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XIV. The usefulness of this distinction is considerable, in order to the solving that problem, how the active obedience of Christ so called, though not so properly, may be imputed to us ; seeing as man he owed it for himself. For, besides that on our account he was made man, it was not barely from his being man that he was under the neccssity of meriting eternal life by the legal covenant, nay, and considered as God-man, abstracted from his suretiship-engagement, he might have exempted himself from all indigence, and all necessity of meriting; and consequently might have gloriously exercised all power in heaven and in earth, in,
and by the human nature, from the first moment of his incarnation: for this flows from the union of the humanity with the person of the Son of God. But his subjecting himself to the law, as prescribing the condition of happiness, is wholly from his voluntary covenant-engagement which he entered into on our account, which by every right or just title, may, and ought to be imputed to us. The very ingenious and judicious divine, Francis Gomarus, seems to have had this in his view when he thus comments on Phil. ☺. 9. “ For our sake, he also vailed his glory for a time, which he might justly enjoy, and submitted to the cursed death of the cross; which, if we consider bis merit and power, he might have declined."
XV. Besides, the Son of God was in virtue of the covenant subject to the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," Gal. iii. 16. For, as the law likewise required punishment to be inflicted on the transgressor, and Christ bound himself by his engagement, to fulfil the whole law; it was necessary “ he should come in the likeness of sinful flesh, to condemn sin in the flesh," Rom. viii. 3. Which likeness of sinful flesh consists in this, that Christ, from his birth, was obnoxious to various miseries, both of soul and body, and at last to that death by which he concluded the course of his painful life, and in which the most evident signs of every kind of curse appeared: for it was just that the singer should thus live and die. Now Christ considered simply as a righteous person, might have been exempted from these miseries, and from such a death ; but after having once, by a voluntary engagement, submitted himself to the law for us, he became bound to satisfy also this sanction of the law, which threatened death to sinners; for all these things arise from the mediatorial covenant, and belong to Christ as Mediator.
XVI. But since in Christ, as Mediator, there is an union of the divine and human natures, this difficulty remains to be dis cussed, whether both natures were in some measure subject to the law. - We may easily affirm this of the human, as we have
already so often shewn, but it seems from what we have confirm-
XVII. In order to remove this difficulty, we are accurately
XVIII. The human nature was really and properly subject to the law: nay, from the hypostatical union there was superadded, a certain peculiar obhgation upon the human nature of Christ, considered in relation to the suretiship undertaken for us as his brethren. For, as men are bound to love God in such a manner as above all things to seek his glory, which shines most illustrious in the justification and sanctification of the sinner, and so to love their neighbour, as to desire to deliver their brother from sin and misery, even at their own peril, if possible. But though no mere man can effect this, yet the man Christ, who is likewise true God, and so able by his obedience and suffering, to promote this glory of God and the salvation of his brethren, was therefore obliged to undertake and undergo all those things, in which he might shew forth this most intense love of God and his neighbour: since he only could do this, so he only was bound to do it." What others were obliged to do conditionally as we observe a spark of this love in Moses, Exod. xxxi. 32. and in Paul, Rom. ix. 3.- was incumbent on the man Christ absolutely; because being God man, he could absolutely perform it.
XIX. We commonly ascribe to the person God-man, the relation of an inferior to a superior, by a constitution or appointment: that, both by doing and suffering, those things might be accomplished according to the condition of each nature, which were requisite to our salvation : so that the very obedience and sufferings themselves, are not only to be appropriated
to the human nature, but to be considered as truly performed and suffered by the God-man. If this was not the case, they would not be of infinite value and dignity, nor sufficient for our redemption. Hence, he who is in the form of God, is said to have made himself of no reputation, and become obedient unto death," Phil
. ii, 6, 7, 8. And to be “the Lord of glory who was crucified," 1 Cor. i. 8.
