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Union of the Two Natures
[Ess. x. dwelt amongst us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth" i, 14. Formerly, the eternal Word of God, although he was accustomed at times to manifest himself in an angelic form, had for the most part subsisted as an invisible agent. But now he became flesh, that is man, (for the term flesh often denotes men, as thinking, acting, responsible, agents, see Gen. vi, 12: Numb. xvi, 22: Isa. xlix, 26, &c.) and he dwelt among his people, so that they actually beheld his person, and were eye-witnesses of his glorious works. That "Eternal life," who had been with the Father, was now manifested to the disciples, and in such a manner submitted to their senses, that they saw, heard, and handled him: 1 John i, l, 2; comp. iv, 2.7
Thus also the apostle Paul, in immediate connexion with his doctrine, that Christ was "in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God," declares, that this glorious Person "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men :'
"Hereby know we the spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." The confession which is thus declared by the apostle to have been a proper and sufficient test of a divinely-authorized faith, virtually embraced the doctrines both of the deity and of the humanity of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ had become incarnate. Before this event, he existed in a higher nature, in which he is the Son of God. In the nature which he assumed at his incarnation, he is the Son of Man.
8 Vide Whitby in loc. Jesus Christ is described as having been made in the likeness of men, because he took upon him the same nature and faculties. Schleusner explains the original of this passage (έv ¡μoiúμari åvogwπwv yevóμevos) as follows: "verus homo factus, vera humana natura et proprietatibus adjunctisque humanis gaudens," in voc. Thus Adam is said to beget a son in his own likeness; and in Heb. ii, 14—17, Christ is again said to be made like unto men, (öμoweñva) because he participated in the same "flesh and blood," that is, in the same human
in the One Saviour,
Phil. ii, 7. And it is evidently on the same principle that, on another occasion, he makes mention of "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," that "though he was rich," yet for our sakes "he became poor," that we "through his poverty might be rich :" 2 Cor. viii, 9.
I take it for granted that it is this apostle who has made a yet more explicit statement on the subject now under consideration, in the Epistle to the Hebrews. After citing several passages of the Old Testament, which relate to the Deity of the Son, in order to prove his superiority over the angels, he proceeds to dwell on the humiliation of Jesus, "who was made a little (or for a short time)1 lower than the angels for the suffering of death," see ch. ii, 9; and on this point he reasons as follows; "For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, (that is, the Father) in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect (or complete as a Saviour) through sufferings; for both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, &c.... Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage; for verily he took not on him (the nature) of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham :" ii, 10-16. Here I must pause to observe, that this last verse is probably mistranslated; for the verb rendered "took on him" more properly signifies, "takes hold of, or puts his hand to, in order to assist." It was the cause of men,
ÉTTÚXEVO. Vide Schleusner in voc. Rosenmüller, Schol. in loc.
1 Bgax TI, "per breve tempus,”—Rosenmüller.
2 ÉTIλaμCáverαi. Vide Schleusner in voc. and comp. ch. viii, 9. So also Newcome, Rosenmüller, &c.
Our Lord Jesus Christ.
not of angels, in which the Son of God engaged himself: it was men, and not angels, that he came into the world to assist. "Wherefore," concludes the apostle, in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted:" ver. 17, 18. From this passage we learn, first, that the purpose of the Father, in the whole Christian dispensation, was to bring many sons unto glory; secondly, that the Son of God, whose deity had already been so fully proved by the apostle, was the person whom the Father appointed to be the captain of our salvation, and who himself undertook to assist mankind; thirdly, that, in order to accomplish this purpose, and in order to his being a perfect Saviour, it was necessary (in pursuance of the counsels of infinite wisdom) that he should suffer and die; and lastly, that therefore he took part of "flesh and blood," or of the human nature, and was made in that nature "like unto his brethren."
Plain and substantial, therefore, are the scriptural grounds on which we build our faith, that, when the Son of God was fore-ordained of the Father to be the Saviour of mankind, and when he undertook that sacred office of mercy, he existed only in the divine nature; and that when, in consequence of this covenant of light and life, he reduced himself from his original glory, and took part in flesh and blood, the nature of God and the nature of man became united in him. Of the mode of that mysterious union we are as little capable of forming any conception as we are of the mode of that other union, already considered, by which the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, are one God.
Accidents of the Two Natures
Nevertheless, we are, by the most sacred of ties, bound to believe the fact as it is revealed to us; and, believing the fact, we may indeed rejoice with thankfulness in its practical consequences.
Now, while as Christians we must ever confess that the union of the divine and human natures in Christ is a perfect union, and thus that we have not two Saviours, one God, and the other man, but one Saviour only, one Mediator of the New Covenant, one Lord Jesus Christ, we ought, nevertheless, in reading those Scriptures which testify of him, carefully to distinguish the accidents of the humanity of Christ from those of his deity. For, as long as this distinction is fairly made, it must always be acknowledged that the scriptural descriptions of Jesus, in his human capacity (numerous and explicit as they are) can never afford any valid contradiction to those declarations of his divine character and attributes which have equally proceeded from inspiration, and which relate to another constituent part of a complete and harmonious system of doctrinal truth.
When, for example, we observe it to be recorded in the Gospels, that Jesus of Nazareth was born a child, grew to the stature of a man, and died a violent death, we immediately perceive that these facts are to be regarded as appertaining only to his humanity. And I apprehend that there exists no sound reason why we should not adopt a similar view of the subject, when we are informed that he was a prophet anointed of God, Isa. lxi, 1; that his dependence was ever placed on the aid of his Heavenly Father; that he passed whole nights in prayer; that he was tempted by the great enemy of souls; and that he knew not the period which the Father had appointed for the resurrection and final judgment of mankind: Mark xiii, 32. Since, indeed, the narrative contained in the four Gos
Not to be Confounded.
pels may be regarded as the history of our Lord's humanity, it would be no matter of just astonishment, were it found to relate exclusively to that single constituent of his mediatorial character; nor would such a circumstance have cast any reasonable doubt or suspicion over the truth of other parts of the Sacred Volume, (passages, for instance, in the works of the prophets, and in the apostolic Epistles) which have a more immediate relation to his divine nature.
While, however, this inspired narrative plainly unfolds and establishes the doctrine that Jesus was man, it abounds with a variety of evidence, whether more or less direct, that he was also God. These evidences I shall now endeavour to state in the order which I deem to be most clear and natural. I. Jesus Christ, during his abode on earth, claimed the divine character. II. He displayed divine attributes and powers. III. He received divine homage. IV. His incarnation, life, and death, were accompanied by some other circumstances which fully harmonize with the doctrine of his deity. V. And, lastly, in connexion with this period of his history, he is described as God or Jehovah.
1. The doctrine of the actual divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ ought surely to be allowed by all consistent believers in Christianity, if, on a careful and impartial examination of the inspired records, they find that, notwithstanding his deep humility, his contempt of the honour of the world, and his acknowledged abhorrence of all impiety, this celestial messenger was accustomed to speak of himself (whether directly or indirectly) as of one to whom belonged the known character and attributes of the Supreme Being. Now, that Jesus thus asserted his claim to divinity, and asserted it with all the ease and simplicity of long and familiar possession, appears from a variety of examples contained in the four Gospels.