The Divinity of
That Which was from the beginning, Which we have heard, Which we have seen with our eyes, Which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life; (for the Life was manifested, and we have seen It, and bear witness, and show unto you that Eternal Life, Which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That Which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.—ST. JOHN i. 1-3.
AN attempt was made last Sunday to determine, from the recorded language of Jesus Christ, what was the verdict of His Own consciousness, expressed as well as implied, respecting the momentous question of His higher and Eternal Nature. But we were incidentally brought face to face with a problem, the fuller consideration of which lies naturally in the course of the present discussion. It is undeniable that the most numerous and direct claims to Divinity on the part of our Lord are to be found in the Gospel of St. John. While this fact has a significance of a positive kind which will be noticed presently, it also involves the doctrine before us in the entanglement of a large critical question. To leave this question undiscussed would, under existing circumstances, be impossible. To discuss it, within the limits assigned to the lecturer, and even with a very moderate regard to the amount of details which it necessarily involves, must needs make a somewhat unwonted demand, as you will indulgently bear in mind, upon the patience and attention of the audience.
If the Book of Daniel has been recently described as the battle-field of the Old Testament, it is not less true that St. John’s Gospel is the battle-field of the New. It is well understood on all sides that no question of mere dilettante criticism is at stake when the authenticity of St. John’s Gospel is challenged. The point of this momentous enquiry lies close to the very heart of the creed of Christendom;
‘Neque enim levia aut ludicra petuntur
Praemia; sed Turni de vita et sanguine certant1.’
Strange and mournful it may well seem to a Christian that the pages of the Evangelist of Divine love should have been the object of an attack so energetic, so persevering, so inventive, so unsparing! Strange indeed such vehement hostility might be deemed, if only it were not in harmony with that deep instinct of our nature which forbids neutrality when we are face to face with high religious truth; which forces us to take really, if not avowedly, a side respecting it; which constrains us to hate or to love, to resist or to obey, to accept or to reject it. If St. John’s Gospel had been the documentary illustration of some extinct superstition, or the title-deed of some suppressed foundation, at best capable of attracting the placid interest of studious antiquarianism, the attacks which have been made on it might well have provoked our marvel. As it is, there is no room for legitimate wonder, that the words of the Evangelist, like the Person of the Master, should be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. For St. John’s Gospel is the most conspicuous written attestation to the Godhead of Him Whose claims upon mankind can hardly be surveyed without passion, whether it be the passion of adoring love, or the passion of vehement and determined enmity.
I. From the disappearance of the obscure heretics called Alogi, in the later sub-apostolic age2, until the end of the seventeenth century, the authenticity of St. John’s Gospel was not questioned. The earliest modern objections to it seem to have been put forward in this country, and to have been based on the assumption of a discrepancy between the narrative of St. John and those of the first three Gospels. These objections were combated by the learned Leclerc; and for well-nigh a century the point was thought to have been decided3. The brilliant reputation of Herder secured attention for his characteristic theory that St. John’s Gospel describes, not the historical, but an ideal Christ. Herder was followed by several German writers, who accepted conclusions which he had implied, and who expressly rejected the authenticity of the fourth Gospel4. But these negative criticisms were met in turn by the arguments of Roman Catholic divines like Hug, and of critics who were by no means loyal even to Lutheran orthodoxy, such as Eichhorn and Kuinoel. By their labors the question was again held to have been set at rest in the higher regions of German scholarship and free-thinking. This second settlement was rudely disturbed by the publication of the famous ‘Probabilia’ of Bretschneider, the learned superintendent of Gotha, in the year 18205. Reproducing the arguments which had been advanced by the earlier negative speculation, and adding others of his own, Bretschneider rekindled the discussion. He exaggerated the contrast between the representation of our Lord’s Person in St. John and that in the synoptists into a positive contradiction. Protestant Germany was then fascinated by the school of Schleiermacher, which, by the aid of a combination of criticism and mysticism6, was groping its way back towards the creeds of the Catholic Church. Schleiermacher, as is well known, not only accepted the Church-belief respecting the fourth Gospel, but he found in that Gospel the reason for his somewhat reckless estimate of the other three. The sharp controversy which followed resulted in Bretschneider’s retractation of his thesis, and the impression produced by this retractation was not violently interfered with until 1835, when Dr. Strauss shocked the conscience of all that was Christian in Europe by the publication of his first ‘Life of Jesus.’ Dr. Strauss’ position in respect of St. John’s Gospel was a purely negative one. He confined himself to asserting that St. John’s Gospel was not what the Church had always believed it to be, that it was not the work of the son of Zebedee. The school of Tubingen aspired to supplement this negative criticism of Strauss by a positive hypothesis. St. John’s Gospel was held to represent a highly-developed stage of an orthodox gnosis, the growth of which presupposed the lapse of at least a century since the age of the Apostles. It was decided by the leading writers of the school of Tubingen, by Drs. Baur, Schwegler, and Zeller, that the fourth Gospel was not composed until after the year A.D. 160. And, although this opinion may have been slightly modified by later representatives of the Tubingen school, such as Hilgenfeld; the general position, that the fourth Gospel was not written before the middle of the second century, is held by disciples of that school as one of its very fundamental tenets.
Here then it is necessary to enquire, what was the belief of the second century itself, as to the date and authenticity of St. John’s Gospel7.
Now it is scarcely too much to assert that every decade of the second century furnishes its share of proof that the four Gospels as a whole, and St. John’s in particular, were to the Church of that age what they are to the Church of the present. Beginning at the end of the century, we may observe how general at that date was the reception of the four Gospels throughout the Catholic Church. Writing at Lyons, in the last decade of the century, St. Irenaeus discourses on various cosmical and spiritual analogies to the fourfold form of the Gospel narrative ('euaggelion tetramorfon') in a strain of mystical reflection which implies that the co-ordinate authority of the four Gospels had been already long established8. St. Irenaeus, it is well known, had sat at the feet of St. Polycarp, who was himself a disciple of St. John. St. Irenaeus, in his letter to the erring Florinus, records with reverent affection what Polycarp had told him of the lessons which he had personally learnt from John and the other disciples of Jesus9. Now is it barely probable that Irenaeus should have imagined that a literary forgery, which is asserted to have been produced at a date when he was himself a boy of twelve or fourteen years of age, was actually the work of the Apostle John10? At Carthage, about the same time, Tertullian wrote his great work against the heretic Marcion11. Tertullian brought to the discussion of critical questions great natural acuteness, which had been sharpened during his early life by his practice at the African bar. Tertullian distinguishes between the primary, or actually apostolical rank of St. Matthew and St. John, and the lower standing of St. Mark and St. Luke, as being apostolical men of a secondary degree12; but he treats all four as inspired writers of an authority beyond discussion13. Against Marcion’s mutilations of the sacred text Tertullian fearlessly appeals to the witness of the most ancient apostolical Churches. Tertullian’s famous canon runs thus: ‘Si constat id verius quod prius, id prius quod et ab initio, id ab initio quod ab apostolis, pariter ubique constabit, id esse ab apostolis traditum, quod apud ecclesias apostolorum fuerit sacrosanctum14.’ But what would have been the worth of this appeal if it could have been even suspected that the last Gospel was really written when Tertullian was a boy or even a young man? At Alexandria, almost contemporaneously with Tertullian, St. Clement investigated the relation of the synoptic Gospels to St. John15, and he terms the latter the 'euaggelion pneumatikon.16' It is unnecessary to say that the intellectual atmosphere of that famous Graeco-Egyptian school would not have been favorable to any serious countenance of a really suspected document. At Rome St. John’s Gospel was certainly received as being the work of that Apostle in the year 170. This is clear from the so-termed Muratorian fragment17; and if in receiving it the Roman Church had been under a delusion so fundamental as is implied by the Tubingen hypothesis, St. John’s own pupil Polycarp might have been expected to have corrected his Roman brethren when he came to Rome in the year 16318. In the farther East, St. John’s Gospel had already been translated as a matter of course into the Peschito Syriac version19. It had been translated in Africa into the Latin Versio Itala20. At or soon after the middle of the century two works were published which implied that the four Gospels had long been received as of undoubted authority: I refer to the Harmonies of Theophilus21, Bishop of Antioch, and of Tatian22, the heterodox pupil of St. Justin Martyr. St. John is quoted by either writer independently, in the work which was addressed by Theophilus to Autolycus23, and in the Apology of Tatian24. When, about the year 170, Apollinaris of Hierapolis points out the bearings of the different evangelical narratives upon the Quartodeciman controversy, his argument implies a familiarity with St. John. Apollinaris refers to the piercing of our Lord’s Side25, and Polycrates of Ephesus speaks of John as the disciple who lay on the bosom of Jesus26. Here we see that the last Gospel must have been read and heard in the Christian Churches with a care which dwells upon its distinctive peculiarities. It is surely inconceivable that a work of such primary claim to speak on the question of highest interest for Christian believers could have been forged, widely circulated, and immediately received by Africans, by Romans, by Gauls, by Syrians, as a work of an Apostle who had passed to his rest some sixty years before. And, if the evidence before us ended here, we might fairly infer that, considering the difficulties of communication between Churches in the sub-apostolic age, and the various elements of moral and intellectual caution, which, as notably in the case of the Epistle to the Hebrews, were likely to delay the oecumenical reception of a canonical book, St. John’s Gospel must have been in existence at the beginning of the second century.
But the evidence does not desert us at this point. Through Tatian we ascend into the earlier portion of the century as represented by St. Justin Martyr. It is remarkable that St. Justin’s second Apology, written in 161, contains fewer allusions to the Gospels than the earlier Apology written in 13827, and than the intermediate composition of this Father, his Dialogue with the Jew Trypho. Now passing by recent theories respecting a Gospel of the Hebrews or a Gospel of Peter, by which an endeavor has been made to weaken St. Justin’s witness to the synoptic Evangelists, let us observe that his testimony to St. John is particularly distinct. Justin’s emphatic reference of the doctrine of the Logos to our Lord28, not to mention his quotation of John the Baptist’s reply to the messengers of the Jews29, and of our Savior’s language about the new birth30, makes his knowledge of St. John’s Gospel much more than a probability31. Among the great Apostolic fathers, St. Ignatius alludes to St. John in his Letter to the Romans32, and St. Polycarp quotes the Apostle’s first Epistle33. In these sub-apostolic writings there are large districts of thought and expression, of a type unmistakeably Johannean34, which, like St. Justin’s doctrine of the Logos, witness no less powerfully to the existence of St. John’s writings than direct citations. The Tubingen writers lay emphasis upon the fact that in the short fragment of Papias which we possess, nothing is said about St. John’s Gospel35. But at least we have no evidence that Papias did not speak of it in that larger part of his writings which has been lost; and if his silence is a valid argument against the fourth Gospel, it is equally available against the Gospel of St. Luke, and even against each one of those four Epistles which the Tubingen writers themselves recognize as the work of St. Paul36.
The testimony of the Catholic Church during this century is supplemented by that of the contemporary heretics. St. Irenaeus has pointed out how the system of the celebrated Gnostic, Valentinus, was mainly based upon a perversion of St. John’s Gospel37. This assertion is borne out by that remarkable work, the Philosophumena of St. Hippolytus, which, as we in Oxford well remember, was discovered some few years since at Mount Athos38. Of the pupils of Valentinus, Ptolemaeus quotes from the prologue of St. John’s Gospel in his extant letter to Flora39. Heracleon, another pupil, wrote a considerable commentary upon St. John40. Heracleon lived about 150; Valentinus was a contemporary of Marcion, who was teaching at Rome about 140. Marcion had originally admitted the claims of St. John’s Gospel, and only denied them when, for the particular purposes of his heresy, he endeavored at a later time to demonstrate an opposition between St. Paul and St. John41. Basilides taught at Alexandria under Adrian, apparently about the year 120. Basilides is known to have written twenty-four books on the Gospel42; but if it cannot be certainly affirmed that any of these books were commentaries on St. John, it is certain from St. Hippolytus that Basilides appealed to texts of St. John in favor of his system43. Before Basilides, in the two first decades of the century, we find Ophitic Gnostics, the Naasenians44, and the Peratae45, appealing to passages in St. John’s Gospel, which was thus already, we may say in the year 110, a recognized authority among sects external to the Catholic Church.
It may further be observed that the whole doctrine of the Paraclete in the heresy of Montanus is a manifest perversion of the treatise on that subject in St. John’s Gospel, the wide reception of which it accordingly presupposes46. The Alogi, who were heretical opponents of Montanism, rejected St. John’s Gospel for dogmatic reasons, which are really confirmatory of the general tradition in its favor47. Nor may we forget Celsus, the keen and satirical opponent of the Christian faith, who wrote, even according to Dr. Hilgenfeld, between 160 and 170, but more probably, as is held by other authorities, as early as 150. Celsus professes very ostentatiously to confine himself to the writings of the disciples of Jesus48; but he refers to St. John’s Gospel in a manner which would be utterly inconceivable if that book had been in his day a lately completed, or indeed a hardly completed forgery49.
This evidence might be largely reinforced from other quarters50, and especially by an examination of that mass of apocryphal literature which belongs to the earlier half of the second century, and the relation of which to St. John’s Gospel has lately been very clearly exhibited by an accomplished scholar51. But we are already in a position to admit that the facts before us force back the date of St. John’s Gospel within the lines of the first century52. And when this is done the question of its authenticity is practically decided. It is irrational to suppose that a forgery claiming the name and authority of the beloved disciple could have been written and circulated beneath his very eyes, and while the Church was still illuminated by his oral teaching. Arbitrary theories about the time which is thought necessary to develop an idea cannot rightly be held to counterbalance such a solid block of historical evidence as we have been considering. This evidence shows that, long before the year 160, St. John’s Gospel was received throughout orthodox and heretical Christendom, and that its recognition may be traced up to the Apostolic age itself. Ewald shall supply the words with which to close the foregoing considerations. ‘Those who since the first discussion of this question have been really conversant with it, never could have had and never have had a moment’s doubt. As the attack on St. John has become fiercer and fiercer, the truth during the last ten or twelve years has been more and more solidly established, error has been pursued into its last hiding-places, and at this moment the facts before us are such that no man who does not will knowingly to choose error and to reject truth, can dare to say that the fourth Gospel is not the work of the Apostle John53.’
Certainly Ewald here expresses himself with vehemence. Some among yourselves may possibly be disposed to complain of him as being too dogmatic. For it may be that you have made impatience of certainty a part of your creed; and you may hold that a certain measure of cautious doubt on all subjects is inseparable from true intellectual culture. You may urge in particular that the weight of external testimony in favor of St. John’s Gospel does not silence the difficulties which arise upon an examination of its contents. You point to the use of a mystical and metaphysical terminology, to the repetition of abstract expressions, such as Word, Life, Light, Truth, Paraclete. You remark that St. John’s Gospel exhibits the Life of our Lord under an entirely new aspect. Not to dwell immoderately upon points of detail, you insist that the plan of our Lord’s life, the main scenes of His ministry, all His exhibitions of miraculous power save two, the form and matter of His discourses, nay, the very attitude and moral physiognomy of His opponents, are so represented in this Gospel as to interfere with your belief in its Apostolical origin.
But are not these peculiarities of the Gospel explained when we consider the purpose with which it was written?
1. St. John’s Gospel is in the first place an historical supplement. It was designed to chronicle discourses and events which had been omitted in the narratives of the three preceding Evangelists. Christian antiquity attests this design with remarkable unanimity54. It is altogether arbitrary to assert that if St. John had seen the works of earlier Evangelists he would have alluded to them; and that if he had intended to supply the omissions of their narratives he would have formally announced his intention of doing so55. It is sufficient to observe that the literary conventionalities of modern Europe were not those of the sacred writers, whether of the Synagogue56 or of the Church. An inspired writer does his work without the self-consciousness of a modern composer; he is not necessarily careful to define his exact place in literature, his precise obligations to, or his presumed improvements upon, the labors of his predecessors. He is the organ of a Higher Intelligence; he owes both what he borrows and what he is believed to originate to the Mind Which inspires him to originate, or Which guides him to select. While the stream of sacred truth is flowing forth from his entranced and burning soul, and is being forthwith crystallized in the moulds of an imperishable language, the eagle-eyed Evangelist does not stoop from heaven to earth for the purpose of guarding or reserving the rights of authorship, by displaying his care to acknowledge its obligations. Certainly St. John does repeat in part the narratives of his predecessors57. But this repetition does not interfere with the supplementary character of his work as a whole58. And yet his Gospel is not only or mainly to be regarded as an historical supplement. It exhibits the precision of method and the orderly development of ideas which are proper to a complete doctrinal essay or treatise. It is indeed rather a treatise illustrated by history, than a history written with a theological purpose. Viewed in its historical relation to the first three Gospels, it is supplemental to them; but this relative character is not by any means an adequate explanation of its motive and function. It might easily have been written if no other Evangelist had written at all; it has a character and purpose which are strictly its own; it is part of a great whole, yet it is also, in itself, organically perfect.
2. St. John’s Gospel is a polemical treatise. It is addressed to an intellectual world widely different from that which had been before the minds of the earlier Evangelists. The earliest forms of Gnostic thought are recognizable in the Judaizing theosophists whom St. Paul has in view in his Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians. These Epistles were written at the least some thirty years before the fourth Gospel. The fourth Gospel confronts or anticipates a more developed Gnosticism; although we may observe in passing that it certainly does not contain references to any of the full-grown Gnostic systems which belong to the middle of the second century. The fourth Gospel is in marked opposition to the distinctive positions of Ebionites, of Docetae, of Cerinthians. But among these the Cerinthian gnosis appears to be more particularly contemplated. In its earlier forms especially, Gnosticism was as much a mischievous intellectual method as a formal heresy. The Gnostic looked upon each revealed truth merely in the light of an addition to the existing stock of materials ready to his hand for speculative discussion. He handled it accordingly with the freedom which was natural to a belief that it was in no sense beyond the range of his intellectual grasp. He commingled it with his cosmical or his psychological theories; he remodelled it; he submitted it to new divisions, to new combinations. Thus his attitude toward Christianity was friendly and yet supercilious. But he threatened the faith with utter destruction, to be achieved by a process of eclectic interpretation. Cerinthus was an early master of this art. Cerinthus as a Chiliastic Judaizer was naturally disposed to Humanitarianism. As an eclectic theorist, who had been trained in the ‘teaching of the Egyptians59,’ he maintained that the world had been created by ‘some power separate and distinct from Him Who is above all.’ Jesus was not born of a virgin; He was the son of Joseph and Mary; He was born naturally like other men. But the Aeon Christ had descended upon Jesus after His baptism, in the form of a dove, and had proclaimed the unknown Father, and had perfected the virtues of Jesus. The spiritual impassible Christ had flown back to heaven on the eve of the Passion of Jesus; the altogether human Jesus of Cerinthus had suffered and had risen alone60. To this fantastic Christ of the Cerinthian gnosis St. John opposes the counteracting truth of our Lord’s Divine and Eternal Nature, as manifested in and through His human life. This Nature was united to the Manhood of Jesus from the moment of the Incarnation. It was not a transient endowment of the Person of Jesus; since it was Itself the seat of His Personality, although clothed with a human form. This Divine Nature was ‘glorified’ in Christ’s Passion, as also in His miracles and His Resurrection. St. John disentangles the Catholic doctrine from the negations and the speculations of Cerinthus; he proclaims the Presence among men of the Divine Word, Himself the Creator of all things, incarnate in Jesus Christ.
