The holy prophet, in the Book of the Proverbs, poseth all such as have not “learned wisdom, nor known the knowledge of the holy” (Prov. 30:3–4), with this question — “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his Son’s name, if thou canst tell?” To help us herein, the Son himself did tell us, when he was here upon earth, that “none hath ascended up to heaven, but he that descended from heaven, even the Son of Man, which is in heaven.” (John 3:13) And that we might not be ignorant of his name, the prophet Isaiah did long before foretell, that “unto us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given; whose name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6)
Where, if it be demanded, how these things can stand together — that the Son of Man, speaking upon earth, should yet at the same instant be in heaven — that the Father of eternity should be born in time — and that the mighty God should become a child, which is the weakest state of man himself — we must call to mind, that the first letter of this great name is Wonderful. When he appeared of old to Manoah, his name was Wonderful, and he did wondrously. (Judg. 13:18–19) But that, and all the wonders that ever Were, must give place to the great mystery of his incarnation, and in respect thereof cease to be Wonderful; for of this work that may be verified which is spoken of those wonderful judgments that God brought upon Egypt, when he would show his power (Ex. 9:16), and have his name declared throughout all the earth: “Before them were no such; neither after them shall be the like.” (Ex. 10:14; 11:6)
Neither the creation of all things out of no. thing, which was the beginning of the works of God — those six working days putting, as it were, an end to that long Sabbath that never had beginning, wherein the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost did infinitely glorify themselves (John 17:6), and rejoice in the fruition one of another (Prov. 8:30), without communicating the notice thereof unto any creature — nor the resurrection from the dead and the restoration of all things, the last works that shall go before that everlasting Sabbath (which shall have a beginning, but never shall have end); neither that first, I say, nor these last, though most admirable pieces of work, may be compared with this, wherein the Lord was pleased to show the highest pitch (if anything may be said to be highest in that which is infinite, and exempt from all measure and dimensions) of his wisdom, goodness, power, and glory.
The heathen Chaldeans, to a question propounded by the King of Babel, make answer, that it was a rare thing which he required, and that none other could show it, “except the Gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” (Dan. 2:11) But the rarity of this lieth in the contrary to that which they imagined to be so plain — that he “who is over all, God blessed forever.” (Rom. 9:5), should take our flesh and dwell, or pitch his tabernacle, with us. That as the glory of God filled the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34–35), which was a figure of the human nature of our Lord (Heb. 9:9, 11), with such a kind of fulness that Moses himself was not able to approach unto it; therein coming short, as in all things, of the Lord of the house (Heb. 3:3, 6) — and filled the temple of Solomon, a type likewise of the body of our Prince of Peace (John 2:19–21), in such sort that the priests could not enter therein (2 Chron. 7:1–2): so “in him all the fulness of the Godhead should dwell bodily.” (Col. 2:9) And therefore, if of that temple, built with hands, Solomon could say with admiration, “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, the heavens of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built?” (2 Chron. 6:18) — of the true temple, that is, not of this building, we may with greater wonderment say with the apostle, “Without controversy, great is the mystery of religion.” (1 Tim. 3:16) God was manifested in the flesh yea, was made of a woman, and born of a virgin — a thing so wonderful (Isa. 7:11–14), that it was given for a sign unto unbelievers seven hundred and forty years before it was accomplished; even a sign of God’s own choosing, among all the wonders in the depth, or in the height above. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14)
A notable wonder indeed, and great beyond all comparison! That the Son of God should be made of a woman (Gal. 4:4); even made of that woman which was made by himself. (John 1:3; Col. 1:16) That her womb then, and the heavens now, should contain him (Acts 3:21), whom “the heaven of heavens a cannot contain.” (1 Kings 8:27) That he who had both father and mother, whose pedigree is upon record even up unto Adam, who, in the fulness of time, was brought forth in Bethlehem, and, when he had finished his course, was cut off out of the land of the living at Jerusalem; should yet, notwithstanding, be, in truth, that which his shadow, Melchizedek, was only in the conceit of the men of his time, “without father, without mother, without pedigree, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” (Heb. 7:3; Isa. 53:8; Micah 5:2) That his Father should be greater than he (John 14:28); and yet he his Father’s equal. (John 5:18; Phil. 2:6) That he is before Abraham was (John 8:58); and yet Abraham’s birth preceded his well nigh the space of two thousand years. And finally, that he, who was David’s Son, should yet be David’s Lord (Matt. 22:42–43) — a case which plunged the greatest Rabbis among the Pharisees, who had not yet “learned this wisdom, nor known this knowledge of the holy.”
The untying of this knot dependeth upon the right understanding of the wonderful conjunction of the divine and human nature in the unity of the person of our Redeemer. For, by reason of the strictness of this personal union, whatsoever may be verified of either of those natures, the same may be truly spoken of the whole person, from whithersoever of the natures it be denominated. For the clearer conceiving whereof, we may call to mind that which the apostle hath taught us touching our Saviour — “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9), that is to say, by such a personal and real union as doth inseparably and everlastingly conjoin that infinite Godhead with his finite manhood, in the unity of the selfsame individual person.
He in whom that fulness dwelleth is the person: that fulness which so doth dwell in him is the nature. Now there dwelleth in him not only the fulness of the Godhead, but the fulness of the manhood also. For we believe him to be both perfect God, begotten of the substance of his Father before all worlds; and perfect man, made of the substance of his mother in the fulness of time. And therefore we must hold, that there are two distinct natures in him; and two so distinct, that they do not make one compounded nature, but still remain uncompounded and unconfounded together. But he in whom the fulness of the manhood dwelleth is not one, and he in whom the fulness of the Godhead another; but he in whom the fulness of both those natures dwelleth is one and the same Immanuel, and consequently it must be believed as firmly that he is but one person.
And here we must consider, that the divine nature did not assume a human person, but the divine person did assume a human nature; and that, of the three divine persons, it was neither the first nor the third that did assume this nature; but it was the middle person, who was to be the middle one that must undertake the mediation betwixt God and us; which was otherwise also most requisite, as well for the better preservation of the integrity of the blessed Trinity in the Godhead, as for the higher advancement of mankind, by means of that relation which the second person, the Mediator, did bear unto his Father. For if the fulness of the Godhead should have thus dwelt in any human person, there should then a fourth person necessarily have been added unto the Godhead: and if any of the three persons, beside the second, had been born of a woman, there should have been two sons in the Trinity. Whereas, now the Son of God and the Son of the blessed Virgin, being but one person, is consequently but one Son; and so no alteration is at all made in the relations of the persons of the Trinity.
