« 上一頁繼續 »
correct belief can be had as to the Person of Jesus Christ, no true conception of the nature of His Humanity, as being the divine "Flesh and Blood which we must eat and drink" in order that we may have any spiritual life within us. Neither can we have any true idea of the relation between the Father and the Son, and consequently no true idea of God, as He has revealed Himself in Christianity. But all "pure and undefiled religion," which is the power of God unto salvation," is founded upon the true and just idea of God. Consequently where this true idea is not, there no true and undefiled religion can exist. great importance of a true doctrine of the Incarnation.
Hence also the
Of all the beliefs above mentioned, that of the supernatural, or, as it is sometimes called, the immaculate conception, comes nearest to the Truth. This belief, since it acknowledges the divine origin or paternity of Jesus, possesses within it, however distorted and perverted by the idea of a supposed second Person who assumed the Humanity, somewhat of life and power, which ever keeps the name of Christianity alive in the world, and, as it were, by its moonlight glimmering effects somewhat of good to the nations who believe it;-just as the feeble glimmering of the moon is better than no light at all. In the idea of a supernatural conception there is something which elevates Jesus above all others born into the world. Herein is the acknowledgment, that although as to His maternal origin He was similar to other men, yet as to His paternal origin He was infinitely to be distinguished from all other men.
It was this idea of a supernatural conception which gave to Christianity an inherent power, which caused its progress and made its name gain an ascendency over the earth. Where this belief did not prevail, as in several countries of Asia, Christianity soon expired because its inherent power and life were denied. It was reduced to the level of a mere moral system which might have emanated from Solon or Socrates, but which had no inherent vital power, like a beam of vernal light carrying within its bosom the genial power and warmth of the sun, which causes the earth to bring forth and to bud, and to give seed to the sower and bread to the eater." The other beliefs had no power to give this living seed and to bestow this bread from heaven, and therefore they were swept away in the seventh and eighth centuries by the power of Mahomedanism which occupied the regions where the Standard of the Cross had for several ages been unfurled.
What, then, is the true doctrine of the Incarnation? We reply, that it is that which is conveyed to us, like every other pure theological doctrine, from the Scriptures only. And what can be more evident, when
we calmly consult the Word of God, than the fact, that Jehovah Himself assumed the humanity, and became our Redeemer and Saviour. No truth is more obvious than this, and the great wonder is, that it has not formed the essential Truth, and the universal element in the Doctrine of the Incarnation. Very numerous passages declare that Jehovah, as the everlasting Father, became our Redeemer and Saviour, and that besides Him there is no Saviour. Thus at the Incarnation it was "Emanuel-God with us"- not a second Person in the Trinity, but God Himself, as the One Person of the Godhead. "To us a child is born, a Son is given," not a Son born from eternity, but in time-"the everlasting Father, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace." And in the New Testament, when the Pharisees inquired of John the Baptist, who he was, he declared "that he was the Voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, (Jehovah) make his path straight," &c. It was Jehovah, therefore, before whom John was preparing the way. Now, if the Word is to teach us concerning the great Truth of the Incarnation, and nothing else can teach us, we must believe that it was Jehovah Himself, or the everlasting Father, who became flesh for the redemption of mankind. The same great Truth is also implied in the declaration of the Angel to Mary, (Luke i. 35; Matt. i. 20-23.) and in John i. 1-14, where it is declared that the Word that was with God, and that was God, became flesh and dwelt amongst us." Here it is expressly asserted "that He that made all things, and that without Him was not any thing made that was made," that this very same Creator of all things became flesh and dwelt among us. Nothing can be more plain and evident than the teaching of the Word on this essential point of Christian Doctrine; and it is only the dogmas and traditions of men that could have obscured and perverted the direct and simple teaching of Scripture on this question. But some may say that the Apostles, in their Epistles, do not teach that Jehovah or God Himself became flesh, or assumed the Humanity for our redemption. The Apostles, however, do teach this doctrine in as explicit a manner as the Word itself which we have already quoted. For the Apostle Paul teaches explicitly, that "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." (1 Tim. iii. 16.) Again,-" God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself," &c. (2 Cor. v. 19.) Again," As God in Christ hath forgiven you."* (Eph. iv. 32.)
* This passage, in the Common Version, reads as God for Christ's sake, &c.— but in Greek it is as above given.
Now in all those passages the Apostle does not mean a second Person in the Godhead, nor a Son born from eternity, of whom there is no mention whatever in the Scriptures, but he means the One Only God, or the essential Divine Nature, which became incarnate as Jesus Christ. It was, therefore, not a mere influence from God, nor a power from God that became flesh, but God Himself-Emanuel, GOD-WITH-US-who assumed our nature, with all its infirmities, and became our Redeemer. This nature He glorified, and it became the "bodily dwelling place of all the fulness of the Godhead." (Col. ii. 9.)
Why, then, has this great Truth of the Incarnation-the foundation stone of Christianity, so clearly revealed in the Scriptures, not been seen and acknowledged even since the apostolic times? It is because the 66 Lamb has been slain even from the foundation of the world"— (Rev. xiii. 8.)—that is, of the church. For the Divine Humanity, or the "Glorious Body" of the Lord could not but be pierced and slain in relation to the church and to its individual members, so long as the true doctrine of the Conception and Incarnation was not seen and acknowledged. For every idea of the Lord, which does not involve a belief that His Humanity, since its plenary glorification, or since His Resurrection and Ascension, is Divine,-every such idea not full of this belief is a falsity which, like a spear, "pierces Him," and if not removed by the Truth, must eventually slay Him" in relation to the Church; and when He is thus slain the members of the church cannot "eat of His Flesh and drink of His Blood," and thus have truly spiritual life or salvation in them; but they must needs live upon that " carcase around which the eagles are gathered together." (Matt. xxiv. 28.) This "carcase" is the evil in which the members of the church will necessarily be, if the Lord, as to His Divine Humanity, is denied; and the “eagles” are the false principles, doctrines, and persuasions which feed upon the carcase as their peculiar nourishment and support.
