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BEFORE I proceed to the confutation of the arguments of our opponents, I would first faithfully admonish the kind reader that he do not mistake the shining clearness of the eternal God‑head, through his high soaring genius, and not have the audacity to undertake to fathom this ineffable profundity‑lest he, when he thinks that he has fathomed it, at once dazzle his eyes and suddenly fall down the precipice. For it is manifest that many smart and acute genii have been mistaken and made fools of themselves by their high‑soaring intellect.
The Tritheists held and taught that there were three Gods.
Arius divided the second as being the least of the first substances.
Macedonius said that the third being, namely: The Holy Ghost, was no God; but a servant of God and the Son.
Ætius and Eunomius taught that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost were different things or beings.
The Origenists held that the Son could not see the Father, and the Holy Ghost could not see the Son.
Maziminus feared that the Father was a part of God, and each person was one‑third of the trinity.
The Metangismonites said that the second person was in the first, as a small vessel in a larger.
The Allogians said that John uttered a falsehood when he said that God was the Word; because they could not comprehend the mystery of the Word.
The Monarchians as also the Praxians and Victorians said that the Almighty Father was Jesus Christ, and that he had placed himself at his right hand.
The Sabellians made the person and the names of Christ and of the Father, one; and are called Patripassians; for they believed that the Father had suffered. Behold thus, those save who undertake to search things incomprehensible, and who want to soar higher than the Scriptures teach.
Again Erasmus Roterod says, The Word was God. It was Almighty, out of the Almighty, with the Father, not brought forth for that time, but for all time. Thus proceeding from the paternal heart, and never leaving it. He further says, That the Father has begotten unto himself, the Son like unto himself in every respect; from eternity, to eternity. Again he says in suo ecclesiaste, Christ is the word of God, Almighty, which, without beginning and without end, ever comes forth from the heart of the Father.
Martin Luther says, The word is that 154which God speaks in himself, and which remains in him and is never separated from him. We do not controvert the testimony of Erasmus and of Luther; but we cited them for the reason that it might be observed what diversity of opinion exists.
Philip Mel. says, The word is begotten in thought, and is called the image of God, for that which is thought is the image of the thing thought of. Say, beloved reader, who dare build his conscience upon such foundation and reasoning?
Again, some councils resolved that there were three persons in the Trinity, that is, three real substances, and these same were Homusii, that is, of the same nature (co‑essential); both of these, namely, the persons and their natures have been suspected.
Behold, thus they follow their own opinions and inclinations, build upon vapor and wind, look at each other, and not at the word of the Lord, confuse the simple minds who are not versed in the Scriptures, proclaim their opinions and not the word; and whoever cannot agree with and follow them, is called a deceiver and heretic, by them; therefore I pray you, for Jesus' sake, not to climb higher in this ineffable Majesty than you have steps, and not to search farther than the word of the Lord has taught, while many a piercing eye has been, and is yet daily dazzled by this adulation. For you can understand as little of the unspeakable beauty and conception, how, and in what manner it was brought about from eternity, as you can form an idea of the indescribable Father himself.
Therefore let not the opinion and flattery of the learned be the foundation upon which you build your faith; but let the undeceiving, plain word of God and the testimony of holy John be a sure foundation whereon to build your faith.
This same Word, which was from the beginning and which, in the course of time became flesh, is called by Paul the Son, Christ Jesus, and the first begotten of all creatures, Col. 1:15.
Yea, dear reader, if the learned had left unbroken the testimony of John which he spoke of his eternal divinity; and if they had inclined their intellects to the word of God, there would never have been such dark confusion in the world, in regard to Christ, the Son of God.
Therefore I advise you in faithful love, take heed and beware; for the testimony of John is too clear to be obscured by flattery, and too strong to be broken by philosophy. Whosoever would rather drink the precious, clear wine of divine truth, than the impure waters of human adulation, let him hold to the word of the Lord, and let him abandon the unscriptural, destructive explanations, garblings, opinions and ideas of the learned.
This is sufficient of the eternal and ineffable divinity of Christ. Now, by the grace of God, we will proceed, and maintain by the power of the Scriptures, that those abominably err, who say, The word is not become flesh, but it has taken unto itself our flesh or a man of our flesh, as will be briefly and clearly shown in the following:
In the first place John A'Lasco writes, and says, "Divine justice requires that that which we broke, through our flesh, included in Adam's loins, should be punished in the same flesh. Or, as some say, that the nature which inflicted sin, should be punished for such sin, and that that which incurred death should also destroy it."
Answer. Since he and his followers would uphold their cause with the justice of God, and pretend to say that the inflictor and institutor should suffer punishment, then they should, by right, not use the words "our flesh and nature," but "Adam and Eve," in their writings (for they were the first inflictors and institutors), and not the flesh and nature of their descendants, as may be openly seen, Gen. 3:6.
The nature of man was first created pure and good; but was corrupted through Adam's disobedience. And as he was thus corrupted in his nature, so all his children were born corrupted; nevertheless, the children were not the inflictors and institutors, but Adam and Eve were. If the justice of God, then, requires the punishment of the inflicter and institutor, it would be but right, according to justice that not any of the children should be punished; for they were not the first that disobeyed; but Adam 155and Eve should receive the punishment, for they were the first that transgressed.
O, no, Adam and all his seed could not be justified, through the weakness of his flesh. They were guilty above measure, and had not a penny wherewith to pay, but it was liquidated for Christ's sake, who, through his eternal love and mercy (as Adam and his could not be justified in themselves), appearing in the shape and form of sinful man, fulfilled the justice of the Father, and tore to pieces the hand writing of the law, and has effaced and paid for all that which Adam had inflicted and broken by his transgression, by the sacrifice of his precious blood, Rom. 8:3; Eph. 2:15.
