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over all nature; their malignity-in ascribing to them, in opposition to the clearest dictates of reason and religion, works confessedly benevolent and holy. Certainly they would not have changed the course of nature to advance the glory of God, and the best interests of the human race.
The answer of our Saviour must have carried conviction to any candid mind : “ Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation ; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand ? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub."
The last argument by which we prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, is founded on the success of his religion. Let us reflect upon the circumstances in which it was promulgated. The Author of it was a person rejected by the only nation which expected the Messiah, and knew anything about his character; and, by that nation, he was not only pronounced to be a deceiver, but subjected to an ignominious death ; so that there was every human probability that his name would be soon forgotten, or be remembered only as an object of reproach. No person could have dreamed, that a man who had been crucified as a malefactor in a distant province, would acquire such posthumous fame, as to be acknowledged and adored in the proud capital of Rome, and throughout the whole extent of the empire: whether we consider the nature of his doctrine, the persons who were employed in preaching it, or the opposition which it had to encounter, there was no likelihood that it would ever attain a footing in the world; and still less, that it would become the dominant religion. His doctrine was offensive to all classes of men, because it interfered with their opinions and usages, and called upon them, not only to adopt a new creed, but to engage in a new course of life to which they felt the utmost repugnance. The preachers could not give it the recommendation which a system derives from the rank and authority of its patrons, and the eloquence and learning which they enlist in its service; for they were of a low rank, and wanted all the qualifications which attract the notice and admiration of mankind. These were its only or its chief friends, when it appeared; all other men were leagued together as its enemies; the high, the mighty, and the wise; the rulers of states, and the interested ministers of the various superstitions which were established on the earth. In whatever way we may account for its wonderful success in circumstances which foreboded a certain failure, it supplies a new evidence in support of the claim of Jesus of Nazareth to the character of Messiah. If its success should be attributed to its intrinsic excellence, what but truth could take such hold of the minds and consciences of men, as to command their assent, notwithstanding strong motives to reject it? If we say that it was the effect of Divine, power, exerted not only in miracles, but in secret influences upon the hearts of men, we acknowledge that the gospel is authenticated by the seal of God, and that he who preached it was his Son.
It deserves, in particular, to be considered, that the doctrine of Christ has been embraced by the Gentiles, and has caused a great revolution in the religious state of the world. The law of Moses was confined to the Jews, and a few proselytes who occasionally submitted to it; it was not intended to be universal, and its peculiar usages rendered it impossible that it should ever become the religion of mankind. But it was foretold of the Messiah, that he should be “a light to enlighten the Gentiles, as well as the glory of his people Israel ;"'† “ the heathen would be given to him for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession ;''Ị “the isles would wait for his law ;''S and, “from the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same, the name of God would be great among the Gentiles.”ll Of the fulfilment of
* Luke xi. 17, 18.
+ Luke ii. 32.
# Ps. ii. 8.
$ Is. xlii. 4.
| Mal. i. 11.
these predictions, there was no appearance for many centuries after they were uttered; but they have been fulfilled since the coming of our Saviour. “As he gave a commission to the apostles to preach the gospel to every creature, and they extended their labours beyond the limits of Judea, so his religion has ever since been professed by nations converted from heathenism. By the propagation of the gospel, the ancient idolatry has been overthrown, the knowledge of the true God has been diffused, and his worship established; his law has been promulgated as the only standard of right and wrong, and men have been taught to expect salvation only through his crucified Son. His kingdom does not yet extend “from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth ;" but what has been accomplished, encourages us to hope for greater things; and we look forward to the time when he shall achieve the conquest of the whole earth, and be acknowledged and honoured as universal Lord.
These are the principal arguments by which we prove, against the Jews, that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah. I have omitted many particulars which might have been introduced under the general heads, and given you only a superficial view of the subject. What has been said, is suflicient to confirm our faith in this fundamental article of religion. The character of Messiah includes several offices to which our Saviour was anointed, and by the execution of which he accomplishes the salvation of his people. These we shall afterwards consider; but, in the mean time, it is necessary to inquire into the mysterious constitution of his person, by which he was qualified for those offices, and which is intimately connected with his messiahship, in the creed and confession of the Church. “ We believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”* This important point will be the subject of the next lecture.
ON THE PERSON OF CHRIST.
The human nature of Christ-Heretical opinions respecting it—Integrity of it—Its sinlessness
-Necessity of his assumption of human nature—The constitution of his person, by the union of the divine and human natures—Effects of this hypostatical union.
