Page images
PDF
EPUB

human. But these imaginations, instead of professing Christ to be God and man, would leave him indeed neither God nor man; and have been sufficiently confuted. Wherefore the union we treat of hath no similitude unto any such natural union as is the effect of composition or mutation.

[4.] There is an artificial union wherewith some have illustrated this mystery; as that of fire and iron in the same sword. The sword is one; the nature of fire and that of iton different; and the acts of them distinct; the iron cuts, the fire burns; and the effects distinct; cutting and burning; yet is the agent or instrument but one sword. Something of this nature may be allowed to be spoken in way

of allusion; but it is a weak and imperfect representation of this mystery on many accounts. For the heat in iron is rather an accident than a substance, is separable from it; and in sundry other things diverts the mind from due apprehensions of this mystery.

[5.] There is a spiritual union, namely, of Christ and believers; or of God in Christ and believers, which is excellent and mysterious, such as all other unions in nature are made use of in the Scripture to illustrate and represent. This some among us do judge to be of the same kind with that of the Son of God and the man Christ Jesus. Only they say they differ in degrees. The eternal Word was so united unto the man Christ Jesus, as that thereby he was exalted inconceivably above all other men, though never so holy; and had greater communications from God than any of them. Wherefore he was on many accounts the Son of God in a peculiar manner, and by a communication of names is called God also. This being the opinion of Nestorius, revived again in the days wherein we live, I shall declare wherein be placed the conjunction or union of the two natures of Christ, whereby he constituted two distinct persons of the Son of God, and the Son of man, as these now do, and briefly detect the vanity of it. For the whole of it consisted in the concession of sundry things that were true in particular, making use of the pretence of them, unto the denial of that wherein alone the true union of the person of Christ did consist.

Nestorius allowed the presence of the Son of God, with the man Christ Jesus, to consist in five things.

1st. He said he was so present with him, karà tapaotasiv, or by inhabitation, as man dwells in a house or a ship to rule it. He dwelt in him as his temple. So he dwells in all that believe, but in him in a more especial manner. And this is true with respect unto that fulness of the Spirit whereby God was with him and in him; as he is with and in all believers, according unto the measures wherein they are made partakers of him. But this answers not that divine testimony, that in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;' Col. i. 9. The fulness of the Godhead is the entire divine nature. This nature is considered in the person of the Son, or eternal Word, for it was the Word that was made flesh. And this could no otherwise dwell in him bodily, really, substantially, but in the assumption of that nature to be his own. And no sense can be given unto this assertion to preserve it from blasphemy; that the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth in any of the saints bodily.

2dly. He allowed an especial presence, karà oxéorv, as some call it, that is, by such a union of affections as is between intimate friends. The soul of God rested always in that man; in him was he well pleased, and he was wholly given up in his affections unto God. This also is true; but there is that which is no less true that renders it useless unto the pretensions of Nestorius. For he allowed the divine person of the Son of God; but whatever is spoken of this nature concerning the love of God unto the man Christ Jesus, and of his love to God, it is the person of the Father that is intended therein; nor can any one instance be given where it is capable of another interpretation. For it is still spoken of with reference unto the work that he was sent of the Father to accomplish, and his own delight therein.

3dly. He allowed it to be kar' åžluv, by way of dignity and honour. For this conjunction is such, as that whatever honour is given unto the Son of God, is also to be given unto that Son of man. But herein to recompense his sacriledge in taking away the hypostatical union from the church, he would introduce idolatry into it. For the honour that is due unto the Son of God is divine, religious, or the owning of all essential divine properties in him, with a due subjection of soul unto him thereon. But to give this honour unto the man Christ Jesus, without a supposition of the subsistence of his human nature in the person of the Son of God, and solely on that account, is highly idolatrous.

4thly. He asserted it to be karà tavropovdíav, or on the account of the consent and agreement that was between the will of God, and the will of the man Christ Jesus. But no other union will thence ensue, but what is between God and the angels in heaven; in whom there is a perfect compliance with the will of God in all things. Wherefore, if this be the foundation of this union, he might be said to take on him the nature of angels, as well as the seed of Abraham, which is expressly denied by the apostle, Heb. ii. 16, 17.

5thly. Kall' ouwvvulav, by an equivocal denomination, the name of the one person, namely, of the Son of God, being accommodated unto the other, namely the son of man. So they were called gods unto whom the word of God ca But this no way answers any one divine testimony, wherein the name of God is assigned unto the Lord Christ, as those wherein God is said to lay down his life for us,' and to'purchase his church with his own blood,' to come and be manifest in the flesh,' wherein no homonymy or equivocation can take place. By all these ways he constituted a separable accidental union, wherein nothing in kind, but in degree only, was peculiar unto the man Christ Jesus.

