Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33


On Christ’s Incarnation.

By Archibald Mason.

Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian

Congregation, Wishawtown, Scotland.

1 TIMOTHY 3.16.—“God was manifest in the flesh.”

IN the preceding verse the professors of Christianity are denominated the house of God, the church of the living God, and the pillar and ground of truth.  Among them the Lord dwells; he has gathered them together by his grace and providence, and by them divine truths are embraced, propagated, and defended.  The verse which contains the text, gives an account of those truths with which the church has a special concern, both in a general description, and in a particular detail.  The general description is given in these words, “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness.”  Divine truth is a mystery; it is a mystery of godliness: it is a great mystery of godliness; and it is so without reasonable contradiction.  The particular detail is contained in the following words: “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”  Six particulars are mentioned concerning Christ, who is the substance and centre of all gospel truths, the first and principal of which is contained in the text, “God was manifest in the flesh.”

1st.  The text mentions a glorious object, God.  This name is applied to the Divine nature, whether essentially or personally considered.  The Divine nature, which is essentially one, subsists in three Divine and equal persons: “For there are three that bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.” [1 John 5.7.] The Divine person, mentioned in the text, is the Word; for John says, “The Word was made flesh; and dwelt among us.” [John 1.14.]  That Divine person, the Word, who was in the beginning, Who was God, who was in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made; {26} and without him was not any thing made that was made.  He was made flesh, John 1.1-3,14.  He who became man is the Son of God. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh,” Rom. 8.3.  These authorities warrant us to believe that it was the eternal uncreated Word, the only begotten Son of God, who was manifested in the flesh.

2d.  Another object is mentioned in the text, the flesh.  This term generally signifies that nature which is common to all mankind: “For all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth,” Gen. 6.12.  “All flesh is grass,” Isa. 40.8.  “And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should he saved,” Mark 13.20.  The term, flesh, in the text, signifies a human nature consisting of a true and material human body, and a rational and human immortal soul.  This term signifies the former of these, but by a usual figure, which puts a part for the whole, the entire human nature is meant in the text, as well as in the other passages that have been quoted.  Christ’s human nature is called flesh, to demonstrate its reality, its perfection in all the parts, and its subjection to all those sinless infirmities which are common to men.

3d.  The text contains what is asserted of these, God, and the flesh, “God was manifest in the flesh.”  God, in the person of the Son, appeared and dwelt among men in the human nature.  There was a union established between the divine nature in the person of the Son of God, and the human nature, so that the divine and human natures are united in the person of the Son, as our Mediator.  It is proposed,

  1. To make some observations on the nature and properties of the union of the two natures in the person of the Son of God.
  2. To mention some of the consequences of that union, with respect to the person and natures of Christ.
  3. To illustrate some of those ends, for the accomplishment of which, God was manifested in the flesh.

I. Some observations are now to be made concerning the nature and properties of the union of the two natures in the person of the Son of God.

1st.  The parties in this union are the Divine nature, and the human nature.  These are mentioned in the text, God and the flesh.  The glorious nature of God, belonging to each of the persons in the adorable Trinity, as it subsists in the person of the Son, is one of the parties in this union.  The nature of man, consisting of a human soul and {27} body, is the other party in this union.  This human nature was perfectly holy; was free from all sin, imputed or inherent; and was filled with all those pure and spiritual principles, in which conformity to the image and law of God does consist.  The parties in this union are infinitely different from one another.  They are as different as the form of God is from the form of a servant; as an entire and perfect equality with God is from the likeness of man.  The parties united are the great and glorious Creator of all things, and the creature, the workmanship of his own hand; God over all blessed, and the man Christ Jesus; he who upholds all things by the word of his power, by whom all things consist, and that holy thing born of the virgin, which lives, moves, and has its being in God.  That nature, which is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in all divine perfections, is united to that nature which is created, finite, limited, variable, and entirely dependent on God.  These are the parties in this union; and, therefore, how glorious must this mystery of godliness be.

