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Of the incarnation of Christ, and his pre-existence thereunto.
The testimonies of Scripture which affirm Christ to have been incarnate, or to have taken flesh, which inevitably proves his pre-existence in another nature to his so doing, they labour, in their next attempt, to corrupt, and so to evade the force and efficacy which from them appeareth so destructive to their cause; and herein they thus proceed:—
Ques. From what testimonies of Scripture do they endeavour to demonstrate that Christ was, as they speak, incarnate?
Ans. From these, John i. 14; Phil. ii. 6, 7; 1 Tim. iii. 16; Heb. ii. 16, i.John iv. 2, 3; Heb. x. 5.344344 “E quibus testimoniis Scripturæ demonstrare conantur Christum (ut loquuntur) incarnatum esse? — Ex iis ubi secundum eorum versionem legitur, Verbum caro factum est, Johan. i. 14; Et qui (Christus) cum esset in forma Dei, etc.; Phil. ii. 6, 7; 1 Tim. iii. 16; Heb. ii. 16, i.; 1 Johan. iv. 2, 3; Heb. x. 5.”
Of the first of these we have dealt already, in the handling of the beginning of that chapter, and sufficiently vindicated it from all their exceptions; so that we may proceed immediately to the second.
Q. What dost thou answer to the second?
A. Neither is that here contained which the adverse party would prove: for it is one thing which the apostle saith, “Being in the form of God, he took the 284form of a servant;” another, that the divine nature assumed the human; for the “form of God” cannot here denote the divine nature, seeing the apostle writes that Christ exinanivit, — made that form of no reputation, but God can no way make his nature of no reputation; neither doth the “form of a servant” denote human nature, seeing to be a servant is referred to the fortune and condition of a man. Neither is that also to be forgotten, that the writings of the New Testament do once only, it may be, use that word “form” elsewhere, namely, Mark xvi. 12, and that in that sense wherein it signifies not nature, but the outward appearance, saying, “Jesus appeared in another form unto two of his disciples.”
Q. But from those words which the apostle afterward adds, “He was found in fashion as a man,” doth it not appear that he was, as they say, incarnate?
A. By no means; for that expression contains nothing of Christ’s nature: for of Samson we read that he should be “as a man,” Judges xvi. 7, 11; and, Ps. lxxxii., Asaph denounced to those whom he called “sons of the Most High,” that they “should die like men;” — of whom it is certain that it cannot be said of them that they were, as they speak, incarnate.
Q. How dost thou understand this place?
A. On this manner, that Christ, who in the world did the works
of God, to whom all yielded obedience as to God, and to whom divine
adoration was given, — God so willing, and the salvation of men requiring
it, — was made as a servant and a vassal, and as one of the vulgar, when he
had of his own accord permitted himself to be taken, bound, beaten, and
slain.345345 “Ad secundum quid
respondes? — Neque hic extare quod adversa pars confectum velit. Aliud enim
est quod hic apostolus ait, Cum in forma Dei esset, forman servi
assumpsit; aliud vero natura divina assumpsit humanam. Etenim
hic forma Dei designare non potest Dei naturam, cum apostolus
scribat eam formam Christum exinanivisse. Deus vero naturam suam nullo mode
exinanire potest; nec vero forma servi denotat naturam humanam, cum
servum esse ad fortunam et conditionem hominis referatur. At ne id quoque
dissimulandum est, scripta Novi Testamenuti hanc vocem forma semel
fortassis tantum alibi usurpare, Marc. xvi.
12, idque eo sensu quo non
naturam, sed exteriorem speciem significat, cum ait, Jesum duobus
discipulis suis apparuisse alia forma.
“Ex iis vero verbis, quæ apostolus paulo post subjecit, Habitu inventus est ut homo, nonne apparet eum (ut loquuntur) incarnstum esse? — Nullo modo; etenim ea oratio nihil in se habet ejusmodi. De Samsone enim in literis sacris legimus, quod idem futurus erat ut homo, Judic. xvi. 7, 11; et Ps. lxxxii., Asaph iis hominibus quos deos et filios Altissimi, vocaverat, denunciat, quod essent morituri ut homines; de quibus certum est non posse dici eos (ut adversarii dicunt) incarnatos fuisse.
“Qua ratione locum hunc totum intelligis? — Ad eum modum, quod Christus, qui in mundo, instar Dei, opera Dei efficiebat, et cui, sicut Deo, omnia parebant, et cui divina adoratio exhibebatur, — ita volente Deo, et hominum salute exigente, — factus est tanquam servus et mancipium, et tanqusm unus ex aliis vulgaribus hominibus, cum ultro se capi, vinciri, cædi, et occidi permiserat.”
Thus they. Now, because it is most certain and evident to every one that ever considered this text, that, according to their old trade and craft, they have mangled it and taken it in pieces, at least cut off the head and legs of this witness, we must seek out the other parts of it and lay them together before we may proceed to remove this heap out of our way. Our argument from this place is not solely from hence, that he is said to be “in the form of God,” but also that he was so in the form of God as to be “equal with him,” as is here expressed; nor merely that “he took upon him the form of a servant,” but that he took it upon him when he was “made in the likeness of men,” or “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” as the apostle 285expresses it, Rom. viii. 3. Now, these things our catechists thought good to take no notice of in this place, nor of one of them any more in any other. But seeing the very head of our argument lies in this, that “in the form of God” he is said to be “equal with God,” and that expression is in another place taken notice of by them, I must needs gather it into its own contexture before I do proceed. Thus, then, they:—
A. That Christ is equal to God doth no way prove that there is in him a divine nature. Yea, the contrary is gathered from hence; for if Christ be equal to God, who is God by nature, it follows that he cannot be the same God. But the equality of Christ with God lies herein, that, by that virtue that God bestowed on him, he did and doth all those things which are God’s, as God himself.346346 “Qui porro ad ea loca respondes, etc.? — Quod Christus sit æqualis Deo, id divinam in eo naturam hullo modo probat: imo hinc res adversa colligitur; nam si Christus Deo, qui natura Deus est, æqualis est, efficitur, quod is idem Deus esse non possit. A Equalitas vero Christi cum Deo in eo est, quod ea virtute quam in eum contulit Deus, ea omnia efficeret, et efficiat, quæ ipsius Dei sunt, tanquam Deus ipse.”
This being the whole of what they tender to extricate themselves from the chains which this witness casts upon them, now lying before us, I shall propose our argument from the words, and proceed to the vindication of it in order.
The intendment and design of the apostle in this place being evidently to exhort believers to self-denial, mutual love, and condescension one to another, he proposes to them the example of Jesus Christ; and lets them know that he, being in the form of God, and equal with God” therein (ὑπάρχων, existing in that form, having both the nature and glory of God), did yet, in his love to us, “make himself of no reputation,” or lay aside and eclipse his glory, in this, that “he took upon him the form of a servant,” being made man, that in that form and nature he might be “obedient unto death” for us and in our behalf. Hence we thus plead:—
He that was “in the form of God,” and “equal with God,” existing therein, and “took on him the” nature and “form of a servant,” he is God by nature, and was incarnate or made flesh in the sense before spoken of; now all this is affirmed of Jesus Christ: ergo.
