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power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.'
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall shew,
IV. What we are to understand by his being conceived of tho Holy Ghost in the womb of tho virgin Mary.
V. Why he was born of a virgin.
Christ as God had no mother, and as man no father. But his mother as man was Mary. She was the seed of Abraham; and so Christ was that seed of Abraham, in whom all nations were to be blessed, Gal. iii. 16. She was of the tribe of Judah, Luke iii. 33. and of that tribe Christ by her did spring, Heb. vii. 14. She was also of the family of David, as appears by her genealogy, Luke iii. and therefore Christ is called the Son of David, as the Messiah behoved to be. She was, however, but a mean woman, the family of David being then reduced to a low outward condition in the world, having long before lost its flourishing state; so that our Lord 'sprung up as a root out of a dry ground,' Isa. xi. 1. and liii. 2.
She was a virgin before and at the time of her bringing forth Jesus, but espoused to Joseph, who was of the same tribe with her. What she was after, I think Christians should raise no question about that matter, seeing tho scripture has buried it in silence. And therefore, as they are presumptuous who would always make her being a virgin an article of faith, so they are rash that would define the contrary. For they are but little versed in the scripture, who know not that kinsmen among the Jews are ordinarily in sacred writ called brethren ; as Abraham and Lot, his brother's son, are called brethren, Gen. xiii. 8. So no argument can be drawn from persons being designed the brethren of Christ, in the evangelists, to prove that Mary bore children to Joseph.
II. I come to shew what we are to understand by Christ's becoming man. It implies,
1. That ho had a real being and existence before his incarnation. He truly was before he was conceived in the womb of the virgin, and distinct from that being which was conceived in her. He tells us himself, that he was in heaven before he ascended thither : • What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before ?' John vi. 62. Yea, he was with his Father from all eternity, before any of tho creatures came out of the womb of nothing.
So Prov. viii. 29, 30, ' When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth. Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.' Ilere the Spirit of God describes the most blessed state of Jesus Christ, from those eternal delights which he had had with his Father before his assumption of our nature, 'Then I was by him,' or
with him :' he was so with him, as never any other was, even in his very bosom, John i. 18. 'The word was with God,' ver. 1. And he calls himself the bread of life that came down from heaven,' chap, vi. ver. 33. Here he opposeth himself to the manna, wherewith God fed the Israelites in the wilderness, which never was really in heaven, nor had its original from thence. 'Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but the Father gave you Christ really from thence.' John xvi. 28. ' I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world : again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.' He is called ' Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.'
2. That ho actually took upon him our nature, He assumed the entire nature of man into the unity of his divine person, with all its integral parts and essential properties; and so was made or became a real and true man by that assumption. Hence it is said, John i. 14. The Word was made flesh. But though Jesus Christ had two natures, yet not two persons, which was the error of Nestorius, who lived in the fourth century. He so rent the natures of Christ asunder, as to make two distinct persons of them, and consequently two Christs, of which one was crucified at Jerusalem, and the other not, as he blasphemously alleged ; and so he plainly denied the hypostatical union of the divine and human natures in the person of our blessed Redeemer. But though Christ had two natures, yet but one person: for his human nature never subsisted separately and distinctly by any personal subsistence of its own, as it is in all other men ; but, from the first moment of his conception, it subsisted in union with the second person of the adorable Trinity. Again, though 'the Word was made flesh,' yet it was without any confusion of the natures, or change of the one into the other: which was the heresy of the Eutychians of old, who so confounded the two natures in the person of Christ, that they denied all distinction between them. Eutyches thought that the union was so made in the natures of Christ, that the humanity was absorbed and wholly turned into the divine nature; so that, by that transubstantiation, the human nature had no longer being. To oppose this heresy, the ancient fathers did very fitly make use of the sacramental union between the bread and wine and the body and blood of Christ, and thereby showed that the hu
man nature of Christ is no more really converted into the Divinity, and so ceaseth to be the human nature, than the substance of the bread and wine is really converted into the substance of the body and blood of Christ, and thereby ceaseth to be both bread and wine. But by this union the human nature is so united with the Divinity, that each retains its own essential properties distinct. The properties of either nature are preserved entire. It is impossible that the majesty of the Divinity can receive any alteration; and it is as impossible that the meanness of the humanity can receive the impression of the Deity, so as to be changed into it, and a creature be metamorphosed into the Creator, and temporary flesh become eternal, and finite mount up into infinite. As the soul and the body are united, and make one person; yet the soul is not changed into the perfections of the body, nor the body into the perfections of the soul. There is a change indeed made in the humanity, by its being advanced to a more excellent union, but not in the Deity; as a change is made in the air when it is enlightened by the sun, not in the sun which communicates that brightness to the air. Athanasius makes the burning bush to be a type of Christ's incarnation; the fire signifying the divine nature, and the bush the human. The bush is a branch springing from the earth, and the fire descends from heaven. As the bush was united to the fire, yet was not hurt by the flame, nor converted into the fire, there remained a difference between the bush and the fire, yet the properties of fire shined in the bush, so that the whole bush seemed to be on fire: So in the incarnation of Christ, the human nature is not swallowed up by the divine, nor changed into it, nor confounded with it: but they are so united, that the properties of both remain firm : two are so become one, that they remain two still ; one person in two natures, containing the glorious perfections of the Divinity, and the weakness of the humanity. The fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Christ.
3. Christ's becoming man implies the voluntariness of this act of his in assuming the human nature. When he was solacing himself in the bosom of the Father with the sweetest pleasures that heaven could afford, yet even then the very prospect of his incarnation afforded him unspeakable delight, Prov. viii. 31. Rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth, and my delights were the sons of men.' See what is said, Psal. xl. 6, 7, 8. ' Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears hast thou opened: burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. And when he was in the world, and had endured many abuses and injuries from sinners, and con
tradictions of them against himself, and was even come to the most difficult part of his work, yet even then he could say, 'How am I straitened (or pained) until it be accomplished !' Luke xii. 50. He longed to have the work of Redemption finished, for which he had assumed the human nature, that thereby he might be fitted and qualified for suffering. He cheerfully assumed our nature, that so ho might be capable to suffer, and thereby satisfy offended justice for his people's sins. He was not forced or constrained to become man, but he willingly laid aside the robes of his Divinity, and cloathed himself with the infirmities of the flesh. Yea, if he had not wil. lingly engaged to take on our nature, and die for our sins, divine justice could not have accepted of his blood as the price of our redemption.
III. I proceed to show, that Christ was true man. Being the eternal Son of God, he became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul. He had the same human nature which is common to all men, sin only excepted. He is called in Scripture 'man,' and 'the Son of man, the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the Son of David,' &c; which designations could not have been given unto him, if he had not been true man. And it is said, Heb. ii. 14, 15, 16. 'Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.
For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.' And so he became not an angel, but a man. As man consists of two essential parts, body and soul; so did Christ. He had a real body of flesh, blood, and bones, not a fantastical body, which is only a body in appearance. Hence he said to his affrighted disciples, when they thought they had seen a spirit when he first appeared to them after the resurrection, 'Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: Handle me and see : for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have,' Luke xxiv. 39. He was born with a body which was prepared for him, of the same appearance with those of other infants. He increased in stature, and grew up by degrees; and was so far from being sustained without the ordinary nourishment wherewith our bodies are preserved, that he was observed by his enemies to come eating and drinking; and when he did not so, he suffered hunger and thirst. The thorns that pricked the sacred temples of his head, the nails which penetrated through his hands and his feet, and the spear that pierced his blessed side, gave sufficient proof and testimony of the natural tenderness and frailty of his flesh. The actions and pas
sions of his life show that he had true flesh. He was hungry, thirsty, weary, faint, &c. As therefore we believe that Christ came into the world, so we must own that he came in the verity of our human nature, even in true and proper flesh. With this determinate expression it was always necessary to acknowledge him. For every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God, and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God, 1 John iv. 2, 3. This spirit appeared very early in the Cliristian church, in opposition to the apostolical doctrine : and Christ, who is both God and man, was as soon denied to be man as God. Simon Magus, the arch-heretic, first began, and many afterward followed him. And as Christ had a true body, so he had also a rational soul. For certainly, if the Son of God would stoop so low as to take upon him our frail flesh, he would not omit the nobler part, the soul, without which he could not be man. We are told that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, the one in respect of his body, the other in respect of his soul. Wisdom belongeth not to the flesh, nor can the knowledge of God, which is infinite, admit of an increase or addition. He then, whose knowledge did improve together with his years, must have a subject proper for, and capable of it, which was no other than a human soul. This was the seat of his finite understanding and directed will, distinct from the will of his Father, and consequently that of his divine nature, as appears by that known submission with respect to his drinking the cup of divine wrath; Not my will but thine be done,' says he. This was the subject of those affections and passions which so manifestly appeared in the course of his life, and particularly when he breathed forth that language, when entering upon his last sufferings, ' My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death. This was it which on the cross, immediately before his departure, he committed to his Father's care, Luke xxiii. 46. * Father, into thy hand I commend my spirit.' And as his death was nothing else but the separation of his soul from his body, so the life of Christ, as man, consisted in the vital union and conjunction of that soul with the body. So that he who was perfect God was also perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Which is to be observed, and asserted against the ancient heretics, who taught that Christ assumed human flesh; but the Word, or his Divinity, was unto that body in place of a soul. As he could not have been real man without a real body and reasonable soul, which are the two essential and constituent parts of man, so he could not have borne the punishment of his people's sins, if he had not suffered in both. They had forfeited both soul and body to divine jus