VIII. The Way of Salvation
"The lord is many times called 'Salvation,' in the Word, by which is meant that He is the Saviour; as, 'My salvation shall not delay, and I will place salvation in Zion.' "—Isa. xlvi. 13; A.R. 368.
SALVATIONIST.—Do you believe in salvation?
MISSIONARY.—I do. The lord, our Saviour, while He was in the world, performed the Divine work of Redemption, and thereby prepared the way for the salvation of the human race. Jehovah God assumed our nature to the end that He might accomplish this most beneficent and glorious work. And this is what is meant by the sublime words: "The lord hath made bare the arm of His holiness, in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God" (Isa. lii. 10)
S.—Are you saved?
M.—What do you mean by being "saved"? Perhaps I am not saved, in the sense in which you understand the term. I do not believe in salvation by faith alone. According to the Scriptures, we must co-operate with the lord, in order to be saved. If we do our part, the lord will surely do His part. Our part is to shun evils as sins against God. We are admonished, in the Word, to "cease to do evil" that we may "learn to do well" (Isa. i. 16, 17).
S.— You believe, then, that we are saved by works; but St. Paul says we are justified by faith.
M.—Yes; but, mark you, Paul does not mean by faith alone; because, he speaks of working out our salvation. He also says: "In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love" (Gal. v. 6). And the lord says that He will "give every man according as his work shall be" (Rev. xxii. 12). The "faith which worketh," is a living and active and valid faith; but "as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James ii. 26).
S.—But are you saved?
M.—In so far as any one is born again, or regenerated, he is saved. To be regenerated, is to be purified from evils, and thus to become "a new creature." In so far, therefore, as we have confessed, repented of, and with the lord's help overcome and put away our evils, in so far, and no further, are we saved.
S.—So you believe you are only saved a little at a time? I believe that I am saved through the grace of Jesus Christ, and saved altogether. I know I am saved.
M.—Do you claim that you are saved through grace, without keeping the Divine Commandments?
S.— Where can you show me a man that ever kept the Commandments? I think Christ was the only man that ever kept them. We are saved by faith in Him.
M.—You have evaded my question, as to yourself personally—no matter. But if we would be true followers of the lord, we must obey His Divine Precepts. He says: "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me" (John xiv. 21). To love the lord, is to do His will; to shun the evils which are forbidden in the Divine Commandments. To the inquiries concerning the way of salvation, the lord said: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt. xix. 17). And again it is written: "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Rev. xxii. 14). To be "blessed," is, to be in a state of happiness and peace, after passing through conflicts with the evils of our nature, and overcoming them. And those who are blessed, in this sense, will finally enter into eternal joy, in the lord's heavenly kingdom.
S.—Well, do you believe in the blood?
M.—I do. The only way in which we can be made "pure in heart," and so be prepared for heaven, is by means of the "blood." But we are not to understand that term literally, and think of the blood that flowed from the Saviour's wounds when He was being crucified.
S.—But what else do you understand by it? Surely, the blood we read of means the blood. I think it does.
M.—Well, let us see. Let us consider what is meant by it, according to a reasonable explanation. We read, for example, about the great multitude of the redeemed, in the seventh chapter of the Revelation. It says: "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. v. 14). But we know that the redeemed never actually washed their robes, or garments, in the lord's blood. The words of Holy Scripture are to be understood spiritually, and not literally. Spiritual things are to be "spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. ii. 14). "The blood of the Lamb," is the Divine Truth from the lord. He says: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John viii. 32). Thus, when we receive the Divine truth from the lord, and live according to it, and are purified of evils and falses, then our robes are washed and made white in the "blood of the Lamb."
S.—I can hardly say whether I can accept your idea of the blood.
M.—Can you not give up the natural idea about the blood, and try to understand the spiritual and rational idea? The lord says: "Except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you" (John vi. 53). The "flesh" and the "blood," in this passage, have no reference to physical or material substances, as you will see, the moment you think about it intelligently. They are the symbols of the Divine Good and the Divine Truth. The Son of Man is the lord, of whom, while He was in the world, it was said: "Never man spake like this man" (John vii. 46). In the passages in which He speaks so strongly of His flesh and His blood, the lord means to teach us that unless we receive from Him, who is "the Life of the World," the Divine Good and the Divine Truth, and voluntarily appropriate these heavenly principles, we can have no spiritual, eternal, or truly human or angelic life.
S.—Well, I cannot understand your spiritualising; and I don't care to reason much about these things; because we shall know all about them when we get to heaven.
M.—It is a common notion, that when people pass out of this world they will immediately come into possession of all possible knowledge; and you have just given expression to this notion. But it is a great error—a deception, in fact. For, the change which death brings about, that is, our passing out of the natural world into the spiritual, does not, in itself, make us any wiser. We shall never know anything but what we learn, either in this world or the other. Knowledges concerning spiritual and heavenly things do not come spontaneously, as some imagine, when we pass out of the world of time into the realm of eternity. You say that you don't care to reason about religious subjects. But there is a sense in which we ought to reason—in the sense of making a legitimate use of our faculties, in the effort to learn to understand, intelligently, the truths which are revealed to us. You certainly must admit, if you are reasonable at all, that this cannot be otherwise than well-pleasing to our heavenly Father; because it is written: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the lord" (Isa. i. 18).
S.—I have no objection to your argument; but I still think that we shall be a great deal wiser when we get to heaven, than we can possibly become while we remain on earth.
M.—Yes; but in order that we may grow "wise unto salvation," it is of the utmost importance that we make a beginning, by entering into the way of wisdom, while we remain in this life. This life is our state of probation. Whatever we become, as to our inner life and character, while we remain in this world, that shall we be when we enter into the eternal world.
S.—So you do not believe in probation after death, as some do?
M.—No; there is no such thing as probation after death. It is written: "As the tree falleth, so shall it lie." The ruling love, such as is its quality at death, or at the time a person goes into the other world, such will it remain to eternity. "Love is the life of man," is an axiom involving a profound philosophy. By "love," in this sense, is meant the ruling affection of the human mind. The lord says of the wicked: "They love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." When man voluntarily confirms himself in evil, his ruling love becomes evil, and thus his state is fixed. And when once the state is fixed, it can no more be changed than the form of a tree can be changed when it is grown to its full size. It would be an impossibility to transform a wolf into a sheep, or a leopard into a lamb, would it not?
S.—I should think so.
M.—Just as much of an impossibility would it be, or even far greater, to transform an evil spirit into an angel of light. And therefore it is written, with respect to the perverse state of the wicked: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still" (Rev. xxii. 11); while, on the other hand, it is said of those who permit themselves to be regenerated: "He that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still" (Rev. xxii. 11). The LORD will save all who come unto Him, with an everlasting salvation; and He, in Divine compassion, invites all —even the lowest and vilest of mortals—to come unto Him; because He can save and from infinite love desires to save, to the uttermost. But He cannot save those who are perverse by nature, and who harden their hearts; who, delighting in wickedness, determine to go away from Him, by leading a life contrary to His Commandments, from dwelling finally in eternal darkness; for the simple reason that people must become good and pure and heavenly-minded, voluntarily: they cannot be rendered so by compulsion; because this is contrary to Divine order.
S.—As members of the "Army," we do not look upon religion as a philosophy, as you seem to do. We know that if we are washed in the blood we are saved, and God accepts us for Christ's sake. That is sufficient for us: the great fact of the Gospel, that the blood of the Lamb of God was shed for sinners, is enough to take any one that has faith to heaven. And I believe that all who are strong in the faith, will go straight to glory when they die.
M.—You say that God "for Christ's sake," accepts us. These words are an indication that you have in your thought an idea of two Beings, one of whom does a thing to satisfy or to please another. This arises from the fundamental error of the doctrine of Christianity, as generally held—the doctrine of the tripersonality of God, which you evidently believe.
S.—Most certainly, I believe, as the Church teaches, that there are three Divine persons in the Godhead. I have never known any other doctrine. Is not that what the Bible plainly teaches?
M.—I must emphatically answer your question in the negative. The Creeds teach that there are three Divine Persons in the Godhead; but the Scriptures do not teach such a doctrine. Three persons would be three beings; but there is only one Divine Being, and that is the lord; the lord jesus christ in His glorified Humanity is God, "besides whom there is none else." The Scriptures declare that "the lord our God is one" (Mark xii. 29). The Saviour Himself said: "I and My Father are one" (John x. 30); but the Creeds affirm that they are two. How can this contradiction be reconciled?
S.—It is a mystery. The Father and Jesus certainly appear to be two, from what we read in the Gospels! But how do you prove that they are one?
M.—The lord jesus christ was, as the Apostle truly says, "God manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. iii. 16). He was "God with us" (Matt. i. 23). The Divine was in the Human. By the Incarnation, God became Man; and by being glorified, the Man, Christ Jesus, became God. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. v. 19). In the lord the Saviour were represented two Natures—the Divine and the Human. Jesus said: "The Father dwelleth in Me" (John xiv. 10). The "Father" is the Divine: the "Son" is the Human. They are One, as He says: the Glorified Redeemer is the one Divine Being. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one in Him, comparatively as the soul, body, and operation are one in man. Thus, God, the lord, is one Glorious Person, whose Divine Majesty is described by John in the first chapter of the Revelation. And so we can perceive intelligently the grand truth expressed by the Apostle, when he says: "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. ii. 9).
S.—Your explanation is very different from any I ever heard before; but I am not prepared to accept it. It is too new to me. It is wonderful, to think how differently people look at things, according to their belief. You are sure you are right, and I am just as positive that my view is what the Bible teaches. You claim that Jesus Christ is God; and the doctrine that I have always been taught, is, that He is the second person in the Divine Trinity. If you are right, then I am wrong. But who shall decide which is the true doctrine?
M.—It is perfectly natural, for people, as a general thing, to hold to the religious ideas with which their minds have been imbued from childhood. It is human nature, to cling to these ideas, no matter how erroneous they may be. It is an impossibility, in the nature of things, for the religious views of any man to be changed suddenly. The human mind can only be changed by a slow and gradual process. When we plant seed in the ground, it must have time to take root and grow and produce, according to its kind. And the genuine truth of the Word is like seed, which is planted in the earth of the human mind. If there is "good ground," for the truth to fall into, it will grow and bring forth the fruits of a living faith and a heavenly love, which are meant by charity.
S.—The difficulty is, that what is true to one man is false to another; and how are we to know which man has the truth?
M.—The man who is taught by the lord, by means of what is revealed in the Word, is in the truth. The genuine truth of the Word may be rationally understood;
and when it is so understood, a man in so far knows the truth: he is positive that a thing revealed in the Scriptures is true. For example: you know that three times one are three. You don't doubt it any more than the fact of your own existence, do you?
S.—No, I don't think I do.
M.—Well, it is an eternal truth, revealed in the Word, that there is a God, the Creator of the universe, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. And the man that once learns this truth, and understands it rationally, does he doubt it? or is there any reason for his doubting it?
S.—No, I don't think there is.
M.—Very well. Another eternal truth, revealed in the Word, is that "the lord our God is One," as already quoted. He is "One, in essence and in Person." The Divine Trinity is in His one Person, and does not consist of three persons. He is a Being of Love, Wisdom, and Power, in all respects Infinite and Divine. He is the Good, the True, and the Omnipotent One.
S.—I believe that.
M.—You cannot help believing it. And if you continue to grow in a knowledge of the truth, you will in due time let go the erroneous teaching of the Creeds, as regards the three persons in the Godhead, and you will become a believer in the grand and rational doctrine of the Bible—the supreme divinity of the lord jesus christ. Look at the subject seriously and prayerfully, for yourself. Is not our Divine lord the only God of heaven and earth? Most assuredly He is! Then why not believe in Him alone? why cling to the confusion of ideas which necessarily occupy the mind, so long as you abide by the teachings of the old Creeds? The fact is, that you can never think truly and rationally about God, our heavenly Father, so long as you think of three Divine Persons.
S.—But how did men ever come to believe it, if it is not true, according to the Bible?
M.—It would require a long time to answer your question fully; I will only say, that the Apostles believed and taught that the lord jesus christ was God, as can be clearly shown from the Acts and the Epistles. But, in the ages after the Apostles, the Divine Truth was falsified. Various heresies crept into the Primitive Church. Pagan ideas were mixed up with the notions of men who had some knowledge of the teachings of the New Testament. And finally the Divine Trinity was divided into three separate persons, and this Dogma was promulgated throughout the whole Christian world. How did men come to believe this Dogma? Ah! "there's the rub." But it is quite plain that men were taught the false doctrine, instead of the Divine truth of the Word of God. Why? Evidently because the Teachers were in such a state that they loved the darkness of falsity more than the light of truth. And this applies to many, even at this moment—and to many besides the Teachers.
S.—You do talk in a singular manner about these things! Are there many who think as you do, I wonder?
M.—There are not many, comparatively; but I am glad to know that the number of those who perceive the fallacies of the old Creeds, is steadily increasing. And as they discover the absurdities and contradictions involved in many of the doctrines to which men generally give their assent, they will, if well disposed, become receptive of the genuine truths of the Divine Word. Like men lost in a dark and dense forest, in danger of being killed by wild beasts, they will rejoice in finding their way into the cheering light, the pure air, the beautiful sunshine of heaven: will rejoice in rational knowledges respecting spiritual things, and thus come into states of inward peace, being secure from every danger that might prove hurtful to their souls, and so to their eternal well-being. Knowing the truth, and living according to it, they shall be "saved," in the only true sense of that word.
S.—I think the only way for men to be saved, is, through faith in the precious, atoning blood of Christ. If we believe in Him with all the heart—it is all that we can do, to have faith—His promises shall not fail. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. And God will accept us for Christ's sake; and we shall at last pass in through the gates of heaven, shouting hallelujah!
M.—If you shun evils as sins against God, your faith, held in simplicity, will be valid for salvation; but only on this condition—according to the Scriptures. To shun evils—to "cease to do evil"—is, to practise the works of charity, from a principle of religion; to do right simply because it is right; to do good from the love of doing good to the neighbour, i.e. to others; and this is to act from pure motives, in all relations of human life. The lord admonishes us to "do good and lend, hoping for nothing again" (Luke vi. 35). It is written: "What doth the lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to humble thyself to walk with thy God" (Micah vi. 8). The greatest of Theologians has said that "All religion is of the life, and the life of religion is to do good." And the Apostle Paul also most emphatically teaches that we must do more than merely profess faith: he teaches, namely, that we must do our part in the work of salvation. You will remember that remarkable chapter on charity—the thirteenth of first Corinthians.
S.—No, I can't say that I do remember just now what that chapter does speak of; but I know that he says "we are justified by faith, and have peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rom. v. 1, 2). That is plain enough. And when St. Paul says we are justified by faith, I firmly believe it.
M.—But, my dear fellow, you ought not to imagine that Paul teaches the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, as held by modern Christians. He says: "Not the hearers of the law are just before God; but the doers of the law shall be justified" (Rom. ii. 13). This declaration shows plainly, that when the same Apostle afterwards says: "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law" (Rom. iii. 28), he does not, by this clause, "without the deeds of the law," mean without keeping the Divine Commandments; because he explicitly says, "the doers of the law shall be justified." And what else can he mean by "the law," but the Divine Commandments? It is perfectly evident that he had reference to these, for he says: "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping the commandments of God" (1 Cor. vii. 19). And in harmony with his doctrine all through his Epistles, when compared, and properly interpreted, and rationally understood, in the light of the lord's own words, Paul affirms that of the three Christian Graces "charity is the greatest" (1 Cor. xiii. 13). That is, charity, or love, is the first essential of the Christian Religion. We are saved by works and by faith: we are saved from our evils by faith in the lord jesus christ our heavenly Father, and by doing His will by means of the strength continually imparted to us from Him.
S.—All that we require to do, is, to come to Jesus. I firmly believe that His grace is sufficient to save the greatest sinner on God's earth. I know He has saved me; and He will surely save any man that will come unto Him, desiring his sins to be washed away.
M.—Very true. Just what I have been trying to show you and convince you of—but without much effect upon your mind, I fear—is, that we should look to, and think of, no other than the lord jesus christ, who alone is our Saviour and Redeemer, and of whom the Apostle speaks as being "over all, God blessed for ever" (Rom. ix. 5). He does not direct us to go to any other, but says: "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. xi. 28). All our prayers and supplications should be addressed to the lord jesus alone; for He is our Father in the heavens, who hears and answers all the sincere petitions of His children, providing for them those things which are needful for their eternal well-being. We cannot, in reality, go to the Father, as a separate Being; for the lord Jesus says: "The Father is in Me" (John xiv. 10). As I have already explained, by the Father is meant the Divine, in the Glorified lord, and not a distinct person.
S.—But does not the Bible say that God forgives us our sins "for Christ's sake "? If your doctrine is true, what does that mean?
M.—I have been waiting for some time for an opportunity to give you an explanation of that very passage. The explanation is very simple, in fact. There is, in reality, no such expression in the Scriptures at all, as "God, for Christ's sake." This expression, which has been in such common use, throughout Christendom, is a false translation of Ephesians iv. 32. We still have these words—words which convey to the mind a very erroneous idea—in the Authorised Version of the Scriptures; but if you examine this passage in the Revised Version, you will find that they have disappeared.
S.—And how does it read in the Revised Version?
M.—It there reads: "Forgiving each other, even as god also in christ forgave you," which is the correct rendering, according to the original. So that the literal expression, as well as the doctrine involved, in this passage, agrees with that already quoted, in which the Apostle says: "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. v. 19).
S.—I must examine that passage, because the idea of the words "for Christ's sake," not being in the Bible at all, is quite new to me. .
M.—Yes, it is new, but it is perfectly true, as you will find. And the idea taught by Paul is very different from that generally held. Paul says: "God was in Christ," etc. That is, the Father was in the Son—the Divine was in the Human—the First had become the Last—God the Mighty, yea, the Almighty, had been made "manifest in the flesh." The Divine Life was in Jesus, comparatively as the human soul is in the body of a man. For this reason He said: "He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father" (John xiv. 9). The Human Nature, in the person of Jesus, was a manifestation of the Father of Eternity. The Humanity of the lord was glorified or made Divine. And thus the Humanity was united with the Divinity, and that prophecy was fulfilled which is written: "And His Name shall be called God, Mighty, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace" (Isa. ix. 6).
S.—These are deep subjects; and I don't know that it is of much use for me to try to comprehend them: I don't think I ever shall, at least, in this world.
M.—You have no need to be discouraged, on that score. You can easily learn to comprehend these things, if you desire to do so. The Apostle assures us that "the Spirit," that is, the spirit of truth, which is the spirit of the Gospel, "searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Cor. ii. 10).
S.—I feel something like saying with the Psalmist: "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high, I cannot attain unto it" (Psalm cxxxix. 6). At any rate, I don't believe that any man requires to be a philosopher, in order to be a Christian. The way of salvation is so plain, that even though a fool, the wayfaring man need not err therein.
M.—It is not necessary for a man to be a philosopher, in order to be a Christian, though the profoundest of philosophers may be the humblest of Christians. To understand, and thoroughly to appreciate, the doctrines of the Christian Religion, however, a man must learn to think spiritually. And whenever one learns to think spiritually, he begins to understand rationally, that is, intelligently. One learns to think spiritually, by receiving the genuine truths of the Word. The mind is then enlightened by the truth; for truth is light.
S.—The lord is the Light of the world; and He said: "He that followeth Me, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John viii. 12).
M.—And a very grand idea is therein expressed. To follow the lord, is, to receive His teachings, and to live according to them. To walk in darkness, is, to live and act under the influences of false principles; for darkness is falsity. You say the way of salvation is plain. So it is—very plain. And salvation is of and from the lord alone. The lord jesus christ is the only Saviour and Redeemer.
S.—Yes; that is certainly plain enough: no one can doubt that.
M.—Well, I was wishing to state to you a plain case, as to the lord, the only Saviour.
S.—You seem to be determined that I shall accept your view of the Divine Trinity; but I don't know about that.
M.—I do not wish you to accept it, unless you can see it to be the teaching of the Word of God; for it is of no avail, as regards spiritual enlightenment, to accept any view in blind faith. A genuine faith is "a faith of light." That is, faith is the acknowledgment of the truth of the Word, when, by the proper exercise of the mind, it is rationally understood. But, at the same time, we should be careful not to reject a truth revealed to us, on the ground that we do not understand it, or on the ground that it does not agree with our preconceived ideas. We should always desire the lord to open our understanding, that in His Divine and glorious Light we may "see light." Is not this the spirit, which, as Christians, we should manifest?
S.—It certainly is, I must admit. But when it comes to a change of religious views, some of us are— well, shall I say stubborn? or, hard to be convinced? I am still disposed to hold on to the faith I have.
M.—That is well enough; but it is the part of a man who desires to grow in the knowledge of the truth, to relinquish his ideas as soon as he discovers them to be erroneous. I have endeavoured to show you, that the faith in a trinity of persons in the Godhead is erroneous; that it is contrary alike to reason and to Holy Scripture. And as it is a matter of vast importance, for a Christian to have a correct view respecting the lord, as the only Divine Object of worship, you will pardon me for reminding you that a faith in three persons in the Godhead, is necessarily a faith in three Gods. You cannot possibly avoid the conclusion. Three Gods, is the logical outcome of the idea of three Divine Persons. And I present this plain case for your serious consideration, in order that you may be led to come to the lord jesus, in the true sense of the word, and not remain in the erroneous idea inculcated by the Creeds—an idea based upon the self-derived intelligence of men, instead of the Divine Word, rationally interpreted.
S.—Well, since I see that you are so much in earnest about it, all that I can say now, is, that I will think about the subject. If your view of it is really the correct one, it may be given me to see it and accept it, some time.
M.—Far be it from me to wish to persuade you to change your belief for any personal gratification that your conversion might cause me. But, my dear friend, think of the grand fact, that all the angels and blest spirits of the universal heavens worship and adore none other than the lord jesus christ! Think of the sublime language in which the angelic hosts glorified Him as the God of Heaven, who alone is worthy of adoration: before whom every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is the lord and Father of all! John, who, "in the spirit," beheld an innumerable multitude of the redeemed, gathered home to heaven from all parts of the habitable world, says that they "exclaimed with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels .... fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying: Amen; Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen" (Rev. vii. 10-12).
S.—You claim that God, in this passage, means Jesus Christ. But there are two mentioned. It says: "Salvation to our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."
M.—And your idea is, that by God is meant the Father, and by the Lamb the Son, thus two of the persons in the Divine Trinity?
S.—Yes, to my mind it does seem so.
M.—Now let me show you that that idea is wholly erroneous. By God and the Lamb are meant the lord jesus christ, as to His Divinity and His Humanity; and, indeed, as to the Divinity of His Humanity. When Jehovah God had assumed our nature and come into the world—when He had become "God with us," so as to perform the work of redemption—when God Himself had actually, in the person of jesus christ, been made manifest in the flesh, that He might prepare the way for the salvation of the human race—John the Baptist, the Herald of the Advent of the lord, looking upon Jesus as He walked, exclaimed: "Behold the Lamb of God" (John i. 36).
S.—Yes; and by His precious blood are washed away the sins of the world.
M.—It was none other than the lord jesus christ, in His Divine Humanity, that appeared to John—who was at the time "in the spirit," in the isle of Patmos—and spoke those most wonderful and sublime words, which are written in the Apocalypse. And of Him it is said: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty" (Rev. i. 8). The lord also, after His resurrection, and just previous to His ascension, said to His disciples: "All power is given unto Me, in heaven and in earth" (Matt. xxviii. 18). Now you can see that He who had, and for ever has, all power, is no other than the Almighty.
,S.—But who gave Him that power? Did not the Father give it Him?
M.—It appears you cannot cease thinking of the Father as being a separate person from the lord jesus christ. And to think of, and to worship, the Father in this manner, is, to think of, and to worship, God out of Christ; which is contrary to the teaching of the Apostle, who declares, as we have already seen, that "God was in Christ." It is also to think of, and to worship, the Father out of, or independently of, the lord. And this is the very opposite of the lord's own teaching, who says "the Father dwelleth in Me. " And He also says: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, except through Me" (John xiv. 6). This means, that the Divine, in the lord, is not approachable, mentally visible, or rationally comprehensible, except in, and by means of the Human. The lord said: "If ye had known Me, ye would have known My Father also" (John xiv. 7). And the Apostle affirms that "he that acknowledges the Son hath the Father also" (1 John ii. 23).
S.—You are putting your doctrine pretty strongly; but I am bound to hear you to the end.
M.—Yes; and it can be put still more strongly. I do not wish to wound you with my plain talk; but my sincere desire is, to give you clearer views respecting the lord, whom alone we ought to worship. To worship a tripersonal God, is, to worship a creature of the imagination, and not the God of heaven and earth! And what else is this but idolatry? The idols of men's imaginations are more numerous than the idols made by men's hands. And the Creeds, which have divided the Divine Trinity into three separate persons, have been a fruitful source of mental and spiritual idolatry among the men of Christendom.
S.—You are pretty hard on those that believe in the Creeds, to make out that they are all idolaters. That's a fearful idea! The very faith by which men claim to be saved, and through which they hope to go to heaven, you set forth as being nothing else than idolatry! Surely your way of reasoning carries one to great lengths.
M.—I don't want to be hard on any man; but the truth must be spoken. I have given you proof from the Word of God, as well as testimony from the Epistles of the Apostles, to substantiate my views. If you cannot accept this proof,—if you cannot believe this testimony,—I am sorry; but it cannot be helped. It is a matter for you to decide for yourself. Every man must choose his religious principles in freedom.
S.—Yes; in this country of ours we have religious liberty; and a great blessing it is. They cannot put one to the torture, now-a-days, no matter how. much they might desire to do so. I believe there are still people in the world that would put on the thumbscrews, to make others think and believe as they do, if it were possible. But I see, at least I think I see, that there is nothing of that nature about your doctrine. You are bound, if possible, to convince a man of the truth of your doctrine, by giving him proofs from both reason and Scripture. And I must admit that you have used some strong arguments in favour of your views, which are well worthy of being seriously considered.
M.—My desire is, that you should be led to acknowledge the grand doctrine of the Supreme Divinity of the lord, which is the plain teaching of the Divine Word,—in order that you may come to Jesus in the true sense of the word, and not merely in a delusive and vain sense. Let me entreat you henceforth to take the lord our Saviour at His word, when He says: "Come unto Me." Go to the Heavenly Father, in the very Person of the lord jesus. Address your prayers to Him alone. Think of Him as the man, the beautiful, the merciful, the glorious, the divine man: the One who is alone to be adored, by the angels of heaven and by the men of the Church. He is able,—and from infinite love desires,—to succour, to comfort, to bless, and to save. In the Human, which He assumed for the sake of our salvation, the lord was Himself "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;" was "despised and rejected of men;" He was "wounded for our transgressions;" "the chastisement of our peace was upon Him;" and finally He permitted Himself to be taken, and to be "led forth like a lamb to the slaughter" (Isa. liii. 3-7), that is, to be crucified. And thus He suffered, not in the sense of "substitution," not to appease the "wrath of God," for there never was any wrath in Him; but He suffered as the Saviour of the world, because from diabolical wickedness and cruelty men were determined to put Him to death! But He triumphed gloriously over all the powers of darkness. He subjugated the hells; glorified His Humanity; became the Mighty God, so as to reign into the ages of the ages. Let us then go to Him and trust in Him alone; for it is He who in His loving-kindness speaks to us in the Holy Word, saying: "Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness" (Isa. xli. 10). And as we learn to confide in Him more and more, we shall be enabled to say, from the heart and from the understanding also: "God is the lord, who hath showed us light . . . Thou art my God, and I will praise Thee; my God, I will exalt Thee. O give thanks unto the lord; for He is good, and His mercy is for ever" (Ps. cxviii. 27-29).