« FöregåendeFortsätt »
one ; forasmuch as I believe it is embodied in that sentence in the creed, The Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son. His procession from the Father being, through the Word, to draw men unto Christ the Head of the church, and then from Christ the Head of the church to make them of his Aesh and of his bones ; in order to continue the great mystery of the Word made flesh, to continue the witness of the incarnate Son, in the adopted sons of God, which are " his body, the church, which is his fulneso, the fulness of him which filleth all in all.” And besides these three, his witness in creation, his witness in the Word, and his witness by regeneration, I know not any other form of witness concerning God which Christ maketh unto the creatures.
To his character of the Witness is added these two epithets Faithful and True, whereof it seemeth to me that the former referreth to him which sent him to bear witness of himself; the latter, unto those to whom he bringeth the testimony. The word Faithful is used in Scripture, both to denote him who well believeth, and him who may be well believed ; either the veracity of him who speaketh, or the trust of him who heareth. In both these senses perhaps the word is to be understood in the designation before us. Together they signify Christ's faithfulness in believing the Father, and his consequent worthiness to be believed of those who heard him. To the ears of many, ignorant as we are grown in these times of Divine theology, it soundeth somewhat strange to say that Christ was the greatest and, best of all believers. But how true it is judge ye from Christ's own language (John viii. 26): “ He that sent me is true, and I speak to the world those things which I heard of him." And again," As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things;" and again, " I speak that which I have seen with my Father;" and again (xii. 49), “ For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting; whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”. And again in another place, “ I can of mine own self do nothing; as I hear I judge.” Of these and of such like sayings, what is the meaning but this, that the intercourse and intercommunion between Christ and the Father, is maintained by a reciprocal action of giving and receiving, of speaking and of hearing, of communicating and of reporting : that their unity is a unity in distinctness, to maintain which is the office of the Holy Ghost. Faithful, therefore, Christ declared himself to be; a faithful and true Witness to what he had seen, to what he had heard, to what he had known of the Father, whose bosom he inhabited from eternity, but yet in distinctness of subsistence. Blessed mystery of the three persons in one God! how it openeth the Scriptures ! how it interpreteth the secret things of God ! In like manner is the Holy Ghost faithful unto Christ, hearing and repeating truly what he hears. As it is written, “ He shall not speak of himself : whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he will shew you things to come.' In one and the same discourse Christ saith of himself, “ All things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.” And of the Holy Ghost he saith, “ Whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak. He shall not speak of himself: he shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine and shew it unto you.” The faithfulness and the truth therefore of Christ's witness consisteth as much and more in his being an exact, full, and complete reporter of the Father's hidden mind, as in his being all worthy of the trust and confidence of men.
Yea, I may say,
his thiness of trust and confidence on the part of the creatures, ariseth wholly from his capacity and his willingness in all things to report faithfully and fully the mystery of God.
In a sense, therefore, in which it pertaineth to no other man, is Christ called the Truth, the True One, and the Bringer of Truth. And how, do you ask, is this? I answer, Because he was the Word made flesh. Other men had revelations of particular things, for particular ends, made unto them by the Word: and they had also inspirations of the Holy Ghost made unto them for particular ends; which being served, they fell back into the condition of other men ;-true, only in as far as they observed God's word; and false, in as far as they observed it not. But when the Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us, he brought with him his complete personality and eternal
verity as the Word; and through lamp of human reason, and through veils of human flesh, he did put forth by the Spirit the very truth of God, the fulness of the truth of God, which dwelleth within him. So that he could say, “ I and the Father are one; he that hath seen me hath seen the Father. The word which I speak I speak not of myself; and the Father which is within me, he doeth the work." As Word of God, the person of the Son hath privilege and power to speak the mind of God, which is the truth;
and when he became man, the Spirit of truth, working in his reasonable soul and real flesh, did so harmonize the creature to the Creator, that even then, in the human nature, he could
I am the Truth, I am the True One. There is no duplicity, there is no short-coming, there is no ambiguity, there is no error, there is no contrariety, there is no con. tradiction in the words which Christ spake by himself, or which he spake by the holy Prophets and the holy Apostles. He, and he only, is the True One that cannot lie; he cannot deny himself. All that is in him is true ; all that is not in him is a lie. Most fit prerogative of the Witness, to be not only faithful, but also true. For how otherwise should he be the Head of the messengers unless he himself were a true messenger? how otherwise should he be the Head of the preachers, unless he himself were a true preacher ? The devil is the liar, and the father of the lie; Christ is the Truth, and the Father of the truth. There is an intimate connexion between the two attributes of holiness and truth. “ Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things; but the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." Truth is holiness in the mind, and holiness is truth in the members ; and the combination of the two amounteth unto goodness.
