reproduced by permission from a copy presented by the Rev. Lee Woofenden
The Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. (Zechariah 14:9)
The subject before us is one of the very highest importance. We know that by many it is esteemed to be of so mysterious a character that the idea of knowing God, of having a clear and comprehensive view of the Holy Being we worship, is supposed to be entirely beyond our reach. And there are two general views which certainly are not such as to give us a clear discernment of the God we are required to love.
One of these views lays especial stress upon what is indeed most emphatically declared in the Scriptures--namely, that there is one God and no more. But those who hold the idea that we have just named to the exclusion of any notion of there being a Trinity in the Divine Being say that this one God has neither form nor image by which the mind can grasp him. In such a case, it would seem that when the soul endeavors to fix itself upon this notion, it can only be in conformity with the idea that was written upon the altar which Paul pointed out at Athens; it still proclaims God to be an unknown God--for the mind certainly cannot form any idea of a Being to whom it can attribute no form. When it strives to grasp such a God, it finds itself, as it were, gazing upon emptiness and grasping a shadow.
Another idea that is very commonly entertained, and that is confessed by those who hold it to be exceedingly difficult of comprehension, is that there are three persons in God, and that each one of these three persons is almighty, present everywhere, and all-knowing; none is before or after the other, or greater or less than the other; each person is God and Lord by himself, but there are not three Gods, nor three Lords. Now this, although delivered in so many words, and although capable of being presented in a great variety of aspects, is yet confessed by those who entertain it to be so mysterious even to themselves, that they are painfully perplexed; and at last the mind rests only on the words, and attaches no ideas to them. All is dark, mysterious, and contradictory. The one idea takes the notion of the unity of God, but excludes the trinity; the other idea takes the notion of the trinity of God, but excludes the unity.
Now, the question that we wish to propose for consideration tonight is, whether there is not some other mode of viewing the subject that will enable us to grasp both doctrines of the Sacred Scriptures and believe there is one God, but that in this one God there is also a Divine Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
It is supposed by some who have not considered it to be a duty to obtain a clear and rational comprehension of the faith upon which their salvation rests, that such inquiries are of no consequence. But we think it essential for everyone to reconsider his faith--be the faith that has been taught to him true or not. When he is a child, he thinks as a child, and he is taught as a child; but when he becomes a man, it is the requirement of that God who gave him manly powers that he should regard what he has been taught in the light of man's full estate.
And as those worthier animals that furnish us the greatest uses, after they have taken the food upon which they live, are made by Divine Providence to lie down in the meadow and quietly to ruminate--to chew the cud again and to prepare the food for thorough digestion--so it is in the human mind a desideratum that ought never to be neglected that when the memory has been well furnished with instruction from childhood, the spirit should again bring up the instruction ruminate upon it--meditate upon it--and seek to understand it.
For the religious teaching which man understands alone remains of service in the day of trouble and adversity; and what he does not understand is like the withered leaf, or like the artificial growth that has become pinned to the tree but has not grown out of it. When the storms of life come, all such will be blown away. Hence the great Savior said, "He that received seed into good ground, is he that heareth my Word and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matthew 13:23). But when any man "heareth the Word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart."
Let us, then, endeavor to ascertain if we can understand this foundation stone of all theology, so that it may be so firmly fixed as to be worthy of the glorious promise given in Isaiah: "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste" (Isaiah 28:16). "For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Well, then, we have mentioned those who have been accustomed to hear, and have familiarized themselves with the fact that there is reference--in the New Testament at least--to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or as it might be better rendered, Holy Spirit. The word "Ghost" in old times meant the same as "Spirit." It is derived from the old German word Geist, and signifies that which flows out, as the spirit of truth; but afterwards it obtained a signification which did not at first belong to it. The spiritual person which had left the body at death was called "ghost," and hence, when the Holy Ghost is mentioned, it often suggests to the mind, not the idea of holy truth which it originally did, but the idea of a sort of ghostly personage distinct from other persons.
Now it often occurs to such as have been taught that there are three persons in the Deity, one of whom is called the "Father," and one the "Son," and one the "Holy Ghost," to imagine that as they have read in the New Testament the terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, they have learned from the New Testament that there are three persons in God. They suppose that they can readily lay their fingers upon some text that says, "The Father is a person, the Son is a person, and the Holy Ghost is a person." But when they come really to search the Scriptures with such an object, they find what is the fact: that nowhere, from the commencement of the first book of revelation to the termination of the last, is there such an expression as three persons and one God, or one person of the Father, another person of the Son, and another person of the Holy Ghost. There are no such phrases to be found in the Bible. They are merely to be found in human, manufactured creeds, which were made in times that we now know were times not of intelligence, but times of much ignorance, much error, much tyrannical pretence, and of but little real, true, intellectual light. If these creeds, therefore, have anything that is not to be found in this Divine Book, we would that none of us should be held responsible for their contents; but that we should come "to the law and to the testimony." "If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
Our first remark then, is, that nowhere in the Sacred Scriptures can anyone find such a text; and if he imagines that he can, let him earnestly set about it at once, and not be satisfied until he has thoroughly examined the whole Scripture, for nowhere in this Divine Book is there to be found any passage that says or that means that there are more persons in God than one. The line of teaching in the sacred volume is this: in the Old Testament it is taught that there is one God, Jehovah, and no more, and that this one God would come into the world to save mankind. In the New Testament it is taught that this one God did come into the world under the name of Jesus Christ; that he was God manifest in the flesh." This is the first point.
Second: That to Jesus Christ in the Scriptures is attributed the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, separately and combinedly, in single declarations and in compound declarations where all the names are grouped together.
And, third: We will endeavor to address ourselves to such fair objections as may occur to the thoughtful, duly desirous of examining this subject fully.
We have said, in the first place, that the doctrine of the Old Testament is that the one God, Jehovah himself, would come into the world to save mankind. In the New Testament it is taught that Jesus Christ, who did come into the world, was God himself "manifest in the flesh," fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament.
Now, there are such remarkable declarations on both these points that anyone who allows himself to verify them as we present them will, we conceive, be astonished that he has overlooked their plain and emphatic teaching. Let us take a few instances. It is said in Isaiah: "Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord (Jehovah), and beside me there is no Savior" (Isaiah 43:10, 11). Now, here there is no equivocation; there is a striking, direct, and glorious utterance, that God the Eternal One had none who was formed before him, and after him there would also be none formed--that he was Jehovah himself--and that he would come into the world to be the Savior of mankind. "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Savior." Now, if there had been another person who was or who would be a Savior besides him, there can be no question but he would have known of it.
The same Divine Being throughout the Jewish economy had always presented the same truth. Take, for instance, Deuteronomy 6:4, where you read: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord." Take again, as another specimen, the numerous utterances in Isaiah 45, where you will find, in every variety of form, the fact declared that the same Being who was the Creator would become the Savior. "Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel the Savior" (verse 15). "There is no God else beside me, a just God and a Savior, there is none beside me" (verse 21). "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else" (verse 22).
A very common idea is to regard the first person of the Divine Trinity as a being that required to be appeased in the work of salvation, and the second person of the Divine Trinity, as the Son that came to save man from the horrors which the first had threatened to inflict upon them. These declarations and numerous others point out nothing of this kind, but the reverse: that the Maker of the world, the Creator of all things was the very One that would become the Savior. Take, again, Isaiah 43:25: "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." Thus, again, it is a great fact that the Being who denominates himself "I"--"I, even I"--and declares that he is Jehovah himself, the one glorious God of heaven and earth, is the Being who for his own sake would blot out the sins of men, and redeem them from ruin.
Turn where you will, the prophets are full of this truth. "Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not; behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you" (Isaiah 35:4). "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord (Jehovah), make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (Isaiah 40:3). "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him" (Isaiah 40:10). "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel, I will help thee, saith the Lord (Jehovah), and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 41:14). "For thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord (Jehovah) of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called" (Isaiah 54:5). "Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me; for there is no Savior beside me" (Hosea 13:4). Can language be stronger? Is it not declared that there is only one Savior, and he is Jehovah himself! Look, also, at our text. In that day there shall be one King over all the earth: "In that day there shall be one Lord (Jehovah), and his name one" (Zechariah 14:9).
In the New Testament you will find that the same thing is taught from the very commencement of the Lord's visitation to mankind, and onwards throughout the Gospel. Take, for instance, what is said concerning the Lord's birth into the world, as in this specimen from Matthew: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:2). Now, if Jesus was not Jehovah, not only would this language be itself utterly inexcusable--for who can save from sin but God himself?--but why say, "he shall save his people?" His people! How are they his people unless he made the people, and was their proper Sovereign? They are his: he was their Creator and they were his creatures, his people.
But not only so, salvation itself implies that the Being who saves must be divine. Who of us can save ourselves even from the slightest sin without divine help and power? And who if he could save himself, can save his brother? But this glorious Being was to "save his people from their sins." And yet we have already seen that it is over and over again declared in the Old Testament that there was no Savior but one. "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Savior" (Isaiah 43:11). And if that be true, then he whose name meant Savior--for the word "Jesus" is the word for "savior" in Greek--and he who is declared to have had that name because he would save his people from their sins, must be the very one God. If these two things are true--and no Christian can dispute them--then Jehovah and Jesus must be one.
Again, we have quoted the words which Zechariah proclaimed: "In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one" (Zechariah 14:9)--or one Jehovah, for the word "Lord" is in capital letters, and perhaps it may be as well to remind some of my audience that when they find the word "Lord" in capital letters in the Sacred Scriptures, it is the word "Jehovah" in the original language. And the sense will be clearer here if we read, "in that day there shall be one Jehovah, and his name one."
Now, who was that King? There was to be one King over all the earth. The answer is given in the same chapter, where you will find it two or three times, with this appendage to it: the King Jehovah of Hosts. "In that day," it is said, "they shall go up to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:16); "and whoso will not worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, upon them there shall be no rain" (Zechariah 14:17); meaning, of course, the rain of the divine influence and blessing. In the same prophet it is brought still more markedly before us; it is said, "Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass" (Zechariah 9:9). And you will find in the Gospel of Matthew that the Lord Jesus did this literally, and it is said that it was done to fulfill what the prophet said, "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee" (Matthew 21:4, 5); thus pointing out the Person who would be King. And the Scripture says, "He was the one King that would be over all the earth; and in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one." Who is the rightful Lord if Jesus Christ is not? Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am" (John 13:13); and the Lord says, "There shall be one Lord, and his name one."
We might go on with these parallels between the Old Testament and the New to a much greater extent, but everyone can do it for himself--and it is only a general opening of the subject that we can give, thus affording hints for those who wish to know the Lord, to prosecute their inquiries until that knowledge becomes fully received in their minds.
But allow me to impress upon your attention, my beloved friends, the fact that it is a grievous mistake for persons to imagine that the Lord is not a Being who can be known. On the contrary, in the Scriptures it is pointed out to be the Christian's especial privilege--the great highway to salvation--to know his God. It is said, "The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). To know him, it is said, "is life eternal" (John 17:3). "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this: that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth (Jeremiah 9:23, 24).
Let us take hope and heart, therefore, for if we have not yet got a clear knowledge of our God, we may obtain it. Possibly it may be that some dark and dreary mode of regarding this subject may have entered our minds; but let us determine that we shall apply ourselves, that we may see this great truth, not as mystery and darkness, but as the very light of life. "I am the truth," says the Lord Jesus; let us prosecute our inquiry after the real character of the Lord Jesus Christ--"I am the way, and the truth"--and let us then open our hearts to receive the divine influence of the Savior, and we will find that he is also the "Life"; for he assures us that no man cometh unto the Father but by me."
