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observed,) that thereby he might heal the whole nature of that leprosy of sin which hath seized and infected every member and faculty. "He assumed all to sanctify all;" as Damascen expresses it. He designed a perfect recovery, by sanctifying us wholly in soul, body, and spirit; and therefore assumed the whole in order to it.
3. He assumed our nature, as with all its integral parts, so with all its sinless infirmities. And therefore it is said of him, "That it behoved him,” xara marta vas, "in all things" (that is, all things natural, not formally sinful, as it is limited by the same apostle, Heb. 4: 15) "to be made like unto his brethren," Heb. 2:17. But here divines carefully distinguish infirmities into personal and natural. Personal infirmities are such as befall particular persons from particular cause's, such as dumbness, blindness, lameness, leprosies, monstrosities, and other deformities. These it was no way necessary that Christ should, nor did he at all assume; but the natural ones, such as hunger, thirst, weariness, sweating, bleeding, mortality, &c. which though they are not in themselves formally and intrinsically sinful, yet are they the effects and consequents of sin. They are so many marks, that sin has left of itself upon our natures. And on that account Christ is said to be sent "in the likeness of sinful flesh." Rom. 8: 3. Wherein the gracious condescension of Christ for us is marvellously signalized, that he would not assume our innocent nature, as it was in Adam before the fall, while it stood in all its primitive glory and perfection; but after sin had quite defaced, ruined, and spoiled it.
4. The human nature is so united with the Divine, as that each nature still retains its own essential properties distinct. And this distinction is not, and cannot be lost by that union.
II. The effects, or immediate results of this marvellous union.
1. The two natures being thus united in the person of the Mediator, by virtue thereof the properties of each nature are attributed, and do truly agree in the whole person; so that it is proper to say, the Lord of glory was crucified, 1 Cor. 2: 8, and the blood of God redeemed the church, Acts, 20: 28, that Christ was both in heaven and in the earth at the same time, John, 3:13. Yet we do not believe that one nature doth transfuse or impart its properties to the other, or that it is proper to say the Divine nature suffered, bled, or died; or the human is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent; but that the properties of both natures are so ascribed to the person, that it is proper to affirm any of them of him in the concrete, though not abstractly. The right understanding of this would greatly assist in teaching the true sense of the fore-named, and many other dark passages in the Scriptures.
2. Another fruit of this union, is the singular advancement of the human nature in Christ, far beyond and above what it is capable of in any other person, it being hereby replenished and filled with an unparal leled measure of Divine graces and excellencies; in which respect he is said to be "anointed above his fellows," Psa. 45 : 7, and so becomes the object of adoration and divine worship, Acts, 7:59.
3. Hence follows, as another excellent fruit of this union, the concourse and co-operation of each nature in his mediatorial works; for in them he acts according to both natures: the human nature doing what is human, namely, suffering, sweating, bleeding, dying; and his Divine nature stamping all these with infinite value; and so both sweetly concur unto one glorious work and design of mediation. Papists generally deny that he performs any of these mediatorial works as God, but only as man; but how boldly do they therein contradict the Scriptures! See 2 Cor. 5: 10; Heb. 9: 14, 15.
III. The grounds and reasons of this assumption. The Divine did not assume the human nature necessarily, but voluntarily; not out of indigence, but bounty; not because it was to be perfected by it, but to perfect it, that so Christ might be prepared for the full discharge of his mediatorship, in the offices of our Prophet, Priest, and King.
Had he not possessed this double nature in the unity of his person, he could not have been our Prophet: for, as God, he knows the mind and will of God, John, 1: 18, and 3:13; and as man he is fitted to impart it suit ably to us, Deut. 18: 15-18, compared with Acts, 20 : 22. As Priest, had he not been man, he could have shed no blood; and if not God, it had been of no adequate value for us, Heb. 2: 17; Acts, 3:28. As King, had he not been man, he had been of a different nature, and so no fit head for us; and if not God, he could neither rule nor defend his body the church. These then were the designs and ends of that assumption.
INFERENCE 1. Let all christians rightly inform their minds in this truth of so great moment in religion, and hold it fast against all subtle adversaries that would wrest it from them. The learned Hooker observes, that the dividing of Christ's person, which is but one, and the confounding of his natures, which are two, has been the occasion of those errors which have so greatly disturbed the peace of the church. The Arians denied his Deity, levelling him with other created beings. The Apollinarians maimed his humanity. The Sabellians affirmed, that the Father and Holy Ghost were incarnated as well as the Son; and were forced upon that absurdity by another error, namely, denying the three distinct persons in the Godhead, and affirming they were but three names. The Eutychians confounded both natures in Christ, denying any distinction of them. The Seleusians affirmed that he unclothed himself of
his humanity when he ascended, and has no human body in heaven. The Nestorians so rent the two names of Christ asunder, as to make two distinct persons of them.
But ye, beloved, have not so learned Christ. Ye know he is, 1. True and very God; 2. True and very man ; that, 3. These two natures make but one person, being united inseparably; 4. That they are not confounded or swallowed up one in another, but remain still distinct in the person of Christ. Hold ye the sound words which cannot be condemned. Great things hang upon all these truths. O suffer not a stone to be loosed out
of the foundation.
2. Adore the love of the Father and the Son, who valued your souls so highly, and were willing to save you at such a cost.
The love of the Father is herein admirably conspicuous, who so vehemently willed our salvation, that he could degrade the beloved of his soul to so vile and contemptible a state.
And how astonishing is the love of Christ, that would make such a stoop as this to exalt us! Oh that you would get your hearts suitably impressed and affected with this love both of the Father and the Son! How is the courage of some noble Romans celebrated in history, for the brave adventures they made for the commonwealth; but they could never stoop as Christ did, being so infinitely below him in personal dignity.
3. And here infinite wisdom has also left a famous and everlasting mark of itself, which invites, yea, even chains the eyes of angels and men to itself. Had there been a general council of angels to devise a way of recovering poor sinners, they would all have been at an everlasting demur and loss about it. It could not have entered their thoughts, (though they are most intelligent and sagacious,) that ever mercy, pardon, and
grace, should find such a way as this to issue forth from the heart of God to the hearts of sinners. Oh, how wisely is the method of our recovery laid! so that Christ may be well called "the power and wisdom of God," 1 Cor. 1: 24; forasmuch as in him the Divine wisdom is more glorified than in all the other works of God upon which he has impressed it.
4. Hence also we infer the incomparable excellency of the christian religion, that shows poor sinners such a sure foundation on which the trembling conscience may rest. While poor distressed souls look to themselves, they are perpetually in darkness. The cry of the distressed natural conscience is, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord ?" Conscience sees God arming himself with wrath, to avenge himself for sin, and cries out, Oh, how shall 1 prevent him; if he would accept the fruit of my body (those dear pledges of nature) for the sin of my soul, he should have them! But now we see God coming down in flesh, and so intimately uniting our nature to himself, that it had properly no personal separate subsistence, but is united with the Divine person: hence it is easy to imagine what worth and value must be in that blood; and how eternal love, springing forth triumphantly from it, flourishes into pardon, grace, and peace. Here is a way in which the sinner may see justice and mercy kissing each other, and the latter exercised freely without prejudice to the former. All other consciences, through the world, lie either in a deep sleep in the devil's arms, or else are rolling, sea-sick, upon the waves of their own fears and dismal presages. Oh, happy are they that have dropped anchor on this ground, and not only know they have peace, but why they have it.
5. Of how great moment is it, that Christ should have union with our particular persons, as well as with our common nature! For, by this union with our na