« PredošláPokračovať »
that the body of Christ grew in the womb like other humani bodies, after the soul is united to them; nor would I set aside the account the scripture gives of the virgin's accomplishing the full number of days, in which she should be delivered, Luke ii. 6. Gal. iv. 4. Thus, we have considered our Saviour, as having a true body and a reasonable soul, and both united to the divine nature, whereby he is denominated God incarnate, in this answer.
6. Our Mediator is farther said to have been incarnate, in the fulness of time; and it is added, he shall continue to be both God and man for ever.
(1.) Let us consider what is meant by Christ's becoming man in the fulness of time. The human nature could not be united to the divine from all eternity; since it is inconsistent with its being a created nature, that it should exist from eternity; notwithstanding he might, had it been so determined, have assumed this nature in the beginning of time, or immediately after the fall of man, who then stood in need of a Mediator; but God, in his sovereign and wise providence, ordered it otherwise, namely, that there should be a considerable distance of time between the fall of man and Christ's incarnation, in order to his recovery, which is called, in scripture, the fulness of time, ; Gal. iv. 4. that is, the time foretold by the prophets, and particularly Daniel, Dan. ix. 24, 25. whose prediction had an additional circumstance of time annexed to it, which gave occasion to the Jews to expect his coming at the same time that he was incarnate.
That there was an universal expectation of the Messiah at this time, appears from the disposition of many among them to adhere to any one, especially if he pretended himself to be a prophet, or that he would make some change in their civil affairs; and the Jewish historian * tells us of many tumults and seditions that were in that age. Some of their ring-leaders he styles magicians; and persons pretending to be prophets, though, indeed, he does not expressly say that they assume the character of Messiah, yet he observes, that the time in which this was done, gave occasion hereunto t; by which he means that it being at that time that the Jews expected that the Messiah, their king, should come, they thought it a fit opportunity to make these efforts, to shake off the Roman yoke; and they were so far from concealing the expectation they had thereof, that it was well known by the heathen, who were not without jealousies concerning them, with respect to this matter; so that some celebrated writers among them observe, that it was generally
See Joseph. Antiq. Lib. XVIII. cap. 1. & lib. XX. cap. 2. $ de Bell Jud. Lib. II. cap. 6. † BuTaR e xdipes, arete
received throughout the east, according to some ancient predictions, that, at that time, the Jews should obtain the empire ; # and there are several expressions, in scripture, which intimate as much : thus Gamaliel speaks of one Theudas, who boasted himself to be somebody, by which, it is probable, he means the Messiah, to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves, and were slain, Acts v. 36, 37. which some think to be the same person that Josephus mentions, the name being the same ; though others are rather inclined to think that it was another pretender to this character, from some critical remarks they make on the circumstance of time referred to by Gamaliel, being different from that which is mentioned by Josephus. f However, this does not affect our argument; for it is plain, from hence, that, about that time, the Jews were disposed to join themselves to any one who endeavoured to persuade them that he was the Messiah. And this farther appears, from what our Saviour says,
All that ever came before me, are thieves and robbers, John X. 8. by which, doubtless, he means, several that pretended to be the Messiah, in that age, before he came ; and it is said elsewhere, Luke xix. 11. a little before our Saviour's crucifixion, that they, that is, the Jews, generally thought that the kingdom of God, and consequently the Messiah, whom they expected, should immediately appear; and he also foretels, that between this and the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, before that age was at an end, many false Christs, should arise, and warns his followers not to adhere to them, Mat. xxiv. 24-26.
Moreover, had not the Jews expected that the Messiah would appear at that time, they would never have sent in so formal a manner, as they are said to have done, to enquire, Whether yohn the Baptist, when he exercised his public ministry amongst them, was he? John i. 19-21. And, when he had convinced them that he was not the Messiah, but that our Saviour would soon appear publicly amongst them, who had the only right to this character, he found it no difficult matter to persuade them to believe it; and accordingly Jerusalem and all Judea, that is, the people almost universally attended on his ministry, and were baptized, making a profession of this faith, and of their expectation of, and willingness to adhere to him ; and it was the report, that the wise men, who came from the east, had received from the Jews, who were conversant with them, that this was the time that the Messiah should appear, that brought them to
Vid. Sueton in Vespas. Percrebuerat oriente lolo, ventus & constans opinio, ease in fatis ; ut eo tempore Judea, profecti, rerum potirentur ; & Tacit. Histor. Lib. V. Pluribus persuasio inerat, antiquis sacerdotum literis contineri, eo ipso tempore foro ut valesceret, Oriens, profectiq; Judea rerum potirentur.
† See Lightfoot's works, Vol. I. Pag. 765, 766.
