Page images
PDF
EPUB

elt, inquit, de Sp. S. eft. De carne Christi, c. 19. and of that in S. Luke, Hæc & ab Angelo-exceperat secundùm noítrum Evangelium, Propterea quod in te nascetur vocabitur sanctum, filius Dei, adv. Marcion. l. 4. 6. 7. Yet quod in ea natum est cannot be proper, while it is yet in the womb; nor can the child first be said to be born, and then that the mother shall bring it forth. 'Tis true indeed, Xuvoću signifies not always to beget, but sometimes to bear or bring forth; as i wa TX 'Encest lovárd ybr Con, Luke 1. 13. and v. 57. seh égfúvnoe sjór.. So ö 'lyog.gfurnb évig á Bronsén, Matth. 2. I. must necessarily be understood of Christ's nativity, for it is most certain that he was not begotten or conceived at Bethlehem. And this without question must be the meaning of Herod's inquisition ó Xersos gluvã), where the Meffias was to be born. But though ifovõi have sometime the signification of bearing or bringing forth; yet to c aurñ furno è cannot be so interpreted, because it speaks of something as past, when as yet Christ was not born; and though the conception was already past, and we translate it. so, which is conceived; yet S. Bafil rejects that interpretation, fuvący is one thing, ruanau@ves another. Seeing then the Nativity was not yet come, and furno è speaks of something already past, therefore the old Translation is not good, quod in ea natum est. Seeing, though the Conception indeed were past, yet sluvõi signifacuh not to conceive, and fo is not properly to be interpreted, thar which is conceived; seeing ofurov is mof properly to heget, as a glompornthe generative faculty : therefore I conceive the fittest interpretation of those words, chú with foorbei, that which is begotten in her. And because the Angel in S. Luke Speaks of the same thing, therefore I interpret to gfurcspelpor Besa Co, in the fame manner, that which is begotten of thee.

gel to the Virgin; The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the poiver of the Highest Mall overshadow thee : therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee (or, which is begotten of thee) Mall be called the Son of God. And the reason is clear, because that the Holy Ghost is God. For were he any Creature, and not God himself, by whom our Saviour was thus born of the Virgin, he must have been the Son of a Creature, not of God.

Secondly, It is as undoubtedly true, that the same Christ, thus born of the Virgin by the Spirit of God, was designed to so high an Office by the special

and immediate will of God, that by virtue thereof he must be acknowledged John 10. 34, the Son of God. He urgeth this argument himself against the Jews; Is it not 35, 36. written in your Law, I said, Ye are Gods? Are not these the very words of

the eighty second Pfalm? If he called them Gods, if God himself to spake, or the Psalmist from him, if this be the language of the Scripture, if they be called Gods unto whom the word of God came, (and the Scripture cannot be broken, nor the authority thereof in any particular denied) Say ye of him wbom the Father hath fan&tified and rent into the world, whom he hath consecrated and commissioned to the most eminent and extraordinary Office, say ye of him, Thou blafphemeft, because I said I am the Son of God.

Thirdly, Christ must therefore be acknowledged the Son of God, because

he is raised immediately by God out of the earth unto immortal life. For AEEs 13:33. God hath fulfilled the promise unto us, in that he hath raised up Jesus

again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. The grave is as the womb of the earth; Christ who is raised from thence, is as it were begotten to another life : and God

who raised him, is his Father. So true it must needs be of him, which is Luke 20. 36. spoken of others, who are the children of God, being the children of the reRom. 1.4. surrection. Thus was he defined, or constituted, and appointed the Son

of God with power by the resurrection from the dead : neither is he called Col. 1. 18. fimply the first that rose, but with a note of generation, the first-born from

the dead.

Fourthly, Christ, after his resurrection from the dead, is made actually heir of all things in his Father's House, and Lord of all the Spirits which

minister unto him, from whence he also hath the title of the Son of God. Heb. 1. 3,4,5. He is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so

much better than the Angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the Angels said he at any

rt my Son, this day have I begotten thee From all which teitiHivi , monies of the Scriptures it is evident, that Christ hath this fourfold right unto

the Title of the Son of God: by Generation, as begotten of God; by com-| mission, as sent by him; by refurrection, as the first-born ; by actual pofsef fion, as heir of all. T

U DOI 10 .00 DI 100 But beside these four, we must find yet a more peculiar ground of our Saviour's Filiation, totally distinct from any which belongs unto the rest of the Sons of God, that he may be clearly and fully acknowledged the only begotten