1. To this they say (that we may consider that first which is first in the text), “That his being equal to God doth not prove him to be God by nature, but the contrary,” etc., as above. But, — (1.) If none is, nor can be, by the testimony of God himself, like God, or equal to him, who is not God by nature, then he that is equal to him is so. But, “To whom will ye liken me? or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things,” Isa. xl. 25, 26. None that hath not created all things of nothing can be equal to him. And, “To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, 286and compare me, that we may be like?” chap. xlvi. 5. (2.) Between that which is finite and that which is infinite, that which is eternal and that which is temporal, the creature and the Creator, God by nature and him who by nature is not God, it is utterly impossible there should be any equality. (3.) God having so often avouched his infinite distance from all creatures, his refusal to give his glory to any of them, his inequality with them all, it must have been the highest robbery that ever any could be guilty of, for Christ to make himself equal to God if he were not God. (4.) The apostle’s argument arises from hence, that he was equal to God before he took on him the form of a servant; which was before his working of those mighty works wherein these gentlemen assert him to be equal to God.
2. Themselves cannot but know the ridiculousness of their begging the thing in question, when they would argue that because he was equal to God he was not God. He was the same God in nature and essence, and therein equal to him to whom he was in subordination as the Son, and in office a servant, as undertaking the work of mediation.
3. The case being as by them stated, there was no equality between Christ and God in the works he wrought; for, — (1.) God doth the works in his own name and authority, Christ in God’s. (2.) God doth them by his own power, Christ by God’s. (3.) God doth them himself, Christ not, but God in him, as another from him. (4.) He doth not do them as God, however that expression be taken; for, according to these men, he wrought them neither in his own name, nor by his own power, nor for his own glory; all which he must do who doth things as God.
He is said to be “equal with God,” not as he did such and such works, but as ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑάρχων, — being in the form of God antecedently to the taking in hand of that form wherein he wrought the works intimated.
To work great works by the power of God argues no equality with him, or else all the prophets and apostles that wrought miracles were also equal to God. The infinite inequality of nature between the Creator and the most glorious creature will not allow that it be said, on any account, to be equal to him. Nor is it said that Christ was equal to God in respect of the works he did, but, absolutely, “He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”
And so is their last plea to the first part of our argument accounted for: come we to what they begin withal.
1. We contend not, as hath been often said, about words and expressions. (1.) That the divine nature assumed the human we thus far abide by, that the Word, the Son of God, took to himself, into personal subsistence with him, a human nature; whence they are both one person, one Christ. And this is here punctually affirmed, namely, he that was and is God took upon him the form of a man. (2.) The 287apostle doth not say that Christ made that form of no reputation, or Christ ἐκένωσε that form; but Christ, being in that form, ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε “made himself of no reputation,” not by any real change of his divine nature, but by taking to himself the human, wherein he was of no reputation, it being he that was so, in the nature and by the dispensation wherein he was so. And it being not possible that the divine nature of itself, in itself, should be humbled, yet he was humbled who was in the form of God, though the form of God was not.
2. It is from his being “equal with God,” “in the form of God,” whereby we prove that his being in the form of God doth denote his divine nature; but of this our catechists had no mind to take notice.
3. The “form of a servant” is that which he took when he was made ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων, as Adam begat a son in his own likeness. (1.) Now, this was not only in condition a servant, but in reality a man. (2.) The form of a servant was that wherein he underwent death, the death of the cross; but he died as a man, and not only in the appearance of a servant. (3.) The very phrase of expression manifests the human nature of Christ to be denoted hereby: only, as the apostle had not before said directly that he was God, but “in the form of God,” expressing both his nature and his glory, so here he doth not say he was a man, but in the “form of a servant,” expressing both his nature and his condition, wherein he was the servant of the Father. Of him it is said ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων, but μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, — he was in the other, but this he took. (4.) To be a servant denotes the state or condition of a man; but for one who was “in the form of God,” and “equal with him,” to be made in the “form of a servant,” and to be “found as a man,” and to be in that form put to death, denotes, in the first place, a taking of that nature wherein alone he could be a servant. And this answers also to other expressions, of the “Word being made flesh,” and “God sending forth his Son, made of a woman.” (5.) This is manifest from the expression, Σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος, — “He was found in fashion as a man;” that is, he was truly so: which is exegetical of what was spoken before, “He took on him the form of a servant.”
These gentlemen are still like themselves. Of Christ it is said that he humbled himself, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was found in likeness as a man; of Samson, that being stronger than a hundred men, if he were dealt so and so withal, he would “become as other men,” for so the words expressly are, — no stronger than another man. And these places are parallel! Much good may these parallels do your catechumens! And so of those in the psalm, that though in this world they are high in power for a season, yet they 288should die as other men do. Hence, in a way of triumph and merriment, they ask if these were incarnate, and answer themselves that surely we will not say so. True, he who being as strong as many becomes by any means to be as one, and they who live in power but die in weakness as other men do, are not said to be incarnate; but he who, “being God, took on him the form of a servant, and was in this world a very man,” may (by our new masters’ leave) be said to be so.
[As] for the sense which they give us of this place (for they are bold to venture at it), it hath been in part spoken to already. 1. Christ was in the world, as to outward appearance, no way instar Dei, but rather, as he says of himself, instar vermis. That he did the works of God, and was worshipped as God, was because he was God; nor could any but God either do the one, as he did them, or admit of the other. 2. This is the exposition given us: “ ‘Christ was in the form of God, counting it no robbery to be equal to him;’ that is, whilst he was here in the world, in the form of a servant, he did the works of God, and was worshipped.” 3. Christ was in the form of a servant from his first coming into the world, and as one of the people; therefore he was not made so by any thing afterward. His being bound, and beat, and killed, is not his being made a servant; for that by the apostle is afterward expressed, when he tells us why, or for what end (not how or wherein), he was made a servant, namely, “He became obedient to death, the death of the cross.”
And this may suffice for the taking out of our way all that is excepted against this testimony by our catechists; but because the text is of great importance, and of itself sufficient to evince the sacred truth we plead for, some farther observations for the illustration of it may be added.
The sense they intend to give us of these words is plainly this, “That Christ, by doing miracles in the world, appeared to be as God, or as a God; but he laid aside this form of God, and took upon him the form of a servant, when he suffered himself to be taken, bound, and crucified. He began to be,” they say, “in the form of God, when, after his baptism, he undertook the work of his public ministry, and wrought mighty works in the world; which form he ceased to be in when he was taken in the garden, and exposed as a servant to all manner of reproach.”