But however evident it is that the Scriptures plainly and powerfully teach that it was Jehovah God Himself who became incarnate, yet the human mind, making external and sensual things the only ground of its thoughts, considers that such a declaration. although so clearly manifest from Scripture, cannot be true; for from that low plane of thought it is impossible that the human mind can comprehend the idea, that the Infinite God should in reality become a Man upon the earth, and for a space of thirty years appear like other men; but in the last few years of His life distinguished from others by the Divine spiritual and miraculous power which He exercised. To the merely natural mind "it must
needs be that offences come" against this idea of a God Incarnate,—this 'great MYSTERY OF GODLINESS," as the Apostle calls it,--“God manifest in the flesh." But however incredible such an idea may be to our unenlightened natural mind;-however great a stumbling-block, and however offensive it may be to all its perceptions, it is nevertheless the precious corner stone," and the crowning Truth of the Christian church. For Christianity deprived of this Truth ceases, as stated above, to be the "power of God unto salvation"-its light is a mere winter's ray which has no power to warm the earth and to cover it with verdure, beauty, and fruitfulness, but every thing is torpid and clothed with the snowy mantle of death. Let us, therefore, ye brethren of the New Church, 'bring forth this head-stone with shoutings, crying Grace, Grace unto it!" (Zechariah iv. 7.)
Nor do we think that this great mystery of Godliness," since it is so plainly revealed, is incomprehensible; but as it is given to those who desire to know the Truth, to understand the "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," (Matt. xiii. 11.) so this great truth may, to some extent, be brought within the sphere of our comprehension. For a mystery is not a thing that cannot be understood, as is evident from the Lord's declaration; but a mystery is a thing which must be revealed before it can be known, but when revealed, it comes within the sphere of our knowledge, and may be understood; and it is our duty as well as our privilege and blessing, to endeavour to understand these mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. "Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee, lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited." (Jer. vi. 8.) The Lord's soul, that is, His Divine Wisdom, can only abide with us in the degree that we are so instructed as to understand and love the revealed Truths or the Mysteries of His kingdom.
Now the scandals, or offences which occur to our uninstructed minds in relation to this great Truth "of God manifest in the flesh," are chiefly these ;-How, it is alleged, could the Infinite God really become a Man upon earth similar, at least in external appearance, to other men? How could He, in such case, govern the universe and provide for all its necessities? Is it not irrational to suppose that God could thus " shut Himself up" in a material body, at least for a period, and yet give life to all worlds and all beings, and direct their destinies ? Is it possible to believe that God, thus incarnate, could suffer, as Jesus suffered, the agonies of despair, crucifixion, and death? It must needs be that such offences or scandals occur to the mental states of the natural man, when thinking on this subject, to whom, says the Apostle, "the things of the
spirit of God are foolishness." (1 Cor. ii. 14.) But the Lord says, "Blessed is he who is not offended in me;"—that is, blessed is he who rises above these scandals into the light and love of spiritual Truth on this subject!
Taught by the doctrines of the New Church, we know that man has an inmost or first receptacle of life from God called the human internal. (A. C. 1999.) This in man or angel, is never the seat of consciousness, but is above all the degrees, the celestial, spiritual, and natural in which a man or an angel has his consciousness of life, of affection, and of thought. In man this inmost receptacle of life from God, or this human internal,· is the inmost anima; below this is the mens, in which his conscious mental or rational life exists, and below this is the animus or merely natural mind, immediately connected with the material body, and with the things of time and of sense. Now all man's mental life, both his anima, his mens, and his animus, are exempt from the laws and conditions of time and of matter. It is only his material body which is properly subjected to these laws and conditions; and especially is this the case with his human internal, which is not only far exalted above all the laws of space and time, bnt, if we may ascribe to it a locality, it is above the heavens where the highest angels dwell, and forms what Swedenborg calls "the heaven of human internals." Now in the Lord, when upon earth, this Internal was Jehovah the Father, Infinite, and not as in man, finite and only a receptacle of life, but LIFE itself; and this was also the case, as to their essence, with all the lower degrees of His life, answering to man's celestial, spiritual, natural, and corporeal degrees. The soul or anima of every degree was Jehovah, and by glorification the Humanity became also Jehovah, or, as the Apostle says, the "bodily dwelling place of all the fulness of the Godhead." Now, as in man, this human internal is, even whilst he is walking upon the earth, above the heavens, where angels dwell, so the Lord's internal, even whilst He was upon the earth, clothed with an infirm Humanity from the mother, was in the centre of the Sun of the spiritual world, and as this was the seat of His infinite consciousness, He could thus, whilst "tabernacling in the flesh," or in last principles, govern as heretofore from first or inmost principles, the universe, and direct its destinies. As to the scandals or offences which come from His suffering the agonies of despair and crucifixion, these are easily put away by the instructed mind, when the difference between the Divine Human from the Father, and the infirm Human from the mother, is understood, as it may easily be by the study of the doctrines of the New Church.