is He no more than the first of the shadows of the past, the first of memories, the first of biographies, the most perfect of human ideals? Is He only an Ideal, after all? Does He reign, only in virtue of a mighty tradition of human thought and feeling in His favor, which creates and supports His imaginary throne? Is He at this moment a really living Being? And if living, is He a human ghost, flitting we know not where in the unseen world, and Himself awaiting an award at the hands of the Everlasting? or is He a super-angelic Intelligence, sinless and invested with judicial and creative powers, but as far separated from the inaccessible Life of God as must be even the first of creatures from the everlasting Creator? Does He reign, in any true sense, either on earth or in heaven? or is His Regal Government in any degree independent of the submission or the resistance which His subjects may offer to it? Is He present personally as a living Power in this our world? Has He any certain relations to you? Does He think of you, care for you, act upon you? Can He help you? Can He save you from your sins, can He blot out their stains and crush their power, can He deliver you in your death-agony from the terrors of dissolution, and bid you live with Him in a brighter world for ever? Can you approach Him now, commune with Him now, cling to Him now, become one with Him now, not by an unsubstantial act of your own imaginations, but by an actual objective transaction, making you incorporate with His Life? Or is the Christian answer to these most pressing questions a weakly delusion, or at any rate too definite a statement; and must we content ourselves with the analysis of an historical Character, while we confess that the Living Personality which once created and animated It may or may not be God, may or may not be able to hear us and help us, may or may not be in distinct conscious existence at this moment, may or may not have been altogether annihilated some eighteen hundred years ago? Do you urge that it is idle to ask these questions, since we have no adequate materials at hand for dealing with them? That is a point which it is hoped may be more or less cleared up during the progress of our present enquiry. But if such questions are to remain unanswered, do not shut your eyes to the certain consequence. A Christ who is conceived of as only pictured in an ancient literature may indeed furnish you with the theme of a magnificent poetry, but he cannot be the present object of your religious life. A religion must have for its object an actually Living Person: and the purpose of the definitions which you deprecate, is to exhibit and assert the exact force of the revealed statements respecting the Eternal Life of Christ, and so to place Him as a Living Person in all His Divine Majesty and all His Human Tenderness before the eye of the soul which seeks Him. When you fairly commit yourself to the assertion that Christ is at this moment living at all, you leave the strictly historical and aesthetical treatment of the Gospel record of His Life and character, and you enter, whether it be in a Catholic or in an heretical spirit, upon the territory of Church definitions. In your little private sphere, you bow to that practical necessity which obliged great Fathers and Councils, often much against their will, to take counsel of the Spirit Who illuminated the collective Church, and to give point and strength to Christian faith by authoritative elucidations of Christian doctrine. Nor are you therefore rendered insensible to the beauty of the Gospel narrative, because you have discovered that thus to ascertain and bear in mind, so far as Revelation warrants your effort, what is the exact Personal dignity and what the enduring prerogatives of Him in Whom you have believed, is in truth a matter of the utmost practical importance to your religious life.
(b) But the present enquiry may be objected to, on higher grounds than those of literary and aesthetic taste. ‘Are there not,’ it will be pleaded, ‘moral reasons for deprecating such discussions? Surely the dogmatic and theological temper is sufficiently distinct from the temper which aims, beyond everything else, at moral improvement. Surely good men may be indifferent divines, while accomplished divines may be false or impure at heart. Nay more, are not morality and theology, not merely distinct, but also more or less antagonistic interests? Does not the enthusiastic consideration of dogmatic problems tend to divert men’s minds from that attention which is due to the practical obligations of life? Is not the dogmatic temper, you ask, rightly regarded as a species of “intellectual ritualism” which lulls men into the belief that they have true religion at heart, when in point of fact they are merely gratifying a private taste and losing sight of honesty and sober living in the intoxicating study of the abstractions of controversy? On the other hand, will not a high morality shrink with an instinctive reverence from the clamorous and positive assertions of the theologians? In particular, did Jesus Christ Himself require at the hands of His disciples a dogmatic confession of belief in His Divinity125? Was He not content if they acted upon His moral teaching, if they embraced that particular aspect of moral obligations which is of the highest importance to the well-being of society, and which we have lately termed the Enthusiasm of Humanity?’ This is what is urged; and then it is added, ‘Shall we not best succeed in doing our duty if we try better to understand Christ’s Human Character, while we are careful to keep clear of those abstract and transcendental questions about Him, which at any rate have not promoted the cause of moral progress?’
