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the resurrection of our flesh : "we are quickened together with him." And in the face of all these certainties, if a man will say, that his flesh was not sinful flesh as ours is, with the same dispositions and propensities and wants and afflictions, then I say, God hath sent that man strong delusion, that he should believe a lie.
I have some pity, yea, I have much pity, for the ignorant multitude, whom these blind guides are deceiving unto their destruction; and for their sakes I would endeavour to explain this matter, how Christ, taking sinful flesh, was yet siuless. We shall see, in the second part of this essay, how the miraculous conception doth avoid from him the imputation of personal guilt, and the constitution of being born in dependence upon a Redeemer. Well, then, from his conception every acting of his mind was holy, and every acting also of his flesh; but this not in its proper nature, but through the constraining and enforcing power of his mind, or soul, united to the Godhead, and inhabited by the Holy Ghost. I suppose every man doth allow that the will is necessary to an act of sin. The flesh by tyrannical force may be used to tempt the will, through the infliction of suffering; through the presentation of objects which it naturally desireth, as food when it is hungry; but if the will consent not, though the flesh be inclined, there is no sin. Christ's will endured these temptations exactly as mine doth ; "he was tempted in all points, like as I am ;” but he yielded not to the temptations, and was therefore without sin. Hunger in the flesh, was that by which the devil tempted him to make the stones of the wilderness into bread: desire of the eye, and pride of life, and love of power and dominion in the flesh and in the mind, was that with which the devil tempted him when he shewed him the kingdoms of the world, and proffered him them all if he would but fall down and worship him : familiarity with God, and idle challenge of his help, and unwarrantable use of his word, and spiritual delusion, was what the devil applied himself to, when he tempted him from the pinnacle of the temple. But in all these instances his will
, never consenting, abode in its integrity and righteousness. Now, if there had not been in Christ's nature, appetites, and ambitions, and spiritual darkenings, how, I ask, could the devil have addressed these temptations to his will? The devil did not surely both tempt him and make him temptable: the devil knew already wherein he was temptable, and, addressing himself thereto, was utterly foiled. Now, will any one say, that if these liabilities to temptation were in Christ at one time, they were not in him at all times? And were the objects not before him at all times? were not his appetites of the body craving their natural food ? was not the world spread before him in all its attractiveness? did not the flesh hide from him, as it doth hide from us, the
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sight of God, and bring him into the condition of living by faith, even as we do?.. Will any one say that Adam's appetite of hunger caused him pain, or that his lips were parched with thirst, or that his tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth, or that his heart was melted like wax within him ? Will any one say that Adam, lord of all, could be tempted with kingdoms and dominions, which were his own? or that any doubt, darkness, or difficulty could hide from him the sight and knowledge of God? Then is the distinction between unfallen and fallen creature wholly done away with ; and God is made the Creator of a weak, impotent, unhappy creature. But, while Christ's flesh, being liable to temptation—not as Adam's was, but as Abraham's and David's and Mary's was-was tortured by the devil, and the world, and wicked men, in all possible ways in which his mind could be swayed from its perfect unity with the Divine mind, he never consented unto the evil, but always preferred the good ; and by the power of his will constrained tongue, hand, foot, eye, ear, and every member, to do the very will of God.
Moreover, there is far more in the flesh, and the power of the flesh, and the law of the flesh, than men do generally in these days suppose. It is thought to include only the grosser crimes of sense, which are enumerated Gal. v. 19namely, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness; but in the same place are also enumerated idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings ;—to all these sins a man is tempted through the flesh; otherwise they would not be called “ fruits of the flesh :" and the will of the flesh is to do all these things; and when we consent to that will of the flesh, we commit sin.
But if we consent not, we commit not sin. any one say, that by being merely tempted and temptable through the flesh we commit sin, then doth he destroy all distinction between a saint, who overcomes the flesh, and a sinner, who is overcome of the flesh: for I suppose no one will allege that the Alesh of a saint differeth in any thing from the flesh of a sinner; --at least, I know Paul doth not allege so, who saith, “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” Well, then, if sin consisteth not in having temptable flesh, but in yielding to the temptation, our Lord sinned not, though ever tempted through the flesh, because he yielded not to the temptation; and being so, that in the constitution of his person original sin was avoided, and that in the whole of his life actual sin was avoided; he was in all things sinless, though laden with sinful flesh. “He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.”
Finally, for the exposition of this great matter, be it diligently considered, that though the flesh of Christ was in all points liable to temptation, as our flesh is, and did carry up to the mind
every form of seduction; yet left it there no sediment of evil, no taint of pollution; yet found it there no response, no inclination, but abhorrence and detestation of the deepest, powerfullest kind. And if ye would know how that abhorrence expressed itself, read every Psalm where Christ's sufferings are by the Holy Ghost represented. There was, therefore, no concupiscence, no thought or meditation of evil, no indwelling of lust, no abiding of anger or malice or hatred; but all was holy, lovely, beautiful, and perfect, as the will of God; and from that purest fountain of light, life and love, came forth evermore streams of Divine goodness, righteousness, and truth. Every member of his body he constrained to obey the great behests of God. He took the prey out of the hands of the mighty. He gave Satan no lodgment or residence; he gave sin no quarters within his being.
2. The only two objections to this doctrine which I can give a form to are these : first, And to what then served the miraculous conception of Christ ? the second, How could he render an atonement for others, if so be that his flesh was sinful ? The first of these, And to what then served the miraculous conception? I shall now explain : it is the second part of our subject. Conception by natural means, is that which declares another human person to be brought into existence. We are persons composed of a soul immortal and a body mortal, from the instant of our conception by natural means; and had Christ been conceived by natural means, he must have been a human person ; and then we should have had, not two natures in Christ, but two persons; which is the Nestorian heresy, that hath proved so fatal to the Greek Church.- I do not remember to have seen this matter much opened in the writings of the moderns; and therefore, as it is of the utmost importance, I think it good to open it a little. It is not necessary that I go into the question concerning the origin of the soul, but I will shortly state what I understand to be the orthodox and approved doctrine upon that subject; to wit, That, as in the case of Adam, so in the case of all Adam's posterity, the soul is given by the inspiration of God : as it is written, “The body returneth to the dust, and the spirit unto him that gave it ;" and again, “There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." This is the part which God hath in the creation of every human being; that it is of Him to bless his own ordinance for propagation with the fruit of an immoral person, or not to bless it, as seemeth to him good. But when by conception he hath blessed his own appointed ordinance, then, from that instant of time, a human person, destined to eternal glory or to eternal misery, according to the account which it giveth of its actings, is constituted by God. Ordinary conception, therefore, I say, is the method and act by which God manifests the existence of
a responsible person. If Christ, therefore, had come by ordinary generation, he must have been concluded a human person. Nothing could have prevented such a conclusion; and the union herewith of the person of the Son of God would not have destroyed the personality of the man : the two must have remained two persons, as distinct and separate as Adam was distinct and separate from the person of the Son of God, or from the persons of any of his posterity: and there would have been no personal union between God and man in Christ, but merely a fraternal consociation, which might have fitted the man to be a prophet or a sage, but could never have made him a sacrifice or propitiation, either for his own sin or for the sin of any other. This is the fatal conclusion to which the doctrine of two persons in Christ brings the church; destroying incarnation, reconciliation, atonement, and every thing else proper and peculiar to the Christian faith. Now, to avoid the very supposition of human personality, ordinary conception, that standing, unbroken, inviolable sign of a personality communicated, was in the case of Christ wholly avoided, dispensed with, and negatived. And whoso saith that he was a human person, speaketh without the shadow of reason, speaketh against all reason, against all experience, against God's ordinance for mankind, that a human person shall not be constituted otherwise than by ordinary conception. If any one ask, And why should a responsible personality depend upon ordinary conception? I answer, Because God willeth it to be so. And if it be further asked, And what is the end or purpose of such Divine ordination ? I answer, That every human person might be brought into the world under those same conditions of sin and mortality under which Adam had brought himself by the Fall; and, being thus brought into being under the conditions of sin and mortality, might all thereby honour, not themselves, nor the creatures from whom they descend, but the Redeemer promised by God to redeem and to sustain the creation, when through its infirmity and wickedness, in itself engendered, it should have fallen into sin and misery. Every human person, therefore, is connected with Adam by generation, to signify his complete participation in the guilt and in the misery of Adam's estate: so that, of every child in the womb conceived, as of every child that sees the light, and of every man that arrives at mature estate, and of all persons from Adam descended, it might be the only hope of salvation from sin, of resurrection from death, of immortality and blessedness, that God is gracious to the sinful, which grace he hath exhibited unto all in the hope of his Son's coming into the world as a Redeemer.
From this cometh the second great end served by the miraculous conception-to wit, That Christ might be excepted from that dependence upon a Redeemer and a Saviour and an Intercessor, into the necessity of whom all by ordinary generation descended are conceived and born. Let me open this also a little, and guard it from abuse. It is the pleasure of God that every human person should come into being under those same conditions of sin and misery into which Adam was brought by the Fall. God would have the experiment made upon Adam, to serve and satisfy for all persons in Adam's likeness formed. Therefore Adam was placed in the best condition possible for standing, that there might remain no doubt upon the mind of all persons in his likeness created, that, had they in his place stood, they would in like wise have fallen. God would not give every creature the anguish of tasting and drinking such a cup as fell to Adam's share; but, having justified himself
, his own holiness, his own goodness, in Adam's person, he did mercifully--I say, most mercifully-bring the rest of the family into being under the condition of soul, body, and estate under which Adam was placed after Adam fell. And with the hope of revenge upon the adversary, and of redemption from the adversary's hold, with which God did instantly address the faith of Adam, he doth address the faith of all Adam's children whatsoever ; who, as they are concluded with Adam in his uprightness and with Adam in his fall, so are they also concluded with Adam in his promise of redemption. And to this common hope of Adamhood, which to all was preached when it was preached to Adam in the garden, is added a personal seal to every believer, and to the child of every believer, in the sacrament of Baptism, which sealeth upon the person what before had been preached to the race. Be it so, then, that all mankind are thus introduced into being dependent for their salvation and immortality upon another than themselves ; then the question is, What is the sign of such dependence ? what is the sign of being concluded under such guilt ? what is the sign of being beholden to such purgation ? I answer, That sign is not, That we should have actually sinned, for the babe who is baptized into it hath not actually sinned; nor is that sign The having been born; but it is The having been conceived by ordinary generation. This is the link which connecteth us all with Adam ; this is the symbol of our being one; we are thereby one flesh outwardly and manifestly: and this oneness of Aesh is with God the outward and visible sign, to teach us that we are one in guilt, in misery, in damnation ; and do need, all of us, unborn and born, the salvation and justification of the promised Seed of the woman. I do not say that conception by natural means is the cause of our original guiltiness in God's sight: I merely say, that it is the sign and seal of God's will and purpose-good will and gracious purpose—that we should be so concluded sinful and helpless in ourselves, to the end we might be introduced into the knowledge of his grace, and hope of his salvation, as it