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insist upon the necessity, on the part of men, to eat that bread in order to participate really in that life. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed," &c. No language certainly could be employed which would implicate in a more real way the humanity of Christ, and none make its participation on our part, under some real form, more essential to everlasting life. But the people losing sight, for the time being, of the divinity and consequent almighty power of Him who uttered these words, were disposed to murmur at him, and say, “Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know ? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? and how can this man give us his flesh to eat ?” In this view, they regarded the whole representation as an hard saying, and asked, who can hear it ?
From this it is plain, that their unbelief in regard to the doctrine of Christ, as to the possibility and necessity of their participating in his real humanity, as an essential condition of everlasting life, originated in an unbelief of the divinity of his person. It was this latter that created the former. If they had seen and felt the presence of divinity as vitally connected with the human side of his person, they would, doubtless, have been prepared, depending upon his unerring wisdom to teach, and infinite power to condition the human nature of which he spake, to have believed implicitly all that he had said, howerer high it might have towered above their finite comprehension. Nay, more: the very circumstance that the thing taught, lay beyond the grasp of their reason, would have served as an additional confirmation of their faith, in the very thing in regard to which they disbelieved because of their infidelity as to his divinity. They seemed to be in possession of no deeply penetrating consciousness that Christ had actually come in the flesh, and that in his person, as the incarnate Son of God, a divine-human fountain was now opened, competent in all respects to meet and remedy the diseased condition of our nature. They regarded him rather in the light of a mere man, like one of their own number, and hence could not receive a doctrine in reference to his nature as human which could not hold in reference to their own nature under the same form.
It is worthy, therefore, of definite remark here, that, whilst the people to whom Christ was addressing himself upon this occasion, understood him as teaching the necessity of a participation in his humanity, their own belief in its possibility did not refer to the subject per se, but as it stood connected with a mere man.
When Jesus perceived the exercises of their minds in regard to this matter, he said to them, “Doth this offend you?" He refers again to his divinity as the ground of his representation : “ What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before ;" and then condescends to aid their weak faith by the explanation : “It is the Spirit that quickencth; the flesh profiteth nothing; The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.”
We are not, of course, at liberty to suppose for one moment, that any of the constituent parts of the representation made previous to the announcement of these last words, may be excluded from them altogether. As an explanation, their design is not to take out of the previous representation any of its prominent points, but to render them intelligible, to bring them, if possible, more fully within the range of the understanding, assisted by faith. If the effect of the explanation should be to ignore any prominent position taken in the representation, it would indicate a vacillating uncertainty in the teachings of Christ that could not fail to induce doubt as to his divinity. We know of no such changing of position in him who was a Teacher sent from God, and who spake as man never spake.
The absence of capacity on the part of the people, arising from their wicked unbelief as to the divinity of his person, to receive the representation he had made, could not certainly constitute a sufficient inducement for him to accommodate himself to them in the explanation in such a way as to change
substantially any position formerly assumed. To accommodate does not mean to obliterate or destroy; and we fail to read of any instance, in which any want of moral ability on the part of the people, has ever induced Christ so to modify any scheme or doctrine, as to destroy any of its primary and essential features; especially when, in his own person which was now at hand, and in the very doctrine in relation to this person which he was now preaching, all that grace was to be found, the absence of which constituted the negative cause of their incapacity. Rather are we constrained to believe that the words last quoted—constituting the basis of discussion-although different in some respects from those used before, which, as explanatory, it is necessary they should be, still embody in a real and vital way, every point and aspect of the subject as presented before, in the use of a different phraseology. If this be true in regard to points in the representation that might be regarded as minor, or less essential, then it must certainly be true in relation to the humanity of Christ, which is, in fact, the great burthen of the whole chapter.
Regarding then all the prominent points in the representation as contained really in the explanation, the only question for human investigation that remains is, the precise meaning which the explanation gives to these points. This, definitely, is the question.