3. Thus St. John’s Gospel has also a direct, positive, dogmatic purpose. It is not merely a controversial treatise, as it is not merely an historical appendix. Its teaching is far deeper and wider than would have been necessary, in order to refute the errors of Cerinthus. It teaches the highest revealed truth concerning the Person of our Lord. Its substantive and enduring value consists in its displaying the Everlasting Word or Son of God as historically incarnate, and as uniting Himself to His Church.
The peculiarities of St. John’s Gospel are explained, when this threefold aspect of it is kept in view. As a supplementary narrative it presents us, for the most part, with particulars concerning our Blessed Lord which are unrecorded elsewhere. It meets the doubts which might naturally have arisen in the later Apostolical age, when the narratives of the earlier Evangelists had been for some time before the Church. If the question was raised, why, if Jesus was so holy and so supernatural a Person, His countrymen and contemporaries did not believe in Him, St. John shows the moral causes which account for their incredulity. He portrays the fierce hatred of the Jews against the moral truth which they had rejected; he exhibits this hatred as ever increasing in its intensity as the sanctity of Jesus shines out more and more brightly. If men asked anxiously for more proof that the Death and Resurrection of Jesus were real events, St. John meets that demand by recording his own experience as an eye-witness, and by carefully accumulating the witness of others. If it was objected that Christ’s violent Death was inconsistent with His Divine claims, St. John points out that it was strictly voluntary, and even that by it Christ’s true glorification was achieved. If the authority of the Apostles and of those who were succeeding them was popularly depreciated on the score of their being rude and illiterate men, St. John shows from the discourse in the supper-room that the claims of Apostles upon the dutiful submission of the Church did not depend upon any natural advantages which they possessed. Jesus had promised a Divine Comforter, Who was to guide them into the whole truth, and to bring to their minds whatever He had said to them61.
As a polemical writer, St. John selects and marshals his materials with a view to confuting, from historical data, the Humanitarian or Docetic errors of the time. St. John is anxious to bring a particular section of the Life of Jesus to bear upon the intellectual world of Ephesus62. He puts forward an aspect of the original truth which was certain to command present and local attention; he is sufficiently in correspondence with the age to which he ministers, and with the speculative temper of the men around him. He had been led to note and to treasure up in his thought certain phases of the teaching and character of Jesus with especial care. He had remembered more accurately those particular discourses, in which Jesus speaks of His eternal relation to the Father, and of the profound mystic communion of life into which He would enter with His followers through the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments. These cherished memories of St. John’s earlier years, unshared in their completeness by less privileged Apostles, were well fitted to meet the hard necessities of the Church during the closing years of the beloved disciple. To St. John the gnosis of Cerinthus must have appeared to be in direct contradiction to the sacred certainties which he had heard from the lips of Jesus, and which he treasured in his heart and memory. In order to confute the heresy which separated the man Jesus from the ‘Aeon’ Christ, he had merely to publish what he remembered of the actual words and works of Jesus63. His translation of those divine words may be colored by a phraseology current in the school which he is addressing, sufficiently to make them popularly intelligible. But the peculiarities of his language have been greatly exaggerated by criticism, while they are naturally explained by the polemical and positively doctrinal objects which he had in view. To these objects, the language, the historical arrangement, the selection from conversations and discourses before unpublished, the few deeply significant miracles, the description of opponents by a generic name—the ‘Jews’—which ignores the differences of character, class, and sect among them, and notices them only so far as they are in conflict with the central truth manifested in Jesus,—all contribute. But these very peculiarities of the fourth Gospel subserve its positive devotional and didactic aim even more directly than its controversial one64. The false gnosis is refuted by an exhibition of the true. The true is set forth for the sake of Christian souls. These things ‘are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name65.’
We may perhaps have wondered how a Galilean fisherman could have been the author of a subtle and sublime theosophy, how the son of Zebedee could have appropriated the language of Athens and of Alexandria to the service of the Crucified. The answer is that St. John knew from experience the blessed and tremendous truth that his Lord and Friend was a Divine Person. Apart from the guidance of the Blessed Spirit, St. John’s mental strength and refinement may be traced to the force of his keen interest in this single fact. Just as a desperate moral or material struggle brings to light forces and resources unused before, so an intense religious conviction fertilizes intellect, and develops speculative talent, not unfrequently in the most unlearned. Every form of thought which comes even into indirect contact with the truth to which the soul clings adoringly, is scanned by it with deep and anxious interest, whether it be the interest of hope or the interest of apprehension. St. John certainly is a theosophic philosopher, but he is only a philosopher because he is a theologian; he is such a master of abstract thought because he is so devoted to the Incarnate God. The fisherman of Galilee could never have written the prologue of the fourth Gospel, or have guided the religious thought of Ephesus, unless he had clung to this sustaining Truth, which makes him at once so popular and so profound. For St. John is spiritually as simple, as he is intellectually majestic. In this our day he is understood by the religious insight of the unlettered and the poor, while the learned can sometimes see in him only the weary repetition of metaphysical abstractions. The poor understand this sublime revelation of God, the Creator of the world, as pure Light and Truth. They understand the picture of a moral darkness which commits and excuses sin, and which hates the light. They receive gratefully and believingly the Son of God, made Man, and conquering evil by the laying down His Life. They follow, with the experience of their own temptations, or sins, or hopes, or fears, those heart-searching conversations with Nicodemus, with the Samaritan woman, with the Jews. In truth, St. John’s language and, above all, the words of Christ in St. John, are as simple as they are profound. They still speak peace and joy to little children; they are still a stumbling-block to, and a condemnation of, the virtual successors of Cerinthus.
II. If there were nothing else to the purpose in the whole of the New Testament, those first fourteen verses of the fourth gospel would suffice to persuade a believer in Holy Scripture of the truth that Jesus Christ is absolutely GOD. It is a mistake to regard those fourteen verses as a mere prefatory attack upon the gnosis of Cerinthus, having no necessary connection with the narrative which follows, and representing nothing essential to the integrity of the Apostle’s thought. For, as Baur very truly observes, the doctrine of the prologue is the very fundamental idea which underlies the whole ‘Johannean theology66.’ It is not enough to say that between the prologue and the history which follows there exists an intimate organic connection. The prologue is itself the beginning of the history. ‘It is impossible,’ says Baur, ‘to deny that “the Word made flesh67” is one and the same subject with the Man Christ Jesus on the one hand, and with the Word Who “was in the beginning, Who was with God, and Who was God,” on the other68.’
Taking then the prologue of St. John’s Gospel in connection with the verses which immediately succeed it, let us observe that St. John attaches to our Lord’s Person two names which together yield a complete revelation of His Divine glory. Our Lord is called the ‘Word,’ and the ‘Only-begotten Son.’ It is doubtless true, as Neander observes, that ‘the first of these names was’ put prominently forward at Ephesus, ‘in order to lead those who busied themselves with speculations on the Logos as the center of all theophanies, from a mere religious idealism to a religious realism, to lead them in short to a recognition of God revealed in Christ69.’ It has already70 been shown that the Logos of St. John differs materially from the Logos of Platonizing Jews in Alexandria, while it is linked to great lines of teaching in the Old Testament. No reason can be assigned why St. John had recourse to the word Logos at all, unless he was already in possession of the underlying fact to which this word supplied a philosophical form. If the word did express, in a form familiar to the ears of the men of Ephesus, a great truth which they had buried beneath a heap of errors, that truth, as Bruno Bauer admits, must have been held independently and previously by the Apostle71. The direct expression of that truth was St. John’s primary motive in using the word; his polemical and corrective action upon the Cerinthian gnosis was a secondary motive.
By the word Logos, then, St. John carries back his history of our Lord to a point at which it has not yet entered into the sphere of sense and time. ‘In the four Gospels,’ says St. Augustine, ‘or rather in the four books of the one Gospel, the Apostle St. John, deservedly compared to an eagle, by reason of his spiritual understanding, has lifted his enunciation of truth to a far higher and sublimer point than the other three, and by this elevation he would fain have our hearts lifted up likewise. For the other three Evangelists walked, so to speak, on earth with our Lord as Man. Of His Godhead they said but a few things. But John, as if he found it oppressive to walk on earth, has opened his treatise as it were with a peal of thunder; he has raised himself not merely above the earth, and the whole compass of the air and heaven, but even above every angel-host, and every order of the invisible powers, and has reached even to Him by Whom all things were made, in that sentence, “In the beginning was the Word72.”
Instead of opening his narrative at the Human Birth of our Lord, or at the commencement of His ministry, St. John places himself in thought at the starting-point (as we should conceive it) of all time73. Nay rather, it would seem that if ‘re’shiyth’ at the beginning of Genesis signifies the initial moment of time itself, 'en arxh' rises to the absolute conception of that which is anterior to, or rather independent of, time74. Then, when time was not, or at a point to which man cannot apply his finite conception of time, there was—the Logos or Word. When as yet nothing had been made, He was. What was the Logos? Such a term, in a position of such moment, when so much depends on our rightly understanding it, has a moral no less than an intellectual claim upon us, of the highest order. We are bound to try to understand it, just as certainly as we are bound to obey the command to love our enemies. No man who carries his morality into the sphere of religious thought can affect or afford to maintain, that the fundamental idea in the writings of St. John is a scholastic conceit, with which practical Christians need not concern themselves. And indeed St. John’s doctrine of the Logos has from the first been scrutinized anxiously by the mind of Christendom. It could not but be felt that the term Logos denotes at the very least something intimately and everlastingly present with God, something as internal to the Being of God as thought is to the soul of man. In truth the Divine Logos is God reflected in His own eternal Thought; in the Logos, God is His own Object. This Infinite Thought, the reflection and counterpart of God, subsisting in God as a Being or Hypostasis, and having a tendency to self-communication,—such is the Logos. The Logos is the Thought of God, not intermittent and precarious like human thought, but subsisting with the intensity of a personal form. The very expression seems to court the argument of Athenagoras, that since God could never have been 'alogoj'75, the Logos must have been not created but eternal. It suggests the further inference that since reason is man’s noblest faculty, the Uncreated Logos must be at least equal with God. In any case it might have been asked why the term was used at all, if these obvious inferences were not to be deduced from it; but as a matter of fact they are not mere inferences, since they are warranted by the express language of St. John. St. John says that the Word was ‘in the beginning.’ The question then arises: What was His relation to the Self-existent Being? He was not merely 'para tw Qew'76, along with God, but 'proj ton Qeon.' This last preposition expresses, beyond the fact of co-existence or immanence, the more significant fact of perpetuated inter-communion. The face of the Everlasting Word, if we may dare so to express ourselves, was ever directed towards the face of the Everlasting Father77. But was the Logos then an independent being, existing externally to the One God? To conceive of an independent being, anterior to creation, would be an error at issue with the first truth of monotheism; and therefore 'Qeoj hn o Logoj.78' The Word is not merely a Divine Being, but He is in the absolute sense God79. Thus from His eternal existence we ascend first to His distinct Personality, and then to the full truth of His substantial Godhead.
Yet the Logos necessarily suggests to our minds the further idea of communicativeness; the Logos is Speech as well as Thought80. And of His actual self-communication St. John mentions two phases or stages; the first creation, the second revelation. The Word unveils Himself to the soul through the mediation of objects of sense in the physical world, and He also unveils Himself immediately. Accordingly St. John says that ‘all things were made’ by the Word, and that the Word Who creates is also the Revealer: ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.’ He possesses 'doca,' that is, in St. John, the totality of the Divine attributes. This ‘glory’ is not merely something belonging to His Essential Nature; since He allows us to behold It through His veil of Flesh.
What indeed this 'doca,' or glory was, we may observe by considering that St. John’s writings appear to bring God before us, at least more particularly, under a threefold aspect.
1. God is Life ('zwh'). The Father is ‘living81;’ He ‘has life in HimseIf82.’ God is not merely the living God, that is, the real God, in contrast to the non-existent and feigned deities of the heathen: God is Life, in the sense of Self-existent Being; He is the Focus and the Fountain of universal life. In Him life may be contemplated in its twofold activity, as issuing from its source, and as returning to its object. The Life of God passes forth from Itself; It lavishes Itself throughout the realms of nothingness; It summons into being worlds, systems, intelligences, orders of existences unimagined before. In doing this It obeys no necessary law of self-expansion, but pours Itself forth with that highest generosity that belongs to a perfect freedom. That is to say, that God the Life is God the Creator. On the other hand, God is Being returning into Itself, finding in Itself Its perfect and consummate satisfaction. God is thus the Object of all dependent Life; He is indeed the object of His own Life; all His infinite powers and faculties turn ever inward with uncloyed delight upon Himself as upon their one adequate End or Object. We cannot approach more nearly to a definition of pleasure than by saying that it is the exact correspondence between a faculty and its object. Pleasure is thus a test of vitality; and God, as being Life, is the one Being Who is supremely and perfectly happy.
2. Again, God is Love ('agaph')83. Love is the relation which subsists between God and all that lives as He has willed. Love is the bond of the Being of God. Love binds the Father to that Only Son Whom He has begotten from all eternity84. Love itself knows no beginning; it proceeds from the Father and the Son from all eternity. God loves created life, whether in nature or in grace; He loves the race of men, the unredeemed world85; He loves Christians with a special love86. In beings thus external to Himself, God loves the life which He has given them; He loves Himself in them; He is still Himself the ultimate, rightful, necessary Object of His love. Thus love is of His essence; it is the expression of His necessary delight in His own existence.
3. Lastly, God is Light ('fwj'). That is to say, He is absolute intellectual and moral Truth; He is Truth in the realms of thought, and Truth in the sphere of action. He is the All-knowing and the perfectly Holy Being. No intellectual ignorance can darken His all-embracing survey of actual and possible fact; no stain can soil His robe of awful Sanctity. Light is not merely the sphere in which He dwells: He is His own sphere of existence; He is Himself Light, and in Him is no darkness at all87.
These three aspects of the Divine Nature, denoted by the terms Life, Love, and Light, are attributed in St. John’s writings with abundant explicitness to the Word made flesh.
Thus, the Logos is Light. He is the Light, that is, the Light Which is the very essence of God. The Baptist indeed preaches truth; but the Baptist must not be confounded with the Light Which he heralds88. The Logos is the true Light89. All that has really enlarged the stock of intellectual truth or of moral goodness among men, all that has ever lighted any soul of man, has radiated from Him90. He proclaims Himself to be the Light of the world91, and the Truth92; and His Apostle, speaking of the illumination shed by Him upon the Church, reminds Christians that ‘the darkness is passing, and the true Light now shineth93.’
The Logos is Love. He refracts upon the Father the fulness of His love94. He loves the Father as the Father loves Himself. The Father’s love sends Him into the world, and He obeys out of love95. It is love which draws Him together with the Father to make His abode in the souls of the faithful96.
The Logos is Life. He is the Life97, the eternal Life98, the Life Which is the Essence of God. It has been given Him to have life in Himself, as the Father has life in Himself99. He can give life100; nay, life is so emphatically His prerogative gift, that He is called the Word of Life101.
Thus the Word reveals the Divine Essence; His Incarnation makes that Life, that Love, that Light, which is eternally resident in God, obvious to souls that steadily contemplate Himself. These terms, Life, Love, Light—so abstract, so simple, so suggestive—-meet in God; but they meet also in Jesus Christ. They do not only make Him the center of a philosophy. They belong to the mystic language of faith more truly than to the abstract terminology of speculative thought. They draw hearts to Jesus; they invest Him with a higher than any intellectual beauty. The Life, the Love, the Light, are the ‘glory’ of the Word Incarnate which His disciples ‘beheld,’ pouring its rays through the veil of His human tabernacle102. The Light, the Love, the Life, constitute the ‘fulness’ whereof His disciples received103. Herein is comprised that entire body of grace and truth104, by which the Word Incarnate gives to men the right to become the sons of God105.
But, as has been already abundantly implied, the Word is also the Son. As applied to our Lord, the title ‘Son of God’ is protected by epithets which sustain and define its unique significance. In the synoptic Gospels, Christ is termed the ‘well-beloved’ Son106. In St. Paul He is God’s ‘Own’ Son107. In St. John He is the Only-begotten Son, or simply the Onlybegotten108. This last epithet surely means, not merely that God has no other such Son, but that His Only-begotten Son is, in virtue of this Sonship, a partaker of that incommunicable and imperishable Essence, Which is sundered from all created life by an impassable chasm. If St. Paul speaks of the Resurrection as manifesting this Sonship to the world109, the sense of the word ‘monogenhj’ remains in St. John, and it is plainly ‘defined by its context to relate to something higher than any event occurring in time, however great or beneficial to the human race110.’ The Only-begotten Son111 is in the bosom of the Father (‘o wn eij ton kolpon tou Patroj’) just as the Logos is ‘proj ton Qeon’, ever contemplating, ever, as it were, moving towards Him in the ceaseless activities of an ineffable communion. The Son is His Father’s equal, in that He is partaker of His nature: He is His Subordinate, in that this Equality is eternally derived. But the Father worketh hitherto and the Son works; the Father hath life in Himself, and has given to the Son to have life in Himself; all men are to honor the Son even as they honor the Father112. How does the Son of God, as presented to us in Scripture, differ from Him, Whom the Church knows and worships as God the Son ?
Each of these expressions, the Word and the Son, if taken alone, might have led to a fatal misconception. In the language of Church history, the Logos, if unbalanced by the idea of Sonship, might have seemed to sanction Sabellianism. The Son, without the Logos, might have been yet more successfully pressed into the service of Arianism. An Eternal Thought or Reason, even although constantly tending to express itself in speech, is of itself too abstract to oblige us to conceive of it as of a personal Subsistence. On the other hand, the filial relationship carries with it the idea of dependence and of comparatively recent origin, even although it should suggest the reproduction in the Son of all the qualities of the Father. Certainly St. John’s language in his prologue protects the Personality of the Logos, and unless he believed that God could be divided or could have had a beginning, the Apostle teaches that the Son is co-eternal with the Father. Yet the bare metaphors of ‘Word’ and ‘Son,’ taken separately, might lead divergent thinkers to conceive of Him to Whom they are applied, on the one side as an impersonal quality or faculty of God, on the other, as a concrete and personal but inferior and dependent being. But combine them, and each corrects the possible misuse of the other. The Logos, Who is also the Son, cannot be an impersonal and abstract quality; since such an expression as the Son would be utterly misleading, unless it implied at the very least the fact of a personal subsistence distinct from that of the Father. On the other hand, the Son, Who is also the Logos, cannot be of more recent origin than the Father; since the Father cannot be conceived of as subsisting without that Eternal Thought or Reason Which is the Son. Nor may the Son be deemed to be in any respect, save in the order of Divine subsistence, inferior to the Father, since He is identical with the eternal intellectual Life of the Most High. Thus each metaphor reinforces, supplements, and protects the other. Taken together they exhibit Christ before His Incarnation as at once personally distinct from, and yet equal with, the Father; He is That personally subsisting and ‘Eternal Life, Which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us113.’
St. John’s Gospel is a narrative of that manifestation. It is a Life of the Eternal Word tabernacling in Human Nature among men114. The Hebrew schools employed a similar expression to designate the personal presence of the Divinity in this finite world. In St. John’s Gospel the Personality of Christ makes Itself felt as Eternal and Divine at wellnigh every step of the narrative115. Thus even the Forerunner describes a Being Who appearing later in time has had an earlier existence116; and Who, while coming from above, is yet ‘above all117.’ Each discourse, each miracle, nay, each separate word and act, is a fresh ray of glory streaming forth from the Person of the Word through the veil of His assumed Humanity. The miracles of the Word Incarnate are frequently called His works118. The Evangelist means to imply that ‘the wonderful is only the natural form of working for Him in Whom all the fulness of God dwells.’ Christ’s Divine Nature must of necessity bring forth works greater than the works of man. The Incarnation is the one great wonder; other miracles follow as a matter of course. The real marvel would be if the Incarnate Being should work no miracles119; as it is, they are the natural results of His presence among men, rather than its higher manifestation. His true glory is not perceived except by those who gaze at it with a meditative and reverent intentness120. The Word Incarnate is ever conscious of His sublime relationship to the Father. He knows whence He is121. He refers not unfrequently to His pre-existent Life122. He sees into the deepest purposes of the human hearts around Him123. He has a perfect knowledge of all that concerns God124. His works are simply the works of God125. To believe in the Father is to believe in Him. To have seen Him is to have seen the Father. To reject and hate Him is to reject and hate the Father. He demands at the hands of men the same tribute of affection and submission as that which they owe to the Person of the Father126.
In St. John’s Gospel, the Incarnation is exhibited, not as the measure of the humiliation of the Eternal Word, but as the veil of His enduring and unassailable glory. The angels of God ascend and descend upon Him. Nay, He is still in heaven. Certainly He has taken an earthly form; He has clothed Himself with a human frame. But He has thereby raised humanity rather than abased Himself. In St. John the status inanitionis, the intrinsic humiliation of Christ’s Incarnate Life, is thrown into the background of the reader’s thought. The narrative is throughout illuminated by the never-failing presence of the Word in His glory127. Even when Jesus dies, His Death is no mere humiliation; His Death is the crisis of His exaltation128, of His glory129. Not that He can personally increase in glory. He is already the Son; He is the Word. But He can glorify and exalt that Manhood which is the robe through which His movements are discernible: He can glorify Himself, as God is glorified, by drawing towards His Person the faith and love and reverence of men. It were folly to conceive of Him as enhancing His Divinity; but He can make larger and deeper that measure of homage which ascends towards His throne from human understandings and from human hearts130.
III. 1. But does St. John’s teaching in his earlier writings on the subject of our Lord’s Person harmonize with the representations placed before us in the fourth Gospel? The opening words of his first Epistle131 might go far to answer that question. St. John’s position in this Epistle is, that the Eternal immaterial Word of Life resident in God had become historically manifest, and that the Apostles had consciously seen, and heard, and handled Him, and were now publishing their experience to the world132. The practical bearing of this announcement lay in the truth that ‘he that hath the Son hath the Life, and he that hath not the Son hath not the Life133.’ For ‘God hath given to us the Eternal Life, and this, the Life, is in His Son134,’ If then the soul is to hold communion with God in the Life of Light and Righteousness and Love, it must be through communion with His Divine Son. Thus all practically depends upon the attitude of the soul towards the Son. Accordingly, ‘whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father135;’ while on the other hand, whosoever sincerely and in practice acknowledges the Son of God in His historical manifestation, enjoys a true communion with the Life of God. ‘Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God136.’
St. John constantly teaches that the Christian’s work in this state of probation is to conquer ‘the world137.’ It is, in other words, to fight successfully against that view of life which ignores God, against that complex system of attractive moral evil and specious intellectual falsehood, which is marshalled and organized by the great enemy of God, and which permeates and inspires non-Christianized society. The world’s force is seen especially in ‘the lust of the flesh, in the lust of the eyes, and in the pride of life.’ These three forms of concupiscence manifest the inner life of the world138; if the Christian would resist and beat them back, he must have a strong faith, a faith in a Divine Savior. ‘Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?139’ This faith, which introduces the soul to communion with God in Light, attained through communion with His Blessed Son, exhibits the world in its true colors. The soul spurns the world as she clings believingly to the Divine Son.
St. John’s picture of Christ’s work in this first Epistle, and especially his pointed and earnest opposition to the specific heresy of Cerinthus140, leads us up to the culminating statement that Jesus Himself is the true God and the Eternal Life141. Throughout this Epistle the Apostle has been writing to those ‘who believe on the Name of the Son of God,’ that is to say, on the Divine Nature of Jesus which the verbal symbol guards and suggests. Throughout this Epistle St. John’s object has been to convince believers that by that faith they had the Eternal Life, and to force them to be true to It142.
In each of St. John’s Epistles143 we encounter that special temper, at once so tender and so peremptory, which is an ethical corollary to belief in an Incarnate God. St. John has been named the apostle of the Absolute. Those who would concede to Christianity no higher dignity than that of teaching a relative and provisional truth, will fail to find any countenance for their doctrine in the New Testament Scriptures. But nowhere will they meet with a more earnest opposition to it than in the pages of the writer who is pre-eminently the Apostle of charity. St. John preaches the Christian creed as the one absolute certainty. The Christian faith might have been only relatively true, if it had reposed upon the word of a human messenger. But St. John specially insists upon the fact that God has revealed Himself, not merely through, but in, Christ. The Absolute Religion is introduced by a Self-revelation of the Absolute Being Himself. God has appeared, God has spoken; and the Christian faith is the result. St. John then does not treat Christianity as a phase in the history even of true religion, nor as a religion containing elements of truth, even though it were more true than any religion which had preceded it. St. John proclaims that ‘we “Christians” are in Him that is True.’ Not to admit that Jesus Christ has come in the Flesh, is to be a deceiver and an antichrist. St. John presents Christianity to the soul as a religion which must be its all, if it is not really to be worse than nothing144. The opposition between truth and error, between the friends and the foes of Christ, is for St. John as sharp and trenchant a thing as the contrast between light and darkness, between life and death145. This is the temper of a man who will not enter the public baths along with the heretic who has dishonored his Lord146. This is the spirit of the teacher who warns his flock to beware of eating with a propagator of false doctrine, and of bidding him God speed, lest they should partake of his ‘evil deeds147.’ Yet this is also the writer whose pages, beyond any other in the New Testament, beam with the purest, tenderest love of humanity. Side by side with this resolute antagonism to dogmatic error, St. John exhibits and inculcates an enthusiastic affection for humankind as such, which our professed philanthropists could not rival148. The man who loves not his brother man, whatever be his spiritual estimate of himself, abideth in death149. No divorce is practically possible between the first and the second parts of charity: the man who loves his God must love his brother also150. Love is the moral counterpart of intellectual light151.
It is a modern fashion to represent these two tempers, the dogmatic and the philanthropic, as necessarily opposed. This representation indeed is not even in harmony with modern experience; but in St. John it meets with a most energetic contradiction. St. John is at once earnestly dogmatic and earnestly philanthropic; for the Incarnation has taught him both the preciousness of man and the preciousness of truth. The Eternal Word, incarnate and dying for the truth, inspires St. John to guard it with apostolic chivalry; but also, this revelation of the Heart of God melts him into tenderness towards the race which Jesus has loved so well152. To St. John a lack of love for men seems sheer dishonor to the love of Christ. And the heresy which mutilates the Person or denies the work of Christ, does not present itself to St. John as purely speculative misfortune, as clumsy negation of fact, as barren intellectual error. Heresy is with this Apostle a crime against charity; not only because heresy breeds divisions among brethren, but yet more because it kills out from the souls of men that blessed and prolific Truth, which, when sincerely believed, cannot but fill the heart with love to God and to man. St. John writes as one whose eyes had looked upon and whose hands had handled the sensibly present form of Light and Love. That close contact with the Absolute Truth Incarnate had kindled in him a holy impatience of antagonist error; that felt glow of the Infinite Charity of God had shed over his whole character and teaching the beauty and pathos of a tenderness, which, as our hearts tell us while we read his pages, is not of this world.
2. This ethical reflection of the doctrine of God manifest in the flesh is perhaps mainly characteristic of St. John’s first Epistle; but it is not wanting in the Apocalypse153. The representation of the Person of our Savior in the Apocalypse is independent of any indistinctness that may attach to the interpretation of the historical imagery of that wonderful book154. In the Apocalypse, Christ is the First and the Last; He is the Alpha and the Omega; He is the Eternal; He is the Almighty155. He possesses the seven spirits or perfections of God156. He has a mysterious Name which no man knows save He Himself157. His Name is written on the foreheads of the faithful158; He is the giver of grace and victory159. In the Apocalypse, His Name is called the Word of God160; as in the first Epistle He is the Word of Life, and in the Gospel the Word in the beginning. As He rides through heaven on His errand of triumph and of judgment, a Name is written on His vesture and on His thigh; He is ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords161.’ St. John had leaned upon His breast at supper in the familiarity of trusted friendship. St. John sees Him but for a moment in His supramundane glory, and forthwith falls at His feet as dead162. In the Apocalypse especially we are confronted with the startling truth that the Lord of the unseen world is none other than the Crucified One163. The armies of heaven follow Him, clothed as He is in a vesture dipped in blood, at once the symbol of His Passion and of His victory164. But of all the teachings of the Apocalypse on this subject, perhaps none is so full of significance as the representation of Christ in His wounded Humanity upon the throne of the Most High. The Lamb, as It had been slain, is in the very center of the court of heaven165; He receives the prostrate adoration of the highest intelligences around the throne166; and as the Object of that solemn, uninterrupted, awful worship167, He is associated with the Father, as being in truth one with the Almighty, Uncreated, Supreme God168.
IV. Whatever, then, may have been the interval between the composition of the Apocalypse and that of the fourth Gospel, we find in the two documents one and the same doctrine, in substance if not in terms, respecting our Lord’s Eternal Person; and further, this doctrine accurately corresponds with that of St. John’s first Epistle. But it may be asked whether St. John, thus consistent with himself upon a point of such capital importance, is really in harmony with the teaching of the earlier Evangelists? It is granted that between St. John and the three first Gospels there is a broad difference of characteristic phraseology, of the structure, scene, and matter of the several narratives. Does this difference strike deeper still? Is the Christology of the son of Zebedee fundamentally distinct from that of his predecessors? Can we recognize the Christ of the earlier Evangelists in the Christ of St. John?
Now it is obvious to remark that the difference between the three first Evangelists and the fourth, in their respective representations of the Person of our Lord, is in one sense, at any rate, a real difference. There is a real difference in the point of view of the writers, although the truth before them is one and the same. Each from his own stand-point, the first three Evangelists seek and portray separate aspects of the Human side of the Life of Jesus. They set forth His perfect Manhood in all Its regal grace and majesty, in all Its Human sympathy and beauty, in all Its healing and redemptive virtue. In one Gospel Christ is the true Fulfiller of the Law, and withal, by a touching contrast, the Man of Sorrows. In another He is the Lord of Nature and the Leader of men; all seek Him; all yield to Him; He moves forward in the independence of majestic strength. In a third He is active and all-embracing Compassion; He is the Shepherd, Who goes forth as for His Life-work, to seek the sheep that was lost; He is the Good Samaritan169. Thus the obedience, the force, and the tenderness of His Humanity are successively depicted; but room is left for another aspect of His Life, differing from these and yet in harmony with them. If we may dare so to speak, the synoptists approach their great Subject from without, St. John unfolds it from within. St. John has been guided to pierce the veil of sense; he has penetrated far beyond the Human features, nay even beyond the Human thought and Human will of the Redeemer, into the central depths of His Eternal Personality. He sets forth the Life of our Lord and Savior on the earth, not in any one of the aspects which belong to It as Human, but as being the consistent and adequate expression of the glory of a Divine Person, manifested to men under a visible form. The miracles described, the discourses selected, the plan of the narrative, are all in harmony with the point of view of the fourth Evangelist, and it at once explains and accounts for them.
Plainly, my brethren, two or more observers may approach the same object from different points of view, and may be even entirely absorbed with distinct aspects of it; and yet it does not follow that any one of these aspects is necessarily at variance with the others. Still less does it follow that one aspect alone represents the truth. Socrates does not lose his identity, because he is so much more to Plato than he is to Xenophon. Each of yourselves may be studied at the same time by the anatomist and by the psychologist. Certainly the aspect of your complex nature which the one study insists upon, is sufficiently remote from the aspect which presents itself to the other. In the eyes of one observer you are purely spirit; you are thought, affection, memory, will, imagination. As he analyzes you he is almost indifferent to the material body in which your higher nature is encased, upon which it has left its mark, and through which it expresses itself. But to the other observer this your material body is everything. Its veins and muscles, its pores and nerves, its color, its proportions, its functions, absorb his whole attention. He is nervously impatient of any speculations about you which cannot be tested by his instruments. Yet is there any real ground for a petty jealousy between the one study of your nature and the other? Is not each student a servant whom true science will own as doing her work? May not each illustrate, supplement, balance, and check the conclusions of the other? Must you necessarily view yourselves as being purely mind, if you will not be persuaded that you are merely matter? Must you needs be materialists, if you will not become the most transcendental of mystics? Or will not a little physiology usefully restrain you from a fanciful supersensualism, while a study of the immaterial side of your being forbids you to listen, even for a moment, to the brutalizing suggestions of consistent materialism?
These questions admit of easy reply; each half of the truth is practically no less than speculatively necessary to the other. Nor is it otherwise with the general relation of the first three Gospels to the fourth. Yet it should be added that the Synoptists do teach the Divine Nature of Jesus, although in the main His Sacred Manhood is most prominent in their pages. Moreover the fourth Gospel, as has been noticed, abundantly insists upon Christ’s true Humanity. Had we not possessed the fourth Gospel, we should have known much less of one side of His Human Character than we actually know. For in it we see Christ engaged in earnest conflict with the worldly and unbelieving spirit of His time, while surrounded by the little company of His disciples, and devoting Himself to them even ‘unto the end.’ The aspects of our Lord’s Humanity which are thus brought into prominence would have remained, comparatively speaking, in the shade, had the last Gospel not been written. But that ‘symmetrical conception’ of our Lord’s Character, which modern critics have remarked upon, as especially distinguishing the fourth Gospel, is to be referred to the manner in which St. John lays bare the Eternal Personality of Jesus. For in It the scattered rays of glory which light up the earlier Evangelists find their point of unity. By laying such persistent stress upon Christ’s Godhead, as the true seat of His Personality, the fourth Gospel is doctrinally complemental (how marvellous is the complement!) to the other three; and yet these three are so full of suggestive implications that they practically anticipate the higher teaching of the fourth.
1. For in the synoptic Gospels Christ is called the Son of God in a higher sense than the ethical or than the theocratic. In the Old Testament an anointed king or a saintly prophet is a son of God. Christ is not merely one among many sons. He is the Only, the Well-beloved Son of the Father170. His relationship to the Father is unshared by any other, and is absolutely unique. It is indeed probable that of our Lord’s contemporaries many applied to Him the title ‘Son of God’ only as an official designation of the Messiah; while others used it to acknowledge that surpassing and perfect character which proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth to be the One Son, who had appeared on earth, worthily showing forth the moral perfections of our Heavenly Father. But the official and ethical senses of the term are rooted in a deeper sense, which St. Luke connects with it at the beginning of his Gospel. ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,’ so ran the angel-message to the Virgin-mother, ‘and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing Which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God171.’ This may be contrasted with the prediction respecting St. John the Baptist, that he should be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb172. St. John then is in existence before his sanctification by the Holy Spirit; but Christ’s Humanity Itself is formed by the agency of the Holy Ghost. In like manner St. Matthew’s record of the angel’s words asserts that our Lord was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost173. But St. Matthew’s reference to the prophetic name Emmanuel174 points to the full truth, that Christ is the Son of God as being of the Divine Essence.
2. Indeed the whole history of the Nativity and its attendant circumstances guards the narratives of St. Matthew and St. Luke175 against the inroads of Humanitarian interpreters. Our Lord’s Birth of a Virgin-mother is as irreconcileable with ‘an Ebionitic as it is with a Docetic conception of the entrance of the God-man into connection with humanity176.’ The worship of the Infant Christ, in St. Matthew by the wise men, in St. Luke by the shepherds of Bethlehem, represents Jesus as the true Lord of humanity, whether Jewish or Gentile, whether educated or unlettered. Especially noteworthy are the greetings addressed to the Mother of our Lord by heavenly as well as earthly visitants. The Lord is with her; she is graced and blessed among women177. Her Son will be great; He will be called the Son of the Highest; His kingdom will have no end178. Elizabeth echoes the angel’s words; Mary is blessed among women, and the Fruit of her womb is Blessed. Elizabeth marvels that such an one as herself should be visited by the Mother of her Lord179.
The Evangelical canticles, which we owe to the third Gospel, remarkably illustrate the point before us. They surround the cradle of the Infant Savior with the devotional language of ancient Israel, now consecrated to the direct service of the Incarnate Lord. Mary, the Virgin-mother, already knows that all generations shall call her blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things unto her180. And as the moral and social fruits of the Incarnation unfold themselves before her prophetic eye, she proclaims that the promises to the forefathers are at length fulfilled, and that God, ‘remembering His mercy, hath holpen His servant Israel181.’ Zacharias rejoices that the Lord God of Israel has in the new-born Savior redeemed His people182 This Savior is the Lord, whose forerunner has been announced by prophecy183; He is the Day-star from on high, bringing a new morning to those who sat in the darkness and death-shadows of the world184. Simeon desires to depart in peace, since his eyes have seen his Lord’s Salvation. The humble Babe Whom the old man takes in his arms belongs not to the lowly scenes of Bethlehem and Nazareth; He is the destined inheritance of the world. He is the Divine Savior; all nations are interested in His Birth; He is to shed light upon the heathen; He is to be the pride and glory of the New Israel185.
The accounts then of our Lord’s Birth in two of the synoptic Evangelists, as illustrated by the sacred songs of praise and thanksgiving which St. Luke has preserved, point clearly to the entrance of a superhuman Being into this our human world. Who indeed He was, is stated more explicitly by St. John; but St. John does not deem it necessary to repeat the history of His Advent. The accounts of the Annunciation and of the Miraculous Conception would not by themselves imply the Divinity of Christ. But they do imply that Christ is superhuman; they harmonize with the kind of anticipations respecting Christ’s appearance in the world, which might be created by St. John’s doctrine of His pre-existent glory. These accounts cannot be forced within the limits, and made to illustrate the laws, of nature. But at least St. John’s narrative justifies the mysteries of the synoptic Gospels which would be unintelligible without it; and it is a vivid commentary upon hymns the lofty strains of which might of themselves be thought to savor of exaggeration.
3. If the synoptists are in correspondence with St. John’s characteristic doctrine when they describe our Lord’s Nativity and its attendant circumstances, that correspondence is even more obvious in their accounts of His teaching and in the pictures which they set before us of His Life and work. They present Him to us mainly, although not exclusively, as the Son of Man. As has already been hinted, that title, besides its direct signification of His true and representative Humanity, is itself the ‘product of a self-consciousness, for which the being human is not a matter of course, but something secondary and superinduced186.’ In other words, this title implies an original Nature to Which Christ’s Humanity was a subsequent accretion, and in Which His true and deepest Consciousness, if we may dare so to speak, was at home. Thus, often in the synoptic Gospels He is called simply the Son187. He is the true Son of Man, but He is also the true Son of God. In Him Sonship attains its archetypal form; in Him it is seen in its unsullied perfection. Accordingly He never calls the Father, our Father, as if He shared His Sonship with His followers. He always speaks of My Father188. To this Divine Sonship He received witness from Heaven both at His Baptism and at His Transfiguration. In the parable of the vineyard, the prophets of the old theocracy are contrasted with the Son, not as predecessors or rivals, but as slaves189. Thus He lives among men as the One True Son of His Father’s home. He is Alone free by birthright among a race of born slaves. Yet instead of guarding His solitary dignity with jealous exclusiveness, He vouchsafes to raise the slaves around Him to an adopted sonship; He will buy them out of bondage by pouring forth His blood; He will lay down His Life, that He may prove the generosity of His measureless love towards them190.
