Project Canterbury

God With Us:
The Meaning of the Tabernacle

by Frank Weston, D.D.
Bishop of Zanzibar

[London and Milwaukee: Mowbray and Morehouse, 1920. 135pp]

transcribed by Mr. Alexander van Ness Munoz
AD 2000


The New Testament is our witness to the fact that since the Day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost has indwelt the Church by means of the manhood of Christ Jesus our Lord. The manhood of Jesus is, in fact, the instrument of the whole activity of God usward. And God is in us Christians in a special degree because He has the sacred manhood as His instrument, as we too have it as our way of approach to God.

l. The ascended Christ on His throne of glory sends to us the Holy Spirit because His own manhood has become the fit and proper temple of the Holy Ghost And He, the Eternal Word, now indwells the redeemed race by the personal activity of the Spirit, who works from His manhood as centre, within the members of His manhood as sphere, and by means of the virtue of His manhood as vehicle of divine life and grace. So that our consciousness of Christ within us is not of the Master manifest as by Himself. Rather, it is of the manhood of Christ, as it both veils and reveals the Blessed Trinity. It is of God within us—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The agent of the presence is the Spirit, Divine Love; while its instrument is the manhood of the Word incarnate.

The Christ indwells us in virtue, first, of His divine nature, since only God may indwell man; and, secondly, of His human nature, since no manhood but His can avail to be God's Temple. But His manhood is not in us as mere manhood. It is in us because it is the natural mode of the Word's divine self-expression, a mode dependent evermore on the Word's divine being. It is in us as the created vehicle of the Redeemer's new-won force and power, because of its association with Godhead. In no sense is it within us as the normal human self-expression of the Man Christ Jesus. That particular form of self-expression He looks to find in the perfected mystical body, by extension of His manhood in mankind.

Christ's manhood is in us because, through the Spirit, God the Blessed Trinity makes it His own means of interior union with His children. And to gaze interiorly on Christ alone is to stop far short of the reality. Nowhere more than within us is the saying true—God is all in all. This is not to say that Christ is not within us in respect of His manhood. Within us Christ dwells as God, His manhood being the instrument of the Spirit's indwelling. With us, but as external to us, He is in the Church in respect of His manhood alone, the eldest among many brethren. And the Spirit in His manhood outside us is the Spirit in His manhood within us, so that we are one with Him.

Hence the twofold relation of the Christian to Christ. He is united with Christ, the Church's Self, Ego, Head, and essential Being. And he is united with Christ's manhood extended through, and in, all the members of the Church, in the power of the Holy Ghost. When we speak of the indwelling of the Christ in the members of the Church, we ought to mean the presence of His manhood as it is the means of Eternal God's indwelling. We have no right to mean by the phrase a presence of Christ as distinct in its results from the presence of the Blessed Trinity. The divine indwelling is that of God Himself, through the Spirit of Christ; that is, through the Holy Ghost. The Spirit comes to us from Christ's throne, in Christ's manhood, of which He makes us true members, so that Christ's mind may be expressed in and through our mind, and Christ's humanity consecrate and glorify ours.

So commonplace is this doctrine of the Spirit of Christ, and so familiar to English Churchmen since the late Professor Moberly expounded it afresh, that in writing recently on the Fulness of Christ, which is the Church, it did not occur to me to devote a chapter to its exposition. But in view of many utterances in the course of the present controversy it seems necessary to establish it now on the ground of revelation in the New Testament.

2. Our Lord teaches, according to S. John (xiv ff.), that the Holy Spirit will come to Christians, in His place, after His own Ascension. He will come from the Father, sent by the Father and by the incarnate Son Christ. He will come to Christ's disciples, not to the world. He will dwell in them. He will, in them, reprove the world, convicting it of misjudging Christ, by establishing Christ's triumph and glory. He will, in them, lead them into all truth. And this He will do by taking what is Christ's, and showing it to them; and by making them remember, and comprehend, all Christ had taught them. Moreover, in them the Spirit will testify of Christ.

Again, our Lord assures them that all this will be, because already the Spirit dwells with them. But where? Surely in the Christ Himself. For if Christ and the Father be one, then also is the Spirit with them, in the same Christ.

Hence it becomes clear that our Lord's activity within Christians is included in the personal domination of the Spirit whom He sends, while the instrument of the Spirit's work is always that which the Christ Himself has supplied, namely, His manhood, in all its manhood, in all its wonderful fruitfulness and power. S. John certainly understood our Lord to mean this. For in his first epistle, after setting out the reality of God's incarnation, and the oneness of the Father and the incarnate Son, he goes on to base our Christian unity and love upon the fact that God dwells in us and we in Him (iv). And this mutual indwelling is the consequence of our receiving God's Spirit. Again, he lays stress upon the Spirit's witness to the Christ. The Spirit is truth. And here on earth the witness to the truth is "the Spirit, and the water, and the blood." That is, the Spirit, in and with and through the crucified humanity of Jesus, now glorious in cleansing and redemptive virtue. Once more, this Spirit consecrates us from within, so that we have God's own unction, sanctifying us and making us apprehend the divine truth.

S. Paul also is fully master of this doctrine of the Spirit of Christ. In the Epistle to the Romans (v, vi-viii) he bases our salvation upon the work of the Holy Ghost who is "given to us." The gift is made in Baptism, in the moment that we are clothed in Christ's manhood, and have Christ's manhood within us. In that very moment the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Ghost, is life within us. The Spirit is our life; through Him we mortify our bodies; He prays within us; He helps our infirmities, carrying us along when prayer fails us; and lifts us up into consciousness of our heavenly sonship. And it is through Him that God fills us with love, joy, and peace (Rom. v and xv).

In the first of his Epistles to the Corinthians the Apostle lays great stress upon the indwelling Spirit whose temple we are; upon the activity of the Spirit in the Name of Jesus; upon His inspiration, guidance, and counsel; and upon His rich outpouring of gifts on the members of the one body of the Christ, as also on the ministers of that body.

In the Second Epistle he speaks of the Lord as the Spirit, the Spirit of liberty.

To the Galatians he writes of Christ living in the Christian, but the receiving of Christ is the receiving of the Spirit; and the fruits of Christ's indwelling are the fruits of the Spirit.

And his Ephesian converts he clearly teaches that while the end of mankind is union with God in Christ, it is by the Spirit that, through Christ, we have access to the Father ; it is by the Spirit that we are strengthened with divine might and built up, in Christ, into the perfect mystical body. It is the one Spirit who fills the one body, and who also fills each separate member, causing him to bear fruit.

3. In short, we need not labour the point further. Rather we may sum up the matters thus.

The Holy Spirit makes visible, in created form, the thoughts of the divine mind uttered in Him who is the Eternal Word, and Image: of the Father.

And the same Spirit remakes the ruined race, according to the measure of Christ's manhood, by means of its life and powers; dwelling in the Christ that He may fill all His members, and bring them into the unity of the mystical body, the Church.

So that we must confess Christ indwelling the whole Church, which is His Body. But we must also confess the Holy Spirit indwelling Christ's manhood and using it as His point of contact with men ; the channel of all divine gifts; the magnet that draws out man's self-surrender ; the centre in which all shall be made one; the fountain of their life; the home of their weary souls; and the enabling power in which they shall see God. It is, then, very difficult to separate the indwelling of Christ from the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity, or to urge men to direct their thoughts to the indwelling Christ as regards His manhood. Rather we ought to think chiefly of God who, in and by Christ's manhood, has made our manhood His temple. And the end of the Spirit's work is not so much to make us responsive to Christ as man, within us. Rather it is to make Christ as man, and us His members, a complete and perfect unity, in which God may be known, and through which He may be expressed.

Thus our relation with the Christ as He is in all His members is not direct, but mediate, through the Holy Spirit who fills His manhood. And every attempt to over-emphasize the dwelling of Christ as man within us is mistaken. He is not in us that we may perceive His manhood as it is His own; but that we may apprehend it as the temple and treasure-house in which the Spirit takes what is His to give to us, as the Spirit's instrument of ministry, as God's own means of dwelling in us.

That this should prove to be the case is what any one might expect who meditates on the nature of humanity. It is conceivable that Christ's manhood is within me since God is in me, and where the Word is, there also is His manhood. It is not conceivable that His manhood is in me qua manhood; since qua manhood it is in heaven, at God's right hand.

This does not mean that intimate communion with Christ within us is not to be encouraged. Nor does it mean that He is not personally in us. Nor does it conflict with the doctrine that Christ comes to us in communion, sacramentally, and abides in us independently of the sacramental elements. It does, however, mean that His presence within us is not primarily for this purpose of personal meeting in respect of His manhood. Primarily He is in us that the Blessed Trinity may be in us. S. Paul says, "Christ liveth in me." And the Christ says, "We will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Thus we "sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," and are, increasingly, being "filled with all the fulness of God."

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