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ed of the essence of the Father or the Holy Ghost, or of the dew of the eternal godhead, or of celestial, starry, or elementary matter; which, however, passed through Mary, as water through a pipe, or as the beams of the sun through glass. Such sentiments are truly impertinent and absurd, since the Scripture affirms, that, by the
power of the Holy Ghost, Mary conceived Christ, that she bore him in her womb, and that, like other mothers, she brought him forth at the stated time; all which assertions are directly contrary to those bold unauthorised similitudes.
xxv. That we often read in the Scriptures that Christ “ descended from heaven,”u we do not deny. But this expression is not to be understood precisely of the human nature, but of the person of the Son of God; who is said to have descended from heaven, because he showed himself present among men in a singular manner, appearing in human flesh personally united to himself. Nor is there greater weight in the argument drawn from the following words: “I am the
living bread, which came down from heaven ;-and “ the bread that I will give, is my flesh.” For these expressions teach us, that the Son of God, in order to become the Author of a true life to sinful men, mani. fested himself in the flesh which he assumed; and that, not by the labour or care of men, but by a Divine and heavenly appointment and agency, that flesh was prepared to be spiritual food, the cause of a true and blessed life.
xxvI. This controversy ought not to be deemed of small moment, as if it concerns us nothing to know
u John vi. 33. 1 Cor. xv. 47, 48. Ephes. iv. 9, 10.
John vi. 51.
whence Christ hath his flesh, provided it be evident that he has real flesh. It was necessary that the Messiah should not only be man, but also our Kinsman and our Brother, the seed of Abraham, and the fruit of David's loins. They who give us any other representation of the Messiah, feign one different from him who was promised by the prophets, and expected by the fathers.
XXVII. Let it not be thought that the Apostle sets aside or derogates from the necessity of this knowledge, when he says,—“ Yea, though we have known Christ “after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him “ more;” that is, according to the flesh. w In that passage, the expression “ according to the flesh” is not connected with Christ, as in some other places, but with our knowledge; in reference to which a distinction is made between the knowledge which is according to the flesh, or carnal, and the knowledge which is according to the Spirit, or spiritual. Knowledge according to the flesh, consisted either in the sight of the bodily eye, on account of which some who had seen or touched Christ in the flesh, and particularly after his resurrection, pronounced themselves happy, or were pronounced happy by others ;-or in consanguinity, for which the Jews, as the natural branches, were esteemed more happy than the Gentiles. The Apostle renounces such boasting as carnal and frivolous; as the celebrated Cloppenburg, who once adorned the University of Friesland, has learnedly remarked. *
XXVIII. Let us now inquire, in the last place, what FRUIT accrues to us from all these things. We may
* De Instaur. Hom. laps. Disput. iii. Sect. 9, 10. * 2 Cor. v. 16.
Acts ii. 30. Rom. ix. 5.
consider distinctly, what advantage we receive, Ist, From Christ's being Man. 2dly, From his being taken from among men. Edly, From his being born of a Virgin.
xxix. The Son of God having become Man, he is also our Mediator, thoroughly adapted for the whole work. Paul, therefore, intending to set forth the Mediator, mentions expressly that he is man._“ There is “ one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ “ Jesus.”y He might have called him God; he might at least have omitted calling him man, as he omitted calling him God. But he employed the most effectual means to afford us suitable relief and encouragement under our weakness, by familiarly exhibiting the Son of God as one of us. It was requisite that for our sake the Son of God should become Immanuel, God with us. It was even necessary that, by a mutual conjunction, his divinity and humanity should be closely united; otherwise the relation would not have been sufficiently near, nor the tie sufficiently strong, to inspire us with the cheering persuasion, that God dwelleth with us.
Xxx. But another reason must also be stated. It was incumbent on our Surety to perform what the law demanded from us, that its righteousness might be fulfilled, and that we might be saved in consistency with the old covenant. Now the law which was given to men, could not be satisfied but by a man-either with regard to its commands, which require the spirit, soul, and body, to be kept pure and devoted to God;—or with regard to its threatenings, by which the death it requires, is denounced both against soul and body. Hence it was necessary that our Surety should be truly man, that he might “ fulfil all righteousness” in soul and body;a and that by suffering death in both, he might deliver his people from death.b
y 1 Tim. ü. 5.
· Rom. viii. 4.
XXXI. Hence the Apostle couples these two inseparably together,—“ made of a woman, and made under “ the law;”c intimating that the immediate design of Christ's incarnation, was that he might be subjected, in his human nature, to that law which was first given to
XXXII. The same truth is figuratively suggested by our Lord in the Psalms of David, when he says, “ Mine ears hast thou opened;"! which the Apostle thus explains, “ A body hast thou prepared me.”e The expression carries an allusion to Exodus xxi. 2–6. Although the Hebrew servant was otherwise of the same origin and dignity with his master, yet, if from love to his master, and from love to his wife, though a servant, and to his children, though born in a state of servitude, he voluntarily chose to continue in the service of his master beyond the space of seven years, his ear, according to the injunction of the law, was to be bored through with an awl at the door, or one of the door-posts of his master. Christ transfers this to himself. Being in other respects equal to God his Father, " he took upon him the form of a servant,” and from love to God the Father, f to his spouse,g and to children born under the servitude of the law, he came under engagements to a voluntary and lasting service. This
a Matt. iii. 15.
b Heb. ii. 14.
was signified by the boring not of one ear only, but of both ears :* which, as done to the Messiah, points out his great alacrity and promptitude in serving, expressed by himself in the fortieth Psalm ;,—and, as the action of the Father, represents the Father's peculiar satisfaction in the voluntary subjection of the Son. Both the one and the other were openly declared, when, according to the will of the Father and the Son, a body was prepared for Christ, in which he might accomplish that voluntary service. Hence we read,
66 And now “ saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to 4 be his servant."j
XXXIII. It was requisite, farther, that our Mediator should be from among men,—“ the Son of man;” that he might be our Kinsman and Brother, and thus our Goel,f or our Redeemer by the right of propinquity. It was becoming,—it was worthy of God, that "he who “ sanctifieth and they who are sanctified, should be all “ of one,”—of one blood, that they might call each other brethren; for it was necessary that the Mediator should be subject to the law of love to our neighbour and our brethren. " Wherefore it behoved him in all
things to be made like unto his brethren." “ verily he took not on him the nature of angels, he “ undertook not the redemption of angels,f but he took “ on him the seed of Abraham."
XXXIV. The Hebrew word Goel, as attributed to Christ, is of rich and extensive import; and deserves, therefore, to be here explained a little more particularly. In the Goel of the ancient Hebrews, three things
+-N12, επιληπτως. + ου γαρ δηπέ αγγελων επιλαμβανεται. . i Verses 7, 8.
j Is. xlix. 5. Heb. ii. 10, 11, 16, 17. Comp. Acts xvii. 26.