But all these things, so far as they are true, belong unto the third thing to be considered in his person, namely, the communion, or mutual communication of the distinct natures therein. But his personal union consists not in any of them, nor in all of them together. Nor do they answer any of the multiplied testimonies given by the Holy Ghost unto this glorious mystery. Some few of them may be mentioned.

The word was made flesh;' John i. 14. There can be but two senses of these words. (1st.) That the word ceased to be what it was, and was substantially turned into flesh. (2dly.) That continuing to be what it was, it was made to be also what before it was not. The first sense is destructive of the Divine Being, and all its essential properties. The other can be verified only herein, that the Word took that flesh, that is, our human nature to be his own, his own nature wherein he was made flesh, which is that we plead for. For this assertion, that the person of the Son took our na

VOL. XII.

U

ture to be his own, is the same with that of the assumption of the human nature into personal subsistence with himself. And the ways of the presence of the Son of God with the man Christ Jesus before-mentioned, do express nothing in answer unto this divine testimony, that the Word was made flesh.'

• Being in the form of God he took on him the form of a servant, and became obedient;' Phil. ii. 7, 8. That by his being in the form of God, his participation in and of the same divine nature with the Father is intended, these men grant. And that herein he was a person distinct from him Nestorius of old acknowledged, though it be by ours denied. But they can fancy no distinction that shall bear the denomination and relation of Father and Son, but all is inevitably included in it, which we plead for under that name. This person 'took on him the form of a servant;' that is, the nature of man in the condition of a servant. For it is the same with his being made of a woman, made under the law; or taking on him the seed of Abraham. And this person became obedient. It was in the human nature, in the form of a servant, wherein he was obedient. Wherefore that human nature was the nature of that person, a nature which he took on him and made his own, wherein he would be obedient. And that the human nature is the nature of the person of him who was in the form of God, is that hypostatical union which we believe and plead for.

*To us a son is given, to us a child is born, and he shall be called the mighty God;' Isa. ix. 6. The child and the mighty God are the same person, or he that is ' born a child' cannot be rightly called the mighty God.' And the truth of many other expressions in the Scripture hath its sole foundation in this hypostatical union. So the Son of God took on him the seed of Abraham, was made of a woman,' did ' partake of flesh and blood,' was 'manifest in the flesh,' that he who was born of the blessed virgin, was before Abraham,' that he was made of the seed of David according to the flesh,' whereby God purchased the church with his own blood,' are all spoken of one and the same person, and are not true but on the account of the union of the two natures therein. And all those who plead for the accidental metaphorical union, consisting in the instances before mentioned, do know well enough, that the true Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ is opposed by them.

3. Concurrent with, and in part consequent unto, this union is the communion of the distinct natures of Christ hypostatically united. And herein we may consider, (1.) What is peculiar unto the divine nature : (2.) What is common unto both.

(1.) There is a threefold communication of the divine nature unto the human, in this hypostatical union.

[1.] Immediate in the person of the Son. This is subsistence. In itself it is avuzóSTATOS, that which hath not a subsistence of its own, which should give it individuation and distinction from the same nature in

any
other

person. But it hath its subsistence in the person of the Son, which thereby is its own. The divine nature, as in that person, is its suppositum.

[2.] By the Holy Spirit he filled that nature with an allfulness of habitual grace, which I have at large explained elsewhere.

[3.] In all the acts of his office, by the divine nature, he communicated worth and dignity unto what was acted in and by the human nature.

For that which some have for a long season troubled the church withal, about such a real communication of the properties of the divine nature unto the human, which should neither be a transfusion of them into it, so as to render it the subject of them; nor yet consist in a' reciprocal denomination from their mutual in-being in the same subject, it is that which neither themselves do, nor can any other well understand.

(2.) Wherefore concerning the communion of the natures in this personal union, three things are to be observed, which the Scripture, reason, and the ancient church, do all concur in.

[1.] Each nature doth preserve its own natural, essential properties, entirely unto, and in itself; without mixture, without composition or confusion, without such a real communication of the one unto the other, so as that the one should become the subject of the properties of the other. The Deity, in the abstract, is not made the humanity, nor on the contrary. The divine nature is not made temporary,

« PreviousContinue »