Again, in respect of us, the apostle showeth, that for this very end: “God sent his own Son, made of a woman, that we might receive the adoption of sons; and thereupon maketh this inference — wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Gal. 4:4–7) Intimating thereby, that what relation Christ hath unto God by nature, we, being found in him, have the same by grace. By nature he is “the only-begotten Son of the Father” (John 1:14; 3:16); but this is the high grace he hath purchased for us — that “as many as received him, to them he gave power, or privilege, to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12) For although he reserve to himself the preeminence, which is due unto him in a peculiar manner, of being “the first-born among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29); yet in him, and for him, the rest likewise, by the grace of adoption, are all of them accounted as first-borns.
So God biddeth Moses to say unto Pharaoh: “Israel is my son, even my first-born. And I say unto thee, let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy first-born.” (Ex. 4:22–23) And the whole Israel of God, consisting of Jew and Gentile, is in the same sort described by the apostle to be “the general assembly and Church of the first-born enrolled in heaven.” (Heb. 12:23) For the same reason that maketh them to be sons — to wit, their incorporation into Christ — the selfsame also maketh them to be first-borns: so as (however it fall out by the grounds of our common law), by the rule of the Gospel, this consequence will still hold true: “if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Rom. 8:17) And so much for the son, the person assuming.
The nature assumed is the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:16); the seed of David (Rom. 1:3); the seed of, the woman (Gen. 3:15); the Word (1 John 5:7), the second person of the Trinity, being made flesh (John 1:14) — that is to say, God’s own Son being made of a woman (Gal. 4:4), and so becoming truly and really the fruit of her womb. (Luke 1:42) Neither did he take the substance of our nature only, but all the properties also and the qualities thereof: so as it might be said of him, as it was of Elias and the apostles (James 5:17; Acts 14:15), that he was a man subject to like passions as we are; yea, he subjected himself (Heb. 5:7), in the days of his flesh, to the same weakness which we find in our own frail nature, and was compassed with like infirmities (2 Cor. 1:3, 4; Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15); and, in a word, “in all things was made like unto his brethren,” sin only excepted. Wherein yet we must consider, that as he took upon him, not a human person, but a human nature; so it was not requisite he should take upon him any personal infirmities, such as are madness, blindness, lameness, and particular kinds of diseases, which are incident to some only, and not to all men in general; but those alone which do accompany the whole nature of mankind, such as are hungering, thirsting, weariness, grief, pain, and mortality.
We are further here also to observe, in this our Melchizedek (Heb. 7:3), that as he had no mother in regard of one of his natures, so he was to have no father in regard of the other; but must be born of a pure and immaculate virgin, without the help of any man.
And this also was most requisite, as for other respects, so for the exemption of the assumed nature from the imputation and pollution of Adam’s sin. For sin having by that one man entered into the world (Rom. 5:12), every father becometh an Adam unto his child, and conveyeth the corruption of his nature unto all those whom he doth beget. Therefore our Saviour, assuming the substance of our nature, but not by the ordinary way of natural generation, is thereby freed from all the touch and taint of the corruption of our flesh, which by that means only is propagated from the first man unto his posterity. Whereupon, he being made of man, but not by man, and so becoming the immediate fruit of the womb, and not of the loins, must of necessity be acknowledged to be that holy thing which so was born of so blessed a mother (Luke 1:35); who, although she were but the passive and material principle of which that precious flesh was made, and the Holy Ghost the agent and efficient, yet cannot the man Christ Jesus thereby be made the Son of his own Spirit (Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:9), because fathers do beget their children out of their own substance: the Holy Ghost did not so, but framed the flesh of him from whom himself proceeded, out of the creature of them both (Luke 1:38–48) — “the handmaid of our Lord, whom from thence all generations shall call blessed.”
The blessed Virgin was the bride-chamber wherein the Holy Ghost did knit that indissoluble knot betwixt our human nature and his Deity: the Son of God assuming into the unity of his person that which before he was not, and yet without change (for so must God still be) remaining that which he was; whereby it came to pass that “this holy thing which was born of her was indeed and in truth to be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) Which wonderful connexion of two so infinitely differing natures in the unity of one person, how it was there effected, is an inquisition fitter for an angelical intelligence, than for our shallow capacity to look after. To which purpose also we may observe, that in the fabric of the ark of the covenant the posture of the faces of the cherubims toward the mercy-seat (the type of our Saviour) was such as would point unto us, that these are the things which the angels “desire to stoop and look into.” (Ex. 37:9)
And therefore let that satisfaction which the angel gave unto the mother virgin, whom it did more especially concern to move the question, “How may this be?” (Luke 1:34) content us — “the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” (Luke 1:35) For as the former part of that speech may inform us, that “with God nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37); so the latter may put us in mind, that the same God having overshadowed this mystery with his own veil, we should not presume, with the men of Bethshemesh, to look into this ark of his, lest, for our curiosity, we be smitten as they were. Only this we may safely say, and must firmly hold — that as the distinction of the persons in the holy Trinity hindereth not the unity of the nature of the Godhead, although every person entirely holdeth his own incommunicable property; so neither doth the distinction of the two natures in our Mediator any way cross the unity of his person, although each nature remaineth entire in itself, and retaineth the properties agreeing thereunto, without any conversion, composition, commixion, or confusion.