Son. Son. For although to be born of a Virgin be in it self miraculous, and justly entitles Christ unto the Son of God; yet it is not so far above the production of all mankind, as to place him in that singular eminence which must be attributed to the Only-begotten. We read of Adam the Son of God, as Luke 3. 38. well as Seth the Son of Adam : and surely the framing Christ out of a woman cannot so far transcend the making Adam out of the earth as to cause so great a distance as we must believe between the first and second Adam. Beside, there were many while our

[graphic]

ere were many while our Saviour preached on carth who did believe his doctrine, and did confess him to be the Son of God, who in all probability understood nothing of his being born of a Virgin; much less did they foresee his rising from the dead, or inheriting all things. Wherefore supposing all these ways by which Christ is represented to us as the Son of God; we shall find out one more yet, far more proper in it self, and more peculiar unto him, in which no other Son can have the least pretence of share or of similitude, and consequently in respect of which we must confess him the Only-begotten.

To which purpose I observe, that the actual possession of his inheritance, which was our fourth title to his Sonship, presupposes his Resurrection, which was the third: and his commission to his office, which was the second, presupposeth his generation of a Virgin, as the first. But I shall now endeavour to find another generation, by which the same Christ was begotten, and consequently a Son before he was conceived in the Virgin's Womb. Which that I may be able to evince, I shall proceed in this following method, as not only most facile and perfpicuous, but also most convincing and conclusive. First, I will clearly prove out of the holy Scriptures, that Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, had an actual being or subfiftence before the Holy Ghost did come upon the Virgin, or the power of the Highest did overshadow her. Secondly, I will demonstrate from the same Scriptures, that the being which he had antecedently to his conception in the Virgin's Womb was not any created Being but eflentially Divine. Thirdly, we will shew that the Divine Essence which he had, he received as communicated to him by the Father. Fourthly, we will declare this Communication of the Divine Nature to be a proper Generation, by which he which communicateth is a proper Father, and he to whom it is communicated, a proper Son. Lastly, we will manifest that the Divine Essence was never communicated in that manner to any person but to him, that never any was so begotten besides himself, and consequently, in respect of that Divine Generation, he is most properly and perfectly the only begotten Son of the Father.

As for the first, that Jesus Christ had a real being or existence, by which he truly was, before he was conceived of the Virgin Mary, I thus demonstrate.' He which was really in Heaven, and truly descended from thence, and came into the world from the Father, before that which was begotten of the Virgin ascended into Heaven or went unto the Father, he had a real being or existence before he was conceived in the Virgin, and distinct from that Being which was conceived in her. This is most clear and evident, upon these three suppositions not to be denied. First, that Christ did receive no other being or nature after his Conception before his Ascension, than what was begotten of the Virgin. Secondly, that what was begotten of the Virgin had its first being here on earth, and therefore could not really be in Heaven till it ascended thither. Thirdly, that what was really in Heaven, really was; because nothing can be present in any place, which is not. Upon these suppositions certainly true, the first proposition cannot be denied. Wherefore I assume; Jesus Christ was really in Heaven, and truly descended from thence, and came into the World from the Father, before

P 2

that

that which was begotten of the Virgin ascended into Heaven, or went unto the Father ; as I shall particularly prove by the express words of the Scripture. Therefore I conclude, that Jesus Christ. had a real being or existence before he was conceived in the Virgin, and distinct from that being

which was conceived in her. Now that he was really in Heaven before he John 6.62. afcended thither, appeareth by his own words to his Disciples; What and Seaçõoe' as if you all fee the Son of man ascend up where he was before? For he it came to pals, paczór fpeakerh of a real ascension, such as was to be seen or looked upon, such as say qurãv á- they might view as Spectators. The place to which that ascension tended theon. Acts 1.

