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(2.) Christ is farther described, as having taken to himself a reasonable soul, to which his body was united. This is maintained against the Arians, who deny that he had an human soul, concluding that the divine nature, such an one as they will allow him to have, was, as it were, a soul to his body; which is founded partly on their misunderstanding the sense of those scriptures, in which it is said, The Word was made flesh, John i. 14. and God was manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. and, Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and bload, he alse himself likewise took part of the same, Heb. ii. 14. and, of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, &c. Rom. ix. 5. But the principal argument, by which this opinion is supported, is, because they suppose, that, if he had an human soul, distinct from his divine nature, he must have had two understandings and wills, to wit, a divine and an human, and then it would have been possible for him to have had contrary ideas in his mind, and determinations in his will, as man, to what he had as God, which would infer a sort of confusion of thought, and irregularity of actions : but to this it may be answered,
1st, As to the former, relating to his assuming flesh, it is a very common thing, in scripture, by a synecdoche, of the part for the whole, for flesh to signify the whole man, consisting of soul and body, of which we have many instances in scripture; as when it is said, All flesh had corrupted his way, Gen. vi. 12. that is, all men had corrupted their way; and the prophet speaking concerning the vanity of man, as mortal, says, All flesh is grass, Isa. xl. 6.
2dly, As to the other branch of their argument; we allow that Christ, as Man, had a distinct understanding and will, from what he had as God, and that his human understanding was not equally perfect with his divine, neither had his human will the sovereignty and glory of his divine will. And, if it should be also allowed, that if his human understanding and will had not always been under the influence and direction of his divine, he might have had contrary ideas, and determinations, as man, to what he had as God; yet we cannot allow that the divine nature would so far suspend its direction and influence, as that his human understanding should have contradictory ideas to his divine, so that this inconvenience should ensue, which would occasion a confusion and disorder in his actions, or methods of human conduct. It was no disparagement to him, nor hindrance to his work, to suppose that his human soul was subject to some natural imperfections, which were inconsistent with the infinite perfection of his deity ; however, it is sufficient to assert, that, as Man, he knew every thing, which he was obliged to perform, in a way of obedience, and consented to, and delighted in every thing that was agreeable to his divine will, which would render his obedience compleat ; though we suppose, that the nature, in which he performed it, was less perfect than that to which it was united ; therefore this method of reasoning is not conclusive, and we must suppose, that he had a human soul, distinct from his divine nature. This is evident, because he could not perform obedience in the divine nature, his human soul being the only subject thereof, and it is proper to the deity to be dispassionate ; therefore those sinless passions which he was subject to, were seated in his soul, as united to the body; and that he had such passions, is very plain from scripture ; for he says, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, Matt. xxvi. 38. And there are various other passions besides sorrow, which he was subject to, which, though free from sin, were altogether inconsistent with the infinite perfection of the divine nature.
9. This human nature is said to have been conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin. Here we may observe,
(2.) That there was something in the formation of Christ's human nature, in which he resembled the rest of mankind, in that he was not produced, and brought into a state of manhood in an instant, or created out of the dust of the ground, as Adam was, but was born, or as the apostle expresses it, made of a woman, Gal. iv. 4. to denote his being formed out of her substance ; and accordingly he began his state of humiliation in infancy, that he might, in all respects, be made like unto those whom he came to redeem. Herein the promise made to our first parents, relating to his being the seed of the woman, Gen. iii. 15. was not only fulfilled ; but another express prediction, by the prophet Isaiah, who says, Unto us a Child is born, Isa. ix. 6.
(2.) There was something peculiar and extraordinary in his formation, as he was an extraordinary Person, and to be engaged in a work peculiar to himself; so he is said to have been born of a Virgin, not because, as some suppose, that that is a state of greater sanctity, than any other condition of life, but, as was before observed *, that he might be exempted from the guilt of Adam's first sin, which he would have been liable to, though sanctified from the womb, had his human nature been formed in an ordinary way. It was certainly necessary that his human nature, which was, in its first formation, united to his divine Person, should be perfectly sinless ; since it would have been a reproach cast on the Son of God, to have it said concerning him, that he was, in the nature which he assumed, estranged to, and separate from God, as all mankind are, who are born in an ordinary way. And this was also necessary for his accomplishing the work of our redemption, since as the apostle says, Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, Heb. vii. 26. And, in order to his being born of a Virgin, there was an extraordinary instance of the power of God; and therefore it is said, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, Luke i. 35.