When Moses beheld the bush burning with fire, and yet no whit consumed, he wondered at the sight, and said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” (Ex. 3:2–6; Acts 7:31–32) But when God thereupon called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, “Draw not nigh hither,” and told him who he was, Moses trembled, hid his face, and durst not behold God. Yet although, being thus warned, we dare not draw so nigh, what doth hinder but we may stand aloof, and wonder at this great sight? “Our God is a consuming fire,” saith the apostle (Heb. 12:29): and a question we find propounded in the prophet, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with the everlasting burnings?” (Isa. 33:14) Moses was not like other prophets, but “God spake unto him face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Num. 12:6–8; Ex. 33:11); and yet for all that, when he besought the Lord that he would show him his glory, he received this answer, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live.” (Ex. 33:18–20) Abraham before him, though a special friend of God (Isa. 41:8; 2 Chron. 20:7; James 2:23), and the father of the faithful, the children of God (Rom. 4:11–16; Gal. 3:7), yet held it a great matter that he should take upon him so much as to speak unto God (Gen. 18:27), being “but dust and ashes.” Yea, the very angels themselves, “which are greater in power and might” (2 Pet. 2:11), are fain to cover their faces when they stand before him, as not being able to behold the brightness of his glory. (Isa. 6:2)
With what astonishment, then, may we behold our dust and ashes assumed into the undivided unity of God’s own person, and admitted to dwell here as an inmate under the same roof; and yet, in the midst of those everlasting burnings, the bush to remain unconsumed, and continue fresh and green forevermore! Yea, how should not we, with Abraham, rejoice to see this day, wherein not only our nature, in the person of our Lord Jesus, is found to dwell forever in those everlasting burnings; but, in and by him, our own persons also are brought so nigh thereunto, that God doth set his sanctuary and tabernacle among us and dwell with us (Lev. 26:11–12; Ezek. 37:26–27; Rev. 21:3), and (which is much more) maketh us ourselves to be the house and the habitation wherein he is pleased to dwell by his Spirit. (Heb. 3:6; Eph. 2:22) According to that of the apostle, “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:16) And that most admirable prayer, which our Saviour himself made unto his Father in our behalf, “I pray not for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:20–23)
To compass this conjunction betwixt God and us, he that was to be our Jesus, or Saviour, must of necessity also be Immanuel (Matt. 1:21–23); which being interpreted, is, “God with us.” (See Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo.) And therefore in his person to be Immanuel — that is, God dwelling with our flesh; because he was by his office, too, to be Immanuel — that is, he who must make God to be at one with us. For this being his proper office, to be “Mediator between God and men” (1 Tim. 2:5), he must partake with both: and being from all eternity consubstantial with his Father, he must at the appointed time become likewise consubstantial with his children: “Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same,” saith the apostle. (Heb. 2:14) We read in the Roman History that the Sabines and the Romans joining battle together, upon such an occasion as is mentioned in the last chapter of the Book of Judges — of the children of Benjamin catching every man a wife of the daughters of Shiloh — the women, being daughters to the one side and wives to the other, interposed themselves and took up the quarrel, so that by the mediation of these, who had a peculiar interest in either side, and by whose means this new alliance was contracted betwixt the two adverse parties, they who before stood upon highest terms of hostility, did not only entertain peace, but also joined themselves together into one body and one state.
God and we were enemies, before we were reconciled to him by his Son. (Rom. 5:10) He that is to be “our peace, and to reconcile us unto God, and to slay this enmity.” (Eph. 2:14–16), must have an interest in both the parties that are at variance, and have such a reference unto either of them that he may be able to send this comfortable message unto the sons of men — “Go to my brethren, and say unto them: I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God.” (John 20:17) For as long as “he is not ashamed to call us brethren” (Heb. 2:11), “God is not ashamed to be called our God.” (Heb. 11:16) And his entering of our appearance, in his own name and ours, after this manner, “Behold, I, and the children which God hath given me” (Heb. 2:13), is a motive strong enough to appease his Father, and to turn his favourable countenance towards us: as on the other side, when we become unruly and prove rebellious children, no reproof can be more forcible, nor inducement so prevalent (if there remain any spark of grace in us) to make us cast down our weapons and yield, than this, “Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? Is not he thy Father that hath bought thee?” (Deut. 32:6), and bought thee, “not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of his own Son?” (1 Pet. 1:17–19) How dangerous a matter it is to be at odds with God, old Eli showeth by this main argument — “If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall plead or entreat for him?” (1 Sam. 2:25) And Job before him — “he is not a man as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment: neither is there any daysman or umpire betwixt us, that may lay his hand upon us both.” (Job 9:32–33) If this General should admit no manner of exception, then were we in a woeful case, and had cause to weep much more than St. John did in the Revelation, when “none was found in heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth, that was able to open the book which he saw in the right hand of him that sat upon the throne, neither to look thereon.” (Rev. 5:3–4) But as St. John was bidden there to refrain his weeping, because “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, had prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Rev. 5:5); so he himself elsewhere giveth the like comfort unto all of us in particular — “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is a propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sine of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1–2)
For as “there is one God, so is there one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:5–6); and in discharge of this, his office of mediation, as the only fit umpire to take up this controversy, was to lay his hand, as well upon God, the party so highly offended, as upon man, the party so basely offending. In things concerning God, the priesthood of our Mediator is exercised — “For every high priest is taken from among men, and ordained for men in things pertaining to God.” (Heb. 5:1; 2:17) The parts of his priestly function are two — satisfaction and intercession; the former whereof giveth contentment to God’s justice; the latter soliciteth his mercy, for the application of this benefit to the children of God in particular. Whereby it cometh to pass, that God, in “showing mercy upon whom he will show mercy” (Rom. 9:15–16), is yet for his justice no loser: being both “just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:26)
By virtue of his intercession, our Mediator appeareth in the presence of God for us, and maketh request for us. (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24) To this purpose, the apostle noteth, in the fourth to the Hebrews. — (1.) “That we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.” (ver. 14) (2.) “That we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all things tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (ver. 15) Betwixt the having of such and the not having of such an Intercessor — betwixt the height of him in regard of the one, and the lowliness in regard of his other nature, standeth the comfort of the poor sinner. He must be such a suitor as taketh our case to heart: and therefore “in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest.” (Heb. 2:17) In which respect, as it was needful he should partake with our flesh and blood, that he might be tenderly affected unto his brethren: so likewise, for the obtaining of so great a suit, it behoved he should be most dear to God the Father, and have so great an interest in him, as he might always be sure to be heard in his requests (John 11:42): who therefore could be no other but he of whom the Father testified from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17) It was fit our Intercessor should be man like unto ourselves, that we might “boldly come to him, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) It was fit he should be God, that he might boldly go to the Father, without anyway disparaging him, as being his fellow (Zech. 13:7) and equal. (Phil. 2:6)
But such was God’s love to justice, and hatred to sin, that he would not have his justice swallowed up with mercy, nor sin pardoned without the making of fit reparation. And therefore our Mediator must not look to procure for us a simple pardon, without more ado; but must be a propitiation for our sins (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10), and redeem us by fine and ransom (Matt. 20:2; 1 Tim. 2:6; Job 33:24); and so not only be the Master of our requests, to entreat the Lord for us, but also take upon him the part of an advocate (1 John 2:1), to plead full satisfaction made by himself, as our Surety (Heb. 7:22), unto all the debt herewith we anyway stood chargeable. Now the satisfaction which our Surety bound himself to perform in our behalf was of a double debt — the principal, and the accessory. The principal debt is obedience to God’s most holy law, which man was bound to pay as a perpetual tribute to his Creator, although he had never sinned but being now, by his own default, become bankrupt, is not able to discharge in the least measure. his Surety, therefore, being to satisfy in his stead, none will be found fit to undertake such a payment, but he who is both God and Man.
Man it is fit he should be, because man was the party that, by the articles of the first covenant, was tied to this obedience; and it was requisite that, “as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so, by the obedience of of one man likewise, many should be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:19) Again, if our Mediator were only God, he could have performed no obedience (the Godhead being free from all manner of subjection): and if he were a bare man, although he had been as perfect as Adam in his integrity, or the angels themselves, yet, being left unto himself amidst all the temptations of Satan and this wicked world, he should be subject to fall as they were; or, if he should hold out, as the elect angels did (1 Tim. 5:21), that must have been ascribed to the grace and favour of another; whereas, the giving of strict satisfaction to God’s justice was the thing required in this behalf. But now, being God as well as man, he, by his own eternal Spirit, preserved himself without spot (Heb. 9:14): presenting a far more satisfactory obedience unto God than could hare possibly been performed by Adam in his integrity.
For, beside the infinite difference that was betwixt both their persons, which maketh the actions of the one beyond all comparison to exceed the worth and value of the other, you know that Adam was not able to make himself holy, but what holiness he had he received from him who created him according to his own image: so that whatsoever obedience Adam had performed, God should have eaten but of the fruit of the vineyard which himself bad planted (1 Cor. 9:7); and “of his own would all that have been which could be given unto him.” (1 Chron. 29:14–16) But Christ did himself sanctify that human nature which he assumed, according to his own saying, “For their sakes I sanctify myself” (John 17:19); and so, out of his own peculiar store, did he bring forth those precious treasures of holy obedience which, for the satisfaction of our debt, he was pleased to fencer unto his Father. Again, if Adam had done all things which were commanded him (Luke 17:10), he must, for all that, have said, “I am an unprofitable servant; I have done that which was my duty to do”; whereas, in the voluntary obedience which Christ subjected himself unto, the case stood far otherwise.
True it is, that if we respect him in his human nature, “his Father is greater than he” (John 14:18); and he is his Father’s servant (Isa. 53:11; Matt. 12:18); yet in that he said, and most truly said, “that God was his Father” (John 5:18), the Jews did rightly infer from thence that he thereby “made himself equal with God”; and “the Lord of Hosts himself had proclaimed him to be the man that is his fellow.” (Zech. 13:7) Being such a man, therefore, and so highly born, by the privilege of his birthright, he might have claimed an exemption from the ordinary service whereunto all other men are tied; and by being the King’s Son, have freed himself from the payment of that tribute which was to be exacted at the hands of strangers. (Matt. 17:25, 26) When the Father brought this his first-begotten into the world, he said, “Let all the angels of God worship him” (Heb. 1:6); and at the very instant wherein the Son advanced our nature into the highest pitch of dignity, by admitting it into the unity of his sacred person, that nature, so assumed, was worthy to be crowned with all glory and honour; and he in that nature might then have set himself down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2), tied to no other subjection than now he is, or hereafter shall be, when, after the end of this world, he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God the Father. For then also, in regard of his assumed nature, he “shall be subject unto him that put all other things under him.” (1 Cor. 5:27)
Thus the Son of God, if he had minded only his own things, might at the very first have attained unto the joy that was set before him; but looking on the things of others (Phil. 2:4–8), he chose rather to some by a tedious way and wearisome journey unto it, not challenging the privilege of a son, but taking upon him the form of a mean servant. Whereupon, in the days of his flesh, he did not serve as an honourable commander in the Lord’s host, but as an ordinary soldier; he made himself of no reputation, for the time, as it were, emptying himself of his high state and dignity (Phil. 2:7); he humbled himself, and became obedient until his death, being content all his life long to be “made under the law” (Gal. 4:4); yea, so far, that as he was sent “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), so he disdained not to subject himself unto the law, which properly did concern sinful flesh. And therefore, howsoever circumcision was, by right, applicable only unto such as were “dead in their sins and the circumcision of their flesh” (Col. 2:11–13); yet he, in whom there was no body of the sins of the flesh to be put off, submitted himself, notwithstanding, thereunto, not only to testify his communion with the fathers of the Old Testament, but also by this means to tender unto his Father a bond, signed with his own blood, whereby he made himself, in our behalf, a debtor unto the whole law. “For I testify, saith the apostle, to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to the whole law.” (Gal. 5:3)
In like manner, baptism appertained properly unto such as were defiled, and had need to have their sins washed away (Acts 22:16); and therefore, when all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, went out unto John, they “were all baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matt. 3:6; Mark 1:5) Among the rest came our Saviour also; but the Baptist, considering that he had need to be baptized by Christ, and Christ no need at all to be baptized by him, refused to give way unto that action, as altogether unbefitting the state of that immaculate Lamb of God who was to take away the sin of the world. Yet did our Mediator submit himself to that ordinance of God also, not only to testify his communion with the Christians of the New Testament, but especially (which is the reason yielded by himself) because “it became him thus to fulfil all righteousness.” (Mark 3:15) And so having fulfilled all righteousness, whereunto the meanest man was tied, in the days of his pilgrimage (which was more than he needed to have undergone, if he had respected only himself), the works which he performed were truly works of supererogation, which might be put to the account of them whose debt he undertook to discharge; and being performed by the person of the Son of God, must in that respect not only be equivalent, but infinitely over-value the obedience of Adam and all his posterity, although they had remained in their integrity, and continued until this hour, instantly serving God day and night. And thus for our main and principal debt of obedience hath our Mediator given satisfaction unto the justice of his Father, with “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” (Luke 6:38)
But, beside this, we were liable unto another debt, which we have incurred by our default, and drawn upon ourselves by way of forfeiture and nomine pœnœ. For as obedience is a due debt, and God’s servants, in regard thereof, are truly debtors (Luke 17:10; Rom. 8:12; Gal. 5:3); so likewise, is sin a debt (Matt. 6:12, compared with Luke 11:4), and sinners debtors, in regard of the penalty due for the default. (Luke 13:4; Matt. 13:16) And as the payment of the debt which cometh nomine pœnœ dischargeth not the tenant afterwards from paying his yearly rent, after the default hath been made, so it is no sufficient satisfaction for the penalty already incurred. Therefore our Surety, who standeth chargeable with all our debts, as he maketh payment for the one by his active, so must he make amends for the other by his passive obedience; he must first suffer, and then enter into his glory. (Luke 24:26) “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect (that is, a perfect accomplisher of the work which he had undertaken) through sufferings.” (Heb. 2:10)
The Godhead is of that infinite perfection that it cannot possibly be subject to any passion. He, therefore, that had no other nature but the Godhead, could not pay such a debt as this, the discharge whereof consisted in suffering and dying. It was also fit that God’s justice ‘should have been satisfied in that nature which had transgressed, and that the same nature should suffer the punishment that had committed the offence. “Forasmuch, then, as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil; and deliver them, who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:14–15) Such and so great was the love of God the Father towards us, that “he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Rom. 8:12); and so transcendant was the love of the Son of God towards the sons of men, that he desired not to be spared, but, rather than they should lie under the power of death, was of himself most willing to suffer death for them; which, seeing in that infinite nature, which by eternal generation Re received from his Father, he could pot do. He resolved, in the appointed time, to take unto himself a mother, and out of her substance to have a body framed unto himself, wherein he might “become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8), for our redemption. And therefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith unto his Father, “A body hast thou fitted me; lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” (Heb. 10:5–7) By the which will, saith the apostle, “we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:9–10) Thus we see it was necessary, for the satisfaction of this debt, that our Mediator should be man; but he that had no mote in him than a man could never be able to go through With so great a work. For if there should be found a mail as righteous as Adam Was at his first creation, who would be content to suffer for the offence of others his sufferings possibly might serve for the redemption of one soul — it could be no sufficient ransom for those innumerable multitudes that were to be “redeemed to God out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Rev. 5:9; 7:9) Neither could any man or angel be able to hold out, if a punishment equivalent to the endless sufferings of all the sinners in the world should at once be laid upon him. Yea, the very powers of Christ himself, upon whom “the Spirit of might did rest” (Isa. 11:2), were so shaken in this sharp encounter, that he, who was the most accomplished pattern of all fortitude, stood sore amazed (Mark 14:33; Luke 22:14); and with strong crying and tears (Heb. 5:7), prayed that, “if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.” (Mark 14:35–36) This Man, therefore, being to offer one sacrifice for sins forever (Heb. 10:12), to the burning of that sacrifice, he must not only bring the coals of his love as strong as death (Cant. 8:6), and as ardent as the fire which hath a most vehement flame, but he must add thereunto those everlasting burnings also, even the flames of his most glorious Deity (Isa. 33:14); and therefore, “through the eternal Spirit, must he offer himself without spot unto God” (Heb. 9:14), that hereby he might obtain for us an eternal redemption. (Heb. 9:12) The blood whereby the Church is purchased must be God’s own blood (Acts 20:28): and to that end must the Lord of glory be crucified (1 Cor. 2:8; Acts 3:15); the Prince and Author of life be killed; he, “whose eternal generation no man, can declare, be cut off out of the land of the living and the man that is God’s own fellow be thus smitten” (Isa. 53:8); according to that which God himself foretold by his prophet — “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the Man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” (Zech. 13:7, with Matt. 26:31) The people of Israel, we read, did so value the life of David, their king, that they counted him to be worth ten thousand of themselves. (2 Sam. 18:3) How shall we then value the life of David’s Lord, “who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords?” (Matt. 22:43–44; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16) It was, indeed, our nature that suffered, but he that suffered in that nature “is over all, God blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5); and for such a person to have suffered but one hour was more than if all other persons had suffered ten thousand millions of years.
But put the case also, that the life of any other singular man might be equivalent to all the lives of the whole of mankind; yet the laying down of that life would not be sufficient to do the deed, unless he that had power to lay it down had power likewise to take it up again. For to be detained always in that prison, “front whence there is no coining out before the payment of the uttermost farthing” (Matt. 5:26) is to lie always under execution, and [not] to quit the plea of that full payment of the debt wherein our Surety stood engaged for us. And therefore the apostle upon that ground doth rightly conclude, that “if Christ be not raised, our faith is vain, we are yet in our sins” (1 Cor. 15:17); and, consequently, that as he must be “delivered to death for our offences, so he must be raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25)
Yea, our Saviour himself, knowing full well what he was to undergo for our sakes, told us beforehand that the Comforter, whom he would send unto us, should convince the world (John 16:10) — that is, fully satisfy the consciences of the sons of men — concerning that everlasting righteousness which was to be brought in by him upon this very ground (Dan. 9:24) — “Because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more.” For if he had broken prison and made an escape, the payment of the debt, which, as our Surety, he took upon himself, being not yet satisfied, he should have been seen here again. Heaven would not have held him, more than Paradise did Adam, after he had fallen into God’s debt and danger. But our Saviour, raising himself from the dead, presenting himself in heaven before him unto whom the debt was owing, and maintaining his standing there, hath hereby given good proof that he is now a free man, and hath fully discharged that debt of ours for which he stood committed. And this is the evidence we have to show of that righteousness whereby we stand justified in God’s sight; according to that of the apostle, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom. 8:33–34)
Now, although an ordinary man may easily part with his life, yet doth it not lie in his power to resume it again at his own will and pleasure. But he that must do the turn for us, must be able to say as our Jesus did, “I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17–18); and in another place, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” saith he unto the Jews, speaking of the temple of his body. (John 2:19–21) A human nature, then, he must have had, which might be subject to dissolution; but being once dissolved, he could not by his own strength (which was the thing here necessarily required) raise it up again, unless he had “declared himself to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:4) The manhood could suffer, but not overcome the sharpness of death; the Godhead could suffer nothing, but overcome anything. He, therefore, that was to suffer and to overcome death for us, must be partaker of both natures, that, “being put to death in the flesh, he might be able also to quicken himself by his own Spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18)
And now are we come to that part of Christ’s mediation which concerneth the conveyance of “the redemption of this purchased possession” unto the sons of men. (Eph. 1:14) A dear purchase indeed, which was to be redeemed with no less price than the blood of the Son of God. But what should the purchase of a stranger have been to us, or what should we have been the better for all this, if we could not derive our descent from the purchaser, or raise some good title whereby we might estate ourselves in his purchase? Now this was the manner in former time in Israel, concerning redemptions: that unto him who was the next of kin belonged the right of being God, or the Redeemer. (Ruth 3:12; 4:1, 3–4, 7) And Job had before that left this glorious profession of his faith unto the perpetual memory of all posterity, “I know that my God, or Redeemer, liveth, and at the last shall arise upon the dust (or, stand upon the earth) And after this my skin is spent, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another for me.” (Job 19:25–27) Whereby we may easily understand that his and our Redeemer was to be the invisible God; and yet in his assumed flesh made visible even to the bodily eyes of those whom he redeemed. For if he had not thus assumed our flesh, how should we have been of his blood, or claimed any kindred to him? And unless the Godhead had, by a personal union, been inseparably conjoined unto that flesh, how could he therein have been accounted our next of kin?
For the better clearing of which last reason we may call to mind that sentence of the apostle, “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.” (1 Cor. 15:47) Where, notwithstanding there were many millions of men in the world betwixt these two, yet we see our Redeemer reckoned the second Man — and why, but because these two were the only men who could be accounted the prime fountains from whence all the rest of mankind did derive their existence and being? For as all men in the world, by mean descents, do draw their first original from the first man; so, in respect of a more immediate influence of efficiency and operation, do they owe their being unto the second Man, as he is the Lord from heaven. This is God’s own language unto Jeremiah: “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee.” (Jer. 1:5) And this is David’s acknowledgment for his part: “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me.” (Ps. 119:73) “Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.” (Ps. 139:13) “Thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels.” (Ps. 71:6) And Job’s, for his also: “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.” (Job 10:8–11) And the apostle’s for us all: “In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:27–29); who inferreth also thereupon, both that “we are the offspring or generation of God, and that he is not far from every one of us.” This being to be admitted for a most certain truth (notwithstanding the opposition of all gainsayers), that God doth more immediately concur to the generation and all other motions of the creature than any natural agent doth or can do. And therefore, “if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they, which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17); considering that this second Man is not only as universal a principle of all our beings as was that first, and so may sustain the common person of us all, as well as he, but is a far more immediate agent in the production thereof; not as the first, so many generations removed from us, but more hear unto us than our very next progenitors; and in that regard justly to be accounted our next of kin, even before them also.
Yet is not this sufficient neither: but there is another kind of generation required for which We must be beholding unto the second Man, the Lord from heaven, before we can have interest in this purchased redemption. For as the guilt of the first man’s transgression is derived unto us by the means of carnal generation, so must the benefit of the second Man’s obedience be conveyed unto us by spiritual regeneration. And this must be laid down as a most undoubted verity, that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3); and that every such must be “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13) Now as our Mediator, in respect of the adoption of sons, which he hath procured for us, is not ashamed to call us brethren (Heb. 2:11); so in respect of this new birth, whereby he begetteth us to a spiritual and everlasting life, he disdaineth not to own us as his children. “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed,” saith the prophet Isaiah. (Isa. 53:10) “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation,” saith his father David, likewise, of him. (Ps. 22:30) And he himself, of himself: “Behold, I, and the children which God hath given me.” (Heb. 2:13) Whence the apostle deduceth this conclusion: “Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” (Heb. 2:14) He himself, that is, he who was God, equal to the Father: for who else was able to make this new creature (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10; Gal. 6:15), but the same God that is the Creator of all things? (John 1:13; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:3; 1 John 5:1) (No less power being requisite to the effecting of this than was at the first to the producing of all things out of nothing.) And these new babes (1 Pet. 2:2, with 1:22), being to be born of the Spirit (John 3:5–8), who could have power to send the Spirit, thus to beget them, but the Father and the Son, from whom he proceeded — the same blessed Spirit who framed the natural body of our Lord in the womb of the virgin, being to new mould and fashion every member of his mystical body unto his similitude and likeness.
For the further opening of which mystery, which went beyond the apprehension of Nicodemus (John 3:4, 9–10), though a master of Israel, we are to consider, that in every perfect generation the creature produced receiveth two things from him that doth beget it — life and likeness. A curious limner draweth his own son’s portraiture to the life, as we say; yet because there is no true life in it, but a likeness only, he cannot be said to be the begetter of his picture, as he is of his son. And some creatures there be that are bred out of mud, or other putrid matter, which, although they have life, yet because they have no correspondence in likeness unto the principle from whence they were derived, are therefore accounted to have but an improper and equivocal generation. Whereas, in the right and proper course of generation (others being esteemed but monstrous births that swerve from that rule), every creature begetteth his like:
Nec imbellem feroces
Progenerant aquilæ columbam.
Now, touching our spiritual death and life, those sayings of the apostle would be thought upon: “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.” (2 Cor. 5:14–15) “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” (Eph. 2:4–5) “And you, being dead in your sips and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” (Col. 2:13) “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20) From all which we may easily gather, that if by the obedience and sufferings of a bare man, though never so perfect, the most sovereign medicine that could be thought upon should have been prepared for the curing of our wounds, yet all would be to no purpose, we being found dead when the medicine did come to be applied.
Our Physician, therefore, must not only be able to restore us unto health, but unto life itself: which none can do but the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — one God, blessed forever. To which purpose these passages of our Saviour also are to be considered: “As the Father had life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:26) “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” (John 6:57) “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.” (John 4:51) The substance whereof is briefly comprehended in this saying of the apostle, “The last Adam was made a quickening Spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45) An Adam, therefore, and perfect man, must he have been, that his flesh, given for us upon the cross, might be made the conduit to convey life unto the world: and a quickening Spirit he could not have been unless he were God, able to make that flesh an effectual instrument of life by the operation of his blessed Spirit. For, as himself hath declared, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; without it, the flesh would profit nothing.” (John 6:63)
As for the point of similitude and likeness, we read of Adam, after hie fall, that he “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image.” (Gen. 5:3); and generally, as well touching the carnal as the spiritual generation, our Saviour hath taught us this lesson, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” (John 3:6) Whereupon the apostle maketh this comparison betwixt those who are born of that first man, who is of the earth, earthy; and of the second Man, who is the Lord from heaven: “As is the earthy, seek are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, seek are they also that are heavenly: and as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Cor. 15:48–49) We shall, indeed hereafter bear it in full perfection: when “the Lord Jesus Christ shall change our base body, that It may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby lie is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Phil. 3:21) Yet in the meantime, also, such a conformity is required in us unto that heavenly Man, that “our conversation mist be in heaven, whence we look for this Saviour” (Phil. 3:20); and that we must “put off, concerning the former conversation, that old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of our mind; and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph. 4:22–24) For as in one particular point of domestic authority, “the man is said to be the image and glory of God, and the woman the glory of the man” (1 Cor. 11:7); so in a more universal manner is Christ said to be “the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4), even “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3); and we “to be conformed to his image, that he might be the first-born among those many brethren” (Rom. 8:29); who in that respect are accounted “the glory of Christ.” (2 Cor. 8:23)
We read in the holy history that God “took of the spirit which was upon Moses, and gave it unto the seventy elders” (Num. 11:17, 23), that they might bear the burden of the people with him, and that he might not bear it, as before he had done, himself alone. It may be, his burden being thus lightened, the abilities that were left him for government were not altogether so great aa the necessity of his former employment required them to have been; and in that regard, what was given to his assistants might perhaps be said to be taken from him. But we are sure the ease was otherwise in him of whom now we speak, unto whom “God did not thus give the Spirit by measure.” (John 3:34) And therefore, although so many millions of believers do continually receive this “supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:19), yet neither is that fountain any way exhausted, nor the plenitude of that well-spring of grace any whit impaired or diminished: it being God’s pleasure “that in him should all fulness dwell” (Col. 1:19); and that “of his fulness all we should receive, grace for grace.” (John 1:16) That as, in the natural generation, there is such a correspondence in all parts betwixt the father and the infant begotten, that there is no member to be seen in the father, but there is the like answerably to be found in the child, although in a far less proportion; so it falleth out in this spiritual, that for every grace which in a most eminent manner is found in Christ, a like grace will appear in God’s child, although in a far inferior degree; similitudes and likenesses being defined by the logicians to be comparisons made in quality, and not in quantity.
We are yet further to take into our consideration, that by thus enlivening and fashioning us according to his own image, Christ’s purpose was not to raise a seed unto himself dispersedly and distractedly, but to “gather together to one the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:52); yea, and to “bring all unto one head by himself, both them which are in heaven and them which are on the earth” (Eph. 1:10); that as in the tabernacle, “the vail divided between the holy place and the most holy” (Ex. 26:33), but the curtains which covered them both were so coupled together with the taches that it might still “be one tabernacle” (Ex. 26:6–11), so the Church militant and triumphant, typified thereby, though distant as far the one from the other as heaven is from earth, yet is made but one tabernacle in Jesus Christ, “in whom all the building, fitly framed together, greweth unto an holy temple in the Lord, and in whom all of us are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:21–22)
The bond of this mystical union betwixt Christ and us (as elsewhere hath more fully been declared in a sermon to the Commons House of Parliament, 1630) is, on his part, that quickening Spirit (John 6:63; 1 Cor. 6:17; 15:45; Phil. 2:1; Rom. 8:9; 1 John 3:24; 4:13), which, being in him as the Head, is from thence diffused to the spiritual animation of all his members: and on our part, faith (Gal. 2:20; 5:5; 3:11; Eph. 3:17), which is the prime act of life wrought in those who are capable of understanding by that same Spirit. Both whereof must be acknowledged to be of so high a nature, that none could possibly, by such ligatures, knit up so admirable a body, but he that was God Almighty. And therefore, although we did suppose such a man might be found who should perform the law for us, suffer the death that was due to our offence and overcome it; yea, and whose obedience and sufferings should be of such value that it were sufficient for the redemption of the whole world; yet could it not be efficient to make us live by faith, unless that man had been able to send God’s Spirit to apply the same unto us.
Which as no bare man, or any other creature whatsoever, can do, so for faith we are taught by St. Paul that it “is the operation of God, and a work of his power” (Col. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:11), even of that same power wherewith Christ himself was raised from the dead. Which is the ground of that prayer of his, that the eyes of our understanding being enlightened, we might know “what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be Head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 1:19–23)
Yet was it fit also that this Head should be of the same nature with the body which is knit unto it; and therefore that he should so be God as that he might partake of our flesh likewise. “For we are members of his body (saith the same apostle), of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Eph. 5:30) And, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man (saith our Saviour himself) and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53) “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56) Declaring thereby, first, that by this mystical and supernatural union, we are as truly conjoined with him as the meat and drink we take is with us, when, by the ordinary work of nature, it is converted into our own substance. Secondly, that this conjunction is immediately, made with his human nature. Thirdly, that the Lamb slain (Rev. 5:12; 13:8) — that is, Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2) — bath by that death of his made his flesh broken and his blood poured out for us upon the cross, to be fit food for the spiritual nourishment of our souls, and the very well-spring from whence, by the power of his Godhead, all life and grace is derived unto us.
Upon this ground it is that the apostle telleth us that we “have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh.” (Heb. 10:19–20) That as in the tabernacle there was no passing from the holy to the most holy place but by the vail, so now there is no passage to be looked for from the Church militant to the Church triumphant but by the flesh of him who hath said of himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) Jacob in his dream beheld “a ladder set upon the earth, the top whereof reached to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it, the Lord himself standing above it.” (Gen. 28:12–13) Of which vision none can give a better interpretation than he, who was prefigured therein, gave unto Nathaniel, “hereafter you shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:51) Whence we may well collect, that the only means whereby God, standing above, and his Israel, lying here below, are conjoined together, and the only ladder whereby heaven may be scaled by us, is the Son of Man, the type of whose flesh, the vail, was therefore commanded to be made with cherubims (Ex. 26:31; 36:35); to show that we come “to an innumerable company of angels,” when we come “to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Testament” (Heb. 12:22–24); who, as the Head of the Church, hath power to “send forth all those ministering spirits, to minister for them, who shell be heir of salvation.” (Heb. 1:14)
Lastly, we are to take into our consideration that as in things concerning God the main execution of our Saviour’s priesthood doth consist so in things concerning man he exereiseth both his prophetical office, whereby he openeth the will of his Father unto us, and his kingly, where by he ruleth and protecteth us. It was indeed a part of the priests’ office in the Old Testament to instruct the people in the law of God (Deut. 33:10; Hag. 2:11; Mal. 2:7), and yet when they distinguished from prophets (Isa. 28:7; Jer. 6:13; 8:10; 14:18; 23:11, 33–34; Lam. 2:10): like as in the New Testament also, prophets, as well as apostles are made a different degree from ordinary pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11), who received not their doctrine by immediate inspiration from heaven, as those other “holy men of God did, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. 1:21) Whence St. Paul putteth the Hebrews in mind, that God who “in sundry parts and in sundry manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these test days spoken unto us by his Son, Christ Jesus” (Heb. 1:1): whom therefore he styleth “the Apostle, as well as the High Priest of our profession; who was faithful to him that appointed him, even as Moses was in all his house.” (Heb. 3:1–2)
How Moses, we know, had a singular preeminence above all the rest of the prophets; according to that ample testimony which God himself giveth of him, “If there be a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful to all mine house: with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord will be beheld.” (Num. 12:6–8) And therefore we find that our Mediator, in the execution of his prophetical ottos, is in a more peculiar manner likened unto Moses: which he himself also did thus foretell — “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; and unto him ye shall hearken. According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God; neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken, that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” (Deut. 18:15–19; Acts 3:22–23)
Our Prophet, therefore, must be a man raised from among his brethren, the Israelites, of whom, as concerning the flesh, he came who was to perform unto us (Rom. 9:5), that which the fathers requested of Moses: “Speak thou to us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Ex. 20:19; Deut. 5:25–27) And yet, that in this also we may see how our Mediator had the preeminence, when Aaron and all the children of Israel were to receive from the mouth of Moses all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:30–33), they were afraid to come nigh him, by reason of the glory of his shining countenance; so that he was fain to put a vail over his face, while he spake unto them that which he was commanded. But that which for a time was thus made glorious, had no glory in respect of the glory that excelleth (2 Cor. 3:7, 10–11, 13); and both the glory thereof, and the vail which covered it, are now abolished in Christ, the vail of whose flesh doth so overshadow “the brightness of his glory” (Heb. 1:3), that yet under it we may “behold his glory, as the glory of the only-begotten of the Father” (John 1:14); yea, and “we all with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:11)
And this is daily effected by the power of the ministry of the Gospel, instituted by the authority and seconded by the power of our great Prophet, whose transcendant excellency beyond Moses, unto whom, in the execution of that function, Me was otherwise likened, is thus set forth by the apostle — “he is counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by someone: but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after: but Christ, as the Son, over his own house.” (Heb. 3:3–6) This house of God is no other than the Church of the living God, whereof as he is the only Lord, so is he also properly the only Builder. (1 Tim. 3:15) Christ, therefore, being both the Lord and the Builder of his Church (Matt. 16:18), must be God as well as Man: which is the cause why we find all the several mansions of this great house (2 Tim. 2:20), to carry the title indifferently of the Churches of God (1 Cor. 11:16), and the Churches of Christ. (Rom. 16:16)
True it is that there are other ministerial builders whom Christ employeth in that service: this being net the least of those gifts which he bestowed upon men at his triumphant ascension into heaven, that he gave not only ordinary pastors and teachers, but “apostles likewise, and prophets, and evangelists, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11–12), which, what great power it required, he himself doth fully express in passing the grant of this high commission unto his apostles — “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:18–20) St. Paul professeth of himself that he “laboured more abundantly than all the rest of the apostles: yet not I (saith he), but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10) And therefore, although, “according to that grace of God which was given unto him, he denied not but that, as a wise master-builder, he had laid the foundation; yet he acknowledged that they upon whom he had wrought were God’s building, as well as God’s husbandry.” (1 Cor. 3:9–10) For, “who (saith he) is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered: but God gave the increase. So, then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither is he that watereth: but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:5–7)
Two things, therefore, we find in our great Prophet which do far exceed the ability of any bare man, and so do difference him from all “the holy prophets which have been since the world began.” (Luke 1:70) For, first, we are taught that “no man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (Matt. 11:27); and that “no man hath seen God at any time, but the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18) Being in his bosom, he is become conscious of his secrets, and so, out of his own immediate knowledge, enabled to discover the whole will of his Father unto us; whereas all other prophets and apostles receive their revelations at the second hand, and according to the grace given unto them by the Spirit of Christ. Witness that place of St. Peter, for the prophets: “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Pet. 1:10–11) And for the apostles, those heavenly words which our Saviour himself uttered unto them whilst he was among them: “When the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine and show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore, said I, that he shall take of mine and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:13–15)
Secondly, all other prophets and apostles can do no more (as hath been said) but plant and water; only God can give the increase: they may teach, indeed, and baptize; but unless Christ were with them by the powerful presence of his Spirit, they would not be able to save one soul by that ministry of theirs. “Ye, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5): but “except the Lord do build this house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Ps. 127:1) For who is able to breathe the spirit of life into those dead stones, but he of whom it is written, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear it shall live.” (John 5:25) And again: “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Eph. 5:14) Who can awake us out of this dead sleep and give light unto these blind eyes of ours, but the Lord our God, unto whom we pray that he would “lighten our eyes, lest we sleep the sleep of death?” (Ps. 13:3)
And as a blind man is not able to conceive the distinction of colours, although the most skilful man alive should use all the art he had to teach him, because he wanteth the sense whereby that object is discernible: so “the natural man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14) Whereupon the apostle concludeth, concerning himself and all his fellow-labourers, that “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ; but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor. 4:6–7) Our Mediator, therefore, who must “be able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Heb. 7:25) may not want the excellency of the power whereby he may make us capable of this high knowledge of the things of God, propounded unto us by the ministry of his servants: and, consequently, in this respect also, must be God as well as Man.
There remaineth the kingdom of our Redeemer, described thus by the prophet Isaiah: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even forever.” (Isa. 9:7) And by Daniel: “Behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:13–14) And by the angel Gabriel, in his embassage to the blessed virgin: “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:31–33)
This is that new David, our King (Jer. 30:9; Hos. 3:5; Ezek. 34:23, 37:24), whom God hath raised up unto his own Israel (Gal. 6:16) — who was in truth that which he was called, “the Son of Man, and the Son of the Highest.” That in the one respect, we may say unto him (Eph. 5:30), as the Israelites of old did unto their David, “Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh” (2 Sam. 5:1); and in the other, sing of him as David himself did, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:43–44; Acts 2:34–35) So that the promise made unto our first parents, that “the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head” (Gen. 3:15), may well stand with that other saying of St. Paul, that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under our feet” (Rom. 16:20); seeing “for this very purpose the Son of God was manifested” (1 John 3:8) in the flesh, “that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 Tim. 3:16) And still that foundation of God will remain unshaken: “I, even I, am the Lord, and beside we there is no Saviour.” (Isa. 43:11) “Thou shalt know no God but me: for there is no Saviour beside me.” (Hos. 13:4)
Two special branches there be of this kingdom of our Lord and Saviour: the one of grace, whereby that part of the Church is governed which is militant upon earth; the other of glory, belonging to that part which is triumphant in heaven. Here upon earth, as by his prophetical office he worketh upon our mind and understanding, so by his kingly he ruleth our will and affections, “casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) Where, as we must needs acknowledge, that “it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do” (Phil. 2:13), and that it is “he which sanctifieth us wholly” (2 Thess. 5:23); so are we taught likewise to believe, that “both he who sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one” (Heb. 2:11), namely, of one and the selfsame nature; that the Sanctifier might not be ashamed to call those who are sanctified by him, his brethren; that as their nature was corrupted and their blood tainted in the first Adam, so it might be restored again in the second Adam — and that as from the one a corrupt, so from the other a pure and undefiled, nature might be transmitted unto the heirs of salvation.
The same God that giveth grace, is he also that giveth glory (Ps. 84:11): yet so, that the streams of both of them must run to us through the golden pipe of our Saviour’s humanity. “For since by man came death,” it was fit that “by man also should come the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:21); even by that Man who hath said, “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54) Who then “shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be made marvellous in all them that believe” (2 Thess. 1:10) — and “shall change this base body of ours, that it may be fashioned like unto his own glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Phil. 3:21) Unto him therefore, that hath thus “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:5–6)