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A TRUE CONFESSION
SCRIPTURAL DEMONSTRATION OF THE MOST HOLY INCARNATION OF OUR
BELOVED LORD JESUS CHRIST. WRITTEN TO JOHN A'LASCO
AND HIS FELLOW‑LABORERS AT EMDEN.
BELOVED LORDS, friends and brethren, when this matter of the incarnation of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ was first mentioned by the brethren, on hearing it I was terrified at heart, lest I should err in the matter and be found, before God, in pernicious unbelief. On account of this article I was often so troubled at heart, after receiving baptism, that for many days I abstained from food and drink, by the overanxiety of my soul, beseeching and praying God in extreme necessity that the kind Father by his mercy and grace would disclose unto me, poor sinner, who, although in extreme weakness, desired to do his blessed will and pleasure, the mystery of the incarnation of his blessed Son, to the extent necessary to the glorification of his holy name and to the consolation of my afflicted conscience.
Thus wandering about for days, weeks and months, I have frequently asked the opinion or belief of some of you in regard to this matter which bore so heavily upon my heart. Yet none could instruct me sufficiently to quiet my conscience. For gross misunderstanding of some Scriptures which they alleged as proof of their assertion, I found with them, not only according to my opinion, but according to the meaning of the Scriptures; so that, at last, after much fasting, weeping, praying, tribulation and anxiety, I became, by the grace of God, quiet and refreshed at heart, firmly acknowledging and believing, assured by the infallibly sure testimony of the Scriptures, understood in the Spirit, that Christ Jesus forever blessed, is the Lord from heaven, 1 Cor. 15:47; the promised spiritual seed of the new and spiritual Eve, Gen. 3:15, namely, the eternal Truth, Jn. 14:16; the powerful Conqueror of the serpent and his seed, Gen. 3:15; Luke 11:21; Jn. 16:33: Heb. 2:14; which promised seed is the eternal Truth and word of God, and, in the fullness of time, was sent forth from the Almighty and merciful Father, Gal. 4:4, in a pure virgin, Mary, Isa. 7:14, conceived by the Holy Ghost and power of the Most High. She heard and believed the heavenly message and pleasure of the Father, that was brought to her by Gabriel, Luke 1:28; this eternal Word of God is become flesh; it was in the beginning with God and was God., Jn. 1:2. Conceived and begotten of the Holy Ghost, Matt. 1:18; generated and nourished in Mary, as a natural child is by its mother; a true Son of God and a true son of man, born of her, truly flesh and blood, suffering, hungry, thirsty, passive, mortal according to the flesh; immortal according to the Spirit, like unto us in all things, yet without sin, Heb. 2:9; 4:15. Truly God and man, man and God: Not divided nor separated as being half heavenly and half earthly, half of the seed of man and half of God, as some express it; but an unmixed, whole Christ, namely, spirit, soul and body, as Paul says, all men are, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself," (mark, humbled himself), Phil. 2:6‑8. He who was more exalted than the angels, is made a little lower than they are. For as he was subject to 330death; he became flesh and blood, Heb. 2:9. I believe and confess without a doubt that he was thus, according to the flesh, conceived and come of the Holy Ghost, born of the seed or lineage of David and of Abraham, and made of a woman, under the law, Gal. 4:4, circumcised the eighth day, obedient unto his parents, growing and waxing strong in Spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him, Luke 2:40.
This same man, Christ Jesus, preached, was crucified, died, was buried, arose, and ascended to heaven and is there seated at the right hand of his Almighty Father, according to the testimony of all the Scriptures, and from thence he will return to judge the sheep and the goats, the good and the evil, the quick and the dead, 2 Cor. 6:10; 2 Tim. 4:1:
Thus I believe and confess that the pure word of God, Christ Jesus, the Creator, Commander and accuser of Adam, instituted himself in Adam's stead, that is, in his wrath, death and curse, and has, by his great compassion, love and mercy, taken upon himself the accursed burden of his erring creatures; that he himself became like Adam in the flesh. And thus he has, by his death, again given life; and by humbling himself, by his righteousness and obedience, he has reunited and fulfilled the eternal righteousness of the righteous God, as he speaks through David, "I restored that which I took not away," Ps. 69:4.