This language is notoriously popular in our day; but the substantial objection which it embodies has been already stated by a writer whom it is impossible to name without mingled admiration and sorrow,—admiration for his pure and lofty humanity,—sorrow for the profound errors which parted him in life and in death from the Church of Jesus Christ. ‘Love to Jesus Christ,’ says William Channing, ‘depends very little on our conception of His rank in the scale of being. On no other topic have Christians contended so earnestly, and yet it is of secondary importance. To know Jesus Christ is not to know the precise place He occupies in the Universe; it is something more: it is to look into His mind; it is to approach His soul; to comprehend His spirit, to see how He thought and felt and purposed and loved. . . I am persuaded,’ he continues, ‘that controversies about Christ’s Person have in one way done great injury. They have turned attention from His character. Suppose that, as Americans, we should employ ourselves in debating the questions, where Washington was born, and from what spot he came when he appeared at the head of our armies; and that in the fervor of these contentions we should overlook the character of his mind, the spirit that moved within him, . . . how unprofitably should we be employed? Who is it that understands Washington? Is it he that can settle his rank in the creation, his early history, his present condition? or he to whom the soul of that good man is laid open, who comprehends and sympathizes with his generous purposes126?’
Channing’s illustration of his position in this passage is important. It unconsciously but irresistibly suggests that indifference to the clear statement of our Lord’s Divinity is linked to a fundamental assumption of its falsehood. Doubtless Washington’s birthplace and present destiny is for the Americans an altogether unpractical consideration, when placed side by side with the study of his character. But the question had never been raised whether the first of religious duties which a creature should pay to the Author and End of his existence was or was not due to Washington. Nobody has ever asserted that mankind owes to the founder of the American Republic the tribute of a prostrate adoration in spirit and in truth. Had it occurred to Channing’s mind as even possible that Jesus Christ was more than a mere man who lived and died eighteen centuries ago, he could not have permitted himself to make use of such an illustration. To do justice to Channing, he had much too clear and fine an intellect to imagine that the fundamental question of Christianity could be ignored on moral grounds. Those who know anything of his works are aware that his own opinion on the subject was a very definite one, and that he has stated the usual arguments on behalf of the Socinian heresy with characteristic earnestness and precision.
My brethren, all are agreed as to the importance of studying and copying the Human Character of Jesus Christ. Whether it be really possible to have a sincere admiration for the Character of Jesus Christ without believing in His Divinity, is a question which I shall not shrink from considering hereafter127. Whether a true morality does not embrace, as one part of it, an honest acceptance and profession of all attainable religious Truth, is a question which men can decide without being theologians. As for reverence, there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Reverence will assuredly speak, and that plainly, when silence would dishonor its Object: the reverence which is always silent as to matters of belief may be but the drapery of a profound skepticism, which lacks the courage to unveil itself before the eyes of men. Certainly our Lord did not Himself exact from His first followers, as an indispensable condition of discipleship, any profession of belief in His Godhead. But why? Simply because His requirements are proportioned to the opportunities of mankind. He had taught as men were able to bear His teaching128. Although His precepts, His miracles, His character, His express language, all pointed to the Truth of His Godhead, the conscience of mankind was not laid under a formal obligation to acknowledge It until at length He had been ‘defined’129 to be ‘the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead.’ Our present moral relation, then, to the truth of Christ’s Divinity differs altogether from that in which His first disciples were placed. It is a simple matter of history that Christendom has believed the doctrine for eighteen centuries; but, besides this, the doctrine challenges at our hands, as I have already intimated, a moral duty as its necessary expression both in the sanctuary of our own thought and before the eyes of men.
Let us face this aspect of the subject in its concrete and every-day form. Those whom I now see around me are without exception, or almost without exception, members of the Church of England. If any here have not the happiness to be communicants, yet, at least, my brethren, you all attend the ordinary Sunday morning service of our Church. In the course of doing so, you sing the Te Deum, you repeat several times the Gloria Patri; but you also kneel down, or profess to kneel down, as joining before God and man in the Litany. Now the second petition in the Litany runs thus: ‘O God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon us miserable sinners.’ What do you seriously mean to do when you join in that petition? Whom are you really addressing? What is the basis and ground of your act? What is its morality? If Jesus Christ is merely a creature, is He in a position to have mercy upon you? Are you doing dishonor to the Most High by addressing Christ in these terms at all? Channing has said that the petition, ‘By Thine agony and bloody sweat, by Thy cross and passion, Good Lord, deliver us,’ is appalling130. On the Socinian hypothesis, Channing’s language is no exaggeration: the Litany is an ‘appalling’ prayer, as the Gloria Patri is an ‘appalling’ doxology. Nor would you escape from this moral difficulty, if unhappily you should refuse to join in the services of the Church. Your conscience cannot decline to decide in favor of the general duty of adoring Jesus Christ, or against it. And this decision presupposes the resolution, in one sense or the other, of the dogmatic question on which it depends. Christ either is, or He is not GOD. The worship which is paid to Christ either ought to be paid to Him, or it ought to be, not merely withheld, but denounced. It is either rigorously due from all Christians to our Lord, or it is an outrage on the rights of God. In any case to take part in a service which, like our Litany, involves the prostrate adoration of Jesus Christ, without explicitly recognizing His right to receive such adoration, is itself immoral. If to be true and honest in our dealings with each other is a part of mere natural virtue, surely to mean what we say when we are dealing with Heaven is not less an integral part of morality131. I say nothing of that vast unseen world of thought and feeling which in the soul of a Christian believer has our Blessed Savior for its Object, and the whole moral justification of which depends upon the conception which we form of Christ’s ‘rank in the scale of being.’ It is enough to point out to you that the discussion in hand has a practical, present, and eminently a moral interest, unless it be consistent with morality to use in the presence of God and man, a language which we do not believe, or as to the meaning of which we are content to be indifferent.