Having proved that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah promised to the Fathers, I proceed to speak of his person, before I enter upon the consideration of his particular offices. To a Jew, it would seem that this inquiry is unnecessary, or may be reduced to narrow limits, it being enough to know his human descent, as there is no distinction between him
and other men, except in his high destination, his superior endowments, and his splendid achievements. Some professed Christians are of the same opinion, and maintain, that he who was born in the fulness of time, was in every respect a man like ourselves. It is certain, however, that the expectations of the ancient people of God pointed to a nobler object, in consequence of the declarations of the prophets, that the Redeemer of Israel should be one who might “ be called JEHOVAH our righteousness,” and “ Immanuel,” which signifies “God with us.” Our own Scriptures are still more explicit, and, in language which does not admit of a figurative interpretation, inform us, that it was the Word who “was God," and " by whom all things were created,” that was “ made flesh
• John vi. 69.
and dwelt among us;” that it was the Son of God who was made of a woman; and that he who came of the Jews, according to the flesh, was “ God over all, blessed for ever.” These, and many other passages, import that in him the divine and the human nature were united; so that of the same person it may be affirmed with truth, that he is the fellow or the equal of the Lord of hosts, and the kinsman and brother of the children of the dust.
This article of our religion has been opposed with great violence in every age, and by heretics of various descriptions. It is the rock on which the Church is built, and the powers of darkness have exerted their utmost efforts to overthrow it. It is not necessary to review those opinions, which aimed at subverting the foundations of our faith by denying the divinity of Christ, whether he was affirmed by the Ebionites, and others, to be a mere man, ofenac arbgaros, or at a later period by the Arians, to be a secondary deity ; because we have formerly proved that he is God, equal to the Father. Our present design only requires that we should take notice of the errors which immediately related to the constitution of his person as texróft tos, God and man.
Let us begin with the consideration of the nature which he assumed. And here we are met by two opinions which were vented in the primitive times, in opposition to the common faith of Christians, founded on the authority of Scripture. The first is that of the Docetæ, who were so called on account of their distinguishing tenet, that our Saviour was not a man in reality, but in appearance only. It was held by different individuals and sects; but, as they concurred in this opinion with respect to the Christ, they received in ancient times this common designation. According to them, what was supposed to be the man Christ Jesus, was a mere phantom, and his crucifixion was a scenical representation, by which the senses of the spectators were imposed upon. It surely is not necessary to attempt an elaborate refutation of a heresy so manifestly contrary to the most explicit declarations of Scripture.
- Forasmuch,” says an apostle, “ as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same. There is no reason why we should listen for a moment to men who give the lie direct to an inspired writer, and would persuade us that, for the space of more than thirty years, God, for no conceivable end, deceived the Jewish nation by a series of miracles, (for it was only by miracle that they could be made for so long a time to think that a shadow was a solid substance ;) and that our hope of salvation by the death of our Redeemer is vain, as he did not shed his blood for us, and, in truth, had no blood to shed. The second opinion, destructive of the human nature of Christ, is said to have been maintained by Arius and Eunomius, who affirmed that he had a body, but not a soul, and that the Logos, or his superior nature, supplied its place. Apollinaris, or Apollinarius, also taught that the Son of God assumed manhood without a soul, tuxne ave, as Socrates relates ; but afterwards, changing his mind, he said that he assumed a soul, but that it did not possess the intelligent or rational principle, veur de lux Xev avtny; and that the aggas was instead of that principle, tyto rcuct Human nature he conceived to consist of three parts, a body, a soul, and a mind, of which the latter was wanting in our Saviour. The contrariety of both opinions to Scripture is apparent, and particularly of the former, which affirms that he had no soul. Besides that it is expressly mentioned by himself, when he said in his agony, “ My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," I and when, on the cross, he committed it to his father, there is the same evidence that he possessed this essential part of our nature, as there is that it belongs to any other man; his thoughts, his reasonings, his feelings, his affections, his joys and sorrows, his hopes and fears, being all indications of the existence of that
* Heb. i. 14.
† Socrat. Hist. Eccles. lib. ii. c. 44.
# Matt. xxvi. 38.
living and intelligent principle, of the operation of which we are conscious in ourselves, and to which we give the name of the soul. It was impossible that the Divine nature was in him instead of a soul, because it is omniscient, and there were some things of which he declared himself to be ignorant; and because his sufferings, and fears, and sorrows, were incompatible with the perfect felicity of which it is immutably possessed. Can we conceive the Divine nature to have been in an agony, and to have exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?"*
We conclude, therefore, in opposition to those heresies, that our Redeemer assumed a complete human nature; or, as our Catechism expresses it, with its usual accuracy, that he took to himself “a true body and a reasonable soul.” In the ancient creed, which goes under the name of Athanasius, he is said to have “ not only been perfect God, but perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting."