y and really the Heaven of Heavens. 9.778 wie. Wa

The verb substantive, not otherwise used, sufficiently testifieth, not a figurative but a real being, especially considering the opposition in the word before. Whether we look upon the time of speaking, then present, or the time of his ascension, then to come, his being or existing in Heaven was before. Nor is this now at last denied, that he was in Heaven before the ascension mentioned in these words, but that he was there before he ascended at all.' We shall therefore farther shew that this afcenfion was the first ; that what was born of the Virgin was never in Heaven before this time of which he speaks: and being in Heaven before this ascension, he must be acknowle to have been there before he ascended at all. If Christ had afcended into Heaven before his death, and defcended from thence, it had been the most remarkable action in all his life, and the proof thereof of the greatest efficacy toward the disseminating of the Gospel. And can we imagine fo divine an action of so high concernment could have passed, and none of the Evangelists ever make mention of it? Those which are so diligent in the description of his Nativity and Circumcision, his oblation in the Temple, his réception by Simeon, his adoration by the Wise men ; those which have described his descent into Egypt; would they have omitted his ascent into Heaven? Do they tell us of the wisdom which he shewed when he disputed with the Doctors ? and were. it not worthy our knowledge whether it were before he'

was in Heaven or after ? The diligent seeking of Jofeph and Mary, and her Luke 2. 48. words when they found him, Son, why haft thou dealt go with us? fhew

that he had not been missing from them till then, and consequently not ascended into Heaven. After that he went down to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: and I understand not how he fhould ascend into Heaven, and at the same time be subject to them, or there receive his Commission and Instructions as the great Legate of God, or Embassador from Heaven, and return again unto his old fubjection ; and afterwards to go to John to be baptized of him, and to expect the descent of the Spirit for his Inauguration. Immediately from Jordan he is carried into the Wilderness to be tempted of the Devi', and 'twere strange if any time could then be found for his ascenfion : for he was forty days in the Wilderness, and certainly Heaven is no such kind of place; he was all that time with the beasts, who undoubtedly are none of the celestial Hierarchy; and tempted of Satan, whose dominion reacherh no higher than the Air. Wherefore in those forty days Chrift

ascended not into Heaven, but rather Heaven descended unto him; for the Mark 1. 13. Angels ministred unto him. After this he returned in the power of the Luke 4. 14. Spirit into Galilee, and there exercised his Prophetical Office : after which

there is not the least pretence of any reason for his ascension. Beside, the whole frame of this antecedent or preparatory ascension of Christ is not only raised, without any written testimony of the Word, or unwritten testimony of Tradition, but is without any reason in it felf, and contrary to the revealed way of our Redemption. For what reason should Christ afcend into Heaven to know the will of God, and not be known to afcend thither? Certainly the Father could reveal his will unto the Son as well on Earth as in Hea

ven

Mark

yen. And if men must be ignorant of his ascension, to what purpose should they say he ascended, except they imagine either an impotency in the Father or dissatisfaction in the Son ? Nor is this only asserted without reason, but also against that rule to be observed by Christ as he was anointed to the Sa·cerdotal Office. For the Holy of Holies made with hands was the figure of Heb.9. 24: the true (that is, Heaven it self) into which the High-priest alone went 7: once every year : and Christ as our High-priest entred in once into the holy place. If then they deny Christ was a Priest before he preached the Gospel, then did he not enter into Heaven, because the High-priest alone went into the type thereof, the Holy of Holies. If they confess he was, then did he · not ascend till after his death, because he was to enter in but once, and that

not without Blood. Wherefore being Christ ascended not into Heaven till after his death, being he certainly was in Heaven before that ascension, we have sufficiently made good that part of our Argument, that Jesus Christ was in Heaven before that which was begotten of the Virgin ascended thither. Now that which followeth will both illustrate and confirm it ; for as he was there, so he descended from thence before he ascended thither. This he often testifieth and inculcateth of himself: The bread of God is he which co- Joh.6.33, 51. meth down from heaven; and, I am the living bread which came down from heaven. He opposeth himself unto the Manna in the Wilderness, which neyer was really in Heaven, or had its original from thence. Mofes gave you Verse 32. not that bread from heaven, but the Father gave Christ really from thence.