* See Page 112. ante.
His being born of a Virgin, was an accomplishment of that prediction which we read of in Isa. vii. 14. The Lord himself shall give you a sign ; Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel
. This text being so convincing a proof of Christianity, and, as such, referred to in the New Testament, Matt. i. 22, 23. the Jews, and many of the modern Deists, have endeavoured to weaken the force thereof, which renders it necessary for us to illustrate and explain it, agreeably to the scope and design of the prophecy, contained in the context; which we shall endeavour to do, in the following Paraphrase. Says God to the prophet, “ Go to Ahaz, 4 and bid him not be faint-hearted, by reason of the threatened “ invasion by the confederate kings of Israel and Syria ; but let “ him ask a 'sign for the confirmation of his faith, that I may “ hereby assure him, that they shall not be able to do him any “ hurt: but I know, before-hand, his unbelief, and the sullen“ ness of his temper, that he will refuse to ask a sign ; there
fore, when thou goest to meet him, take thy young son Shearjashub in thine hand, or in thine arms, from whom thou may
est take occasion to deliver part of the message which I send "thee with to him ; tell him, that though he refuse to ask a sign, u nevertheless *, the Lord shall give thee a sign, to his people, “ whom thou shalt command to hear this message, as well as
Ahaz, they being equally concerned herein ; therefore let them "know, that, though their obstinate and wicked king calls a com
pliance with my command a tempting me, and therefore will
not ask a sign, I will not give him any other sign, than what “ the whole house of Israel shall behold, in future ages, which, " though it cannot be properly called a prognostic sign, yet it " will be, when it comes to pass, a rememorative sign t, and that “ shall be a glorious one ; for, Behold a Virgin # shall conceive,
* So the llebrewv word ought to be rendereil, rather than therefore ; for so it is undurstood in other scriptures, particularly in Jer. xxx. 16.
† This is a just chistinction relating to signs mentioned in scripture; in which, sometimes a sign did not take place till the thing signified, or brought to remembrance thereby, had been accomplished. See Exod. iii, 12. 1 Sam. ii. 34. Iea. Xxxvii. 39. Jer. xliv. 29, 30. a8 Bishop Kidder well observes. See Demonstrat. of the Messias, Part II. page 105, in Fol.
# The Hebrew word 705x is truly rendered a Virgin, as it is translated by the LIX. [n Arepbevos] who well understand the sense of it, in this and other places, where we meet with it; as also doth the Chaldee Paraphrast thus understand it, and the Suriuc, Arabic, and vulgar Latin versions : and this sense agrees with the grammotical construction of the word, which is derived from abscondit, and it alluks to the custom used among the Jews of keeping their virgine concealed till the
t and bear a Son, and thou shalt call his name Immanuel. When < this wonderful thing happens, a thing new and unheard of, “ which shall be created in the earth, that a woman should com"pass a man, as it is said elsewhere, Jer. xxxi. 22. then the
house of David shall understand the reason why I have not I suffered these two kings to destroy Judah, so that it should “ be broken, that it be not a people, as Ephraim shall, within * threescore and five years, [ver. 8.) for then the Messiah could o not come of the house of David ; and what he shall do for “ them, when he comes, is the ground and reason of all the tem
poral deliverances that I work for thenı, and particularly of " this from the intended invasion of these two confederate kings. “Tell them, moreover, that as this shall be a rememorative sign,
so I will give them to understand, at present, that they shall « be delivered in a little time; for before this Child, which thou " hast here brought with thee, shall know to refuse the evil, and “ chuse the good, or shall know the difference between moral “ good and evil, that is, in two or three years time, The land " that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings; or “ those two kings, which thou dreadest, shall be driven, by the
king of Assyria, out of their own land. And inasmuch as my
people may be afraid, that, before these two years are expir"ed, they shall be brought into such straights, through famine, " or scarcity of provisions, which generally attend sieges, that 6. they shall want the necessaries of life ; let them know that “ this child, meaning Shear-jashub, shall not want butter and “ honey, that is, the best and most proper food for it, that he may
know, or rather, until * he know to refuse the evil, and e chuse the god, that is, till these two kings, Rezin and Pekah, “ be utterly destroyed."