Let us now endeavor to advance a stage further. We have declared that the names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all attributed in the Scriptures to Jesus Christ, and that what they mean is contained in him, and nowhere else.
Allow me, just by the way, to prevent anyone supposing that the view now offered goes to ignore either the Father or the Holy Spirit. Those who have not got a clear idea, who have not studied the subject sufficiently to obtain a complete view of the doctrine thus manifested of the whole Divine Trinity in Jesus Christ, sometimes take away the notion that we are putting forth one person of the Trinity, and leaving the others aside. What we mean is that the Trinity is not a Trinity of persons, but a Trinity of essential constituents.
There is a Trinity in God, and that, we conceive, is the reason that there is a trinity in everything. Throughout the whole universe you meet continually with trinities, but always in unities. Take, for instance, the sun. The sun is perhaps the grandest emblem in material nature of that glorious Being who is called the "Sun of Righteousness" (Malachi 4:2)--the Spiritual Sun. You have the heat of the sun, which is the grand foundation quality; the light of the sun; and the outgrowing radiation of both--and these three are one.
Take, again, any object you please: a tree, for instance. You have the essential nature of the tree; you have the outward form of the tree; and there are the fruits which the tree produces--and these three are one. Each one of these is not a tree by itself, but the whole three form a tree. Take a flower. There is its life, or essence; its form; and its fragrance--and these three are one.
Take a human being, who is said to be in the image and likeness of God. You have the soul, which is the grand essential principle in man; you have the body, which is the outward form or manifestation; and then you have the works, which proceed from both together--and these three are one. If you take each part of a man it is the same. You may take the soul by itself, and you will find that there are three essential parts which form it. The whole of the activities of the soul may be classed into the volitions that belong to the will; the thoughts, which belong to the intellect; and the power, which flows from both of these together.
Take the body. There is the head, the trunk, and the legs, and these form one human body. Take any part of the body. The skin is formed, as all acquainted with physiology will tell you, of three parts that make it a beautiful treble network around man; but of these three, each forms a part, and the whole three form the human skin. Take the finger, and it is divided into three joints. The arm, and there are three parts. Nay, take any object you please. A grain of dust, and there is its length, and breadth, and depth--and these three are one. You cannot get a thing at all without a trinity; and when you get the trinity, you have the whole. One quality is not a trinity, nor can it be a separate existence by itself. And so it is with the Trinity of God, from whom all other trinities have come.
The Father is the essential divine love in God--the very essence from which all God's glorious attributes proceed and act. The Son is the divine form or manifestation of God--that which enables us to know God, to approach him, and thus to love him and believe in him. But he is not separate from the Father--the Father is in him; "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). The Lord Jesus says, "The Father who is in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).
And hence, if you examine the evidence well, you will be surprised that there are any who look for a Father outside of Jesus Christ, when we are so distinctly assured that it is not possible to approach the Father but by Jesus Christ. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19). That is the reason Isaiah uses that magnificent round of divine expressions, when speaking of God's being about to descend and save mankind, which you will find in Isaiah: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God [not a mighty God, you perceive, because there is one--only one], the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Now really, unless we are disposed to imagine in obedience to ancient prejudice that there are two Fathers, one in Christ and one out of him, it would seem that this sublime declaration ought to teach us to seek for God in Christ; for the same Being who is called "a Son" and "a Child" is also called "the Everlasting Father" and "the Prince of Peace."
And he himself, when in the world, taught the same truth with the greatest clearness. Turn to the fourteenth chapter of John, and you will find such teaching as may assist to remove a little perplexity from the minds of those who may overlook the fact that it is with the Sun of the soul as it is with the sun of nature--he rises gradually. Man's mental eye is like his natural eye. If light were to come in all its dazzling splendor at once from midnight darkness, we should be very soon blinded. And so, if from the darkness of the materialism in which the world was sunk when our Savior came, he had at once given them the full truth respecting himself, they would have become spiritually blinded.
Hence it was that he disclosed his character to mankind gradually. When first Philip and Nathanael began to talk about Jesus, they said: "We have found him of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets, did write--Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph" (John 1:45). They imagined that he was Joseph's son, a human being like themselves, but selected by God to be a great teacher, a great prophet. When, however, they saw him exert such power as no merely human being could possess, and exert it by his own independent will; when, for instance, the leper begged to be cleansed, he said, "I will; be thou clean" (Matthew 8:3), and the man became immediately healed; when he was beseeched by those who, in that terrific storm on the sea of Galilee, imagining they were about to be overwhelmed, or that he had forgotten or cared not for them, cried out, "Lord! save us, we perish," he rose in divine majesty, and after rebuking them for their little faith, uttered the simple words, "Peace, be still," with the result that they cried out, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!" (Mark 4:35-41). They learned then that the dignity of him who was the Master of the raging sea was not the dignity of a mere man, but the dignity of a Divine Man.
When they gathered around him, eager for information, and Philip cried, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us," he replied, as you will find in John, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou, then, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:8, 9). Can there be any teaching more solemn or more definite than this? Can we imagine that when the disciples gathered around the Master, full of solicitude to be rightly understood and rightly led, he would equivocate with them? Assuredly not. They asked him to show them the Father. Shall not we, then, receive the same reply, and ponder it deeply--impress it in our hearts, remembering that the Lord Jesus, though as to his human nature the Son, as to his divine nature was also the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace?"
