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sole Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our
chief corner stone,” and if this stone is “ well and truly laid ” all the glorious edifice of a spiritual and rational faith may be easily built upon it.
If we are asked, “What is the difference, the broad and clear difference, between the New Church and other Christian churches ?" we may well reply, “The difference is in the object of worship." Churches have always been distinguished by the character and person of the God they worshipped. Varieties of creeds would be of less importance than they are now thought to be, if all men truly worshipped the same God, but a difference in that prime doctrine is a vital difference. The stream of truth is turbid or clear according as this its fountainhead is pure or impure. It is therefore a matter of the deepest importance to settle well in our own minds who He is, and what He is, whom we call our God.
All “ orthodox” churches, whether Protestant or Catholic, agree in worshipping a three-personal God, consisting of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. They say that every one of them is God, and yet that by some mysterious communion, “they are not three Gods, but one God;” and to make this dogma still more mysterious, though the three persons are said to be in all things co-equal, it is most certain that the Father is practically the supreme object of worship; the Son is only secondary, and the Holy Spirit is seldom thought of in worship, except as the messenger of the Father and the Son. He is very seldom Himself the direct object of worship. Nothing can well exceed this confusion ; but we must not speak harshly of it, for it is the faith of millions of good people. It is indeed the faith of modern Christianity, and if we must not speak contumeliously of this faith we may surely be allowed to express our convictions and say that if such a faith were now first discovered among hitherto unknown heathen nations, Exeter Hall would ring with it as a specimen of the darkness which covers the earth and the gross darkness which covers the people wherever the light of Divine Revelation has not taught men that God is One,-literally and simply One.
Other Christians say that the Lord Jesus is not Divine absolutely ; not God at all, and therefore they do not in any way worship Him. They worship Jehovah, the unmanifested, incomprehensible Divinity, of whom our Lord said, “ Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape” (John v. 37).
The New Church worships the Lord Jesus Christ as the only God of heaven and earth ; one God in one Person, whose voice was heard
by multitudes, who were touched by His "gracious words;" and whose shape was and is that of “One like unto the Son of Man” (Rev. i. 13). He alone may now say, “I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. xlvi. 9). He claims this supreme name in the words of our text; but some will
He does not, because He confesses and declares that His power is "given ” to Him. “ All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” A little thought, however, will show that this objection, which looks so formidable, is easily answered, and not only easily, but satisfactorily answered; so as to leave on our minds no uneasy feeling that we need more proof.
If we contemplate at the same time all the attributes ascribed to the Lord, and which He Himself distinctly claims, we should have irresistible evidence of the truth of our primary doctrine that He alone is God; but there is an advantage in looking at one attribute first, or primarily, because we can then go on, as from a principle well settled, to consider all the rest. This is the way to make our faith systematic and strong, so that we can at any time "give a reason for the hope that is in us.”
Every true science begins with something which needs no proof. In the science of Theology, it needs no proof that God alone possesses "all power :” that He is Omnipotent. Even in the lips of the profane He is “God Almighty.” That is His name to them, and with them He has no other name—“God Almighty." This is the homage which sensual thought pays to the Great Architect of the universe ; and simple reason in its first beginnings pays Him the same homage ; for we all think first of God, as the great Being who made us and all things. Power, therefore, is the first Divine attribute we think of, afterwards, in states of more intelligence, we think of Him as the fountain of truth ; but it is long, long indeed, before the God” makes us think instantaneously of a Being of infinite love. Before we attain that gentler, and softer, state of mind and heart, we must have passed through the fires of temptation, and have felt the need of a God who loves us ! But in the depths of such states the name “God” seems to be hard and unsympathetic, and we prefer that dearer and more loving name, “the Lord.” This then is our progress : when we think of God from our understanding and intellect we think first of His power and His truth ; when we think of Him from our will and its affections we think first of His love and His mercy ; but further reflection shows that we cannot actually separate any of these attributes from our idea of God without making Him less than.
66 all power
Divine, less than perfect; for though they are every one of them infinite, they are none of them perfect without the rest. Their union is their perfection. A God of power without love, would be ruthless, dreadful A God of power without vislom, would be insane, not a builder but a destroyer. A God without power, would be imbecile, a practical nonentity. To
» therefore implies, to possess infinite love and infinite wisdom ; for without them power is a mere “force” without either end or aim.
Such a power could not rule all heaven, nor sustain and regulate everything on earth. Therefore when our Lord says All
power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth,” He in fact claims every attribute which constitutes perfect and sole Divinity, and this is consistent with our first and simple perception, that there can be only One who has all power; only One who is infinite; and that He who is infinite is God.
