« Prev Article V. Next »

ARTICLE V.

I believe the Son of God became the Son of man, that I, the son of man, might become the son of God.

OH! how comfortably does this raise me from the lowest abasement of sin and misery, which I have before acknowledged to be my natural state, to the highest exaltation of happiness and glory, in a spiritual one! This is that great article of faith, by which all the benefits of our Saviour’s death and passion are made over to me in the new covenant, and by which, if I perform the conditions therein required, I shall not only be retrieved from the bondage and corruption that is inherent in me, as a child of wrath, but be justified and accepted as the Son of God, and be made a joint heir with Christ. This is a point of the greatest moment and concern, which, by the grace and assistance of him of whom I speak, and in whom I thus believe, I shall therefore be the more exact and particular in the searching and examining into.

Now, when I say, and believe, that God became man, I do not so understand it, as if the divine nature took upon it a human person, but that a divine person took upon him the human nature, i.e. it was not the divine nature, in general, without respect to the persons, but one of the persons in the divine nature, which took flesh upon him, and yet to speak precisely, it was not the divine person abstracted or distinct from the divine nature, but it was the divine nature in that person which thus took upon it the human. And this was not the 45first or third, but the second person only in the sacred Trinity, that thus assumed our nature; and, considering the mysterious order and economy of the divine persons, it seems to be necessary that it should.

For, first, the Father could not have become this Son of man, because, then, he, that had begotten from eternity, should have been begotten in time; by which means, as he was the Father to the Son, so would the Son also have been the Father unto him; and so the order betwixt the Father and Son destroyed.

Nor, secondly, could the Holy Ghost have taken our nature upon him, because the bond of personal union betwixt the divine and human nature is from the Spirit; (and thence it is, that every one that is partaker of Christ’s person, is partaker of his Spirit also;) which could not be if the Spirit itself had been the person assuming. For, I cannot conceive, how the same person could unite itself, by itself, to the assumed nature: and therefore we read, that in the virgin’s conception of our Saviour, it was neither the Father nor the Son himself, but the Spirit of the Most High, which did overshadow her.9090   Luke, i. 35.

And, further, if the Holy Ghost had been my Redeemer, who should have been my sanctifier? If he had died personally for me, who should have applied his death effectually to me? That I could not do it myself is, beyond contradiction, evident; and that either the Father, or the Son, should do it, is not agreeable to the nature or order of the divine operations; they, as I believe, never acting any thing 46ad extra, personally, but by the Spirit proceeding from them both. And, therefore it is, that Christ, to comfort his disciples after his death, promiseth them in his life-time, that he would send them the Comforter, ‘which is the Spirit of truth.’9191   John, xvi. 7, 13. He doth not say he will come again personally, but mystically to them, by his Spirit.

But now, that the Spirit, whose office it is to apply the merit and mediation of God-man to me could not have done it, if himself had been that God-man, seems to me as clear and manifest as the other: for, if he had done it, he should either have done it by the Father, by the Son, or by himself. He could not do it by the Father, nor the Son, because he does nothing by them, but all things from them. The Father acts in the Son by the Spirit, the Son from the Father by the Spirit, the Spirit from the Father and the Son. And therefore it likewise follows, that as the Spirit could not unite itself before, so neither can it apply itself here, to the human nature; for, to assume the human nature into the divine, and to apply the divine nature to the human, are two distinct offices; and, therefore, to be performed by two distinct persons. The first could have been done only by one that was really man, as well as God; the other, only by one that was merely God, and not man.

And that must needs be so; for, otherwise, God should act upon man by man, by the person man, as well as God; and, by consequence, all the dispensations of his grace toward us, would have been stopped in the frailty of the human, though perfect nature, So that it would have availed me 47nothing, if the Spirit had taken my nature upon him; because, though he had assumed the human, I could not thence have participated of the divine nature; nay, therefore, I could not have participated of this, because he had assumed that, by which alone I could he brought into this capacity; and so by this means, I should be further off than I was before.

