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tice, and should have suffered in both for ever in hell; and therefore Christ, when he substituted himself in their room, suffered both in his body and in his soul. The sufferings of his body were indeed very great; it was filled with exquisite torture and pain; but his soul sufferings were much greater, as I observed in a former dis
IV. I come now to 'show what we are to understand by Christ's being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This is a great mystery, beyond the reach and comprehension of a finite mind. The conception of our blessed Saviour was miraculous and supernatural, above the methods of nature. To open this a little three things are to be considered hero.
1. The framing of Christ's human nature in the womb of the virgin.
2. The sanctifying of it.
First, Let us consider the framing of the human nature of Christ in the womb pf the virgin Mary. In the text the act is expressed to be the effect of the infinite power of God. And it sets forth the supernatural manner of forming the humanity of our blessed Saviour. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, and by an act of creative power frame the humanity of Christ, and unite it to the Divinity. In the framing of Christ's manhood, we are to consider the matter and the manner of it. The matter of his body was of the very flesh and blood of the virgin, otherwise he could not have been the Son of David, of Abraham, and Adam, according to the flesh. Indeed God might have created his body out of nothing, or have formed it of the dust of the ground, as he did the body of Adam, our original Progenitor : but had he been thus extraordinarily formed, and not propagated from Adam, though he had been a man like one of us, yet he would not have been of kin to us; because it would not have been a nature derived from Adam, the common parent of us all. It was therefore requisite to an affinity with us, not only that he should have the same human nature, but that it should flow from the same principle, and be propagated to him. And thus he is of the same nature that sinned, and so what he did and suffered may be imputed to us. Whereas, if he had been created as Adam was, it could not have been claimed in a legal and judicial way. Now, the Holy Ghost prepared the matter of Christ's body of the substance of the virgin; and he formed it of the matter thus prepared. Hence says Christ, A body hast thou prepared me,' Heb. x. 5. And says the apostle, Gal. iv. 4. 'God sent forth his Son made of a
woman.' The Holy Ghost sanctified that part of the virgin's substance whereof the body of Christ was to be formed, purging it from all sin and taint of impurity. For though a man cannot, yet God can bring a clean thing out of an unclean, and endue it with a capacity for the generation of a human body, which otherwise it would not have had alone. Though Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin, yet we are not to think that he was made of the substance of the Holy Ghost, whose essence cannot be at all made. The Holy Ghost did not beget him by any communication of his essence; and therefore he is not the Father of Christ, though he was conceived by his power. The Holy Ghost did not minister any matter unto Christ from his own substance. Hence Basil says, Christ was conceived, not of the substance, but by the power, not by any generation, but by appointment and benediction of the Holy Ghost. And as for his soul, it was not derived from the soul of the virgin, as a part thereof; for spiritual substances are indivisible and impartible; and nothing can be cut off from them. But it was created and made of nothing by the divine power, as all other souls are. Hence God is called the Father of spirits,' Heb. xii. 9. and is said to form the spirit of man within him,' Zech. xii. 1. Here the forming of the soul of man is joined with these two glorious effects of God's creative power, the expansion of the heavens, and laying the foundations of the earth. Our Saviour's spirit was created by God, and infused into his body, when fitly organized to receive it. Again, the manner of framing the human nature of Christ is also to be considered; and that was extraordinary and miraculous, not by generation according to the ordinary and stated course of nature, but by an extraordinary operation of the Holy Ghost above the laws of nature: and for this cause it exceeds the compass of human reason, and the highest reach of created understandings, either to conceive or express the order and manner of his conception.
Secondly, Let us consider the sanctifying of Christ's human nature. I have already said, that that part of the flesh of the virgin, whereof the human nature of Christ was made, was purified and refined from all corruption by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, as a skilful workman separates the dross from the gold. Our Saviour was therefore called that holy thing, Luke i. 35. Now, this sanctification of the human nature of Christ was necessary.
1. To fit it for personal union with the Word, who, out of his infinite love, humbled himself to become flesh, and at the same time out of his infinite purity, could not defile himself by becoming sinful flesh.
2. With respect to the end of his incarnation, even the redemption and salvation of lost sinners; that as the first Adam was the fountain of our impurity, so the second Adam should also be the pure fountain of our righteousness. God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh ;' which he could not have condemned, had he been sent in sinful flesh. The Father made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him;' which we could never have been made, if he had been tainted with any sin. He that needed redemption himself could never have purchased redemption for us.
Thirdly, We are to consider the personal union of the manhood with the Godhead. To clear this a little, you would know,
1. That when Christ assumed our nature, it was not united consubstantially, so as the three persons in the Godhead are united among themselves; they all have but one and the same nature and will: but in Christ there are two distinct natures and wills, though but one person.
2. They are not united physically, as the soul and body are united in a man: For death actually dissolves that union; but this is indissoluble. So that when his soul was expired, and his body interred, both soul and body were still united to the second person as much as ever.
