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CHAPTER XII.

Mary my love!! I started Here, I think you can still proof it, thanks alot!

Death of Eternal Son continued—Acts, 3iii. 15: Ye “killed the Prince of life.” I Corinthians, 2ii. 8: They “crucified the Lord of glory.” John, 10x. 14, 15: “I am the good shepherd.” “I lay down my life for the sheep”—The Lamb of the fifth chapter of Revelation—John, 3iii. 16, 17; i “ “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world.” Romans, 8viii. 32: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all”—Father’s”s love in death of Christ—Son’s”s love—Self-denial of eternal Son.

THERE -is a passage in Acts, and another in Corinthians, which are kindred passages with those upon which we have been commenting in the preceding chapters. The passage in Acts stands thus: “,”But ye denied the Holy One, and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life.”—-Acts, 3iii. 14, 15. The passage in Corinthians stands thus: “Which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”—-l Corinthians, 2ii. 8.

Who was the “Prince of life,” the “Lord of glory,” of these, passages? Doubtless it was -not the mere humanity of. him of Nazareth. Beyond peradventure, he whom these passages denominated the “Prince of life,” the “ Lord of glory,” was the second person of the Trinity, arrayed in his vestment of flesh. We have, then, these additional declarations of the Holy Ghost, that the second person of the Trinity, thus arrayed, was crucified and killed. These declarations must have been accomplished in all the plenitude of their awful truth. Would they have been accomplished by the crucifixion and death of the mere humanity of the Virgin’s”s child? A man is not perforated by the perforation of his vestment. That the ethereal essence of the second person of the Trinity was distorted by the wood, and lacerated by the irons of the cross, no one will be wild enough to intimate; but that his ethereal essence endured viewless sufferings denominated in Scripture death, inflicted by the invisible sword of the Lord of Hosts, of which the visible dissolution of his terrestrial being on Calvary was but the representative, we cannot doubt, with the declarations of the Holy Ghost to that effect sounding in our ears.

The Sacred Three have, “at sundry times and in divers manners,” declared, without restriction or limitation, that their second glorious person, clothed in flesh, suffered and died for the salvation of the world. Man, for whose sake this miracle of grace was wrought, yields not his credence to these stupendous declarations but with qualifications and exceptions, the creatures of his own reasoning pride, lowering their sublime truths, as it were, from heaven down to earth. What is the cause of this strange phenomenon ? It is caused by the sin of unbelief, that great moral ailment of our natures. This ailment lost us paradise. It withstood the personal miracles of the Son of God. That celestial Physician could cure, by the word of his power or the touch of his hand, the physical maladies of man; but to mitigate this moral malady, he was obliged to lay down his most precious life. And even in the soul renovated by his blood, the final victory of faith over the remnant of unbelief is its last triumph. The sin of skepticism is not peculiar to the scoffing infidel; it is the evil spirit which haunts the path even of the pious Christian. It often obtrudes its “miscreated front” into the closet, whither he has retired to commune with his Redeemer; it sometimes pursues him to the very altar of his God. Regenerated man, while in this wilderness of temptation, is, alas! but a believer in part. The time, however, is at hand when his feeble, trembling, hesitating faith will be swallowed up in glorious certainty.

The following passage is specially relevant to the point in issue: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”— John, 10x. 14, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”—" John, 10x. 15. The last verse will be considered first. The speaker, in this pPassage, was Christ. When he said, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father,” he must, beyond doubt, have spoken of himself in, his united natures, and with special reference to his Godhead. It was only the omniscient Son who could know the Father, even as the Father knew him. “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?”—Job, 11xi. 7, 8. These sublime interrogatories were propounded to demonstrate to feeble man his utter incapacity to explore and comprehend the mysterious and awful elements of the unsearchable God. The manhood of Christ had no greater capacity, physical or intellectual, than an ordinary man ; it had no infinitude of comprehension; it admitted its want of prescience. The mighty speaker, then, who thus claimed community of omniscience with the Father, must have been the fellow of the Father’s”s everlasting reign.

