Chapter VI--Towards Solution
The task that lies before us is to frame a theory that will account for all the facts with which the Gospel narrative has furnished us; keeping within the limits set for us by the dogmatic Creeds, and avoiding as far as may be the mistakes we have noticed in the theories which we have been considering.
It will be best and make most for clearness if the proposed solution be stated point by point, each point being treated as a whole. But in so doing I must beg that no point shall be judged apart from its context in the theory as a whole.
I. In the first place, then, the Person who became incarnate is purely divine. In His eternal essence He is of one substance with the Father, God of God; possessed of all divine powers, prerogatives, and attributes. His Incarnation in no way interferes with His true life in the eternal Godhead, or hinders Him from His divine activities in the universe. He remains true Word of God, "upholding all things by the word of His power." Nor on the other hand does His Incarnation involve Him in the absolute abandonment of any one of the attributes of His divinity. Whatever of self-limitation is required, He always remains in possession of His powers, recognizing a law of restraint where restraint is necessary. His continuous respect for this law of self-restraint constitutes His act of self-sacrifice and obedience.
He is not in any way to be conceived as a divine-human person; He owes nothing to association with a human individuality, nor is His self-consciousness in any the least degree composite, in part divine and in part human.
His Incarnation is a theophany: the revelation of God to men, the unveiling of the divine Nature, an unveiling for which the Old Testament had prepared men.
On the other hand, the Incarnation is an anthropophany: the perfect exhibition before God of the beauty and excellencies of manhood when framed without sin, developed without flaw, and continuously maintained in personal union with the eternal Son of God. To the end that manhood should be so aided to perfection the eternal Son assumed it into personal union with Himself. He did not take a manhood, in the sense that He associated with Himself one human person; for that would have been to redeem one at the cost of the race. But in Mary's womb He took human flesh which, with its own proper and complete soul, He constituted in Himself so that He became truly man, living as the subject or ego of real manhood.
Thus His human nature He united to Himself personally. It is manhood assumed by God the Son; and may not be thought of as if it were joined to His divine nature, He Himself being as it were apart from both. It is His own proper nature, constituted in His own divine person as self-limited; it is not merely an instrument of His power, nor a medium of His revelation, nor a veil of His divine glory. Hence the supernatural power of the Incarnate is on a peculiar level, and may not at all be likened in kind to that exercised by the saints and prophets of old.
The Incarnate is the Son of God, in whose image man was made. He has come Himself, and by an act of supreme love and power He so measures His divine power that He can adequately serve as the proper subject or ego of His assumed manhood. In this sense He was made man, for us men and for our salvation.
II. His manhood is in all points like our own except in the matter of sin. Taken from the womb of the Virgin Mary in the power of the Holy Ghost, by a miracle, it came into the world sinless; and being from the moment of its conception united with the eternal Son of God it remained without spot of sin.
But in every other respect His manhood is like ours, having the same natural weaknesses and limitations that hinder us. We cannot at all set a limit to the capacity of manhood for union with God, nor do we know at what point the human soul ceases to be able to advance in the comprehension of God. Limits there must be; but they may be wider than we think. At any rate we have no reason to doubt the evidence of the Gospels to the wonderful capacity of Christ's human soul for mediating His knowledge of divine things. To doubt this would be to doubt our capacity for the Beatific Vision.
But on the other hand we do know very well the limits of our ordinary human faculties; and we recognize the gulf that lies between the divine and human natures and powers. It seems therefore natural for us to find in the Gospel the record of the limitations under which the Incarnate lived and worked.
He had come to exhibit manhood to God: therefore He was content to accept the limitations that are proper to and normal in man. At the same time this manhood was to be exhibited at its best; exhibited with those excellencies that are possible to it when constituted in God the Son, the creative Word. Ideal manhood is manhood dependent upon God, and God-aided.
Taking, then, these opposite truths into our consideration we can see that the Incarnate Son must at every moment live under a law of self-restraint as to all His divine powers, in some measure. The measure of the self-restraint is the capacity of the perfect manhood to receive, assimilate, and manifest divine power. There could be no absolute abandonment of divine powers; for in that case manhood must have made its way to God unaided: a supposition which, if true, would rob the Incarnation of its motive.
But, on the other hand, the Incarnate must not think or say or do what is beyond the capacity of the cooperative powers of manhood, sinless, perfect, and constituted in Himself. Not only must He not so think or do or say, but we must conceive of Him as so respecting the law of self-restraint as to be unable to pass the limit of manhood's capacity. Within the relations of the Incarnate we think of the law of self-restraint as applied continuously, as it were momentarily; but none the less it is absolute, putting out of action whatever measure of divine power that manhood cannot mediate. It is not for us to determine a priori the possibilities and capacity of that manhood: we know them only from the Gospel story, wonderful in their extent, but none the less marked by very real limitations and hindrances.
In such a manhood, under such conditions, the Incarnate Son lives completely. He has as Incarnate no existence and no activity outside the conditions that manhood imposes upon Him.
It would appear that the measure of His self-restraint was not one and the same at every period of His development. It varied as the capacity of His manhood varied. As His human soul grew and developed, so did its capacity widen, and the degree of His self-restraint was always determined by the state of His human soul; it was never arbitrary. For the act of self-sacrifice lies in His determination to possess Himself and His powers within the conditions of manhood, and to allow the needs and the capacity of His manhood to determine at every moment the limits of His freedom. Thus the Incarnate state is one of progress at every moment; beginning with the life of the unborn child and looking for its consummation to the day when He shall mediate to His mystical body the beatific vision of the Godhead.
III. Such, then, is the manhood of the Incarnate. And in it He set Himself, through human faculties, to relate to one another and to Himself, in a living unity, all the creatures of His divine wisdom and power. They were known to Him from all eternity, intuitively, in their essence; they had come to exist only as being the expressions of His mind and Will; known to Him therefore were they as they were meant to be, as they were, and as they would become. This knowledge of them was His as their Creator, as they were related to Him in the universal relationships of the Eternal Logos.
Now it behoved Him to constitute Himself a new centre of creation; not as Creator, but as Crown of Creation. As He had taken manhood to be the first-fruit and perfect crown of all creatures, so must He in human mind unify all things as in a new relation with His manhood, that in His Heart the redeemed race may down the ages contemplate the essential truth of the universe, which is in fact the revelation of the Godhead in His creatures. Thus a new set of relations arises, relations between the creatures and the Word made flesh; and the complete apprehension of these relations by the Mind that unifies them involves the Incarnate in the task of coming to meet them through human faculties; experiencing their action upon Himself through His manhood, and summing up by His human faculties their interaction one upon the other.
As Incarnate He has no contact with anything in the universe except through the medium of His manhood, that as Man He may bring the universe to God, and reveal to its members its own essential meaning.
It is of course true that divine knowledge is ultimately self-knowledge, and an intuitive knowledge of all that is; which knowledge is in fact the cause of all existence outside God. It is equally true that human knowledge, generally speaking, stands for the result of a process of unifying our relations with the universe in detail, as we meet it, with oneself as the centre of that unification. And the two are so different as hardly to merit the same name. Yet they are related, in a sense, as cause to effect. Thus when the Incarnate, who possesses creative knowledge by virtue of divinity, expresses Himself in manhood, and in a human mind unifies His relations with all He meets humanly, it is clear that His human thoughts are related to His divine, creative Mind; and there is no inherent impossibility in their existence together in His person.
Hence we are not surprised to find in the Incarnate a human mind adequate to express Him within the relationships with God and man that make up the state of the Incarnation; and we also deduce an inerrancy in His human mind, due to the fact that it is the assumed and proper expression of Him who is, personally and essentially, Creator and Truth.
And we should be prepared to argue that, while created media may not be adequate to express all the fullness of the Creator's consciousness of His creation, the Creator Himself cannot be limited to any one mode of contemplating His own Mental Activity as revealed in nature.
But to this matter of our Lord's knowledge we shall return in the next chapter.
IV. The completion of His unification of all things requires that the Incarnate embrace God through His human faculties.
Hence it seems to follow of necessity that as Incarnate the Son has no communion with His Father except through the same medium of manhood. He holds communion with His Father through His human soul. For He is one person; and His manhood is, in the fullest sense, His own nature, although it is assumed. He took it to Himself not as an external organ through which to touch the world of matter and dwell in space, but as the very true and real nature through and in which He might mediate between God and men. It is not enough that the mediator be in contact with our nature; He must make it really and entirely His own.
Thus in some mysterious way the manhood must be regarded as mediating the relations of the Incarnate to His Father, that hereafter it may mediate the relations of the many members of His mystical body to the same Father.
The manhood would not be real, it would not be His very own, if it might be left out of account when He is alone with His Father.
In fact, our Lord Himself often spoke of the activities of His manhood in connection with His personal relations to His Father. He speaks of the vision of the Father's work, [John 5:19.] of hearing the Father's judgements, [Ibid. 5:30.] and of receiving the things of God, that He may reveal them to His friends. [Ibid. 15:15.] It is not a figure of speech this seeing and hearing. On the contrary, it expresses exactly the place that the manhood holds as the medium of communion between the Father and the Christ. To interpret the passages to which reference is made as alluding to the divine, supermundane communion of the Father and the Son is to declare that God took flesh in order to make a revelation that cannot be unfolded in or through manhood.
This is one of the great marvels of the Gospel story, this record of the wondrous power of manhood when constituted in God. Who would have dared to predict that the Incarnate Son could, and would, hold communion with His Father through a truly human soul? Yet, in fact, it is just that which we ought to have predicted. For, if the revelation can be received by us men, it must of necessity be such as a human soul can assimilate; and if we are to behold in Christ the beatific vision of the Father, His soul, even upon earth, must have been capable of rising to immeasurable heights in contemplation of the Godhead.
So Christ's soul is shewn to us in the Gospels: always growing, always developing, always advancing; and being at every stage capable of mediating such communion with the Father as was possible to the Son in manhood's bonds, and proper to Him as child, and youth, and man. Of course, the communion of the Incarnate with the Father when He was but twelve years old was not that which he had in the Transfiguration or on Calvary: each stage was rightly ordered: but always the determining factor was the natural limitation of the human soul.
V. It is necessary now to discuss the inner meaning of the state of the Incarnation.
The relation of the Incarnate to His manhood is seen to be very real. He does not enter into manhood with one fixed quantity of divine power at His command, waiting the development of His human faculties for its manifestation; becoming, as it were, gradually and increasingly incarnate. Rather He entered once for all into manhood, willing to begin His new life as the conditions of existence in Mary's womb should make it necessary. From that moment He grew as His manhood grew; realizing Himself more and more as His human soul opened up to Him the paths both of self-knowledge and knowledge of the universe. He became man truly, passing through every stage of human growth. The gradual development is not a mark of gradual incarnation; it is of the very essence of a real incarnation. Had He not been truly God in babyhood He would not have been truly God in manhood.
The limits of His self-manifestation at every moment were fixed by the capacity of the human soul that He had made His own; for He had become man really, wholly, and perfectly, without any the least reservation. Thus the content of the ego or subject of His manhood increased by forming wider and deeper relations, just as the ego in every man developes increasingly and, so to speak, finds itself as the years go by. The difference that was evident cannot be measured by us; for His ego is divine. But we may not doubt the process of development in the face of the evidence of the Gospels.
This view is far truer than that of the Athanasians and Cyrillines who postulate as ego the unlimited Logos, or Word, arguing for an unreal relation of Him to a growing manhood, thus requiring two centres of activity within the one Incarnate being.
So, again, it is far truer than the advanced Kenotic view which merely substitutes for the unlimited Logos the self-abandoned Son of God. Such a theory leaves too much to manhood to accomplish in its own power, while it does not save us from the dual centre of activity.
The view for which we plead allows best for the growth of the Christ to which St. Luke bears witness; it is Scriptural, and it accords with what we know of personal development. But if it is to win acceptance it must be most clearly seen and strongly maintained that the action by which the eternal Son restrains Himself, while allowing divine aid to reach the manhood, belongs not to the relations of the Incarnate, but to those of His universal activities. The relations of the Incarnation are due to the self-limited Logos, who can at any moment exercise only such powers as manhood can mediate. He lives under a law of self-restraint that He imposed upon Himself as unlimited Logos. For, since the measure of the divine power in the life of the Incarnation is neither fixed nor constant but always increasing, we must conceive the relations of the Incarnation to be so in the power of the unlimited Logos that He can Himself continuously will their existence: the Incarnation being His continual movement in manhood towards men carrying them thereby to God. There can be no wall of separation and no gulf between the two sets of relations. The eternal Son gives the motive force to the relationships of the Incarnate at every moment; the Incarnate is the eternal Son under conditions of manhood.
I do not mean for a moment that the two sets of relations, or states, can be figured as concentric circles: for that would be to ascribe to the Incarnate a universality of relationship foreign to the limitations of humanity. But I do mean that the two states meet in the person of the eternal Son; and that the content of divine power of the lower state cannot be fixed, for it varies with the growing power of the manhood to receive and to communicate it. Thus the divine power mediated by the Incarnate when an infant was almost immeasurably less than was His power when going forth to His death; but the difference was due not to the arbitrary will of the Logos but to the inferior capacity of an infant's soul when compared with the soul of a full-grown man. Never for a moment may we say that the Babe Jesus, as Babe, ruled the universe from His mother's knee. The Person who is Mary's Babe is at the same moment Ruler of the Universe through His divine relations therewith. But through His assumed, human relations He can only enter upon His full lordship as He advances in glory, beyond the grave. [1 Cor. 15:2528; Eph. 1:21, 22.] Thus we may not say that the eternal Son was to the same extent self-limited when man as when He was an infant. For in considering the self-emptying of the eternal Son we have not to discuss how much of His power He retained, but how far at any stage of His life the manhood that He had assumed was able to mediate His power.
Thus it will be truest to fact if we speak of the Incarnation as being a real coming of God the Son into manhood, with a view to developing mediatorial relations compatible with infancy, boyhood, and manhood.
On these lines it will be well to reiterate here what exactly we mean by the state of the Incarnation as opposed to the state of the universal activities of the Logos.
Surely the word state in this connection means nothing more than the sum of the relationships of the Logos. On the one hand He lives in universal creative relationships with the whole of His creation, such relations being based upon His own eternal relation to the Father. On the other hand He lives on earth in special, redemptive relationships with a few chosen souls, such relations being based upon a new, limited, human relation to His Father. But He Himself is one and the same person: He is the one term of all the relationships universal and particular: and those that are particular are the result of, and are ultimately based upon, those that are universal. Thus at every moment the measure and content of the special relationships, while fixed to suit the needs of those to whom He comes, are yet fixed by Him who is the source of all, the Word conceived of as universally powerful. He it is who imposed upon Himself the perpetual law of self-restraint according to the measure of the capacity of the manhood that He should assume.
We ask why such special relationships involved the assumption of human flesh. The introduction of the manhood into the one set of relations seems to place them on a level entirely different from that of the other set. To which it may be answered, first, that we are far too ignorant of the nature of God to be able to measure the effect upon Him of the assumption of manhood; but that we have no reason to suppose that the human soul, made in His own image, is in itself unfitted to be the medium of additional, permanent relations between Himself and His creatures. The Infinite is not bound by anything except His own will.
And, beyond this, we have positive reasons for conceiving these relations to have been made visible and permanent in manhood. For, in the first place, God desired the establishment of both parties to the new relationship upon a level common to both. Hence God the Son descended to that level up to which He could raise and on which He could maintain the other; that is, He became man. And, in the second place, God desired the establishment of both upon one common level before Himself, the Father, a level on which the Son could truly act as priest upon behalf of and in the name of man. Therefore, again, the Son came in manhood. It is plan, then, that the new relationships demanded a real assumption of manhood by the eternal Son, and an assumption such as should be permanent. Only as man could He meet men on a common level, and only as communing with the Father through a human soul could He adequately serve mankind as priest. In fact, the eternal Son could not assume the required relation to the human race unless He also assumed a new relation to His Father.
Viewed in this way it becomes increasingly clear that the Incarnation stands for a growing manifestation of the Son through manhood. For at the one term it is seen as being a new relationship through infancy, under conditions of infancy, with Mary and Joseph; while at the other term it is to be conceived as a new relationship between the Word through glorified manhood, under the condition of glorified manhood, with the whole company of the faithful, and with His whole creation, which He carries onward to its perfect destiny.
The isolation of the relationships that make up the state of the Incarnation is not only possible and legitimate; for us men it is necessary. It is done for us in the Gospel story: for the Incarnate is the centre of them all, and He is in no sense concerned, as Incarnate, in any other relationship at all. No other relationship concerns us as objects of the Christian revelation; no other has to do with our redemption and sanctification. We know God through the relationships that make up the sphere of the Incarnation.
But, on the other hand, looked at from above, this isolation has no existence in the eternal order; for the person who constitutes each set of relationships is one and the same, the eternal Son of God. To Him these relations are additional to those that are universal: additional, formed for a special purpose, for our salvation, at the cost of His self-humiliation. For it is necessary to bear in mind that although the state of the Incarnation is merely the sum of new relationships, yet it was only entered at the cost of very real self-sacrifice, and continuance in it involves very real self-humiliation. God cannot be related to sinners through manhood and in manhood without something of that which in us would be a sense of humiliation. We must not think that in setting aside the idea of self-abandonment, we have robbed the Incarnation of its element of sacrifice of self. This could never be. For call it what we will, a relationship between God and man that requires God to bind Himself in manhood's cords can only be formed at great cost. God must within certain relationships empty Himself of His glory, strip Himself of His freedom, and enter the region where sorrow reigns, if He wishes to live as man.
Therefore, as a last thought upon this subject, we must face the difficulty of the coexistence of a dual relationship between the Logos and His chosen people. The difficulty is not peculiar to the view of the Incarnation that I am advocating: it is common to all theories. But it is, I think, necessary to try to estimate it at this point, and to see if it cannot be relieved of some of its weight.
The main weight of the difficulty is carried for us by our confidence in the power and love of Almighty God our Father. But the puzzled mind may find some help in an analogy.
St. Francis de Sales came to act as confessor to his own father and mother. As son of his parents he was famous for his loving affection and filial devotion and for his constant interest in all that made up their life. But the moment he entered the tribunal of penance with one of them he found himself unable to exercise filial love or to make use of his knowledge of their lives. He was merely a priest; shriving their souls; related to them only in and through his priesthood. He was the subject of two relationships with them; of both he as their son was the first term; but in respect to the particular, limited relationship of priesthood he was seen to be restrained in the exercise of his sonship.
It is an analogy only, and clearly it is very inadequate; but it does touch our problem at two points: it affords an analogy with the coexistence of two sets of relations in the one subject, the Logos; and an analogy with the limitation necessary to the second relationship.
And it is perhaps not the less useful that it gives us a faint hint of the possibility of locating the power of self-limitation in the subject of the wider relationship. It was as son that Francis willed to act as priest to his parents; it was as son that he put aside all such knowledge of them as his priesthood might not mediate. Yes, it is perhaps a fruitful analogy though inadequate.
VI. Thus we arrive at our conception of the self-consciousness of the Incarnate.
Within these special relationships that are so real as to demand signification by His assumption of manhood, the Son necessarily has a knowledge of Himself, in His relations Godward and manward, that does not belong to His universal life as Logos. The Incarnate is the Son of God existing only under conditions of manhood. In what sense, then, was He conscious of Himself?
We may arrive at an answer by a process of elimination. First, He did not know Himself as God the Son possessed of and exercising unlimited power. His state of eternal glory was, as it were, a memory to Him: [John 17:5.] but His human mind was, and is, so inferior to the Divine Nature that it could not mediate an act of Self-Knowledge as the Eternal God, in the glorious liberty of divine power; otherwise manhood would indeed be equal with Godhead.
Secondly, He did not know Himself as merely a man; for His self is divine. He was conscious of divinity. [John 5:17; 8:58; 10:30; 14:23, etc.] And thirdly, He did not know Himself as divine-human in composite consciousness; for He had not associated any human person with Himself.
It remains therefore to say that He was conscious of Himself as God-in-manhood. He knew Himself as God just in so far as a perfect, sinless, God-assumed soul could mediate the divine self-consciousness. God the Son had become man, and knew Himself only so far as His human soul could mediate that knowledge. As His Soul is the everlasting, and only perfect, means of the Unveiling of the Godhead to man in the Kingdom of Glory; so on earth it was His only medium of His Vision of His Father. We have seen how truly He had taken manhood into Himself; how He had willed that it should mediate all His new relationships with the Father and the world. If, then, these relationships were those of an intelligent, personal being they must have been based in a consciousness of self as entirely limited and conditioned by manhood.
It is not that He knew Himself to be unlimited Logos, who had willed to respect the limitations of manhood. No, more than that. He knew Himself as Logos only in the measure that His human soul could be made to mediate that self-knowledge. But all the while in His universal state He was, nay is, the unlimited Logos who wills to be for evermore in such special relations of love to the redeemed that, in the sphere in which He meets with them, He is prepared to accept this limited content of self-consciousness.
The human soul, made in God's image, reaches its goal when in its true sinlessness it is constituted in the person of the eternal Son to be the ever-growing and ever-developing medium of His self-consciousness.
This is a startling statement; yet it appears to be inevitable. And the peculiar difficulty that it at once suggests is avoided by the refusal to posit a wall of separation between the universal and incarnate states of the Logos.
Difficult as it is, yet we cannot be content with the rival theories. The Kenotic position is not satisfactory, for from it we see in one state the Logos conscious of Himself as unlimited God, and in the other the self-abandoned Logos conscious of Himself as self-abandoned-God, or not-quite-God; or as divine-human. Nor can we think of the Incarnate as possessing no special self-consciousness, unless we rob the Incarnation of its full meaning.
It will be asked in what way a human soul can be the medium of His consciousness of Himself as God. The answer is of course uncertain. But for myself I venture to seek it in the consideration of man's power of spiritual vision. Our soul was created for the vision of God; to that vision we look forward, and in the day of cur perfection we shall, please God, attain it. Our souls in that day will know God according to our several degrees; they will mediate His Divine Being for us.
The soul of the Incarnate was ever perfect; and was constituted in God from its beginning. It was a perfect mirror of divine Wisdom and Beauty in its degree. We cannot measure that degree, we cannot judge of its development; but most certainly, we cannot say that it could not be the sufficient medium of the self-consciousness of God-in-manhood. In fact, to say so is to deny that man can know God.
It is quite reasonable to argue that our Lord's consciousness of Himself through His human soul is at least equal with the knowledge that He had of His Father through His human soul; and since He and His Father are one, His consciousness of Himself as God-in-manhood must have included a consciousness of His own divine being in some sort that defies our measurement.
Thus to say that our Lord could not define Himself means that He could not define His Father; and to say that He had a "unique relation" to God that we may not call divine, is to stop short of the truth. He knew Himself quite clearly as God-in-manhood, just as He knew God the Father through His manhood. His manhood is for evermore the one medium of two operations. As Head of the redeemed race in Heaven the Christ in glory knows the Father, and is conscious of Himself as God-in-manhood, through the manhood He took of the Virgin Mary.
Although, then, this solution is at first sight full of difficulty I would crave for it a careful trial and a cautious judgement.
Let me suggest two analogies that go a little way towards making my meaning clear.
Imagine an African king defeated by a neighbouring tribe and reduced to a state of slavery. Suppose him to be kept in his own royal home, but now as the servant of his rival's representative. He is a king; and in his own mind, as he dwells in thought upon his surroundings, he knows himself as king and ruler of men. But within the sphere of his servitude he has to realize himself as a king in slavery. Not as a mere slave, for he is a king; but as a king in slavery. And everything in his accustomed environment he must relate to himself in a new way. To himself as a king in slavery he relates all that once was related to him as to a king. He has in a sense a limited self-consciousness; not a second one, for he is one and the same person throughout. But our analogy fails us here, because we cannot conceive the coexistence of the full and the limited consciousness in one person. Nevertheless it points us in the direction of the truth.
Again, imagine a man, the favourite son of a commanding officer, enlisting in the army, and being transferred to his father's regiment. His self-consciousness as son of his father belongs to the sphere of his full, proper life; but within the particular, narrow relationships set up by his enlistment he is the subject of a limited consciousness; knowing himself only as son in conditions of military service. And it is only in the measure that the limited consciousness is allowed to prevail over the wider that his military life is really effective and tolerable. He is one single person; he has no dual consciousness; but the content of his self-consciousness as a soldier is less than the content of his consciousness as son, free in his father's house.
In both these cases there is a single person in a dual relationship to his environment; and in both cases each sphere of relationships is so distinct as to require a personal centre of activity. In both cases the centres of activity are filled by a single person, who in the one state knows himself as possessing his proper prerogatives and powers, and in the second state knows himself as so conditioned by his environment as to exercise only such powers as befit his new relationship, being compelled to try to forget that he has by right a larger liberty and a fuller life.
These analogies fail us just in the point where we most need help. In both cases the completeness of the second state depends upon an act of forgetfulness; of deliberate, resolute shutting out from the mind of the memory of the former life. But with the Incarnate it is not an act of forgetfulness. Rather is it an act of supreme divine power that so orders the life of the Logos that within a certain sphere He wills to have no consciousness of Himself that is not mediated for Him by His human soul. It is a supreme exhibition of divine love and power; it allows for the gradual development of the consciousness of the Incarnate in the measure of the growth of His human soul; while at the same time it secures the divine character of the consciousness itself.
Looked at from above, as from the standpoint of the Logos Himself, His consciousness as man must surely bear the marks of self-sacrificing love, of powerful self-restraint. It is the result of the self-emptying of the Son; of His determination to accept, within certain relationships, the fashion of a man and the form of a slave. He willed so to relate Himself to the Father and to men that within these relationships He could not know Himself as unlimited Son of God.
But looked at from below, from our standpoint, His consciousness as man is that of the perfect Son of Man, who at every moment, in ever-growing clearness, realizes in and through manhood His divine Sonship; who knows Himself as God at every moment just in the measure that such self-knowledge can be mediated by the soul as it passes from perfect infancy to perfect childhood, from perfect childhood to perfect youth, and from perfect youth to perfect manhood. And in this it is really human; the self-consciousness of the Man Christ Jesus, the self-consciousness of God in manhood.
It is in the light of such a theory as this that we best understand the saying of our Lord that His Father is greater than He is. For the Incarnate speaks of himself as He was on earth in His Incarnate state, within the relationships made concrete by His assumption of flesh. He speaks not of His manhood, but of His Incarnate being and state. As Incarnate He is less than His Father. As touching His manhood, and the conditions that it has imposed upon His person, He is inferior to His Father.
The importance of arriving at a conception of a single [The process may be dual, since two natures are His media of knowledge; but the self-knowledge of the Incarnate, through His manhood, is a single knowledge of Himself as God-in-manhood. And any knowledge independent of His manhood is outside the Incarnation.] consciousness of the Christ cannot be overestimated. The popular teaching that assumes in the Incarnate a full consciousness of divine glory side by side with a consciousness of certain occasional human limitations cannot be too strongly deprecated. It requires three states of the Logos: the first in which He is unlimited and unincarnate; the second in which He is incarnate, and unlimited except when He wills to allow some merely human condition to prevail over Him; and the third in which He is self-limited in that human condition. And the result of such a conception of the Incarnate is to make His manhood unique not only in the degree of its perfection, but also in kind. It makes it utterly unlike ours, and also removes it from all part in the mediation of His self-consciousness.
And, on the other hand, the Kenotic theories are equally to be deplored. For they picture the Incarnate as of a dual consciousness in the sense that they require two centres of activity in the lower state: a centre of His self-abandonment, and a centre of His divine-human or human activities after the self-abandonment has taken place.
For myself, the daylight shines most fully at the point in which I am able to assign to the universal sphere of Logos-activity all the self-limitation that was necessary for the mediation of Christ's consciousness by His manhood. The child Jesus was able to be a perfect child, not because He as Incarnate restrained divine powers lest they should overpower His boy nature, but because as Incarnate He is at every moment observant of and obedient to a law of self-restraint which He as unlimited Logos wills should be imposed upon Himself. The child in Joseph's shop is the concrete expression of those relations of the Incarnate, Godward and manward, which depend for their reality at every moment upon the action of the Logos Himself in His universal sphere of activities. The Logos as able to limit Himself and as conscious of that ability is to be regarded as in the state of the universal and eternal relationships; the special, incarnate relationships are to be conceived as those of the Logos self-limited, who knows Himself only as Logos limited in manhood. As Eternal Logos He made an Act of Will in virtue of which He entered upon and now lives in manhood; and as Incarnate, He accepts at every moment, personally, through His divine will, all the foreseen, inevitable consequences of His act.
The newborn babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, has no more consciousness of self than may be possible to an infant soul, sinless, flawless, unburdened, and constituted in the person of God the Son. Nay more, the Incarnate as unborn babe has no consciousness that is not proper to the soul of babyhood, again sinless, flawless, unburdened, and constituted in the person of the Son of God. We must not let this thought stagger us. For in the first place it behoved God to condescend to the lowest form of human life in order to redeem it. If it were impossible for God to live as an unborn babe in Mary's womb, the Incarnation as we have conceived it never took place at all. Sadly we must then admit that God did not become man: He merely took manhood at a certain stage of its growth and made it the medium of His self-manifestation. But if God became man, it is true that He first became self-conscious as Incarnate through the soul of an infant! And in the second place, let us remember that we cannot measure the consciousness of the unborn nor of the infant. Of John the Baptist we know that he leapt in his mother's womb at the approach of Mary immediately after her conception of Christ; a fact that may perhaps imply some kind of consciousness which, even if we ascribe it to some special action of the Spirit or to some extra endowment of holiness, points to the possibility of extraordinary capacity in the soul of Jesus. But in the last resort we must be content to leave the matter unexplained, knowing that we are moving in the region of mystery.
In any case this difficulty is not so great on the theory that I advocate as on some others. For as I plead the matter, looking from beneath we see the Incarnate almost unconscious because the soul is not yet able to mediate self-knowledge; but looking from above, the acceptance of practical unconsciousness is seen to be the momentary expression of the will of the living, unlimited Logos. Practical unconsciousness does not mean actual nonexistence, for there is no wall between the unlimited and the incarnate Logos. The Incarnate is the eternal Son in conditions of manhood, and therefore for the time in conditions of infancy.
And we must, while considering this problem, continually remind ourselves that we are dealing with two sets of relationships in which one Person stands, at the same moment of time, to the universe. We must not so concentrate our thoughts upon the helplessness of the unborn babe as to reject this view of Christ's consciousness without further study; more properly we must adore the eternal Logos in His glory and majesty, and watch Him begin to form new, limited relations with men, the first of which leads Him to add to Himself babyhood, as the centre of a new sphere of limited and conditional activity. And should the value of such an addition seem nothing, to the point of repelling our reason, let us turn to the expected Vision of the Christ in glory, reigning in manhood, the centre of such limited relations with millions of redeemed and sanctified souls: then indeed shall we understand the value of the babyhood, and wonder at His love and humiliation, Who "did not despise the Virgin's womb."
Moreover, to deny to the Incarnate self-consciousness mediated by the conditions of infancy is to deny to Him consciousness of His own act in becoming man.
God's love is God Himself; and when God became man God's knowledge of Himself is a knowledge of Himself as man, as it were an added knowledge, external to His essential self-knowledge. Each added relationship of God to His creation is both the occasion and the condition of a new form of self-knowledge, or self-consciousness.
If it be answered that in saying this we postulate a change in the content of the divine knowledge, the answer is that since God is eternal, and all that is is the expression of His eternal Mind and Will, there was in fact no real change. There was only an expression in terms of created life of what was hidden in the Divine Mind.
And when we speak, in halting language, dazed by mystery, of "practical unconsciousness," we mean no more than that the Logos could not enter upon those relations with the Mystic Body that make the glory of the New Jerusalem, unless He were first to relate to Himself the new creation in Mary's womb, a creation that could not in the nature of things mediate His consciousness, for had it done so, it had not been of like nature with that which His assumption of it was to redeem.
To sum up then, the Logos, in His state of Divine Glory, possesses a true consciousness of Himself as God the Son, omnipotent and omniscient. In virtue of His omniscient wisdom, by His omnipotent power, He ever imposes upon Himself a law of self-restraint, so framed that, in the Incarnate State, His exercise of His own proper powers is at every moment to be adapted to the measure of the capacity of His ever-growing manhood. As living under this law, within the conditions of manhood, He knows Himself not as God the Son exercising full divine power through a free and unlimited Divine Nature, but as God the Son limited and conditioned in manhood; and unable to act or speak or think outside the limits imposed upon Him by His manhood. So living and so conforming to the law of self-restraint He is the centre of the new relationships with His Father and His creatures that make up the life of the Incarnation; the existence of these relationships depending upon the indwelling of all creatures by the unlimited Logos in virtue of His omnipresence, and upon the reality of the limited self-consciousness of the Logos as Incarnate.
Thus in His eternal relationships the Logos is found performing an act of immeasurable self-sacrifice, in which the Father who sends Him into the world is seen to share; and within the special relationships of the Incarnation the Logos in manhood is found offering at every moment an act of consummate obedience to the original law of self-restraint. The initial act of self-sacrifice belongs to the eternal relations, being based upon His self-consciousness as omnipotent. Logos; the continuous act of obedience is the expression in terms of humanity of the primary act of self-sacrifice, and is based upon His limited self-consciousness as Logos in manhood. The latter alone has to do with the life of the Incarnate; and it alone concerns us in our estimate of the self-consciousness of the Christ. In fact, self-sacrifice in God is only intelligible to us after it has been translated into the terms of human thought.
VII. It is evident from the Scriptures that the Incarnate, the self-limited Logos, God in manhood, is a very real and adequate centre of the activities of His humanity.
We have emphasized the essential inseparableness of the universal relations of the Logos from His relations as Incarnate, seeing that all are based in one and the same person; we have argued for Him a self-consciousness that is merely a limited self-consciousness, conceiving of Him as One who knows Himself to be God conditioned in and by manhood; and we have found the motive-power of the relationships of the Incarnate in the divine love and power of the Son of God.
But we must be quite as emphatic in postulating the reality and the entity of the state of relationships of the Incarnation, and in acknowledging the Incarnate to be the real and personal centre of all the activities of those relations.
Herein lies the final problem of the doctrine of the Incarnation.
How can the Logos as self-limited be the subject of the passion, the agony, the desolation and death upon the cross, and yet at the same moment be the living and life-giving Son of God?
No one has answered the question, no one can answer it. The Athanasians and Cyrillines avoid it by separating the human nature from the divine to the extent that will enable them to say that He suffered all these things in His manhood, He Himself remaining in full exercise of His divine powers. Either He merely became inactive, leaving His manhood to its natural fate, or He willed to allow His manhood to suffer what apart from His divine will it could not have been able to suffer. The Kenotists have no answer to give. They only plead the infinite power of the divine love. They wisely refuse to limit the divine power by the measure of what is possible to man. And with them we may well pause: fortifying our faith by the contemplation of the Father's love and omnipotence, in the face of the supreme mystery of redemption.
But there are considerations to be advanced that may help us to see our way a little clearer.
First, then, let us notice that the self-consciousness of the Incarnate as God in manhood is so real that He cannot receive anything except in and through His manhood. He may be in another state the unlimited Logos, but as Incarnate He cannot receive or use or know what His manhood cannot mediate.
It is as if a king's son were to will, for purposes of his father's policy, to leave his palace and to dwell a workman among workmen; to pass through all the troubles and vicissitudes of the life of a manual labourer, and to refuse to receive anything from others that he could not naturally receive and use as a working man. Those who recognize him and in their hearts bow before him are forbidden to acknowledge him or to help him in any way. Imagine a time of distress, and the king's son numbered among the unemployed and chosen to be one of their leaders. He goes with them into the king's presence; he is as they are in the king's sight; and the answer that he receives is that nothing can be done for any one of them. Outside the palace he shares the grief, the distress, and the hunger of the unemployed; and none may help him apart from the whole body of weary sufferers. He is, by a primary act of will, one of the unemployed. As the days pass the distress deepens; and finally a riot ensues. In the riot he is severely handled: he lies at death's door in the prison infirmary. He is recognized, but must be treated only as an unemployed workman, now a prisoner awaiting his trial. Yet all the while he is a king's son. However, he is resolved only to know himself as king's son in conditions of manual labour. The law of self-restraint that he imposed upon himself when in his father's palace must hold. He will not, must not break it.
Who will say that such an one is not a very real, personal centre of his activities in his sphere as workman? Never for a moment does the fact of his essential royal sonship detract from the reality of his personal life as a workman.
The main point in which the analogy fails us in this connection is that, of course, the son could not be at one and the same moment in his father's house as royal son and in the streets as unemployed. But it does point to the possibility of one and the same person being able to act as the true and personal centre of the activities of two sets of relationships, even when the content of one state is far less than the content of the other; and it helps us to see how wide and deep is the effect upon the personal self of complete surrender to an alien environment. Also it suggests that a man may live truly in a state not his own and endure all the evils that spring from it, while all the time he is only separated from a power that might save him from harm by a previously fixed act of will.
We may not see how the son in our parable could be in two places at the same time; but after all, what is place to God? And we have seen that the son could exist in a dual relationship with his father at one and the same moment. I think that the more we emphasize the possibility of dual relations the less burdensome will our difficulty become. And of course we can all quote cases of such duality in relationship. For example, every holy man realizes a dual relationship: for on the one hand he is the centre of the activities of his earthly, human life, and also at the same time he is becoming more and more a real centre of a life in God that is independent of time and space. Or we may revert once more to the analogy afforded by the priesthood. We can imagine the case of a priest who is called to give evidence against a man accused of murder; the looked-for evidence being the matter of the actual confession of the accused. The priest may not divulge any the least word. For the work of confession he is isolated from his normal human relationships; he cannot recognize them or have anything to do with them except in so far as his office as confessor will allow. The priest has a dual relationship to each member of his flock, the one inside the other, and less than the other; but he is the real centre of the activities of both.
But when all is said these analogies have not taken us very far towards seeing the possibility of the coexistence of the two states of the Logos.
We have seen that duality of relationship is possible; a simultaneous duality. We have also reminded ourselves that the fact of one set of relationships binding God to time and space through manhood must not be allowed too much weight; since we do not know how their laws affect Him Whose mind they express. It is possible that the effect is less than we suppose. And again we have no means of determining the effect on spirit of a sinless body; we only know the rebellious flesh.
But let us look up to God Himself and see whether there is nothing in our conception of Him that may serve as a parallel with the dual measure of the self-consciousness of the Incarnate.
It is true that God's relationships are innumerable and simultaneous; but surely the content of His self-consciousness is fixed and constant? This of course is true. Yet there is room in the divine Father for some measure of self-limitation in respect to different relationships. He is to many of us the Love that is revealed in Jesus through the Blessed Sacrament; and He is merely Yahveh to our brethren the Jews. In some mysterious way He can reconcile the constant content of His self-consciousness with a varying self-manifestation; He shews a power of adapting Himself that is the highest mark of His love. He seems to allow the measure of our faith to condition His self-manifestation.
Can we get closer than this? Hardly, I think, without great danger and presumption. But on the whole we have gained some help towards lightening the load that faith has to carry: and we may well remember that for the majority of Christians faith bears the whole weight of it without complaining.
In the second place, we may dwell upon the importance of emphasizing the reality of the conditions of manhood under which the Logos chooses to dwell. The more we assert their reality, their extent, and their binding force the more easy it will be to see the ability of the limited Logos to be a real, personal centre of the human activities. So long as the external limits of the state of the Incarnation are as real as those of our manhood, so long will the person who lives within them be as really subject to manhood as we are. The problem can only be partially solved, but the solution lies for us at present not in the psychological and metaphysical regions, but in the recognition of the plain facts of the Gospel narrative. The Holy Spirit has not given us a revelation concerning the conception of a single person as the centre of two sets of relationships at the same moment: He has, however, revealed to us the actual relationships themselves. And if we follow the method of the New Testament we shall concentrate all our attention upon the very real human conditions that hemmed in the limited Logos; upon the human soul which is for ever the medium of His self-consciousness as God in manhood; and upon the humanity that is between Him and His Father, and between Him and mankind.
Thus it is that we shall come to see how in fact the Incarnate was really tempted, really in agony, and really desolate. Between Him and His impassible glory there was only one act of will; that act by which He as unlimited Logos has imposed and as limited Logos has accepted the law of self-restraint. But mere act of will as it is, it has been signified, manifested, and made permanent by the assumption of manhood, and that manhood such that it may never be laid aside.
VIII. In postulating a single self-consciousness of the Christ as God in manhood, we must not be taken to mean that He was possessed of only one will.
We have seen that His self-consciousness was in no way composite: and we must be on our guard against attributing to the Christ one composite will. The danger of so doing arises from the tendency to isolate the divine person from the divine nature and functions; and so to think of the divine will as apart from His person that we can conceive it either becoming associated with the human will by some kind of moral identity, or serving Him as an instrument by which to subdue His human will. All this kind of thought could be avoided were we to bear in mind that the will is a function of a person, inseparable from him. It is not a part of him: it is a mode of his self-manifestation.
Hence the Incarnate who lives and acts in manhood must either cease to be God, or He must exercise His divine will. The Incarnate speaks, but what is the motive power behind His words? His human will? Yes: His human will, one of the functions proper to Him as Incarnate. But as a function it expresses the Person. And the Person must express himself through His own personality, that is through His divine will. He cannot express Himself as God in manhood except personally and humanly: that is, through His divine and human wills. He is the ego of the manhood: and a human will is an essential function of such an ego. But He is the ego of manhood because He is divine, and a divine will is an essential function of a divine person. So that the two wills of Christ must always be confessed, for they are two essential functions of God in manhood.
The truth is that the Incarnate Son is not separable from His divine Will. The Actor and the Act are one in reality. Whereas He is separable in reality from His human will, for He assumed it; and in this respect the Actor and the Act are distinct.
Thus when Jesus spoke, He used both His wills. But when I say "He spoke," the word "He" means "He and His will, which is Himself," and "spoke" means, by the action of His human will.
It is quite a false antithesis that men draw when they distinguish between Jesus and His divine will, as if it were a mere function of His divine Self. It is His Self in action. We therefore confess two wills in the Lord Jesus; but we admit that the only evident expression of His Self is that given to us through His human will, in human action.
And the union of the two wills is not merely one of moral identity: it exists in Jesus Himself, the Person, who is Divine Will.
We may say of the Incarnate that His acts of self-consciousness, like His acts of willing, are two, since His natures are two; but His self-knowledge is really one, and the result of His willing is one. For He who knows Himself as Incarnate does not so know Himself apart from His human mind, and He who wills as Incarnate does not will apart from His human will; and His hidden interior acts within His divine nature, being inseparable from Himself, are included in the subject of the sentences: "He knows Himself," and "He wills."
IX. The Incarnate lived truly under conditions of manhood upon earth, and therefore came to have a truly human experience.
He was able to relate to Himself humanly, through human faculties, all that met Him in His life on earth, and all objects of His thought. Again, He was able to feel humanly, through human flesh, all that goes to make the pain and suffering of the world; and He was, yet further, able to be tempted humanly through His human faculties, and to taste to the full the bitterness of the spiritual conflict. Finally He was able to die humanly, abandoning His flesh to the will of His enemies, and His life to the power of death.
Yet in all these things His experience was human in a sense in which we do not normally use the word. For human experience may be of two kinds. It may be an experience of which the subject is merely human as in our case; or it may be an experience of which the contents are in terms of humanity, the subject being not merely human as in the case of the Incarnate.
This distinction is important. It does not at all detract from the reality of Christ's human experience; for we have seen that He in whose image man is made may adequately and fittingly serve as manhood's ego, and manifest Himself in manhood. But it does lend a value to His experience that it would not otherwise have. For it assures us that truly and really God became man, tasted of our troubles and sorrows and griefs, bore our pains, met our temptations, conquered our enemies, and passed triumphantly before us in the path that leads through death to the glory of eternal life.
Such was the experience of the Christ, truly human in its content. But the subject of it is divine; it is He who having been tempted is able also to succour us who are tempted. He came to know as we know that we might become able as He is able.
X. The Incarnate not only underwent a truly human experience: He also left us a truly human example. Modern Christian thought lays the very greatest stress upon this point; and much of the extreme Kenotic teaching is due to a desire to minimize the divine and to exalt the human in Christ with a view to securing His human example. The danger lies in regarding the example as merely human; as being the result of the action of the human faculties of the Christ inspired and enabled by the Holy Ghost. This view of the matter must be steadfastly rejected both on Scriptural and doctrinal grounds. First, on Scriptural grounds because the example set before us in the New Testament is that of the divine perfection. [Matt, 5:48. Luke 6:36. 1 Peter 1:15.] The humanity of Christ is pictured as the mirror of the divine perfection; and as a fountain of life and power that issues in conduct like His. He shews us not what one man did in Palestine in the first years of our era, but what manhood can do and be when united with God. The Incarnate is not the Incarnation of Law, nor the personification of the categorical imperative. He is, on the one hand, a revelation of divine love and power; and on the other hand of the capabilities of manhood when indwelt by God and surrendered to the action of His will. The value of redemption lies not in the mere reproduction by the Redeemer of the weak nature that He assumed, but in His using that weak nature truly, rightly, and powerfully; making it first a sacrifice to God, and secondly a source of power to His people. This and all this we learn from Scripture; and in the New Testament we find that St. Paul does not hesitate to commend himself as an example to his disciples. [1 Cor. 7:7; 11:1. Phil. 3:17. Cf. James 5:10, 11.] Any example will do, provided that it leads men to Him who not only reflects the divine holiness, but can also empower them to assimilate and practise it.
Secondly, on doctrinal grounds we reject the view that Christ's example is merely human. For in whatever degree He may limit His powers, or abandon them, He remains always and utterly a divine person. He can never be merely human.
The truth of course is that being divine He is, in respect of the attributes of personality, by inclusion also human. He possesses every positive attribute of human personality, in a degree that is superhuman but of a kind that is truly human. Thus by self-limitation He became the subject of manhood, truly and personally; and as entirely conditioned by His manhood He acted at every moment quite humanly. His actions express the highest excellence to which human faculties can rise. He never leaves the level upon which men and women at their best can move and act. His example shews exactly what the ideal of manhood is. But, equally truly, He is always on the level to which men and women can only reach in the power of divine aid, being themselves filled with divine life and power. His manhood is ideal because it is God-aided; and it is a true human example to all who in their measure are God-aided, through their union with Him. In this sense and in this sense alone is the human example of Christ valid and effective.
Surely it is for this reason that the New Testament emphasizes the redemptive work of Christ rather than His example. It conceives Him as a teacher of the divine perfection and a saviour of men from their sins, rather than as a mere example of godly living. The claim of Christ upon men is emphatically directed towards their acceptance of Him as their new life and light; the light that opens to their gaze the way to God, and the life that enables them to follow it. The following of Christ involves far more than imitating His example by the denial of self-love. And it does so just because the man Christ Jesus who goes before us in the way is not merely man, but God in manhood. God our Saviour, God over all blessed for ever, is He who can communicate to us His own power of divine holiness.
XI. Lastly, the manhood of the Christ is His proper, assumed nature to all eternity. The state of the Incarnation is permanent. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever." [Heb. 13:8; Rev. 5:6; 7:10; 13:8; 21:22; 22:1, 3.]
The Incarnation may be viewed as an act, and as a state. Viewed as an act it is the one single movement of the divine Son in subjecting Himself to all the conditions of our manhood. As an act it was complete in the moment that the Logos was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Ghost. It was a complete and perfect act; and from that moment the Logos lived in all the successive stages of humanity from that of the unborn babe to that of the full-grown man.
But viewed as a state it is never completed, never finished; for it is the sum of the relationships of the Incarnate with manhood, with men, and with His Father in heaven. These relationships will never cease: they are everlasting in the Father's love. Neither are they fixed and constant, for the souls of the saints are never able to comprehend the divine Being fully, and must always be moving nearer and nearer to God, while never arriving at the fixed point of complete apprehension of Him. Since therefore they all depend upon the manhood of the Incarnate it is plain that the relation of His manhood to the Father is permanent and permanently human. We conceive it as glorified with the glory that is proper to God; we worship Jesus at God's right hand, but we also remember that His manhood is still human, hoping as we do to sit with Him on His throne, [Rev. 3:21.] our manhood in and with His manhood at God's right hand. That is to say we do not ascribe to the manhood of the ascended Lord anything that is essentially alien from manhood as we know it.
Thus to all eternity the Incarnate lives in and under the conditions of a glorified humanity, unburdened it is true by the earthly limitations of humanity, yet still in some sense limited; unless it be that manhood can become equal with Godhead, which were absurd.
Thus whatever self-consciousness we attribute to the Incarnate upon earth we must ascribe to Him as He is in heaven, the Firstfruits of the redeemed race, the Head of the mystical body, the Church. We may not change our fundamental conception of His self-consciousness: we may only conceive an immeasurable increase in its content. For the ascension caused no break or violent change in the life of the Incarnate. It only marked the elevation of manhood to the sphere in which the limitations of manhood are reduced to a minimum, and the enabling powers of the divine life and glory are set free to aid the manhood in a measure that passes our thought. There remained after the ascension just those limitations that are the measure of the ultimate difference between Godhead and manhood: limitations which we lose sight of perhaps as our eyes are dazzled by the divine glory, but which none the less are real and permanent, and in our counting infinite.
Therefore it is that in estimating the manner of the self-limitation of the Incarnate we must be most careful to predicate of Him upon earth no mode of self-restraint that may not be equally predicated of Him in heaven. For this reason, among many others, the extreme Kenotic position has appeared to me untenable. I do not see my way to a doctrine that maintains that there can be no union of manhood with the Logos on earth unless the Logos be self-abandoned and self-deprived of divine attributes; while maintaining that in heaven manhood can exist in the Logos conceived of as having resumed all His powers and prerogatives. This doctrine seems to me, if true, to require an actual deification of manhood; an elevation of Christ's human faculties to the divine level; a demand which seems to be inconsistent with the permanency of the work of mediation between God and man. Either manhood is essentially fitted for union with the divine Person in His fullness, however limited His divine powers may be in action, or it is essentially unfitted. In the former case extreme Kenoticism is unnecessary; in the latter case it is unavailing.
It seems therefore safer to lay stress upon the permanence of the manhood, and the true humanity of its faculties even in glory; and to set aside the Kenotic view of the Incarnate upon earth as requiring in Him two modes of self-emptying.
The Athanasian and Cyrilline positions are not any more satisfactory. We saw that in them we had no definite conception of a permanent subject of the manhood of different content from the person of the unlimited Logos; so that after the glorification of the manhood we are still at a loss to know exactly what the subject of the manhood is. As these teachers tended to minimize the limitations of the humanity upon earth, so they tend to exaggerate the effects of the glorification of the manhood in heaven. In fact they dispense with a really permanent ego of the manhood, and have no conception of any mode of continuous, permanent self-restraint.
But in the theory that I am venturing to advocate the glorified manhood has its proper place in the life of the redeemed people just because its relationship with the limited Logos has remained the same throughout the glorification of both. It exists as it were upon the same plane as before, but the plane is inclined and the movement is upwards, heavenward.
Therefore it is that the glorified Incarnate remains the mediator of the divine revelation; for knowing Himself still only as God in manhood, God in glorified manhood, He is able to be the mirror of the beatific Vision to the whole mystical body of which He is the Head. The saints see God in Him, through His manhood; and this because the human soul of the Incarnate is still the medium of His limited self-consciousness.
And again, He remains the mediator of men's approach to the Father, for His human soul, abiding ire Him as its ego, is made the link between Him and all who are His, and opens a way for them all to pass in Him to the Father.
The permanence of the relationships that make up the sphere of the Incarnation is, then, a point of the very first importance in Christology; and I suggest that on no theory is it so adequately accounted for as on this that I have now advocated and developed.
Such then, point by point, is the solution that I have dared to offer of the problem of the manner of the Incarnation. What remains is to test it by seeking to explain certain elements of the Gospel story in the light of this suggested theory. If it will afford a not inadequate explanation of the many problems that arise from a study of the life and work of the Incarnate, I shall feel still more bold in advocating its acceptance.
One thing at least I do claim for it. It preserves the very true humanity of the Incarnate in its fullness without in any way detracting from His true deity; and in so doing it may possibly help some minds to reconcile the modern craving for a human saviour with the ancient and catholic belief that the Saviour is and can be none else than the only-begotten Son of God.