Thus having considered our Saviour's being born of a Virgin, there is one thing more that is to be observed under this head, namely, that he was of her substance, which is particularly mentioned in this answer, with a design to fence against an zvere married; therefore as a learned writer well observes, 11D Sy Notat statum solitarium domi delitescentium ideoq; cælebum & virginum; and in those two places, in which it is objected by the Jerez, that the word does not signify a virgin, but a young woman, namely, Prov. xxx. 19. and Cant. vi. 8. In the former, as one observes, Promptissimum est intelligere vincula amoris quibus virgo incipit ad. stringi futuro sponso suo ; and therefore it may be understood of a virgin, in the literal sense of the word. Vid. Cocc. Lexic. in Voc. The LXX. indeed, render it, tydpos sy vetull, and the vulgar Latin version, Viri in adolescentia ; but the Chaidee Paraphrast renders it, Viri in virgine. And as for the later scripture, in which it is said, there are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number, it is plain, the word virgins is not opposed to young women, for such were many of them that are called queens and concubines, but 10 persons defloured; therea fore we may conclude, that the word always signifies a virgin, and therefore is right
translated in the text, under our present consideration.
ancient heresy, maintained by the Gnostics in the second century, and hath been defended by others, in later ages, who supposed, that our Saviour did not derive his human nature from the Virgin Mary, but that it was formed in heaven, and sent down from thence; and that the Virgin's womb is only to be considered as the first seat of its residence in this lower world, which they found on those scriptures which speak of his coming down from heaven, John iii. 13, 14. which they understand concerning his human nature ; whereas, nothing is intended thereby but the manifestative presence of his divine nature, in which respect God is, in other scriptures, said to come down into this lower world, Gen. xi. 5,7. And another scripture, which they bring to the same purpose, is that, in which, they suppose, he denies his relation to his mother, when he says, Who is my mother ? and who are my brethren ? Whosoever shall do the will of any Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and another, Mat. xi. 48. 50, in which he does not deny his natural relation to them, but designs to shew, that his regard to persons in the exercise of his public ministry, was principally founded on their doing the will of his Father. And whereas they farther suppose, that if his human nature had, in any respect, been derived from the substance of the Virgin, ei. ther she must be concluded immaculate, as the Papists do, or else he must have been born a sinner ; this hath been already proved to be no just consequence, inasmuch as the formation of his human nature, though it were of the substance of the Virgin, was in an extraordinary and miraculous way, whereby he was exempted from the guilt of original sin.
There is another opinion maintained by some of the schoolmen, which, though it be not generally received, seems, to me, not altogether improbable, namely, that Christ's human body, though formed in the womb of the virgin, and a part of her substance, yet, as to the manner of its formation, it differed from that of all other human bodies, inasmuch as the matter, of which they consist, receives its form in a gradual way, and they cannot properly speaking be styled human bodies, till organized and fitted to have their souls united to them ; whereas these suppose that the body of Christ, in its first formation, was rendered fit to receive the soul, which was, in an instant united to it; and both soul and body, at the same time, without having any separate subsistence, were united to the divine nature. This account of the formation of Christ's human body, though I think it most adapted to the union of his soul and body with the divine nature, in the very instant of its formation, and therefore cannot but conclude it a more probable conjecture than what is generally received, yet I do not lay it down as a necessary article of faith ; nor would I, from hence, be supposed to deny