2d.  There is a particular date of this union, or a time at which it commenced.  It did not exist from eternity; it is a union which commenced in time.  This union was indeed determined in the Divine counsel, from eternity; but its actual formation was effected in time.  Both these truths are plainly declared by the apostle, 1 Pet. 1.20, “Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”  The divine purpose concerning this union, or God’s fore-ordination of it in his decree, is plainly declared to be from eternity.  As time commenced at the laying of the world’s foundation, that which was done before it was laid, was not transacted in time, but was established in unbeginning eternity.  This eternal fore-ordination had a respect to this union, because Christ could not be fore-ordained to his office, or to the work he performed on this earth, without the fore-ordination of this union, which was necessary to his sustaining this office, and to his accomplishing that work.  The date of this union is also mentioned in the words, “But was manifest in these last times for you.”  The last times signify the gospel season, which is the last dispensation of grace to the church below.  That time which preceded the days of the apostles’ labours, and that was the glorious season in which the Word, made flesh, dwelt among men.  This manifestation chiefly signifies his incarnation, because he could not be exhibited to men, either by the clear light of the gospel; or by the Spirit’s illumination by means of that light, till he was manifested in the flesh.  The date of this union is also mentioned by the Apostle Paul, Gal. 4.4, “But when the fulness of the time {28} was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”  When the Son of God was made of a woman, he was manifested in the flesh.  The remarkable period at which this glorious transaction took place, was the fulness of time.  At that time which God had fixed in his eternal decree, and which he had marked out in ancient predictions; at that time when the unsuitableness of the Mosaic economy; and the inefficacy of Gentile philosophy, for reforming the world, were sufficiently demonstrated; at that time when there was among the Jews, and even among some of the Gentiles, an earnest expectation of the coming of a great Teacher from God to enlighten the world; and when there was an almost universal peace among the nations, which had been for ages dreadfully convulsed by war, at that time the Son of God was manifested in the flesh, and made of a woman.  The words of the angel to Mary fix precisely the date of this union: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore, also, that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1.35.  The time when the Holy Ghost came upon the Virgin Mary, and when the power of the Highest overshadowed her, forming in her womb the human nature of Christ, was the time of constituting the union of the two natures in his person.  His ancient appearances in the human form, were not the date of this union; for it did not commence till this period.  His birth into our world was not the date of this union.  This union was necessary unto his being born as our Saviour, who is Christ the Lord; but the union was not constituted by his birth.  In that moment when the Holy Ghost infused Christ’s human soul into his body in the virgin’s womb, in that very moment the human nature was united to the divine in the person of the Son of God.  This union could not take place before this, because till this time the human nature was not formed.  This union could not be delayed till after this time, because a human personality on this supposition would not have been prevented.  The human nature of your Redeemer, O christians! did not subsist one moment by itself after its formation by the union of the soul and the body in the virgin’s womb, but was immediately taken into union with the divine nature, and into a subsistence in the divine person of the Son of God.

3d.  This union was established by a divine and personal act of God the Son on the human nature.  This act is distinctly stated in the word of God. “Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.  For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the {29} seed of Abraham.” Heb. 2.14,16.  “But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man,” Phil 2.7.  That which he took on him is flesh and blood, the seed of Abraham, the form of a servant, and the likeness of man.  These must signify the entire human nature, which consists of soul and body.  The person whose act this is must be considered: He is the Son, Heb. 1.8; the Lord, chap. 2.3; Jesus, verse 9; and the Captain of our salvation, verse 10.  In Phil. 2.5,6, He is Christ, who was in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.  These names describe the Son of God, the second person in the ineffable Trinity.  The act of this adorable person on our nature is his taking it on him.  This expression imports what he was in his original nature prior to this act, the Son, whose name or nature is equally unsearchable, as is the name or nature of the everlasting God.  It also imports that he laid hold upon, took on himself, or assumed, our nature into union with the divine nature, in his person.  This act, or operation, is purely divine.  It was performed by him as he is God, and by it he became man.  It is a personal act.  It is not an act of the divine nature essentially considered; but it is an act of that nature as it subsists in the person of the eternal Word who was made flesh.  It is not the act of the Father or of the Holy Ghost.  To the Divine nature, as it subsists in either of these adorable Persons, the human nature is not united.  There was, indeed, a divine act of both the Father and the Holy Ghost, relative to Christ’s manhood, prior, in the order of nature, to his own act, by which he took it on himself.  God the Father, by authoritative appointment, prepared for the Son the human nature which he assumed.  “Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me.” Heb. 10.5.  The Holy Ghost, by his personal agency, formed in the womb of the virgin, Christ’s human nature “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore, also, that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”  It was not, however, by either, or both of these acts, that this union was constituted.  They were, indeed, necessary in order to this union.  But it was by the Divine and personal act of God the Son, taking on him our nature, that this union was formed, and God was manifested in the flesh.

4th.  The union between the Divine and human natures in Christ’s person, flows from the will of God.  The Divine word reveals to us mysteries of the Divine nature, and mysteries of his will; mysteries that are necessary and essential to the nature and being of God; and {30} mysteries which arise from a gracious, sovereign, and voluntary dispensation of God’s love and mercy to the children of men.  To the former class belong the mysterious subsistence of the one Divine nature in three Divine Persons; the perfect possession of the Divine nature and all the Divine perfections by each of these Persons; the incommunicable personal properties of these Divine Persons; and the necessary and ineffable relations which naturally subsist among them.  These are some of the necessary mysteries of the Divine nature.  Glorious as the mystery of godliness is, it must not be ranked amongst the necessary mysteries of the Divine nature.  The mystery of the union of the Divine and human natures belongs to the mysteries of the Divine will.  It is, indeed, the head and chief of these incomprehensible mysteries which flow from the free grace of Jehovah to sinners of Adam’s race.  The whole scheme of salvation proceeded from God’s sovereign will.  Paul’s words confirm this: “Having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to the good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself,” Eph. 1.9.  This mysterious union, which was established for the accomplishment of this scheme, must, therefore, belong to the mystery of his will, and was constituted according to the good pleasure which he purposed in himself.  No necessity of nature obliged the Eternal to devise and accomplish the work of our redemption, or any of the Divine Persons to perform his part in that work.  Neither was there any natural necessity for Christ’s incarnation.  The Father was infinitely voluntary in preparing for the Son a human nature; the Holy Ghost was equally so in forming it by his overshadowing power; and the Son was no less so in taking it on himself.  The mystery of the union of the two natures in Christ’s person was devised and constituted according to the good pleasure which Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, had purposed in himself.

5th.  The union established between the divine and human natures, is a personal union.  Our Mediator possesses two natures, but he has only one person; and therefore it is a personal union, or a union of two natures in one person.  It is not like the union of the three divine persons in one nature which the scriptures reveal to us.  The union under our consideration is different from this, for it is a union of two natures in one person.  Persons who are equal are the subjects of the former of those unions, and they are united in one nature.  But in the other union, natures that are infinitely different are the subjects of it, and they are united in one person.  The Son of God had the Divine nature, and a Divine personality originally and essentially in himself; and he has, in amazing condescension, taken our nature into {31} union with the Divine, and to a subsistence in his adorable person; it is, therefore, a personal union.  Neither is this union like that which subsists between Christ and believers.  The union between Christ and his people, which commences on the day of a sinner’s regeneration, is often mentioned in the sacred oracles.  This is a union of persons in one spiritual relation, which is constituted by Christ’s apprehending them by his Spirit given to them, and their apprehending him by faith in him to everlasting life.  This blessed union is a union of persons, but it is not a personal union, because by it Christ and believers are not constituted one person.  But the union of which we are now speaking is a personal union, because Christ’s original nature and his assumed nature are united in his one Divine person.

6th.  The union of the two natures in Christ’s person does not compound them into one nature; but each nature remains entirely distinct from the other, and possesses its peculiar and necessary properties.  The Divine nature, though in union with the human, is not changed into it, or mixed with it.  The human nature, though united to the divine, is not in any respect converted into that nature, or blended with it.  The Divine nature in Christ is still infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in its being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.  None of these, or any other Divine attribute, is conferred on the human nature.  The finite and created faculties of the human nature are not infused into the Divine nature; but are still the necessary properties, which belong peculiarly to the assumed nature.  Both the natures of Christ are, in this respect, as much separated and distinct, as if the glorious union which subsists between them, had not been formed.  It is impossible it could be otherwise; for the Divinity cannot be changed into a creature, nor can the creature be invested with the perfections of Deity.  Were it lawful to use a comparison in speaking of this high mystery, I might allude to another great work of God.  The human soul and body are united in the person of a man.  The former is an immaterial and immortal spirit, which possesses several rational faculties; and the latter is a material substance that consists of various members.  Each of these substances, notwithstanding their union, retains its spiritual properties, without composition or mixture.  The divine and human natures, which are united in the person of the Son of God, are, in a higher degree, unmixed and distinct.