“And I lay down my life for the sheep.” The speaker had two lives, the human and the divine ; the drop and the ocean of vitality; distinct, yet united. If his meaning was that he would lay down the human drop, leaving the divine ocean untouched, then must he have made a sudden, abrupt, and strange transition, in one brief sentence, from the altitude of his united natures, where the sentence began, down to his mere exclusive humanity. There is nothing on the face of the passage to intimate that such sudden descent was intended. Such abrupt transition is not required or indicated by anything in the context. In a verse shortly succeeding, in the same chapter, are found the memorable words, “I and my Father are one.” —-John, 10x. 30. The terms used by Christ, in the passage under review, were unlimited and illimitable. They import the laying down of both his lives. They are not satisfied with anything of the totality. To compress them within a small fractional part of that stupendous whole, is to straiten, and distort, and maim the terms. Why will reasoning man gratuitously crucify the living, palpable, speaking words of the crucified God? Because, as the needle is true to the pole, so does unbending man implicitly follow the guidance of that hypothesis which he has adopted for his polar star, “God is impassible.” Yet has it been shown that this assumed polar star, though it has hung for centuries on the skirts of the horizon, is but an exhalation of the earth.

He who laid down his “life for the sheep” designated himself by the name of the good shepherd. “I am the good shepherd.” To whom was this endearing name applied? Not to the human son of Mary, but to the “Lord of glory.” The human son of the Virgin was but the mansion of the good shepherd—the temple consecrated by the indwelling God. As, then, a man dieth not because his mansion is consumed ; as the God is not destroyed. by the destruction of the temple, so the life of the good shepherd would not have been laid down by the dissolution of his tabernacle of clay, according to the mighty meaning of the august speaker. His declarations, which so astonished the heavens, could have been satisfied only by laying down the divine life of the second person of the Trinity, in the scriptural import of the stupendous terms, as well as the life of the associated man.

Christ did not leave the meaning of the term “life” as applicable to himself, to be inferred by reasoning process. Five chapters before that upon which we are commenting, he explicitly fixed its signification by his own paramount authority. “For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”— John, 5v. 26. The Father’s”s own vitality was imparted to the Son. His was the life which came down from heaven. It was the life that had breathed vitality into created intelligences. When Christ, therefore, announced the laying down his life, he meant not merely the human drop. He included the divine ocean of being.

According to Christ’s”s own explication of the term life, when applied to himself, the life of the incarnate Son was as the life of the Father. This authoritative explication of the term, when so applied, became a governing precedent for all future cases. Christ, then, in using the same term, with the same application to himself, five chapters afterward, intended, doubtless, to abide by his own explication and precedent. Hence we justly infer, that when he declared, “and I lay down my life for the sheep,” he meant that the life which he was about to lay down was as the life of the infinite Father. It was the life, the whole united life of the incarnate God. The advocates of the prevalent theory cannot escape this conclusion, unless they are prepared to allege that the Son of God applied the term life to himself in one sense in the fifth chapter of John, and in a totally different sense in the tenth chapter of the same evangelist. But such discrepancy of meaning, in the use of a term solemnly defined by himself, and declarative of his own vitality, could scarcely have proceeded from the lips of the incarnate Word; at least, such discrepancy is not to be inferred without some scriptural intimation of its existence. No such intimation is to be found in the Volume of Inspiration.

The incarnate God laid down his ethereal life, not, indeed, by its cessation even for a moment, but by sustaining, in his divine essence, the expiatory agonies substituted for the spiritual or second death that awaited the redeemed. Thile expiatory agonies assumed, therefore, the awful name of the penalty for which they were substituted. Inspiration aptly termed those sufferings death. The appellation commends itself to the children of men by its manifest appropriateness.

In the passage cconcerning the coming immolation of the Shepherd God, the pronouns “I” and “my” hold conspicuous places. The personal pronoun, “I” is thrice repeated to denote the second person of the Trinity, clothed in flesh. “I am the good shepherd.” “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep.” Mark well the mighty terms, “my life.” Thus applied, the little pronoun “my” acquired a meaning high as heaven and vast as the universe. It gave such exaltation to its adjunct noun as to grasp the life which “inhabiteth eternity.” " No person is wont to employ the name of a whole to denote one of its minute parts. Should historian or geographer apply the peculiar name of a continent to designate its smallest kingdom, he would speak in language unintelligible and misleading. The terms “my life,” according to their obvious and plain import, intended the whole united life of the divine speaker. If he meant merely the little spark of his mortal vitality, he must, in this case, have departed from that simplicity and perspicuity which formed so distinguishing a characteristic of him who spake as never man spake. To narrow down the terms to the mere mortal life of Mary’s”s son would be imparting to this stupendous passage—we speak it witlh reverence—an illusory meaning. It would make the passage, though infinite in seeming and profession, finite only in its real purpose; finite only in its fulfilment.

