« FöregåendeFortsätt »
bogs of error. Arius would have been content, if the council of Nice would but have gratified him in a letter, OMO189105, for omo 80105* The Nestorians also desired but a letter, Jeodoxos, instead of Jeotokos. These seemed but small and modest requests, but, if granted, had proved no small prejudice to the truth. I desire therefore the reader would, with greatest attention of mind, apply himself to these truths. It is a doctrine hard to understand, and dangerous to mistake. As Prosper has well said, "It is better not touch the bottom, than not keep within the circle." Christ did assume a true human body; that is plainly asserted, Phil. 2:7, 8, &c. Heb. 2:14, 16. In one place it is called taking on him the seed of Abraham, and in the text, flesh. He did also assume a true human soul; this is undeniable by its operations, passions, and expiration at last, Matt. 26 : 38, and 27:50. And that both these natures make but one person, is as evident from Rom. 1:3, 4, " Jesus Christ was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” So Rom. 9:5,"Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." Let us then consider the nature; the effects;
and the reasons or ends of this wonderful union. I. The nature of this union. The assumption of which I speak, is that whereby the Second Person in the Godhead did take the human nature into a personal union with himself, by virtue whereof the manhood subsists in the Second Person, yet without confusion, both making but one person, Immanuel, God with us.
So that though we truly ascribe a twofold nature to Christ, yet not a double person ; for the human nature of Christ never subsisted separately and distinctly, by
* Of a like substance, for, of the same substance.
any personal subsistence of its own, as it doth in all other men, but, from the first moment of conception, subsisted in union with the Second Person.
To explicate this mystery more particularly, let it be considered:
1. The human nature was united to the Second Per. son miraculously and extraordinarily, being supernaturally framed in the womb of the virgin, by the overshadowing power of the Highest. Luke, 1:34, 35. And this was necessary to exempt the assumed nature from the stain and pollution of Adam's sin, whieh it wholly escaped ; inasmuch as he received it not, as all others do, in the way of ordinary generation, wherein original sin is propagated; but this being extraordinarily produced, was a most pure and holy thing. Luke, 1:35. And indeed this perfect shining holiness, in which it was produced, was absolutely necessary, both in order to its union with the Divine Person, and the design of that union; which was both to satisfy for, and to sanctify us. The two natures could not be conjoined in the person of Christ, had there been the least taint of sin upon the human nature. For God can have no fellowship with sin, much less be united to it. Or, supposing such a conjunction with our sinful nature, he being thus a sinner himself, could never satisfy for the sins of others; nor could any unholy thing ever make us holy. " Such an High Priest therefore became us as is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” Heb. 7:26. And such a one he must needs be, whom the Holy Ghost produced in such a peculiar way, to bylor, " that holy thing."
2. As it was produced miraculously, so it was assumed integrally; that is to say, Christ took a complete and perfect human soul and body, with all and every faculty and member pertaining to it. And this was necessary, (as both Augustin and Fulgentius have well observed,) that thereby he might heal the whole nature of that leprosy of sin which hath seized and infected every member and faculty. "He assumed all to sanctify all ;" as Damascen expresses it. He designed a perfect recovery, by sanctifying us wholly in soul, body, and spirit; and therefore assumed the whole in order to it.
3. He assumed our nature, as with all its integral parts, so with all its sinless infirmities. And therefore it is said of him, " That it behoved him," kata tarade quoswInves, "in all things" (that is, all things natural, not formally sinful, as it is limited by the same apostle, Heb. 4 : 15) "to be made like unto his brethren,” Heb. 2:17. But here divines carefully distinguish infirmities into personal and natural. Personal infirmities are such as befall particular persons from particular causes, such as dumbness, blindness, lameness, leprosies, monstrosi. ties, and other deformities. These it was no way necessary that Christ should, nor did he at all assume; but the natural ones, such as hunger, thirst, weariness, sweating, bleeding, mortality, &c. which though they are not in themselves formally and intrinsically sinful, yet are they the effects and consequents of sin. They are so many marks, that sin has left of itself upon our natures. And on that account Christ is said to be sent "in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Rom. 8:3. Wherein the gracious condescension of Christ for us is marvellously signalized, that he would not assume our inno. cent nature, as it was in Adam before the fall, while it stood in all its primitive glory and perfection; but after sin had quite defaced, ruined, and spoiled it.
4. The human nature is so united with the Divine, as that each nature still retains its own essential properties distinct. And this distinction is not, and cannot be lost by that union.
II. The effects, or immediate results of this marvellous union,
1. The two natures being thus united in the person of the Mediator, by virtue thereof the properties of each nature are attributed, and do truly agree in the whole person ; so that it is proper to say, the Lord of glory was crucified, 1 Cor. 2:8, and the blood of God redeemed the church, Acts, 20 : 28, that Christ was both in heaven and in the earth at the same time, John, 3:13. Yet we do not believe that one nature doth transfuse or impart its properties to the other, or that it is proper to say the Divine nature suffered, bled, or died; or the human is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent; but that the properties of both natures are so ascribed to the person, that it is proper to affirm
of them of him in the concrete, though not abstractly. The right understanding of this would greatly assist in teaching the true sense of the fore-named, and many
other dark passages in the Scriptures.
2. Another fruit of this union, is the singular advance. ment of the human nature in Christ, far beyond and above what it is capable of in any other person, it being hereby replenished and filled with an unparalJeled measure of Divine graces and excellencies; in which respect he is said to be "anointed above his fellows,” Psa. 45 : 7, and so becomes the object of adoration and divine worship, Acts, 7:59.
3. Hence follows, as another excellent fruit of this union, the concourse and co-operation of each nature in his mediatorial works; for in them he acts according to both natures: the human nature doing what is human, namely, suffering, sweating, bleeding, dying ; and his Divine nature stamping all these with infinite value; and so both sweetly concur unto one glorious work and design of mediation. Papists generally deny that he performs any of these mediatorial works as God, but only as man; but how boldly do they therein contradict the Seriptures! See 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 9 : 14, 15.
III. The grounds and reasons of this assumption. The Divine did not assume the human nature necessarily, but voluntarily; not out of indigence, but bounty; not because it was to be perfected by it, but to perfect it, that so Christ might be prepared for the full discharge of his mediatorship, in the offices of our Prophet, Priest, and King
Had he not possessed this double nature in the unity of his person, he could not have been our Prophet: for, as God, he knows the mind and will of God, John, 1: 18, and 3:13; and as man he is fitted to impart it suitably to us, Deut. 18:15-18, compared with Acts, 20:22. As Priest, had he not been man, he could have shed no blood; and if not God, it had been of no adequate value for us, Heb. 2:17; Acts, 3:28. As King, had he not been man, he had been of a different nature, and so no fit head for us; and if not God, he could neither rule nor defend his body the church. These then were the designs and ends of that assumption.
INFERENCE 1. Let all christians rightly inform their minds in this truth of so great moment in religion, and hold it fast against all subtle adversaries that would wrest it from them. The learned Hooker observes, that the dividing of Christ's person, which is but one, and the confounding of his natures, which are two, has been the occasion of those errors which have so greatly disturbed the peace of the church. The Arians denied his Deity, levelling him with other created beings. The Apollinarians maimed his humanity. The Sabellians affirmed, that the Father and Holy Ghost were incarnated as well as the Son; and were forced upon that absurdity by another error, namely, denying the three distinct persons in the Godhead, and affirming they were but three names. The Eutychians confounded both natures in Christ, denying any distinction of them. The Seleusians affirmed that he unclothed himself of