Again: In the Book of Revelation, you will find another of these group passages where it is said, "I am Alpha and Omega [that is, taking the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, to intimate that he was the very beginning and end of all things; as if he had said, 'I am the a and the z'], the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8). Here, again, can we conceive that there is any want of plainness, especially when we find the Lord Jesus adding, "Fear not; I am the First and the Last?" (Revelation 1:17). Then you perceive that three times over he replies in what seems to be tautology, unless we bear in mind that there is a Divine Trinity, and that he is the "first and the last" of every part of the Trinity. The very idea of God is included in the term, "Almighty," and it is such as can be applied to only one such Being; for, although there are three necessary ideas involved in it, each one implies the others, and cannot exist without them. For instance, he is the Almighty. There can be only one Almighty, for if one person has all might, there can be no might of the same kind for any other person. If I have got possession of the whole of anything, no one else can have any of it. If another has any part, I cannot have it all. "The Almighty."
Again: The idea of all-might implies two others. It implies all-knowledge, and it implies presence everywhere to know and perceive everything. No person can do everything unless he knows how to do it--no person can do anything if he is not present where it is to be done. Omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence go together. Again, a person cannot do all things unless he has all-knowledge. But if he has all-knowledge and not energy of will, he also would not have all-power. Knowing how to do a thing is not sufficient. There must be the will to do as well as the knowledge. If I had the power to build a house, if I had all the might requisite to produce a house, and I produce it, the production of the house not only proves that I had the power to do it; but that I knew the plan of operation, and where to get the materials, and especially that I had also had the will to do it. So that you see these three things go together.
So in God there are infinite might, infinite intelligence, and infinite love. Here is a Divine Trinity meeting us in three terms, but the essentials so expressed are so connected that you cannot separate them. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus said, "All power is given unto me, in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18), or, as I have just before quoted, that he is "the Almighty," it proves that he has all wisdom, and that he has all love, for these two must be in the mind of the Almighty; and he who has all power, all wisdom, and all love must be the only God. Other beings can have no divine wisdom, no divine power, no divine love; and he who has no divine wisdom, no divine power, and no divine love is no God at all. So that we shall find, if we closely attend to the subject, that reason confirms the same truth that revelation teaches.
Allow me to suggest that in all our inquiries we should be most careful not to put one kind of truth in opposition to another. There can be no opposition really between truth of different kinds. That which is really proved to be true by any one mode of thinking must agree with all other truths. Three times three make nine according to arithmetic, and you will find they make it according to everything else. And so, if we have got the right idea of God from the Scriptures, it will harmonize with reason, it will harmonize with science, it will harmonize with fact, it will harmonize with every mode of viewing truth.
We have proved then, we conceive, that the Father and the Son are both of them attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ; and the Holy Spirit is just in the same way attributed to him. In the same chapter in which the Lord so clearly points out that the Father is in him, he says concerning the Holy Spirit that it is "The Spirit of truth, the Comforter, whom I will send unto you from the Father" (John 15:26). And so a person who did not examine the subject well might say, "Don't you see that he says, 'I will send him from the Father'?"--and with this idea of a Father somewhere outside of Jesus Christ, and of sending in the same way that one man sends another man, he has a representation in his mind of three separate individuals.
But we should always bear in mind that the Father of the Sacred Scriptures is the Father in Jesus; and when he sends the Holy Spirit, he sends him from the Father within him, not from some Father above or below him. And this Father within him is himself, as he proceeds to explain. He says, "For he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:17). That is, the Holy Spirit was Jesus, not dwelling outwardly with them, but dwelling inwardly with them when his outward presence was gone--dwelling by his holy influence with them. "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you" (John 14:17, 18). Now, here you perceive the Savior himself explains what it is, and that it is he himself who comes when the Comforter comes to man.
And so, it is said that after the resurrection, "when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled," then "came Jesus and stood in the midst" (John 20:19), fulfilling what is manifest in the fact that he was that Being to whom no doors present any obstacle; that he was that Being who can be as the Holy Spirit, the divine Influence, constantly present everywhere--as he said: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). He manifested himself in the midst of the disciples and said, after breathing upon them, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). Now, does not this teach most distinctly that his Spirit was the Holy Spirit? Can anyone conceive that he breathed anything else but his divine influence upon them? And hence the Apostle Paul says, "Now, the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17).
The Spirit is not a separate person from the Lord; it is the Lord. And so in the Book of Revelation, to each church the Lord Jesus sends his divine commission. They begin by seven descriptions of himself, taking something out of the full, perfect, and glorious form that he showed to John at first. He began each separate epistle with one of these. To one he says, "Thus saith the First and the Last" (Revelation 2:8); he proceeds to say to another, "Thus saith he that holdeth the seven stars" (Revelation 2:1); to another, "Thus saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God" (Revelation 3:1).
And here allow me to suggest that an emblem or a form does not mean a separate individual. When the dove descended on the Lord Jesus at his baptism, it did not suggest or mean that a separate divine person descended upon him. The dove is an emblem of conjunction; an emblem of love and wisdom becoming one. And it was to show that the Lord Jesus had this conjunction with the Father in him infinitely and completely that the dove appeared. If we are to suppose otherwise and believe that each Spirit is a distinct or separate person, we must make seven different persons of the Holy Spirit. But it is meant to teach us that he possesses all the fullness of the Spirit of God. The number "seven" is found in Scripture wherever something especially blessed, full, perfect, sacred, or divine is meant. The seven Spirits of God, like the seven stars, and like the use of the number seven throughout the Scriptures, which you will find very remarkable, is the emblem of all that is holy. And he is said to have the seven Spirits of God to teach us that the whole Spirit of God is possessed by him. And, therefore, when he commences each epistle with something which means himself, he concludes it in all cases by saying, "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." He is the only person that has been speaking--thus teaching that when he speaks, the Spirit speaks; when he exerts his divine influence, it is the influence of the Holy Spirit which is exerted.