Jerusalem, from their respective countries, otherwise that preternatural meteor, or star, which they saw, could not have given them a sufficient intimation concerning this matter, so as to in-' duce them to come and pay their homage to him ; and when they came, and enquired of Herod, Where is he that is born king of the Jews ? how surprizing soever it might be to that proud tyrant, to think that there was one born, who, as he supposed, would stand in competition with him for the crown, yet it was no unexpected thing to the Sanhedrim, whose opinion in this matter he demanded, in an hypocritical manner; therefore they say, he was to be born in Bethlehem, according to the prediction of the prophet Micah; whereas, if they had not known that this was the time in which he was to be born, they would have replied, that it was an unseasonable question, and a vain thing, to ask where a person was to be born, whose birth was not expected in that age; and they might easily have satisfied Herod, and removed the foundation of his jealousy and trouble, and thereby have prevented that inhuman barbarity committed on the infants of Bethlehem, if they had told him that the time spoken of by the prophet Daniel, in which the Messiah was to be born, was not yet come: but they knew otherwise ; and in this respect, Christ might be said to be born in the fulness of time. That which we shall farther observe, concerning it, is,
1st, That it was at that time when God had sufficiently tried the faith of the Old Testament-church, in waiting for his coming, and thereby glorified his sovereignty, who hath the times and seasons of his bestowing all blessings in his own power.
2dly, It was at that time when the measure of the iniquity of the world was abundantly filled, whereby his people might observe the deplorable state into which sin had brought mankind, and the utter impossibility of our recovery without a Mediator, and that the light of nature could not discover any method by which the redemption and salvation of man might be brought about.
3dly, It was at that time that the Jewish church was at the lowest ebb, and therefore the most seasonable time, and they were laid under the highest obligations to adore and magnify him : their political state was broken, the sceptre departed from Judah, and they were brought under the Roman yoke, which sat very uneasy upon them ; neither could they ever expect to make that figure in the world as they once had done, therefore now was the time for the Messiah to come, and erect his kingdom. And, besides this, they were given up to a very great degree of judicial blindness and hardness, and were disposed to make void the law of God by their traditions ; so that religion, among them, was at a very low ebb ; therefore it was the
fittest time for God to display his grace, in reviving his work, and preventing his cause and interest from wholly sinking in the world. This was the time in which the Son of God became Man.
(2.) Christ shall continue to be God and Man for ever, or the union of these two natures is indissoluble: as to his divine nature, he is necessarily eternal and unchangeable; and the human nature shall continue for ever united to it, as the result of the divine purpose, in which God intends that some ends, glorious to himself, honourable to the Mediator, and advantageous to his people, should be attained thereby. For,
1st, 'If he had had a design to lay aside his human nature, he would have done it when he finished his work of obedience and sufferings therein, and thereby had so far answered the end of his incarnation, that nothing more was necessary for the purchase of redemption : but when he rose from the dead, as a Conqueror over death and hell, and was declared to have accomplished the work he came into the world about, it is certain he did not lay it aside, but ascended visibly into heaven, and shall come again, in a visible manner, in that same nature, to judge the world at the last day.
2dly, The eternity of Christ's human nature appears from the eternity of his mediatorial kingdom, of which more under a following answer, when we come to speak concerning the glory of Christ's kingly office. It appears also, from the eternity of his intercession, which, as the apostle expresses it, He ever liveth to make, Heb. vii. 25. for his people : thus he does, by appearing in the human nature in the presence of God, in their behalf; therefore he must for ever have an human nature.
3dly, His saints shall abide for ever in heaven, and, as the apostle says, Shall ever be with the Lord, 1 Thess. iv. 17. and their happiness shall continue both as to soul and body; and, with respect to their bodies, it is said, they shall be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body, Phil. iii. 21. therefore his glorious body, or his human nature, shall continue for ever united to his divine Person.
4thly, His retaining his human nature for ever, seems necessary, as it redounds to the glory of God: it is an eternal monument of his love to mankind, and an external means to draw forth their love to him, who procured those mansions of glory, which they shall for ever be possessed of, by what he did and suffered for them therein.
Quest. XXXVIII. Why was it requisite that the Mediator
should be God? Answ. It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that
he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death, give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and so satisfy God's justice, procure his favour, purchase a peculiar people, give his Spirit to them, conquer all
their enemies, and bring them to everlasting salvation. Quest. XXXIX. Why was it requisite that the Mediator
should be Man? Answ. It was requisite that the Mediator should be Man, that
he might advance our nature, perform obedience to the law, suffer, and make intercession for us in our nature, have a fellow-feeling of our infirmities, that we might receive the adoption of sons, and have comfort and access with boldness unto
the throne of grace. Quest. XL. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be
God and Man in one Person? Answ. It was requisite that the Mediator, who was to recon
cile God and Man, should himself be both God and Man, and this in one Person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us, and relied on by us, as the works of the whole Person.
UR Mediator having been considered as God and Man,
in one person, we have a farther account of the necessity of being so. And,
1. It was necessary that he should be a divine Person, for several reasons here assigned, with others that may be added. As,
1. If he had not been God, he could not have come into the the world, or been incarnate, and have had the guilt of our sins laid on him, with his own consent; for he could not have been a party in the everlasting covenant, in which this matter was stipulated between the Father and him ; and, had he not consented to be charged with the guilt of our sin, he could not have been punished for it, inasmuch as God cannot punish an innocent person; and, if such an one be charged with this guilt, and consequently rendered the object of vindictive justice, as our Saviour is said to have been, in scripture, it must be with his own consent. Now the human nature could not consent to its own formation, and therefore it could not consent to bear our iniquities; since to consent supposes the person to be existent, which Christ, had he been only Man, would not have been be