The Lamb of the fifth chapter of Revelation was certainly Christ. That Lamb had been slain. That glorious Lamb of God had two natures, the human and the divine. And had he, indeed, been slain but in one of them, and that, too, his inferior nature? The scene of this sublime chapter was laid in the celestial court. The Lamb, having just taken from the right hand of him who sat upon the throne the sealted book, had opened its seals, when straightway there ascended a “new song” of praise and thanksgiving, perhaps louder and more heartfelt than even heaven had been wont to hear, beginning around the throne of the Highest, and echoed back by “every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth!” For whom did this unwonted shout ascend? It was raised to theo glory of the lamb? And why? Because he had been slain for the redemption of the saints. That was the reason specially assigned. And would the mere slaying of his human nature, the mere extinction of his mortal life, have been thus assigned by the hierarchies of heaven as a special reason for raising higher than, perhaps, it had ever been raised before, the pealing anthem of the universe!—Revelation, 5v. 7--14.

Christ, while on earth, said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”—-John, 3iii. 16, 17. And the Holy Spirit, by the lips of one of his inspired apostles, says still more expressively, “He” (meaning God) “that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”—" Romans, 8viii. 32.

That the Being designated in these passages by the name of God was the first person of the Trinity will not be questioned. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.”—John, 1i. 14. Who was “the only-begotten of the Father,” “sent” “into the world,” and “spared not,” styled, in one of the passages forming the last paragraph, God’s”s “own Son,” by way of distinction and pre-eminence, and in the other “his only-begotten Son?” Clearly, he was not the human son of the Virgin. Mary’s”s human offspring was not the “only-begotten Son” of the infinite Father. Nor did the infinite Father beget him. The conception of the Virgin was by the power of the Holy Ghost—Luke, 1i. 35.

In the thirteenth verse of the same third chapter of John, it is declared that the Son of the Father, there called the Son of man, “came down from heaven.” And in one of the transcribed passages, it is stated, as we have seen, that he was “sent” “into thhe world.” But the human son of the Virgin never “came down from heaven,” at least before his ascension. Nor was he “sent”, “into the world.” It was in the world that he was created. It was in the manger of Bethlehem that he first came into being. He had no antecedent existence.

It is demonstrated, then, that God’s”s “own Son,” his “only-begotten Son,” his Son who “came” down from heaven,” his Son “sent” “into the world,” and “spared not,” was none other than the second person of the Trinity. It was not the mortal progeny of Mary—earth-born and earth-composed in the elements of his humanity—that formed the glowing theme of the Holy Ghost in these stupendous passages. He spoke of his fellow God as the unspared Son of the Father. The unspared Son was he by whom the Father created, the worlds, the hierarchies of heaven, the dwellers upon earth. The unspared Son was the Son who had sat at his Father’s”s right hand, and shared in his councils from the earliest eternity.

For what purpose did the infinite Father send into the world “his own,” “his only-begotten Son?” It was not that he might explore this remote province of his Father’s”s boundless empire. It was not that he might make a pleasant sojourn on this goodly earth. The Son of God was sent into the world to suffer. Suffering was the object, the great object of his mission. He came, not to impart dignity and value to the human sufferings of his earthly associate, but to suffer himself; to suffer, not by proxy or substitute, but in his own divine person. Infinite wisdom, indeed, thought it best that he should suffer in the fallen nature he came to redeem. But that was only the garb in which he appeared. His manhood was but the adjunct; his divinity was the principal. He came to suffer, not in his adjunct nature only, but also in his principal nature. He came to make, not a seeming and illusory, but a real atonement for the sins of man. That venerated common law, which our fathers brought from our fatherland with their language, their liberties, and their religion, is encumbered with many fictions, which, for the supposed furtherance of justice, it regards as truths. The divine law deals not in fiction. In its administration of universal justice, in its penal code, in its punishment of incorrigible sinners, in its pardons to the penitent, all is reality. Its celestial city for the abode of the blessed is no fiction. Its great and everlasting prison-house is no fiction. In the passion of Christ there was nothing of fiction.