3. Nor yet is this such a mystical union as is between Christ and believers. Indeed this is a glorious union. But though believers are said to be in Christ, and Christ in them, yet they are not one
person with him.
But more positively, this assumption of which I speak is that whereby the second person in the glorious 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, as I shewed already, both making but one person Immanuel, God with
So that though there be a twofold nature in Christ, yet not a double person. For the human nature of Christ never subsisted separately and distinctly by 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 of the adorable Trinity, in a miraculous and extraordinary manner, being supernaturally framed within tho womb of the virgin by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. Again, as it was produced miraculously, so it was assumed integrally; that is to say, Christ took a complete and perfect soul and body, with all and every faculty and member pertaining to it. And this was necessary, that thereby he might heal the whole na
ture of the disease and leprosy of sin, which had seized upon and wofully infected every member and faculty of man. Christ assumed all, to sanctify all. He designed a perfect recovery by sanctifying us wholly in soul, body, and spirit: and therefore he assumed the whole in order to it. Again, he assumed our nature with all its sinless infirmities : therefore it is said of him, Heb. ii. 17. In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren.' But here we are to distinguish between personal and natural infirmities. Personal infirmities are such as befal particular persons, from particular causes, as dumbness, deafness, blindness, lameness, leprosies, &c. Now, it was no way necessary that Christ should assume these ; but the natural ones, such as hunger, thirst, weariness, sweating, bleeding, mortality, &c. These he was subject unto, which, though they are not in themselves formally and intrinsically sinful, yet they are the effects and consequents of sin. They are so many marks and stains that sin hath left of itself upon our natures; and
upon count Christ is said to be sent in the likeness of sinful flesh,' Rom. viii. 3. Again, the human nature is so united with the divine, that each nature still retains its own essential properties distinct. And this distinction is not, nor can be lost by that union. The humanity was indeed changed by a communication of excellent gifts from the divine nature; but not by being brought into an equality with it: for it was impossible that a creature should become equal to the Creator. He took upon him the form of a servant, but he lost not the form of God. He despoiled not himself of the perfections of the Deity, by taking upon him the humanity. The glory of his Divinity was not extinguished or diminished, though it was eclipsed and obscured under the vail of our humanity; but there was no more change in the hiding of it, than there is in the body of the sun, when he is shadowed the interposition of a cloud. And this union of the two natures in Christ is an inseparable union; so that from the first moment thereof, there never was, nor to all eternity shall there ever be any separation of them.
Quest. But how did this union remain between them, when Christ's human soul and body were separated from each other upon the cross! Ans. Though the natural union between his soul and body was dissolved by death for a time, yet the hypostatical union between his divine and human nature remained as entire and firm as ever. For though his soul and body were divided from each other, yet neither of them were separated from the divine nature, but still subsisted as they did before, by the subsistence of the second person of the Trinity. And though Christ cried upon the cross with a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' yet that did not imply a dissolution of that union : for if that dereliction should signify a dissolution of the former union of his natures, the separation had been made in his life, and not at his death; for he made this dolorous complaint before he gave up the ghost. But these words infer no more, but that he was bereft of such joy and comfort from the Deity, as should allay and mitigate the bitterness of his present troubles. And therefore when our Saviour yielded up the ghost, he suffered only an external violence; and what was subject to such corporeal force did yield unto these dolorous impressions : and the imbecility and frailty of our nature being such, that life cannot subsist long in exqusite torments, the disposition of his body failed the soul, and the soul deserted his body. But because no power hath force against omnipotence, nor could any finite agent work upon the union made with the Word, therefore that did still remain entire, both as to the soul and to the body.
V. I now proceed to shew, why Christ was born of a virgin. That Christ was to be born of a virgin, was prophesied and foretold many ages before his incarnation, as Isa. vii. 14. Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.' Now, that the mother of Jesus was that virgin spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, is evident from the testimony of the evangelists, particularly Mat. i. 18, &c. It was not convenient that ho should be born in the common order of father and mother; for if he had been so born, he would have been a natural son of Adam, and so represented by him in the covenant of works, and an heir of Adam's sin, as others are that are born by virtue of the blessing of marriage. By such a birth he had been polluted and defiled with sin: 'For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean;' Job xiv. 4. The Redeemer of the world behoved to be so born, as not to derive the stain of man's nature by his generation. For if he had been tainted with the least spot of our corruption, he had been incapable of being a Redeemer: he could never have redeemed others who stood in need of redemption himself. And although God by his almighty power, had perfectly sanctified an earthly father and mother and cleansed them from all original sin, that so the human nature might have been transmitted immaculate to him, as well as the Holy Ghost did purge that part of the flesh of the virgin of which the body of Christ was made, yet it was not convenient, that that person, who was God blessed for ever, as well as man, in partaking of our nature, should have a conception in the same manner with ours, but different from it, and in some measure conformable to the infinite dignity of his person; which could not have been, had not a supernatural and a divine person been concerned as an active principle in it. Besides, such a