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pressed, when we say that the human nature was united to the second Person in the Godhead, rather than to the Godhead itself.
(3.) Christ being farther considered, as the eternal Son of God; it follows from hence, that he existed before his incarnation, which has been largely insisted on, under a foregoing answer, in defence of Christ's proper deity. In this we opposc not only the Socinians, who deny that he existed before he was conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin ; but also the Arians, especially those of them who take occasion to explain, without disguise, or ambiguity of words, what they mean when they speak of him, as being before time, which comes infinitely short of what is intended by his being styled God's eternal Son, and so existing with him before time. Thus we have an account of the Person assuming the human nature.
2. We are now to consider the nature assumed, or united to the divine Person, which was an human nature, consisting of a true body, and a reasonable soul; so that as Christ is, in one nature, God equal with the Father, in the other he is Man, made, in all the essential properties of the human nature, like unto us. Here we may consider,
(1.) That, since this is a matter of pure revelation, we have sufficient ground, from scripture, to assert, that our Saviour is both God and Man. Many of the scriptures, that have been before referred to, to prove his deity, expressly attribute to him an human, as well as a divine nature, and speak of the same Person as both God and Man; as when God styles him, The Man that is my Fellow, Zech. xiii. 7. or, when he, who is yehovah, our righteousness, is also described as a branch raised unto David, Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. that is, of the seed of David; or, as the apostle says, he, who is over all
, God blessed for ever, was of the fathers concerning the flesh, or his human nature, Rom. ix. 15. Moreover, when we read of the same Person, as styled, The mighty God, and yet a Child born unto us, a Son given, Isa. ix. 6. or of the same Person's being called Emmanuel, God with us, and yet born of a Virgin, Isa.
vii. 14. compared with Matt. i. 23. or, when we read of the Word's being made flesh, and dwelling among us: and elsewhere, being called the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, and yet made of the seed of David, according to the flesh, Rom. i. 3. or, God manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. These, and many other scriptures, as plainly prove him to be man, as they do that he is God.* And, indeed, the arguments to prove his humanity, taken from
* See the same scriptures, and others to the like purpose, before cited, for the proof of Christ's proper deity, under Quest. ix. x. xi. Vol. I. Page 302, to 319. and also what has been said concerning his Sonship, as implying him to be God-man Me diator. Vol. I. Page 274. 279, &C. VOL. II.
thence, are not so much contested, as those that respect his proper deity; and therefore, if these scriptures prove him to be God, they contain as strong and conclusive arguments to prove him to be Man, so that the bare mention of them is sufficient, especially when we consider, as it cannot be denied, that all these scriptures speak of the same Person; therefore,
(2.) When Christ is said to be both God and Man, it does not imply that there are two Persons in the Mediator; and accordingly it is said, in the answer we are explaining, that though these natures are distinct, yet the Person who has them, is but one. This is to be maintained against those who entertain favourable thoughts of that ancient heresy, first broached by Nestorius, * whose method of reasoning cannot be reconciled with the sense of those scriptures, which plainly speak of the same Person, as both God and Man, and attribute the same actions to him in different respects, which is inconsistent with asserting, that the Mediator is both a divine and a human Person ; and it cannot be denied but that it is a contradiction in terms, to say, that two Persons can be so united, as to become one. However, it must be acknowledged, that this is one of the incomprehensible mysteries of our religion; and when divines have attempted to explain some things relating to it, they have only given farther conviction, that there are some doctrines contained in scripture, which we are bound to believe, but are at a loss to determine how they are what they are asserted to be.
If it be objected, that we cannot conceive of an human nature, such an one as our Saviour's is that has not its own Personality, since there is no parallel instance hereof, in any other men, which I take to be the principal thing that gave occasion to the asserting, that he had a human Person, as well as a di
The answer that I would give to this objection, is, that though, it is true, every man has a distinct subsistence of his own, without being united to any other person, yet we have no ground to conclude, that the human nature of Christ, even in its first formation, had any subsistence separate from the divine nature. Had it been first formed, and then united to the divine nature, it would have had a proper subsistence of its own; but, since it was not, its Personality, considered as united to the second Person in the Godhead, is contained therein, though its properties are infinitely distinct from it,
3. These two natures are distinct; united but not confounded. This is asserted, in opposition to an old exploded heresy,
* Nestorius was Bishop of Constantinople, in the reign of Theodosius, the younger, A. D. 428. who very warmly maintained, that the l'irgin Mary was not the mother of that Person that was God, but of a distinct human Person, called Christ, which was censured and condemned by the council at Ephesus, A. D.431.
which was maintained by some, who, to avoid the error of Nestorius, and his followers, went into the other extreme,* and asserted, that the divine and human nature of Christ were confounded, or blended together, after the similitude of things that are mixed together in a natural or artificial way, whereby the composition is of a different nature from the parts of which it is compounded, by which means they debase his Godhead, and advance his manhood; or rather, instead of supposing him to be both God and man, they do, in effect, say, he is neither God nor man. The main foundation, as I apprehend, of this absurd and blasphemous notion, was, that they could not conceive how he could have a divine and human understanding and will, without asserting, with Nestorius, that there were two persons in the Mediator, whereby they split against one rock, while endeavouring to avoid another. And to fence against both extremes, the fathers, in the council of Chalcedon, explained the doctrine in words to this purpose: That the two natures of Christ were indivisibly and inseparably united, without supposing that one was changed into the other, or confounded with it.