7th.  The union between the Divine and human natures is most stupendous and condescending.  It is a most stupendous union.  It infinitely exceeds the comprehension of creatures.  It is a mystery, a great {32} mystery of godliness.  On account of the union of the two natures in his person, our Mediator’s name is, “Wonderful.”  Who can search into the depths of this mysterious union?  The holy angels admire it; for he was “seen of angels.”  Gospel doctrines concerning Christ’s person, natures, offices, work, and salvation, are things which “the angels desire to look into.”  They contemplate the glorious mystery of Christ’s person, and its astonishing effects, with wonder, adoration, and praise.  In the view of all believers, it is also full of mystery.  Of it they will say, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” [John 1.14.]  The words of the text, with the preceding clause of the verse, are the expression of the Church’s praise and wonder at this stupendous and incomprehensible mystery, “For without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh.”—This union is also most condescending.  O how astonishing is the condescension of the Father, in sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh!  O how wonderful is the condescension of the Holy Spirit, in overshadowing the virgin, and forming in her womb Christ’s human nature!  O how admirable is the condescension of the Son of God, in taking on him the human nature, and becoming the Son of man!  This infinite condescension in taking our nature, is represented as a matter with which all true believers are acquainted, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich,” 2 Cor. 8.9.  The grace or condescension of the Son of God is represented in three things.  “He was rich.” He was possessed of the Divine nature, and all the Divine perfections; was surrounded with Divine glory, and was filled with infinite felicity.  “He became poor.” He took on himself the nature of man, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  All this he did for the sake of his rebellious creatures; that they might be delivered from the ruinous consequences of their sin, and might be eternally enriched with the favour, image, and enjoyment of God.  None can declare or comprehend the greatness of this condescension.  That God should become man, that the Divine Lawgiver should become the subject of his own law, and that the Glorious One, who was dishonoured and offended by man’s sin, should redeem them from his own wrath, by bearing their guilt and punishment, must be such a display of infinite grace, as should fill all intelligent creatures with everlasting admiration.  This is the Lord’s doing;  O that it were wondrous in our eyes! {33}

8th.  The union of the two natures in Christ’s person shall never have an end.  It is indissoluble and everlasting.  Under all the changes of his human nature, its relation to the Divine nature in him remained the same.  In the infancy, childhood, youth and manhood of that nature, it was still united to the Divinity in the Redeemer’s person.  When he went about doing good, preaching the gospel, working miracles, fulfilling all righteousness, and suffering for us, the just for the unjust, the human nature which was the honoured instrument of those works, subsisted constantly in the person of the Son.  When the union between his soul and body was dissolved for a time, by his penal, meritorious, and satisfactory death, the union of both parts of his manhood with the divine nature in his person remained inviolable.  When the human nature of your Redeemer, O christians, was in the greatest depths of humiliation and sufferings for you, and when it is raised to the highest glory at God’s right hand, your nature, which he assumed, was and still is in union to the Divine in his adorable person.  When he comes to judge the quick and dead, he shall appear in that nature; and by this appearance, the truth of that union shall be manifested to all the human race.  The glory of his appearance, and his acts of judging shall demonstrate his divinity; and his humanity shall be the object of corporeal vision, for “every eye shall see him.” [Rev. 1.7.]  In departing from the place of judgment, at the head of his redeemed company, he shall wear our nature, and in that nature he shall sit down on the throne of his glory, and shall continue to be God and man in one person to the endless ages of eternity.  The ends for which this union was established, will be accomplishing for ever; the covenant of which he, as God and man, is the Mediator, is an everlasting covenant; and the mediatorial acts which he has to perform in the church above will be continued to the endless ages of eternity; it is, therefore, necessary that the union between the two natures in the person of the Son of God, our Mediator, should be indissoluble and everlasting.

II. Some of the consequences of this union, with respect to the person and natures of Christ, are now to be mentioned.

1st.  The constitution of Christ’s person as our Mediator, is a glorious consequence of this union.  When the Son of God took on him our nature, his personality as our Mediator was constituted, and he was peculiarly fitted for accomplishing the work that the Father had given him to do.  When I speak of the person of Christ, I understand no other than his divine, original, necessary, and essential personality as the Son of God.  Other personality than this our Divine Mediator {34} does not possess.  The person of Christ is his Divine person, in his mysterious connexion with that human nature, which he had assumed.  There is no difference between the divine and mediatorial person of Christ in the nature and properties of his personality; but only in the relation which this Divine person has to our nature, by his incarnation.  Though his personality is one, yet we must contemplate him, both as he is the Son of God, and as he is clothed with our nature.  By the former, we behold our Mediator as he is the eternal Son of God; and by the latter, we behold the Son of God as he is our Mediator.  As Christ’s person is the grand agent in all his works, and as he, by reason of the infinite dignity of his original nature, was incapable of obeying, suffering, and dying; so by taking our nature into union with the Divine nature in his person, he was prepared for doing the will of him that sent him, and for finishing his work.  Thus, we may conceive of the constituting of Christ’s person as our Mediator, when God was manifest in the flesh.

