« PreviousContinue »
shion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Philippians, ii. Here the form of a servant signifies the nature of a servant, the human nature; for this was the nature Christ took upon him, if he took any nature upon him. We know that he did not take upon him the nature of angels; but we know that. " forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." We know that “ he took on him the seed of Abraham :" we know that she was made like unto his brethren :" we are assured that he was really and truly man, the Son of Mary, and descended from the fathers of the Jewish nation, and “made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Here the word flesh signifies the human nature; and this is the nature which Christ took upon him, when he took upon him
him the form of a servant. The form of a servant, therefore, signifies the nature of a servant, in the passage above mentioned; for Christ was not the semblance of a man, he was really and truly a man; and whoever denies that Christ is come in the flesh, that is, in our nature, is an anti-Christ, as saith the apostle. If, then, the form of a servant signifies the nature of a servant, and this nature is the human nature which, and which alone, Christ took on him, why must the word form, in the first clause of the verse, signify any thing less than nature? The form of God is evidently the nature of God; and this explanation of the word, which is absolutely necessary with regard to the form of a servant, is as necessary with regard to the form of God. It is clear, therefore, that Jesus Christ the Son of God, was in the form of God, before he took upon him the form, the nature of a servant, the human nature; and as he who is possessed of the Divine nature cau never be dispossessed of it, never can change his nature, so, by taking upon him the form of a servant, he did not cease to be a Divine
that is, God. But as we cannot comprehend how he has
taken the human nature into personal union, and as we cannot conceive the manner and nature of this union, we confess that the incarnation of the Son of God is an inscrutable mystery, one of those things that Omniscience alone can perfectly know; and we join with the apostle in acknowledging, that without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness ; God was manifest in the flesh.
But would it not be impious and irrational to say there is no such thing as the mystery of godliness, or that it is not a great mystery, or that God was not manifest in the flesh, because we cannot comprehend the precise nature of this manifestation? God can do many things that we cannot comprehend; he has done many things in the works of nature, providence, and grace, that are truly mysterious; his works are wonderful, his judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out. The words which the Lord spake to his servant Job, out of the whirlwind, may be addressed to every one who rejects the mysteries of God, because he cannot understand them perfecta
6 Gird up now thy loins like a man, for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me, Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth ? de. clare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened, or who hath laid the corner stone thereof?! And again: “ Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea ? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth ? have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth ? declare if thou knowest it i all. Where is the place where light dwelleth ? and as for the darkness, where is the place thereof, that thou shouldst take it to the bounds thereof, and that thou shouldst know the paths to the house thereof? Knowest thou it because thou wast then born, or beCause the number of thy days is great ? Hast thou
entered into the treasures of the snow ? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? By what way is the light parted which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? Who hath divided a water-course for the overflowing of waters? or a way for the lightning of thunder, to cause it to rain on the earth where no man is; on the wilderness wherein there is no man; to satisfy the desolate and waste ground, and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of the dew ? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven ? Canst thou set the dominions' thereof in the earth?”
But farther, the great mystery of godliness is asserted by the apostle in the following words, viz.: “ Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” Here Christ is said, in a certain sense, to be descended from the patriarchs: this sense is a restricted and particular one; he descended from the fathers of the Jewish nation, as concerning the flesh, as to his flesh, or his human nature, and that nature only. He therefore had another nature, according to which, as has been already observed, he did not descend from them; and this is that nature in virtue of which he is called the ever blessed God.*
* It has been shown, in a former discourse, in what sense Christ is called God. If it should be considered as an objection to the doctrine then delivered, that the article before the word God, in the original language, is not always used when the Son is called God, I answer, that it is several times used, and this is sufficient; for if it is a distin. guishing mark of true and proper deity, then it should never have been prefixed to the word God when it relates to the Son, if he is not really and truly God. As to supreme and subordinate deity, sound reason, as well as scripture, rejects the idea. But it is perfectly unaccountable why men of learning should lay such stress upon the are ticle, - which from its ininuteness might be, and I doubt not was, sometimes forgotten by transcribers. How can we consider the article as a mark of true deity, when we find that the article is used in that passage where the devil is called the God of this world ?
Here we may give a satisfactory answer to some important questions which our Lord asked the Pharisees, but which they could not answer. “ While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, what think ye of Christ? whose Son is he? They say unto him, the Son of David.” This answer, in a certain sense, was true. But Jesus said unto them, “low then doth David in spirit call him Lord?” And again ; "if David then call him Lord, how is he his Son ? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any inan, from that day forth, ask him any more questions." But a believer, though only a babe in Christ, can easily answer these questions which were too hard for the Pharisees, who were wise in their own eyes, and thought that wisdom would die with them. Christian can say that Christ was the Son of David, that is, descended from him, as concerning the flesh; and that David, under the influence of the spirit, called Christ his Lord, and thereby acknowledged him as his God. The root of David, that is, the creator of David, was, in a certain sense, the offspring of David. After what has been said concerning mysteries, and the great mystery of godliness in particular, I presume it cannot be denied that there are two distinct natures in the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, though this doctrine is mysterious, yet it is clearly revealed in the word of God, and we are obliged by necessity to admit of its truth. What necessity? The necessity of reconciling one part of scripture to another, which, without this doctrine, cannot be done. But this doctrine, in conjunction with another, namely, that the Lord Jesus Christ is mediator between God and man, reconciles one portion of scripture to another, and effectually harmonizes the language of inspiration. To
say that man is immortal, and that man is mortal, is no contradiction; we use this mode of speaking, and do not consider ourselves guilty of any absurdity, or even impropriety of speech. Why so? Because the soul of man is immortal, and his body is mortal; and therefore very different things may be affirmed of one man, yea, things that would be palpable contradictions, if man did not consist of soul and body. It is easy to perceive that the first proposition asserts that man is immortal, as to his soul; and the second, that man is mortal, as to his body. In like manner there are many things said of our Lord Jesus Christ which must be considered as directly contradictory to each other, if we do not admit both his divinity and his humanity: but, admitting this doctrine, and that of his mediatorial character and office, it is easy to reconcile all the terms of inferiority and of subordination in which he is spoken of, with those which assert his divinity, and, of course, his equality with the Father.
But it will be said that the names Father and Son are sufficient to show that the Son is inferior to the Father. We answer, that before this objection can have any weight, it must be proved that these names have the same signification when applied to God and his only begotten Son, that they have when applied to men, But this cannot be done, except in one instance, namely, that the Son has the same nature his Father has; and to assert this we are warranted, nay, obliged, by scripture. It has been proved that the Son is possessed of the Divine perfections, and, consequently, of the Divine nature. In this nature there cannot be any imperfection ; and therefore the Son cannot be inferior to him that is all-perfect. As far as we can reason upon this subject from analogy, and that is no farther than the scripture allows us, the argument is in our favour.
If the Son's obligation to obedience is not founded in his being the eternal and only begotten of the Father; if from his sonship we cannot infer his obligation to obedience, then why should we infer his inferiority from his being called the Son ? Christ's obligation to obey arose from another source, as is plain from the following scripture, viz.: “ Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things