Since they point to the justice of God, I deem it necessary to treat on this a little further, that the intelligent reader may learn that this assertion of theirs is quite powerless, nay, in every respect without foundation in the Scripture.
It is manifest, kind reader, that Adam and Eve, together with their descendants tempted by the serpent, fell into condemnation and death, by the justice of God, Gen. 3:6 and that nothing can be born of them but that which is condemned and guilty of death, Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15.
Since Adam and all his seed, on account of his disobedience, became condemned and guilty of death by the eternal justice of God; and if the Lord Christ, according to his holy humanity, were a natural fruit of the flesh of Adam, as they pretend, then the man Christ must be again condemned and guilty of death, on account of his human birth. This is too clear to admit of denial, or else our opponents must take back their own argument, and acknowledge that God's justice is not eternal.
O, no, the flesh of Christ is holy, pure, spotless, knows no sin, makes pious and saves, is a true bread of souls, as is the word, which, in the latter days, according to the intention and purpose of the Father, became a true, passive man, for the salvation and eternal deliverance of all; and who died an innocent death for us.
It avails in no manner that they say that Mary was blessed, and that her fruit was saved from sin by the power of God. We confess that Mary was blessed, and that the fruit was without sin; but we deny that Mary was without sin in consequence of the blessing; for Paul says, "The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe," Gal. 3:22.
Again, if the man Christ were a flesh of Mary's flesh, then Mary would have been blessed through her own flesh; and Adam would have been reconciled through his own flesh; the justice of God would have been broken, and our condemnation, curse and death be dissolved and requited through flesh, condemned, cursed and guilty of death.
O, no, the Scripture teaches plainly that we have all become sinners in Adam, and that we have all, through sin, fallen under the judgment, wrath, and condemnation of God, and become subject unto death, Rom. 5:6; 1 Cor. 15:22. And of Christ it testifies that he is the Lamb without spot; that he has not known sin, and in his mouth no guile is found. Inasmuch then as it is manifest that the Scripture entirely concludes Adam and his descendants in sin, and entirely absolves Christ, therefore the discreet and right minded reader may conclude therefrom, that the holy man, Christ Jesus, is not of the unclean flesh of Adam, but that he is the holy and pure word of God, John 1; and that this saying of the learned, that the justice of God requires, &c., is not the sure testimony and word of God, but merely human flattery and fiction.
Oh, I wish that our opponents would once ponder what the justice of God, in this respect, requires according to the Scripture. I trust they would henceforth not hold so strongly to their foundation as they have hitherto done; neither would they say that if any one does not accept their doctrine he sins against the Holy Ghost; or at least think that they might be mistaken.
In the second place he intimates that we should understand the conception of Mary, of which Matthew and Luke speak, as far as regards the mother, as is naturally due her, according to the ordinance of God, Gen. 1.
Answer. It is surprising to me that a man as learned as he is, reasons so indiscreetly156, and dares ascribe the conception of Mary to nature, while it is clearly shown all through the Scriptures that the conception of Mary was brought about by supernatural causes, a particular miracle of the Most High, and a glorious sign of the Lord our God; as Isaiah says, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name immanuel," Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:31.
Again, Matthew writes concerning the conception of Mary, thus, "When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily; but while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins," Matt. 1:18‑21.
Again the angel said to Mary, "Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus; he shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God," Luke 1:31‑35.
From all these it is very evident that the conception of Mary was supernatural and a sign and miracle of the Lord; therefore it is all to no purpose that the learned philosophize it as being caused by nature, for it is irrelevant to the matter.
And if the conception of Mary were ascribed, in part, to nature, in the face of these clear Scriptures, then, still it is apparent from the ordinance of God and of nature, that the material, or origin of the child is of the Father and not of the mother, as has been sufficiently explained above in the confession, and also in my writing against Gellius Faber. Therefore these innovations are nothing but philosophy and human genius, without Scripture, and not worthy of an answer; but I have briefly criticised them, and pray you not to despise my references; but let a trial be given before the accusation, lest you mistake yourselves, as Sirach says.
They further advance that the Scripture speaks of the Savior being promised of the seed of woman, of Abraham and the fruits of the loins of David.
Answer. In the first place I say that he who deduces from these Scriptures that the man Christ was flesh of a woman, nay, the natural seed of Abraham and David, who all descended from the unclean flesh of Adam, must also add the unrighteousness, curse and sin of Adam.
If they should assert that he was free from the unrighteousness, curse and sin of Adam, I again answer: That he was not of the natural seed of Adam; for the seed of Adam was unclean, sinful and accursed therefore nothing but unclean, sinful and accursed flesh could be begotten therefrom; or else the unclean must beget the clean, the sinful the holy, and the accursed the blessed; and therefore the hereditary uncleanness, curse and condemnation be changed. This is too plain to be controverted.
Yea, reader, if the incarnation of the Lord was, as our opponents say it was, then it would be manifest that Christ Jesus was not so pure in his incarnation as was Adam in the first creation. For if it is asserted, as is true, that Christ was conceived in the virgin Mary, then Adam had no other father on earth but God‑wherefore he is also called a Son of God, by Luke. Yet, Adam would, nevertheless have been created of purer nature, and of God; but Christ, if he was of the unclean seed of Adam, must be of less clean nature, that is, of an unclean, human and earthly seed. This is too clear to be controverted.