The synoptic Gospels record parables in which Christ is Himself the central Figure. They record miracles which seem to have no ascertainable object beyond that of exhibiting the superhuman might of the Worker. They tell us of His claim to forgive sins, and that He supported this claim by the exercise of His miraculous powers191. Equally with St. John they represent Him as claiming to be not merely the Teacher but the Object of His religion. He insists on faith in His own Person192. He institutes the initial Sacrament, and He deliberately inserts His own Name into the sacramental formula; He inserts it between that of the Father and that of the Spirit193. Such self-intrusion into the sphere of Divinity would be unintelligible if the synoptists had really represented Jesus as only the teacher and founder of a religious doctrine or character. But if Christ is the Logos in St. John, in these Gospels He is the Sophia194. Thus He ascribes to Himself the exclusive knowledge of the Highest. No statement in St. John really goes beyond the terms in which, according to two synoptists, He claims to know and to be known of the Father. ‘No man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him195.’ Here then is a reciprocal relationship of equality: the Son alone has a true knowledge of the Father; the Son is Himself such, that the Father Alone understands Him. In these Gospels, moreover, Christ ascribes to Himself, sanctity; He even places Himself above the holiest thing in ancient Israel196. He and His people are greater than the greatest in the old covenant197. He scruples not to proclaim His consciousness of having fulfilled His mission. He asserts that all power is committed to Him both on earth and in heaven198. All nations are to be made disciples of His religion199.
When we weigh the language of the first three Evangelists, it will be found that Christ is represented by it as the Absolute Good and the Absolute Truth not less distinctly than in St. John. It is on this account that He is exhibited as in conflict not with subordinate or accidental forms of evil, but with the evil principle itself, with the prince of evil200. And, as the Absolute Good, Christ tests the moral worth or worthlessness of men by their acceptance or rejection, not of His doctrine but of His Person. It is St. Matthew who records such sentences as the following: ‘Neither be ye called Masters; for One is your Master, even Christ201;’ ‘He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me202;’ ‘Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father203;’ ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor, and I will give you rest204;’ ‘Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me205.’ In St. Matthew then Christ speaks as One Who knows Himself to be a universal and infallible Teacher in spiritual things; Who demands submission of all men, and at whatever cost or sacrifice; Who offers to mankind those deepest consolations which are sought from all others, in vain. Nor is it otherwise with St. Luke and St. Mark. It is indeed remarkable that our Lord’s most absolute and peremptory claims206 to rule over the affections and wills of men are recorded by the first and third, and not by the fourth Evangelist. These royal rights over the human soul can be justified upon no plea of human relationships between teacher and learner, between child and elder, between master and servant, between friend and friend. If the title of Divinity is more explicitly put forward in St. John, the rights which imply it are insisted on in words recorded by the earlier Evangelists. The synoptists represent our Lord, Who is the object of Christian faith no less than the Founder of Christianity, as designing the whole world for the field of His conquests207, and as claiming the submission of every individual human soul. All are to be brought to discipleship. Only then will the judgment come, when the Gospel has been announced to the whole circle of the nations208. Christ, the Good and the Truth Incarnate, must reign throughout all time209. He knows, according to the synoptists no less than St. John, that He is a perfect and final Revelation of God. He is the center-point of the history and of the hopes of man. None shall advance beyond Him: the pretension to surpass Him is but the symptom of disastrous error and reaction210.
The Transfiguration is described by all the synoptists; and it represents our Lord in His true relation to the legal and prophetic dispensations, and as visibly invested for the time being with a glory which was rightfully His. The Ascension secures His permanent investiture with that glory; and the Ascension is described by St. Mark and St. Luke. The Resurrection is recorded by the first three Evangelists as accurately as by the fourth; and it was to the Resurrection that He Himself appealed as being the sign by which men were to know His real claim upon their homage. In the first three Gospels, all of Christ’s humiliations are consistently linked to the assertion of His power, and to the consummation of His victory. He is buffeted, spat upon, scourged, crucified, only to rise from the dead the third day211; His Resurrection is the prelude to His ascent to heaven. He leaves the world, yet He bequeaths the promise of His Presence. He promises to be wherever two or three are gathered in His Name212; He institutes the Sacrament of His Body and His Blood213; He declares that He will be among His people even to the end of the world214.
4. But it is more particularly through our Lord’s discourses respecting the end of the world and the final judgment, as recorded by the synoptists, that we may discern the matchless dignity of His Person. It is reflected in the position which He claims to fill with respect to the moral and material universe, and in the absolute finality which He attributes to His religion. The Lawgiver Who is above all other legislators, and Who revises all other legislation, will also be the final Judge215. At that last awful revelation of His personal glory, none shall be able to refuse Him submission. Then will He put an end to the humiliations and the sorrows of His Church; then, out of the fulness of His majesty, He will clothe His despised followers with glory; He will allot the kingdom to those who have believed on Him; and at His heavenly board they shall share for ever the royal feast of life. Certainly the Redeemer and Judge of men, to Whom all spiritual and natural forces, all earthly and heavenly powers must at last submit, is not merely a divinely gifted prophet. His Person ‘has a metaphysical and cosmical significance216.’ None could preside so authoritatively over the history and destiny of the world who was not entitled to share the throne of its Creator.
The eschatological discourses in the synoptists do but tally with the prologue of St. John’s Gospel. In contemplating the dignity of our Lord’s Person, the preceding Evangelists for the most part look forward; St. John looks backward no less than forward. St. John dwells on Christ’s Pre-existence; the synoptists, if we may so phrase it, on his Post-existence. In the earlier Evangelists His personal glory is viewed in its relation to the future of the human race and of the universe; in St. John it is viewed in its relation to the origin of created things, and to the solitary and everlasting years of God. In St. John, Christ our Savior is the First; in the synoptists He is more especially the Last.
In the synoptic Gospels, then, the Person of Christ Divine and Human is the center-point of the Christian religion. Christ is here the Supreme Lawgiver; He is the Perfect Saint; He is the Judge of all men. He controls both worlds, the physical and the spiritual; He bestows the forgiveness of sins, and the Holy Spirit; He promises everlasting life. His Presence is to be perpetuated on earth, while yet He will reign as Lord of heaven. ‘The entire representation,’ says Professor Dorner, ‘of Christ which is given us by the synoptists, may be placed side by side with that given by St. John, as being altogether identical with it. For a faith moulded in obedience to the synoptic tradition concerning Christ, must have essentially the same features in its resulting conception of Christ as those which belong to the Christ of St. John217.’ In other words, think over the miracles wrought by Christ and narrated by the synoptists, one by one. Think over the discourses spoken by Christ and recorded by the synoptists, one by one. Look at the whole bearing and scope of His Life, as the three first Evangelists describe It, from His supernatural Birth to His disappearance beyond the clouds of heaven. Mark well how pressing and tender, yet withal how full of stern and majestic Self-assertion, are His words! Consider how merciful and timely, yet also how expressive of immanent and unlimited power, are His miracles! Put the three representations of the Royal, the Human, and the Healing Redeemer together, and deny, if it is possible, that Jesus is Divine. If the Christ of the synoptists is not indeed an unreal phantom, such as Docetism might have constructed, He is far removed above the Ebionitic conception of a purely human Savior. If Christ’s Pre-existence is only obscurely hinted at in the first three Gospels, His relation to the world of spirits is brought out in them even more clearly than in St. John by the discourses which they contain on the subject of the Last Judgment. If St. John could be blotted out from the pages of the New Testament, St. John’s central doctrine would still live on in the earlier Evangelists as implicitly contained within a history otherwise inexplicable, if not as the illuminating truth of a heavenly gnosis. There would still remain the picture of a Life Which belongs indeed to human history, but Which the laws that govern human history neither control nor can explain. It would still be certain that One had lived on earth, wielding miraculous powers, and claiming a moral and intellectual place which belongs only to the Most Holy; and if the problem presented to faith might seem for a moment to be more intricate, its final solution could not differ in substance from that which meets us in the pages of the beloved disciple.
V. But what avails it, say you, to show that St. John is consistent with himself, and that he is not really at variance with the Evangelists who preceded him, if the doctrine which he teaches, and which the Creed re-asserts, is itself incredible? You object to this doctrine that it ‘involves an invincible contradiction.’ It represents Christ on the one hand as a Personal Being, while on the other it asserts that two mutually self-excluding Essences are really united in Him. How can He be personal, you ask, if He be in very truth both God and Man? If He is thus God and Man, is He not, in point of fact, a ‘double Being;’ and is not unity of being an indispensable condition of personality? Surely, you insist, this condition is forfeited by the very terms of the doctrine. Christ either is not both God and Man, or He is not a single Personality. To say that He is One Person in Two Natures is to affirm the existence of a miracle which is incredible, if for no other reason, simply on the score of its unintelligibility218.
This is what may be said; but let us consider, first of all, whether to say this does not, however unintentionally, caricature the doctrine of St. John and of the Catholic Creed. Does it not seem as if both St. John and the Creed were at pains to make it clear that the Person of Christ in His pre-existent glory, in His state of humiliation and sorrow, and in the majesty of His mediatorial kingdom, is continuously, unalterably One? Does not the Nicene Creed, for instance, first name the Only-begotten Son of God, and then go on to say how for us men and for our salvation He was Himself made Man, and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate? Does not St. John plainly refer to One and the Same Agent in such verses as the following? ‘All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made219.’ ‘He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded220.’ If St. John or the Creed had proceeded to introduce a new subject to whom the circumstances of Christ’s earthly Life properly belonged, and who only maintained a mysterious, even although it were an indissoluble connection with the Eternal Word in heaven, then the charge of making Christ a ‘double Being’ would be warrantable. Nestorius was fairly liable to that charge. He practically denied that the Man Christ Jesus was One Person with the Eternal Word. In order to heighten the ethical import of the Human Life of Christ, Nestorianism represents our Lord as an individual Man, Who, although He is the temple and organ of the Deity to which He is united, yet has a separate basis of personality in His Human Nature. The individuality of the Son of Mary is thus treated as a distinct thing from that of the Eternal Word; and the Christ of Nestorianism is really a ‘double Being,’ or rather he is two distinct persons, mysteriously joined in one221. But the Church has formally condemned this error, and in so doing she was merely throwing into the form of a doctrinal proposition the plain import of the narrative of St. John’s Gospel222.
Undoubtedly, you reply, the Church has not allowed her doctrine to be stated in terms which would dissolve the Redeemer into two distinct agents, and would so altogether forfeit the reality of redemption223. But the question is whether the orthodox statement be really successful in avoiding the error which it deprecates. Certainly the Church does say that ‘although Christ be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.’ But is this possible? How can Godhead and Manhood thus coalesce without forfeiture of that unity which is a condition of personality?
The answer to this question lies in the fact, upon which St. John insists with such prominence, that our Lord’s Godhead is the seat of His Personality. The Son of Mary is not a distinct human person mysteriously linked with the Divine Nature of the Eternal Word224. The Person of the Son of Mary is divine and eternal; It is none other than the Person of the Word. When He took upon Him to deliver man, the Eternal Word did not abhor the Virgin’s womb. He clothed Himself with man’s bodily and man’s immaterial nature; He united it to His Own Divinity. He ‘took man’s Nature upon Him in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, of her substance, so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in One Person, never to be divided, whereof is One Christ225.’ Thus to speak of Christ as a Man, at least without explanation, may lead to a serious misconception; He is the Man, or rather He is Man. Christ’s Manhood is not of Itself an individual being; It is not a seat and center of personality; It has no conceivable existence apart from the act whereby the Eternal Word in becoming Incarnate called It into being and made It His Own226. It is a vesture which He has folded around His Person; It is an instrument through which He places Himself in contact with men, and whereby He acts upon humanity227. He wears it in heaven, and thus robed in It He represents, He impersonates, He pleads for the race of beings to which It belongs. In saying that Christ ‘took our nature upon Him,’ we imply that His Person existed before, and that the Manhood which He assumed was Itself impersonal. Therefore He did not make Himself a ‘double Being’ by becoming incarnate. His Manhood no more impaired the unity of His Person than each human body, with its various organs and capacities, impairs the unity of that personal principle which is the center and pivot of each separate human existence, and which has its seat within the soul of each one of us.
‘As the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ.’ As the personality of man resides in the soul, after death has severed soul and body, so the Person of Christ had Its eternal seat in His Godhead before His Incarnation. Intimately as the ‘I,’ or personal principle within each of us, is associated with every movement of the body, the ‘I’ itself resides in the soul. The soul is that which is conscious, which remembers, which wills, and which thus realizes personality228. Certainly it is true that in our present state of existence we have never as yet realized what personal existence is, apart from the body. But the youngest of us will do this, ere many years have passed. Meanwhile we know that, when divorced from the personal principle which rules and inspires it, the body is but a lump of lifeless clay. The body then does not superadd a second personality to that which is in the soul. It supplies the personal soul with an instrument; it introduces it to a sphere of action; it is the obedient slave, the plastic ductile form of the personal soul which tenants it. The hand is raised, the voice is heard; but these are acts of the selfsame personality as that which, in the invisible voiceless recesses of its immaterial self, goes through intellectual acts of inference, or moral acts of aversion or of love. In short, man is at once animal and spirit, but his personal unity is not thereby impaired: and Jesus Christ is not other than a Single Person, although He has united the Perfect Nature of Man to His Divine and Eternal Being. Therefore, although He says ‘I and the Father are One,’ He never says ‘I and the Son’ or ‘I and the Word are One.’ For He is the Word; He is the Son. And His Human Life is not a distinct self; but a living robe which, as it was created, was forthwith wrapped around His Eternal Personality229.
But if the illustration of the Creed is thus suggestive of the unity of Christ’s Person, is it, you may fairly ask, altogether in harmony with the Scriptural and Catholic doctrine of His Perfect Manhood? If Christ’s Humanity stands to His Godhead in the relation of the body of a man to his soul, does not this imply that Christ has no human Soul230, or at any rate no distinct human Will? You remind me that ‘the truth of our Lord’s Human Will is essential to the integrity of His Manhood, to the reality of His Incarnation, to the completeness of His redemptive work. It is plainly asserted by Scripture; and the error which denies It has been condemned by the Church. If Nestorius errs on one side, Apollinaris, Eutyches, and finally the Monothelites, warn us how easily we may err on the other. Christ has a Human Will as being Perfect Man, no less than He has a Divine Will as being Perfect God. But this is not suggested by the analogy of the union of body and soul in man. And if there are two Wills in Christ, must there not also be two Persons? and may not the Sufferer Who kneels in Gethsemane be another than the Word by Whom all things were made?’
Certainly, the illustration of the Creed cannot be pressed closely without risk of serious error. An illustration is generally used to indicate correspondence in a single particular; and it will not bear to be erected into an absolute and consistent parallel, supposed to be in all respects analogous to that with which it has a single point of correspondence. But the Creed protects itself elsewhere against any such misuse of this particular illustration. The Creed says that as body and soul meet in a single man, so do Perfect Godhead and Perfect Manhood meet in one Christ. The Perfect Manhood of Christ, not His Body merely but His Soul, and therefore His Human Will, is part of the One Christ. Unless in His condescending love our Eternal Lord has thus taken upon Him our fallen nature in its integrity, that is to say, a Human Soul as well as a Human Body, a Human Will as an integral element of the Human Soul, mankind would not have been really represented on the cross or before the throne. We should not have been truly redeemed or sanctified by a real union with the Most Holy.
Yet in taking upon Him a Human Will, the Eternal Word did not assume a second principle of action which was destructive of the real unity of His Person. Within the precincts of a single human soul may we not observe two principles of volition, this higher and that lower, this animated almost entirely by reason, that as exclusively by passion? St. Paul has described the moral dualism within a single will which is characteristic of the approach to the regenerate life, in a wonderful passage of his Epistle to the Romans231. The real self is loyal to God; yet the Christian sees within him a second self, warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to that which his central being, in its loyalty to God, energetically rejects232. Yet in this great conflict between the old and the new self of the regenerate man, there is, we know, no real schism of an indivisible person, although for the moment antagonist elements within the soul are so engaged as to look like separate hostile agencies. The man’s lower nature is not a distinct person, yet it has what is almost a distinct will, and what is thus a shadow of the Created Will which Christ assumed along with His Human Nature. Of course in the Incarnate Christ, the Human Will, although a proper principle of action, was not, could not be, in other than the most absolute harmony with the Will of God233. Christ’s sinlessness is the historical expression of this harmony. The Human Will of Christ corresponded to the Eternal Will with unvarying accuracy; because in point of fact God, Incarnate in Christ, willed each volition of Christ’s Human Will234. Christ’s Human Will then had a distinct existence, yet Its free volitions were but the earthly echoes of the Will of the All-holy235. At the Temptation It was confronted with the personal principle of evil; but the Tempter without was seconded by no pulse of sympathy within. The Human Will of Christ was incapable of willing evil. In Gethsemane It was thrown forward into strong relief as Jesus bent to accept the chalice of suffering from which His Human sensitiveness could not but shrink. But from the first It was controlled by the Divine Will to which It is indissolubly united; just as, if we may use the comparison, in a holy man, passion and impulse are brought entirely under the empire of reason and conscience236. As God and Man, our Lord has two Wills; but the Divine Will originates and rules His Action; the Human Will is but the docile servant of that Will of God which has its seat in Christ’s Divine and Eternal Person237. Here indeed we touch upon the line at which revealed truth shades off into inaccessible mystery. We may not seek to penetrate the secrets of that marvellous 'qeandrikh energeia': but at least we know that each Nature of Christ is perfect, and that the Person which unites them is One and indissoluble238.
For the illustration of the Creed might at least remind us that we carry about with us the mystery of a composite nature, which should lead a thoughtful man to pause before pressing such objections as are urged by modern skepticism against the truth of the Incarnation. The Christ Who is revealed in the Gospels and Who is worshipped by the Church, is rejected as being ‘an unintelligible wonder!’ True, He is, as well in His condescension as in His greatness, utterly beyond the scope of our finite comprehensions. ‘Salvâ proprietate utriusque Naturae, et in unam coeunte personam, suscepta est a majestate humilitas, a virtute infirmitas, ab aeternitate mortalitas239.’ We do not profess to solve the mystery of that Union between the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent Being, and a Human Life, with its bounded powers, its limited knowledge, its restricted sphere. We only know that in Christ, the finite and the Infinite are thus united. But we can understand this mysterious union at least as well as we can understand the union of such an organism as the human body to a spiritual immaterial principle like the human soul. How does spirit thus league itself with matter? Where and what is the life-principle of the body? Where is the exact frontier-line between sense and consciousness, between brain and thought, between the act of will and the movement of muscle? Is human nature then so utterly commonplace, and have its secrets been so entirely unravelled by contemporary science, as to entitle us to demand of the Almighty God that when He reveals Himself to us He shall disrobe Himself of mystery? If we reject His Self-revelation in the Person of Jesus Christ on the ground of our inability to understand the difficulties, great and undeniable, although not greater than we might have anticipated, which do in fact surround it; are we also prepared to conclude that, because we cannot explain how a spiritual principle like the soul can be robed in and act through a material body, we will therefore close our eyes to the arguments which certify us that the soul is an immaterial essence, and take refuge from this oppressive sense of mystery in some doctrine of consistent materialism240?