That there is not any thing in this whole exposition answering the mind of the Holy Ghost is evident, as from what was said before, so also, 1. Because it is said of Christ, that ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων, he was “in the form of God,” before he “took the form of a servant.” And yet the taking of the form of a servant in this place doth evidently answer his being “made flesh,” John i. 14; his being made “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” Rom. viii. 3; his coming or 289being sent into the world, Matt. x. 40, xx. 28; John iii. 16, 17, etc. 2. Christ was still in the form of God, as taken essentially, even then when he was a servant; though, as to the dispensation he had submitted to, he emptied himself of the glory of it, and was not known to be the “Lord of glory,” 2 Cor. viii. 9. 3. Even all the while that they say he was in the form of God, he was in the form of a servant; that is, he was really the servant of the Father, and was dealt withal in the world as a servant, under all manner of reproach, revilings, and persecutions. He was not more in the form of a servant when he was bound than when he had not where to lay his head. 4. The state and condition of a servant consists in this, that he is not sui juris. No more was Christ, in the whole course of his obedience; he did not any private will of his own, but the will of him that sent him. Those who desire to see the vindication of this place to the utmost, in all the particulars of it, may consult the confutation of the interpretation of Erasmus, by Beza, annot., in Phil. ii. 6, 7; of Ochinus and Lælius Socinus, by Zanchius in locum, et de Tribus Elohim, p. 227, etc.; of Faustus Socinus, by Beckman, Exercitat. p. 168, and Johan. Jun. Examen Respon. Socin. pp. 201, 202; of Enjedinus, by Gomarus, Anal. Epist. Paul. ad Phil. cap. ii.; of Ostorodius, by Jacobus a Porta, Fidei Orthodox. Defens. pp. 89, 150, etc. That which I shall farther add is in reference to Grotius, whose Annotations may be one day considered by some of more time and leisure for so necessary a work.
Thus then he: Ὃς ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων. Μορφή in nostris libris non significat internum et occultum aliquid, sed id quod in oculos incurrit, qualis erat eximia in Christo potestas sanandi morbos omnes, ἐιχιενδι dæmonas, excitandi mortuos, mutandi rerum naturas, quæ vere divina sunt; ita ut Moses, qui tam magna non fecit, dictus ob id fuerit dens Pharaonis. Vocem μορφῆς quo dixi sensu habes, Matt. xvi. 12, Isa. xliv. 13, ubi in Hebræo תַּבְנִית; Dan. iv. 33, v. 6, 10, vii. 28, ubi in Chaldæo זִיו; Job iv. 16, ubi in Hebræo תְּמוּנָה; — Μορφή in our books doth not signify an internal or hidden thing, but that which is visibly discerned, such as was that eminent power in Christ of healing all diseases, casting out of devils, raising the dead, changing the nature of things, which are truly divine; so that Moses, who did not so great things, was therefore called the god of Pharaoh. The word μορφή, in the sense spoken of, you have Mark xvi. 12, Isa. xliv. 13, where in the Hebrew it is תַּבְנִית; Dan. iv. 33, etc., where in the Chaldee it is זִיו; Job iv. 16, where in the Hebrew it is תְּמוּנָה.
Ans. 1. A form is either substantial or accidental, — that which is indeed, or that which appears. That it is the substantial form of God which is here intended, yet with respect to the glorious manifestation of it (which may be also as the accidental form), hath been 290formerly declared and proved. So far it signifies that which is internal and hidden, or not visibly discerned, inasmuch as the essence of God is invisible. The proofs of this I shall not now repeat. 2. Christ’s power of working miracles was not visible, though the miracles he wrought were visible, insomuch that it was the great question between him and the Jews by what power he wrought his miracles; for they still pleaded that he cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. So that if the power of doing the things mentioned were μορφὴ Θεοῦ, that form was not visible and exposed to the sight of men; for it was “aliquid internum et occultum,” — a thing internal and hidden. 3. If to be “in the form of God,” and thereupon to be “equal with him,” be to have power or authority of healing diseases, casting out devils, raising the dead, and the like, then the apostles were in the form of God, and equal to God, having Power and authority given them for all these things, which they wrought accordingly, casting out devils, healing the diseased, raising the dead, etc.; which whether it be not blasphemy to affirm the reader may judge. 4. It is true, God says of Moses, Exod. vii. 1, “I have made thee a god to Pharaoh;” which is expounded chap. iv. 16, where God tells him that “Aaron should be to him instead of a mouth, and he should be to him instead of God;” that is, Aaron should speak and deliver to Pharaoh and the people what God revealed to Moses, Moses revealing it to Aaron, — Aaron receiving his message from Moses as other prophets did from God; whence he is said to be to him “instead of God.” And this is given as the reason of that expression, chap. vii. 1, of his being ‘“a god to Pharaoh,” even as our Saviour speaks, because the word of God came by him, because he should reveal the will of God to him: “Thou shalt be a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh.” He is not upon the account of his working miracles called God, or said to be in the form of God, or to be made equal to God; hut revealing the will of God to Aaron, who spake it to Pharaoh, he is said to be “a god to Pharaoh,” or “instead of God,” as to that business. 5. It is truth, the word μορπή, or “form,” is used, Mark xvi. 12, for the outward appearance; and it is as true the verb of the same signification is used for the internal and invisible form of a thing, Gal. iv. 19, Ἄχρις οὗ μορφωθῇ Χειστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν, “Until Christ be formed in you.” So that the very first observation of our annotator, that “in our books” (that is, the Scriptures, for in other authors it is acknowledged that this word signifies the internal form of a thing) “this word μορφή signifies not any thing internal or hidden,” is true only of that one place, Mark xvi. 12. In this it is otherwise, and the verb of the same signification is evidently otherwise used. And, which may be added, other words that bear the same ambiguity of 291signification, as to things substantial or accidental, being applied to Christ, do still signify the former, not the latter, yea, where they expressly answer what is here spoken, as εἰκών, Col. i. 15, and ὑπόστασις, Heb. i. 3; both of the same import with μορφή here, save that the latter adds personality. 6. As for the words mentioned out of the Old Testament, they are used in businesses quite of another nature, and are restrained in their signification by the matter they speak of. תַּבְנִית is not μορφή properly, but εἰκών, and is translated “imago” by Arias Montanus. תֹּאַר is rather μορφή, Gen. xxix. 17, 1 Sam. xxviii. 14. תְּמוּנָה is used ten times in the Bible, and hath various significations, and is variously rendered: ὁμοίωμα, Deut. iv. 15; γλυπτὸν ὁμόιωμα, verse 16; so most commonly. זִיו in Daniel is “splendour,” δόξα, not μορφή. And what all this is to the purpose in hand I know not. The “form of God,” wherein Christ was, is that wherein he was “equal with God,’ — that which, as to the divine nature, is the same as his being in the “form of a servant,” wherein he was obedient to death, was to the human. And, which is sufficiently destructive of this whole exposition, Christ was then in the “form of a servant,” when this learned man would have him to be “in the form of God;” which two are opposed in this place, for he was the servant of the Father in the whole course of the work which he wrought here below, Isa. xlii. 1.
He proceeds on this foundation: Οὐκ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἷναι ἶνα Θεῷ. “ Ἁαρπαγμὸν ἡγεῖσθαι est locutio Syriaca In Liturgia Syriaca, Johannes Baptista Christo baptismum ab ipso expetenti, dicit, ‘non assumam rapinam.’ Solent qui aliquid bellica virtute peperere, id omnibus ostentare, ut Romani in triumpho facere solebant. Non multo aliter Plutarchus in Timoleonte: Οὐχ ἁρπαγὴν ἡγήσατο. Sensus est: Non venditavit Christus, non jactavit istam potestatem; quin sæpe etiam imperavit ne quod fecerat vulgaretur. Isa hic est adverbium; sic Odyss. Ο: Τὸν νῦν ἶσα Θεῷ, etc. Ἰσόθεα φρονεῖν, dixit scriptor, 2 Macc ix. 12. Εἶναι ἶνα Θεῷ est spectari tanquam Deum.” The sum of all is, “He thought it no robbery,” that is, he boasted not of his power, “to be equal to God, so to be looked on as a God.”
The words, I confess, are not without their difficulty. Many interpretations are given of them; and I may say, that of the very many which I have considered, this of all others, as being wrested to countenance a false hypothesis, is the worst To insist particularly on the opening of the words is not my present task. That Grotius is beside the sense of them may be easily manifested; for, — 1. He brings nothing to enforce this interpretation. That the expression is Syriac in the idiom of it he abides not by, giving us an instance of the same phrase or expression out of Plutarch, who knew the propriety of the Greek tongue very well, but of the Syriac not at all. Others also give a parallel expression out of Thucydides, lib. viii., Σκεύη ἁρπαγὴν ποιησάμενος. 2922. I grant ἶσα may be used adverbially, and be rendered “æqualiter;” but now the words are to be interpreted “pro subjecta materia.” He who was in the form of God, and counted it no robbery (that is, did not esteem it to be any wrong, on that account of his being in the form of God) to be equal to his Father, did yet so submit himself as is described. This being “equal with God” is spoken of Christ accidentally to his “taking on him the form of a servant,” which he did in his incarnation, and must relate to his being “in the form of God;” and if thereunto it be added that the intendment reaches to the declaration he made of himself, when he declared himself to be equal to God the Father, and one with him as to nature and essence, it may complete the sense of this place.
Ἀλλ’ ἑαυτὸν ἀκένωσε he renders “libenter duxit vitam inopem,” referring it to the poverty of Christ whilst he conversed here in the world. But whatever be intended by this expression, 1. It is not the same with μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, which Grotius afterward interprets to the same purpose with what he says here of these words. 2. It must be something antecedent to his “taking the form of a servant;” or rather, something that he did, or became exceptively to what he was before, in becoming a servant. He was “in the form of God,” ἀλλ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε, but “he humbled,” or “bowed down himself,” in “taking the form of a servant;” that is, he condescended thereunto, in his great love that he bare to us, the demonstration whereof the apostle insists expressly upon. And what greater demonstration of love, or condescension upon the account of love, could possibly be given, than for him who was God, equal to his Father, in the same Deity, to lay aside the manifestation of his glory, and to take upon him our nature, therein to be a servant unto death?
He proceeds: Μορφὴν δούλου λαβών. “Similis factus servis, qui nihil proprium possident;” — “He was made like unto servants, who possess nothing of their own.” Our catechists, with their great master, refer this, his being like servants, to the usage he submitted to at his death; this man, to his poverty in his life. And to this sense of these words is that place of Matt. viii. 20 better accommodated than to the clause foregoing, for whose exposition it is produced by our annotator.
But, — 1. It is most certain that the exposition of Grotius will not, being laid together, be at any tolerable agreement with itself, if we allow any order of process to be in these words of the apostle. His aim is acknowledged to be an exhortation to brotherly love, and mutual condescension in the same, from the example of Jesus Christ; for he tells you that “he, being in the form of God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” Now, if this be not the gradation of the apostle, that being “in the form of God,” free from any thing of that which follows, he then debased 293and humbled himself, and “took upon him the form of a servant,” there is not any form of plea left from this example here proposed to the end aimed at. But now, says Grotius, “his being in the form of God was his working of miracles; his debasing himself, his being poor, his taking the form of a servant, possessing nothing of his own.” But it is evident that there was a coincidence of time as to these things, and so no gradation in the words at all; for then when Christ wrought miracles, he was so poor and possessed nothing of his own, that there was no condescension nor relinquishment of one condition for another discernible therein. 2. The “form of a servant” that Christ took was that wherein he was like man, as it is expounded in the words next following: he was “made in the likeness of men.” And what that is the same apostle informs us, Heb. ii. 17, Ὅθεν ὤφειλε κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι, — “Wherefore he ought in all things to be made like his brethren:” that is, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος, he was “made in the likeness of men;” or, as it is expressed Rom. viii. 3, ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκός, “in the likeness of flesh;” which also is expounded, Gal. iv. 4 γενόμενος ἐκ γυναικός, “made of a woman;” — which gives us the manner of the accomplishment of that, John i. 14, Ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο, “The Word was made flesh.” 3. The employment of Christ in that likeness of man is confessedly expressed in these words; not his condition, that he had nothing, but his employment, that he was the servant of the Father, according as it was foretold that he should be, Isa. xlii. 1, 19, and which he everywhere professed himself to be. He goes on, —
Ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος. “Cum similis esset hominibus, illis nempe primis, id est, peccati expers,” 2 Cor. v. 21; — “Whereas he was like men, namely, those first; that is, without sin.”
That Christ was without sin, that in his being made like to us there is an exception as to sin, is readily granted. He was ὅσιος ἄκακος ἀμίαντος κεχωρισμένος ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν, Heb. vii. 26. But, — 1. That Christ is ever said to be made like Adam on that account, or is compared with him therein, cannot be proved. He was δεύετερος ἄνθρωπος and ἔσχατος Ἀδάμ, but that he was made ἐν ὁμοιώματι τοῦ Ἀδάμ is not said. 2. This expression was sufficiently cleared by the particular places formerly urged. It is not of his sinlessness in that condition, of which the apostle hath no occasion here to speak, but of his love in taking on him that condition, in being sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, yet without sin, that these words are used. It is a likeness of nature to all men, and not a likeness of innocency to the first, that the apostle speaks of; a likeness, wherein there is a ταυτότης, as to the kind, a distinction in number, as, “Adam begat a son in his own likeness,” Gen. v. 3.
All that follows in the learned annotator is only an endeavour to make the following words speak in some harmony and conformity 294to what he had before delivered; which being discerned not to be suited to the mind of the Holy Ghost in the place, I have no such delight to contend about words, phrases, and expressions, as to insist any farther upon them. Return we to our catechists.
The place they next propose to themselves to deal withal is 1 Tim. iii. 16, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, revealed unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
If it be here evinced that by “God” is meant Christ, it being spoken absolutely, and in the place of the subject in the proposition, this business is at a present close, and our adversaries’ following attempt to ward themselves from the following blows of the sword of the word, which cut them in pieces, is to no purpose, seeing their death’s wound lies evident in the efficacy of this place. Now, here not only the common apprehension of all professors of the name of Christ in general, but also the common sense of mankind, to be tried in all that will but read the books of the New Testament, might righteously be appealed unto; but because these are things of no importance with them with whom we have to do, we must insist on other considerations:—
First, then, That by the word Θεός, “God,” some person is intended, is evident from hence, that the word is never used but to express some person, nor can in any place of the Scriptures be possibly wrested to denote any thing but some person to whom that name doth belong or is ascribed, truly or falsely. And if this be not certain and to be granted, there is nothing so, nor do we know any thing in the world or the intendment of any one word in the book of God. Nor is there any reason pretended why it should have any other acceptation, but only an impotent begging of the thing in question “It is not so here, though it be so everywhere else; because it agrees not with our hypothesis.” Λῆρος! Secondly, That Christ, who is the second person [of the Trinity], the Son of God, is here intended, and none else, is evident from hence, that whatever is here spoken of Θεός, of this “God,” was true and fulfilled in him as to the matter; and the same expressions, for the most of the particulars, as to their substance, are used concerning him and no other; neither are they possible to be accommodated to any person but him. Let us a little accommodate the words to him: 1. He who as “God” was “in the beginning with God,” in his own nature invisible, ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί, “was manifested in the flesh,” when σὰρξ ἐγένετο, when he was “made flesh,” John i. 14, and made ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκός, Rom. viii. 3, “in the likeness of flesh,” γενόμενος ἐκ σπέρματος Δαβὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, chap. i. 3; so made “visible and conspicuous,” or ἐφανερώθη, when ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, “dwelling among men; who also saw his glory, as the glory of the only-begotten of the 295Father,” John i. 14. Being thus “manifest in the flesh,” having taken our nature on him, he was reviled, persecuted, condemned, slain, by the Jews, as a malefactor, a seditious person, — an impostor. But, 2. Ἐδικαιώθη ἐν Πςεύματι, he was “justified in the Spirit” from all their false accusations and imputations. He was justified by the eternal Spirit, when he was raised from the dead, and “declared to be the Son of God with power” thereby, Rom. i. 4; for though he was “crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God,” 2 Cor. xiii. 4. So he also sent out his Spirit to “convince the world of sin, because they believed not on him, and of righteousness, because he went to his Father,” John xvi. 8–10; which he also did, justifying himself thereby to the conviction and conversion of many thousands who before condemned him or consented to his condemnation, upon the account formerly mentioned, Acts ii. 47. And this is he who, 3. ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις, was “seen of angels,” and so hath his witnesses in heaven and earth; for when he came first into the world, all the angels receiving charge to worship him, by Him who said, Προσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ, Heb. i. 6, one came down at his nativity to declare it, to whom he was seen, and instantly a multitude of the heavenly host saw him, Luke ii. 9–14, and afterward went away into heaven, verse 15. In the beginning also of his ministry, angels were sent to him in the wilderness, to minister to him, Matt. iv. 11; and when he was going to his agony in the garden, an angel was sent to comfort him, Luke xxii. 43, and he then knew that he could at a word’s speaking have more than twelve legions of angels to his assistance, Matt. xxvi. 53; and when he rose again the angels saw him again, and served him therein, chap. xxviii. 2. And as he shall come again with his holy angels to judgment, Matt. xxv. 31, 2 Thess. i. 7, so no doubt but in his ascension the angels accompanied him; yea, that they did so is evident from Ps. lxviii. 17, 18. So that there was no eminent concernment of him wherein it is not expressly affirmed that ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις. At his birth, entrance on his ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις. 4. Ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν, He was “preached unto the Gentiles,” or among the people or Gentiles; which, besides the following accomplishment of it to the full in the preaching of the gospel concerning him throughout the world, had a signal entrance in that declaration of him to “devout men dwelling at Jerusalem, out of every nation under heaven,” Acts ii. 5. And hereupon, 5. Ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ, He was “believed on in the world.” He that had been rejected as a vile person, condemned and slain, being thus justified in the Spirit and preached, was believed on, many thousands being daily converted to the faith of him, — to believe that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, — whom before they received not, John i. 10, 11. And, for his own part, 6. ἀνελήφθη ἐν δόξῃ, he was “received 296up into glory;” the story whereof we have, Acts i. 9–11, “When he had spoken to his disciples, he was taken up, and a cloud received him:” of which Luke says briefly, as Paul here, ἀνελήφθη, Acts i. 2; as Mark also doth, chap. xvi. 19, ἀνελήφθη, — that is, ἀνελήφθη ἐν δόξῃ, “he was taken up into heaven,” or “to glory.” Ἀνελήφθη is as much as ἄνω ἐλήφθη, “he was taken up” (ἐν φορ εἰς) “into glory.”
This harmony of the description of Christ here, both as to his person and office, with what is elsewhere spoken of him (this being evidently a summary collection of what is more largely in the gospel spoken of), makes it evident that he is “God” here intended; which is all that is needful to be evinced from this place.
Let us now hear our catechists pleading for themselves:—
Q. What dost thou answer to 1 Tim. iii. 16?
A. 1. That in many ancient copies, and in the Vulgar Latin itself, the word “God” is not read; wherefore from that place nothing certain can be concluded. 2. Although that word should be read, yet there is no cause why it should not be referred to the Father, seeing these things may be affirmed of the Father, that he appeared in Christ and the apostles, who were flesh. And for what is afterward read, according to the usual translation, “He was received into glory,” in the Greek it is,” He was received in glory,” — that is, “with glory,” or “gloriously.”
Q. What, then, is the sense of this testimony?
A. That the religion of Christ is full of mysteries: for God,
— that is, his will for the saving of men, — was perfectly made known by
infirm and mortal men; and yet, because of the miracles and various
powerful works which were performed by such weak and mortal men, it was
acknowledged for true; and it was at length perceived by the angels
themselves; and was preached not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles:
all believed thereon, and it was received with great glory, after an
eminent manner.347347 “Ad tertium vero quid
respondes? — Primum quidem, quod in multis exemplaribus vetustis, et in
ipsa Vulgata, non legatur vox Deus; quare ex eo loco certum nihil concludi
potest. Deinde, etiamsi ea vox legeretur, nullam esse causam cur ad Patrem
referri non possit, cum hæc de Patre affirmari possint, eum apparuisse in
Christo, et apostolis, qui caro fuerunt. Quod autem inferius legitur,
secundum usitatam versionem, Receptus est in gloriam, id in Græco
habetur, Receptus est in gloria, — id est, cum gloria, aut
“Quæ vero futura eat hujus testimonii sentontis? — Religionem Christi plenam esse mysteriis: nam Deus, id est, voluntas ipsius de servandis hominibus, per homines infirmos et mortales perfecte patefacta eat; et nihilominus tamen propter miracula et Tirtutes varias quæ per homines illos infirmos et mortales edita fuerant, pro vera eat agnita; eadem ab ipsis angelis fuit demum perspecta; non solum Judæis, verum etiam Gentibus fuit prædicata: omnes ei crediderunt, et insignem in modum, et summa cum gloria recepta fuit.”
Thus they, merely rather than say nothing, or yield to the truth. Briefly to remove what they offer in way of exception or assertion, —
1. Though the word “God,” be not in the Vulgar Latin,348348 Griesbach, Lachman, and Tischendorf, have decided for ὅς as the true reading. Knapp, Tittmann, Scholz, Henderson, Bloomfield, and Moses Stuart, abide by Θεός. Tischendorf refers to seven manuscripts, — four of them being in uncial characters, — as his authority for ὅς. Upwards of one hundred and fifty manuscripts have Θεὸς. It is a question, however, to be determined not by the number of the manuscripts merely, but by their value and authority; and the reader is referred on this subject to Dr Henderson’s dissertation, “The Great Mystery of Godliness Incontrovertible,” and the second edition of Tischendorf’s New Testament, — Ed. yet the 297unanimous, constant consent of all the original copies, confessed to be so both by Beza and Erasmus, is sufficient to evince that the loss of that translation is not of any import to weaken the sense of the place. Of other ancient copies, whereof they boast, they cannot instance one. In the Vulgar also it is evident that by the “mystery” Christ is understood.
2. That what is here spoken may be referred to the Father, is a very sorry shift against the evidence of all those considerations which show that it ought to be referred to the Son.
3. It may not, it cannot with any tolerable sense be, referred to the Father.
It is not said that “in Christ and the apostles he appeared,” and was “seen of angels,” etc.; but that “God was manifested in the flesh,” etc.: nor is any thing that is here spoken of God anywhere ascribed, no not once in the Scripture, to the Father. How was he “manifested in the flesh”? how was he “justified in the Spirit”? how was “he taken up into glory”?
4. Though ἐν δόξῃ may be rendered “gloriously, or “with glory,” yet ἀνελήφθη may not, “receptus est,” but rather “assumptus est,” and is applied to the ascension of Christ in other places, as hath been showed.
[As] for the sense they tender of these words, let them, — 1. Give any one instance where “God” is put for the “will of God,” and that exclusively to any person of the Deity, or, to speak to their own hypothesis, exclusively to the person of God. This is intolerable boldness, and argues something of searedness. 2. The “will of God for the salvation of men” is the gospel How are these things applicable to that? — how was the gospel “justified in the Spirit”? how was it “received up into glory”? how was it “seen of angels, ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις? In what place is any thing of all this spoken of the gospel? Of Christ all this is spoken, as hath been said. In sum, “the will of God” is nowhere said to be “manifested in the flesh;” Christ was so. That “the will of God” should be “preached by weak and mortal men” was no “great mystery;” that God should assume human nature is so. The “will of God” cannot be said to “appear to the angels;” Christ did so. Of the last expression there can be no doubt raised.
Grotius insists upon the same interpretation with our catechists, in the whole and in every part of it; nor doth he add any thing to what they plead but only some quotations of Scripture not at all to the purpose, or at best suited to his own apprehensions of the sense of the place, not opening it in the least, nor evincing what he embraces to be the mind of the Holy Ghost, to any one that is otherwise minded. What he says, because he says it, deserves to be considered.
Θεὸς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί. “Suspectam nobis hanc lectionem faciunt interpretes veteres, Latinus, Syrus, Arabs, et Ambrosius, qui omnes legunt, ο` ἐφανερώθη.” Addit Hincmarus Opusculo 55. illud Θεός, 298“hic positum a Nestorianis.” 1. But this suspicion might well have been removed from this learned man by the universal consent of all original copies, wherein, as it seems, his own manuscript, that sometimes helps him at a need, doth not differ. 2. One corruption in one translation makes many. 3. The Syriac reads the word “God,” and so Tremellius hath rendered it;349349 In the Syriac version, as edited by Tremellius, the word “God” is certainly to be found. It seems however, to be one of the emendations which that learned Jewish convert to Christianity professed to make in the Syriac original, which unquestionably supports the other reading. — Ed. Ambrose and Hincmarus followed the Latin translation; and there is a thousand times more probability that the word Θεός was filched out by the Arians than that it was foisted in by the Nestorians. But if the agreement of all original copies may be thus contemned, we shall have nothing certain left us. But, saith he, “Sensum bonum facit illud, ο` ἐφανερώθη. Evangelium illud cœleste innotuit primum non per angelos, sed per homines mortales, et quantum extera species ferebat infirmos, Christum, et apostolos ejus Ἐφανερώθη, … bene convenit mysterio, id est, rei latenti. Sic et Col. i. 26; σάρξ hominem significat mortalem, 2 Cor. v. 16. Vide 1 John iv. 2, et quæ ad eum locum dicentur.”
1. Our annotator, having only a suspicion that the word Θεός was not in the text, ought, on all accounts, to have interpreted the words according to the reading whereof he had the better persuasion, and not according unto that whereof he had only a suspicion. But then it was by no means easy to accommodate them according to his intention, nor to exclude the person of Christ from being mentioned in them; which, by joining in with his suspicion, he thought himself able to do. 2. He is not able to give us any one instance in the Scripture of the like expression to this, of “manifest in the flesh,” being referred to the gospel. When referred to Christ, nothing is more frequent, John i. 14, vi. 53; Acts ii. 31; Rom. i. 3, viii. 3, ix. 5; Eph. ii. 14, 15; Col. i. 22; Heb. v. 7, x. 19, 20; 1 Pet. iii. 18, iv. 1, 1 John iv. 2, etc. Of the “flesh of the gospel,” not one word. 3. There is not the least opposition intimated between men and angels as to the means of preaching the gospel; nor is this any mystery, that the gospel was preached by men. Ἐφανερώθη is well applied to a “mystery” or “hidden thing;” but the question is, what the “mystery” or “hidden thing” is. We say it was the great matter of the Word’s being made flesh, as it is elsewhere expressed. In the place urged out of the Corinthians, whether it be the 5th or 11th chapter that is intended, there is nothing to prove that σάρξ signifies a mortal man. And this is the entrance of this exposition. Let us proceed.
Ἐδικαιώθη ἐν Πεύματι. “Per plurima miracula approbata est ea veritas. Πνεῦμα sunt miracula divina, per μετωνυμίαν quæ est, 1 Cor. ii. 4, et alibi.” “ ‘Justified in the Spirit;” that is, approved by 299many miracles, for Πνεῦμα is miracles by a metonymy.” Then let every thing be as the learned man will have it. It is in vain to contend; for surely never was expression so wrested. That Πνεῦμα simply is “miracles” is false; that to have a thing done ἐν Πνέυματι signifies “miracles” is more evidently so, 1 Cor. ii. 4. The apostle speaks not at all of miracles, but of the efficacy of the Spirit with him in his preaching the word, to “convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment,” according to the promise of Christ. For the application of this expression to Jesus Christ see above. He adds, δικαιοῦσθαι is here “approbare,” ut Matt. xi. 19. It is here to “approve;” and that because it was necessary that the learned annotator should δουλεύειν ὑποθέσει. In what sense the word is taken, and how applied to Christ, with the genuine meaning of the place, see above. See also John i. 33, 34. Nor is the gospel anywhere said to be “justified in the Spirit;” nor is this a tolerable exposition, “ ‘Justified in the Spirit,’ — that is, it was approved by miracles.”
Ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις. “Nempe cum admiratione maxima. Angeli hoc arcanum per homines mortales didicere, Eph. iii. 10; 1 Pet. i. 12.” How eminently this suits what is spoken of Jesus Christ was showed before. It is true, the angels, as with admiration, look into the things of the gospel; but that it is said the gospel ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις is not proved.
It is true, the gospel was preached to the Gentiles; but yet this word is most frequently applied to Christ. Acts iii. 20, viii. 5, 25, ix. 20, xix. 13; 1 Cor. i. 23, xv. 12; 2 Cor. i. 19, 2 Cor. iv. 5, xi. 4; Phil. i. 15, are testimonies hereof.
Ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ. “Id est, in magna mundi parte, Rom. i. 8, Col. i. 6.” But then, I pray, what difference is between ἐδικαιώθη ἐν Πνεύματι and ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ? The first is, “It was approved by miracles;” the other, “It was believed.” Now, to approve the truth of the gospel, taken actively, is to believe it. How much more naturally this is accommodated to Christ, see John iii. 17, 18, and verses 35, 36, vi. 40; Acts x. 43, xvi. 31; Rom. iii. 22, x. 8, 9; Gal. ii. 16, 1 John v. 5, etc.
The last clause is, ἀνελήφθη ἐν δόξῃ. “Gloriose admodum exaltatum est, nempe quia multo majorem attulit sanctitatem, quam ulla antehac dogmata.” And this must be the sense of the word ἀναλαμβάνομαι in this business: see Luke ix. 51; Mark xvi. 19; Acts i. 2, 11, 22. And in this sense we are indifferent whether ἐν δόξῃ βε εἰς δόξαν, “unto glory,” which seems to be most properly intended; or σὺν δόξῃ, “with glory,” as our adversaries would have it; or “gloriously,” as Grotius: for it was gloriously, with great glory, and into that glory which he had with his Father before the world was. That the gospel is glorious in its doctrine of holiness is true, but not at all spoken of in this place.
Heb. ii. 16 is another testimony insisted on to prove the incarnation 300of Christ; and so, consequently, his subsistence in a divine nature antecedently thereunto. The words are, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” To this they answer, that —
Herein not so much as any likeness of the incarnation, as they call it, doth appear; for this writer doth not say that “Christ took” (as some read it, and commonly they take it in that sense), but “he takes.” Nor doth he say” human nature,” but the “seed of Abraham;” which in the holy Scriptures denotes them who believe in Christ, as Gal. iii. 29.
Q. What then is the sense of this place?
A. This is that which this writer intends, that Christ is not the Saviour of angels, but of men believing; who, because they are subject to afflictions and death (which he before expressed by the participation of flesh and blood), therefore did Christ willingly submit himself unto them, that he might deliver his faithful ones from the fear of death, and might help them in all their afflictions.350350 “In eo ne similitudinem quidem incarnationis (ut vocant) apparere, cum is scriptor non dicat, Christum assumpisse (ut quidam reddunt, et vulgo eo sensu accipiunt) sed assumere. Nec dicit, naturam humanam, sed semen Abrahæ, quod in literis sacris notat cos qui in Christum crediderunt, ut Gal. iii. 29, videre est. “Quid vero sensus hujus erit loci? — Id sibi vult is scriptor, Christum non esse Servatorem angelorum, sed hominum credentium, qui quoniam et afflictionibus et morti subjecti sunt (quam rem superius expressit per participationem carnis et sanguinis), propterea Christus ultro illis se submisit, ut fideles suos a mortis metu liberaret, et in omni afflictione iisdem opern afferret.”
The sense of this place is evident, the objections against it weak. 1. That the word is ἐπιλαμβάνεται, not ἐπελάβετο, “assumit,” not “assumpsit,” is an enallage of tense so usual as that it can have no force as an objection; and, verse 14, it is twice used in a contrary sense, the time past being put for the present, as here the present for that which is past, κεκοινώνηκε for κοινωνεῖ, and μετέσχε for μετέχει. See John iii. 31, xxi. 13. 2. That by the “seed of Abraham” is here intended the human nature of the seed of Abraham, appears, — (1.) From the expression going before, of the same import with this, “He took part of flesh and blood,” verse 14. (2.) From the opposition here made to angels or the angelical nature; the Holy Ghost showing that the business of Christ being to save his church by dying for them, he was not therefore to take upon him an angelical, spiritual substance or nature, but the nature of man. 3. The same thing is elsewhere in like manner expressed, as where he is said to be “made of the seed of David according to the flesh,” Rom. i. 3, and to “come of the fathers as concerning the flesh,” chap. ix. 5. 4. Believers are called Abraham’s seed sometimes spiritually, in relation to the faith of Abraham, as Gal. iii. 29, where he is expressly spoken of as father of the faithful by inheriting the promises; but take it absolutely, to be of the “seed of Abraham” is no more but to be a man of his posterity: John viii. 37, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed.” Rom. ix. 7, “Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children.” Verse 8, “That is, They are the children of the 301flesh.” So Rom. xi. 1. “Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I,” 2 Cor. xi. 22.
[As] for the sense assigned, — 1. It is evident that in these words the apostle treats not of the help given, but of the way whereby Christ came to help his church, and the means thereof; his actual helping and relieving of them is mentioned in the next verse. 2. Here is no mention in this verse of believers being obnoxious to afflictions and death; so that these words of theirs may serve for an exposition of some other place of Scripture (as they say of Gregory’s comment on Job), but not of this. 3. By “partaking of flesh and blood” is not meant, primarily, being obnoxious to afflictions and death, nor doth that expression in any place signify any such thing, though such a nature as is so obnoxious be intended.
The argument, then, from hence stands still in its force, that Christ, subsisting in his divine nature, did assume a human nature of the seed of Abraham into personal union with himself.
Grotius is still at a perfect agreement with our catechists. Saith he, “ Ἐπιλαμβάνεσθαι apud Platenem et alios est solenniter vindicare; hic autem ex superioribus intelligendum est, vindicare, seu asserere in libertatem manu injecta;” — “This word in Plato and others is to vindicate into liberty; here, as is to be understood from what went before, it is to assert into liberty by laying hold with the hand.” Of the first, because he gives no instances, we shall need take no farther notice. The second is denied. Both the help afforded and the means of it by Christ are mentioned before. The help is liberty; the means, partaking of flesh and blood, to die. These words are not expressive of nor do answer the latter, or the help afforded, but the means of the obtaining of it, as hath been declared. But he adds, “The word signifies to lay hold of with the hand, as Mark viii. 23,” etc. Be it granted that it doth so. “To lay hold with the hand, and to take to one’s self,” this is not to assert into liberty, but by the help of a metaphor; and when the word is used metaphorically, it is to be interpreted “pro subjecta materia,” according to the subject-matter, which here is Christ’s taking a nature upon him that was of Abraham, that was not angelical. The other expression he is singular in the interpretation of.
“He took the seed of Abraham.” “Id est, Id agit ut vos Hebroæos liberet a peccatis et metu mortis. Eventûs enim nomen sæpe datur operæ in id impensæ;” — “That is, He doth that that he may deliver you Hebrews from sin and fear of death.’ The name of the event is often given to the work employed to that purpose.” But, — 1. Here, I confess, he takes another way from our catechists. The “seed of Abraham” is with them believers; with him only Jews. But the tails of their discourse are tied together with a firebrand between them, to devour the harvest of the church. 2. This taking the seed 302of Abraham is opposed to his not taking the seed of angels. Now the Jews are not universally opposed to angels in this thing, but human kind. 3. He “took the seed of Abraham” is, it seems, he endeavoured to help the Jews. The whole discourse of the help afforded, both before and after this verse, is extended to the whole church; how comes it here to be restrained to the Jews only? 4. The discourse of the apostle is about the undertaking of Christ by death, and his being fitted thereunto by partaking of flesh and blood; which is so far from being in any place restrained or accommodated only to the Jews, as that the contrary is everywhere asserted, is known to all.
[The next place is] 1 John iv. 2, “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” He who comes into the world, or comes into flesh or in the flesh, had a subsistence before he so came. It is very probable that the intendment of the apostle was to discover the abomination of them who denied Christ to be a true man, but assigned him a fantastical body; which yet he so doth as to express his coming in the flesh in such a manner as evidences him to have another nature (as was said) besides that which is here synecdochically called “flesh.” Our catechists to this say, —
That this is not to the purpose in hand; for that which some read, “He came into the flesh,” is not in the Greek, but “He came in the flesh.” Moreover, John doth not write, “That spirit which confesseth Jesus Christ, which came in the flesh, is of God;” but that “That spirit which confesseth Jesus Christ, who is come in the flesh, is of God.” The sense of which words is, that the spirit is of God which confesseth that Jesus Christ, who performed his office in the earth without any pomp or worldly ostentation, with great humility as to outward appearance, and great contempt, and lastly underwent a contumelious death, is Christ, and King of the people of God.351351 “Etiam in eo nihil prorsus de incarnatione (quam vocant) haberi; etenim quod apud quosdam legitur, Venit in carnem, in Græco habetur, In carne venit. Propterea non scribit Johannes, quod spiritus qui confitetur Jesum Christum, qui in carne venit, ex Deo est; verum quod ille spiritus qui confitetur Jesum Christum in carne venisse ex Deo est. Quorum verborum seusus est, eum spiritum ex Deo esse qui confitetur Jesum ilium, qui munus suum in terris sine ulla pompa et ostentatione mundana, summa cum humilitate (quoad exteriorem speciem) summoque cum contemptu obiverit, mortem denique ignominiosam oppetierit, esse Christum, et populi Dei Regem.”
I shall not contend with them about the translation of the words. 1. Ἐν σαρκί seems to be put for εἰς σάρκα, but the intendment is the same; for the word “came” is ἐληλυθότα, that is, “that came,” or “did come.” 2. It is not τὸν ἐληλυθότα, “who did come,” that thence any colour should be taken for the exposition given by them, of confessing that Christ, or him who is the Christ, is the King of the people of God, or confessing him to be the Christ, the King of the people of God; but it is, “that confesseth him who came in the flesh,” that is, as to his whole person and office, his coming, and what he came for. 3. They cannot give us any example nor any one reason 303to evince that that should be the meaning of ἐν σαρκί which here they pretend. The meaning of it hath above been abundantly declared, so that there is no need that we should insist longer on this place, nor why we should trouble ourselves with Grotius’ long discourse on this place. The whole foundation of it is, that “to come in the flesh” signifies to come in a low, abject condition, — a pretence without proof, without evidence. “Flesh” may sometimes be taken so; but that to “come in the flesh” is to come in such a condition, we have not the least plea pretended.
The last place they mention to this purpose is Heb. x. 5, “Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” He who had a body prepared for him when he came into the world, he subsisted in another nature before that coming of his into the world. To this they say, —
Neither is there here any mention made of the incarnation (as they call it), seeing that world, into which the author says Christ entered, is the world to come, as was above demonstrated; whence to come into the world doth not signify to be born into the world, but to enter into heaven. Lastly, in these words, “A body hast thou prepared me,” that word, “a body” (as appeared from what was said where his entering this world was treated of), may be taken for an immortal body.
Q. What is the sense of this place?
A. That God fitted for Jesus such a body, after he entered
heaven, as is fit and accommodate for the discharging of the duty of a high
priest.352352 “Ne hic quidem de
incarnatione (ut vocant) ullam mentionem factam, cum is mundus, in quem
ingressum Jesum is autor ait, sit ille mundus futuras, ut superius
demonstratum eat; unde etiam ingredi in illum mundum, non nasci in mundum,
sed in cœlum ingredi significat. Deinde, illis verbis, Corpus aptasti
mihi, corporis vex (ut ex eo apparuit ubi de ingressu hoc in mundum
actum est) pro corpore immortali accipi potest.
“Quæ sententia ejus est? — Deum Jesu tale corpus aptasse, postquam in cœlum est ingressus, quod ad obeundum munus pontificis summi aptum et accommodatum foret.”
But, doubtless, than this whole dream nothing can be more fond or absurd. 1. How many times is it said that Christ came into this world, where no other world but this can be understood! “For this cause,” saith he, “came I into the world, that I might bear witness unto the truth,” John xviii. 37. Was it into heaven that Christ came to bear witness to the truth? “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,” 1 Tim. i. 15. Was it into heaven? 2. These words, “A body hast thou prepared me,” are a full expression of what is synecdochically spoken of in the Psalms in these words, “Mine ears hast thou opened,” expressing the end also why Christ had a body prepared him, — namely, that he might yield obedience to God therein; which he did signally in this world when he was “obedient unto death, the death of the cross.” 3. As I have before manifested the groundlessness of interpreting the word “world,” put absolutely, 304of the “world to come,” and so taken off all that here they relate unto, so in that demonstration which, God assisting, I shall give of Christ’s being a priest and offering sacrifice in this world before he entered into heaven, I shall remove what farther here they pretend unto. In the meantime, such expositions as this, that have no light nor colour given them from the texts they pretend to unfold, had need of good strength of analogy given them from elsewhere; which here is not pretended. “ ‘When he cometh into the world,’ that is, when he enters heaven, he says, ‘A body hast thou prepared me,’ that is, an immortal body thou hast given me.” And that by this immortal body they intend indeed no body I shall afterward declare.
Grotius turns these words quite another way, not agreeing with our catechists, yet doing still the same work with them; which, because he gives no proof of his exposition, it shall suffice so to have intimated. In sum, verse 4, he tells us how the blood of Christ takes away sin, namely, “Because it begets faith in us, and gives right to Christ for the obtaining of all necessary helps for us,” in pursuit of his former interpretation of chapter ix., where he wholly excludes the satisfaction of Christ. His coming into the world is, he says, “His showing himself to the world, after he had led a private life therein for a while,” contrary to the perpetual use of that expression of the New Testament. And so the whole design of the place is eluded, the exposition whereof I shall defer to the place of the satisfaction of Christ.
And these are the texts of Scripture our catechists thought good to endeavour a delivery of themselves from, as to that head or argument of our plea for his subsistence in a divine nature antecedently to his being born of the Virgin, — namely, because he is said to be incarnate or “made flesh.”
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