The passage transcribed froim Romans contains terms not surpassed in awful import by any words written in any of the tongues of earth. God “spared not his own Son!” The infinite Father “spared not” his own infinite Son! We have seen that the unspared victim was the second person of the Trinity. One of the Sacred Three would not have termed his kindred God the unspared of the Father, had he carried along with him his divine beatitude, in all its infinite perfection, from the throne of heaven to the manger of Bethlehem, and from the manger of Bethlehem to the tomb of Joseph. Had the throes and spasms by which salvation was earned, touched not the ethereal essence of the incarnate God ; had his divinity continuned as blissful on earth as it had ever been in heaven; had the expiatory agonies devolved exclusively on his terrestrial adjunct, the uncreated, the eternal Son would have been the spared, and not the unspared of his Father. It would have been only the human son of Mary whom the infinite Father “spared not.” Yet the declaration that the devoted victim was “spared not,” rendered, by the very simplicity of its terms, lucid as thhe sunbeam, is applied by the Holy Ghost directly to the Father’s”s “own Son ;” and, by necessary inference, to his “only-begotten Son;” to his Son “who came down from heaven;” to his Son who was “sent” “into the world.”

It was when the infinite Father inflicted on the divine spirit of “his own,” “his only-begotten Son,” made a voluntary curse for those he came to save, “the fiercerieness and wrath of almighty God,” that the tremendous declaratioon of the Holy Ghost was accomplished. The Father “spared not his own Son.” True, that Son had been the fellow of his everlasting reign, with whom he had taken “sweet counsel” ere time was known, yet the Father spared him not. True, the paternal heart yearned with throes, to which the silent, though deep emotions of the faithful Abraham were but as the finite to the infinite, yet the Father “spared not his own Son.” True, the angelic hosts, if permitted to behold the appalling spectacle, must have cast their dismayed, their deprecatory, their beseeching eyes now on the descending arm, now on the stern, though still benignant face of the Ancient of Days, yet the infinite Father spared not his own infinite Son. True, the uncomplaining, the submissive, the unoffending Son, “brought as a lamb to the slaughter,” presented, in his own meek and gentle form, an appeal to parental sympathy, almost enough to make even divine justice “break its sword,” yet the Father spared him not. This was indeed the magnanimity of a God! This “became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things!” It became the First who bears “record in heaven;” it became the august Ancient of Days; it became the infinite Father. This was the sublime mode, devised in the conclave of the Godhead, for “bringing many sons unto glory.”—Hebrews, 2ii. 10. The sacrifice was not delusive; the Holy Trinity never delude. It was an awful reality, not an Oriental metaphor.

The prevailing theory, that Christ suffered only in his humanity, must sink, as the stone sinks in the deep, under the overwhelming weight of the passage from Romans, unless its advocates can, by their interpretation, so amend that part of Holy Writ as to make it read thus: God spared not the human nature of his own Son! But at such an interpolation of the Word of God the devout advocates of the prevalent theory would themselves stand appalled.

“God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”— Romans, 5v. 8. The “God” of this passage was the eternal Father; it is “his love” displayed in the death of Christ, that is here commended to us. “God is love.” The love of God is proclaimed by the visible creation; it glows in the sun ; it twinkles in every star; it is seen in “the green of the earth, and the blue of the skies;” it is heard in the song of the groves, and in the harmony of the heavens. But in the death of Christ, its dispersed and variegated rays are converged into one concentrated, luminous, melting point. The miracle of the Father’s”s love displayed in the redeeming sacrifice, indeed “passeth knowledge.” We can but study it, “ as through a glass darkly” in the scriptural picture of that original, unique and incommunicable scene, the most magnificent, terrible., pathetic, and awfully mysterious that eternity has witnessed, where God the Father, the very personification of mercy, for our guilty sakes, “spared not” his own, his only-begotten, his well-beloved Son.

Over the love of God manifested in the death of Christ, the prevalent theory has cast its eclipse, compounded of the vapors of earth. The bewildered eye now looks in vain for that prodigy of grace commended by the eternal Father as the masterpiece of his own infinite beneficence. The human son of the Virgin is made the only real victim for the sacrificial altar, while God’s”s own Son is depicted as passing through the ordeal scathless, ever overflowing with the beatitude of his Father’s”s right hand, impassive to all the throes and spasms, the sighs and groans, of his terrestrial, sinless, yet sin-bearing associate. From the scene of Christ’s”s death, the prevalent theory has thus banished those astounding testimonials of the love of the infinite Father, which form so glowing a theme of the Sacred Volume! The scriptural immolation of God’s”s own ethereal Son by the paternal arm sinks, in the theory, to the immolation of the human son of Mary!

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”—John, 15xv. 13. The speaker in this passage was the second person of the Trinity clothed in humanity; his theme was the stupendous atonement by which he achieved the friendship and salvation of his enemies. To die for a friend is the acme of human love; to die for a foe, is beyond the aspiration of mortal mag-nanimity; the thought belongs to infinitude; it could have been conceived and executed only by a God; it was the mightiest movement of that uncreated Word, who spake, and material worlds sprung into being, and who breathed into the spirits of heaven their vitality, and holiness, and blessedness. The text constituting the subject of the last preceding comment, and that now under review, are sister passages; the former pointing to the love of the infinite Father, the latter to that of the infinite Son, displayed in the miracle of redemption. The Parent of the universe so loved our fallen race that, for their salvation, he awakened the sword of divine justice to smite his Other Self; his Other Self, moved by pity known only in the pavilion of the Godhead, freely bared his filial heart to the descending stroke, which naught but Omnipotence could have endured.

It was by laying down his life for them that the eternal Word converted his perishing enemies into right redeemed friends. His descent from the right hand of the Father, and his holy incarnation would not have saved a soul. Had the cup passed from him, in accordance with his fervent but quickly revoked supplication at Gethsemane, redemption must have lost its glorious consummation. It was the last act in the tragedy of salvation which gave it its atoning efficacy. To that concluding act, the descent and incarnation of the second person of the Trinity, were, in all their wonders, but preparatory scenes. It was his penal suffering, vicariously borne, and termed death in the vocabulary of the Bible, that saved the world.

It is true that the vicarious death of expiation, in the more comprehensive sense of the term, includes the whole process of salvation from its inception in heaven to its consummation on the cross. Nevertheless, in its primary sense, the term belongs more appropriately to the closing scene of the mighty drama. When viewed, however, through the microscopic glasses of the prevalent theory, the mental vision in vain searches in that closing scene for those demonstrations of the love of the eternal Son, which the Volume of Inspiration has taught it to expect. The theory abstracts from the dying agonies, the heaven-descended Martyr, and devolves them on the terrestrial victim alone. It may still point to the descent and incarnation of the uncreated Word as proofs of his love to the children of men, but it turns into figure of speech his laying down his life for though that stupendous and closing act is represented in Scripture as the crowning prodigy of his grace. In its display of ineffable and infinite love by the Son of God, the redeeming death of theoryeroy and the redeeming death of the Bible, are dissevered from each other as far as the the distance from the footstool of God to his throne. What gave its transcendent sublimity as well as its all-prevalent efficacy to the redeeming death of the Bible is the soul-thrilling, the heaven-amazing truth that it was consecrated and ennobled by the agonies of a God.

“For even Christ pleased not himself.” —Rom. 15xv. 3. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty was thus rich might be rich.”—-2 Corinthians, 8viii. 9. He who was thus rich and became poor for the salvation of the world, was not the mortal son of the Virgin, but the second person in the Trinity. Mary’s”s human son was not rich before he became poor; he was born in want, his existence had its inception in the most abject poverty. It was the Proprietor of the universe who made his voluntary transit from wealth to penury. He who passed through this most wondrous change, was the same personification of pitying and almighty grace, “who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself and took upon him the form of a servant.”—Philippians, 2ii. 6, 7.

The self-denial of the second person of the Trinity is one of the most prominent and affecting truths of our holy religion. Self-denial is the voluntary sacrifice of one’s”s own happiness for the happiness of others. Without some sacrifice of personal felicity, the virtue of self-denial cannot be developed. Where but in suffering was the self denial of the second person of the Trinity ? What privation did he undergo, if the sackcloth of incarnation was just as conducive to his blessedness as the robe of glory he had worn in heaven? What proofs of divine self-denial did Gethsemane or Calvary display, if the redeeming God carried with him into the garden and to the cross all the fulness of the bliss of his Father’s”s right hand? Royalty has sometimes, of its own choice, abdicated the throne for the humble cottage; but when it transferred to the cottage the undiminished felicity of the throne, to what self-denial could royalty have laid claim? It had parted, indeed, with, “the pride, pomp and circumstance” of sovereignty —but without the loss of its felicity, it had in reality lost nothing. Even the stupendous transition of the eternal Word from “the form of God” to “the form of a servant” was, if it touched not his indwelling beatitude, but a modification of his outward state. Infinite happiness remained still infinitely happy; and had, therefore, sustained no real privation. The prevalent theory would thus transmute into metaphor the scriptural passages affirming the sublime self-denial of the second person of the Trinity.

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