God has not reconciled the world unto himself by Adam's flesh, for by his righteousness it was subject to the wrath and curse. And what can be reconciled by wrath and curse? But he has done so by himself, by mere grace, by his eternal Word, that is, by his blessed Son, who became like unto the first Adam in all things except in unrighteousness, disobedience and sin, that all honor and praise should belong to God and not to us or to Adam. Yea, "Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption, that, according as it is written, He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord," 1 Cor. 1:30, 31.
Behold, beloved lords, friends and brethren, thus I believe that God has sent "His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin (which he conquered, or for which he was offered), condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us; who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," Rom. 8:3, 4. Again, "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. 6:21. And thus he is become our only offer and sacrifice, fulfillment and requisition, by whom God, the Father is reconciled, by whom his righteousness is fulfilled, the malediction removed, the devil, sin and everlasting death conquered and eternal life restored, yea, grace, favor, mercy, peace and eternal life. Paul says, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Rom. 8:32.
Thus I believe and confess that "God was made manifest in the flesh," 1 Tim. 3:16; "That God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself," 2 Cor. 6:19; that he has blotted out our sins, and has again seated himself at the right hand of the Majesty on high; and all the angels of God worship him there, Heb. 1:6. And with this doctrine of the conception and incarnation of Christ, all scriptural testimony and truth agree.
First, Paul says, "What is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things," Eph. 4:9, 10. Again, Christ himself says, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." Again, "He that cometh from above, is above all; he that is of the earth, is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven, is above all, and what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony," Jn. 3:31, 32. Again, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world," "doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" Jn. 6:51, 61, 62. Again, "I came forth from the Father331, and am come unto the world; again, I leave the world and go to the Father," Jn. 16:28. Again, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me, for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world," Jn. 17:24. Again, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled, of the word of Life (for the life was manifested)," 1 Jn. 1:1; and also many other Scriptures, particularly of John.
All those who, by the grace of God, clearly and intelligently see into and confess this doctrine of the incarnation of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, will rightly confess and comprehend the unspeakable grace, favor, compassion, mercy, and the inexpressibly great love of God the Father expressed and manifested in Christ Jesus, as he himself says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life," Jn. 3:16. Again, "In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins," 1 Jn. 4:9, 10. For how could God show greater paternal love to us than so to humble his eternal Wisdom and Truth, his pure, powerful Word, his blessed Son, by whom he created all things; who was like unto him in form, the image of his blessed being, that he became less than the angels, a poor, despised, passive, mortal man or servant, who alone had to bear the trouble, labor, transgression, curse and death of the whole world. He so humbled him that he became the most miserable of men, 1 Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53:6, "a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people," Ps. 22:6; and thus the innocent, the true, the wise, the righteous, the obedient and the pure Christ Jesus had to wash off, blot out, and satisfy the guilt, falsehood, foolishness, unrighteousness, disobedience and uncleanness of all men. Say, beloved, who ever heard of greater love.
Beloved, holy father and brother, this is, before God, my doctrine, faith and confession of the consoling incarnation of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ; which is, in my opinion, very strong and incontrovertible by the Holy Scriptures; nor can I, therefore, be convinced by any view of the matter, by any of your reasonings and writings hitherto advanced by you against our doctrine, faith and confession; as you turn and explain them according to a natural and carnal sense, and not to the true explanation and sense of the Holy Spirit; which, doubtlessly, should not be the case in this matter, since this glorious work of the incarnation of Christ is wrought and accomplished by God through his Holy Spirit, above all natural causes solely in faith, as the pleasure of God directs.