In the second place I say, If the man Christ were a natural fruit and seed of the157 impure, sinful flesh of Adam, then he would also be guilty, through the eternal justice of God, of the judgment and death. And if he was guilty, how could he redeem and liquidate ours? Or else we must admit that God's justice was ended; and that the sinful had taken away and atoned for the sinful; the condemned for condemnation, and he that was guilty of death had taken away death.
O, no. No unclean animal was permitted to be offered as an offering of reconciliation in Israel; but it must be without blemish. And if the symbolic had to be entirely clean and without blemish, how much more so should be the true one, whereby the eternal reconciliation is brought about‑‑and whereby all symbolic offerings are fulfilled and finished, Heb. 9:10; Exodus 12:5; Deut. 16:21; Mal. 1:8.
In the third place I would say, He who asserts that the man Christ is a natural fruit and seed of Adam, Abraham, David and of woman, also asserts thereby that there are two persons in Christ, two sons; the father is no true father, the mother no true mother, and the son no true son, as has been said before.
In the fourth place I say, If the man Christ was of the flesh and blood of Mary, then it is manifest that he was not God's Son, but a created creature, since he would not be begotten of the Father, but of the flesh and blood of Mary, according to nature, as has been sufficiently shown.
In the fifth place I say, If the man Christ, were of the flesh and blood of Mary, as they pretend, then it is very evident that the birth of man, according to the ordinance of God, can not be without father and mother; and also that a child does not proceed from the mother, but of the father; and if the man Christ came without a father, from the body of the mother, against the ordinance of God, then a new creation must have taken place in Mary, which creation could not have occurred without the Word. If such a creation did occur, then it is manifest that the one half or part of Christ must be created by the other; Mary's son by God's Son; and that the two, namely, the Creator and the creature, thus became one person and Son. Dear reader, observe what abominations they advance.
In the sixth place I say, As all men have both father and mother, and as each has his generation‑the father and the mother—so, also, had Christ Jesus both father and mother. His Father was an incomprehensible Spirit from eternity, and will remain so to eternity; therefore he could have no genealogy on the side of the Father; but the mother, who was the true daughter of Adam, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, conceived him in her virgin womb through the Holy Ghost, by his Father's word; and she begat a true man in due time. Her genealogy was counted in the Scripture; for when he became incarnate in a human being, he must have a genealogy, of which he was born. And this is the word which Paul speaks, Born of the seed of David according to the flesh, Gen. 22:18; Ps. 132:11; Rom. 1:3; 9:5; Acts 13:23. Not that there were two sons in Christ, the one without father, and the other without mother; one the Son of God, and the other the son of man, as our opponents pretend. But he who was God's Son also was the son of man; and he who was the son of man, was also the Son of God. Not two, but an only and undivided Son, as the ordinance of God, and the whole Scriptures teach and imply.
If you cannot understand this, then mark this parable: Charles the Fifth is a son of Austria; he is also a son of Spain; not that he is, therefore, one of two sons‑but he is an only and undivided son. On the side of the father he is a son of Austria, and on the side of the mother he is a son of Spain. Thus also, is Christ Jesus a Son of God and a son of man; the Son of God on the side of his Father, and the son of man on the side of his mother. Not one of two sons—but an only and undivided Son. The Son of God and of Mary, as has been shown.
Again, if you are yet in doubt about the fruit of the loins of David, I would first refer you to my "Confession," which I wrote to John A'Lasco and his preachers, A. D. 1543, thereby admonishing you, to observe how the throne and the Kingdom of David, were promised to Christ, by Isaiah and the angel Gabriel; which was, however, not literally fulfilled in Christ, but in Solomon, 158who was a figure and symbol of Christ, as were also Isaac, Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Joseph.
Since the whole Scriptures teach us that his kingdom and throne are not literal but spiritual, therefore we must, in the same manner, judge the fruit and the king who shall sit upon the throne and reign; or else the one word must be understood literally, and the other spiritually. This is too plain to be controverted.
Secondly, observe what Christ asked of the Pharisees in regard to Christ the Son of David, and how he answered them, Matt. 22:42.
Thirdly, observe that if the man Christ were a natural fruit of the loins of David, all the insolvable, gross inconsistencies would be included in him, which we have partly pointed out above, and upon which we will enlarge if God permits.
Fourthly, observe that all the properties of God are alike perfect in him. And therefore his perfect, eternal love and justice require it, as Christ says, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Yea, says John, therein God's love appeared that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we, through him might live; for as he adjudged Adam and all his seed unto death, by his eternal justice, on account of his disobedience, so, also, has he, on account of the obedience of Christ, by his eternal love, promised life to all who believe in him; for as his righteous punishment of the sins of Adam's descendants who reject Christ, lasts forever, thus also his paternal love to forgive sin through Christ, lasts forever to all those who believe in Christ, and accept and obey the word of his grace, John 3:16.
In the third place, I find that it is said that my foundation is, that Christ was begotten of the Holy Ghost.
Answer. It is very unreasonable that I am ever blamed of things of which I am not guilty. In my first "Confession" I have plainly and clearly shown in Latin letters that I do not believe that Christ was conceived in Mary of the Holy Ghost, but through the Holy Ghost. Yet I must hear that I teach that Christ was begotten of the Holy Ghost.
O, dear Lord, how lamentably I am slandered! What else do they against me than the Scribes did unto Jeremiah, when they counseled about him, and said: Come, and let us devise devices against him, and not regard his reasoning, Jer. 18:18. Yea, I think that I am born to turn my ear to the slanderer, and my back to the scourger. Nevertheless, I hope, by the grace of the Lord, that the time will come when some of them will yet awaken and acknowledge, in all humility, with penitent hearts that they have not despised me, but the word of God, and that they have scorned his Spirit.
