Christ: The Mystery Of His Person
By George Wright, Beccles U.K.
Published February 1866
When we speak of mysteries we may be ridiculed for adopting the term, as the subterfuge of ignorance, by those who assert that our religion has no mysteries. They would persuade us that faith is to be of the same extent as our rational conceptions, and that the whole gospel is to be comprehended by the unaided intellect of man. They have formed a gigantic estimate of human sufficiency; and having done so, it is natural for them to deny to the revelation of GOD, any grace, mystery, or glory in its doctrines that do not lie within the compass of our understanding. They may be men of reason, but it is evident they are not men of faith.
A mystery is that which cannot be explained; and one of the great mysteries of Godliness is, that in the person of CHRIST “GOD was manifest in the flesh.” That he is man, has been seldom questioned; but that he is truly GOD, is often doubted, and has been virulently denied. But the same Scriptures which teach us that he is man, as clearly make known his eternal power and Godhead. We have the same divine and infallible testimony to accredit his essential Deity, as his humanity. To be consistent, we must receive or reject both parts of the testimony—else where is reason itself? We cannot be wrong in trusting, loving, and worshipping JESUS, as the ever-living GOD, if what is written of him by the inspiration of the HOLY ONE be true. He is called the mighty GOD, the everlasting FATHER, “GOD over all blessed forever,” “the true GOD and eternal life.“
The perfections, attributes and works of the supreme GOD are ascribed to him; and the same reasons are given why we should honour the SON as we honour the FATHER. Can it be imagined that he would be thus represented, if he were only a man, or a creature of superior rank? The Scripture revelation of him can answer no other end than to mislead and confound us in matters of solemn moment, if, notwithstanding the ascription of essential Divinity, and the peculiar names and attributes of the self-existent JEHOVAH, to him, he is NOT GOD. When we receive the Scripture as the word of GOD, we are prone to think, in the simplicity of our minds, that its testimonies are definite, correct, and infallible; and that it “is able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith in CHRIST JESUS.” But how must our reliance on it be shaken, and indeed how deceitful and ruinous must it be, if, when it declares that besides GOD there is no SAVIOUR, and points to JESUS as the only SAVIOUR, it is not to be believed that JESUS is GOD! It is impossible for us to know what we are to do in this case. We are involved in the most despairing perplexity. Look at the two propositions: “besides GOD there is no Saviour“—but “JESUS is the only Saviour;” if we deny his Godhead, we cashier him as a Saviour. Salvation in his name is a nonentity; and if we trust him to save, we place our souls in peril of everlasting ruin.
So momentous an article of faith as the supreme Deity of CHRIST is therefore declared with the utmost plainness and precision. The terms are not obscure, or of doubtful interpretation; and the testimonies are numerous.
The FATHER speaking of him, saith, “Thy throne, o God, is for ever and ever:” the HOLY SPIRIT by the prophet attested to the Church—”Thy Maker is thy husband, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the LORD of hosts is his name; the GOD of the whole earth shall he be called.” The faithful on earth have ascribed to him every divine honour and prerogative; angels and glorified spirits worship him day and night, and think his name worthy to be united with the FATHER’S in their songs of praise. But if he be not GOD, the testimony of the FATHER and the SPIRIT is not to be depended on: when they call him by that name, they do not mean what they say, and, instead of believing them, we must wander about in endless conjecture, to ascertain, if we can, what they intended in ascribing to him names so absolutely and infinitely inapplicable to him. And, awful to think, there is a deception gone abroad under the seal of their testimony. The holy and spiritual part of created intelligences are worshipping one who is not JEHOVAH, and have carried up the idolatry to the very throne of glory. But can it be that they are idolators? It is impossible. They worship JESUS, and they do so with the highest reason; they have received commandment to do so, for he is GOD.
The weight of these considerations is not abated by his acknowledging, at one time, “the FATHER is greater than I;” nor by declaring, at another, that he did not know the day appointed for judgment. For being human as well as divine, he must necessarily in one respect be inferior to the FATHER and limited in knowledge, while in another he is equal to the FATHER and knoweth all things. The mystery of his person consists in the union of his manhood with his distinct personal subsistence in the Jehovah nature; but the exaltation of the humanity by this hypostatical union does not make it divine nor possess it with the attributes of Godhead. Both natures are distinct, though subsisting in one person only. Consequently the human part of the REDEEMER’S person must be dependent for its ideas of the will, counsels, and purposes of GOD, upon communications made to it; and know them only so far as they are revealed. Retaining its human attributes and properties, it cannot be intuitively conscious of the ideas of the Divinity, as a man is conscious of the thoughts of his own heart, and therefore the not knowing some of the secret things which belong to GOD, is what we are prepared to suppose of him; but it is no objection to his real Deity.
We confess and proclaim that great is this mystery; but the constitution of the person of CHRIST is the highest result of JEHOVAH’S wisdom—the highest manifestation of his grace—and renders him a suitable mediator between GOD and man. Having both natures, he must be concerned for the interests of both; he cannot act for us, but he must honour the FATHER—he cannot glorify the FATHER without doing us a real benefit. His person connects the glory of GOD and the blessedness of his elect, and in the attainment of the one, he secures the other.
Besides, he has in himself a glory beyond estimation, that gives weight and worth and efficacy to his mediation for us from first to last. He, the GOD-MAN, is infinitely more excellent and has immensely more holiness, love, grace, and power, than all other beings. His person is more precious than all the creatures and works of GOD. How excellent then must be his doings! What a grandeur in his redemption! What a transcendency of merit in his engagements; his obedience and sufferings unto death in the place of his people! O then, believers, give him honour! Withhold no confidence, no praise from him. He is GOD; worship him. Fall at his feet and adore,—trust in his salvation and triumph. Shun the atheism,—tremble at the blasphemy,—that would treat him as a creature. “Lo! this is our GOD; we have waited for him and he will save us! this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”