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That He is a Spirit :-“God is a Spirit,” or rather “God is Spirit” (John iv. 24); and again, “Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape” (v. 37). Therefore, whenever in the Old or New Testament we read of God appearing or speaking audibly to man, we must understand the Second Person of the Godhead placing Himself within the limitations of our world of sense, in order to make some revelation to man.
That God is the Creator and Preserver of the world of nature, and of the world of spirit :-“ By Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible” (Col. i. 16). That God has a threefold Personality :-“Go ye
and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. xxviii. 19). The
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Cor. xiii. 14).
More shortly, this Article declares to us the UNITY and the PERSONALITY of God.
The errors which it condemns are :
(1) The Polytheism of heathen nations, who, denying God's Unity, are without our sure confidence that right and good must ultimately prevail over wrong and evil, and that all things are so ordered as to work together for good; for were there more than one Divine Will, the issue must needs be doubtful.
(2) The Deism of a mere natural theology, which, conceding that a first Cause” is necessary,
and finding evidence of intelligent design in nature, falls short of any sure belief in God's Personality. A divine mind, with no divine heart (for justification of this word see Isa. lxiii.), is no such Person as a man can love or have recourse to trustfully in prayer.
(3) The Pantheism of modern dreamers, who confuse God and Nature, and utterly lose the idea of God's Personality. Their only idea of God is that universal spirit and life which they find pervading nature, manifesting itself in nature's incessant activities. Thus, God and Nature being the same, all that is natural is right; and the scriptural idea of the guilt of sin is explained away, what we call sin being merely natural imperfection.
From such bewildering errors we turn with thankfulness to the clear teaching of Holy Scripture, summed up in this Article :-That there is One Supreme God of a threefold Personality; that therefore we may love and adore our Heavenly Father, we may love and adore His Son our Redeemer, we may love and adore His Holy Spirit our Sanctifier, without losing our faith in God's Unity, inasmuch as these three distinct Persons are of one and the selfsame substance or essence.
Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance : so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and
Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; Who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.
Notes.-The Word, the Son of God, is so called in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel, because as a word expresses thought, so the Son declares or reveals the mind of the Father : “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, Which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (i. 18).
Begotten. This word is used to express, not an event occurring at any particular time, but only the relationship of Son to Father, a relationship which (we are told) has subsisted between them “ from everlasting."
Of one substance: of one and the selfsame essence, so that Father and Son are indivisibly united.
Took. This is an important word: the Divine Nature did not become human, but took to itself human nature from the blessed Virgin's substance.
Never to be divided. This again is most important: the Son did not lay aside the human nature which He had assumed when He returned to Heaven; but retains both natures distinct, yet inseparable, to all eternity.
Very God and very Man. “Very," as in the Nicene Creed, is an adjective meaning true or genuine.
This Article declares three doctrines :
(1) The doctrine of the Divine Nature of the Son of God which He had bcfore His Incarnation :-That He
shared His Father's glory from all eternity, “the glory that I had with Thee before the world was" (John xvii. 5). “Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world” (ver. 24); indeed, a plurality of Persons is implied in the phrase "God is love” (1 John iv. 8); it implies some one to love and be loved by, from all eternity. And that He is of the same essence as God, the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John i. 1); “Christ, Who is over all, God, Blessed for ever” (Rom. ix. 5); “Our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. i. 1).
(2) The doctrine of the Human Nature of Soul and Body which the Son of God took at His Incarnation, and will retain for ever. This Human Soul was not superseded by the Divine Spirit, as the Apollinarians said, nor altogether deified, as the Eutychians imagined; but is retained in all its distinctness and perfection : He abideth " a Priest for ever,” Who can be “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Heb. vii. 17, iv. 15). Nor is it true that the Divine Nature merely entered into the human nature, as the Nestorians taught, as though a mere man had been born of Mary, the Second Person of the Trinity entering into the Man Jesus after His birth; for then Christ would have been in fact two Persons, one dwelling within the other. To preclude any such erroneous teaching, our Creed is careful to tell us that the Son of God was conceived of the Virgin Mary”—the two Natures being combined from the moment of conception. “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. i. 20). “ The Holy
. Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke i. 35). “ The Word was made
flesh” (John i. 14). That he had a human soul is shown by His “increasing in wisdom” (Luke ii. 52); being humanly ignorant of some things (Mark xiii. 32), and liable to temptation (Matt. iv. I; Heb. iv. 15); from His feeling sorrow and sympathy (Luke xix. 41 ; John xi. 35); from the separation of His soul and body at death, the Divine Nature remaining conjoined to each.
(3) The doctrine of Christ's propitiatory sufferings. Although the Divine Nature is incapable of suffering (sce Art. I.), yet in His human nature He “truly suffered ;” and that the purpose of this suffering was to “reconcile His Father to us.” Some may regret that the Scripture form of the phrase is not used, cile us to His Father” (Eph. ii. 16; 2 Cor. v. 19); but in fact they are one and the same phrase in meaning : whereas there was enmity, there is now peace between God and man; sin had been the separation ; by Christ's death the sin was taken out of the way. His sacrifice had this efficacy: He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. liii. 5, and i Pet. ii. 24). “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John ii. 2). “He hath made Him to be sin' for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. v. 21). So St. Cyprian : “ Christ the Mediator between two, puts on man, that He may bring man to the Father. Christ would be what man is, that man might be what Christ is” (de Idol. Van.).
* The word is probably used in the sense of sin-offering, as in Heb. ix. 28. In Lev. vi. 18 and many other places it is so translated.