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2. In all these scriptures where God is said to grieve, repent, be angry, come down from heaven, stand, speak, receive and assume to himself many of the actions and passions of human nature, we are commonly taught to believe and explain them as mere figures of speech, employing human expressions to represent divine actions. But by supposing Deity united to the creature nature of Christ, these expressions may be taken in a literal sense, as there is a subject to which they may be properly applied ; and as he is truly God by virtue of this union, there is no impropriety in saying that God did these things. The great Dr. Owen asserts, That it had been most absurd to bring in God under perpetual anthropopathies, as grieving, repenting, and such like, were it not but that the divine person intended was to take on him the nature wherein such affections do dwell.' Still this makes the whole of those passages figurative, and must be understood proleptically; while the other method makes them all clear at once, and shine in their own native beauty, without the help of so many human figures.
3. He who assumed a human shape and appeared so often in the old testament, is expressly called a man; and yet this glorious appearance is called God, and the LORD JEHOVAH. It was a man wrestled with Jacob.- A man appeared to Manoah, and gave himself the name of wonderful, which is one of the names that Isaiah gives to Christ.Ezekiel saw a throne in a vision and the appearance of a man above. The fourth in Nebuchad. nezzar's furnace was a man.-A man commanded Gabriel to shew Daniel the vision. He saw a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girt with gold.The same dress in which Christ appeared to John.—And it is more than probable that
the angel who is called God, commonly appeared to the patriarchs in the form of a man.* There is no difficulty in opening up the beauties of all these and similar texts by our key but one, viz. Where did Christ get a body for his soul to appear in ? I know two ways by which this may be resolved. First, The great Theanthropos, or God-man, put on a human shape frequently as a preludium, figure, and prophecy, of his own incarnation in due time. Secondly, That the soul of Christ before it took real flesh, or the body that was prepared and suited for his state of humiliation, had a habitation suited to its then state, and capable of being visible as he pleased. We are sure that his resurrection body was of this sort, as it suddenly appeared, and when the short work was over it instantly disappeared. And it is likely the spiritual bodies of saints after the resurrection, when they shall be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body, will be of this kind,-flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingilom of God.-Now any of these may be admitted without injury to the doctrine itself: though the last, which has certainly been least thought of, stands most clear of figure, and leads to an easy and literal meaning of all the appearances of Christ before his incarnation,
* If any object that a human soul is not a man-I answer, that a human soul may be called a man with as much propriety as CHRIST is called an angel. But if this is reckoned insufficient, I hope it is undeniable, that a human soul can be more properly called a man, than pure Deity can be called a mun.
But this they arc obliged to say, who will not allow the creature nature of CHRIST to be understood in such passages. Besides, those who are so fond of many figures may allow one in this case, which is as common as any one in scripture, viz. Synecdoche, which puts a part for the whole. Aud this is the more reasonable, as the soul is tlie chief part of the man. If the Holy Ghost knows wbat propriety of speech means, a soul may be called a man.-"I knew a man in Christ- whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell." What was this man that was either in or out of the body, but the rational soul of Paul? If any thing else, let the objectors answer ;- till then, we may rest satisfied, that the apostle by the Holy Ghost calls his soul a Man. The same personal language is used of the soul in many texts, for instauce, Job says, (chap. vii. 11.)“ Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and last fenced me with bones and sinews." Who is this me here that Job speaks of ? Sure the rational soul of Job. But we may ask whether a soul may not exist as well before it has a body, as after it has parted from the body? If it cannot exist before, bow can it exist after ? The scriptures are as clear that CHRIST's soul existed before he took Aesh and blood, as that souls exist after they are separated from the body; and to deny the former upon the principles of the objection, is in effect to say, that there are neither men nor women in heaven or hell while their bodies are in the grave.Thus it is plain, that in every point of view, this objection falls to the ground.
4. In Zechariah we find the man CHRIST called the neighbour of God, or the man who is near to him. "Awake, o sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is my fellow or neighbour, saith the LORD of hosts."* The word which is rendered my fellow, never signifies any sort of equality, but conjunction, nearness, or neighbourhood. It is rendered neighbour in several places. It denotes the man that was with God, or near to God, by the intimate union of the creature nature with Deity, and was the shepherd of the flock of God, or Israel's keeper in all ages. The vulgar latin renders it cohæren tum mihi, cleaving to me, and on account of the sacred union may be properly expressed, my neighbour.
This doctrine shews the native beauty of all these texts where God calls himself the shepherd of Israel. And also of those that give that title to CHRIST in the old testament. “ He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom. This is a prophecy of Christ, though he is called the Lord God in the foregoing verse. This language has a peculiar propriety in it, when we consider, the creature nature of Christ united to Deily, acting the part of a shepherd to the Jewish nation, “leading them through the wilderness like a flock," and watching over them in the land of Canaan. How beautiful is the idea of scripture prophecy and history in the old and new testaments, with one voice appropriating this office to Christ? Says the prophet from God, “ I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them,” &c. Says Christ, “ I am the good shepherd." And Peter echoes his master's voice, and calls him the chief shepherd,—the bishop of souls.*
* Zech. siii. 7.
+ Isa. xl. 11.
How clear then is the evidence that the creature nature of CHRIST existed before, when the scripture takes such care to use human language, to express his offices, as well as his person, and actions ?-But this will be further clear when we consider,
5. That this doctrine affords a plain reason why he is called Christ or the Messiah, in many places which represent transactions before his incarnation, to shew that this person was anointed to his offices of old. “ Neither let us tempt CHRIST, as some of them (Israelites) tempted Him, and were destroyed. God created all things by Jesus CHRIST-Grace was given us in Christ before the world began-Searching what manner of time the Spirit of CHRIST, which was in the prophets, did signify, when it testified before hand the sufferings of CHRIST-By which also he (CHRIST) went and preached into the spirits in prison, which were disobedient in the days of Noah--Moses esteemed the reproach of CHRIST greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”+ The word CHRIST, which is the same with Messiah, or ANOINTED, imports his human nature in an especial manner“ For there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. The manhood is eminently represented in the person of the Mediator, though Deity being united, rendered all his actions intinitely efficacious and powerful.
* Ezek. xxxiv, 23. Jobn x. 14. i Pet, ii. xxv. and 5. 4. t 1 Cor. x.9. Eph. iii. 9. 2 Tim.i.9. 1 Pet. i. 11. -i. 19.
Heb. xi. 16.
By the just consideration of this doctrine of the creature nature of Christ being anciently united to Deity, we have a fair and rational account why God himself was called the king of Israel, and took upon him the political government of that peculiar nation; and why the Messiah had also this title given him, “ The king of the Jews.”
All the numerous expressions which relate to both these are naturally just, when we consider Christ in both natures becoming a patron and protector of the holy seed; assuming the Jews above all other nations into a peculiar relation to himself. Therefore
“ He came to his own,” his own property or possession, and subjects, “ but his own (Jews) received him not."
CHRisT was the appointed or anointed king of the Jewish church and nation through all the ages of that economy: and in obedience to the will of his heavenly Father, and in compassion to sinful men, he took flesh and dwelt among them, but was disowned, scourged, and crucified by his rebellious subjects. This lays a just foundatio for the extent of his kingdom and government over all churches and kingdoms upon his finishing the great work of men's salvation. He then became Lord over all things in heaven and in earth-he got the heathen for his inheritance, and uttermost parts of the earth for his possession-he was then King of kings, and Lord of lords, and prince of the kings
* 1 Tim, ii, 5.