In the fourth place he intimates "That I teach that the Word changes itself into human flesh and blood in the womb of the virgin."
Answer. I presume that it will never be proven by virtue of the truth that I have ever, at any place, said or written so; nevertheless they dare say and write so of us. I have spoken thereof as the high apostle has taught me, that the "Word became flesh." That testimony I leave unbroken; and leave it to the Incomprehensible, to him, who, through his omnipotent power so arranged it for the salvation of us all, how much, and what was changed. Yet, I would, in my simplicity, add (if they explain the testimony of John to which I alluded in unchanged letters, and conclude therefrom: Menno teaches, with John, that the "Word became flesh," therefore his foundation must be that it was changed into flesh, &c.), that they should know that change does not always take away the first nature of the substances of which something is wrought.
Adam was a man created of the earth; he was a man of the earth, and remained of earth, as the Lord said, "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return," Gen. 3:19.
Again, in the resurrection of the dead, all those who have again returned to earth, shall, through the power of God, be resurrected from the earth. It is manifest that at first we were earth, afterward we became flesh of the earth, again we became earth of the flesh, and lastly we became flesh of the earth, out of the first flesh, but 159in glory and brightness, as the Scriptures testify; and thus the first substance, although changed, of which the thing changed was wrought, remains, as has been heard.
Reader, understand me rightly. I do not present this parable for the purpose of asserting that the Word was changed into flesh and blood, the same as the earth of which Adam was made was changed into human flesh, but I have presented it for the purpose of showing to the reader that, although if the Word was changed in being incarnated, it yet remained the word, John 1:14; 8:23; 1 John 1:2; Rev. 19:13.
In the fifth place he writes, "The Lord Christ was a Spirit from the beginning, unchangeable, holy and eternal. If he, then, was spirit and unchangeable, how, then, has he changed his substance or his being, and become flesh."
Answer. If I understand him aright, in Letter E, page five, he says, That he has not yet rightly comprehended my meaning of the phrase "factum est," i. e. become. If, now, he has not rightly comprehended me, then I cannot see why he should blame me of such doctrine, unless he cannot understand the testimony of John in any other way, notwithstanding his flattery and corruption; as I have merely testified to the same thing literally and unchanged.
Inasmuch as they verbally and in writing blame me of believing in such change, from the testimony of John (although they never heard such doctrine from my lips, nor read it in my writings), therefore I would pray the reader, for Christ's sake, not to blame me of any thing in regard to the change of the eternal Word than of what I hereby confess and explain in plain words: I believe and confess that there is an Almighty, eternal and incomprehensible God, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost, who has lived in eternal glory and shall live so forever. And that this same Almighty, eternal Father, before all creatures, yea, from the beginning and from eternity, begets of himself this his Almighty, eternal Word, in a divine and therefore incomprehensible manner; and that this, his Almighty, eternal Spirit proceeds or flows from him through the Word or Son; but I do not comprehend it.
I also believe and confess in the same manner, that this Almighty, eternal Father, through his Almighty, eternal Word, which is the Son, has, in the power of his Almighty, eternal Spirit, created heaven and earth with their fullness, and that he, thereby, forever preserves and maintains all things created therein and thereby, but I do not comprehend it.
I further believe and confess that all human nature (at the sound of the last trump), through the power of the Almighty and everlasting God, shall again arise from the earth with a glorified body; and that the children of God, who, here on earth, have walked before him in a firm faith and in meekness, shall receive the glorious, promised kingdom of honor, at the hands of the Lord‑that, on the other hand, those who have rejected the Lord and his word shall be eternally tormented with unquenchable, everlasting fire, with the devil and his angels, under the fearful, unbearable judgment of the Almighty and great God; but I do not comprehend it.
Faithful reader, observe, that although I do not comprehend the Almighty, only and eternal God in his eternal, divine being, in the dominion of his glory, in the creation and preservation of his creatures, in the reward of both the good and the evil, and in many of his works, yet I do truly believe it, and for this reason: Because the Scripture teaches so; in like manner I can not comprehend how, or in what manner the incomprehensible, eternal Word became flesh or man in Mary; nevertheless I do truly believe that he became man, because the Scripture teaches so. I know that it is a work that was done by the Lord, and is a miracle before our eyes. Nay, it is such a work that intellect cannot fathom, nor accuteness comprehend. Truly it is said, Who shall tell of his birth?
Inasmuch as I clearly find that it is an exalted and incomprehensible miracle of the Almighty and great God which the Almighty, eternal Father, through the omnipotence of the power of the Holy Ghost, has wrought in Mary; and inasmuch as I know how very perilous and solicitous it is for one to search into the incomprehensible profundity and divine mystery with one's foolish earthly understanding; and to garble the plain testimonies of the Holy Ghost, 160by deceitfulness and human smartness: Therefore it is that I dare not believe, nor teach more nor less of the holy incarnation than the holy prophets of the Lord, Christ Jesus, and also John, Peter and Paul, teach me on every hand in the Scriptures, with such incontrovertibly clear testimonies; all of which are surer and wiser witnesses to me than all the learned who have been, are, or shall ever be on earth; although, I repeat it, I cannot comprehend the ineffable mystery, with my dull, earthly understanding. Sirach says, Inquire not into the things which you cannot bear; and that which is too great or too exalted for you do not search.
Again, as to the saying of Malachi, "For I am the Lord, I change not," Mal. 3:6, and to the question of John A'Lasco, "If He is eternal how could He die?"
Answer. Malachi does not here speak of God's substance or being, but of his intention, counsel, resolution and will. From which I confess that God's intention, counsel, will, purpose, promise and love are eternal and unchangeable and must come to pass as he will and has resolved upon in his wisdom.
