Page images
PDF
EPUB

solvi Scriptura, the Word was made fiesh. I add yet further : what flesh? The flesh of an Infant. What! Verbum infans, the Word an infant ? The Word ! and not be able to speak a word ? How evil agreeth this? This He put up. How born, how entertained ? In a stately palace., cradle of ivory, robes of estate? No: but a stable was his palace; a manger his cradle ; poor clouts for his array. This was his beginning. Follow him further, if any better afterward; sudans et algens, &c... Is his end any better, what flesh then ? Cujus livore sanati, &c... Weigh it and wonder at it, that ever He would endure to be made flesh, and to be made it on this manner. What was it made the Word thus to be made flesh? Non est lex hominis ista, flesh would never have been brought to it. It was God; and, in God, nothing but love: Dilexit, with sic : charitas, with an ecce: fecit amor, ut Verbum caro fieret : zelus Domini exercituum fecit hoc (John iii. 16; 1 John i. l; 2 Kings xix. 31). Love only did it. Quid sit, possit, debeat, non recipit jus amoris : that only cares not for any exinanivit, any humiliavit se, any emptying, humbling, loss of reputation. Love respects it not, cares not, what flesh he be made, so the flesh be made by it. And dwelt. Factum est, is the word of nature; habitavit of person. Not habitaverunt, therefore but one person. And habitavit is a word of continuance. Not only made, but made stay, made his abode with us--for a time took up his dwellingdwelt,and was seen visibly. And cornvwge is not every dwelling, but a dwelling in onun, a tent, that is, but for a time. Not a house, to stand for ever, but a tent to be taken down again. Which, as it sheweth his tabernacle of the nature of ours, mortal ; 80 withal, that he came but of an errand, to sojourn till he had done it. A work he had for which he was sent ; that being done, he laid his tabernacle off again. Soldiers dwell in tents. From the beginning there was war proclaimed, between the woman's Seed and the serpent's. A champion we stood in need of : and here we have one, even Dux Messias, as Daniel calls him. Though it cost him his life, yet the victory fell on his side; captivity was led captive, and we were delivered." --- Ibid. pp. 47–49.

Matthew Henry, in his Commentary, edited by Messrs. Burder and Hughes, is equally clear in the meaning of the term flesh. “ He was made flesh, the meanest part of man.

Flesh speaks man weak, and he was crucified through weakness (2 Cor. xiii

. 4). Flesh speaks man niortal and dying (Psalm lxxviii. 39), and Christ was put to death in the flesh (1 Pet. iii. 18). Nay, flesh speaks man tainted with sin (Gen. vi.3), and Christ, though he was perfectly holy and harmless, yet appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. viii. 3), and was made sin for us (2 Cor, v, 6). Wonder at this, that the Eternal Word should be made flesh, when flesh was come into such an ill name; that He who made all things should himself be made flesh, one of the meanest of things; and submit to that from which he was at the greatest distance.”On John i. 14.