(c) Once more. It may be urged, from a widely different quarter, that our enquiry is dangerous, if not to literary or moral interests, yet to the spirit of simple Christian piety. ‘Take care,’ so the warning may run, ‘lest, instead of preaching the Gospel, you should be merely building up a theological pyramid. Beware of sacrificing spiritual objects to intellectual ones. Surely the great question for a sinner to consider is whether or not he be justified before God: do not then let us bury the simple Gospel beneath a heap of metaphysics.’
Now the matter to be considered is whether this absolute separation between what is assumed to be the ‘simple Gospel’ and what is called ‘metaphysics’ is really possible. In point of fact the simple Gospel, when we come to examine it, is necessarily on one side metaphysical. Educated men, at least, will not be scared by a term, which a scarcely pardonable ignorance may suppose to denote nothing more than the trackless region of intellectual failure. If the Gospel is real to you; if you believe it to be true, and possess it spiritually and intellectually; you cannot but see that it leads you on to the frontier of a world of thought which you may yourselves shrink from entering, but which it is not prudent to depreciate. You say that the main question is to know that you are justified? Very well; but, omitting all other considerations, let me ask you one question: Who is the Justifier? Can He really justify if He is only Man? Does not His power to ‘save to the uttermost those that come unto God by Him’ depend upon the fact that He is Himself Divine? Yet when, with St. John, you confess that He is the Eternal Logos, you are dealing quite as distinctly with a question of ‘metaphysics,’ as if you should discuss the value of 'ousia' and 'hypostasis' in primitive Christian Theology. It is true that such discussions will carry you beyond the region of Scripture terminology; but, at least to a sober and thoughtful mind, can it really matter whether a term, such as ‘Trinity,’ be or be not in Scripture, if the area of thought which it covers be identical with that contained in the Scripture statements132? And, to undervalue those portions of truth which cannot be made rhetorically or privately available to excite religious feeling, is to accept a principle which, in the long run, is destructive of the Faith. In Germany, Spener the Pietist held no mean place among the intellectual ancestors of Paulus and of Strauss. In England, a gifted intellect has traced the ‘phases’ of its progressive disbelief; and if, in its downward course, it has gone so far as to deny that Jesus Christ was even a morally righteous Man, its starting-point was as nearly as possible that of the earnest but shortsighted piety, which imagines that it can dare actively to exercise thought on the Christian Revelation, and withal to ignore those ripe decisions which we owe to the illuminated mind of Primitive Christendom.
There is no question between us, my brethren, as to the supreme importance of a personal understanding and contract between the single soul and the Eternal Being Who made and Who has redeemed it. But this understanding must depend upon ascertained Truths, foremost among which is that of the Godhead of Jesus Christ. And in these lectures an attempt will be made to lay bare and to re-assert some few of the bases upon which that cardinal Truth itself reposes in the consciousness of the Church, and to kindle perchance, in some souls, a fresh sense of its unspeakable importance. It will be our object to examine such anticipations of this doctrine as are found in the Old Testament133, to note how it is implied in the work of Jesus Christ134, and how inseparable it is from His recorded Consciousness of His Personality and Mission135, to trace its distinct, although varying assertion in the writings of His great Apostles136, and in the earliest ages of His Church137, and ftnally to show how intimate and important are its relations to all that is dearest to the heart and faith of a Christian138.