Inasmuch as it is manifest that the Almighty, eternal and unchangeable Father rules, and does all things according to his eternal, unchangeable intention, counsel, will and purpose, and as he had, through his eternal, unchangeable love, provided his eternal holy Word, or Son, that he, according to his firm and unchangeable intention, should become the Paschal lamb, as Peter says, Therefore this must happen that the Word, in due time, became flesh, although we cannot comprehend it; for it was the gracious intention, counsel, resolution, providence and will of his Almighty and everlasting Word which will forever stand firm, and which, according to the prophetic word, can never be changed, as has been heard.
Behold, honorable reader, this is my reply to the three questions: If he is a Spirit how could he become flesh? Is he God, how could he change? And if he is Eternal how could he die? as I, before my God, believe and confess. I trust, by the grace of God, to remain firmly therein unto death.
I have not counseled with nature and my intellect in this respect, but with the word of the Lord, which is the true light to my feet, which shows me in plain words that the conqueror, the promised seed of woman from the loins of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and of David, born according to the flesh, who is the Blessing, Messiah, Christ, King and Savior of all the world, is not of unclean, sinful flesh, but of the pure seed of his heavenly Father; the word of God conceived of the Holy Ghost, in the virgin Mary, and in her became flesh, as John says. Christ himself also says that he is from above, that he is the bread from heaven, and that he went forth from the Father, John 16. And Paul says that he is the Lord of heaven; descended from above; that he is the Alpha and Omega; our Immanuel, 1 Cor. 16; Eph. 4:10; Rev. 1:8; Isa. 7:14. And, besides, as I plainly see that our opponents dare not advance these and such plain Scriptures, but garble them by their intellect with many exceptions and flatterings; therefore I repeat it, that I turn away from intellect and nature, bind my faith and conscience to the word of the Lord, and truly and firmly believe and trust, that this great miracle of God was thus produced in Mary; although I cannot comprehend it.
Behold, kind reader, whosoever testifies or writes any thing else of me, in regard to the change of the eternal Word, but that which I hereby confess, is a liar and does not testify to the truth. The testimony to which I refer is firm and binding: "The word is become flesh." But how far it was changed he knows who in his eternal love has so arranged it for the salvation and everlasting deliverance of us all, through his Omnipotence. Praise be to God forever, Amen.
Here I will perhaps be asked, if then, the Father is not of divine nature? And whence has Christ derived his humanity? To this I answer: From whence came the abundance of water which flowed from the hard rock? The rock was no water nor watery substance. Was it not produced by the omnipotence of God, to whom nothing is impossible, above all human understanding and comprehension?
Again, how did a virgin conceive otherwise161 than through the power of God, and the operation of the Holy Spirit, above the comprehension of all philosophers? Nay, above the comprehension of Mary herself, for she said, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." He does not say, that holy thing which shall come from thy flesh and blood, as say our opponents.
If they should further say, that if the Word became flesh, and did not take unto itself our flesh, then it did not remain God's Word; as when Lot's wife became a pillar of salt, she did no longer remain man or woman; and when the water became wine it did no longer remain water. I would reply: The Scripture says that Lot's wife became a pillar of salt, and that the water became wine. This the Scripture says, and therefore it is also true. But the Scripture says not that Lot's housewife took unto herself a pillar of salt, and that water took unto itself wine. In the same manner the Scriptures also testify that the Word became flesh; but does not testify, that the Word took unto himself our flesh.
I would further say, that if some Scriptures could be produced to prove that "becoming" is taking unto one's self; or that two persons and sons of different natures and minds can be one person and son; or that there was a true Son from the beginning who had not both father and mother; or that a son can be his father's son, who is not of the father's seed, then we might ponder upon their foundation a little further. But since they never produce such Scriptures, neither are they able to produce them; and since the Scriptures testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, therefore the testimony of John remains firm and immutable: "The Word is become flesh," however much philosophers may dispute this.
Lastly I would say, That if the Word did not become flesh, but only took unto himself a man of Mary's flesh, as our opponents assert, and if the same was used as an instrument to suffer for us, then it is manifest that Jesus Christ, a Son of his Father in truth (as John calls him), did not come in the flesh (corporatus as Castalion says), for were he to suffer himself, and not another in his stead, then he must come in the flesh, otherwise he could not have suffered. This is too clear to be contradicted. All those who deny this, are deceivers and anti‑christs, 2 John 1:7.
He further writes, "If he is holy why was he condemned for the sake of sin in the judgment of the Father?" At another place he also writes: "Christ partook of no other flesh than that which was subject to sin and death, that he might be tempted."
Answer. If we are to understand his words as they read, then Christ, together with his holy flesh was subject to sin and death; this is incontrovertible. For he says, If he is holy why was he then condemned for sin under the judgment of the Father. Just as if he, was unholy, and guilty of death under the judgment, and deserving of the wrath and punishment of God. But this must be so too if we are to assert that the flesh of Christ was of Mary's flesh. Therefore it is manifest from his words that the sin by which he was tempted dwelt in his flesh; and that thus he did not die, out of grace for us, but as one guilty, for himself. For the wages of sin is death.
O, dear Lord, If the poor Menno was to speak of the Son of God thus blasphemously, and were to include him in sin, O, what an unpleasant, bitter song would be sung about him! But whatever the learned dream and philosophize, must be accepted as right and good.
