« НазадПродовжити »
is in Jesus Christ. But, as to a cause for the constitution of man's being, or the constitution of any creature's being, I hold that cause to be no where save in the good pleasure of God himself; but to us he doth reveal what is the goodness of that pleasure by various signs and symbols, which are constructed so as to hit the apprehension and comfort the heart of the children of men. And being so that God did intend ordinary generation, ordinary conception, and birth, to be the sign of the constitution of persons under a guilty nature ; he did from the beginning, and especially under the law, evermore stigmatize with severe exactions every thing connected, either voluntary or involuntary, with these actings of his creatures. Hence the offerings upon the purification of mothers, and upon many other occasions connected with propagation of our kind, which it is not necessary nor convenient to particularize; all proving this, that these were the signs of a guilt continued and communicated from parent to child, not in the way
of cause and effect, but in the way of God's ordinance, according to the pleasure of his own will. The same great truth, so great indeed as to be the key of man's being, and therefore the key of redemption also, is taught without the law by nature, in this, that conception and birth are always with pain and anguish. Now pain and anguish, and sorrow of every kind, are the standing monuments and eternal signs of a sinful and fallen creature; and seeing that these signs do invariably attend conception and birth of children, it is made manifest, to every one that reflects, that therein lies shrouded up and contained the mystery of the communication of a guilty person : which again, as we have said, is signified to the individual, as soon as he is born, by the act of baptism; which, whatever more it signifies, bears this at least upon its forehead, that it is a washing away of guilt which cannot have been contracted by act, and must therefore be involved in the constitution of the being. Let this suffice to shew that the sign of a person constituted guilty and infirm in itself, innocent and guiltless only in another--the sign, I say, of such a constitution as we are all under-is ordinary generation and ordinary conception. Then straightway, by the extraordinary generation and extraordinary conception of Christ, this, all this, was avoided, and it was not declared that he was dependent for his holiness and his stability upon another : yea, he was declared to be that Seed of woman upon whom the others were all constituted dependent for righteousness and for strength. Thus did the miraculous conception not only declare him not to be a human person, but it likewise declared him not to have imputation of guilt, or a constitution of dependence upon the work of another, not needing an atonement, not needing a Redeemer.
The miraculous conception depriveth him of human personality, and it also depriveth him of original sin and guilt needing to be atoned for by another ; but it doth not deprive him of the substance of sinful flesh and blood that is, Aesh and blood the same with the flesh and blood of the brethren. “Forasmuch as the brethren were partakers of flesh and blood, he himself also took part of the same.” These misguided and misguiding men would have it that his flesh and blood underwent a substantial change in the act of conception; wherefore it is not to be called sinful, but sinless : and in support of this error they quote these words of the angel; “The Holy Thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God: and fain would they have us to believe that this, called the Holy Thing, is his flesh, and not the holy child. And grant them their wish, and what would be expressed? The holy flesh shall be called the Son of God.' The thing called the IIoly, is the same as that called the Son of God; and therefore it is not his flesh, but his whole being, his whole person, consisting of both natures, human and Divine. Now I have already shewn that there is here no human personality which could be chargeable with the guilt of Adam, and there is no such charge lying against him: he is therefore born free from the imputation of sin, truly The Holy Thing. If, then, there be no original guilt, is there any actual sin? I answer, No; he was without spot, and blameless ; and besides these two, original and actual sin, I know no other forms of guilt. And what an ignorance it is then, not to say wicked slander and abominable calumny, in those hordes of sectaries and schismatics, who stick at nothing which may discredit a churchman, to open their throat and tell the world the lie, that we make Christ a sinner! He was the Holy Thing born, and he was presented without spot unto God in death upon the
It doth not make him a sinner that he took sinful flesh, any more than that he came into a sinful world, and departed into death. I say he took sinful flesh, and yet was sinless ; and, moreover, I say that he died, and yet was sinless. If any say
that this is a mere matter of words, I tell him that he hath yet to learn the alphabet of his theology.
I have shewn that God doth teach us by the manner of his Son's generation that he was not a human person, not a person implicated with Adam's transgression in any way; not one of those multitudinous persons whom it pleased God to bring into being cast in sinful Adam's mould with sinful Adam's die. He was a person of another Family ; a Son of another Father.
Who, then, shall charge him with sin ; coming, as he came, from the fountain-head of Divinity, where he had a personal subsistence in the light of holiness for ever and ever? He had no sin when he came into our substance to atone for, and he gat none while he was in the flesh: whence then should he have it? Is it sin for God to come in the person of the Son into what estate he pleaseth? Is it sin for him to overcome all sin in that estate ?
What would they have more to make him sinless, than that when he came he should have no sin, and that when he dwelt among us he should overcome all sin ? If they turn again and say, But, though he was not personally a sinner, he made atonement for that nature which he took; I answer, first, Thou saidst not personally a sinner, as if there was some way by which sin could be otherwise than in a person. Dost thou make the brute a sinner, or the earth ? And if sin be the condition of a person, how speakest thou of his making atonement for his nature ? Thou blunderest in making his nature a person. It is an old blunder : it is the heresy of Nestorius, with which thou art taking thyself up. Remember that he is one person in two natures ; and that that person was the Son of God before he became man, and afterwards the conqueror of sin ; and then blunder no longer about his making atonement for the nature. If thy question, being rendered into orthodox language, be, Did he redeem the human will from the bondage of a nature which drew it away from God, and was of itself rebellious against God? I answer thee, Yea, verily; this was what he did; and this was the whole of what he did in flesh. The application of this work to others is another question, which is not now before us. I know not which way to turn myself, in order to convince these gainsayers. They set up nothing to contend against. There is nothing positive about their positions; they are merely negative: and so one knows not what more to say or do, than repeat the proposition and the proof, and stand upon
it. They are kept from enunciating the old heresies by the dogmatism of ignorance: in principle, all the old heresies are involved in what they write. Branding the truth with the name of heresy, they dare not but seem to be orthodox, and so they quote the shorter Catechism, “ Born of the virgin Mary, yet without sin :" and they give men to wit, that we say he was born with sin. I have sufficiently
, rebutted this charge, by shewing the exact bearing of the miraculous conception.
