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II. The relation which subsists between the. apostles and Jesus Christ.
III. The relation subsisting between believers and the apostles.
We shall distinguish these three ideas, only for the purpose of afterwards establishing, and sublimating the mystery of their union. For the perfect obedience which Jesus Christ yielded to the supreme will of his heavenly Father, has united him to God in a manner ineffable, so that he is one with God, not only as partaking of the divine nature, but considered as a creature.
Again, the glorious manner in which the apostles have executed the functions of their apostleship, having not only believed the doctrines which their Master taught them, but diffused thein over the whole world, and like him, sealed them with their own blood, has united them in the closest intimacy with Jesus Christ, so that they are one with him, as Jesus Christ is one with the Father.
. Finally, the respect with which believers receive, and acquiesce in, the doctrine of the apostles, apď that of Jesus Christ, raises them to a participation of the same exalted glory and felicity; so that believers being united with the apostles, the apostles with Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ with God, there results from this union, a society, a whole, noble, sublime, possessing the perfection of glory and blessedness. Now, it is the complete union of this whole, it is the perfection of this communion among all these orders of being, that Jesus Christ here asks of the Father.
I. Let us, first, examine the relations in which Jesus Christ stands to God. Jesus Christ may be
considered under two different ideas, as God, and as Mediator. There are, accordingly, two kinds of relation subsisting between God and Jesus Christ; 1. a relation of nature; and 2. a relation of economy. Jesus Christ as God is one with the Father; he is likewise so in his character of Mediator.
1. There subsists between God and Christ, a unity of nature. We perceive more than one proof of this in the words of 'my text. For what are we to understand by that glory of which Jesus Christ speaks, which he had with the Father before the world was, unless it be that he is God, as the Fa. ther is God.
I am well aware, that in the very chapter we are atteinpting to explain, some have pretended to discover an argument which militates against this doctrine. The enemies of the divinity of our blessed Lord, have frequently employed the words which we have recited, as a bulwark to defend their error: this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent, ver. 3. They tell us, that Jesus Christ here distinguishes himself from the true God, and they have thence concluded, that he is of a different nature. But it is an easy matter to refute this objection, by permitting Jesus Christ to explain' his own meaning, and interpreting scripture by scripture. Let us, from other passages, see how Jesus Christ has distinguished himself from the true God. Is it because he is not the true God ? By no means; for it is expressly declared in another place, that he is the trui God; and eternal life, 1 John. v. 20.
If then, Jesus Christ has referred to two classes, every branch of Christian knowledge: if he has placed in one class, the knowledge relating to the true God, and in the other class, all knowledge relating to the Son, whom the true God has sent into the world, this is simply reducing the whole of Christian Theology to the two great questions which were the subject of discussion in his time, and which contained a summary of all the topics which can be discussed on the subject of religion.
The first was the point in dispute between the Pagan and the Jew: the other, between the Jew and the Christian.
The matter in dispute between the Pagan and the Jew, was, whether there were only one God, or more than onę. Respecting this question, Jesus Christ pronounces a clear decision; that eternal life consists in knowing the one true God. The point in dispute between the Jew and the Christian, related to Christ's being the Messiah, the sent of God. .' Bụt this Jesus, whom God has sent, is he God Creator, or is he a creature merely? Neither the negative nor the affirmative side of this question is directly established in these words: this is life elernal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent. Once admit what Jesus Christ demands on the subject of the first two questions, and the third will presently resolve itself
. For if we know that there is only one God, and that Jesus Christ is sent by him, we must receive, without hesitation, the doctrine which God has taught us by his Son, whom he hath sent: and if we receive this doctrine, we must believe, from the doctrine itself, that he who is sent, must be God: because the divinity of his nature is one point of the doctrine which he hath taught.
There are, therefore, relations of nature between Jesus Christ and God. There is a unity of Jesus Christ as God with his father. There is a glory which Jesus Christ had with God before the world was, and which he always possessed, even at the
period of his deepest humiliation. This unity is as unchangeable as deity itself. The glory which Jesus Christ derives from it, is not susceptible of increase or dimunition. All that he
All that he prays for in respect to it, is, that it might be known among men: and in this sense we may understand the expressions in our text: Father, glorify me, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was, ver. 5. But,
2. There subsists likewise a relation of economy between Jesus Christ and the Father. Jesus Christ as Mediator, is one with God. I have a conception of three kinds of unity in this respect : 1. unity of idea : 2. unity of will : 3. unity of dominion.
(1) There is a unity of idea. I mean, that the human soul of Jesus Christ Mediator was endowed with so much intelligence, that he had the same ideas with God; that he formed the same judgments, and that he possessed the same infallibility. This truth had been predicted of him by the prophets: the spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, Is. lxi. 1. It was taught by Jesus Christ himself: my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me, John vii. 16. I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life, John viii. 12. It is the foundation of the faith which we have, in truths which flowed from his lips.
But however perfect this unity may have been, it was nevertheless susceptible of degrees. Jesus Christ, considered as Mediator, never could be in an error, but he did not always know the whole truth. He had not in the cradle the same extent of knowledge which he possessed at the age of twelve years, Luke ii. 42. when, in the temple, he, by his
profound knowledge, excited astonishment in the most learned of the doctors. Most probably, likewise, he did not yet possess at the age of twelve years, the illumination which he attained unto in the sequel of his ministry. The evangelist expressly remarks, that he grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, Luke ii. 40. Never did he attain, during his abode on earth, that height of intelligence which he had after his ascension into heaven. It is expressly said, that as the Son of Man, he knew not the day of judgment. The soul, to which his mortal body was united, acquired, undoubtedly, after that body left the tomb, an extension of knowledge which it had not so long as the body to which it was united was yet in a mortal condition. This is the first glory that Jesus Christ asks of his Father. He prays that he would grant him to partake, in a manner more intimate, in his counsels, and to draw, from the unbounded ocean of light, more abundant supplies of divine wisdom and knowledge. Father, the hour is come ; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee, ver. 1.
(2) The second unity, subsisting between Jesus Christ Mediator, and the Father, is a unity of will. Observe to what an extent it has been carried. The incarnation was an effect of the entire submission of this divine Saviour to the will of his Father: when he cometh into the world, he said, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin, thou hast had no pleasure: then said 1, Lo, I come, (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God, Heb. x. 5—7. When Joseph and Mary found fault with him for having parted company with them, he re