This, then, is my short reply to his words just cited, namely: Isaiah and Peter testify of him that he did not know sin, and that guile was not found in his mouth. Yea, dear reader, he was holy before his incarnation, holy in his incarnation, and will remain holy forever. For it was needful, that we should have such a high priest, who is holy, innocent and spotless, and who became higher than the heavens; for if he were not innocent and holy, he could not have requited for our sins and guilt, but must have suffered for his own imperfections and guilt. But now the Scriptures testify that he was bruised for our iniquities and was stricken for our transgression, Is. 63:5, 8.
162In the sixth place he writes and says, "The comparison of the words of Paul, The form of pod and the form of a servant, teaches us that by which God is known to be God, and nothing else, than the immeasurable power and the brightness of his light and glory to which none can aspire; that we must also understand it as that by which a servant is known to be a servant, and that it is nothing else but our human flesh, and that through the disobedience of our first parents it was forfeited under the servitude of sin; nevertheless he writes that we must so understand it that he took upon himself our flesh, but not the servitude thereof," Hac ille.
Answer. Here I will leave the reader to choose whether to explain this form of a servant as having reference to a servile form, or, as John A'Lasco thinks, to a sinful form. If it has reference to a servile, and not to a sinful form, then it does not support the assertion that the Word has taken unto himself our flesh. But if it is explained, as John A'Lasco explains it, as having reference to a sinful, and not to a servile condition, then it must necessarily follow that that is also in Christ, on account of which we are called servants, namely, on account of sin, or else the adduced antithetical form is not in place and can not stand, as you will hereafter, by the grace of God, clearly hear and see.
I deny that I misinterpreted the Latin phrase Exinanicit semetipsum, as John A'Lasco accuses me of doing; although at one place I wrote, He has humbled himself, I trust I have not written it wrongly. At another place I wrote, The Son, the Word, was humbled, went beneath himself; was made lower than the angels. But nowhere have I written that he went out from himself, as John A'Lasco wrongfully accuses me. I will leave it to the judgment of all grammarians whether or not I have written correctly.
I think Christ has greatly humbled himself, since he is the Almighty, eternal Word, Wisdom and Power of God, and became such a poor, weak, despised man. He also went much beneath himself, since he was in divine form and became such a despised servant. Yea, reader, that Paul here speaks (Phil. 2:7, 8), of the servile and not of the sinful condition, we may well deduce from the following Scriptures. "Behold," says Isaiah, "my servant, whom I uphold; mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth," Is. 42:1. Matthew is my witness that the prophet speaks this of Christ; and therefore is he called the servant of his Father, because he has performed the work and service of his Father here on earth, for us poor sinners, as he says, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many," Matt. 20:28.
Therefore, I repeat it. Paul here speaks of the servile and not of the sinful condition which Christ took upon himself for our salvation. For if he here spoke of the sinful and not of the servile condition, then Christ must also have assumed the form of a servant, that is sin; else the phrase The form of a servant, and The form of God could not exist together. For as the phrase form of God testifies to his true divinity, so also, the form of a servant must testify to his true servile form; or it must follow from the argument of John A'Lasco, that, although Christ was in divine form, yet he lacked the divinity, the same as he had the form of a servant but the servility, i. e. sin he had not.
O, no, it is not so. He was in God‑form, and was therein truly God; thus he also took upon himself the form of a true servant, and was therein a true servant; as may be deduced from Isaiah, Matthew and the words of Christ. And in this sense the antithesis, the form of God and the form of a servant, exists, and does not require the exception which John A'Lasco here made. And this is the proper cause and reason why Paul wrote to the Philippians about this, that they should not be contentious one with another, nor seek their own vain, carnal honor, or any thing selfish, but that they should, after the example of Christ, humble themselves one towards another, and walk in love; for although Christ was in the form of God, yea "equal with God, but made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant," and not the exalted form of a mighty emperor or king. He came to minister unto us and not to be ministered unto, Matt. 20:28. Yea, "He was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin," Heb. 4:15. He 163sought not his own but that which was ours; and for our sakes "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," Phil. 2:8. Thus the assertion of John A'Lasco, that the Word took unto himself our flesh or a man of our flesh, remains unproven.
But his point that while Christ was here upon earth he still was also in heaven, that his face shone as the sun, that his raiment was white as the light, that he healed the sick, raised the dead, and by his word remitted sin, which power alone belongs to God, does not prove that he received his holy flesh from our sinful flesh; but it rather proves that he still remained God and his word, notwithstanding he, for a time, so humbled himself and went beneath his divine splendor, attributes, right and glory, for our sakes. Whosoever sincerely fears God, let him consider and judge, Matt. 17:2; Luke 7:21.
In the seventh place he asserts it as his foundation that the Word did not become flesh, but that he took unto himself our flesh of Mary, and confirms this with the Scripture Heb. 2:14; which reads thus, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same," and says, "The word was made flesh;" not that he has in any manner changed his first estate, or form, but he has taken unto himself our flesh and has therewith covered his divinity while here upon earth.
Answer. All those who desire a scriptural and correct understanding of the Scriptures quoted, and also of Christ, the Son of God, should well observe that God, the Almighty, eternal Father, the true Creator, who wills and works, is the only source of all good; and that he ineffably before all creatures, begat of himself his Almighty, eternal and ineffable Word, and has, through the same created all things, . and thereby governs, maintains and preserves them; and that he in his eternal justice, love, and in all his attributes, together with his ineffable Word and Holy Spirit, is an eternal and perfect God, and beside him there is none other; and that he is eternal and unchangeable in his counsel, purpose, will and conclusion, as was said before, Mal. 3:6.