It is also another simple perception that a true God cannot be created, for whatever is created is a creature, and every creature has a beginning, and to such a being it cannot be given to have had no beginning ; but to have had no beginning is a special attribute of the true God, an attribute as essential as it is unspeakably marvellous. On
every hand then we see, that Divine attributes cannot be "given ” in the ordinary acceptation of that word. Infinity, Eternity, Omnipotence, cannot be given away, neither are they capable of any kind of division; for if divided each would be less than infinite. We feel at once that the mere thought of it places us in the midst of absurdities.
We may therefore safely conclude, indeed we must necessarily conclude, that God cannot make Himself less than infinite; that He cannot give away ali His power, for that would be to cease to be God. The Psalmist says, “Power belongeth unto God” (Ps. lxii. 11), which clearly means that it belongs to His very nature, and in the same spirit we say, “For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.” To whom do we say this in our morning and evening prayer? To “ Our Father who is in heaven.” And who is our Father in heaven? "Doubtless,” says the prophet, “ doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not; thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy name is from everlasting ” (Isa. lxiii. 16). To whom then do we pray when we say “Our Father ?" To Jehovah? To God as He was before the incarnation ? No, not only because our affections cannot be moved by a Being whom we do not know, and whom we cannot in our minds set visibly before us, but because He has not “the power.” It may be startling
to say so, but we cannot say to Him “Thine is the power," because our
“ All power is given unto Me," and there cannot be two who have “ all power.” The Son, the Divine Human nature and form, in whom the Father dwelt on earth, and now dwells in "all fulness” in heaven, He has the power, and in one sacred and indivisible person. He is the Father, and the prophecy is fulfilled : “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, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isa. ix. 6). Now also is fulfilled the declaration of our Lord Himself, “I and My Father are one."
Yes! This prime doctrine of our Church, the Divine unity in the Lord our Saviour, is at once the chief glory and the great mystery of our faith. It is one of those things which “the angels desire to look into," and which they and we may perceive more and more of as their perfection increases, and as our regeneration becomes more perfect. It is a mystery, a great mystery. Limited reason cannot escape from mysteries ; but it is a pure mystery, neither a confusion nor a contradiction. At the end of the Jewish Church Jehovah had not the power to save the world without assuming our nature. This is matter of fact. If He had had that power He would not have been “made flesh and dwelt among us;" for God never does anything which is useless, nor anything which is not the best that can be done. When He took on Him our nature to enable us to put on His, our sins had separated us so far from Him that He could not give us spiritual life. We were like planets driven by some malignant influence so far from the sun, as to begin to freeze round every zone, and to lose in outer darkness every vestige of mortal life ; our case indeed would have been far worse. Without redemption we should have lost immortal life. To save us from this utter death it was necessary that Jehovah should come to us, and He did come to us, by being born into the world, and so purifying and sanctifying the humanity which He put on, that it became, when He finally left the world, the glorious body of the living God, one God in one Divine Human person.
Thus it was that the Creator of the world recovered that power over us and for us, which He had lost through our perversity. Thus it was that He became “mighty to save," and therefore the four-and-twenty elders whom John saw, glorify Him in that magnificent ascription of praise : “We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come ; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned
(Rev. xi. 17). This was addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ; for He Himself claims the supreme titles which the elders give to the God of their praise. In the very first chapter of the Book of Revelation of John, He says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." One passage must therefore help to explain the other. In our text it is said, “All power is given unto Me;" in Revelation it is said, “ Thou hast taken unto Thee Thy great power.” It is plain therefore that the words given and taken are not used in the ordinary sense, but that in some way He who gave and He who took unto Himself “ all power,” are the same person.
In looking at the Father and the Son, the essential Divinity and the Divine humanity, as one person, we may instruct ourselves by looking also at our own frame, for we are made in the image and likeness of God.
We are composed of soul and body. The Lord's soul was the invisible Jehovah the Father, and His body was the Son, the humanity which Jehovah put on, in order to come to us. Our body lives from the soul, and lives but a little while ; but the Lord's body became so intimately one with the Father, who dwelt in Him, as to be one person for ever, the visible person of the hitherto invisible God, and therefore He is called “God over all, blessed for ever” (Rom. ix. 5), and He shewed the vast difference between His body and ours when He said, “ As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself” (John v. 26). To be life in Himself is to be Divine, to be God, to be a fountain of life; and therefore in another place He says : “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." The Lord's body therefore rose again, and “ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things” (Eph. iv. 10); but our body is laid down for ever when it dies. That is the difference; but we are now to look, not at the difference, but at the " image and likeness," that we may clearly comprehend the text and the peculiar meaning of the word “given.” While our body lives, our soul gives to it all human power, yet retains that power itself. In ordinary language, if a man gives anything to another he ceases to possess it himself; not so with the gifts of the soul to the body; those gifts are constant and instantaneous, and though all the fulness of the living power of the soul is given to the body, the soul itself lives on and still keeps giving until bodily disease, or violence, or decay, shut out the gift. During life the soul