3. The Beginning of the Creation of God. Thus also is he denominated in the prelude (Rev. i. 8): “ I am the Beginning and the End.” And again (xx. 6): “ I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” And here it is “the Beginning of the creation of God.” Upon this deep subject some light is cast by the language used in the beginning of the Gospel of John : “ In the
beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the be. ginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." Here the Son, in the character of the Word, is said not only to have been before all creation, but to have created all things, and therefore to have been the Beginning of the creation of God. The same thing is asserted of him in the Epistle to the Colossians (i. 15, 16): “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first.boru of every creature; for by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible; whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him, and he is before all things, and by Him all things consist." The same truth, whatsoever it be, is taught in the beginning of the Hebrews, in the beginning of the First Epistle of John, and in divers other parts of Holy Scripture. Now the question is, What is the mystery, so important, which is in so many sublime and profound passages declared unto us? Is it merely the mystery of his eternal generation of, and co.essential Divinity with, the Father? Surely it is not this which-is spoken of; for the language leads directly not to his uncreated but to bis created essence. There were no meaning, in speaking of him as God, to say that he was the First-begotten of every creature, or that he was the Beginning of the creation of God; nor yet to say, as I conceive, that he was the Word. Besides, in all these places it is of his Christhead that it is spoken; that is, the person of the Son in creature form. Can it then, in the next place, be of some pre-existent humanity that it is here spoken? Certainly not. For though he assumed divers forms or apparitions of manhood before he became flesh, as to Abraham, and Moses, and Joshua, and Manoah, and others, it is certain that flesh he did not become until he took substance from the Virgin. What, then, is the meaning of the expression in the text, “the Beginning of the creation of God ?" From all those passages which I have quoted and referred to, my idea of this great mystery is this, That Christ was the great architype of creation, out of which every thing that hath a being was evolved ; in which it existed in the sight of the Father, before it had an outward being by creation ; that the first act of Godhead unto creation was, that the Son should take unto himself such a form, such a limited form, as might contain within itself the fulness and completeness of all things which were to be for ever. Wherein the Father, as in a glass, might behold the beginning and the consummation of all, ere yet any creature had a beginning. This form of creature, comprehensive of all creatures, this the fulness of being that is to be, the Son adopted unto himself, being willing to enter there. into out of the infinitude and incomprehensibility of Godhead. He condescended to act under the conditions of a creature, and to evolve by successive acts all those creatures whom the Father pleased to produce. In this sense I conceive him to be the Beginning of the creation of God, the First-born of every creature. Unless the Father contemplated all things in Christ from the beginning, unless all things were seen in Christ from the beginning, then had they no existence in the purpose of God anterior to their existence in time. Now all Scripture declareth the very contrary of this : and the doctrines of predestination and of election,—the one the only foundation of a Providence, the other the only foundation of a church, - do themselves rest upon no other ground than this truth of the Christ set up before all worlds. God saw all his works in harmonious order • ere yet they had a being. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, we have it declared first of the elect in these words : “ Ac. cording as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love" (i. 4). And immediately after the predestinated place in the order of the Divine economy:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will ” (i. 5). And again, the purpose of God by all things whatsoever, whether in heaven or earth, assigning them their places in the Christ against the dispensation of the fulness of the times, is thus set forth : Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth.” (i. 9, 10). All things are