But these men do set forth something positive concerning this. It is rare doctrine indeed they teach, but it may be aswell to notice it. It is, that in the act of conception his flesh underwent a change, which put it altogether out of the category of sinful flesh, into that of sinless flesh; so that it should be under another law. And whence had it this infusion? They dare not say from the Divine nature, which they have learnt from the Catechism must be kept distinct-although wherefore I believe it would puzzle them to assign a reason : at least they never shew any disposition thereto. Whence then ? from the Holy Ghost, from the act of the Holy Ghost's generation. And so it came into the miraculous conception a substance of new conditions ; and yet, behold, it grows in his mother's womb, and it is fed upon his mother's milk-strange amalgamation! And it is vulnerable and passible, and hath every other property of my flesh-strange accordance ! And there is no symptom of any difference whatever-strange essential difference, of which there should be no symptom! strange essence, without an attribute! But anon they say, Oh! but his soul was holy, and the flesh is nothing but as the handle of the soul. Then, if it be nothing, why trouble thyself to argue that it is not of the nature of our flesh, but of some other nature ? So far from being nothing, I believe, with the Fathers, that the great mystery of God is in bringing the flesh and the material world into subjection to the Son. Is it nothing, that by eating sin entered at first? Is it nothing, that even involuntary acts of the flesh were required under the Law to be atoned for? Is it nothing, that Baptism is a washing of the flesh with water? Is it nothing, that the Supper is given in the flesh and blood of Christ ? Is it nothing, that the Gospel preached by the Apostles is continually called the resurrection? Is it nothing, that the glory of Christ is hidden till the first resurrection ? The flesh nothing ! O thou philosophist! go to thy Bible, and study the purposes of creation. Or if thou wilt not learn from that word, of which thou art ever talking, then learn from experience. How doth the world affect mind, but through the flesh? The devils can and do tempt the mind directly, but the world doth not. And is flesh such a lumpish thing? hath it no relations to the soul ? Who can say ho they are bound together? If
were asked whether of the two had the greater stroke in sin, I should certainly say, the flesh: I mean, living, conscious flesh; which seems to have the power of burying the soul into the oblivion of its own being, always taking it into the oblivion of its own dignity. And if, upon their material system, the flesh be but as it were a coating over the soul, a dungeon to darken it, why are they so fond to work a change upon it by the Holy Ghost ? Would they make the Holy Ghost's active energy inhere in that which they regard as next to a dead thing? These notions about the flesh of man are, I think, the root of all their errors; their Gnostic contempt for it; their heathenish, stoical mockery of it? But that the upholders of this novelty may have something positive to try it by, I will enumerate a few of the consequences which flow from it.
If Christ's flesh was in the conception or generation changed, so as to be in a different condition from man's, either as it stands related to its susceptibility of temptation from the world, or handing up temptation to the mind, then I see these consequences; which I will not undertake to open, but shall be content with simply stating:
First, He is not tempted in all points as I am.
which standeth in this very thing, that in all things he
was likened to the brethren. VOL. 1.-NO. III.
Thirdly, He had only two of my enemies to contend with,
the devil and the world, and I have no proof that he can
overcome the flesh also, Fourthly, He never was one with me, and I know not how I
can ever be one with him. Fifthly, I have no evidence either of the Holy Ghost's will
ingness to wrestle with wicked flesh, nor yet of his ability
to overcome it. Sixthly, As Christ's life is no prototype of the Holy Ghost's
power over sinful flesh, so is Christ's resurrection no assurance of my resurrection. It is most likely a peculiarity
of flesh in that new condition in which he had it. Seventhly, The whole Gospels are an appearance, and not
a reality. They are written as if he was passive to all temptation and inclination as man is ; but
you say he was not, therefore you put the lie upon the whole testimony
of the Scriptures. I could extend this list very much : but when the maintainers of this new hypothesis will fairly meet these, its legitimate consequences, I shall engage to supply them with as many more.
3. The other objection which is now taken against the doctrine of Christ's true humanity is, “How could he offer an atonement for sin, who himself took that which needed to be atoned for,” if so be, as we say, he took sinful flesh ?. This objection requires that we should first consider what is the meaning of atonement. If it be, as the English word plainly imports, the condition of being at one with God; then is there no such atonement wrought, or procured, or exhibited as done in Christ, unless he did join in personal union and harmony and oneness, for ever, the two several and separated and discordant things, namely, the nature of God, and the nature of the apostate sinful creature. If his human nature differed, by however little, from ours, in its alienation and guiltiness, then the work of reducing it into eternal harmony with God hath no bearing whatever upon our nature, with which it is not the
If his human will did not withstand the same temptations and withdrawments from God which our will doth, then, in bringing his human will into oneness with the Divine will, he did not redeem our will from its bondages, but only from those which it pleased the Father he should lie under. And as to his having an unfallen nature to bring into oneness or reconciliation, the thing is nonsensical; for an unfallen nature, a will in the state of creation, is at no variance nor enmity with God, but his own good and pleasant workmanship. This, which is the natural idea of atonement, or reconciliation, hath not only no reality, but even not so much as a meaning, upon any other supposition than that Christ took our fallen nature, with all its natural and inherent propensities; and overcame these, and