I repeat, this is my confession to those who desired to hear my belief and feeling in regard to this article. Yet, I never teach it so profoundly in my common admonitions to the brethren and friends; nor have I, heretofore, ever taught it thus profoundly, as I have told you verbally. But I simply teach that the blessed Christ Jesus is truly God and man, a Son of God, and a son of man, conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, a poor, despised man, like unto us in all things, except sin; that it is he who was promised in the law by the prophets, and is our true Messiah, Christ, King, David, Prophet, Bishop and Priest, the Deliverer, Savior, Sacrifice, Reconciliation, Fulfiller, Shepherd, Teacher, Example, Mediator, Advocate, Ruler, Commander, Bridegroom, Light of the world, the true Door to the fold, the eternal Wisdom, the image of God, the Father's Word, the right Way, Truth and Life, &c. For I know full well that there are few who can understand this particular matter, even after it is explained to them. Therefore, I say, I deem it unnecessary for me and for all teachers to teach this matter of the incarnation of Christ further than, simply, to the teaching of the regeneration of the church, to love, to consolation, to the sanctification and to live and act according to his holy doctrine and life. Would to God that we were all of such a mind. But in case one wants to search further and inquire into 332this matter, if meet to know and his understanding reaches far enough, it will not be hidden from him; if not it will be said unto him, A litora te ne quaefieris, Eccl. 3:21.
Well, as this is our doctrine and understanding, not otherwise than according to the testimony of the Scripture, as we can by the grace of God, best understand and comprehend it, we yet fear that our explanation from the word of God will not satisfy and convince you to unite with us in this matter, but that you will persevere in your adopted reasonings and arguments and try to explain it literally, naturally and humanlike; not observing that Isaiah, Matthew, Luke and John clearly testify that it was brought about by faith in Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as was said above.
O, let us not humble the Almighty Father in his mercy! Let us not rob the blessed Son of God of his glory. Beloved brethren the Scripture remains eternal and unbroken. Take heed, lest you err. Thus speaks Isaiah, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son," Isa. 7:14. Again, the angel of the Lord said unto Joseph, "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost," Matt. 1:20. Again, when Mary asked the angel the manner of the conception, how it shall be, he answered: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee," Luke 1:36. Again, this is the sure testimony of John the servant of God and of Christ, concerning the incarnation of Jesus Christ. "The word was made flesh," Jn. 1:14. He does not say, The word took unto itself flesh.
Behold, dear brethren, however incontrovertible these reasons and Scriptures be by which we try to establish our assertion, yet I fear that we, on account of this article, will be judged and considered as being sectarian, heretical and deceitful, notwithstanding there may be many among us who fear the Lord from their inmost hearts, who never in their lives, heard a word spoken in regard to the mystery of this matter as previously expressed with great clearness; nor ever inquired into it, besides they neither knew nor understood anything about it; but they are satisfied with the Father's favor through Christ; obey his holy word, follow his example, love, doctrine and life, and are rejoiced, solely, at the remission of sins, freedom of the Spirit, grace, favor, promise, mercy and eternal life, which they have received through him. O, that all the wise and learned, even all the men of this world would satisfy themselves with the plain, humble teaching of Jesus Christ and his apostles, not climbing higher nor remaining lower; would seek God, with purity of heart‑and firmly believe, fear, love and obey his blessed word. O, what precious talents and what glorious gain would then, by the grace of God, be gathered into the treasury of the Lord. But, as it is, there are many, alas, whose faith and knowledge is not in their hearts but solely upon their lips and tongues, non loquor ad erubescentiam proborum, who find pleasure in foolish and useless questions and in disputation; who are versed more in the wisdom of man than in the wisdom of God; who are of broken minds, who ever learn and never come to the true knowledge of the eternal truth; and who ever contradict and reprove them by the plain word of the holy gospel of Jesus Christ, out of mere brotherly love, is from that moment considered by them as being a shameful sectarian or a wicked perverse heretic; Ipsi judicate, an ne verum sit quod dico? notwithstanding that their own unbelieving hearts are quite earthly, carnal, and devilish and their whole life nothing but mere flesh, pride, vanity, laziness, unchristian like avarice, hatred, cruelty, blood‑thirstiness, drunkenness, flattery, in short, nothing but sin and shame. O, might it be that I lie and do not tell the truth!
Nevertheless let them slander and upbraid as much as they please; we will willingly bear it. We will all be judged by one Judge who will scrupulously try and reward their doctrine, faith, zeal, seeking and life, as well as ours. Then it will appear who have anxiously sought the everlasting truth of God, the praise and honor of the Lord, and the everlasting salvation of all mankind. Brethren, beware, lest you become like these fruitless disputers. Take heed, if you would save your souls, that you sincerely seek, desire, believe, receive, and live according to the saving truth of God, Amen, 333
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