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§  3. Sitting at the Right Hand of God.

This is the next step in the exaltation of our Lord. He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God; that is, was associated with Him in glory and dominion. The subject of this exaltation was the Theanthropos, not the Logos specially or distinctively; not the human nature exclusively; but the theanthropic person. When a man is exalted it is not the soul in distinction from the body; nor the body in distinction from the soul, but the whole person.

The ground of Christ’s exaltation is twofold: the possession of divine attributes by which He was entitled to divine honour and was qualified to exercise absolute and universal dominion; and secondly, his mediatorial work. Both these are united in Hebrews i. 3. It is there said, that Christ “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” first (ὤν, being, i.e.), because He is the brightness of the Father’s glory and his express image, and sustains the universe by the word of his power; and secondly, because by the sacrifice of Himself, He made purification for our sins. So also in Philippians ii. 6-11, where we are taught that it was He who existed in the form of God and was equal with God, who humbled 636Himself to be obedient unto death even the death of the cross, and therefore, for those two reasons, “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” In Ephesians i. 20-22, it is said, God raised Christ from the dead “and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet.” This latter passage, taken from the eighth Psalm, is repeatedly quoted to prove the absolutely universal dominion of the risen Saviour, as in Hebrews ii. 8: “In that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him.” And also 1 Corinthians xv. 27, when it is said, “All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.” No creature therefore is excepted. This also is what our Lord Himself teaches. when He says, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. xxviii. 18.) Heaven and earth in Scriptural language, is the whole universe. In 1 Peter iii. 22, it is said, “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers (i.e., all rational creatures) being made subject unto him.” In the prophetic books of the Old Testament it was predicted that the Messiah should be invested with this universal dominion. (See Ps. ii., xlv., lxxii., cx.; Isa. ix. 67; Dan. vii. 14, etc.) That such authority and power could not be intrusted to a mere creature is plain from the nature of the case. Divine perfections, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence, as well as infinite wisdom and goodness, are requisite for the effectual and righteous administration of a dominion embracing all orders of beings, all creatures rational and irrational, extending over the reason and conscience as well as over the external world. On this point the Scriptures are explicit. They teach expressly that to no angel, i, e., to no rational creature, as the term angel includes all intelligences higher than man, hath God ever said, “Sit on my right hand.” (Heb. i. 13.) All angels, all rational creatures, are commanded to worship Him.

This universal dominion is exercised by the Theanthropos. It is vain for us to speculate on the relation of the divine and human natures in the acts of this supreme ruler. We cannot understand the relation between the soul and the body in the voluntary exercises in which both are agents, as when we write or speak. We 637know that such acts are neither exclusively mental nor exclusively corporeal; but how the two elements are combined, passes our comprehension. It is most unreasonable, therefore, and presumptuous, for us to endeavour to make intelligible to our feeble understandings, how the divine and human in the person of our Lord, cooperate in full accordance with the nature of each. In the case of our own voluntary exercises, we know that the attributes of the mind are not transferred to the body; much less are those of the body transferred to the mind. In like manner we know that the attributes of Christ’s divine nature are not transferred to his human nature, nor those of his humanity to his divinity. It is enough for us to know that this supreme ruler of the universe is a perfect man as well as a perfect God; that He still has all human sympathies and affections, and can be touched with a sense of our infirmities. That a person in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and who is filled with all the love, tenderness, compassion, meekness, and forbearance, which Christ manifested while here on earth, has all power in heaven and earth committed to his hands, and is not far from any one of us, is an unspeakable delight to all his people.

In this exaltation of Christ to supreme dominion was fulfilled the prediction of the Psalmist, as the organ of the Holy Ghost, that all things, the whole universe, according to the interpretation of the Apostle as given in Hebrews ii. 8, and 1 Corinthians xv. 27. were to be put under subjection to man. In the former passage the Apostle argues thus: The world to come of which he spoke, i.e., the gospel dispensation, the world during the Messianic period, was not put under subjection to angels, for the Scriptures say that all things are put under man. And when it is said all things (τὰ πάντα) are put under Him, nothing is excepted. We do not yet, however, see all things put under man as man; but we do see the man Christ Jesus, on account of the suffering of death, crowned with this absolutely universal dominion. It is, therefore, at the feet of a man in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead, that all principalities and powers bow themselves in willing subjection and adoring love. And it is at the feet of this once crucified man that all the redeemed are to cast down their crowns.

This absolute dominion has been committed to Christ as mediator. He who is over all is the head of the Church; it is for the Church, for the consummation of the work of redemption that as the God-man He has been thus exalted over all created beings. (Eph i. 22; Col. i. 17, 18; 1 Cor. xv. 25-28.) Having been committed 638to Him for a special purpose, this universal dominion as Mediator will be relinquished when that purpose is accomplished. He will reign until all his enemies are put under his feet. And when the last enemy is subdued He will deliver up this kingdom unto the Father, and reign forever as King over the redeemed.

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