Certainly St. John’s doctrine of the Divinity of the Word Incarnate cannot be reasonably objected to on the score of its mysteriousness by those who allow themselves to face their real ignorance of the mysteries of our human nature. Nor does that doctrine involve a necessary internal self-contradiction on such a ground as that ‘the Word by Whom all things were made, and Who sustains all things, cannot become His Own creature.’ Undoubtedly the Word Incarnate does not cease to be the Word; but He can and does assume a Nature which He has created, and in which He dwells, that in it He may manifest Himself. Between the processes of Creation and Incarnation there is no necessary contradiction in Divine revelation, such as is presumed to exist by certain Pantheistic thinkers. He who becomes Incarnate creates the form in which He manifests Himself simultaneously with the act of His Self-manifestation. Doubtless when we say that God creates, we imply that He gives an existence to something other than Himself. On the other hand, it is certain that He does in a real sense Himself exist in each created object, not as being one with it, but as upholding it in being. He is in every such object the constitutive, sustaining, binding force which perpetuates its being. Thus in varying degrees the creatures are temples and organs of the indwelling Presence of the Creator, although in His Essence He is infinitely removed from them. If this is true of the irrational and, in a lower measure, even of the inanimate creatures, much more is it true of the family of man, and of each member of that family. In vast inorganic masses God discovers Himself as the supreme, creative, sustaining Force. In the graduated orders of vital power which range throughout the animal and vegetable worlds, God unveils His activity as the Fountain of all life. In man, a creature exercising conscious reflective thought and free self-determining will, God proclaims Himself a free Intelligent Agent. Man indeed may, if he will, reveal much more than this of the beauty of God. Man may shed abroad, by the free movement of his will, rays of God’s moral glory, of love, of mercy, of purity, of justice. Whether a man will thus declare the glory of his Maker depends not upon the necessary constitution of his nature, but upon the free co-operation of his will with the designs of God. God however is obviously able to create a Being who will reveal Him perfectly and of necessity, as expressing His perfect image and likeness before His creatures. All nature points to such a Being as its climax and consummation. And such a Being is the Archetypal Manhood, assumed by the Eternal Word. It is the climax of God’s creation; It is the climax also of God’s Self-revelation. At this point God’s creative activity becomes entirely one with His Self-revealing activity. The Sacred Manhood is a creature, yet It is indissolubly united to the Eternal Word. It differs from every other created being, in that God personally tenants It. So far then are Incarnation and Creation from being antagonistic conceptions of the activity of God, that the absolutely Perfect Creature only exists as a perfect reflection of the Divine glory. In the Incarnation, God creates only to reveal, and He reveals perfectly by That which He creates. ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory241.’
VI. But if belief in our Lord’s Divinity, as taught by St. John, cannot be reasonably objected to on such grounds as have been noticed, can it be destroyed by a natural explanation of its upgrowth and formation? Here, undoubtedly, we touch upon a suspicion which underlies much of the current skepticism of the day; and with a few words on this momentous topic we may conclude the present lecture.
Those who reject the doctrine that Christ is God are confronted by the consideration that, after the lapse of eighteen centuries since His appearance on this earth, He is believed in and worshipped as God by a Christendom which embraces the most civilized portion of the human family. The question arises how to account for this fact. There is no difficulty at all in accounting for it if we suppose Him to be, and to have proclaimed Himself to be, a Divine Person. But if we hold that, as a matter of history, He believed Himself to be a mere man, how are we to explain the world-wide upgrowth of so extraordinary a belief about Him, as is this belief in His Divinity? Skepticism may fold its arms and may smile at what it deems the intrinsic absurdity of the dogma believed in; but it cannot ignore the existing prevalence of the belief which accepts the dogma. The belief is a phenomenon which at least challenges attention. How has that belief been spread? How is it that for eighteen hundred years, and at this hour, a conviction of the truth of the Godhead of Jesus dominates over the world of Christian thought? Here, if skepticism would save its intellectual credit, it must cease from the perpetual reiteration of doubts and negations, unrelieved by any frank assertions or admissions of positive truth. It must make a venture; it must commit itself to the responsibilities of a positive position, however inexact and shadowy; it must hazard an hypothesis and be prepared to defend it.
Accordingly the theory which proposes to explain the belief of Christendom in the Godhead of Christ maintains that Christ was ‘deified’ by the enthusiasm of His first disciples. We are told that ‘man instinctively creates a creed that shall meet the wants and aspirations of his understanding and of his heart242.’ The teaching of Christ created in His first followers a passionate devotion to His Person, and a desire for unreserved submission to His dictatorship. Not that Christ’s Divinity was decreed Him by any formal act of public honor; it was the spontaneous and irregular tribute of a passionate enthusiasm. Could any expression of reverence seem exaggerated to an admiration and a love which knew no bounds? Could any intellectual price be too high to pay for the advantage of placing the authority of the Greatest of teachers upon that one basis of authority which is beyond assault? Do not love and reverence, centering upon a friend, upon a memory, with eager intensity, turn a somewhat impatient ear to the cautious protestations of the critical reason, when any such voice can make itself heard? Do they not pass by imperceptible degrees into adoration? Does not adoration take for granted the Divinity of the object which it has learned imperceptibly and unreflectingly to adore? The enthusiasm created by Jesus Christ in those around Him, thus comes to be credited with the invention and propagation of the belief in His Divinity. ‘So mighty was the enthusiasm, that nothing short of that stupendous belief would satisfy it. The heart of Christendom gave law to its understanding. Christians wished Christ to be God, and they forthwith thought that they had sufficient reasons for believing in His Godhead. The feeling of a society of affectionate friends found its way in process of time into the world of speculation. It fell into the hands of the dialecticians, and into the hands of the metaphysicians; it was analyzed, it was defined, it was colored by contact with foreign speculations; it was enlarged by the accretion of new intellectual material. At length Fathers and Councils had finished their graceless and pedantic task, and that which had at first been the fresh sentiment of simple and loving hearts was duly hardened and rounded off into a solid block of repulsive dogma.’
Now St. John’s writings are a standing difficulty in the way of this enterprising hypothesis. We have seen that the fourth Gospel must be recognized as St. John’s, unless, to use the words of Ewald, ‘we are prepared knowingly to receive falsehood and to reject truth.’ But we have also seen that in the fourth Gospel, Jesus Christ is proclaimed to be God by the whole drift of the argument, and in terms as explicit as those of the Nicene Creed. We have not then to deal with any supposed process of deification, whereby the Person of Jesus was ‘transfigured’ in the apprehension of sub-apostolic or post-apostolic Christendom. It is St. John who proclaims that Jesus is the Word Incarnate, and that the Word is God. How can we account for St. John’s conduct in representing Him as God, if He was in truth only man? It will not avail to argue that St. John wrote his Gospel in his old age, and that the memories of his youthful companionship with Jesus had been colored, heightened, transformed, idealized, by the meditative enthusiasm of more than half a century. It will not avail to say that the reverence of the beloved disciple for his ascended Master was fatal to the accuracy of the portrait which he drew of Him. For what is this but to misapprehend the very fundamental nature of reverence? Truth is the basis, as it is the object of reverence, not less than of every other virtue. Reverence prostrates herself before a greatness the reality of which is obvious to her; but she would cease to be reverence if she could exaggerate the greatness which provokes her homage, not less surely than if she could depreciate or deny it. The sentiment which, in contemplating its object, abandons the guidance of fact for that of imagination, is disloyal to that honesty of purpose which is of the essence of reverence; and it is certain at last to subserve the purposes of the scorner and the spoiler. St. John insists that he teaches the Church only that which he has seen and heard. Even a slight swerving from truth must be painful to genuine reverence; but what shall we say of an exaggeration so gigantic, if an exaggeration it be, as that which transforms a human friend into the Almighty and Everlasting God? If Jesus Christ is not God, how is it that the most intimate of His earthly friends came to believe and to teach that He really is God?
Place yourselves, my brethren, fairly face to face with this difficulty; imagine yourselves, for the moment, in the position of St. John. Think of any whom you have loved and revered, beyond measure, as it has seemed, in past years. He has gone; but you cling to him more earnestly in thought and affection than while he was here. You treasure his words, you revisit his haunts, you delight in the company of his friends, you represent to yourself his wonted turns of thought and phrase, you con over his handwriting, you fondle his likeness. These things are for you precious and sacred. Even now, there are times when the tones of that welcome voice seem to fall with living power upon your strained ear. Even now, the outline of that countenance, upon which the grave has closed, flits, as if capriciously, before your eye of sense. The air around you yields it perchance to your intent gaze, radiant with a higher beauty than it wore of old. Others, you feel, may be forgotten as memory grows weak, and the passing years bring with them the quick succession of new fields and objects of interest, pressing importunately upon the heart and thoughts. But one such memory as I have glanced at, fades not at the bidding of time. It cannot fade; it has become a part of the mind which clings to it. Some who are here may have known those whom they thus remember; a few of us assuredly have known such. But can we conceive it possible that, after any lapse of time, we should ever express our reverence and love for the unearthly goodness, the moral strength, the tenderness of heart, the fearlessness, the justice, the unselfishness of our friend, by saying that he was not an ordinary human being, but a superhuman person? Can we imagine ourselves incorporating our recollections about him with some current theosophic doctrine elevating him to the rank of a Divine hypostasis? While he lies in his silent grave, can we picture ourselves describing him as the very absolute Light and Life, as the Incarnate Thought of the Most High, as standing in a relationship altogether unique to the Eternal and Self-existent Being, nay, as being literally God? To say that ‘St. John lived in a different intellectual atmosphere from our own,’ does not meet the difficulty. If Jesus was merely human, St. John’s statements about Him are among the most preposterous fictions which have imposed upon the world. They were advanced with a full knowledge of all that they involved. St. John was at least as profoundly convinced as we are of the truth of the unity of the Supreme Being. St. John was at least as alive as we can be to the infinite interval which parts the highest of creatures from the Great Creator. If we are not naturally lured on by some irresistible fascination, by the poetry or by the credulity of our advancing years, to believe in the Godhead of the best man whom we have ever known, neither was St. John. If Jesus had been merely human, St. John would have felt what we feel about a loved and revered friend whom we have lost. In proportion to our belief in our friend’s goodness, in proportion to our loving reverence for his character, is the strength of our conviction that we could not now do him a more cruel injury than by entwining a blasphemous fable, such as the ascription of Divinity would be, around the simple story of his merely human life. This ‘deification of Jesus by the enthusiasm’ of St. John would have been consistent neither with St. John’s reverence for God, nor with his real loyalty to a merely human friend and teacher. St. John worshipped the ‘jealous’ God of Israel; and he has recorded the warning which he himself received against worshipping the angel of the Apocalypse243. If Christ had not really been Divine, the real beauty of His Human Character would have been disfigured by any association with such legendary exaggeration, and Christianity would assuredly have perished within the limits of the first century.
The theory that Jesus was deified by enthusiasm assumes the existence of a general disposition in mankind which is unwarranted by experience. Generally speaking men are not eager to believe in the exalted virtue, much less in the superhuman origin or dignity, of their fellow-men. And to do them justice, the writers who maintain that Jesus was invested with Divine honors by popular fervor, illustrate the weakness of their own principle very conspicuously. While they assert that nothing was more easy and obvious for the disciple of the apostolic age than to believe in the Divinity of his Master, they themselves reject that truth with the greatest possible obstinacy and determination; well-attested though it be, now as then, by historical miracles and by overwhelming moral considerations; but also proclaimed now, as it was not then, by the faith of eighteen centuries, and by the suffrages of all that is purest and truest in our existing civilization.
But, it is suggested that the apostolic narrative itself bears out the doctrine that Jesus was deified through enthusiasm by its account of the functions which are ascribed, especially in St. John’s Gospel, to the Comforter. Was not the Comforter sent to testify of Jesus? Is it not said, ‘He shall glorify Me’? Does not this language look like the later endeavor of a religious frenzy, to account for exaggerations of which it is conscious, by a bold claim to supernatural illumination?
Now this suggestion implies that the last Discourse of our Lord is in reality a forgery, which can no more claim to represent His real thought than the political speeches in Thucydides can be seriously supposed to express the minds of the speakers to whom they are severally attributed. Or, at the least, it implies that a purely human feeling is here clothed by language ascribed to our Lord Himself with the attributes of a Divine Person. Of course, if St. John was capable of deliberately attributing to His Master that which He did not say, he was equally capable of attributing to Him actions which He did not do; and we are driven to imagine that the closest friend of Jesus was believed by apostolical Christendom to be writing a history, when in truth he was only composing a biographical novel. But, as Rousseau has observed, in words which have been already quoted, the original inventor of the Gospel history would have been as miraculous a being as its historical Subject. And the moral fascination which the last discourse possesses for every pure and true soul at this hour, combines with the testimony of the Church to assure us that it could have been spoken by no merely human lips, and that it is beyond the inventive scope of even the highest human genius. Those three chapters which M. Renan pronounces to be full of ‘the dryness of metaphysics and the darkness of abstract dogmas’ have been, as a matter of fact, watered by the tears of all the purest love and deepest sorrow of Christian humanity for eighteen centuries. Never is the New Testament more able to dispense with external evidence than in those matchless words; nowhere more than here is it sensibly divine.
Undoubtedly it is a fact that in these chapters our Lord does promise to His apostles the supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit. It is true that the Spirit was to testify of Christ244 and to glorify Christ245, and to guide the disciples into all truth246. But how? ‘He shall take of Mine and shall show it unto you247;’ ‘He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you248.’ The Holy Spirit was to bring the words and works and character of Jesus before the illuminated intelligence of the Apostles. The school of the Spirit was to be the school of reflection. But it was not to be the school of legendary invention. Acts, which, at the time of their being witnessed, might have appeared trivial or common-place, would be seen, under the guidance of the Spirit, to have had a deeper interest. Words, to which a transient or local value had been assigned at first, would now be felt to invite a world-wide and eternal meaning. ‘These things understood not His disciples at the first,’ is true of much else besides the entry into Jerusalem249. Moral, spiritual, physical powers which, though unexplained, could never have passed for the product of purely human activity, would in time be referred by the Invisible Teacher to their true source; they would be regarded with awe as the very rays of Deity.
Thus the work of the Spirit would but complete, systematize, digest the results of previous natural observation. Certainly it was always impossible that any man could ‘say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost250.’ The inward teaching of the Holy Ghost alone could make the Godhead of Jesus a certainty of faith as well as a conclusion of the intellect. But the intellectual conditions of belief were at first inseparable from natural contact with the living Human Form of Jesus during the years of His earthly life. Our Lord implies this in saying, ‘Ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning.’ The Apostles lived with One Who combined an exercise of the highest miraculous powers with a faultless human character, and Who asserted Himself, by implication and expressly, to be personally God. The Spirit strengthened and formalized that earlier and more vague belief which was created by His language; but the language which had fallen on the natural ears of the Apostles was His; and it was the germinal principle of their riper faith in His Divinity.
The unbelief of our day is naturally anxious to evade the startling fact that the most intimate of the companions of Jesus is also the most strenuous assertor of His Godhead. There is a proverb to the effect that no man’s life should be written by his private servant. That proverb expresses the general conviction of mankind that, as a rule, like some mountain scenery or ruined castles, moral greatness in men is more picturesque when it is viewed from a distance. The proverb bids you not to scrutinize even a good man too narrowly, lest perchance you should discover flaws in his character which will somewhat rudely shake your conviction of his goodness. It is hinted that some unobtrusive weaknesses which escape public observation will be obvious to a man’s everyday companion, and will be fatal to the higher estimate which, but for such close scrutiny, might have been formed respecting him. But in the case of Jesus Christ the moral of this cynical proverb is altogether at fault. Jesus Christ chooses one disciple to be the privileged sharer of a nearer intimacy than any other. The son of Zebedee lies upon His bosom at supper; he is ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ Along with St. Peter and St. James, this disciple is taken to the holy mount, that he may witness the glory of his Transfigured Lord. He enters the empty tomb on the morning of the Resurrection. He is in the upper chamber when the risen Jesus blessed the ten and the eleven. He is on the mount of the Ascension when the Conqueror moves up visibly into heaven. But he also is summoned to the garden where Jesus kneels in agony beneath the olive trees; and alone of the twelve he faces the fierce multitude on the road to Calvary, and stands with Mary beneath the cross, and sees Jesus die. He sees more of the Divine Master than any other, more of His glory, more too of His humiliation. His witness is proportioned to his nearer and closer observation. Whether he is writing Epistles of encouragement and warning, or narrating heavenly visions touching the future of the Church, or recording the experiences of those years when he enjoyed that intimate, unmatched companionship,—St. John, beyond any other of the sacred writers, is the persistent herald and teacher of our Lord’s Divinity.
How and by what successive steps it was that the full truth embodied in his Gospel respecting the Person of his Lord made its way into and mastered the soul of the beloved disciple, who indeed shall presume to say? Who of us can determine the exact and varied observations whereby we learn to measure and to revere the component elements even of a great human character? The absorbing interest of such a process is generally fatal to an accurate analysis of its stages. We penetrate deeper and deeper, we mount higher and higher, as we follow the complex system of motives, capacities, dispositions, which, one after another, open upon us. We cannot, on looking back, say when this or that feature became distinctly clear to us. We know not now by what additions and developments the general impression which we have received took its shape and outline. St. John would doubtless have learnt portions of the mighty truth from definite statements and at specified times. The real sense of prophecy251, the explicit confessions of disciples252, the assertions by which our Lord replied to the malice or to the ignorance of His opponents253, were doubtless distinct elements of the Apostle’s training in the school of truth. St. John must have learned something of Christ’s Divine power when, at His word, the putrid corpse of Lazarus, bound with its grave-clothes, moved forward into air and life. St. John must have learned yet more of his Master’s condescension when, girded with a towel, Jesus bent Himself to the earth, that He might wash the feet of the traitor Judas. Each miracle, each discourse supplied a distinct ray of light; but the total impression must have been formed, strengthened, deepened by the incidents of daily intercourse, by the effects of hourly, momentary observation. For every human soul, encased in its earthly prison-house, seeks and finds publicity through countless outlets. The immaterial spirit traces its history with an almost invisible delicacy upon the coarse hard matter which is its servant and its organ. The unconscious, involuntary movements of manner and countenance, the unstudied phrases of daily or of casual conversation, the emphasis of silence not less than the emphasis of speech, help in various ways to complete that self-revelation which every individual character makes to all around, and which is studied by all in each. Not otherwise did the Incarnate Word reveal Himself to the purest and keenest love which He found and chose from among the sons of men. One flaw or fault of temper, one symptom of moral impotence or of moral perversion, one hasty word, one ill-considered act, would have shattered the ideal for ever. But, in fact, to St. John the Life of Jesus was as the light of heaven; it was as one constant unfailing outflow of beauty, ever varying its illuminating powers as it falls upon the leaves of the forest oak or upon the countless ripples of the ocean. In the eyes of St. John the Eternal Person of Jesus shone forth through His Humanity with translucent splendor, and wove and folded around Itself, as the days and weeks passed on, a moral history of faultless grandeur. It was not the disciple who idealized the Master; it was the Master Who revealed Himself in His majestic glory to the illumined eye and to the entranced touch of the disciple. No treachery of memory, no ardor of temperament, no sustained reflectiveness of soul, could have compassed the transformation of a human friend into the Almighty and Everlasting Being. Nor was there room for serious error of judgment after a companionship so intimate, so heart-searching, so true, as had been that of Jesus with St. John. And thus to the beloved disciple the Divinity of his Lord was not a scholastic formula, nor a pious conjecture, nor a controversial thesis, nor the adaptation of a popular superstition to meet the demands of a strong enthusiasm, nor a mystic reverie. It was nothing less than a fact of personal experience. ‘That Which was from the beginning, Which we have heard, Which we have seen with our eyes, Which we have looked upon and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life; (for the Life was manifested, and we have seen It, and bear witness, and show unto you that Eternal Life, Which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That Which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.’