Goode, in his Essays on the Names and Titles of Christ, strongly maintains the same doctrine. " The term flesh no doubt implies: 1. That the body, which the Saviour assumed, was in all things like ours; and was to pass through the very same stages of existence. He condescended to pass through the feeblest ages of its existence, to which it is subjected through sin. But the term flesh implies not only childhood, infancy, and growth, but, 2. The weakness and infirmities of a mortal, dying nature ; and to this also my Jesus condescended. “ Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses." Certain we are, that the body which the Lord Jesus assumed was equally liable as ours to all the sorrows and sufferings of sin, and to all the diseases and infirmities of our fallen nature. And that his body, once dead, had been liable to the same corruption, without a miraculous interposition of his Divine power, there can be no doubt; for that which is naturally liable to death, must be naturally liable to corruption. This view of the very corruptibility of the Saviour's body is no degradation of his person, but tends to exalt his goodness and his love. But the term flesh implies, 3. A state of sorrow and distress... Jesus was eminently “ the man of sorrows." But the term Aesh implies, 4. Our nature tainted with sin, under the curse of sin, and the sentence of death, which sin had brought upon it. To this also my Jesus condescended. As the Lamb of God, he was without blemish and without spot: in him there was no sin. Viewed, however, as our Surety, our sins lay upon him: and being in the fulness of time made of a woman, made under the law, as soon as he appears in such a character in our nature, he appears with all the sins of his people upon himself; and might well say, Innumerable evils have compassed me about; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head, therefore my heart faileth me. These were the sins which he bore in his own body on the tree. He took not on him the nature of angels; this had been great condescension : nor of Adam in his paradisiacal glory; this had been still greater : but He who was exalted far above the angelic world, who inhabited their praise, and is above all their worship, condescends to dwell among us, and to become like us. The Brightness of Divine glory, appears in the likeness of sinful flesh. This may be our triumph, that as Jesus became like us, we shall soon become like him. He took our nature to the throne, and glorified it; as a pledge that it should not always remain in this miserable state, but that through his debasement it should be exalted, through his sufferings it should be glorified.”

Scott, in his Commentary, states with plainness the same doctrine :-“As therefore the law was wholly inadequate to man's necessity, God was pleased, in infinite mercy, to send his own Son, to assume our nature, to appear in the likeness of sinful flesh. Though free from sin, he became subject to those infirmities to which, through sin, we are exposed; he was accused of many crimes and numbered with the transgressors; and he was punished by the Father, as our Surety, as if he had been the greatest of sinners. Thus he was appointed for sin, or for a sin offering; that God, having condemned sin in the flesh, and shewn his abhorrence of it by the sufferings of his Son in our flesh, might pardon and justify the believer's person, and execute the sentence of condemnation on his corrupt nature, by its crucifixion and destruction ” (Note on Rom. viii. 3).-" Made," or born (as some copies read it), “ of a woman, to be emphatically her seed, by receiving his human flesh of her substance(On Gal. iv. 4).—“ Descended from David according to the flesh, or in his human nature(On Rom. i. 4).—" He must, in order to the honourable salvation of sinners, whom he graciously owned as brethren, be made like them, in the same nature, and in all those infirmities to which sin had subjected them, as far as he could be without defilement” (On Heb. i. 17).—“ Our Lord, though perfectly free from all sin, came as near to the condition of a sinner as he possibly could. He was compassed about with the sinless infirmities of our frail nature; he appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh; he was dealt with as a sinner, both by God and man; he endured the most violent temptations, sufferings, and agonies; and even his soul was full of consternation and of horror unspeakable.” “ Even when the Son of God himself was appointed to the High Priesthood, he learned the difficulty of obeying the Divine commandments, in the present circumstances of human nature, amidst the temptations and trials to which men are exposed(On Heb. v. 8).-—“ The holiness and obedience of our Saviour, his miraculous powers, and the supports given to his human nature, are constantly ascribed to the Holy Spirit, with which he was anointed without measure” (On Heb.ix. 14; see also Heb. ii. 10).

In what we have hitherto said, our arguments have been almost entirely drawn from the incarnation, or Christ's coming into the world : but arguments equally strong may be deduced from the circumstances accompanying the passion, or Christ's leaving the world. Previous thereto, and in the full knowledge of the excessive suffering which awaited him, he saith to the disciples, “ My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death ;" and he prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt:" and again, “ O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me except I drink it, thy will be done.” This was no imaginary fear, no unreal anguish, but the true expression of his perfect manhood, shrinking from man's extremest suffering, and as man willing to avoid that bitter cup which as Christ he came into the world to drink. The struggle is recorded that we may understand his sufferings : the victory of the Divine will is recorded (“ thy will be done”) to prove that he “ came not to do his own will, but the will of Him that sent him.” Luke xxii. 44, shews a still deeper suffering; for, “ being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground : and there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” These incidents shew not only the extremity of mental anguish, but shew that his human nature was not supported by any inherent strength in itself, but that it needed prayer to enable it to bear up, and was capable of being strengthened by an angel. But the intensity of his sufferings has been expressed by Barrow so forcibly, that we prefer using his words, vol. ii. p. 367.