A man's spirit is not a different person from himself, and God's Spirit is not a different person from God himself. Jesus said again, "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star" (Revelation 22:16). He, Jesus, is the "root" because he is the Father, from whom all things spring; he is the "offspring" because he has assumed the human nature by which God manifested himself; and he is the "bright and morning star" because he is the glorious Spirit that illuminates man when he turns from the nighttime of sin and folly; for by "star" is signified the light of heaven, and by "morning" the breaking of a new day over the soul. Jesus is the "All in all."
Such, then, are some of the evidences upon which, if we dwell, we conceive there will be no reason to hesitate to accept the glorious fact presented by the prophets, realized in the Gospels, and proclaimed by the Apostles. Paul said, "In him (Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). "Ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:10). "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily": love, wisdom, power, righteousness, justice--everything that belongs to the nature of the Godhead, all dwells bodily in Jesus Christ. "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." And hence Paul tells us again, when speaking of Christ to the Romans, that he (Christ) is "over all, God blessed forever" (Romans 9:5)--who is not therefore a second person, who is not an inferior dignity, but who is "over all," and not only over all, but over all, "God," whom "all the angels of God worship" (Hebrews 1:6), to whom every knee should bow, "God blessed forever."
Peter said, "Jesus Christ is Lord of all" (Acts 10:36). John said, "This is the True God and Eternal Life" (1 John 5:20); while Jude concludes with the grand doxology, "To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion, and power, both now and ever" (Jude 25). When this great truth is illuminated by other truths which tend to open the mind to "all the fullness of the Godhead," each portion will fall into its right place and give to us a knowledge of God, which we can give to others.
Let us all hope and pray that the time may come when this glorious God our Savior can be approached, not in the way of something mysterious which we cannot understand, but as the "Bread of Life," the "Light of Life," the power that can quicken our souls unto salvation--when this glorious Savior may be preached over all the earth, and the "knowledge of the Lord,"--not the perplexities and mysteries of the Lord, but "the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
But an inquirer may object that Christ is said to be sent by God, and how can he be God himself?
It is a very proper question: How can he be God himself if God sent him? But certainly it ought not to be proposed as an objection unless, first of all, we ignore the fact that he was "God manifest in the flesh." If he was "Immanuel, God with us" (Matthew 1:23), then, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ as "him that is able to keep you from falling" (Jude 24), he was God himself. And although it is then right for us to ask how he could be sent from God, it is hardly right, when we have just admitted that he was God himself, to object that he was not God himself--that he was someone else. It is merely advancing two opposite sides of the same question.
But the fallacy is here: We are supposing--and here originate many of the mistakes which have been made upon this subject--we are supposing that we have to do with a finite being--with a being who is located in one place and nowhere else. And hence persons will say, If Christ was God himself, what were they doing in heaven when he was upon earth?--forgetting that he is the Being who fills heaven and earth. We all admit that Christ is wherever his faithful followers are. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). But is not he in heaven also? We should never forget that the Being we are talking about, is the Being who said, "Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off? . . . Do not I fill heaven and earth?" (Jeremiah 23:23, 24). Jesus Christ said he was in heaven when he was upon the earth, as you will read in John: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, which is in heaven" (John 3:13). Was not this at the same time as he was talking to them upon the earth?
What, then, does descending mean? It means this: We regard God as a great way off because he is invisible to us, and we are not aware of his presence; we think he is very far off because we cannot see him. And when God manifests himself, it seems to us as if he was sent down from where he was to where he is. This is merely an appearance. It does not belong to God himself. When he made himself visible, it is called sending into the world. It was not another person that sent him; it was himself that sent him. In this connection, you will find in John this simple declaration: "And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me" (John 12:45). That is the Savior's own answer to the question. It was his own love that brought him into the world; it was his own desire to save mankind; it was his own affection and pity for men that led him, who was the Eternal God, to descend as a man and a brother, to help and to save and to bless us. "He that seeth me seeth him that sent me."
But others may say, "Well, there are Father, Son, and Holy Ghost mentioned in the Scriptures. When Christ commanded us to go out to baptize he said, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19, 20).
We teach that in God there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but they are all in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Just notice that remark, "baptizing them in the name"--not names--"in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This teaches us that there is one name only, which is the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
And what name is that? It is the name of Jesus Christ. And therefore you will read in the Acts of the Apostles that when they baptized, they baptized in the name of Jesus. Take for instance, Acts 19:5, and you will find that "they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." They surely understood their Divine Master. He told them to go and baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," and they went and baptized in the name of the "Lord Jesus." Why so? Because Jesus is the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, just as the name of each of us is the name of the soul, and body, and their works; it is the name of the whole man.
Just notice the beginning and end of that command. The beginning of it is in the preceding verse: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). Then perhaps someone may say, "Jesus says 'given'!" Who is the giver? "All power is given unto me." Well, but who is the giver? You suppose the Father, perhaps, separate from Jesus; but if it is a Father separate from Jesus, you will find that it is a Father whom we have nothing to do with. He has given up all power. Besides, if all power was given to Jesus by a person separate from himself, before Jesus had the power he was not God. A divine person with no power is not God in any way. And after the Father gave all power to Jesus, if the Father was a separate person from Jesus, the Father would have no power because he had given it all away. We therefore could have no need whatever to look to a divine person that had no power--that had given it away, resigned it.
When we pray to a God we pray to one who has, we believe, power to help us. And if he was separate from Jesus, he would have no power to help us at all. No, all power was given unto Jesus just in the same way as the soul of each man gives to his body the power to talk and walk and act. Not as a separate person giving away from himself to another person, but as the inward divine love giving to his humanity all its capabilities to save and love and bless mankind. "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10). Well then, the Lord Jesus says, as if to teach us that his humanity was now the grand medium by which the essential Deity would deal with mankind and teach and rule the church and bless the universe, "All power is given unto me." God brought himself nigh to man by taking upon himself human nature, thereby making it possible for him to seek and to save that which was lost, and so to bless mankind.
And not only does the Savior say that all power is given unto him, but he says, "Therefore"--that is, because all power was his--"Therefore, go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." If these things were not in the Lord Jesus there would be no connection with what had gone before, because he said all power was given unto him. If he was one of these, and all power was given to that one, what would be the meaning of baptizing in the name of the other two that had no power? So you see that the commencement of the passage in reality teaches the same truth: that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in the Lord Jesus. And he adds in concluding, "And, lo, I am with you always." If there were three separate persons, why not say, "We shall be with you always?" It is because he is the one divine Person that he is called the "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (Revelation 17:14; 19:16)--not by any separate usurped authority, but because the whole Godhead is in him.
"Jesus prayed to the Father." This also is an objection felt by many--perhaps by all, at first. If the Father and Jesus were really one, what is meant by his praying to the Father? But there is not yet in the mind of those who feel that objection a knowledge of the work of redemption, and how that glorious work was performed. Jesus took our nature, and was in all respects tempted like as we are (Hebrews 4:15). He took our nature upon him that he might conquer our spiritual foes--and he glorified it by the same process by which he regenerates ours. One of his great purposes in the Incarnation was that he might go through all the states through which we go, and in this way, coming nearer to us, be better able to lead us and teach us in all things. By glorifying his own assumed humanity, he provided a new and still more powerful way for us to approach him in order that he might enable us to sanctify ours.
Now, when we are going through the work of regeneration, our experience tells us that we have a divided manhood. It is as if we had two men within us: the new man with new hopes and new feelings, and the old man with his old temper and his old opposition to everything good and right. And when we go deeply into trials and temptations, it seems very distinctly is if we had two different persons struggling within us. If what we think when these states were going on were written down, there would be a dialogue as complete as if it took place between two separate individuals struggling together for the mastery.
Therefore, you will find that in some parts of the Scripture, holy writers address their souls. For instance, the Psalmist said, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?" (Psalm 42:11). And so the Apostle Paul speaks when he says, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind." And then he cries out, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:22-24). Every person who has entered into the struggles of this passage of life's history--of this campaign through which we have to go if we would become fit for heaven--must have seen in his experience this double character of the human soul.
Now, the Lord Jesus Christ went through precisely the same state as to kind, but with him it was far more severe than with us. He had all hell against him. He trod the winepress alone (Isaiah 63:3), and in the terrible hours of his struggle he was withstanding the powers of darkness for us (cf. Luke 22:53; Colossians 1:13). Note the difference between him and us: he overcame alone; we overcome by power from him. We overcome in our little struggles because he gives us power to tread upon serpents and scorpions (Luke 10:19). But he overcame by his own power, and he says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" (John 17:19).
He had first to do this glorious work of subduing hell, and of glorifying, of perfecting his human nature by his own power from within. And when he cried to the Father, it was to the Father within him--just as, when we are in trial, we oftentimes summon our faith, our former love, our firmness, our courage; we look inwardly for the excellences and virtues we have previously felt within. And although it seems as if all were gone from us, yet when we look up or look inward and pray for hope and faith and love to descend and help us, these come down, not as separate persons, but as principles in a higher degree of the soul. And when they descend by power from God, we obtain the victory and go on conquering and to conquer. At last we come into a state in which, from being double-minded, we become of one mind from head to foot--a whole man brought into the image of our God and Savior. Our twofoldness lasts for a time only, and then is lost in unity.
So with the Lord. In his struggles he was two; in his triumphs he became one. And when he had fully perfected his human nature, there was no longer any praying to the Father. All that was finished. He said, "I cast out devils and do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected" (Luke 13:32). He became perfected, and division existed no longer. Thus it is that these things belong to the state of his humiliation. All the time while he was going through the changes to redeem mankind, he was not in his permanent state. Yet now he reigns upon the throne of heaven, God and Christ in one glorious divine person, the only ruler of heaven and earth.
Hence, therefore, we see that by this view we arrive at the fulfillment of what Jesus declared: "The time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father" (John 16:25)--that time being the time of the seventh trumpet announced in the Book of Revelation, when John said, "And there were great voices in heaven saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he"--not they, as if they were two separate individuals, but "he," Lord and Christ, in one glorious Person--"he shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).
Let us, then, enter upon the examination of this glorious truth. If we have had any perplexity about the Being we ought to worship; if we have had any mysterious cloud hanging over us as to whether we ought to look up to an unknown God, or how we ought to direct the eye of faith and the heart of love so as to adore him with all the heart, let us come to the Savior God. Let us hear him saying, "Come unto me" (Matthew 11:28); "Abide in me" (John 15:4). Let us approach his own glorious divine Person, and we shall find that he will do for us all that the soul requires, either of light, or life, or power. He will give us the victory over our sins; he will give us peace and comfort in our dying hour; and when eternity opens upon us, we shall find that he is there with his angels to bless us, and say, "I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).
With this one glorious "Sun of righteousness" shining in our mental and spiritual system, we shall find that in all our walk, we have had "God with us" (Matthew 1:32), who shows that he not only loves us, but will not spare anything that is requisite for our safety and salvation. It was the Almighty Father who, manifested in the flesh as Jesus Christ, descended upon earth "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). There was nothing that infinite love and wisdom could devise that he was not prepared to do in order to "save to the uttermost" (Hebrews 7:25); and as our glorified Lord and Savior Jesus Christ he still seeks to save and bless us "to the uttermost," and to restore within us "that which is lost." To him, therefore, be glory and dominion forever.