6. See more especially Schleiermacher’s Glaubenslehre, and compare Professor Auberlen’s account of the process through which, at Tubingen, he ‘was led back, among other things, mainly by Schleiermacher’s mysticism, so full of life and spirit, to the sanctuary of religion, and learnt to sit again at the feet of the Redeemer.’ On Divine Revelation, pref.
8. St. Irenaeus, adv. Haer. iii. 11. 8: 'ec wn faneron, oti o twn apantwn texnithj Logoj, o kaqhmenoj epi twn Xeroubim kai sunexwn ta panta, fanerwqeij toij anqrwpoij, edwken hmin tetramorfon to euaggelion, eni de pneumati sunexomenon. . . . Kai gar ta Xeroubim tetraproswpa; kai ta proswpa autwn, eikonej thj pragmateiaj tou Uiou tou Qeou. . . Kai ta euaggelia oun toutoij sumfwna, en oij egkaqezetai Xristoj. To men gar kata Iwannhn, thn apo tou Patroj hgemonikhn autou . . . . . kai endocon genean dihgeitai, legwn; en arxh hn o Logoj.'
9. St. Irenaeus, fragment, vol. i. p. 822, ed. Stieren: 'eidon gar se, paij wn eti en th katw Asia para tw Polukarpw, lamprwj prattonta en th basilikh aulh, kai peirwmenon eudokimein gar autw; mallon gar ta tote diamnhmoneuw twn enagxoj ginomenwn;-- ai gar ek paidwn maqhseij, sunaucousai th yuxh, enountai auth -- wste me dunasqai eipein kai ton topon, en w kaqezomenoj dielegeto o makarioj Polukarpoj, kai taj prosodouj autou kai taj eisodouj kai ton xarakthra tou biou kai thn tou swmatoj idean kai taj dialeceij aj epoieito proj to plhqoj, kai thn meta Iwannou sunanastrofhn wj aphggelle, kai thn twn loipwn twn ewrakotwn ton Kurion, kai wj apemnhmoneue touj logouj autwn; kai peri tou Kuriou tina hn a par ekeinwn akhkoei, kai peri twn dunamewn autou, kai peri thj didaskaliaj, wj para twn autoptwn thj zwhj tou Logou pareilhfwj o Polukarpoj, aphggelle panta sumfwna taij grafaij.' Cf. Eus. Hist. Eccl. v. 20. St. Irenaeus succeeded St. Pothinus in the see of Lyons. Pothinus was martyred A.D. 177, and Irenaeus died A.D. 202.
11. Tertullian was born at Carthage about A.D. 160. Cave places his conversion to Christianity at A.D. 185, and his lapse into the Montanist heresy at A.D. 199. Dr. Pusey (Libr. of Fathers) makes his conversion later, A.D. 195, and his secession from the Church A.D. 201.
12. Adv. Marc. iv. c. 2: ‘Constituimus imprimis evangelicum instrumentum apostolos auctores habere, quibus hoc munus evangelii promulgandi ab Ipso Domino sit impositum. Si et apostolicos, non tamen solos, sed cum apostolis et post apostolos, quoniam praedicatio discipulorum suspecta fieri posset de gloriae studio, si non adsistat illi auctoritas magistrorum, immo Christi, quae magistros apostolos fecit. Denique nobis fidem ex apostolis Joannes et Matthaeus insinuant, ex apostolicis Lucas et Marcus instaurant.’
13. Adv. Marc. iv. c. 5: ‘Eadem auctoritas ecclesiarum apostolicarum ceteris quoque patrocinabitur Evangeliis, quae proinde per illas et secundum illas habemus, Joannis dico et Matthaei, licet et Marcus quod edidit Petri affirmetur, cujus interpres Marcus. Nam et Lucae digestum Paulo adscribere solent. Capit magistrorum videri quae discipuli promulgarint.’
15. Westcott, Canon of the New Testament, 5th ed. p. 119. See this writer’s remarks on St. Clement’s antecedents and position in the Church, ibid. pp. 343, 344. St. Clement lived from about 165 to 220. He flourished as a Christian Father under Severus and Caracalla, 193-220.
16. Eus. Hist. Eccl. vi. 14, condensing Clement’s account, says, 'ton mentoi Iwannhn esxaton sunidonta oti ta swmatika en toij euaggelioij dedhlwtai, protrapenta upo twn gnwrimwn, Pneumati qeoforhqenta, pneumatikon poihsai euaggelion.'
17. Westcott on the Canon, p. 214. The Muratorian fragment claims to have been written by a contemporary of Pius I., who probably ruled the Roman Church from about A. D. 142 to 157. ‘Pastorem vero nuperrime temporibus nostris in urbe Roma Hermas conscripsit, sedente cathedra urbis Romae ecciesiae Pio episcopo fratre ejus.’ Cf. Hilgenfeld, Der Kanon und die Kritik des N. T., p. 39, sqq.
19. On the difficulty of fixing the exact date of the Peschito version see Westcott, Canon of New Testament, pp. 236-243. Referring (1) to the Syriac tradition of its Apostolic origin at Edessa, repeated by Gregory Bar Hebraeus; (2) to the necessary existence of an early Syriac version, implied in the controversial writings of Bardesanes; (3) to the quotations of Hegesippus from the Syriac, related by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. iv. 22); (4) to the antiquity of the language of the Peschito as compared with that of St. Ephrem, and the high authority in which this version was held by that Father; (5) to the liturgical and general use of it by heretical as well as orthodox Syrians; and (6) to the early translations made from it;—Dr. Westcott concludes that in the absence of more copious critical resources which might serve to determine the date of this version on philological grounds, ‘there is no sufficient reason to desert the opinion which has obtained the sanction of the most competent scholars, that its formation is to be fixed within the first half of the second century.’ (p. 243.) That it was complete then in A. D. 150-160, we may assume without risk of serious error.
20. This version must have been made before A. D. 170. ‘How much more ancient it really is cannot yet be discovered. Not only is the character of the version itself a proof of its extreme age, but the mutual relation of different parts of it show that it was made originally by different hands; and if so, it is natural to conjecture that it was coeval with the introduction of Christianity into Africa, and the result of the spontaneous effort of African Christians.’ (Westcott on the Canon of the New Testament, p. 258.) Dr. Westcott shows from Tertullian (Adv. Prax. c. 5) that at the end of the century the Latin translation of St. John’s Gospel had been so generally circulated in Africa, as to have moulded the popular theological dialect. (Ibid. p. 251.)
21. At latest Theophilus was bishop from A. D. 168 to 180. St. Jerome says: ‘Theophilus. . . quatuor evangelistarum in unum opus dicta compingens, ingenii sui nobis monumenta dimisit.’ Epist. 121 (al. 151) ad Algas. c. 6.
22. Eus. Hist. Eccl. iv. 29; Theodoret, Haer. Fab. i. 20; Westcott, Canon, pp. 322, 323, sqq. The recent discovery of the Commentary of St. Ephrem Syrus on Tatian’s Diatessaron adds to the evidential importance of that work .
28. Cf. Tischendorf, Wann wurden unsere Evangelien verfasst? p. 16: ‘Die Uebertragung des Logos auf Christus, von der uns keine Spur weder in der Synoptikern noch in den altesten Parallelschriften derselben vorliegt, an mehreren Stellen Justins von Johannes abzuleiten ist.’
30. Apolog. i. 61: 'kai gar o Xristoj eipen; An mh anagennhqhte, ou mh eiselqhte eij thn basileian twn ouranwn; Oti de kai adunaton eij taj mhtraj twn tekouswn touj apac genomenouj embhnai faneron pasin esti.' Cf. Westcott, Canon of the New Testament, p. 151.
31. Cf. however Westcott (Canon of the New Testament, p. 145) on the improbability of St. John’s being quoted in apologetic writings addressed to Jews and heathen. St. Justin nevertheless does ‘exhibit types of language and doctrine which, if not immediately drawn from St. John (why not?), yet mark the presence of his influence and the recognition of his authority.’ Westcott, Ibid. Besides the passages already alluded to, St. Justin appears to refer to St. John xii. 49 in Dialog. cum Tryph. c. 56; to St. John i. 13 in Dialog. c. 63; to St. John vii. 12 in Dialog. c. 69; to St. John i. 12 in Dialog. c. 123. Cf. Lucke, Comm. Ev. Joh. p. 34, sqq. Comp. Tregelles, Canon Muratorianus, p. 73.
34. Cf. St. Barn. Ep. v. vi. xii. (cf. St. John iii. 14); Herm. Past. Simil. ix. 12 (cf. Ibid. x. 7, 9, xiv. 6); St. Ignat. ad Philad. 7 (Cf. Ibid. iii. 8); ad Tral. 8 (cf. Ibid. vi. 51); ad Magnes. 7 (cf. Ibid. xii. 49, x. 30, xiv. 11); ad Rom. 7 (cf. Ibid. vi. 32).
35. Meyer, Evan. Johann. Einl. p. 14: ‘Dass das Fragment des Papias das Evangel. Joh. nicht erwahnt, kann nichts verschlagen, da es uberhaupt keine schriftlichen Quellen, aus welchen er seine Nachrichten geschöpft habe, auffuhrt, vielmehr das Verfahren des Papias dahin bestimmt, dass er bei den Apostelschulern die Aussagen der Apostel erkundet habe, und dessen ausdrücklichen Grundsatz ausspricht: 'ou gar ta ek twn bibliwn tosouton me wfelein upelambanon, oson ta para zwshj fwnhj kai menoushj.' Papias wirft hier die damals vorhandenen evangelischen Schriften ('twn bibliwn') deren eine Menge war (Luk. i. 1) alle ohne Auswahl zusammen, und wie er das Evangel. Matthaei und das des Marcus mit darunter begriffen hat, welche beide er spater besonders erwahnt, so kann er auch das Evangel. Joh. mit bei 'twn bibliwn' gemeint haben, da Papias einen Begriff von kanonischen Evangelien als solchen offenbar noch nichthat (vergl. Credn. Beitr. i. p. 23), und diese auszuzeichnen nicht veranlasst ist. Wenn aber weiterhin Eusebius noch zwei Aussagen des Papias über die Evangelien des Mark. und Matthäus anfuhrt, so wird damit unser Evangelium nicht ausgeschlossen, welches Papias in anderen Theilen seines Buchs erwahnt haben kann, sondern jene beiden Aussagen werden nur deshalb bemerklich gemacht, weil sie uber die Entstehung jener Evangelien etwas Absonderliches, besonders Merkwurdiges enthalten, wie auch das als besonders bemerkenswerth von Eusebius angefuhrt wird, dass Papias aus zwei epistolischen Schriften (1 Joh. u. 1 Petr.) Zeugnisse gebrauche, und eine Erzahlung habe, welche sich im Hebraer-Evangel. finde.’ Cf. also Westcott, Canon, pp. 76, 77 note 1. Papias is stated by Eusebius (iii. 39) to have quoted St. John’s First Epistle. This he could hardly have done, without acknowledging St. John’s Gospel.
36. The newly discovered 'twn dwdeka apostolwn' (ed. Bryennios. Constantinople, 1883) appears to be a product of the Judaising party when almost separating from the Church at the close of the first century. In this document no less than twenty references to St. Matthew’s Gospel occur, and six to St. Luke’s, but there is not a single quotation from the writings of St. Paul; c. 4 and Eph. vi. 5, 9, and c. 3 and 1 Thess. v. 22 being mere coincidences. That it should contain no reference to St. John is only what its general character would lead us to expect. [1884.]
37. St. Irenaeus (Haer. iii. 11. 7) lays down the general position: ‘Tanta est circa Evangelia haec firmitas, ut et ipsi haeretici testimonium reddant eis, et ex ipsis egrediens unusquisque eorum conetur suam confirmare doctrinam.’ After illustrating this from the cases of the Ebionites, Marcion, and the Cerinthians, he proceeds, ‘Hi autem qui a Valentino sunt, eo [sc. evangelio] quod est secundum Johannem plenissimè utentes, ad ostensionem conjugationum suarum; ex ipso detegentur nihil recte dicentes.’ ‘Die Valentinianische Gnosis (says Meyer) mit ihren Aeonen, Syzygien u. s. w. verhalt sich zum Prolog des Joh. wie das künstlich Gemachte und Ausgesponnene zum Einfachen und Schopferischen.’ (Einl. in Joh. p. 12, note.) For an illustration cf. St. Iren. adv. Haer. i. 8. 5.
40. Fragments of Heracleon’s Commentary on St. John, collected from Origen, are published at the end of the first vol. of Stieren’s edition of St. Irenaeus, pp. 938-971. St. John iv. is chiefly illustrated by these remains of the great Valentinian commentator. Two points strike one on perusal of them: (1) that before Heracleon’s time St. John’s Gospel must have acquired, even among heretics, the highest authority; (2) that Heracleon has continually to resort to interpretations so forced (as on St. John i. 3, i. 18, ii. 17; cited by Westcott, Canon, p. 306, note) as ‘to prove sufficiently that St. John’s Gospel was no Gnostic work.’
42. Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. iv. 7. 7: 'eij men to euaggelion tessara proj toij eikosi suntacai biblia.' Was this a Commentary on the Evangelists, or a Life of Christ in the sense of Basilicles, or a Dissertation on the Import of Christ’s Life? The phrase is indecisive.
46. See however Meyer, Einl. in Joh. p. 13, for the opinion that Montanism originally grew out of belief in the Parousia of our Lord. Baum, Christenthum, p. 213. The Paraclete of Montanus was doubtless very different from the Paraclete of St. John’s Gospel. Still St. John’s Gospel must have furnished the name; and it is probable that the idea of the Montanistic Paraclete is originally due to the same source, although by a rapid development, contortion, or perversion, the Divine Gift announced by our Lord had been exchanged for Its heretical caricature. The rejection of the promise of the Paraclete alluded to by St. Irenaeus (adv. Haer. iii. 11. 9) proceeded not from Montanists, but from opponents to Montanism, who erroneously identified the teaching of St. John’s Gospel with that heresy.
50. E. g. the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne, Eus. v. 1, which quotes St. John xvi. 2 as an utterance of our Lord Himself. Athenagoras, Leg. pro Christianis, 10: cf. St. John i. 1-11, xvii. 21-23. The Clementine Homilies, xix. 22; cf. St. John ix. 2, 3, iii. 52, x. 9, 27. Recognitions, vi. 9; cf. St. John iii. 3-5, ii. 48, v. 23. Ibid. v. 12; cf. St. John viii. 34.
51. Tischendorf, Wann wurden unsere Evangelien verfasst? p. 35, sqq. That the Acta Pilati in particular were composed at the beginning of the second century, appears certain from the public appeal to them which St. Justin makes in his Apology to the Roman Emperor. The Acta Pilati ‘presuppose not only the synoptists, but particularly and necessarily the Gospel of St. John. It is not that we meet with a passage here and there quoted from that Gospel. If that were the case we might suspect later interpolation. The whole history of the condemnation of Jesus is based essentially upon St. John’s narrative; while in the accounts of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, it is rather certain passages of the synoptists which are particularly suggested.’
52. Pressensé, Jésus-Christ, p. 232. ‘Rien n’est plus vain que de vouloir faire sortir du mouvement des idées au second siècle l’Evangile, qui a précisément donné le branle a ce mouvement, et le domine après l’avoir enfanté.’
56. ‘The later prophets of the Old Testament enlarge upon and complete the prophecies of the earlier. But they do not mention their names, or declare their own purpose to do what they do.’ Townson, pp. 134-147; quoted by Bp. Wordsworth, ubi supr.
58. M. Renan admits the supplementary character of St. John’s Gospel, but attributes to the Evangelist a motive of personal pique in writing it. He was annoyed at the place assigned to himself in earlier narratives! ‘On est tenté de croire, que Jean, dans sa vieillesse, ayant lu les récits évangéliques qui circulaient, d’une part, y remarqua diverses inexactitudes, de l’autre, fut froissé de voir qu’on ne lui accordait pas dans l’histoire du Christ une assez grande place; qu’alors il commença a dicter une foule de choses qu’il savait mieux que les autres, avec l’intention de montrer que, dans beaucoup de cas ou on ne parlait que de Pierre, il avait figuré avec et avant lui.’ Vie de Jésus, pp. xxvii. xxviii.
60. St. Irenaeus, i. 26: ‘Et Cerinthus autem quidam in Asia non a primo Deo factum esse mundum docuit, sed a virtute quadam valde separata et distante ab ea principalitate, quae est super universa, et ignorante eum qui est super omnia, Deum. Jesum autem subjecit, non ex virgine natum (impossibile enim hoc ei visum est); fuisse autem Eum Joseph et Mariae filium similiter ut reliqui omnes homines, et plus potuisse justitia et prudentia et sapientia ab hominibus. Et post baptismum descendisse in eum ab ea principalitate quae est super omnia, Christum figura columbae; et tunc annuntiasse incognitum Patrem et virtutes perfecisse; in fine autem revolâsse iterum Christum de Jesu, et Jesum passum esse et resurrexisse; Christum autem impassibilem perseverasse, existentem spiritalem.’ When St. Epiphanius represents Cerinthus as affirming that Jesus would only rise at the general resurrection, he seems to be describing the logical results of the heresy, not the actual doctrine which it embraced. (Haer. xxviii. 6.)
64. The internal difficulties urged against St. John’s Gospel appear to be ovrrborne by the weight of the external testimony, taken in conjunction with the characteristics and necessities of the later Apostolical age. These difficulties may however be very briefly summarized as follows:—
1. As to time:
(a) ‘The fourth Gospel implies a long Ministry, with festivals for its landmarks.’ But the three (Westcott, Study of Gospels, 267) at least allow of a ministry as long as the fourth can require; while reference to the festivals was natural in a narrative, the main scene of which is laid at Jerusalem.
(b) ‘The fourth Gospel appears to place the crucifixion on Nisan 14, the three on Nisan 15.’ This real difficulty has been explained by various hypotheses, as
e.g. (1) Of an anticipated passover, kept by our Lord, on Nisan 13. Westcott, Int. p. 319; Ellicott, Huls. Lect. p. 322, and others. This is perhaps the most satisfactory. The objection drawn from the observance of Nisan 14, by those churches in the second century which inherited St. John’s traditions, assumes that such observance was commemorative of the Last Supper, and not, as is probable, of our Lord’s Death. Cf. Meyer, Ev. Joh. Einl. p. 18; ( Mansel, note on St. Matt. xxvi. in Speaker’s Commentary.
(2) Of a passover postponed by the chief priests. St. Chrys.; Estius; Wordsworth.
(3) Of a difference of computation, as to the true day of the Passover, owing to the variation between the Solar and Lunar reckonings. Petavius, qu. by Neale, Int. East. Ch. ii. 1054.
(4) Of a possible explanation of St. John’s language (xviii. 28, &c.), which would make it consistent with the date of Nisan 15, as that of the crucIfixion. Dict. of Bible, vol. ii. 720; Edersheim, Life and Times ofJesus, ii. 481, 507; St. Tho. Sum. p. iii. q. 46. a. 9.
If none of these explanations be quite unobjectionable, they may fairly warn us against concluding with our present knowledge that the difficulty is by any means insuperable.
2. As to the scene of Christ’s teaching:—‘ St. John places it chiefly in Judaea; the three in Galilee.’ But no Gospel professes to be a complete history of our Lord’s actions, and records of a Galilean and of a Judaean ministry respectively leave room for each other. Westcott on the Gospels, p. 265.