, I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but Verse 38. the will of him that sent me. Now never any person upon any occasion is faid to descend from Heaven, but such as were really there before they appeared on Earth, as the Father, the Holy Ghost, and the Angels : but no man, however born, however fanctified, sent, or dignified, is faid thereby to descend from thence; but rather when any is opposed to Christ, the opposition is placed in this very origination.' John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb; born of an aged Father and Luke 1. 15. a barren Mother, by the power of God: and yet he distinguisheth himself from Christ'in this; He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of John 3. 31. the earth is earthy, and speaketh of the earth; he that cometh from heaven is above all. Adam was framed immediately by God, without the intervention of man or woman; and yet he is so far from being thereby from Heaven, that even in that he is distinguished from the second Adam. For the first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is the Lord from hea- 1 Cor. 15.47. ven. Wherefore the descent of Christ from Heaven doth really pre-fuppose his being there, and that antecedently to any ascent thither. For that he Eph. 4.9. ascended, what is it, but that he also defcended first ? So S. Paul, asserting a descent as necessarily preceding his ascension, teaching us never to imagine an ascent of Christ as his first motion between Heaven and Earth; and confequently, that the first being or existence which Christ had was not what he received by his conception here on earth, but what he had before in Heaven, in respect whereof he was with the Father, from whom he came. His Disciples believed that he came out from God: and he commended that Faith, and confirmed the object of it by this assertion; I came forth from the Father, Joh. 16. 27, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world and go to the Father. 28 Thus having by undoubted testimonies, made good the latter part of the Argument, I may safely conclude, that being Christ was really in Heaven, and defcended from thence, and came forth from the Father, before that which was conceived of the Holy Ghost ascended thither; it cannot with any shew of reason be denied, that Christ had a real being and existence antecedent unto his conception here on earth, and distinct from the being which he received here.

Secondly,

Secondly, We shall prové not only a bare priority of existence, but a preexistence of some certain and acknowledged space of duration. For whosoever was before John the Baptist and before Abraham, was some space of time before Christ was man. This no man can deny, because all must confess the blessed Virgin was first faluted by the Angel six months after Elizabeth conceived, and many hundred years after Abraham died. But Jesus Christ was really existent before John the Baptist, and before Abraham, as we shall make good by the testimony of the Scriptures. Therefore it cannot be denied but Christ had a real being and existence some space of time before he

was made man. For the first, it is the express testimony of John himself; John 1.15. This is be of whom I spake, he that cometh after me is preferred before me,

for he vas before me. In which words, first, he taketh to himself a priority of time, speaking of Christ, he that cometh after me : for so he came after him into the womb, at his Conception; into the world, at his Nativity; unto his Office, at his Baptism ; always after John, and at the same distance, Secondly, he attributeth unto Christ a priority of dignity, saying, he is preferred before me, as appeareth by the reiteration of these words; He it is who coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose. The addition of which expression of his own unworthiness sheweth, that to be preferred before him is the same with being worthier than he, to which the same expression is constantly added by all the other three Evangelists. Thirdly, he rendreth the reason or cause of that great dignity which belonged to Christ, saying for, or rather, because he was before me. And being the cause must be fupposed different and distinct from the effect, therefore the priority last mentioned cannot be that of dignity. For to assign any thing as the cause or reason of it self, is a great absurdity, and the expression of it a vain tautology. Wherefore that priority must have relation to time or duration, (as the very tense, he was before me, fufficiently signifieth) and so be placed in opposition to his coming after him. As if John the Baptist had thus spoke at large: This man Christ Jesus, who came into the world, and entred on his Prophetical Office 11x m

cal Office six months after me, is notwithstanding of far more worth and greater dignity than I am; even so much greater, that I must acknowledge my self unworthy to stoop down and unloose the latcher of his shoes: and the reason of this transcendent dignity is from the excellency of that nature which he had before I was ; for though he cometh after me, yet he was before me. .

Now as Christ was before John, which speaks a small, so was he also be

fore Abraham, which speaks a larger time. Hesus himself hath asserted this preJoh. 8.58. existence to the Jews; Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was I

am. Which words, plainly and literally expounded, must evidently contain this

For first, Abraham in all the Scriptures never hath any other significatión than such as denotes the person called by that name; and the question to . which these words are directed by way of answer, without controversie, spake of the same person. Beside, Abraham must be the Subject of that proposition, Abraham was; because a proposition cannot be without a subject, and if Abraham be the predicate, there is none. Again, as we translate Abraham was, in a tenfe fignifying the time past; so it is most certainly to be understood, because that which he speaks unto, is the pre-existence of Abraham, and that

of long duration ; so that whatsoever had concerned his present estate or fu

· ture condition had been wholly impertinent to the precedent question. Last* So Nonnus ly, the expression, I am, seeming something unusual or improper to signify a bere more priority in respect of any thing past, because no present instant is before that plainly than which precedeth, but that which followeth : yet the * use of it sufficiently usual:'Acogije mein ylio Egev, ésa winoy. So John 14.9. tooģtov regrov uplo suwy blues, xe xx ?[wwxás, us; Have I been so long time with you, and yet haft thou not known me? and John 15. 27. Ti út xãs Ms7' ius ise, because ye have been (or con

tinued

« PreviousContinue »