OF THE PERSON OF CHRIST
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The next head of opposition made by the men of this conspiracy against this sacred truth, is against the head of all truth, the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Socinians, indeed, would willingly put a better face or color upon their error about the person of Christ than it will bear or endure to lie on it. For in their catechism, unto this question, “Is the Lord Jesus Christ purus homo, a mere man?” they answer, “By no means.” “How then? Has he a divine nature also?” Which is their next question. To this they say, “By no means; for this is contrary to right reason.” How, then, will these pretended masters of reason reconcile these things? For to us it seems, that if Christ has no other nature but that of man, he is as to his nature purus homo, a mere man, and no more. Why, they answer, that “he is not a mere man, because he was born of a virgin.” Strange that that should be an argument to prove him more than a man, which the Scripture, and all men in their right wits, grant to be an invincible reason to prove him to be a man, and, as he was born of her, no more. Romans 10:3, “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” Romans 9:5, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.” Galatians 4:4, “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” But, say they, “He was endowed with the Spirit, wrought miracles, was raised from the dead, had all power given [him] in heaven and earth; for by these degrees he became to be God.” But all men see that the inquiry is about the nature of Christ, and this answer is about his state and condition. Now this changes not his nature on the one hand, no more than his being humbled, poor, and dying, did on the other. This is the right reason we have to deal withal in these men! If a man should have inquired of some of them of old, whether Melchizedek were purus homo, a mere man, some of them would have said, “No, because he was the Holy Ghost;” some, “No, because he was the Son of God himself;” and some, “No, because he was an angel;” — for such foolish opinions have men fallen into. But how Scottish soever their conceptions were, their answer to that inquiry would have been regular, because the question and answer respect the same subject in the same respect; but never any was so stupid as to answer, “He was not a mere man, (that is, by nature,) because he was a priest of the high God,” — which respects his office and condition. Yet, such is the pretense of these men about the person of Christ, to incrustate and give some color unto their foul disbelief; as supposing that it would be much to their disadvantage to own Christ only as a mere man, — though the most part of their disputes that they have troubled the Christian world withal have had no other design nor aim but to prove him so to be, and nothing else. I shall briefly, according to the method insisted on, first lay down what is the direct revelation which is the object of our faith in this matter, then express the revelation itself in the Scripture testimonies wherein it is recorded; and having vindicated some one or other of them from their exceptions, manifest how the doctrine hereof is farther explained, unto the edification of them that believe. That there is a second person, the Son of God, in the holy tri-unity of the Godhead, we have proved before. That this person did, of his infinite love and grace, take upon him our nature, — human nature, — so as that the divine and human nature should become one person, one Christ, God and man in one, so that whatever he does in and about our salvation, it is done by that one person, God and man, is revealed unto us in the Scripture as the object of our faith: and this is that which we believe concerning the person of Christ. Whatever acts are ascribed unto him, however immediately performed, in or by the human nature, or in and by his divine nature, they are all the acts of that one person, in whom are both these natures. That this Christ, God and man, is, because he is God, and on the account of what he has done for us as man, to be believed in, worshipped with worship religious and divine, to be trusted and obeyed, this also is asserted in the Scripture. And these things are, as it were, the common notions of Christian religion, — the common principles of our profession, which the Scriptures also abundantly testify unto.
Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel;” that is, he shall be God with us, or God in our nature. Not that that should be his name whereby he should be called in this world; but that this should be the condition of his person, — he should be “God with us,” God in our nature. So are the words expounded, Matthew 1:20-23, “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel; which, being interpreted, is, God with us.” his name whereby he was to be called, was Jesus; that is, a Savior. And thereby was accomplished the prediction of the prophet, that he should be Emmanuel; which, being interpreted, is, “God with us.” Now, a child born to be “God with us,” is God in that child taking our nature upon him; and no otherwise can the words be understood.
Isaiah 9:6, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and his name shall be called The mighty God.” The child that is born, the son that is given, is the mighty God; and as the mighty God, and a child born, or son given, he is the Prince of Peace, as he is there called, or our Savior.
John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh.” That the Word was God, who made all things, he had before declared. Now, he affirms that this Word was made flesh. How? Converted into flesh, into a man, so that he who was Good ceased so to be, and was turned or changed into flesh, — that is, a man? Besides that this is utterly impossible, it is not affirmed. For the Word continued the Word still, although he was “made flesh,” or “made of a woman,” as it is elsewhere expressed, — or made of the seed of David, — or took our flesh or nature to be his own. Himself continuing God, as he was, became man also, which before he was not “The Word was made flesh;” This is that which we believe and assert in this matter.
See John 3:13,31, 6:62, 16:28. All which places assert the person of Christ to have descended from heaven in the assumption of human nature, and ascended into heaven therein [in that nature] being assumed; and to have been in heaven as to his divine nature, when he was on the earth in the flesh that he had assumed.