At the conclusion of the lecture Dr. Bayley intimated his willingness to answer any question or objection that might be urged, and consequently a gentleman in the body of the room wished that the prayer might be explained which Christ uttered upon the cross, namely: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34), and to have a reason why it was uttered.
Dr. Bayley said: Our friend has presented the most striking example which exists in the Scriptures, on a small scale, of prayer to the Father. And it is that point in the Savior's experience which is paralleled in the deepest depths of man's experience in his trials. There are periods when, in man's case, he seems to be so completely shut up in darkness and despair that he thinks, as appeared to the Savior, that all hope is gone, and that he is forsaken by all. Now the Savior, in going through all that man has to go through, realized this; his humanity was apparently left to itself. It was the humanity that prayed, not a separate divine person--and the humanity shrouded in darkness, in this depth of the despairing trial that all hell brought upon him.
At this time, the humanity, in order to show that salvation was from the Divinity within, said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" God seemed to have forsaken him, but it was not really so; it is not a real fact that God ever forsakes us, or forsook his own humanity, but it seems to us as if he does, and we speak according as it seems to us to be. He did not forsake Daniel when he was in the den of lions; and the Divinity did not forsake the humanity on that dreadful trial on the cross.
But the point to be borne in mind is, that it was his human which seemed to be forsaken by the inner divine, but both human and divine belonged to the same sacred person. Therefore our Lord, in explaining this beforehand, said, "No man taketh it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John 10:18). The life that was laid down was in the suffering humanity that appeared to be forsaken, and that uttered the cry in order to show that it experienced all that we experience, but in a greater degree. He says as to his inmost degree of the humanity, "No man taketh it from me. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." The life laid down is the suffering human, and the "I" which laid it down is the Divine Human within. The Father is expressive of the inmost infinite love, from which all power comes. "The Father, who is in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).
So that if we only bear this in mind, we shall find that all the duality that is spoken of in reference to the Savior is imaged by the duality which is experienced in us when going through states of suffering and trial. But when these states are over, there is no longer the same duality; our consciousness is no longer as of two, but the two degrees are so united that the mind becomes one from first to last--no more doubt, no more separation. So was it with the Savior. When this great work was accomplished, and the humanity itself was glorified and made perfect, then he said, "I am the first and the last" (Revelation 1:17). It is called the glorification of the Son, that we might look and find in him "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).
Now this is the explanation afforded by the New Jerusalem Church, and it appears to us complete and satisfactory. If anyone has been accustomed to think this prayer a proof that there are two divine persons, let him consider it, and dwell upon it in that point of view. How could what is divine cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Shall we take up the rhapsody of Wesley, and say:
The Almighty faints beneath his load,
Dies the Immortal Son of God."
Could an infinite person be overcome of pain? Besides, how uncalled for is the idea that he called to another person, and not to his own divinity. If he was God at all--and those who make the objection generally admit that he was--he simply appeals to God, and it is a most violent assumption that he passed by his own Godhead, to appeal to another, above and out of himself. He simply says, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me," just as David said, "My soul, why art thou disquieted within me?" (Psalm 42:11). David and his soul, though at the time double in consciousness, are only one human person. The Divinity and the humanity, though double in consciousness while anything human was unglorified, yet were only one divine human person. To show that the suffering part was not divine was one object of this exclamation.
Of course, these things require thought; there are difficulties on every subject. In every science there are difficulties that meet the inexperienced. But what we would earnestly place before you is that with this view, the difficulties are not insuperable, can be explained, and when explained, open the mind to the most beautiful, the most salutary and heavenly wisdom. If there is any friend that would like to present another view, we should be very happy to hear him. And allow me to say also that we presume to take no one by storm, all that we profess to do is to state our own views and convictions, which seem to us to be fully clear and competent to everything the soul requires--to offer them in a spirit of affection, to hear every objection that is offered in the same spirit, and thus to assist, if possible, any of our brothers and sisters that are walking on in the heavenly path. But let no one imagine that he will be treated with sarcasm or unkindness. We will give the best explanation we can, and each person can accept it or leave it, as his conscience dictates.
Another gentleman said: The greatest difficulty I see to the view of the New Church is the first verse of John. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).
Dr. Bayley replied: The difficulty will vanish if you remember that the Word, or Logos, means the divine wisdom. It is called afterwards "the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). Now the Word by which the heavens were made is the veriest power in the universe: the inmost light flowing from the inmost divine love of the Lord. It is that in God which answers to the inmost reason of man. It was from eternity with God, but not as another person, but as reason is with a man--that is, so as to be the man. So with the Lord. The Word was with him so as to be him, and therefore the verse concludes, "and the Word was God."
Another gentleman rose and said that he asked only for information; but that if the humanity of the Lord was the Son, how were we to understand the words of the Apostle in the Hebrews: "God, who at different times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he hath made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high"? (Hebrews 1:1-3).
The Lecturer replied: The Word, which we have just seen, means the divine wisdom, and which the Apostle here calls, "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person," or, as it ought to be translated, "the character of his substance," meaning the very glow of the divine love; this was it which made and which sustains all worlds, not as another person, but as Jehovah himself, putting forth his divine energies, "upholding all things by the Word of his power." "Thus saith the Lord (Jehovah) thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord (Jehovah) that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself." (Isaiah 44:24). In creation there was no other person with Jehovah. He did it alone, by himself. But he did it by his divine truth, which is the Source of all power, and which, under the name of the laws of nature, governs all the worlds of matter and of mind.
This Word became incarnate in the Lord. "The Word was made flesh" (John 1:14), and then was called the Son. "That Holy One which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). The Word was not strictly the Son until it became embodied in the humanity, yet, inasmuch as it was the Word, the divine wisdom, the very power by which the universe was made, which became the Son, the Apostle calls the Old Testament principle by a New Testament name. When he says "The Son made the worlds," he means that the divine truth, which in time became the Son, did so.