Therefore we must consider, that though these two natures are united, yet each of them retains its respective properties, as much as the soul and body of man do, though united together, which is the best similitude by which this can be illustrated, though I do not suppose that, in all respects, it answers it. Thus, in one nature, Christ had all the fulness of the Godhead, and in nothing common with us; nothing finite, derived, or dependent, or any other way defective. In his other nature, he was made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted: in this nature, he was born in time, and did not exist from all eternity, and increased in knowledge, and other endowments, proper thereunto. In one nature, he had a comprehensive knowledge of all things ; in the other, he knew nothing but by communication, or derivation, and with those other limitations that finite wisdom is subject to. In one nature he had an infinite sovereign will; in the other, he had such a will as the creature has, which though it was not opposite to his divine will, yet its conformity thereunto was of the same kind with that which is in perfect creatures; so that though we do not say that his human will was the same with his divine, as to the essential properties thereof; yet it may be said to be the same, in a moral sense, as conformed thereunto, in like manner, as the will of man is said to be subjected to the will of God.
These are called Eutychians, from Eutyches, an abbot of Constantinople, who, when he had gained a great deal of reputation, in disputing against Nestorius, in the council at Ephesus, a few years after, viz. A. D. 448. propagated his opinion, which was condemned, as heretical, in the council at Chalcedon, „1. D. 451,
Had this been duly considered, persons would not have been so ready to give into an error so dangerous and blasphemous, as that which we are opposing. And we have sufficient ground, from scripture, to distinguish between his divine and human understanding and will, inasmuch as it is said, in one place, speaking of his divine understanding, Lord, thou knowest all things, John xxi. 17. and of his human, Of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the Son, Mark xiii. 32. and so of his will, it is sometimes represented as truly divine, in the same sense as the Father's, as when it is said, As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will, John v. 21. and elsewhere, If we ask any thing according to his will he heareth us, 1 John v. 14. and, Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out, John vi. 37. And, in other places, he is represented as having an human will, essentially distinct from the will of God; as when he says, Not my will, but thine, be done, Luke xxii. 42.
4. The nature that was assumed by the Son of God, is farther described, as truly and properly human. It was not an angelic nature; as the apostle says, He took not on him the nature of angels, inasmuch as he did not design to redeem the angels that fell, but he took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham, Heb. ii. 16. And, this nature is farther described, as consiste ing of a true body, and a reasonable soul.
(1.) Christ is described as having a true body. This is maintained against those who, in an early age of the church,* denied that he had a real human nature. These, it is true, do not deny his deity ; but they suppose, that it was impossible for God to be united to human flesh, and therefore that he appeared only in the likeness thereof; as some heathen writers represent their gods, as appearing in human forms, that they might converse with men. Thus they suppose, that the Godhead of Christ appeared in an human form, without a real human nature, in which sense they understand that scripture, He took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, Phil. ii. 7. as though, in that place, the similitude of a man were opposed to real humanity; or, at least, they suppose, that he had no other human nature when he dwelt on earth, than what he had, when he appeared to the church, under the Old Testament-dispensation, viz. to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and several others, in which they conclude, that there was only the likeness of a human body, or an aerial one, which, according to some common modes of speaking, is called a spirit. To give countenance to this, they bring some other scriptures, as when it is said, after his resurrection, that he appeared in ano
This absurd opinion, subversive of Christianity, was propagated by several a. mong the Gnosticks, in the second century, who, for this reason, were called Daceta.
ther form to two disciples, as they walked into the country, Mark xvi. 12. so when he appeared to Mary, it was in such a form, as that she knew not that it was Jesus, but supposed him to be the gardener, John xx. 14, 15. and especially when it is said, in another scripture, Luke xxiv. 21. when his two disciples at Emmaus knew him, he vanished out of their sight;* which they understand of his vanishing, in the same sense, as, according to the popular way of speaking, a spectrum is said to do.
But this opinion is so absurd, as well as contrary to scripture, that it only shews how far the wild and extravagant fancies of men may run, who are so hardy, as to set aside plain scriptures, and take up with some few passages thereof, without considering their scope and design, or their harmony with other scriptures. And, indeed, there is scarce any thing said concerning him in the New Testament, but what confutes it; where we have an account of him, as being born, passing through all the ages of life, conversing familiarly with his people, eating and drinking with them, and, at last, dying on the cross, which put this matter out of all manner of dispute; as also when he distinguishes himself from a spirit, when the disciples were terrified upon his standing unexpectedly in the midst of them, supposing that he had been a spirit, he satisfies them that they were mistaken, by saying, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have, Luke xxiv. 29.
As for those scriptures in the Old Testament, which speak of his appearing in a human form, assumed for that purpose; whether there was, in every one of those instances, a real hu. man body that appeared, though, in some of them, it is beyond dispute that there was, I will not pretend to determine; yet it must be considered, that this is never styled his incarnation, or becoming man, but it was only an emblem, or prelibation thereof; and when it is said, in the scripture before mentioned, that he was made in the likeness of men, it does not from hence follow, that he was not, after his incarnation, a real man, for the likeness of man is oftentimes so understood in scripture ; as when it is said, on occasion of the birth of Seth, that Adam begat a son in his own likeness, Gen. v. 3. And as to that other scripture, in which Christ is said to appear in different forms, it is not to be supposed that there was a change in his human nature, but only a change in his countenance, or external mein ; or he appeared with other kind of garments, which rendered him not immediately known by them. And when, in the other scripture, it is said, he vanished out of their sight, nothing is intended thereby, but an instantaneous vithdrawing of himself from them, which, it may be might contain something miraculous.
* αφαντος εγενετο.