Acts 20:28, “Feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.” The person spoken of is said to be God absolutely, — “the church of God.” And this God is said to have blood of his own; — the blood of Jesus Christ, being the blood of him that was God, though not the blood of him as God; for God is a spirit. And this undeniably testifies to the unity of his person as God and man.
Romans 1:3,4, “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 9:5, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.
Amen.” This is all we desire that we may believe without disturbance from the glamours of these men, — namely, that the same Christ, as concerning the flesh, came of the fathers, of David, and, in himself, is over all, God blessed for ever. This the Scripture asserts plainly; and why we should not believe it firmly, let these men give a reason when they are able.
Philippians 2:5-7, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” It is the same Christ that is spoken of. And it is here affirmed of him, that he was “in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” But is this all?
Is this Jesus Christ God only? Does he subsist only in the form or nature of God? No; says the apostle, “He took upon him the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of men, and was found in fashion as a man.” That his being truly a man is expressed in these words our adversaries deny not; and we therefore believe that the same Jesus Christ is God also, because that is no less plainly expressed. 1 Timothy 3:16, “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels.” It is a mystery, indeed; under which name it is despised now and reproached; nor are we allowed so to call it, but are reflected on as flying to mysteries for our defense. But we must take leave to speak in this matter according to His directions without whom we cannot speak at all.
A mystery it is, and that a great mystery; and that confessedly so, by all that do believe. And this is, that “God was manifested in the flesh.” That it is the Lord Christ who is spoken of, every one of the ensuing expressions do evince: “Justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” And this, also, is the substance of what we believe in this matter, — namely, that Christ is God manifest in the flesh; which we acknowledge, own, and believe to be true, but a great mystery, — yet no less great and sacred a truth notwithstanding.
Hebrews 2:14, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” Verse 16, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” and this plainly affirms his preexistence unto that assumption of our nature, and the unity of his person in it being so assumed. 1 John 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.” He who was Glad laid down for a season and parted with that life which was his own, in that nature of ours which he had assumed.
The method formerly proposed would require that I should take off the general objections of the adversaries against this divine revelation, as also vindicate some peculiar testimonies from their exceptions; but because a particular opposition unto this truth has not, as yet, publicly and directly been maintained and managed by any that I know of among ourselves, though the denial of it be expressly included in what they do affirm, I shall leave the farther confirmation thereof unto some other occasion, if it be offered, and it be judged necessary.
And this is that which the faith of believers rests in, as that which is plainly revealed unto them, — namely, that Jesus Christ is God and man in one person; and that all his acting in their behalf are the actings of him who is God and man; and that this Son of God, God and man, is to be believed in by them, and obeyed, that they [may] have eternal life.
What is farther added unto these express testimonies, and the full revelation of the truth contained in them in this matter, in way of explication educed from them, and suitable unto them, to the edification of the church, or information of the minds of believers in the right apprehension of this great mystery of God manifested in the flesh, may be reduced to these heads: —
1. That the person of the Son of God did not, in his assuming human nature to be his own, take an individual person of any one into a near conjunction with himself, but preventing the personal subsistence of human nature in that flesh which he assumed, he gave it its subsistence in his own person; whence it has its individuation and distinction from all other persons whatever. This is the personal union. The divine and human nature in Christ have but one personal subsistence; and so are but one Christ, one distinct personal principle of all operations, of all that he did or does as mediator. And this undeniably follows from what is declared in the testimonies mentioned. For the Word could not be made flesh, nor could he take on him the seed of Abraham, nor could the mighty God be a child born and given unto us, nor could God shed his blood for his church, but that the two natures so directly expressed must be united in one person; for otherwise, as they are two natures still, they would be two persons also.
2. Each nature thus united in Christ is entire, and preserves unto itself its own natural properties. For he is no less perfect God for being made man; nor no less a true, perfect man, consisting of soul and body, with all their essential parts, by that nature’s being taken into subsistence with the Son of God. His divine nature still continues immense, omniscient, omnipotent, infinite in holiness, etc.; his human nature, finite, limited, and, before its glorification, subject to all infirmities of life and death that the same nature in others, absolutely considered, is obnoxious unto.
3. In each of these natures he acts suitably unto the essential properties and principles of that nature. As God, he made all things, upholds all things by the word of his power, fills heaven and earth, etc.; as man, he lived, hungered, suffered, died, rose, ascended into heaven: yet, by reason of the union of both these natures in the same person, not only his own person is said to do all these things, but the person expressed by the name which he has on the account of one nature, is said to do that which he did only in the other. So God is said to “redeem his church with his own blood,” and to “lay down his life for us,” and the Son of man to be in heaven when he was on the earth; all because of the unity of his person, as was declared. And these things do all of them directly and undeniably flow from what is revealed concerning his person, as before is declared.