Another referred to John 17:5: "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
The Lecturer replied: The subject treated of in these words is the glorification of the humanity of the Lord. And this was done by a similar order to that in which the Lord regenerates or spiritualizes man. Now, we receive truth first, and sigh and pray that goodness may descend also, and make us perfect in love. So with the Lord's humanity, the eternal divine truth descended into it and filled it first, and inspired this prayer for the divine love to descend also, and thus make it fully glorified. The divine truth had been with the Father, the divine love, inwardly, and now sought to be conjoined with the divine love in the entire humanity, and thus to be made glorious by it. It would thus become in the human one with the Father's own self, and there would no longer be a sense of separation, but he could say, 'I and the Father are one' (John 10:30) and, "All things that the Father hath are mine" (John 16:15; 17:10).
Another gentleman wished to have the passage explained, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17).
Dr. Bayley desired the gentleman to dismiss from his mind the idea of space in relation to this subject, as if the Father were a great height up away from the Son. The Son had not to ascend in space, but in state. There was not yet a full and entire union in every particular of the humanity with the divine love. He was arranging the things in the world of spirits and, that he might yet remain in that world, he restrained the full external descent of his divine love. When the divine humanity would appear, not as truth teaching, but as love shining in all the fullness of divine glory, this was to ascend to the Father, and was shortly to take place. Mary was forbidden to touch him until he had ascended because she was the representative of those exalted members of the church who love him intensely, with all their hearts. They are taught first to view him as one with the Father, and then worship him. Thomas is the representative of those who are of lower states of mind--who think naturally, and are more affected by a crucified Lord than by a glorified one. Thomas may touch him in his unglorified state, but Mary not.
One wished to know what was meant by "Let us make man" in Genesis 1:26.
The Lecturer replied: It means that God acts through ministries. The making of man is not the forming of his body, but the elevation of his mind, so that it may come into the image and likeness of the divine love and wisdom. This is always done by the ministry of angels, and so God says, "Let us make man." But to show that God alone works in and by them as the prime mover he says in the next verse, "So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them" (Genesis 1:27). Man, too, it should be borne in mind, is not in the image of three persons in any way considered, he is composed of three essential parts in one person, and that is "the image of God."
Q. What is meant by Jesus saying, "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you" (John 16:23).
A. By that day is meant his Second Coming, when he would reveal his true character perfectly and completely, as God the Father in a Divine Human form. The character he then held in their estimation was that of an extraordinary man, with authority and power from the infinite Father, but not that of the Father himself. He was to them a messenger from the Father, but the Father himself was still the dark and distant God. They asked him everything as a separate person, who had power with the Father. They could not yet think it possible that the Father himself was there in the person of the Son. No man knew the Son but the Father, neither knew any man the Father save the Son (Matthew 11:27). In reality, they neither knew the Son nor the Father (John 8:19).
When they knew the Son truly, they would know the Father truly, and they would then know that Jesus was the Father in a Divine Human form. They would no longer know him in the character of a separate Son, but they would know him as the revealed Father. They would ask him nothing as a messenger from the Father, but they would ask him everything as the Father himself. They would ask him nothing as the Father's friend, but they would ask him everything as the Father in person. At that time they would know that he did not pray to the Father for them. "I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you" (John 16:26), but that, as the Father himself, he loved them (John 16:27); and whatsoever they prayed for in his name, in his Spirit, he would do it for them (John 14:14). The passage, therefore, refers to the change of state in man, when he learns and feels that:
He, who on earth as man was known,
And felt our woes and pains,
Now seated on the eternal throne,
The God of glory reigns.
Q. Does it not appear that we are one with Christ as he is one with the Father from what he says: "That they may be one, even as we are one" (John 17:22). And thus his oneness with the Father is not a personal union, no more than our oneness with him is a personal union.
A. The Lord's teaching is that he is the soul of his kingdom in heaven and the church, and the Father is his soul. "I in them," he says, "and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one" (John 17:23). Unless, however, he were an infinite person, he could not be in all the members of his church in heaven and on earth perfecting them. He is the vine, we are the branches, and the Father is in him; and the Father and the Son are so closely united that when we are in the Son we are in the Father also--and such an union, such an entire oneness that wherever the Son is the Father is, could only be the most perfect union--that is, a personal union. Hence he says, "That they may be one, even as we are one."
Q. What does Paul mean by saying that, at the end, the Son "shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power" (1 Corinthians 15:24)?
A. He does not mean that there will be an absolute change in the ruler of the church, but that the church will change her ideas about him. In the Old Dispensation, the Lord Jesus has ruled only as a mediator, a Son under the Father. But in the New Dispensation he will rule as the everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. It will still be Jesus in a new character, for he is all in all. Hence, absolutely, the Lord Jesus is and ever will be the Sovereign in his church, for he is "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16). "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end" (Isaiah 9:7). "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:14). "He shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).
Q. If the Father and the Savior are one person, how is it that in the Epistles their names are so often separated by the conjunction "and," such as "God and Christ," "the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ"?
A. Partly because the Father and the Savior are two characters, though not two persons. You admit that God and the Father are one person, and yet you will often find the conjunction, "and," occurring between these two names. As, for instance: "Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you" (1 Thessalonians 3:11). "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:3).
It must be confessed, however, that this appearance of distinction would not be so strong in many instances if we had a translation of the New Testament more rigidly exact to the original than we at present have. Thus, in the new translation of the American Bible Society, there is a great improvement. For instance, in 2 Peter 1:1: "Through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ" is corrected, and we read, "Through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ." Again: "Through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:2), is given more correctly, "Through the knowledge of Jesus, our God and Lord." Again: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13) is rendered, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ our great God and Savior."
At the close of the replies the Lecturer was much applauded, and no other difficulty being presented, the meeting separated.