« PreviousContinue »
be an hypostasis or subsistence, inasmuch as they are the same thing; so that one Christ, one ens, one person, is formed of this mutual hypostatic union of two natures or essences. For it is no more to be feared that the union of two hypostases should constitute two persons, than that the same consequence should result from the union of two natures, that is to say, of two essences. If however the human nature of Christ never had any proper and independent subsistence, or if the Son did not take upon himself that subsistence, it would have been no more possible for him to have been made very man, or even to have assumed the real and perfect substance or essence of man, than for the body of Christ to be present in the sacrament without quantity or local extinction, as the Papists assert. This indeed they explain by his divine power, their usual resort in such cases. It is however of no use to allege a divine power, the existence of which cannot be proved on divine authority. There is then in Christ a mutual hypostatic union of two natures, that is to say, of two essences, of two substances, and consequently of two persons ; nor does this union prevent the respective properties of each from remaining individually distinct. That the fact is so, is sufficiently certain ; the mode of union is unknown to us ; and it is best to be ignorant of what God wills should remain unknown. If indeed it were allowable to define and determine with precision in mysteries of this kind, why should not our philosophical inquisitiveness lead us to inquire respecting the external form common to the two natures ? For if the divine and human nature have coalesced in one person, that is to say, as my opponents themselves admit, in a reasonable being, numerically one, it follows that these two natures must have also coalesced in one external form. The consequence would be, either that the divine form must have been annihilated or blended with the human, which would be absurd, unless they were previously the same; or, vice versa, that the human must have been annihilated or blended with the divine, unless it exactly resembled the latter; or, which
$ • Those words...... are as much against plain equity and the mercy of religion, as those words of “take, eat, this is my body,” elementally understood, are against nature and sense.' Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. Prose Works, III. 248.
According to the Eutychian heresy. See p. 290, note 7.
is the only remaining alternative, Christ must be considered as having two forms. How much better is it for us to know merely that the Son of God, our Mediator, was made flesh, that he is called both God and Man, and is such in reality ; which is expressed in Greek by the single and appropriate term Θεάνθρωπος. . Since however God has not revealed the mode in which this union is effected, it behoves us to cease from devising subtle explanations, and to be contented with remaining wisely ignorant.
It may however be observed, that the opinion here given respecting the hypostatic union agrees with what was advanced relative to the Son of God in the fifth chapter, namely, that his essence is not the same with that of the Father ; for if it were the same, it could not have coalesced in one person with man, unless the Father were also included in the same union, nay, unless man became one person with the Father as well as with the Son ; which is impossible.
The reasons, therefore, which are given to prove that he who was made flesh must necessarily be the supreme God, may safely be dismissed. It is urged, first, from Heb. vii. 26, 27. that “such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” These words, however, do not even prove that he is God, much less that it was necessary that he should be so ; not to mention, that he is holy, not only as God but as man conceived of the Holy Spirit by the power of the Most High ; nor is he said to be higher than the heavens, but to be “made higher than the heavens.” Again, what is said of him, v. 24. “She continueth ever,” is a property which he has in cornmon with both men and angels; nor does it follow that he is God, because “ he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,” v. 25. Lastly, "the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. v. 28. so that he is not on this account necessarily God. Besides, Scripture nowhere teaches that none but God is able to approach God, to take away sin, to fulfil the law, to endure and vanquish the anger of God, the power of Satan, temporal as well as eternal death, in a word, to restore to us the blessings which we had lost; but.
| According to the Nestorian heresy. See p. 290, note 7.
it teaches that he has power to effect this “to whom the Father has given it ;" that is to say, the beloved Son of God, in whom he has himself testified that he is well pleased.
That Christ therefore, since his assumption of human flesh, remains one Christ, is a matter of faith ; whether he retains his two-fold will and understanding, is a point respecting which, as Scripture is silent, we are not concerned to inquire. For after having emptied himself;? he might “increase in wisdom,” Luke ii. 52. by means of the understanding which he previously possessed, and might “know all things,” John xxi. 17. namely, through the teaching of the Father, as he himself acknowledged. Nor is this twofold will implied in the single passage Matt. xxvi. 39. “not as I will, but as thou wilt,” unless he be the same with the Father, which, as has been already shown, cannot be admitted.
