Out of controversy with Lutherans on Christology and Eucharist, Holmes notes (God of Grace and God of Glory: An Account of the Theology of Jonathan Edwards,136-7), grew a remarkable insight into Christology. English Reformed theologians like Sibbes, Owen, and Edward Irving argued that “the Logos is in union wit the man Jesus not immediately, as traditional Christologies had taught, but mediately, through the Spirit.”
Edwards adopted this Christology: “In Jesus, who dwelt here upon earth, there was immediately only these two things: there was the flesh, or the human nature; and there was the Spirit of holiness, or the eternal Spirit, by which he was united to the Logos.” Calvin’s doctrine of the real presence is here as Christology: The heavenly Christ is hypostatically united to the human nature by the gap-jumping power of the Spirit.
Edwards linked this Puritan Christology with a particular account of personal identity.
According to Edwards (in Holmes’s words, 139), “created being is in being known and loved by God,” and this means, Edwards writes, that identity “depends on God’s sovereign constitution.” Edwards uses this theory of identity to justify imputation of sin: I am regarded as the same person as I was yesterday only because I am regarded as one person by God; and I am one with Adam on the very same basis.
As Edwards writes elsewhere, “created identity or oneness with past existence in general, depends on the sovereign constitution and law of the Supreme Author and Disposer of the universe.” Only God has “absolutely independent identity,” and all other identities depend on Him. Identity does not, as with Locke, depend on continuity of consciousness, but “wholly on a divine establishment” (230). There is a clear parallel to Edwards’s notion that God is the only substrate or substance “holding things together”; what is true of things is true of persons, that their persistence and existence and identity through time is wholly dependent on God.
And Edwards brings the same ideas to bear on the identity of the incarnate Son: “God hath respect to this man and loveth him as his own Son; this man hath communion with the Logos, in the love which the Father hath to him as his only begotten Son. Now the love of God is the Holy Ghost.” Holmes glosses this: “It is because God loves this man as His Son, that this man is His Son” (139), which captures Edwards’s point so long as we remember that the love with which God loves the man Jesus as His Son is the Spirit.
Edwards sounds Antiochene and Word-mannish here, but I think the accent should be placed elsewhere. Take “man” as “human nature,” and Edwards is saying that what makes the humanity of the incarnate Son what it is is the regard of the Father for the humanity that by the Spirit is joined to the Logos.