It must be a ground of rejoicing that throughout these lectures we shall keep thus close to the Sacred Person of our Lord Himself. And if, indeed, none of us as yet believed in His Godhead, it might be an impertinence on the part of the preacher to suggest any spiritual advice which takes for granted the conclusion of his argument. But you who, thank God, are Christians by living conviction as well as by baptismal privilege, must already possess too strong and too clear a faith in the truth before us, to be in any sense dependent on the success or the failure of a feeble human effort to exhibit it. You at least will endeavor, as we proceed, to bear steadily in mind, that He of Whom we speak and think is no mere tale or portrait of the ancient world, no dead abstraction of modern or of mediaeval thought, but a living Being, Who is an observant witness alike of the words spoken in His Name and of the mental and moral response which they elicit. If we must needs pass in review the erring thoughts and words of men, let us be sure that our final object is not a criticism of error, but the clearer apprehension and possession of truth. They who believe, may by reason of the very loyalty and fervor of their devotion, so anxiously and eagerly watch the fleeting, earth-born mists which for a moment have threatened to veil the Face of the Sun of Righteousness, as to forget that the true weal and safety of the soul is only assured while her eye is persistently fixed on His imperishable glory. They who have known the aching misery of earnest doubt, may perchance be encouraged, like the once skeptical Apostle, to probe the wounds with which from age to age error has lacerated Christ’s sacred form, and thus to draw from a nearer contact with the Divine Redeemer the springs of a fresh and deathless faith, that shall win and own in Him to all eternity the unclouded Presence of its Lord and God.
2. Dean Stanley surmises that the rock on which was placed the Temple of Augustus may possibly have determined the form of our Lord’s promise to St. Peter in St. Matt. xvi. i8. Sinai and Palestine, p. 399.
5. Baur more cautiously says: ‘Wenn wir mit der Lehre Jesu die Lehre des Apostels Paulus zusammenhalten, so fallt sogleich der grosse Unterschied in die Augen, welcher hier stattfindet zwischen einer noch in der Form eines allgemeinen Princips sich aussprechenden Lehre, und einem schon zur Bestimmtheit des Dogma’s gestalteten Lehrbegriff.’ Vorlesungen uber N. T. Theologie, p. 123. But it would be difficult to shew that the ‘Universal Principle’ does not involve and embody a number of definite dogmas. Baur would not admit that St. John xiv., xv., xvi. contain words really spoken by Jesus Christ: but the Sermon on the Mount itself is sufficiently dogmatic. Cf. St. Matt. vi. 4, 6, 14, 26, 30; vii. 21, 22.
8. ‘Abhangigkeitsgefuhl.’ Schleiermacher’s account of religion has been widely adopted in our own day and country. But (1) it ignores the active side of true religion, (2) it loses sight of man’s freedom no less than of God’s, and (3) it may imply nothing better than a passive submission to the laws of the Universe, without any belief whatever as to their Author.
9. Dorner gives an account of this extreme theory as maintained by De Wette in his Religion und Theologie, 1815. De Wette appears to have followed out some hints of Herder’s, while applying Jacobi’s doctrine of feeling, as ‘the immediate perception of the Divine,’ and the substitute for the practical reason, to theology. Cf. Dorner, Person Christi, Zw. Th. p. 996, sqq.
11. Religion includes in its complete idea the knowledge and the worship of God. (S. Aug. de Util. Cred. c. 12. n. 27.) Cicero gives the limited sense which Pagan Rome attached to the word: ‘Qui omnia quae ad cultum deorum pertinerent, diligenter retractarent et tanquam relegerent, sunt dicti religiosi, ex relegendo.’ (De Nat. Deorum, ii. 28.) Lactantius gives the Christian form of the idea, whatever may be thought of his etymology: ‘Vinculo pietatis obstricti Deo, et religati sumus, unde ipsa religio nomen accepit.’ (Inst. Div. iv. 24.) Religion is the bond between God and man’s whole nature: in God the heart finds its happiness, the reason its rule of truth, the will its freedom.
16. Cf. Dillmann, Das Buch Enoch, 1853, p. 157. Dillmann places the book in the time of John Hyrcanus, B.C. 130-109. Dr. Pusey would assign to it a still earlier date. Cf. Daniel the Prophet, p. 390, note 2, and 391, note 3.
19. ‘Den Namen des 'huios tou anthropou' gebraucht Jesus Selbst auf eine so eigenthumliche Weise von Sich, dass man nur annehmen kann, Er habe mit jenem Namen, wie man auch seine Bedeutung genauer bestimmen mag, irgend eine Beziehung auf die Messiasidee ausdrucken wollen.’ Baur, Das Christenthum, p. 37. Cf. also the same author’s Vorlesungen über Neutestamentliche Theologie, p. 76, sqq. In St. Matt. x. 23, xiii. 37-41, the official force of the title is obvious. That it was a simple periphrasis for the personal pronoun, without any reference to the office or Person of the Speaker, is inconsistent with Acts vii. 56, and St. Matt. xvi. 13.
20. i.e. ‘mortal.’ (Cf. Gesen. in voc.) It is so used eighty-nine times in Ezekiel. Compare Num. xxiii. 19; Job xxv. 6, xxxv. 8. In this sense it occurs frequently in the plural. In Ps. viii. 4, 5 and lxxx. 17 it refers, at least ultimately, to our Lord.
22. ‘Urbild der Menscheit.’ Neander, Das Leben Jesu Christi, p. 130, sqq. Mr. Keble draws out the remedial force of the title as ‘signifying that Jesus was the very seed of the woman, the Second Adam promised to undo what the first had done.’ Eucharistical Adoration, pp. 31-33.
27. The title of ‘sons’ is used in the Old Testament to express three relations to God. (1) God has entered into the relation of Father to all Israel (Deut. xxxii. 6; Isa. lxiii. i6), whence he entitles Israel ‘My son,’ ‘My firstborn’ (Exod. iv. 22, 23), when claiming the people from Pharaoh; and Ephraim, ‘My dear son, a pleasant child’ (Jer. xxxi. 20), as an earnest of restoration to Divine favor. Thus the title is used as a motive to obedience (Deut. xiv. 1); or in reproach for ingratitude (Ibid. xxxii. 5; Isa. i. 2, xxx. I, 9; Jer. iii. 14); or especially of such as were God’s sons, not in name only, but in truth (Ps. lxxiii. 15; Prov. xiv. 26; and perhaps Isa. xliii. 6). (2) The title is applied once to judges in the Theocracy (Ps. lxxxii. 6), ‘I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.’ Here the title refers to the name Elohim, given to the judges as representing God in the Theocracy, and as judging in His Name and by His Authority. Accordingly to go to them for judgment is spoken of as going to Elohim (Deut. xvii. 9). (3) The exact phrase ‘sons of God’ is, with perhaps one exception (Gen. vi. 2), used of superhuman beings, who until the Incarnation were more nearly like God than were any of the family of men (Job i. 6, ii. 1, xxxviii. 7). The singular, ‘My Son,’ ‘The Son,’ is used only in prophecy of the Messiah (Ps. ii. 7, 12; and Acts xiii. 33; Heb. i. 5, v. 5), and in what is believed to have been a Divine manifestation, very probably of God the Son (Dan. iii. 25). The line of David being the line of the Messiah, culminating in the Messiah, as in David’s One perfect Son, it was said in a lower sense of each member of that line, but in its full sense only of Messiah, ‘I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son’ (2 Sam. vii. 14; Heb. i. 5; Ps. lxxxix. 27). The application of the title to collective Israel in Hos. xi. 1, is connected by St. Matthew (ii. 15) with its deeper force as used of Israel’s One true Heir and Representative. Cf. Mill, Myth. Interp. p. 330. Compare too the mysterious intimations of Prov. xxx. 4, Ecclus. li. 10, of a Divine Sonship internal to the Being of God.
34. Rel. Phil. Bd. ii. p. 263. This idea is developed by Strauss. See his Glaubenslehre, ii. 209, sqq.; and Leben Jesu, Auf. 2, Bd. ii. p. 739, sqq. ‘Der Schlussel der ganzen Christologie ist, das als Subject der Pradikate, welche die Kirche Christo beilegt, statt eines Individuums eine Idee, aber eine reale, nicht Kantisch unwirkliche gesetzt wird....Die Menscheit ist die Vereinigung der beiden Naturen, der Menschgewordene Gott...Durch den Glauben an diesen Christus, namentlich an Seinen Tod und seine Auferstehung wird der Mensch von Gott gerecht, d. h., durch die Belebung der Idee der Menscheit in sich,’ &c. Feuerbach has carried this forward into pure materialism, and he openly scorns and denounces Christianity: Strauss has more recently described Feuerbach as ‘the man who put the dot upon the i which we had found,’ and he too insists upon the moral necessity of rejecting Christianity; Lebens und Characterbild Marklins, pp. 124, 125, sqq., quoted by Luthardt, Apolog. p. 301. Other disciples of Hegel, such as Marheinecke, Rosenkranz, and Göschel, have endeavored to give to their master’s teaching a more positive direction.
39. ‘Haec perversitas, quae se existimat meram veritatem possidere, dum unicum Deum non alias putat credendum quam si ipsum eundemque et Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum dicat. Quasi non sic quoque unus sit omnia, dum ex uno omnia, per substantiae scilicet unitatem, et nihilominus custodiatur 'oikonomias' sacramentum, quae unitatem in trinitatem disponit, tres dirigens, Patrem et Filium, et Spiritum Sanctum.’ Adv. Prax. c. 2.
41. Cf. Dorner, Pers. Christi, Band ii. p. 153. Schleiermacher, although agreeing with Schelling and Hegel in denying an immanent Trinity in the Godhead, did not (Dorner earnestly pleads) agree in the Pantheistic basis of that denial. P. C. ii. p. 1212. Compare Ewald, Geschichte Christus’, p.447, quoted by Dorner.