And, that this Almighty, eternal Father, through his Almighty, eternal Word, in the power of his Almighty, eternal Spirit, has, according to his divine purpose, counsel, will and conclusion, created Adam and Eve, the parents of us all, as righteous, good and pure creatures, unto eternal life, nay, after his own image and likeness, as the Scriptures testify; that he gave unto them the command of life and death, that they might fear, love, praise, thank and serve him, and live according to his will, Gen. 1.
Behold, this is the Creator that created Adam and Eve; it also shows through what he created them, how and for what purpose he created them; what he permitted and what he forbid them to do; what he promised them if they obeyed him, and what he threatened if they should disobey him; and thus the glory of God began to shine, Ps. 33:5; John 1:10.
In this piety, holiness and righteousness, Adam and Eve remained so long as they did not deviate from the counsel, word, will and command of God, in which all things have, and must have their being. But man was left in the hands of his counsel, Sirach 15:14. But through the old serpent, the cunning reptile and envier of the honor of God, and all good, caused the glorious, noble creature of life to be led from the favor and grace of his Creator into condemnation and death, and obscured the glory of God. He began with Eve, the weaker vessel, to tempt her with the desires of her appetite; for the woman saw, says Moses, that the tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes. He falsified the word of the Lord, and said, "Ye shall not surely die," and made glorious promises, saying, "In the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil."
Adam and Eve disobeyed the command of their God and Creator, by which alone they must live; believed the promise of the serpent; ate, and through the justice of God, fell into the threatened curse, condemnation and death, and thus the deceiving serpent established the kingdom of hell and of death. There, now lay the miserable, accursed Adam and his wife, Eve, in the power of the devil, poisoned "from the sole of the foot even unto the head," both within and without, with his impure, deadly164 venom, and became subject unto sin and death. According to the justice of God, there was now no way of escape, for Adam and all his descendants; for the word of life was rejected; the holy command of God was transgressed, the venom of the serpent was taken. Alas, all was lost to them! Their eyes were opened, the shame was acknowledged, the gnawing worm was in the disobedient, self‑accusing conscience; there was nothing but shaking and trembling, sighing and remorse. They fled before the face of the Lord and knew not where to hide from his wrath; for the justice of God pointed to the word, "or in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Here the counsel, purpose, will and conclusion of the Almighty, eternal God were unchanged. He would make manifest his glory and have a man after his own image and likeness.
Inasmuch as this was resolved upon and provided for with God, as has been said; and as with poor Adam, all was lost, as also with all his descendants, for at heart he was full of venom and abashed before his God, therefore should the unchangeable, will, counsel and resolution of the unchangeable God be executed, there must be another who was like the corrupted Adam before his fall; for upon such a man, God's will had resolved; and with Adam all was lost.
Therefore the ineffable, eternal Word, by which Adam and Eve were created, by which all things are and must forever remain; the Almighty power and wisdom of God, must become man, that he might bruise the head of the deceiving serpent, for the salvation of the condemned Adam and all his descendants; that temptation might be overcome; that the holy and unchangeable will of the Father might be fulfilled; that the dominion and power of the devil might be destroyed; and that he might, by his willing obedience and spotless offering, discharge and put away the guilt and deserved death of Adam, by his innocent death.
Behold, this joyous gospel, and these glad tidings of the divine grace, which God declared to the poor, afflicted and fugitive, Adam. He accepted them through faith; consoled himself therewith, and sincerely rejoiced in his grace, Gen. 3:15; 22:18; Jer. 23:6; Luke 1:28.
And this is the Messiah who, I say, was promised Adam, of a woman, the salvation of all the world; promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the glorious Branch, Rod, Plant and Fruit of David, symbolized in Solomon, the natural fruit of his loins; who shall sit on his throne and reign in Israel forever. All who believe on him shall receive the mercy, grace and peace of God; but whosoever does not believe on him, on him remaineth the wrath of God, John 3:36.
From all this it follows that as Adam was created, in the beginning and we in him, through the Word, he and also we are again quickened of God through this same Word, and accepted in grace. John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God; the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made," &c. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Behold, in such plain words testifies the Spirit of God, that both the creation and the restoration of Adam and his seed, was brought about by no other means than through the Word, as has been heard, Matt. 3:11; John 1; Col. 1:10.
And to the better explanation of this, and also to learn to understand rightly how entirely sinful, impure, poisoned, powerless, and as nothing we all have become in Adam, I would point you, with Paul, to the law and the Scriptures; they will depict to you the impure, powerless nature and sinfulness of our flesh so plainly, that you are forced to acknowledge that the holy, glorious and spotless Messiah, through whom we all are pacified and reconciled with God, could not be of such impure, sinful and accursed seed and flesh as the learned teach us, and pretend with their philosophic reasoning, without the Scriptures.
Thus speaks Moses, Thou shalt not covet, or thou shalt not desire. Reader, observe: In these few words is properly represented 165the first righteousness in which Adam was created in the beginning; and which is yet claimed of God according to his righteousness, by his descendants. Ponder diligently on these words of Moses and examine yourself closely, before your God, who tries the hearts and reins, whether or not you sometimes do not, against the law, find such forbidden lusts in your flesh.
If you imagine yourself free from these, you convert God into a liar, 1 John 1:10; and thereby you also shame all the righteous of God, who were from the beginning; for they have all unanimously complained of their evil‑disposed, wicked flesh, and have, alas, too unanimously shown it in their fruits. The Scriptures testify that I speak the truth,
Yea, reader, if any man, born of the sinful flesh of Adam, had completely fulfilled the law, then for such the commanded yearly sin‑offering, which was offered by the high priest in the Holy of Holies, was useless and fruitless. Neither would it have been necessary for the Son of the Most high, the eternal word of God to become man; for such a person could have done all this and fulfilled the required righteousness. But as it was, there was neither prophet nor any man of God, born of Adam, so holy, or so pious, but who had to console himself with the promise of God in regard to Christ, also symbolized in the offering, and with the divine grace, through faith.