XX. It is here usual to enquire, whether Christ as Mediator, is inferior to the Father, and subordinate to him. But this controversy, it seems, may be easily settled among the orthodox: if the Mediator be considered in the state of humilia. tion, and the form of a servant, he is certainly inferior to the Father, and subordinate to him. It was not of his human nature only, but of himself in that state, that he himself said, John xiv. 28. The Father is greater than I. Nay, we may look upon the very mediatorial office in itself as importing a certain economicgl'inferiority, or subordination; as being to be laid down, when all things shall be perfectly finished, and God himself shall be all in all, 1 Cor. xv. 28. Nevertheless this undertaking and mediation, and the bringing of fallen man to God, to grace and glory, is not so much beneath the excellency of the Deity, but we may without the least hesitation affirm, that this glory of mcdiation is incommunicable to any creature. It is the glory of Jehovah to be the righteousness of Israel. This glory he gives to none who is not God: to be Mediator does not merely denote a servant of God, but the great God and Saviour; who as the first and principal cause of saving grace, equal to the Father, works by his own power, our reconciliation with God, by means of the subjection and obedience of his human nature, without which the coequal Son.could neither perform his service, nor obey the Father,
XXI. The third thing we promised to enquire into was this: “ Could the Son refuse to undertake, or withdraw himself from this covenant?" To which question we are again to answer distinctly. Ist. If the Son be considered as God, the whole of this covenant was of his own most free will and plea
There neither was, nor could be any necessity to bind the Son of God, as such, to this covenant. Here is nothing but mere good pleasure, philanthropy unmerited, and altoge ther liberal, pure, and unmixed grace. Adly. If he be considered as man, though he indeed entered into this engagement of his own accord, without being constrained; yet he could not, without sin, from which he is at the greatest distance, withdraw from this agreement; which we prove in the following manner:
XXII. 1st. The human nature of Christ, as we have often said, could not be without law. The law under which it natural. ly is, is the royal law of love ; which does not indeed formally, as it was made for man in innocence, but yet eminently contain this precept which John inculcates, Eph. u. 16. That one Lay down his life for the brethren. I say, the law of love, as given to man in innocence contains vot this precept formally; death being inconsistent with that state, and perfect obedience, which is all summed up in love, frees man from all necessity of dying, according to the promise, he who doth those things, shall live in them. And therefore we have shewn, that if Christ be considered in himself as a holy person, without respect to the decree of God, and his own engagement for his miserable brethren, he was, by virtue of his perfect holiness, under no necessity of dying and suffering. But the law of love does, supposing the requisite circumstances, eminently contain the command of dy. ing for our brethren. For, it enjoins us to love God above all, and our neighbour as ourselves. And he who loves God above all, does not only delight in God his creator, benefactor, Tord, and example ; not only studies to please him, but endeavours to promote his glory, and direct all things that are God's to that end. And as he ought to have a tender regard for the glory of God above his own advantage, he also ought to be ready to undergo every thing, by which the glory of God may be most illustrated. And supposing, such a one bas brethren in distress, from which he can deliver them by bis death, so that God shall in an eminent manner appear glorious in them; the love of our brethren together with the love of God, enjoins him dot to de clipe dying for them ; especially if he himself, becoming a conqueror over death, shall thereby obtain a most distinguishing reward at last. Since therefore, Christ as man, could not but be under the law of love, and a holy man, as doubtless it became him to be, he cannot therefore be conceived as destitute of love, much less as having a contrary disposition; it follows, that be could not, in such circumstances, withdraw himself from his agreement to satisfy for men; because the law of love eminently contains such an obligation.
XXIII. Adly. The Son of God had from eternity engaged to satisfy this covenant, by assuming human nature, and obeying in it, as we sbewed above, & 11. If the human nature, personally united to him, could have withdrawn itself from, and repousced the covenant, it was possible that the Son of God himself might have violated his covenant engagements. And in that case Cbrist would not be either the true and faithful God, who cannot lie, or not be God omnipotent: because he, who, from eter
nity, willingly engaged in this undertaking, could not, in time, induce the human nature to execute that for which it was assumed at first. Nor do I see what reply can be made to this argument, unless one shall venture to say, that it is contrary to the nature of liberty, that the will should be thus bent, or brought over, by a superior cause and that, in such a case, the human nature declining to stand to that covenant, would be deprived of the honour or the hypostatical union, and another be assumed in its stead. But besides that this overthrows the inseparability of the hypostatical union, admitted on both sides, the same dif ficulty must recur with respect to the nature newly assumed ; because, equal liberty is to be ascribed to it.
XXIV. Bdly. God had by an eternal and irrevocable decree, appointed, promised, and confirmed by oath, the inberitance of all blessings in Christ, Heb. vi. 13–18 Luke i. 73. But if Christ could have withdrawn himself from the covenant, then the decree of God would have become void, his promises been deceitful, and his oath falsified; and therefore the whole counsel of God concerning the economy of our salvation, so often inculcated in the prophetical writings, would bave become of no effect; which is indeed blasphemy to imagine. There is no occasion to suggest, as one bas done, that God could, without the payment of any price, have remitted the debt of sin, and among some thousand methods have found out another way of saving mankind, had this method proved unsuccessful. For as this is
much more than we can readily yield to, so it is nothing to the purpose. For God did not only in general decree, promise, and confirm by oath, salvation to his elect; but salvation to be obtained by Christ and his obedience; which decree, pro mise, and oath, could be accomplished no other way; not to say, bow unworthy it is of God to be obliged to make new decrees, after the former have miscarried. And this is the very bone of the Remonstrant divinity.
XXV. 4thly. Let us suppose that the human nature of Christ, to speak plainly, could have withdrawn itself from this covenant ; yet it could not, at least without a horrible sin, after the preordination of God, the eternal will of the Son, the promise and oath had been discovered to him. Nay, it had been a more dreadful sin than that of the first Adam, for him obstinately to oppose all these considerations, and prefer his own private advantage to the glory of God and salvation of the elect; and by this means, we should be reduced, by this hypothesis we are now contend. ing against, to the shocking blasphemies of some schoolmen, who affirm that Christ could have sinned, and consequently