44. Waterland, Works, vol. i. p. 78, note f. Bp. Van-Mildert quotes from Mr. Charles Butler’s Historical Account of Confessions of Faith, chap. x. sect. 2, a remarkable report of Dr. Clarke’s conference with Dr. Hawarden in the presence of Queen Caroline. After Dr. Clarke had stated his system at great length and in very guarded terms, Dr. Hawarden asked his permission to put one simple question, and Dr. Clarke assented. ‘Then,’ said Dr. Hawarden, ‘I ask, Can God the Father annihilate the Son and the Holy Ghost? Answer me Yes or No.’ Dr. Clarke continued for some time in deep thought, and then said, ‘It was a question which he had never considered.’ Mahomed had done so: Rodwell’s Koran, p. 541. On the ‘precarious’ existence of God the Son, according to the Arian hypothesis, see Waterland’s Farther Vindication of Christ’s Divinity, ch. iii. sect. 19.
48. 'sullhyh en gastri,' St. Luke i. 31. 'pro tou sullhfqhnai auton en th koilia,' Ibid. ii. 21. 'eureqh en gastri exousa ek Pneumatoj Agiou,' St. Matt. i. 18. 'to gar en auth gennhqen ek Pneumatoj estin Agiou,' Ibid. i. 20; Isa. vii. 14.
70. 'thn kefalhn,' St. Luke vii. 46; St. Matt. xxvii. 29, 30; St. John xix. 30; 'touj podaj,' St. Luke vii. 38; 'taj xeiraj,' St. Luke xxiv. 40; 'tw daktulw,' St. John viii. 6; 'ta skelh,' St. John xix. 33; 'ta gonata,' St. Luke xxii. 41; 'thn pleuran,' St. John xix. 34; 'to swma,' St. Luke xxii. 19, &c.
74. 1 St. Pet. iii. 18: 'qanatwqeij men sarki, zwopoihqeij de pneumati en w kai toij en fulakh pneumasin poreuqeij ekhrucen.' . The 'tw' before 'pneumati' in the Textus Receptus being only an insertion by a copyist, 'pneuma' here means our Lord’s Human Soul. The clause 'en w...ekhrucen' forbids here the sense of 'pneuma' at Rom. i. 3. Cf. p. 317, note t; p. 334, note x.
84. St. Mark xiv. 33: 'hrcato ekqambeisqai kai adhmonein, kai legei autoij, Perilupoj estin h yuxh mou ewj qanatou.' St. Luke xxii. 44: 'genomenoj en agwnia ektenesteron proshuxeto, egeneto de o idrwj autou wsei qromboi aimatoj katabainontej epi thn ghn.' Cf. Heb. v. 7.
99. Heb. ii. 11: 'o te gar agiazwn kai oi agiazomenoi ec enoj pantej.' Ver. 14: 'metesxe sarkoj kai aimatoj.' Ver. 17: 'wfeile kata panta toij adelfoij omoiwqhnai.' Ibid. iv. 15: 'pepeirasmenon de kata panta kaq omoiothta.'
100. 1 St. John iv. 2: 'pan pneuma o omologei Ihsoun Xriston en sarki elhluqota, ek tou qeou esti.' 2 St. John 7: 'polloi planoi eishlqon eij ton kosmon, oi mh omologountej Ihsoun Xriston erxomenon en sarki; outoj estin o planoj kai o Antixristoj.'
101. The 'anupostasia' of our Lord’s Humanity is a result of the Hypostatic Union. To deny it is to assert that there are Two Persons in Christ, or else it is to deny that He is more that Man. Compare Hooker, Eccl. Pol. V. 52. 3, who appeals against Nestorius to Heb. ii. i6, 'ou gar dhpou aggelwn epilambanetai, alla spermatoj Abraam epilambanetai.' At His Incarnation the Eternal Word took on Him Human Nature, not a Human Personality. Luther appears to have denied the Impersonality of our Lord’s Manhood. But see Dorner, Person Christi, Bd. ii. p. 540.
102. The Sinlessness of our Lord’s Manhood is implied in St. Luke i. 35. Thus He is 'on o Pathr hgiase kai apesteilen eij ton kosmon,' St. John x. 36; and He could challenge His enemies to convict Him of sin, St. John viii. 46. In St. Mark x. i8, St. Luke xviii. 19, He is not denying that He is good; but He insists that none should call Him so who did not believe Him to be God. St. Paul describes Him as 'ton mh gnonta amartian,' 2 Cor. v. 21; and Christ is expressly said to be 'xwrij amartiaj,' Heb. iv. 15; 'osioj, akakoj, amiantoj, kexwrismenoj apo twn amartwlwn,' Heb. vii. 26; 'amnoj amwmoj kai aspiloj,' 1 St. Pet. i. 19; 'o agioj kai dikaioj,' Acts iii. 14. Still more emphatically we are told that 'amartia en autw ouk esti,' 1 St. John iii. 5; while the same truth is indirectly taught, when St. Paul speaks of our Lord as sent 'en omoiwmati sarkoj amartiaj,' Rom. viii. 3. Mr. F. W. Newman does justice to the significance of a Sinless Manhood, although, unhappily, he disbelieves in It; Phases of Faith, p. 141, sqq. Cf. Lect IV. p. 167.