But if you find that you do not as the law requires, but that you are not alone ever fought by the lusts which dwelt in your flesh, but that you are also often involuntarily conquered thereby, then you must acknowledge that you are already condemned to death by the law of righteousness. For the law says, "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them; and all the people shall say, Amen," Deut. 27:26.
Behold, kind reader, if you would rightly know and acknowledge how miserable, naked, powerless, impotent, unclean, sinful and poisoned all of Adam's seed is become in him, through his transgression, and how his seed is fallen, through the just righteousness of God, into his wrath, judgment, curse, condemnation and death, then, I say, search the law diligently; for it points out to you, First, the obedience to God and righteousness required of you; and also the weakness of your sinful flesh, your impure and evil disposed nature; and that you are already condemned to death, according to the rigor of the above mentioned righteousness, since you, through your inherent, weak nature and evil disposed flesh, do not walk in the required righteousness as God has commanded and required of you in his law, as you will clearly notice by your own unction if you but rightly observe.
Inasmuch as Adam and his seed are so entirely corrupted; as by nature he was created pure and clean, and became wholly impure and evil disposed, and thus fell in the righteous judgment of God; and since every thing is involved in sin; therefore, if this venom was to be weakened in its power; if the corrupted nature of Adam was to be delivered from the curse and judgment of sin; if the righteousness of God was to be appeased; if the power of the devil was to be disturbed; if curse, wrath, condemnation and death were to be taken away; if the hand writing of the law, which required such righteousness of Adam's children, was to be broken to pieces; if the eternal providence, counsel, will and determination of God were to be fulfilled; if his kingdom and glory were to be acknowledged; and if there was to be such a man as the counsel, will, and determination of God required, as has been heard; then the everlasting love of God would require that there should be another man, who, conquering the devil, should disturb his power, fulfill the righteousness of God, promulgate his glory, make a clean sacrifice, and who should thus, out of love and compassion, be innocently accursed and condemned to death; not of Adam, but for the everlasting salvation of Adam and his seed; that thus the corrupted and condemned Adam, together with his corrupt and condemned seed, should be again accepted in grace, through his name, and be again delivered from their great fall, Gal. 3; Gen. 3:17; Luke 11:21; John 14:30; Col. 1:14.
It could not, I repeat it, be a man of Adam's flesh; for the corrupted flesh of 166Adam could not beget fruit which could fulfill this, while it was so thoroughly corrupted and condemned before God; but it must be a man who was free from the deserved curse, condemnation and death of Adam, and also from all his venom, sin and unrighteousness, as has been sufficiently heard.
Observe, my faithful reader, and here learn to know your God in his grace and love. For although the whole Scriptures conclude Adam and Eve, together with all their descendants, entirely under the sin, curse, condemnation and death, according to justice, yet it does not leave in hell the solicitous, afflicted conscience, which has been so far taught and directed by the law, that it feels its wounds and stripes, and acknowledges that it is deserving of eternal death and condemnation; but the Scriptures show in consoling words and symbols, where and of whom to get the healing medicine, namely: of Christ Jesus. For it is he, who with all his righteousness, merit, cross, blood and death, was graciously given of God our heavenly Father to the fallen and condemned Adam and his posterity, for their eternal salvation and reconciliation.
I think this may well be called a joyous gospel, and glad tidings to all afflicted and lamenting souls, who having become subject to sin and death under the law, so fearfully tremble at the righteous judgment and wrath of God, that the Almighty, eternal God and Father has so loved us miserable, trifling and condemned sinners who are so far estranged from him and, according to his righteous judgment, are deserving of eternal death, that he sent into this miserable world, his Almighty, eternal and ineffable Word, his only, eternal and beloved Son, the brightness of his glory; and who was like unto Adam before the fall, as a proof and means of his divine grace; and that this One has, through his perfect righteousness, willing obedience and innocent death, led us from the kingdom and dominion of the devil into the kingdom of his divine grace and eternal peace.
Inasmuch as the Scriptures pronounce the first Adam and all his seed to be such an impure, sinful, accursed and condemned Adam, and pronounce Christ, the second Adam, free from all impurity, sin, curse and condemnation, therefore the impartial reader may well deduce therefrom that such a precious, glorious fruit could not be plucked from an elder or thorn bush; but should be begotten from some other source, namely: from him who is the only cause and eternal source of all good things, as has been said.
That the holy and saving flesh of Christ was not of the sinful and condemned flesh of Adam may be plainly observed from the following passages and figures of the Holy Scripture.
Isaiah says, "All we like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." "He hath done violence to no one; neither was any deceit in his mouth. , Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him," Isa. 53:6, 9, 10.
I must pay, says the Psalmist, in the person of Christ that which I had not taken. He "bare our sins in his own body on the tree," and by his stripes we were healed, 1 Pet. 2:24.
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Cor. 5:21. Again, we are all sinners and come short of the glory of God; but are made righteous, without merit, by his grace, through the deliverance which is in Christ.
Again, "The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe," Gal. 3:22.
Ye know, says John, that the Son of God "was manifested to take away our sins;" and in him is no sin, 1 John 3:5. Read also all these Scriptures, Isa. 7:9 and 40; Jer. 23; Micah 5; John 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17; 1 Cor. 15; Acts, 20; Eph. 4; 1 Tim. 3; 1 John 1, 2, 3, 4, 55555; Heb. 1, 2, 3, 7; Rev. 1:19.
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