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Tripersonalists in general! do you acknowledge this writer's development of the mysteries of your creed? Many of you, probably, have never ventured to look so narrowly into it before. You have perhaps allowed it to remain wrapped in the swaddling cloths with which the perpetually repeated cry of “ Mystery,” has surrounded it; now that one of its nurses has drawn these aside a little, and exposed some of its features to view, how do you like their appearance? Which do you think is more reasonable, more consentaneous with the “ analogy of the whole Bible” and “ with unbiassed reason;" to believe that Jesus and the Father are two absolutely separate Gods, for, suppress the word as they may, you see your profound Tripersonalists, when they venture on illustrations, cannot help admitting all that the word implies ; or to believe, without reserve or equivocation, that he that hath seen Jesus hath seen the Father, because, though not one and the same Divine Principle, they are together but one Divine Person, the one being the proper Form and Person of the other, the Visible God in whom is the Invisible, and out of whom nothing of either can be seen, known or apprehended? To this clear and most satisfactory apprehension of the subject, this view which combines into one harmonious whole
every statement respecting the Divine Person and Nature contained in Holy Writ, the initiated, you see, have nothing to oppose but the entirely unsupported assertion, that the invisible, unapproachable God, is invisible, and unapproachable still, and that the Visible God, that is, the God who be. came visible in the person of Jesus Christ, is quite a separate Being from the former, only bearing, in a figurative manner, his“ moral likeness.” The question then, is simply this : Which will you believe ; the Tritheist, who calls on you to believe mere absurdity and contradiction; or the Lord Jesus Christ, who offers to your acceptance the most sublime, important, and satisfactory of truths ?
3. Our explainer now proceeds to exercise his skill in the art of reducing mountains to mole-hills, upon the other text which he has selected for the operation : “ In him (Jesus Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” But when the reader finds him, in his first two paragraphs palpably catching at straws, and endeavoring to puff into repute the insignificant
meaning,” (or rather no meaning) to which“ some” (“ learned divines,” of course), and “others” have endeavored to reduce these weighty words; it must be seen that his only solici. tude is, to divest them of all their proper meaning, and provided this can be accomplished, that he little cares what is substituted in its place. He begins* thus : “From these words ·
* P. 17.
some draw this meaning, - that as Moses taught the Israelites by ceremonial shadows of better things to come, his religion was unsubstantial, and, as to intrinsic value, empty: but Jesus Christ, the Great Teacher, being come, he taught nothing but substantial and necessary truths respecting God, &c. Therefore St. Paul is pleased to describe the superiority of Christ over Moses by the text before us : as if he should say, “in Christ's dispensation there are no empty shadows, no unsubstantial ceremonies ; but on the contrary there is a fullness of doctrine, example, rev. elation, spirit, wisdom, sacrifice, merit, love, and goodness. Tiis construction of the text is not unworthy of consideration.” So thinks the extenuator ; dost thou, reader, think so too ? The text, remember with the verse preceding, says: 66 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy, and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the God. head bodily. Is not the above comment an open atternpt to substitute mere emptiness for fullness, and “to spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ ?”
Conscious of this, its proposer tries again. 66 Others," he states,* say that St. Paul had reference to the divine appearance between the cherubim on the mercy-seat, that appearance being but in vision, seen but seldom, and then only by one person, the high priest. This manner of the divine appearance to men, they say, was rare and scanty; and to this, therefore, Christ is contrasted, because he derived from the Father a plenitude or fullness of the Divine attributes, the spirit without measure, and all moral perfections in an infinite degree,” &c. This is a little better ; but do you find, reader, any reference in the Apostle's words to the rare and scanty manner of the divine appearance in the mercy seat, to satisfy you that he only refers to a certain fulness of the divine attributes in the person of Je. sus?
Does any imputed fullness of divine attributes, communicated to Jesus as a separate person, at all come up to the idea conveyed by the declaration, that all the fullness, not of divine attributes merely, but of the Godhead itself — the whole Divinity — dwelt in him bodily, in a personal form ? but the Apostle, it seems, like his Divine Master, was apt, when he was in his theme, to run into the use of Hyperboie or Ecaggeration; wherefore his meaning equally requires to be diluted into insigniti. cance, by the application of Meiosis or Extenuation.
The opponent, affecting to consider that these truly futile exposisions of the test evince the unsoundness of our apprehension of it, proceeds thus : “ The futility of the Swedenborgian
* P. 18.
doctrine respecting the phrase, all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,' will be still more apparent when it is considered, that nearly the same language is used in reference to ordinary saints, as in these words : “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; that ýe, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the length, and breadth, and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge; that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Here, then, we find nearly the same phrase repeated respecting the saints, as that which is now the subject of our animadversions."* Instead of being only nearly the same phrase, had it been quite the same phrase, such an argument from it would have been sufficiently answered by our remarks above, on the words, “ Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.” It would be impossible to argue, in the one case, that God dwells in the saints in the same manner as the Divine Essence dwells in the person of Jesus Christ, without arguing, in the other, that the perfection of the saints is the same as the perfection of their Heavenly Father. But in reality the Apostle's wish, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God," does not bear a near, but only a remote re. semblance to his declaration, that " in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” In the one case, the God whose fulness is spoken of, is Christ; and Christ is mentioned as dwelling in the hearts of the saints ty faith ; in the oiler case, God is not mentioned, but the Godhead — the whole of Divinity; and this is not spoken of as dwelling in the heart of Christ by faith : but all the fullness thereof - the entire God. head, is declared to dwell in him bodily ; which is equivalent to saying, that his Body or Person is the Body or Person of the whole Divine Nature. Here is a wide difference indeed! But still less are the passages parallel as they stand in the original : for, in that respecting the saints, nothing is there said of their being “ filled with all the fullness of God ;' but literally translated it is, “ that ye might be filled unto all the fulness of God; plainly evincing the Apostle's meaning here to be the same as when he speaks, in the next chapter, of the saints as coming “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the full. ness of Christ.”+ To be filled unto the fullness of God, or to attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, is, obviously, to reach that perfection in the spiritual life for which God or Christ designs us, to be replenished, according to the full measure of our finite capacities, with all heavenly graces, to receive to the utmost, of his fullness, and grace for grace. I * P. 18, 19. † Verse 13.
| John i. 16.
How could we receive of his fullness, had it not " pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell ?** How then can the fullness of which we receive from him, be all the fulness that is in him? The fact that all our fullness is received from him, proves, not that there is no more or other fullness in him than is received by us, but that in him most truly dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, that he is the Personal Form of the whole Divine Nature ; whence, of his fullness, we receive a portion.
The extenuator might have learned far better to understand this subject from his Concordance, than from the 6 learned divines" of the Unitarian school whom he has followed.
“Whereas,” says honest Cruden on the word fullness,“ are said to be filled with the Holy Ghost, as John the Baptist (Luke i. 15) and Stephen (Acts vi. 5); this differs from the fullness of Christ in three respects : 1. Grace and the Spirit be in others by participation; as the moon hath her light from the sun, rivers their waters from the fountain, and the eye its sight from the soul; but in Christ they be originally, naturally, and of himself. 2. In Christ they be infinite and above measure (John iii. 34); but in the saints by measure, according to the gifts of God" (Eph. iv. 16). The moon is full of light, but the sun is more full ; rivers are full of waters, but the sea is more full. 3. The saints cannot communicate their graces to others; whereas the gifts of the Spirit be in Christ, as a head or fountain, to impart them to others; . We have received of his fullness' (John i. 16). It is said (Col. ii. 9), “That the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily; that is, the whole nature and attributes of God are in Christ, and that, really, essentially, or substantially; and also personally, by nearest union as the soul dwells in the body, so that the same person who is man is God also.” This is a just account of the matter.
And as the Godhead, which thus dwells personally in Christ, as the soul in the body, is not a part of the Godhead merely, one of three fersons, into which according to the fictions of men, the fullness of the Godhead is divided, but is, according to the express declaration, all the fullness of the Godhead; it follows that this declaration of Cruden's is true in the fullest and most ample sense; and further, that as nothing but a truly Divine Body can be the abode of the whole of the Divine Essence, Jesus Christ is in proper one Person, as to Soul and Body, the One Only and Infinite God.
The objector here adds some passages in which God is said to dwell in men, to draw from them the inference, that as the dwelling of God in men does not make them one person with
* Col. i. 19.
God, no mɔre is this the case when all the fullness of the God. head is said to dwell bodily in Christ; but it is needless to say any more than has been said already, to prove, in his own language, that this argument is a “downright sophism.” So far from any argument being thence to be drawn against the unity as to person of Jesus and the Father, such texts as these, in fact, strongly confirm it. For it has already appeared, that the God who dwells in the saints is Jesus Christ, by virtue of the spirit communicated from him, and that they have no intercourse with the inmost of Deity called the Father, except as this dwells in the Divine Humanity of Jesus Christ. Thus we find Jesus saying, in his address to the Father just before the completion of his glorification, “the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them ; I in them, and thou in me ;"* and many similar statements might be mentioned. Thus it is obvious, that it is from Jesus Christ alone that the saints immediately receive all that makes them such ; and that Jesus Christ is able to impart it, because the whole Divine Essence, called the Father dwells bodily in him. Thus his dwelling in the saints is not of the same kind as the Father's dwelling in him, but is an image of it; for no one will pretend that the saints actually receive the whole fullness of Jesus Christ, so that he has no existence out of them, as is repeatedly affirmed respecting the dwelling in Jesus Christ of the Father. And as the fullness of the reception by saints of Jesus Christ is infinitely inferior to the fulness of his reception of the Father, it follows again, that their union with him is not of the same kind as his union with the Father, but is an image of it; just in the same manner as the perfection of the saints is not of the same kind, but is only an image of, the perfection of their Heavenly Father; and as man himself is not God but is only an image of God.
As our extenuator has succeeded so ill in destroying the meaning of these three conclusive texts of Scripture, he at last betakes himself to his best refuge, the plea of mystery, and employs, as noticed above;t the remaining four pages of his present Section in deprecating all inquiry, and extolling ignorance as a Christian privilege. Here, therefore it is quite needless to follow him. The same, doubtless, is true of error in regard to religious doctrine, as the Lord affirms of evil in heart and life. Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither com. eth to the light lest his deeds should be reproved.”I But it is somewhat curious, that, after his own disclosures, he should have penned the following sentence: “It were much to be wished that men, even good men, were more cautious and reserred, in their language respecting the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, than * John xvii. 22, 23.
† P. 369.
John ii. 20.