“Not only the infinite excellency of his person, and the perfect innocency of his life, did enhance the price of his sufferings; but some endowment peculiar to him, and some circumstances, did increase their force. He was not only, according to the frame and temper of human nature, sensibly affected with the pain and shame, and all the rest of evils, apparently waiting on his passion, as God (when he did insert sense and passion in our nature, ordering objects to affect them) did intend that we should be, and as other men in like outward circumstances would have been, but in many respects beyond that ordinary rate. No man, we may suppose, could have felt such grief from them as he did ; no man did ever feel any thing comparable to what he did endure : it might truly be applied to him (Lam. i. 22), · Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.' For, in regard to present evils, his soul is said to have been exceeding sorrowful, unto death' (Matt. xxvi. 37): he is said to be in great anguish and anxiety; to be in agony'or pang (Luke xxii. 44). In respect to mischiefs which he foresaw coming on, he is said to be disordered or disturbed in spirit (John xiii. 21; xii. 27); and to be amazed, or dismayed, at them (Mark xiv. 33). To such excessive height of passion did the sense of incumbent evils and the prospect of impendent disasters, the apprehension of his own case and reflection upon our state, raise him. And no wonder that such a burden, the weight of all the sins (the numberless heinous sins and abominations), which he did appropriate to himself that ever have been or shall be committed by mankind, lying upon his

shoulders, he should feel it heavy, he should seem to crouch and groan under it. 'Innumerable evils' (said he, in the mystical Psalm xl. 12) ‘have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart faileth me.' God's indignation, so dreadfully flaming out against sin, might well astonish and terrify him. To stand before the mouth of hell, belching out fire and brimstone upon him; to lie down in the hottest furnace of Divine vengeance; to undertake with his heart-blood to quench all the wrath of heaven, and all the flames of hell (as he did in regard to those who will not rekindle them to themselves), might well in the heart of a man beget unconceivable and unexpressible pressures of anguish. When such a Father (so infinitely good and kind to him, and whom he so dearly loved) did hide his face from him, did angrily frown on him, how could he otherwise than be sorely troubled ? It is not strange that so hearty a love, so tender a pity, contemplating our sinfulness, and sustaining our wretchedness, should be deeply affected thereby : any one of those who fondly do pretend to, or vainly glory in, a stupid apathy, or in a stubborn contempt of the evils incident to our nature and state, would in such a case have been utterly dejected ; the most resolved philosopher would have been dashed into confusion at the sight, would have been crushed to despair under the sense of those calamities which assaulted our Lord.”

These agonies of mind were only apprehensions of that extreinity of suffering, both of body and soul, which he was about to endure upon the cross ; in all of which it is evident that he truly suffered as man, and was by the power of God sustained. “He was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God” (2 Cor. xiii. 4). Here again we prefer using Barrow's language rather than our own :-The death of our Lord is my subject. As for the nature of it, we must affirm and believe assuredly, that it was a true and proper death ; in kind not different from that death to the which all we mortal creatures are, by the law and condition of our nature, subject; and which we must all sometime undergo. And by the ordinary signs of death apparent to sense, the soldiers judged him dead (John xix. 33). "His transition also, and abiding in this state, are expressed by terms declaring the propriety of his death, and its agreement with our death. He expired (Mark xv. 37): He gave up the ghost (Matt. xxvii. 50): He delivered up his spirit (John xix. 30; Luke xxiii. 46). His death also (as ours is wont to be denoted by like phrases) is termed decease (Luke ix. 31; 2 Pet. i. 15; Acts xx. 29); departure (John xiii. 1); dissolution (John ii. 19; Matt. xxvi. 38). It were also not hard to shew how all other phrases and circumlocutions by

VOL. 11.-NO, 1.

T

« EelmineJätka »