And lastly, as, if the Father had become man, there would have been two Fathers; so if the Spirit had become man, there would have been two Sons, the second person begotten from eternity, and the third person begotten in time. But now, by the Son’s taking our nature upon him, these and far greater difficulties are avoided, which we might easily perceive, could we sufficiently dive into the depth of that wisdom of the Father, in sending his Son, rather than his Spirit, or coming himself in his own person. However, to us, it cannot but seem most equitable, (if reason may hold the balance,) that he, who is the middle person, between the Father and the Spirit, should become the Mediator betwixt God and man: and that he, who is the Son of God in the glorious Trinity, should become the Son of man in his gracious mystery.

But, on the other side, as it was not the divine nature, but a divine person that did assume, so neither was it a human person, but the human nature that was assumed; for otherwise, if he had assumed the person of any one man in the world, his death had been beneficial to none but him, whose person he thus assumed and represented. Whereas, now that he has assumed the nature of man in general, all that partake of that nature, are capable of 48partaking of the benefit he purchased for us, by dying in our stead. And thus under each, Adam, as the representation was universal, so were the effects designed to be; ‘For as in Adam all died, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’9292   1 Cor. xv. 22.

Again, when I say, the Son of God became the Son of man, I do not mean, as if, by this, he should cease to be what he was before, the Son of God, for he did not leave his godhead to take upon him the manhood; but I believe he took the manhood into his godhead; he did not put off the one, to put on the other, but he put one upon the other: neither do I believe that the human nature, when assumed into the divine, ceased to be human; but as the divine person so assumed the human nature, as still to remain a divine person, so the human nature was so assumed into a divine person, as still to remain a human nature: God, therefore, so became man, as to be both perfectly God, and perfectly man, united together in one person.

I say, in one person; for, if he should be God and man in distinct persons, this would avail me no more, than if he should be God only, and not man, or man only, and not God; because the merit and value both of his active and passive obedience is grounded merely upon the union of the two natures in one and the same person. He, therefore, by his life and death merited so much for us, because the same person, that so lived and died, was God as well as man; and every action that he did, and every passion that he suffered, was done and suffered by him that was God, as well as man. And hence it is, that Christ, of all the persons in the 49world, is so fit, yea, only fit to be my Redeemer, Mediator, and Surety; because he alone is both God and man in one person. If he was not man, he could not undertake that office; if he was not God, he could not perform it: if he was not man, he could not be capable of being bound for me; if he was not God, he would not be able to pay my debt. It was man by whom the covenant was broken; and, therefore, man must have suitable punishment laid upon him: it was God with whom it was broken; and, therefore, God must have sufficient satisfaction made unto him; and, as for that satisfaction, it was man that had offended, and, therefore, man alone could make it suitable: it was God that was offended, and, therefore, God alone could make it sufficient.

The sum of all this is—man can suffer, but he cannot satisfy; God can satisfy, but he cannot suffer; but Christ being both God and man, can both suffer and satisfy too; and so is perfectly fit both to suffer for man, and to make satisfaction unto God, to reconcile God to man, and man to God. And thus, Christ having assumed my nature into his person, and so satisfied divine justice for my sins, I am received into grace and favour again with the most high God.

Upon this principle, I believe that I, by nature the son of man, am made by grace the son of God, as really as Christ, by nature the Son of God, was made by office the Son of man: and so, though in myself, ‘I may say to corruption, thou art my mother,’ yet in Christ I may say to God, ‘Abba Father.’ Neither do I believe this to be a metaphorical expression, viz. because he doth that for me which a father doth for his child, even provide 50for me whilst young, and give me my portion when come to age; but I believe, that in the same propriety of speech that my earthly Father was called the Father of my natural self, is God the father of my spiritual self: for, why was my earthly father called my father, but because that I, as to my natural being, was born of what proceeded from him, viz. his seed? Why so, as to my spiritual being, am I born of what proceeds from God, his Spirit: and as I was not born of the very substance of my natural parents, but only of what came from them; so neither is my spiritual self begotten again, quickened and constituted of the very substance of my heavenly Father, God, but of the Spirit and spiritual influences proceeding from him. Thus, therefore, it is, that I believe that Christ, the Son of God, became the son of man; and thus it is that I believe myself, the Son of man, to be made thereby the son of God. “I believe, O my God and Father, do thou help mine unbelief! and every day more and more increase my faith, till itself shall be done away, and turned into the most perfect vision and fruition of thine own glorious Godhead!”


« Prev Article V. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |