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Chapter VII.

He shows again from the union in Christ of two natures in one Person that what belongs to the Divine nature may rightly be ascribed to man, and what belongs to the human nature to God.

And how was it the same Person before the origin of the world, who was but recently born? Because it was the same Person, who was recently born in human nature, who was God before the rise of all things. And so the name of Christ includes everything that the name of God does; for so close is the union between Christ and God that no one, when he uses the name of Christ can help speaking of God un585der the name of Christ, nor, when he speaks of God, can he help speaking of Christ under the name of God. And as through the glory of His holy nativity the mystery of each substance is joined together in Him, whatever was in existence—I mean both human and Divine—all is regarded as God. And hence the Apostle Paul seeing with unveiled eyes of faith the whole mystery of the ineffable glory in Christ, spoke as follows, in inviting the peoples who were ignorant of God’s goodness to give thanksgiving to God: “Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature: for in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations, or powers: all things were created by Him and in Him. And He is before all, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body the Church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things He may hold the primacy. Because it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; and through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, making peace through the blood of His cross, both as to the things on earth, and the things that are in heaven.”25152515    Col. i. 12–20. Surely this does not need the aid of any further explanation, as it is so fully and clearly expressed that in itself it contains not merely the substance of the faith, but a clear exposition of it. For he bids us give thanks to the Father: and adds a weighty reason for thus giving thanks; viz., because He hath made us worthy to be partakers with the saints, and hath delivered us from the power of darkness, hath translated us unto the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption and remission of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature; for in Him and through Him were all things created; of which He is both the Creator and the ruler: and what follows after this? “He is” he says, “the head of the body the Church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead.” Scripture speaks of the resurrection as a birth: because as birth is the beginning of life, so resurrection gives birth unto life. Whence also the resurrection is actually spoken of as regeneration, according to the words of the Lord: “Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”25162516    S. Matt. xix. 28. Therefore he calls Him the first-born from the dead, whom he had previously declared to be the invisible Son and image of God. But who is the image of the invisible God, except the only-begotten, the Word of God? And how can we say that He rose from the dead, who is termed the image and word of the invisible God? And what is it that follows afterwards? “That in all things He may hold the primacy: for it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, making peace through the blood of His cross, both as to things on earth and the things that are in heaven.” Surely the Creator of all things has no need of the primacy in all things? Nor He who made them, of the primacy of those things which were made by Him? And how can we say of the Word, that it pleased God that all fulness should dwell in Him who was the first-born from the dead, when He was Himself the only-begotten Son of God and the Word of God, before the origin of all things, and had within Him the invisible Father, and so first had within Him all fulness, that He might Himself be the fulness of all things? And what next? “Bringing all things to peace through the blood of His cross, both things on earth, and the things which are in heaven.” Certainly he has made it as clear as possible of whom he was speaking, when he called Him the first-born from the dead. For are all things reconciled and brought into peace through the blood of the Word or Spirit? Most certainly not. For no sort of passion can happen to nature that is impassible, nor can the blood of any but a man be shed, nor any but a man die: and yet the same Person who is spoken of in the following verses as dead, was above called the image of the invisible God. How then can this be? Because the apostles took every possible precaution that it might not be thought that there was any division in Christ, or that the Son of God being joined to a Son of man, might come by wild interpretations to be made into two Persons, and thus He who is in Himself but one might by wrongful and wicked notions of ours, be made into a double Person in one nature. And so most excellently and admirably does the apostle’s preaching pass from the only begotten Son of God to the Son of man united to the Son of God, that the exposition of the doctrine might follow the actual course of the things that happened. And so he continues with an unbroken connexion, and 586makes as it were a sort of bridge, that without any gap or separation you might find at the end of time Him whom we read of as in the beginning of the world; and that you might not by admitting some division and erroneous separation imagine that the Son of God was one person in the flesh and another in the Spirit; when the teaching of the apostle had so linked together God and man through the mystery of His birth in the body, so as to show that it was the same Person reconciling to Himself all things on the Cross, who had been proclaimed the image of the invisible God before the foundation of the world.


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