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That Christ in Gethsemane and on the Cross gained a personal victory over the common enemy of the race, is clear; and that this victory thereby benefited the race for ever. For the champion who maims and weakens the foe with whom all are struggling, is the benefactor of all. And Scripture reveals not obscurely that this was a part of Christ's achievement,
But how the death of Christ availed for this defeat of Satan is not equally clear.
It may have been that the expiatory virtue of that death weakened the power which sin had given Satan.
It may have been that in cleaving a way through the dark valley and issuing unto light, and leaving that way “a living way"-open to all believers, Christ virtually destroyed him that had the power of death.”
It may have been that in that Death and passage through Hades there was a yet more direct and personal conflict with the Prince of this world, whose hour it
was, too mysterious to be further revealed to us.
Whatever be the explanation, the fact of such a victory over the Evil One is declared in Scripture with abundant clearness : and the price of the victory no less clearly, our Champion's life-blood. “The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep."
The price paid by our Redeemer was indeed infinite, but “non quia passus est infinita, sed quia qui passus est erat infinitus :" not because the actual pains were infinite, but because of the infinite dignity and susceptibility of the sufferer.
1 Jackson on the Creed, Book viii. ch. 13.
But this idea of Christ's championship and conflict with the Evil One lies apart from the doctrine of the Atonement, and is only introduced here by way of supplement, because no account of the mysterious efficacy of Christ's death is complete without it.
The main purpose of this chapter has been to set forth the doctrine of the Atonement in harmony with the teaching of the first four centuries; in harmony with the instincts of a healthy conscience; and, above all, in harmony with the teaching of Holy Scripture.
The deep comfort of the doctrine who can tell? But it is not the comfort of sin being made less penal, it is not the comfort of being accounted righteous when we are unrighteous, it is not the comfort of being told that Another has borne for us the punishment that we deserved.
Infinitely deeper is the comfort of the Cross of Christ to those who know its power. It is the comfort of having our sense of sin so deepened that we learn to hate it with a perfect hatred. It is the comfort of a new hope and power within us, enabling us to crush and mortify sin more and more in all our members. Above all, it is the comfort of believing that we are pardoned, and may lift up our faces to the Father as forgiven children ; and that, however imperfect our dying unto sin may be, yet in Christ sin hath been altogether crucified; and the law of holiness being thus satisfied and vindicated, if only we are in Him, God is faithful and just to forgive us all our sins now, and sanctify us perfectly hereafter,
The Doctrine of the Third Person of the Trinity.
We have been meditating in the two preceding chap
ters on the Person and work of our Blessed Lord, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, in His Incarnation.
In this chapter let us fix our attention prayerfully and reverently on the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.
Clear and distinct thought in matters of religion is a very great help to devotion. Devotion, by which we mean the soul's communion with God, is the all-important thing, and He that is thus in communion with God, knows God with the best kind of knowledge ; for, as has been before observed, knowing God is an infinitely better thing than knowing about God.
Still, knowledge about God having clear and distinct ideas about God,—in a word theology, is a great help, and therefore of much secondary importance.
Let our prayer be that our present meditation on the nature of God the Holy Ghost, as revealed in Scripture, may help us to enter into communion with Him, and know Him personally as our Friend and Comforter.
All do not so know Him. Christ said, “ The world
knoweth Him not ;” and He gave the reason, “ Because the world seeth Him not” (John xiv. 17).
There are even professing Christians who do not realise to themselves His personality; who have never got beyond the notion that by “the Spirit of God” the Bible means merely God's energy or influence upon the heart of man; merely a quality, or attribute, or power of God; just as we speak of the spirit of a man, saying, "He is a man of high spirit,” or “He is a man of very humble spirit.”
Now let us take the doctrine of the Holy Ghost as briefly laid down in the Nicene Creed, or rather in the Constantinopolitan Creed; for it was at the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) that this clause was thus enlarged. The Nicene Creed, as originally published at the Council of Nicæa (A.D. 325), had ended with the words, " And I believe in the Holy Ghost.”
It was to refute the erroneous teaching of Macedonius' that the doctrine of the Holy Ghost was added in the words which are to be the text of this chapter :
“I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son), who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the Prophets.”
Observe how clearly we have here laid down
1 Macedonius fell into grievous error owing to his confusion of procession and generation. He denied the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. ει μεν αγέννητον, δύο τα άναρχα ει δε γεννητών, και εκ του Πατρός ή εκ του Υιού. Ει μεν εκ του Πατρός, δύο υιοί ει δε εκ του Υιού νιωνός ¿OTI. —Greg. Naz. Or. xxxvii. From such impiety the doctrine of the Procession saves us.
The doctrine of His Personality,
The doctrine of His witness in the world, that is, the doctrine of Inspiration.
All three doctrines will demand our careful consideration.
But first it may not be amiss, by way of preparation, to endeavour to obtain a distinct notion of the meaning of the words personality and person as used in speaking of the Holy Trinity.
What do we mean by a person ?
Can we find any common property in mankind, in angels, and in the Divine Being, which defines our idea of personality,—some property which, belonging to all, serves to individualise each ?—for individuality is essential to our idea of a person.
Some have suggested Intelligence as the characteristic of personality. But the brute animals have intelligence in their degree. Intelligence, therefore, will not do.
Others have thought that personality was to be found in the Will. But it is not so. It would introduce confusion into our Theology, as the following admirable passage from Hooker shows : .“ Will, whether it be in God or man, belongeth to the essence or nature of both. The nature, therefore, of God being one, there are not in God divers wills, although Godhead be in divers Persons, because the power of willing is a natural, not a personal propriety. Contrariwise, the Person of our Saviour Christ being but one, there are in Him two wills, because two natures, the nature of God and the nature of man,