3. As to the style of Christ’s teaching:—‘Si Jesus parlait comme le veut Matthieu, ii n’a pu parler comme le veut Jean.’ But, the difference of subjects, hearers, and circumstances in the two cases, taken in conjunction with the differing mental peculiarities of the Apostles who report our Lord’s words, will account for the difference of style. The phrases assumed to be peculiar to, and really of frequent occurrence in St. John are by no means unknown to the Synoptists. E.g. The antithesis between Light and darkness.
4. As to the matter of Christ’s teaching:—Baur begs the whole question by saying that ‘the discourses in St. John could not be historical, since they are essentially nothing more than an explanation of the Logos-idea put forth by that writer.’ This might be true if the doctrine of the Logos had been the product of Gnostic speculations. But if Jesus was really the Divine Son, manifesting Himself as such to men, such language as that reported by St. John is no more than we should expect Him to use at certain times. St. John never represents our Lord as announcing His Divinity in the terms in which it is announced in the Prologue to the Gospel; he would have done so, had he really been creating a fictitious Jesus designed to illustrate a particular theosophic speculation. This is discussed hereafter, p. 272. See Pressense, Jesus-Christ, p. 244; Luthardt, das Johanneische Evangelium, pp. 26-35.
74. Meyer in loc.: ‘Johannes parallelisirt zwar den Anfang seines Evangel. mit dem Anfange der Genesis; aber er steigert den historischen Begriff ‘re’shiyth’, welcher (Gen. i. 1) den Anfangsmoment der Zeit selbst bedeutet, zum absoluten Begriffe der Vorzeitlichkeit.’ This might suffice to refute the assertion of a modern writer that St. John does not teach the Eternity of the Divine Word. ‘Une des theses fondamentales de la spéculation ecclésiastique, c’est idée de l’éternité du Verbe. Depuis que le concile de Nicée en a fait une des pierres angulaires de Ia théologie Catholique, sa décision est restée l’héritage commun de tous les systemes orthodoxes. Eh bien! les écrits de Jean n’en parlent pas.’ Reuss, Théol. Chret. ii. 438. The author is mistaken in attributing to 'en arxh' a merely relative force, and thence arguing that if the Word is eternal, the world is eternal also (Gen. i. 1). Besides, 'Qeoj hn o Logoj.' How is the Word other than eternal, if He is thus identified with the ever-existing Being? Cf. Döllinger, Christenthum und Kirche in der Zeit der Grundlegung, p. 169.
78. The omission of the article before 'Qeoj' is explained by Meyer in loc.: ‘Die Nichtsetzung des Artikels war nothwendig, well 'o Qeoj' nach dem vorherigen 'proj ton Qeon' dem Logos die Identität der Person zugesprochen hatte, was aber eben, nachdem 'proj ton Qeon' die Verschiedenheit der Person gesetzt hat, ungereimt ware, dagegen das Nichtartikulirte 'qeoj' auf diese personliche Verschiedenheit der Einheit des Wesens und der Natur folgen lässt.’ This is a sufficient reply to Winer, Gr. N. T., iii. § 19. I.
79. Here is the essential difference between the Logos of St. John and the Logos of Philo. Meyer, who apparently holds Philo to have definitely considered his Logos as a real hypostasis, states it as follows, in his note on the words 'kai Qeoj hn o Logoj': ‘Wie also Johannes, mit dem nichtartikulirten 'qeoj' kein niedrigeres Wesen, als Gott Selbst hat, bezeichnen will; so unterscheidet sich die Johanneische Logos-Idee bestimmt von derjenigen bei Philo, weicher 'qeoj' ohne Artikel im Sinne wesentlicher Unterordnung, ja, wie Er Selbst sagt, 'en kataxrhsei' (i. p. 655, ed. Mangey) vom Logos pradicirt;—wie denn auch der Name 'o deuteroj qeoj,' welchen er ihm giebt, nach ii. p. 625. Euseb. praep. Ev. vii. 13, ausdrucklich den Begriff eines Zwischenwesens zwischen Gott und dem Menschen bezeichnen soll, nach dessen Bilde Gott den Menschen geschaffen hat. Dieser Subordinatianismus, nach welchem der Logos zwar 'meqorioj tij qeou fusij,' aber 'tou men elattwn, anqrwpou de kreittwn’ ist (i. p. 683) ist nicht der neu-testamentliche, welcher vielmehr die ewige Wesenseinheit des Vaters und des Sohnes zur Voraussetzung hat (Phil. ii. 6; Kol. i. 15 f.), und die Unterordnung des letztern in dessen Abhangigkeit vom Vater setzt.’
84. St. John iii. 35: 'o Pathr agapa ton Uion kai panta dedwken en th xeiri autou.' Ibid. v. 20: 'o gar Pathr filei ton Uion, kai panta deiknusin autw a autoj poiei.' Ibid. x. 17, xv. 9. Ibid. xvii. 24: 'hgaphsaj me pro katabolhj kosmou.'
85. St. John iii. 16: 'outw gar hgaphsen o Qeoj ton kosmon, wste ton Uion autou ton monogenh edwken.' 1 St. John iv. 10: 'autoj hgaphsen hmaj, kai apesteile ton Uion autou ilasmon peri twn amartiwn hmwn.' Ibid. ver. 19: 'hmeij agapwmen auton, oti autoj prwtoj hgaphsen hmaj.'
87. St. John i. 5: 'o Qeoj fwj esti, kai skotia en autw ouk estin oudemia.' Ibid. ver. 7: 'autoj estin en tw fwti.' Here 'en' does not merely point to the sphere in which God dwells. In St. John this preposition is constantly used to denote the closest possible relationship between two subjects, or, as here, between a subject and its attribute. Cf. Reuss, Théologie Chrétienne, ii. p. 434, for this as well as many of the above observations and references.
90. Ibid.: 'o fwtizei panta anqrwpon erxomenon eij ton kosmon.' ‘Das 'fwtizein panta anqrwpon,' als charakteristische Wirksamkeit des wahren Lichts, bleibt wahr, wenngleich empirisch diese Erleuchtung von Vielen nicht empfangen wird. Das empirische Verhältniss kommt darauf zuruck: quisquis illuminatur, ab hac luce illuminatur. (Beng.).’ Meyer in Joh. i. 9. The Evangelist means more than this: no human being is left without a certain measure of natural light, and this light is given by the Divine Logos in all cases.
91. St. John viii. 12: 'egw eimi to fwj tou kosmou; o akolouqwn emoi, ou mh peripathsei en th skotia, all ecei to fwj thj zwhj.' Ibid. iii. 19: 'to fwj elhluqen eij ton kosmon,' that is, in the Incarnate Word. Ibid. ix. 5: 'otan en tw kosmw w, fwj eimi tou kosmou.' Ibid. xii. 46: 'egw fwj eij ton kosmon elhluqa, ina paj o pisteuwn eij eme, en th skotia mh meinh.' Comp. Eph. v. 8.
108. St. John i. 14: 'eqeasameqa thn docan autou, docan wj monogenouj para Patroj.' Ibid. i. 18: 'o monogenhj Uioj, o wn eij ton kolpon tou Patroj.' Ibid. iii. 16: [o Qeoj] 'ton Uion autou ton monogenh edwken.' Ibid. ver. 18: 'o de mh pisteuwn hdh kekritai, oti mh pepisteuken eij to onoma tou monogenouj Uiou tou Qeou.' Cf. 1 St. John iv. 9: 'ton Uion autou ton monogenh apestalken o Qeoj eij ton kosmon, ina zhswmen di autou.' The word monogenhj is used by St. Luke of the son of the widow of Nain (vii. 52), of the daughter of Jairus (viii. 42), and of the lunatic son of the man who met our Lord on His coming down from the mount of the transfiguration (ix. 38). In Heb. xi. 17 it is applied to Isaac. 'monogenhj' means in each of these cases ‘that which exists once only, that is, singly in its kind.’ (Tholuck, Comm. in Joh. i. 14.) God has one Only Son Who by nature and necessity is His Son.
111. St. John i. 18, 'o monogenhj Uioj,' where the Vat. and Sin. MSS. and Cod. Ephr. read 'monogenhj QEOS.' Scrivener defends 'Uioj.' Int. N. T. ed. 3. p. 604. For the Patristic evidence, see Alford in loc.
114. St. John i. 14: 'eskhnwsen en hmin.' The image implies both the reality and the transient character of our Lord’s manifestation in the flesh. Olshausen, Meyer, and Lucke see in it an allusion to the 'Shekinah,' which the Divine glory or radiance ('kabowd') dwelt enshrined.
115. Baur, Dogmengeschichte, i. 602: ‘Was das johanneische Evangelium betrifft, so versteht es sich ohnediess von selbst, dass das eigentliche Subject der Persönlichkeit Christi nur der Logos ist, die Menschwerdung besteht daher nur in dem 'sarc genesqai'; dass der Logos Fleisch geworden, im Fleisch erschienen ist, ist seine menschliche Erscheinung.’ It will be borne in mind that 'sarc,' in its full New Testament meaning, certainly includes 'yuxh' as well as the animal organism (see Olshausen on Rom. vii. 14), and St. John attributes to the Word Incarnate spiritual experiences which must have had their seat in His human Soul (xi. 33, 38, xiii. 21). But Baur’s general position, that in St. John’s Gospel the Personality of the Eternal Word is perpetually before us, is unquestionably true.
118. 'erga,' St.John v. 36, vii. 21, x. 25, 32, 38, xiv. 11, 12, xv. 23. Cf. too St. Matt. xi. 2. The word is applied to the Old Testament miracles in Heb. iii. 9; Ps. xciv. 9, LXX. Cf. Archbishop Trench on the Miracles, p. 7. That, notwithstanding the wider use of 'ergon' in St. John xvii. 4, 'erga' in the fourth Gospel do mean Christ’s miracles, cf. Trench, Mir. p. 8, note t. Cf. Lect. IV. p. 158.
126. As M. Reuss admits: ‘Il résulte (from the prerogatives ascribed to the Word Incarnate in St. John’s Gospel) que le Verbe révélateur pouvait demander pour lui-même, de la part des hommes, les mêmes sentiments, et les mêmes dispositions, qu’ils doivent avoir a l’égard de la personne du Pere. Ces sentiments sont exprimés par un mot, qui contient la notion d’un respect professé pour un supérieur, la reconnaissance d’une dignité devant laquelle on s’incline. A cet égard, il y a égalité des deux personnes divines vis-a-vis de l’homme. On ne croit pas a l’une sans croire a l’autre; qui volt l’une voit l’autre; rejeter, hair le Fils, c’est rejeter et hair le Père. (St. Jean iii. 33, 34, xii. 44, xv. 23). Mais dans tout ceci (proceeds M. Reuss) il ne s’agit pas de ce qu’on appele le culte dans le langage pratique de l’Eglise. Le culte appartient a Dieu le Père, et lui sera offert désormais avec d’autant plus d’empressement qu’il est mieux révélé, et que mien ne sépare plus de lui les croyants.’ (Reuss, Théol. Chrét. ii. 455.) How inconsequent is this restriction! If the Incarnate Word has a right to demand for Himself the same ‘sentiments’ and ‘dispositions’ as those which men cherish towards the Almighty Father, He has a right to the same tribute of an adoration in spirit and in truth as that which is due to the Father. What is worship but a complex act of such ‘sentiments’ and ‘dispositions’ as faith, love, self-prostration, self-surrender before the Most Holy? If 'timan' (St. John v. 23), within the general meaning of due acknowledgment, includes much else besides adoration, it cannot be applied to the duties of man to God without including adoration. Our Lord’s words place Himself and the Father simply on a level; if the Son is not to be adored, neither is the Father; if the Father is to be adored, then must the Son be adored in the same sense and measure. This is certainly not interfered with by St. John iv. 20, sqq.; while the best practical comment upon it is to be found in the confession of St. Thomas, xx. 28; on which see Lect. VII.
127. This may seem inconsistent with (1) St. John xiv. 28: 'o Pathr meizwn mou estin.' But such a statement would be ‘unmeaning’ in a mere man. See Lect. IV. pp. 202-204; (2) St. John xvii. 3: 'auth de estin h aiwnioj zwh, ina ginwskwsin se ton monon alhqinon Qeon, kai on apesteilaj Ihsoun Xriston.' But here a Socinian sense is excluded, (a) by the consideration that ‘the knowledge of GOD and a creature could not be Eternal Life’ (see Alford in loc.); (b) by the plain sense of verse 1, which places the Son and the Father on a level: ‘What creature could stand before his Creator and say, “Glorify me, that I may glorify Thee?” Stier apud Alf.; (c) by verse 5, which asserts our Lord’s pre-existent 'doca.' It follows that the restrictive epithets 'monon alhqinon' must be held to be exclusive, not of the Son, but of false gods, or creatures external to the Divine Essence. See Estius in loc. Trench, Synonyms of N. T., p. 25, § viii.
135. 1 St. John ii. 22: 'outoj estin o antixristoj, o arnoumenoj ton Patera kai ton Uion.' A Humanitarian might have urged that it was possible to deny the Son, while confessing the Father. But St. John, on the ground that the Son is the Only and the Adequate Manifestation of the Father, denies this: 'paj o arnoumenoj ton Uion oude ton Patera exei.'
137. Ibid. ii. 15: 'ean tij agapa ton kosmon, ouk estin h agaph tou Patroj en autw.' Compare Martensen, Christl. Dogmat. § 96: ‘If we consider the effects of the Fall upon the course of historical development, not only in the case of individuals but of the race collectively, the term “world” ('kosmoj') bears a special meaning different from that which it would have, were the development of humanity normal. The cosmical principle having been emancipated by the Fall from its due subjection to the Spirit, and invested with a false independence, and the universe of creation having obtained with man a higher importance than really attaches to it, the historical development of the world has become one in which the advance of the kingdom of God is retarded and hindered. The created universe has, in a relative sense, life in itself; including, as it does, a system of powers, ideas, and aims, which possess a relative value. This relative independence, which ought to be subservient to the kingdom of God, has become a fallen “world-autonomy.” Hence arises the scriptural expression “this world” ('o kosmoj outoj'). By this expression the Bible conveys the idea that it regards the world not only ontologically but in its definite and actual state, the state in which it has been since the Fall. “This world” means the world content with itself; in its own independence, its own glory; the world which disowns its dependence on God as its Creator. “This world” regards itself, not as the 'ktisij', but only as the 'kosmoj', as a system of glory and beauty which has life in itself; and can give life. The historical embodiment of “this world” is heathendom, which honoreth not God as God.’
140. Specially 1 St. John iv. 2, 3, where the Apostle’s words contain a double antithesis to the Cerinthian gnosis, which taught that the Aeon Christ entered into the Man Jesus at His baptism, and remained with Him until His Passion. See pp. 223, 224. St. John asserts in opposition (1) that Jesus and the Christ are one and the same Person, (2) that the one Lord Jesus Christ came ‘in’ not ‘into the flesh.’ He did not descend into an already existing man, but He appeared clothed in Human Nature. See the exhaustive note of Ebrard, Die Briefe Johannis, in loc.
141. 1 St. John v. 20: 'outoj estin o alhqinoj Qeoj, kai h zwh aiwnioj.' After having distinguished the 'alhqinoj' from His 'Uioj', St. John, by a characteristic turn, simply identifies the Son with the 'alhqinoj Qeoj.' To refer this sentence to the Father, Who has been twice called 'o alhqinoj,' would be unmeaning repetition. Moreover the previous sentence declared, not that we are in God as Father, Son, and Spirit, but that we are in God as being in His Son Jesus Christ. This statement is justified when 'outoj' is referred to 'Uiw'. As to the article before 'alhqinoj,' it has the effect of stating, not merely What, but Who our Lord is; it says not, Christ is Divine, but, Christ is God. This does not really go beyond what the Apostle has already said about the 'Logoj' at the beginning of this Epistle. To object with Dusterdieck that this interpretation obscures the distinction between the Father and the Son, is inaccurate; St. John does not say, This is the Father, but, This is the true God. 'O alhqinoj Qeoj' is the Divine Essence, in opposition to all creatures. The Apostle does not enter upon the question of the Son’s relation to the Father within the Divine Essence. Our being in the true God depends upon our being in Christ, and St. John clenches this assertion by saying that Christ is the true God Himself. See St. Ath. Or. c. Ar. iii. 19; iv. 26; St. Cyril. Thes. p. 302; Waterland, Wks., ii. 130.
142. 1 St. John v. 13: 'tauta egraya umin [toij pisteuousin eij to onoma tou Uiou tou Qeou, Rec.] ina eidhte oti zwhn exete aiwnion, kai ina pisteuhte [oi pisteuontej, Tisch.] eij to onoma tou Uiou tou Qeou.'
143. In St. John’s second Epistle observe (1) the association of Christ with the Father as the source of 'xarij, eleoj,' and 'eirhnh' (ver. 3); (2) the denunciation of the Cerinthian doctrine as anti-Christian (ver. 7); (3) the significant statement that a false progress ('o proagwn,' A.B., not as rec. 'o parabainwn') which did not rest in the true Apostolic 'didaxh tou Xristou,' would forfeit all communion with God. We know Him only in Christ His Blessed Son, and to reject Christianity is to reject the only true Theism (vers. 8, 9).
145. 1 St. John ii. 15: 'ean tij agapa ton kosmon ouk estin h agaph tou Patroj en autw.' Ibid. ver. 19: 'ec hmwn echlqon [scil. oi antixristoi] all ouk hsan ec hmwn; ei gar hsan ec hmwn, memenhkeisan an meq hmwn; all ina fanerwqwsin oti ouk eisi pantej ec hmwn.' Ibid. ver. 22: 'outoj estin o antixristoj, o arnoumenoj ton Patera kai ton Uion.'
146. St. Irenaeus, adv. Haer. iii. 3, 4: 'kai eisin oi akhkootej autou (tou Polukarpou) oti Iwannhj o tou Kuriou maqhthj, en th Efesw poreuqeij lousasqai, kai idwn esw Khrinqon, echlato tou Balaneiou mh lousamenoj all epeipwn, Fugwmen, mh kai to balaneion sumpesh, endon ontoj Khrinqou, tou thj alhqeiaj exqrou.' Cf. Eus. Hist. Eccl. iii. 28.
147. 2 St. John 10, 11: 'ei tij erxetai proj umaj, kai tauthn thn didaxhn ou ferei, mh lambanete auton eij oikian, kai xairein autw mh legete; o gar legwn autw xaireien, koinwnei toij ergoij autou toij ponhroij.'
152. 1 St. John iii. 16: 'en toutw egnwkamen thn agaphn' (i.e. absolute charity), 'oti ekeinoj uper hmwn thn yuxhn autou eqhke; kai hmeij ofeilomen uper twn adelfwn taj yuxaj tiqenai.' Ibid. iv. 9: 'en toutw efanerwqh h agaph tou Qeou en hmin, oti ton Uion autou ton monogenh apestalken o Qeoj eij ton kosmon, ina zhswmen di autou.'
153. On the Johannean authorship of the Apocalypse, see Alford, Gk. Test. vol. iv. pp. 198-229; Wait’s remarks in the pref. to Hug’s Introduction, pp. 145-177; Schaff, Apost. Church, ii. 89; Leathes, Witness of St. John to Christ, pp. 134, 352.
154. In the Epistles to the Angels of the Seven Churches, the language used by our Lord is morally inconsistent with any conception of His Person but the highest: Rev. ii. 1-7, 8-11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, 20, 21-26, 28, iii. 1-5, 7-13, 14-22. Cf. also the allusion to the 'orgh tou arniou,' vi. 16, with Ps. vi. 4, vii. 6, xxi. 9; Is. ix. 19, li. 17; Jer. iv. 8, 26, xii. 13; Lam. i. 12; Rom. i. 18, etc.