That Christ was very man, is evident from his having a body, Luke xxiv. 39. “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have;" a soul, Mark x. 45. “ that he might give his life (animam, his soul) a ransom for many;" xiv. 34.“ my soul is exceedingly sorrowful unto death ;” and a spirit, Luke xxiii. 46. “into thy hands I commend my spirit.” It is true that God attributes to himself also a soul and spirit ; but there are reasons most distinctly assigned in Scripture, why Christ should be very man. 1 Cor. xv. 21. " for since by
he that dwelt above
Ode on the Circumcision, 18. Newton remarks that the expression is taken from Philipp. ii. 7. though not as in our translation, he made himself of no reputation, but as it is in the original, εαυτόν έκένωσε.
now by some strong motion I am led
Paradise Regained, I. 290. Several of the expressions in the soliloquy from which these lines are extracted are founded on the supposition, that Christ was not possessed of all the knowledge which his human nature was capable of receiving by virtue of the union of the two natures, and from the first moment of that union. See the authorities by which this opinion is supported, in the note on the above passage in Dr. Hawkins's edition of Milton's poetical works.
man came death, by man came also the ressurection of the dead.” Heb. ii. 14. “ 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.” v. 17. wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest.” v. 18. “for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are · tempted.” iv. 15.“. have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” v. 2. “who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.” Finally, God would not accept any other sacrifice, inasmuch as any other would have been less worthy. Heb. x. 5. “ sacrifice thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” viii. 3. “it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.” ix. 22. “ without shedding of blood is no remission.'
Inasmuch, however, as the two natures constitute one Christ, certain particulars appear to be predicated of him absolutely, which properly apply to one of his natures. This is what is called communicatio idiomatum or proprietatum,“ where by the customary forms of language what is peculiar to one of two natures is attributed to both jointly. John iii. 13. “ he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven." viii. 58.“ before Abraham was, I am.' Accordingly, these and similar passages, wherever they occur, are to be understood nat' önão sai crno, as theologians express it; (for in speaking of Christ the proper expression is not άλλος και άλλος, but άλλο και άλλο, inasmuch as it refers, not to himself, but to his person, or in other words, his office of mediator : for as to the subject of his two natures, it is too profound a mystery, in my judgment at least, to warrant any positive assertion respecting it).
It sometimes happens, on the other hand, that what properly belongs to the compound nature of Christ, is attributed to one of his natures only, 1 Tim. ii. 5. one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Now he is not mediator inasmuch as he is man, but inasmuch as he is Θεάνθρωπος. .
4 αντίδοσις ιδιωμάτων, the communication of the properties.
Scripture, however, more frequently distinguishes what is peculiar to his human nature. Acts ii. 30. “ of the fruit of the loins of David, according to the flesh.” See also Rom. ix. 5. 1 Pet. iii. 18. «
being put to death in the flesh,” that is to say, being affected chiefly and most visibly in his human nature. This text will be adverted to again in the sixteenth chapter.
The incarnation of Christ consists of two parts ; his conception and his nativity. Of his conception the efficient cause was the Holy Spirit. Matt. i. 20. “ that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.' Luke i. 35.
the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee ;" by which words I am inclined to understand the power and spirit of the Father himself, as has been shown before ;) according to Psal. xl. 6, 7. compared with Heb. x. 5, 6. "a body hast thou prepared
The object of this miraculous conception was to obviate the contamination consequent upon the sin of Adam. Heb. vii. 26. “such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.”
The nativity of Christ is predicted by all the prophets, and more particularly in the following passages. Mich. v. 2. “ thou Bethlehem Ephratah .... out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel.” Isai. vii. 14. behold, a virgin shall conceive.” xi. 1.
there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse.” The history of the nativity is given Matt. i. 18-25. Luke i. 42. “ blessed is the fruit of thy womb." j. 6, 7. “the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” v. 22. “when the days of her purification were accomplished.”
That the Messiah is already come is proved, in contradiction to the belief of the Jews, by the following arguments. First, the cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth, (where according to prophecy Christ was to be born and educated, Mic. v. 2. Zech. vi. 12.'“ behold the man whose name is (Nezer, ro the Branch,”) are no longer in existence. Secondly, it was predicted that his advent should take place while the second temple and the Jewish government were yet in being. Hag. ii. 7. 9. “I will fill this house with glory: the glory of this
5 See pp. 153 and 163.