While we maintain the integrity of his human nature, we admit that he assumed it with all its sinless infirmities. These may be comprehended in the word flesh, which is used by the evangelist John, in speaking of his incarnation; at least the word suggests this idea in other places where it occurs. “My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh.”+ “ He remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again."| In both passages the term seems to represent man as a being frail and mortal. Our Redeemer was not subject to any of the sinful infirmities of our nature, to sensual appetites and transports of passion ; nor was there any stimulus or incentive to sin in the constitution or temperament of his body. The Scripture is careful, when it asserts his conformity to us in other things, to make this important exception. “ He was in all things tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”'S He was subject to none of those diseases which are the portion of man, who is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards. Infirmities of this kind would have discommoded him in the discharge of his duty, and he was exempted from them on account of his personal purity. But he was subject to hunger and thirst, to cold and heat, and weariness, to pain of body arising from external injuries, and to distress of mind from the experience or apprehension of evil, and from the effects produced upon his feelings by the scenes with which he was surrounded. Although living in our world, he might have been defended against every annoyance by the order of Omnipotence, as an angel of heaven would be, were he to descend to the earth, and sojourn in it for å season ; but such a state would not have accorded with the design of his mission. He submitted to our infirmities, that he might acquire an experimental knowledge of our sufferings, corporeal and mental, and we might be more fully assured of his sympathy; besides that it was only by his tears, and agony, and death, that the great work of our redemption could be accomplished. “We have not a high priest that cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, but was in all things tempted like as we are."'ll
Before we proceed farther, the question occurs, What was the reason that the Son of God assumed the nature of man? Some of the Schoolmen were so bold as to affirm, that he would have assumed it although man had not sin, ned. I do not know what arguments they advanced in support of this opinion, nor is it necessary to inquire, because, without hearing them, we may confidently pronounce that they are unsatisfactory and false. Their philosophy, such as it was, could give them no assistance in a matter of pure revelation ; and every thing which the Scriptures say upon the subject, directly tends to the opposite conclusion. He became man for the redemption of men, the as
• Matt. xxvi. 46. VOL. II.-3
† Gen. vi. 3.
$ Heb. iv. 15,
# Ps. Ixxvii. 39.
sumption of our nature being necessary to prepare him for those services and sufferings by which alone we could be redeemed. “ Verily,” says Paul, “ he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham." The word which we translate, took on him, or assumed, signifies to take hold of, to assist, or to help, and was so understood by the Greek commentators, the most competent judges. The true sense of the passage, I apprehend, is, that the Son of God interposed for the deliverance, not of angels, but of men ; and the nature of his interposition is stated in the preceding verses. “ Forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;"† that is, he helped man by becoming a man. It is related by Cæsar, that it was an opinion of the Gauls, " that unless the life of man was given for the life of man, the immortal gods could not be appeased.”I It would be absurd to quote their sentiments in support of a doctrine of revelation, especially as they founded upon them the cruel and detestable practice of human sacrifices; but it is worthy of attention that they had adopted an idea which in general was true, and was the reason of the great mystery which we are at present considering, the incarnation of our Saviour. If an atonement was necessary, we cannot conceive it to have been made by the sufferings of any other nature than that which had incurred t'ie penalty of sin. No such relation could have been established between two beings of totally different natures, between a man and an angel, that, in consequence of it, what was done by the latter, should have been accepted, as if it had been done by the former. We can understand how the services of an individual may be admitted as an equivalent for the services of the whole class to which he belongs; but there is no principle on which we could account for the same mode of estimating the services of an individual of a different class. If an angel had suffered, there would have been no display of the righteousness of God; as, in that case, the nature which had sinned would have escaped with impunity. It behoved the surety, in this case, to be closely allied to the debtors, bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh, that he might be identified with them in legal reckoning..
To this argument for the incarnation of our Saviour it may be objected, that God might have saved us without satisfaction to his justice, and consequently, that there was no absolute necessity for the manifestation of his Son in the flesh. He might have freely pardoned our sins, bestowed blessings upon us unbought and unsolicited, and admitted us to communion without a mediator. Some have hazarded this opinion, which is as little distinguished by modesty as by reverence for Scripture. It imports that the mission of Jesus Christ was gratuitous in every sense; that without any sufficient reason he was subjected to sorrow and death ; that there has been a theatrical display of the severity of divine justice, to persuade us that it is inflexible and inexorable, while it would not have been dishonoured, although sin had been permitted to pass with impunity; and that the love of God is not so wonderful as we were wont to believe, because its greatest gift might have been withheld without at all hindering our salvation. Such consequences will justify us in rejecting this opinion, especially when we consider that it does not find the shadow of support in the Scriptures, and rests on no more solid basis than the speculations of presumptuous men.
The necessity of the incarnation farther appears from the nature of the sufserings which our Redeemer had to endure. They were sufferings which would atone for the guilt of the people of God from the beginning to the end of the world. These were not easy to be borne. Human nature, unsupported by superior power, would have sunk under them. They would have crushed
* Heb. ii. 16.
t Ib. 14.
# De Bell. Gall. lib. vi.