We regard these words of explanation as referring, in the first place, to the Person of Christ, as the bread of life ; and, in the second place, as referring, indirectly it may be, to bis ordinances, in which that person, in substance the same as when upon the earth, but spiritualized and glorified, is always at hand, to meet and satisfy, in a real way, the demand for spiritual life in our nature.
It might seem that these propositions would, in themselves, carry such a degree of self-evidencing power as to their truthfulness, that would induce all, who have come to any degree of inward sympathy with divine things, to embrace and rest upon them at once. But, unfortunately for the precious interests of true faith, this may not be expected. Although the Chris
tian mind at the present is generally satisfied in regard to the divinity of Christ, the primary difficulty in the Jewish mind, yet, such is the degree to which it is tainted, in every direction, with the various systems of rationalism, closing the door upon the whole region of Christianity which is seen and occupied only by faith, as utterly to disqualify us, as it would seem, for any such calm letting of ourselves down into the embrace of a life which lies beyond the discernment of reason as such, however strongly its own divine nature might draw, and our own deeper instincts urge. Discarding the ground on which the Jewish mind rested and sought to justify its unbelief as to the doctrine of a real participation in Christ's humanity, (i. e. their infidelity as touching his divinity,) do we not, for the most part, with them, practically regard the same thing as monstrous and absurd !
I. We have said that these words of explanation refer to the doctrine of Christ's person, as the principle of eternal life. “ I am that bread of life.” What, now, do we understand by the person of Christ, under this form ? It is not too much to say here, that the merit of the whole gubject lies definitely in this inquiry. Our views of every other subject within the range of the Christian faith, will take their character or comiplexion from the view we take of the person of Christ; for that person is evidently the conscious centre of the entire system of Christianity-imparting to it all the force and vitality which it is found to carry with it.
The point is readily conceded by all orthodox Churches, that Christ possessed, definitely, two natures—divine and human-that the “Word"-which was the divine" became flesh,” which was the human; that these two natures, in the incarnation, became so united as to form but one personality, or “I.” Not, indeed, that the two natures, thus flowing together, amalgamated in the form of confused blending of the properties that were peculiar to each, but in such a form as to produce a most complete unity of personality, while the peculiar properties of each are allowed to carry with them relatively their own distinct force. The person or personality of Christ,
then, is the flowing together, in a real way, of the divine and human natures which he possessed, so as to constitute a unity, the elements in which are neither wholly divine, nor yet entirely human, but both. The pronoun “I,” is the exponent of this unity, and must hence always imply the real presence of both natures. This is the force of the term “I” in this connection—“I am that bread of life.” If it were possible to divide the person of Christ into two distinct and separate parts, (which can hardly be allowed even in thought) the question would be, which of these parts thus separated, does he designate by the pronoun I-his human or his divine nature ? Could he be a Saviour of men in either character, separated wholly from all connection with the other ? Evidently he could not. Hence being divine he became human, that, in this double character, he might be “Immanuel”—God with us. On this account we have always disliked the terms which some, in their unenlightened zeal to compliment Christ, are in the habit of applying to him—such as “divine Saviour,” &c. Such a habit of mind indicates the utter absence of all practical sense of the only form in which he is the Saviour in deed and in truth. No form of speech is to be regarded as complimentary to Christ, as a Saviour, but rather as degrading, which virtually ignores the human side of his nature, which, in conjunction with the divine, is essential to constitute him such. If he thought it not beneath the dignity of his nature as divine, to take upon himself the human, and incorporate it into vital union with the divine, for the very purpose of becoming a Saviour, it should certainly not be the effort of those who are saved by him, to rend those two asunder, and thus destroy his saving power.
But, although this be, in fact, the form of vital union of the human and divine natures in the person of Christ, which constitutes him the Saviour of men, it is, nevertheless, contended by many, that a separate office, under certain circumstances, is given to these natures respectively, in the Scriptures. For the basis of this distinction, we are directed to those passages of the word of God, where Christ is spoken of as the “Son of