168. Ibid. v. 13: 'tw kaqhmenw epi tou qronou kai tw Arniw h eulogia kai h timh kai h doca kai to kratoj eij touj aiwnaj twn aiwnwn.' Cf. Ibid. xvii. 14: 'to Arnion nikhsei autouj, oti Kurioj kuriwn esti kai Basileuj basilewn.' See also the remarkable expression xx. 6, 'esontai iereij tou Qeou kai tou Xristou,' which clearly associates Christ with the Father in the highest honor which man can render to God, namely, the offering of sacrifice; xxi. 22, 23, xii. 1, 2.
170. Compare the voice from heaven at our Lord’s baptism, 'outoj estin o Uioj mou o agaphtoj,' St. Matt. iii. 17, repeated at His transfiguration (Ibid. xvii. 5); the profound sense of His question to the Pharisees, 'tinoj uioj estin?' [sc. 'o Xristoj'] (Ibid. xxii. 41). And that as the 'Uioj tou Qeou,' Christ is superhuman, seems to be implied in the questions of the tempter (Ibid. iv. 3, 6; St. Luke iv. 3, 9).
171. St. Luke i. 35, where the abstract 'to gennwmenon agion' points to a superhuman Being, so far described indefinitely. But His Birth results from the 'episkiazein' of the 'dunamij Uyistou,' and He is presently announced to be 'Uioj Qeou.'
175. For a vindication of these narratives against the mythical theory of Strauss, see Dr. Mill’s Christian Advocate’s Publications for 1841, 1844, reprinted in his work on the ‘Mythical Interpretation.’
176. Martensen, Christl. Dogm. § 39 (Clark’s transl.): ‘Christ is born, not of the will of a man, nor of the will of the flesh; but the holy Will of the Creator took the place of the will of man and of the will of the flesh. That is, the Creating Spirit, Who was in the beginning, fulfilled the function of the plastic principle. Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, the chosen woman of the chosen people. It was the task of Israel to provide, not, as has often been said, Christ Himself, but the mother of the Lord; to develop the susceptibility for Christ to a point where it might be able to manifest itself as the profoundest unity of nature and spirit--an unity which found expression in the pure Virgin. In her the pious aspirations of Israel and of mankind, and their faith in the promises, are centered. She is the purest point in history and in nature, and she therefore becomes the appointed medium for the New Creation. And while we must confess that this Virgin Birth is enveloped in a veil impenetrable to physical reasonings, yet we affirm it to be the only one which fully satisfies the demands of religion and theology. This article of our Creed, ‘conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,’ is the only sure defense against both the Ebionitic and the Docetic view of the entrance of the God-man into connection with humanity.’
184. St. Luke i. 78: 'epeskeyato hmaj anatolh ec uyouj, epifanai toij en skotei kai skia qanatou kaqhmenoij; tou kateuqunai touj podaj hmwn eij odon eirhnhj.' Isa. ix. 1, xlii. 7, xlix. 9, lx. 2, are thus applied in a strictly spiritual sense.
186. Cf. Dorner, Person Christi, Einl. p. 82: ‘Von einem Selbstbewusstseyn aus muss diese Bezeichnung ausgeprägt seyn, für welches das Mensch-oderMenschensohnseyn nicht das Nachstliegende, sich von selbst unmittelbar Verstehende, sondern das Secundäre, Hinzugekommene, war. Ist aber Christi Selbstbewusstseyn so geartet gewesen, dass das Menschseyn ihm als das Secundäre sich darstellte: so muss das Primare in Seinem Bewusstseyn ein Anderes seyn, dasjenige, was sich, z. B. bei Johannes xvii. 5 ausspricht; und das Ursprungliche, worin Sein Selbstbewusstseyn sich unmittelbar heimisch weiss (vgl. Luc. ii. 49) muss wenigstens von der Zeit an, wo Er sich selbst ganz hat, wo sein Innerstes Wirklichkeit geworden ist, das Göttliche gewesen seyn.’
189. St. Matt. xxi. 34: 'apesteile touj doulouj autou proj touj gewrgouj.' Ibid. ver. 36: 'palin apesteilen allouj doulouj.' Ibid. ver. 37: 'usteron de apesteile proj autouj ton uion autou, legwn, ‘Entraphsontai ton uion mou’.'
195. St. Matt. xi. 27: 'oudeij epiginwskei ton Uion ei mh o Pathr; oude ton Patera tij epiginwskei, ei mh o Uioj, kai w ean boulhtai o Uioj apokaluyai.' St. Luke x. 22: 'oudeij ginwskei tij estin o Uioj ei mh o Pathr, kai tij estin o Pathr, ei mh o Uioj, kai w ean boulhtai o Uioj apokaluyai.' See Mill on Myth. Interp. p. 59.
215. Ibid. vii. 22: 'polloi erousi mou en ekeinh th hmera, ‘Kurie, Kurie, ou tw sw onomati proefhteusamen, kai tw sw onomati daimonia ecebalomen, kai tw sw onomati dunameij pollaj epoihsamen;’ kai tote omologhsw autoij, oti oudepote egnwn umaj. apoxwreite ap emou oi ergazomenoi thn anomian.' St. Luke xiii. 25. St. Matt. xiii. 41: 'apostelei o Uioj tou anqrwpou touj aggelouj autou, kai sullecousin ek thj basileiaj autou panta ta skandala kai touj poiountaj thn anomian, kai balousin autouj eij thn kaminon tou puroj.' Ibid. x. 32: St. Mark viii. 38. St. Matt. xxiv. 31: 'apostelei touj aggelouj autou meta salpiggoj fwnhj megalhj, kai episunacousi touj eklektouj autou ek twn tessarwn anemwn, ap akrwn ouranwn ewj akrwn autwn.' Ibid. xxv. 34-46; St. Luke xii. 35, xvii. 30, 31. See Lect. IV. p. 176.
217. Dorner, Person Christi, Einl. p. 89: ‘Das synoptische Totalbild von Christus dem johanneischen insofern vollkommen an die Seite setzen kann, als der durch Vermittlung der synoptischen Tradition gebildete Glaube wesentlich ganz dieselben Zuge in seinem Christusbegriff haben musste, wie sie der johanneische Christus hat.’ For the preceding remarks, see Person Christi, Einl. pp. 80-89.
218. Schenkel, Charakterbild Jesu, p. 2: ‘Es gehort vor Allem zum Begriffe einer Person, dass sie im Kerne ihres Wesens eine Einheit bildet; nur unter dieser Voraussetzung lasst sie sich geschichtlich begreifen. Diese Einheit wird durch die herkörmmliche Lehre in der Person des Welterlösers aufgehoben. Jesus Christus wird in der kirchlichen Glaubenslehre als ein Doppel-Wesen dargestellt, als die personliche Vereinigung zweier Wesenheiten, die an sich nichts mit einander gemein haben, sich vielmehr schlechthin widersprechen und nur vermoge eines alle Begriffe ubersteigenden Wunders in die engste und unauflöslichste Verbindung mit einander gebracht worden sind. Er ist demzufolge Mensch und Gott in einer und derselben Person. Die kirchlichen Theologen haben grosse Anstrengungen gemacht, um die unauflosliche Verbindung von Gott und Mensch in einer Person als begreiflich und moglich darzustellen; sie haben sich aber zuletzt doch immer wieder zu dem Geständniss genothigt gesehen, dass die Sache unbegreiflich sei, und dass ein undurchdringliches Geheimniss über dem Personleben Jesu Christi schwebe. Allein eine solche Berufung auf Geheimnisse und Wunder ist, wo es auf die Erklarung einer geschichtlichen Thatsache ankommt, für die Wissenschaft ohne allen Werth; sie offenbart uns die Unfahigkeit des theologischen Denkens, das in sich Widersprechende vorstellbar, das geschichtlich Unbegreifliche denkbar zu machen.’ Cf. Strauss, Leben Jesu, § 146; Schleiermacher, Glaubenslehre, ii. § 96-98.
221. Ap. Marium Merc. p. 54: ‘Non Maria peperit Deum. Non peperit creatura increabilem, sed peperit hominem Deitatis instrumentum. Divido naturas, sed conjungo reverentiam.’ Cf. Nestorii Ep. iii. ad Coelestin. (Mansi, tom. iv. 1197): 'to proelqein ton Qeon Logon ek thj xristotokou parqenou para thj qeiaj edidaxqhn grafhj; to de gennhqhnai Qeon ec authj, oudamou edidaxqhn.' And his ‘famous’ saying, ‘I will never own a child of two months old to be God.’ (Labbe, iii. 506.)
222. St. Leo in Epist. ad Leonem Aug. ed. Ballerino, 165: ‘Anathematizetur ergo Nestorius, qui beatam Virginem non Dei, sed hominis tantummodo credidit genitricem, ut aliam personam carnis faceret, aliam Deitatis; nec unum Christum in Verbo Dei et carne sentiret, sed separatum atque sejunctum alterum Filium Dei, alterum hominis praedicaret.’ See Confession of the Easterns, accepted by St. Cyril, Labbe, iii. 1107: 'Omologoumen ton Kurion hmwn Ishsoun Xriston, ton Uion tou Qeou, Qeon teleion kai anqrwpon teleion ek yuxhj logikhj kai swmatoj, pro aiwnwn men ek tou Patroj gennhqenta kata thn Qeothta, ep esxatwn de twn hmerwn ton auton ek Mariaj kata thn anqrwpothta, omoousion tw Patri kata thn Qeothta, omoousion hmin kata thn anqrwpothta; duo gar fusewn enwsij gegone. Kata tauthn thn thj dougxutou enwsewj ennoian omologoumen thn agian Parqenon Qeotokon, dia to ton Qeon Logon sarkwqhnai kai enanqrwphsai, kai ec authj thj sullhyewj enwsai eautw ton ec authj lhfqenta naon. Taj de euaggelikaj peri tou Kuriou fwnaj ismen touj qeologouj andraj taj men koinopoiountaj wj ef enoj proswpou, taj de diairountaj wj epi duo fusewn, kai taj men qeoprepeij kata thn Qeothta tou Xristou, taj de tapeinaj kata thn anqrwpothta autou paradidontaj.' The definition of Chalcedon is equally emphatic on the subject of the Hypostatic Union. Routh, Scr. Op. ii. 78; Bright, Hist. Ch. p. 409. The title Theotokos, assigned to the Blessed Virgin by eminent Fathers before the Nestorian controversy (see Bright, ib. p. 302), and by the whole Church ever since the Council of Ephesus, is essentially a tribute to Christ’s personal glory. It is in exact accordance with that well-known Scriptural usus loquendi, whereby GOD is said to have ‘purchased the Church with His own Blood’ (Acts xx. 28, see Lect. VI.; and compare 1 Cor. ii. 8), as conversely, ‘the Son of Man,’ while yet on earth, is said to have been ‘in heaven’ (St. John iii. 13). This ‘communicatio idiomatum,’ 'koinopoihsij' or 'antidosij' (St. John Dam. Orth. Fid. iii. 4), as it is technically termed, is only intelligible on the principle that whatever belongs to our Lord in either of His two spheres of Existence belongs to Him as the One Christ, Who is, and is to be spoken of as, both GOD and Man. In other words, the properties of both His Natures are the properties of His Person. (Hooker, E. P. v. 53; St. Thom. Summ. iii. 16, 4. In the same sense then as that in which St. Paul could attribute ‘crucifixion,’ and ‘shedding His Blood,’ to ‘GOD,’ that is to say, to our Divine Savior in His Manhood, the Church could attribute to Him Birth of a human Mother. The phrase 'qeotokoj' is implicitly sanctioned by the phrase 'aima Qeou.' It presupposes the belief that Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, is our Lord and GOD; that ‘the Son which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, very and eternal GOD, took Man’s Nature upon Him in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, of her substance;’ art. 2. In sub-apostolic language, 'o gar Qeoj hmwn Ihsouj o Xristoj ekuoforhqh apo Mariaj.' Ign. ad Eph. 18. Cf. Bright’s observations, Lat. Tr. S. Ath. p.150 sqq.
223. Jackson on the Creed, Works, vol. vii. p. 294: ‘That proper blood wherewith God is said to have purchased the church, was the blood of the Son of God, the second Person in Trinity, after a more peculiar manner than it was the blood either of God the Father or of God the Holy Ghost. It was the blood of God the Father or of God the Holy Ghost, as all other creatures are, by common right of creation and preservation. It was the blood of God the Son alone by personal union. If this Son of God, and High Priest of our souls, had offered any other sacrifice for us than Himself, or the Manhood thus personally united unto Him, His offering could not have been satisfactory, because in all other things created, the Father and the Holy Ghost had the same right or interest which the Son had, He could not have offered anything to Them which were not as truly Theirs as His. Only the Seed of Abraham, or Fruit of the Virgin’s womb Which He assumed into the Godhead, was by the assumption made so His own, as it was not Theirs, His own by incommunicable property of personal union. By reason of this incommunicable property in the woman’s seed, the Son of God might truly have said unto His Father, ‘Lord, Thou hast purchased the church, yet with My blood:’ but so could not the Man Christ Jesus say unto the Son of God, ‘Lord, Thou hast paid the ransom for the sins of the world, yet with My blood, not with Thine own.’
224. St. Ful. de Fide ad Petr. c. 17: ‘Deus Verbum non accepit personarn hominis, sed naturam; et in aeternam personam divinitatis accepit temporalem substantiam carnis.’ St. Joh. Damasc. de Fid. Orthod. iii. 11: 'o Qeoj Logoj sarkwqeij ou thn en tw eidei qewroumenhn, ou gar pasaj taj upostaseij anelaben; alla thn en atomw, aparxhn tou hmeterou furamatoj, ou kaq eauthn upostasan kai atomon xrhmatisasan proteron, kai outwj up autou proslhfqeisan, all en th autou upostasei uparcasan, auth gar h upostasij tou Qeou Logou egeneto th sarki upostasij.' He states this in other terms (c. 9) by saying that our Lord’s Humanity had no subsistence of itself. It was not 'idiosustatoj,' nor was it strictly 'anupostatoj,' but 'en auth th tou Qeou Logou upostasei upostasa, enupostatoj.' He speaks too of Christ’s 'upostasij sunqetoj.' Hooker, E. P. v. 52. 3.
226. St. Aug. c. Serm. Arian. c. 6: ‘Nec sic assumptus est [homo] ut prius crearetur, post assumeretur, sed ut in ipsa assumptione crearetur.’ St. Leo, Ep. 25. 3: ‘Natura nostra non sic assumpta est ut prius creata, post assumeretur; sed ut ipsa assumptione crearetur.’ Newman’s Par. Sermons, ii. 32, vi. 59.
227. Jackson on the Creed, Works, vol. vii. p. 289: ‘The Humanity of Christ is such an instrument of the Divine Nature in His Person, as the hand of man is to the person or party whose hand it is. And it is well observed, whether by Aquinas himself or no I remember not, but by Viguerius, an accurate summist of Aquinas’ sums, that albeit the intellectual part of man be a spiritual substance, and separated from the matter or bodily part, yet is the union betwixt the hand and intellectual part of man no less firm, no less proper, than the union between the feet or other organical parts of sensitive creatures, and their sensitive souls or mere physical forms. For the intellectual part of man, whether it be the form of man truly, though not merely physical, or rather his essence, not his form at all, doth use his own hand not as the carpenter doth use his axe, that is, not as an external or separated, but as his proper united instrument: nor is the union between the hand as the instrument and intellective part as the artificer or commander of it an union of matter and form, but an union personal, or at the least such an union as resembles the hypostatical union between the Divine and Human Nature of Christ much better than any material union wherein philosophers or school-divines can make instance.’ Cf. Viguerius, Institutiones, c. 20. introd. p. 259, commenting on St. Thom. 3a. q. 2. a. 1.
228. Yet when we contrast man’s person (ego) and his nature, we understand by nature, not merely the body, but also soul and spirit, inasmuch as man’s ego is conceived of as distinct from the latter not less than from the former. Delitzsch, Bibl. Psych. iv. § 2.
229. On the objection that the illustration in the Athanasian Creed favors Nestorianism, cf. St. Tho. 3a. 2. 5. It was accepted by St. Cyril himself, but not as complete, Scholia. 8, 28, quo. by Bright, Lat. Tr. of S. Ath. p. 161, note k.
230. This preliminary form of the objection is thus noticed by the Master of the Sentences, Petr. Lomb. 1. iii. d. 5 (858): ‘Non accepit Verbum Dei personam hominis, sed naturam. E: A quibusdam opponitur, quod persona assumit personam. Persona enim est substantia rationalis individuae naturae, hoc autem est anima. Ergo si animam assumsit, et personam. Quod ideo non sequitur, quia anima non est persona, quando alii rei unita est personaliter, sed quando per se est. Illa autem anima (our Lord’s) nunquam fuit, quia esset alii rei conjuncta.’
231. Rom. vii. 14-25. Origen, St. Chrysostom, and Theodoret understand this passage of the state of man before regeneration. St. Augustine was of this mind in his earlier theological life (Confess. vii. 21 ; Prop. 45 in Ep. ad Rom., quoted by Meyer, Römer. p. 246), but his struggle with the Pelagian heresy led him to understand the passage of the regenerate (Retractat. i. 23, ii. 1; contr. duas Ep. Pelag. i. 10; contr. Faust. xv. 8). This judgment has been accepted by the great divines of the middle ages, St. Anselm and Aquinas, and largely by the modems. Of late years, the Greek interpretation has been again widely accepted, as doing more perfect justice to the language of the Apostle.
233. This was the ground taken in the Sixth General Council, A.D. 680, when the language of Chalcedon was adapted to meet the error of the Monothelites. 'Duo fusikaj qelhseij htoi qelhmata en autw kai duo fusikaj energeiaj adiairetwj, atreptwj, ameristwj, asugxutwj, kata thn twn agiwn paterwn didaskalian khruttomen, kai duo fusika qelhmata ouk upenantia, mh genoito, kaqwj oi asebeij efhsan airetikoi, all epomenon to anqrwpinon autou qelhma, kai mh antipipton, h antipalaion mallon men oun kai upotassomenon tw qeiw autou kai pansqenei qelhmati.' Mansi, tom. xi. p. 637. Routh, Scr. Op. ii. 236; Hooker, E. P. v. 48. 9.
238. St. Leo, Ep. xxviii. c. 4: ‘Qui verus est Deus, idem verus est Homo; et nullum est in hac unitate mendacium, dum invicem sunt et humilitas hominis et altitudo deitatis. Agit enim utraque forma cum alterius communione quod proprium est; Verbo scilicet operante quod Verbi est, et carne exsequente quod carnis est. Unum horum coruscat miraculis, alterurn succumbit injuriis.’ St. Joh. Damasc. iii. 19: 'Qeou enanqrwphsantoj, kai h anqrwpinh autou energeia qeia hn, hgoun teqewmenh, kai ouk amoiroj thj qeiaj autou energeiaj; kai h qeia autou energeia ouk amoiroj thj anqrwpinhj autou energeiaj; all ekatera sun th etera qewroumenh.' He urges, here and in iii. 15, that Two Natures imply Two Energies co-operating, for no nature is 'anenerghtoj.' See St. Tho. 3a. 19. 1.
‘Accender ne dovria piu il disio
Di veder quella essenzia, in che si vede
Come nostra natura e Dio s’unio.
Li si vedra cio che tenem per fede,
Non dimostrato; ma fia per se noto,
Aguisa del ver primo che l’uom crede.’
PARAD. ii. 40-45.