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exercise of his Essential nature LOVE, was to lead back human nature into unity with God. With the knowledge of this great truth, we should look in the early records of Bible History, expecting to find instances of the manifestation of Christ; while on the same knowledge, we should feel surprise at instances of the revelation of the Father; seeing that he was not the God to lead — but the Being to whom man was to be led. And this is exactly — to the very letter, — what we discover. Innumerable examples exist of the spiritual descents of the Son ;but not one of the Father; - nay it is expressly stated, that “no man hath seen the Father at any time;" nor “heard his voice."
The possession of this notion reconciles at once very many statements of our Saviour, that would otherwise seem so difficult to the understanding. We see how it happens that “the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise,”*-in that the active Quality of Love, which is generated from, is at the same time a portion, so to speak, of the Father. It is in the full force of that assertion of Christ, that “I and my Father are one.” Yet with this unerring truth in our thought, we still perceive that “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” t-That the Father, “ hath given him power over all flesh:”I-that Christ was “sent from the Father:" - that Christ “finished the work which God gave him to do :" ||—that Christ: “spake not of
* John v. 19. ' + John v. 22. John xvii. 2.
himself; but the Father which is in Heaven gave him a commandment what he should say, and what he should speak :"*—we perceive these things, in that the Quality of Love, commiserating man's lost éstate, and interceding with the offended Quality of Power, had that authority conceded to Him, and received those laws from the Father, the combination of which could alone bring human nature again into reconciliation with God. The details and the visible process are removed far from our comprehensionbut not so the principle. That is the leader of our Faith in the stupendous Doctrine ; the means through which we perceive that though, in the fulness of its glory, it is above, it is not yet contrary to our reason. Hence, that we perceive how Christ was separated and set apart for that great office. How that His divine Person or Quality became centred at various times in the form of an angel ; in the Pillar and the Cloud; in the Voice breaking forth from the Mercy Seat:—under those various means which were usual in former ages; and in which He spake comfort to mankind; and how above all, He became enshrined in the tabernacle of a mortal body during the Incarnation; and divested himself for a season of those higher and Godlike properties, which were Essential to Him as Deity; but which were inconsistent with the Human Nature which he had adopted, in order that he might purify it of its defilements. In that hour of humiliation he stood amongst men a sin-offering of their offences. It was the hour of supplication to the Father. The hour which set the seal to his Intercession. The hour for which the
* John xii. 49.
past dominion of the earth had been given ; and in that time his Real Glory was clouded. In the words of the Creed : “ He was inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood.”
It is hence also that we feel the full force of that doctrine; and of the practice of the Church which has been founded on it, which states; that -“Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you.”* We pray to the Father, because He-the offended Power—is the Deity to be appeased;—but we frame our supplications in the name of Jesus, because it is through his Merits and Atonement that pardon can be obtained. Christ has received the dominion ; but he undertook it in order --for the express purpose, of bringing men to God : and therefore the prayer which seeks forgiveness is addressed naturally, not only to Christ who effected the reconciliation; but also to God who was offended with our nature.
In the concurrence then of all these principles, we come again to the expression of St. Paul, that “ Christ shall give up” his Mediatorial kingdom “even to God the Father,” and we feel strengthened in the first position which was advanced, that Christ was the Personal Quality through whom all manifestations of Deity were made known unto men; and that a period will arrive in God's own time and season, when that Quality, thus set apart for a distinct and particular purpose of his own free will and affection towards men, will yield up the temporary dominion and again, as at the first, be resolved into the Unity of the Godhead, and “ God be all in
* John xvi. 23.
all." How this will be accomplished it is as vain to enquire, as it is impossible to know. Christ “ the first fruits of them that slept” has arisen in the same outward form in which men will hereafter arise to judgment. His own Resurrection is the earnest of the mode, in which our own shall be accomplished. He is still in Heaven, in regard to men, the Mediatorial King to whom authority has been given; and that authority will be “delivered up” by the same divine means and agency through which it was received. “ Then shall the Son also be subject unto Him that put all things under him”-subject ; as the Quality of Love was generated from that of Power,—not as expressive of inferiority—and “God be all in all.”
I know not that in coming to this climax, a single point has been over-strained ; nor that the whole course of the enquiry has not flowed onwards in an even current from the data which induced its rise : I know not that there exist any passages which tend to subvert—or even oppose it.*
* The only expression which may seem to reach this assertion ; and which on that account should not be passed over in silence is the voice which on two occasions was heard in the exclamation, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And on a third in answer to a prayer of Jesus, " Father glorify thy name,” in the words “ I have both glorified it; and will glorify it again.” John. xii. 28.- But although, as I have said, they may seem to open a question, I think that in reality they do not. Christ has affirmed that no man hath heard the voice of the Father at any time. But on these three occasions the voice of the Father is said to have spoken. If this be true, it opposes the assertion of Christ; which of itself would lead us to seek another solution of it, than that which seemed the most direct and evident. The immediate occasions of the utterance of the expressions were the Baptism and Transfiguration of Jesus, and a prayer offered up during his last
It has been my endeavour to give every act which has been quoted its due and legitimate weight, and no more;-neither to insist too strongly on those which speak plainly and openly of the ministration of
sojourn at Jerusalem. The mode of the answer is intrinsically the same in all the Evangelists. There came a voice out of Heaven, saying ; “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased ;-hear ye him.”
There can be no question, but that the most obvious interpretation would be, that the Father Himself spake ;—and if we could forget the affirination of Jesus, we should doubtless so interpret it. But that saying reduces us to receive it in a more modified sense. The Divine commands which required personal intervention, were in ancient times usually performed by the ministration of angels ;-Christ himself in this sense being an angel or messenger of the Most High. Taking into view the assertion of Christ ;-considering the Supremacy and Dominion entrusted to Him, because of the alienation of the Father from mankind ; reflecting on the ineffable Height, Splendor, and Majesty of the Eternal; and His aversion from men, UNTIL reconciled by the Atonement and Mediation of the Messiah ; I cannot but think it possible, with this passage before me, that though the mind and will of the Father was in the voice, yet that it was actually conveyed by the lips of an angel. The voice uttered in the Heaven of Heavens—in that unimaginable centre, where the Fulness of the Divine Glory resides—may have been borne to earth by one of the attendant Spirits near the throne, and have been given with all the authority, but not the voice of the Eternal.
I would not however, be thought to lay a stress on this solution. It is obviously one framed to the occasion ; and one which I should be loth to advance, if the truth of the enquiry rested wholly on the quoted passage. This however, is far from the case. God is stated never to have been seen, as well as never to have been heard. And Christ having once been proved to have assumed the titles of the Godhead, and to have appeared to men, the whole volume, by incessant connection, bears upon His Person in every subsequent or antecedent instance. This constitutes the real force of the System; and in this view possesses a strength which seems to my own mind insu