Изображения страниц

and handled. Again, the subject does not change though the predicates do. Thus in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is said of the Son: 1. That he is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his substance. 2. That he upholds all things by the word of his power. 3. That by (the offering of) himself he made purification of sin. 4. That he is set down at the right hand of the majesty on high. Here the possession of a divine nature, the exercise of Almighty power, dying as an offering for sin, and exaltation to the right hand of God, are all predicated of one and the same subject. In like manner, in the second chapter of the Philippians, it is said, He who was in the form of God, and entitled to equality with God, was found in fashion as man, humbled himself so as to become obedient unto death, and is exalted above all creatures in heaven and earth. Here equality with God, humanity, humiliation, and exaltation, are predicated of the same subject. Such representations are not peculiar to the New Testament. In all the Messianic predictions, He who is declared to be the mighty God and everlasting Father, is said to be born, and to have a government assigned him. On one page he is called Jehovah, whose glory fills the earth, and on the next a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.

In framing a comprehensive statement of these facts, it will not do to say that Christ was a mere man, for this is inconsistent with the divine perfections and honour ascribed to him. It will not do to say that he is simply God, for that is inconsistent with his manifest humanity. It will not do to say that he is God and man as two distinct subsistences, for he stands forth in the evangelical history as manifestly one person, as does Peter or John. The only thing that can be said is, that "the eternal Son of God became man by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, and so was and continues to be, God and man, in two distinct natures, and one person for ever." This is the substance of the Nicene and Athanasian creeds, so far as they relate to the person of Christ. It will be observed how little this statement includes beyond the undeniable facts of the case. It asserts that there is in Christ a divine nature, because divine perfections, authority, and works of necessity suppose such a nature. It asserts that he has a human nature, because he is not only called a man, but all the attributes of our nature are ascribed to him. And it asserts that he is one person, because he always so speaks of himself, and is so spoken of by the sacred writers. The churchdoctrine, therefore, on this subject is clearly the doctrine of the Bible.

Before adverting for a moment to the objections which Dr

Bushnell urges to this view of the person of Christ, we remark, on the unreasonableness of the demand which he makes when attacking the church-doctrine, that all obscurity should be banished from this subject. The union between the soul and body, with all the advantage of its lying within the domain of consciousness and the sphere of constant observation, is an impenetrable mystery. Dr Bushnell can understand it as little as he can understand the relation between the divine and human natures of Christ. It is therefore glaringly unreasonable and rebellious against God to reject what he has revealed on this subject, because it is a mystery and pre-eminently the great mystery of the gospel.

Our author objects that the doctrine of two natures in Christ "does an affront to the plain language of the Scripture. For the Scripture does not say that a certain human soul called Jesus, born as such of Mary, obeyed and suffered; but it says, in the boldest manner, that he who was in the form of God humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. A declaration, the very point of which is, not that the man Jesus was a being under human limitations, but that he who was in the form of God, the real divinity, came into the finite, and was subject to human conditions."—(P. 153.) In answer to this objection we would remark,-1. That it is one of the plainest rules of interpretation that when any thing is predicated of a subject inconsistent with its known and admitted nature, such predicate cannot be referred directly to the subject. It must either be understood figuratively, or in reference, not to the subject itself, but to something intimately connected with it. If it is said of a man that he roars, or that he flies, or that he is shabby, these things are necessarily understood in a way consistent with the known and admitted nature of man. If it is said he is blind, or deaf, or lame, of necessity, again, this is understood of his body and not of his spirit. In like manner, when it is said of God, that he sees, hears, has hands, eyes, or ears, or that he is angry, or that he is aggrieved, or that he inquires and searches out, all these declarations are universally understood in consistency with the known and admitted nature of the Supreme Being. By a like necessity, and with as little violence to any correct rule of interpretation, when any thing is affirmed of Christ that implies limitation, whether ignorance, obedience, or suffering, it must be understood, not of "the real divinity," but of his limited nature. It is only, therefore, by violating a principle of interpretation universally recognised and admitted, that the objection under consideration can be sustained. 2. It was shown to be a constant usage of Scripture to predicate of Christ, whatever can be predicated of either of the natures united in

his person. Of man may be affirmed any thing that is true either of his soul or his body. He may be said to be mortal or immortal; to be a spirit created in the image of God, and to be a child of the dust. And still further, he is often designated as a spirit, when what is affirmed of him is true only of his animal nature. We speak of rational and immortal beings as given up to gluttony and drunkenness, without meaning to affirm that the immortal soul can eat and drink. Why then, when it is said of the blessed Saviour that he suffered and obeyed, must it be understood of the "real divinity?" If Dr Bushnell means to be consistent, he must not only assert that the Deity suffers, but that God can be pierced with nails and spear. It was the Lord of glory who was crucified. "They shall look on me whom they have pierced," said Jehovah. Does our author mean to affirm that it was the "real divinity” that was nailed to the cross, and thrust through with a spear? 3. The principle of interpretation on which the objection is founded, would prove that human nature is infinite and eternal. If, because the Scriptures say that he who was in the form of God became obedient unto death, it follows that the "real divinity" died; then the assertion that the Son of Man, was in heaven before his advent, and in heaven while on earth, proves that human nature has the attributes of eternity and omnipresence. The Bible tells us that the Son of God assumed our nature, or took part of flesh and blood, in order that he might be a merciful and faithful high-priest, able to sympathise in the infirmities of his people; but whence the necessity of his assuming flesh and blood, if the divine nature can suffer and obey? It is really to deny God, to affirm of him what is absolutely incompatible with his divine perfections. It is a virtual denial of God, therefore, to affirm that the "real divinity" is ignorant, obeys, and dies. Let the Bible be interpreted on the same principle on which the language of common life is understood, and there will be no more difficulty in comprehending the declaration that the Lord of glory was crucified, than the assertion concerning man, "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return." Is the "Thou" in man, the interior person, dust? Dr Bushnell must say, Yes; and the affirmation would be as rational as his assertion that the divinity in Christ became subject to the "human conditions" of ignorance and


Another objection is thus presented. The common doctrine "virtually denies any real unity between the human and the divine, and substitutes collocation or copartnership for unity." "The whole work of Christ, as a subject, suffering Redeemer, is thrown upon the human side of his nature, and the divine side standing thus aloof incommunicably distant, has nothing

in fact to do with the transaction, other than to be a spectator."-(P. 155.) There would be as much truth and reason in the assertion, that the spiritual, the rational, and immortal part of a dying martyr, was a mere spectator of the sufferings of his body. It is the martyr who suffers, though the immaterial spirit cannot be burnt or lacerated. With equal truth, it is the Lord of glory who died upon the cross, and the Son of God who poured out his soul unto death, though we hold it blasphemy to say it was the divine nature as such, the "real divinity" in Christ, that was subject to the limitations and sorrows of humanity. Dr Bushnell says a hypostatical union, i.e., such an union between the human and divine as to constitute one person, is mere collocation. Is the union of soul and body in one person, mere collocation? If it is a man who suffers when his body is injured; no less truly was it the Son of God who suffered when his sacred body was lacerated by the scourge, or pierced with nails. The acts of Christ, for the sake of clearness, are referred to three classes: the purely divine, such as the creation of the world; the purely human, such as walking or sleeping; the theanthropical, such as his whole work as Mediator, all he did and suffered for the redemption of the world. It was not the obedience or death of a man by which our redemption was effected; but the obedience and sufferings of the Son of God. Christ, be it remembered, is not a human person invested with certain divine perfections and prerogatives. Nor was he a human person with whom a divine person dwelt in a manner analogous to God's presence in his prophets or his people, or to the indwelling of demons in the case of the possessed. He was a divine person with a human nature, and therefore every thing true of that nature may be predicated of that divine person, just as freely as every thing true of our material bodies may be predicated of us, whose real personality is an immaterial spirit. In some feeble analogy to the three classes of the acts of Christ, above referred to, is a similar classification of human actions. Some are purely bodily, as the pulsations of the heart; others are purely mental, as thought; others are mixed, as sensation, or voluntary muscular action, or the emotions of shame, fear, &c. It is absurd to confound all these, and to assert that the spirit has a pulse. It is no less absurd so to separate them, as to say any one of these kinds of actions is not the activity of the man. In asserting, then, a personal union between the two natures in Christ, the church asserts a real union, not confounding but uniting them, so that the acts of the human nature of Christ are as truly the acts of the Son of God, as the acts of our bodies are our acts. All those objections, therefore, founded on the assumption that the common doctrine

provides no explanation of the mediatorial work, representing it after all as the work of a mere man, are destitute of foundation. It was because the divine nature, as such, could neither suffer nor obey, that the Son of God assumed a nature capable of such obedience and suffering; but the assumption of that nature into personal union with himself, made the nature his, and therefore the obedience and sufferings were also his. It is right to say, "God purchased the church with his own blood."

A third objection is, that while separate activity is made a proof of the distinct personality of the Son and Spirit, it is not allowed to be a proof of the distinct personality of the human nature of Christ. What in the Godhead is affirmed to be evidence of a distinction of persons, is denied to be sufficient evidence of such distinction in the reference to the two natures in Christ. Or, to state the case still more strongly, we ascribe separate intelligence and will to the human nature of Christ, and deny it to be a person; though we dare not say there are three intelligences and wills in God, and still insist there are three persons in the Godhead.

The simple and sufficient answer to this objection is, that in the Bible, the Father, Son, and Spirit are distinguished as separate persons, and the two natures in Christ are not so distinguished. This is reason enough to justify the church, in refusing to consider even separate intelligence and will, in the one case, proof of distinct personality; while, in the other, identity of intelligence and will is affirmed to be consistent with diversity of person. The fact is plain, that the Father, Son, and Spirit are distinguished as persons; the one sends and another is sent; the one promises, the other engages; the one says I, the other Thou. It is not less plain that the two natures of Christ are not thus distinguished. The one nature does not address the other; the one does not send the other; neither does the one ever say I and Thou in reference to the other. There is not only the absence of all evidence of distinct personality, but there is also the direct, manifold, and uniform assertion of unity of person. There is nothing about Christ more perfectly undeniable than this, and therefore there never has been even a heresy in the church (the doubtful case of the Nestorians excepted) ascribing a twofold personality to the Redeemer. It is one and the same person of whom birth, life, death, eternity, omniscience, omnipotence, and all other attributes, human and divine, are predicated. So far, therefore, as the Scriptures are concerned, there is the greatest possible difference between the relation in which the distinctions in the Trinity stand to each other, and the mutual relation of the two natures in Christ. In the one case,


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »