OUR Church places before us to-day the two cardinal passages
which establish the Divine Nature of Him Who was this day born, leaving
the fuller consideration of His Humanity for the following Sunday, the
Sunday of the Incarnation. This order is most fitting, for the Humanity
of Christ derives its significance from the fact that it is the Humanity
of the Son of God.
THE EPISTLE. (HEB. i. 1.)
THE SON OF GOD.
We learn that the Son of God was the word or final revelation of the
A. Previous Revelations.
God had previously made His will known to man “in sundry portions” (R.V.).
His revelation had been progressive, and in-creasing by slow degrees in
clearness and fulness. He had revealed Himself also “in divers manners,”
by visions, appear. ances, mysterious types, by the appointment of sacrifices,
by the promulgation of a law, by the institution of a system of worship
with mystic instructiveness, and lastly, by the direct inspiration bestowed
upon the goodly fellowship of the prophets. He had revealed Himself, therefore,
both progressively and variously.
B. The Final Revelation.
The Christian revelation is not progressive but final, not distributed
into various channels but concentrated in one Person, of Whom we learn
(1) His Relation to the Father.
He is the Father’s Son, and His Son so as no other is or can be. He
is not only “of God,” but “God of God.”
He is the effulgence of the Father’s glory, being not only “light,”
but “Light of light “—a breaking forth of that Light which God is.
He is the exact impress of the Father’s essence, being “very God of
very God.” Others could reveal God by what they said; He alone by what
He did and by what He was.
Such is the unique relation of Christ to the Father.
(2) His Relation to the World.
To creation He was the source of its existence, for “by Him He made
the worlds.” In Him also dwells the power by which all things are held
in being and freshness. He is the renewer as well as the creator of nature’s
beauties, its heir, possessor, and Lord. From Him all things came, and
to Him all things tend.
(3) His Relation to the Angels.
His position is far above theirs. He possesses eternal Sonship as the
only begotten of the Father. He claims the right of angelic worship—“Let
all the angels of God worship Him.” He inherits eternal Kingship—“A
throne for ever and ever”—and wields a sceptre of righteousness.
He enjoys eternal bliss, being not only the King of Glory, but the King
of Joy. Saints and angels indeed taste of this joy, but He is “anointed
with the oil of gladness above His fellows.” Eternal being is His,
and He shall remain when all created things shall have passed away.
Such is the nature of Christ, indefinitely removed from all created
beings and so nearly related to the Godhead that it is impossible to conceive
THE GOSPEL. (S. JOHN i. i.) THE
WORD OF GOD.
These two great passages variously describe the relation of Christ to
God: in the Epistle He is the Son, and in the Gospel the Word. There is
no inconsistency, for we read in the Epistle that God spake by His Son,
Who is, therefore, the Word; and in the Gospel S. John describes tbe Word
as the “only-begotten of the Father,” and, therefore, as the Son.
The real relation is, of course, such as no human comparison can fully
exhaust. “The Son” seems to express distinction of person and “the Word”
unity of substance, the one simile guarding against Sabellius, the other
A. The Pre-incarnate Word.
As in the Epistle, we see:—
(1) His Relation to God.
He shares the eternity of God, His most intimate presence, His very
nature, and this also from all eternity.
(2) His Relation to Creation.
He was its source, for “all things were made by Him.” He is not only
its source, but is immanent in creation as its constant sustainer.
“That which hath been made was life in Him” (cf. R.V. marg.).
(3) His Relation to the World
He was the invisible Head of the old dispensation, and, though thus
more removed from the grasp of faith, was yet the light of its darkness,
ever shining, though unrecognized, and then, as now, the sole source of
salvation and life.
(4) His Relation to previous
These are summed up in the person of John, the greatest of the prophets.
These were not the light, but came to bear witness that the true Light
was on the way, and to point men to the dawn, and to shew them that “the
true Light which lighteth every man was coming into the world,” and was
even already present in the world which was made by Him, though that world
knew Him not.
B. The Incarnate Word.
Reference to the Incarnation seems to begin with the words, “He came
to His own inheritance, and His own people received Him not.” We
(1) The Purpose of the Incarnation.
The Son came to make us sons. S. John here gives the teaching of S.
Paul in a single sentence.
He “gave the right” (R.V.). This is our justification conferred in
baptism, by which we are adopted into God’s family.
“To become children of God.” This is the purpose and object of justification,
viz., sanctification, that we become children in the fullest sense of likeness
to our Heavenly Father.
(2) The Fact of the Incarnation.
The “word became flesh “—i.e., took man’s nature, and in that nature
“tabernacled among us,” not merely as God dwelt in the material tabernacle,
for that was never in any sense one with its glorious Inmate, as here the
tabernacle of the Humanity was inseparably one with the Divinity which
(3) The Witness of the incarnation.
Was that of those who themselves saw the glory of the Divine Shekinah
visible through the veil of human flesh, in beauty of character, blamelessness
of wisdom and conduct, unearthliness of teaching, and in the Divine power
and sweetness of His miracles.
Especially were they convinced that such Divine fulness of beauty and
convincing reality (“grace and truth”) could only exist in One Who bore
a unique relation to the Father, even in the only-begotten Son.
Thus while the Epistle teaches that the Son was also the Word, the Gospel
teaches that the Word was also the Son. The agreement of these two so widely
different passages is a most remark. able testimony to the truth of their
THE COLLECT. THE PRAYER
OF THE INCARNATION.
This will he considered more fully on the Sunday after Christmas. It
is here sufficient to notice its evident connection with verses 13 and
14 of the Gospel.
Our adoption or regeneration is evidently the right of sonship, which
our Church distinctly teaches to have been conferred in baptism.
Our renewal by the Holy Spirit is as evidently an exposition of the
phrase “to become children of God.”
Our position as baptized is due to the Incarnation of Christ, which
is given to us individually for our encouragement, that we may seek the
spirit of sonship.