106. Thus ‘Examination of Bampton Lectures,’ p. 250. The writer thinks that our Lord’s words in St. Luke iv. i8, 19; St. Matt. xx. 23; xxiii. 53; St. John xiv. 28, etc., are as little to be reconciled with our Lord’s true Godhead, as are the passages in which He claims to have existed before Abraham or to be the Judge of all men, with true human goodness, if, after all, He be only Man. (See Lect. IV.) Yet surely a discussion of the properties or liabilities of the human body, which should take no account of the endowments of the human mind, does not necessarily deny their existence. Nor is it to be placed on the same moral level with the language of an adventurer, who should claim rights by hinting that he possessed powers and accomplishments, to which nothing corresponded in sober fact.
107. St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. v. I. 2: 'ei de mh wn anqrwpoj efaineto anqrwpoj, oute o hn ep alhqeiaj, emeine pneuma qeou, epei aoraton to pneuma, oute alhqeia tij hn en autw, ou gar hn ekeina aper efaineto.' Tert. De Carne Christi, cap. 5: ‘Si caro cum passionibus ficta, et spiritus ergo cum virtutibus falsus. Quid dimidias mendacio Christum? Totus Veritas est. Maluit crede [non] nasci quam ex aliqua parte mentiri, et quidem in Semet ipsum, ut carnem gestaret sine ossibus duram, sine musculis solidam, sine sanguine cruentam, sine tunica vestitam, sine fame esurientem, sine dentibus edentem, sine lingua loquentem, ut phantasma auribus fuit sermo ejus per imaginem vocis.’ St. Aug. De Div. Qu. 83. qu. 14: ‘Si phantasma fuit corpus Christi, fefellit Christus, et si fefellit, Veritas non est. Est autem Veritas Christus. Non ergo phantasma fuit Corpus Ejus.’ Docetism struck at the very basis of truth, by sanctioning Pyrrhonism. St. Iren. Adv. Haer. iv. 33.
111. It may suffice to quote the language of the Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451: 'teleion ton auton en qeothti kai teleion ton auton en anqrwpothti, Qeon alhqwj kai anqrwpon alhqwj, ton auton ek yuxhj logikhj kai swmatoj, omoousion tw Patri kata thn Qeothta kai omoousion ton auton hmin kata thn anqrwpothta, kata panta omoion hmin xwrij amartiaj.' Routh, Opusc. ii. 78. When these words were spoken, the cycle of possible controversy on the subject was complete. The Monothelite question had virtually been settled by anticipation.
116. See Dollinger, Heidenthum und Judenthum, bk. viii. pt. 2. § 2. The city of Cyzicus was deprived of its freedom for being unwilling to worship Augustus (Tac. Ann. iv. 36). Thrasea Paetus was held guilty of treason for refusing to believe in the deification of Poppaea (Tac. Ann. xvi. 22). Caligula insisted on being worshipped as a god during his lifetime (Suetonius, Caius, xxi. 22). On the number of cattle sacrificed to Domitian, see Pliny, Panegyr. xi. The worship of Antinous, who had lived on terms of criminal intercourse with Hadrian, was earnestly promoted by that Emperor. Dollinger reckons fifty-three apotheoses between Caesar and Diocletian, fifteen of which were of ladies belonging to the Imperial family. For the discredit into which the Imperial apotheosis fell among the literary classes, see Boissier, Religion Romaine, i. 175, sqq.
119. ‘Je mehr sich so dem erkennenden Glauben die Ueberzeugung von der Einzigkeit der sittlichen Hoheit Christi erschliesst, desto naturlicher ja nothwendiger muss es nun auch von diesem festen Punkte aus demselben Glauben werden, mit Verständniss Christo in das Gebiet Seiner Reden zu folgen, wo Er Seiner eigenthumlichen und einzigen Beziehung zu dem Vater gedenkt. Jesu Heiligkeit und Weisheit, durch die Er unter den sundigen, vielirrenden Menschen einzig dasteht, weiset so, da sie nicht kann noch will als rein subjektives, menschliches Produkt angesehen werden, auf einen übernatürlichen Ursprung Seiner Person. Diese muss, um inmitten der Sunderwelt begreiflich zu sein, aus einer eigenthumlichen und wunderbar schopferischen That Gottes abgeleitet, ja es muss in Christus, wenn doch Gott nicht deistisch von der Welt getrennt sondern in Liebe ihr nahe und wesentlich als Liebe zu denken ist, von Gott aus betrachtet eine Incarnation gottlicher Liebe, also gottlichen Wesens gesehen werden, was Ihn als den Punkt erscheinen lässt, wo Gott und die Menscheit einzig und innigst geeinigt sind. Freilich, man lässt sich in diesem Stucke noch so oft durch einen abstracten, subjectiven Moralismus irre machen, der die Tiefe des Ethischen nicht erfasst. Aber wer tiefer blickend auch von einer ontologischen und metaphysischen Bedeutung des Ethischen weiss, dem muss die Einzigkeit der Heiligkeit und Liebe Christi ihren Grund in einer Einzigkeit auch Seines Wesens haben, diese aber in Gottes Sich mittheilender, offenbarender Liebe.’ (Dorner, Person Christi, Bd. ii. pp. 1211, 121.
121. So runs the definition of Boethius. ‘Persona est naturae rationalis individua substantia.’ (De Pers. et Duabus Naturis, c. 3.) Upon which St. Thomas observes: ‘Conveniens est ut hoc nomen (persona) de Deo dicatur; non tamen eodem modo quo dicitur de creaturis, sed excellentiori modo.’ (Sum. Th., Ia. qu. 29. a. 3.) When the present use of 'ousia' and 'hypostasis' had become fixed in the East, St. Gregory Nazianzen tells us that in the formula ‘mia ousia, treij upostaseij,’ 'ousia' signifies 'thn fusin thj qeiothtoj,' while 'hypostasis' points to 'taj twn triwn idiothtaj.' He observes that with this sense the Westerns were in perfect agreement; but he deplores the poverty of their theological language. They had no expression really equivalent to 'hypostasis', as contrasted with 'ousia', and they were therefore obliged to employ the Latin translation of 'prosopon' that they might avoid the appearance of believing in three 'ousiai'. (Orat. xxi. 46.) St. Augustine laments the necessity of having to say ‘quid Tria sint, Quae Tria esse fides vera pronuntiat.’ (De Trin. vii. n. 7.) ‘Cum ergo quaeritur quid Tria, vel quid Tres, conferimus nos ad inveniendum aliquod speciale vel generale nomen, quo complectamur haec Tria: neque occurrit animo, quia excedit supereminentia Divinitatis usitati eloquii facultatem.’ (Ibid.) ‘Cum conaretur humana inopia loquendo proferre ad hominum sensus, quod in secretario mentis pro captu tenet de Domino Deo Creatore suo, sive per piam fidem, sive per qualemcunque intelligentiam, timuit dicere tres essentias, ne intelligeretur in Illa Summa Aequalitate ulla diversitas. Rursus non esse tria quaedam non poterat dicere, quod Sabellius quia dixit, in haeresim lapsus est. . . . Quaesivit quid Tria diceret, et dixit substantias sive personas, quibus nominibus non diversitatem intelligi voluit, sed singularitatem noluit.’ (De Trin. vii. n. 9.) Cf. Serm. cxvii. 7, ccxv. 3, ccxliv. 4. On the term Person, see further St. Athan. Treatises, i. 155, note f. (Lib. Fath.)
124. This compatibility is expressed by the doctrine of the 'perichoresis'—the safeguard and witness of the Divine Unity; St. John xiv. ii; I Cor. ii. 11: the force of which is not impaired by St. John xiv. 20, xvii. 21, 23; I St. John iv. 15, 16, v. 20. This doctrine, as ‘protecting the Unity of God, without entrenching on the perfections of the Son and the Spirit, may even be called the characteristic of Catholic Trinitarianism, as opposed to all counterfeits, whether philosophical, Arian, or oriental.’ Newman’s ‘Arians,’ p. 190, 1st ed. Cf. Athan. Treatises, ii. 403, note i.
131. Bp. Butler, Analogy, ii. 1. p. 157. ‘Christianity, even what is peculiarly so called, as distinguished from natural religion, has yet somewhat very important, even of a moral nature. For, the office of our Lord being made known, and the relation He stands in to us, the obligation of religious regards to Him is plainly moral, as much as charity to mankind is; since this obligation arises, before external commands, immediately out of that His office and relation itself.’
132. Sum. Th. Ia. qu. 29. a. 3. Waterland, Works, iii. 652. Importance of Doctrine of H. Trin. c. 7. ‘The sense of Scripture is Scripture.’ Dr. Mill’s Letter on Dr. Hampden’s Bampton Lectures, p. 14. See Lect. VIII.