2d.  The close connexion, and the ineffable relation which the person of the Son of God has to our nature, which he took on himself, is also a glorious consequence of this union.  At the moment of the incarnation of the Son of God, there was a relation established, and a connexion formed between his person and the human nature.  It is a relation that is different from any other relation that any one of the divine persons has to any creature.  It is not a relation by creation, by preservation, by moral government, or by redemption.  The relation between the person of the Son of God and his human nature, is essentially different from all these, is superior to them, and is more wonderful and mysterious.  There is a blessed relation between God the Father and his people.  He is their God and Father in Christ.  There is a near relation between the Holy Spirit and the saints.  They are his temple, inhabited and sanctified by him.  There is a great difference between these glorious relations, and that of which we are now speaking.  The relation between this Divine person and our nature is formed by his taking it on himself, by which our nature is raised to a subsistence in that adorable person.  The relation between Christ and believers is not so glorious as this.  Though they are vitally united to him, and are members of his body, they are not advanced to a personal subsistence in himself.  The relation between Christ’s person and his human nature is most peculiar, high, and glorious.

3d.  The interest which Christ’s human nature has in his person, as its own, is another glorious consequence of this union.  This human nature has no other personality than that of the Son of God.  It {35} subsists in him, and has this Divine person as its own; it has, therefore, a glorious and inconceivable interest in that person.  The Divine nature has an interest in the person of the Son, so has the human nature.  The interest of both these natures in that person is the same, as to the truth and reality of that interest.  There are indeed very great and most important differences between the interest which those natures have in this Divine person, though it is similar in its reality.  The interest of the Divine nature in Christ’s person is necessary to his Godhead and Divine Sonship, but the interest of the human nature in his person flows from the most free determination, and sovereign appointment of Jehovah.  The interest of Christ’s original nature in his person belongs to the Divine essence, and is necessary to his being God over all blessed for ever; but the interest of his assumed nature in his person is by the exercise of divine grace to mankind, and is necessary to his being our Mediator.  The interest of the Divine nature in the person of the Son is from everlasting; but the interest of our nature in this person commenced at the fulness of time.  As the interest which the human nature has in the person of the Son is infinitely inferior to the interest of the divine nature in that person; so it is superior to the interest which believers have in the person of Christ.  They are interested in his person as their Head and Saviour through his apprehending them by his Spirit, and their apprehending him by faith; but their nature is interested in his person by his taking it on himself, by which it subsists in the person of the Son of God.

4th.  The inconceivable relation between the Divine and human natures in Christ’s person, is an illustrious consequence of that union.  By the incarnation, the human nature is not only connected with his Divine person, but it is nearly related to the Divine nature in his person.  The relation between those two natures in the person of the Son, is a relation both of state and of fellowship.  There is a relation of state between the two infinitely different natures in the person of Christ.  This arises from their subsisting in one and the same divine person.  The divine nature subsists in the person of the Father, and in the person of the Holy Ghost.  This is peculiar to the Divine nature.  But the same adorable nature subsists also in the person of the Son.  The human nature subsists also in this Divine person.  There must therefore be a glorious relation of state between those natures, as they both subsist in the Divine person of God’s own Son.  There is also a relation of fellowship between the Divine and human natures.  Since they subsist in one person, there must be such fellowship between them, as is most intimate, most constant, most excellent, {36} and most inconceivable.  We cannot conceive of those natures subsisting in the same person, without believing that there is the most glorious fellowship between them.  All fellowship results from union.  In proportion to the excellency of the union, so is the greatness and perfection of the fellowship.  There is no such union existing between God and any of his creatures, as that between the divine and the human natures in the person of our Mediator; and, therefore, there cannot be any fellowship between God and the creature, like to that fellowship which continually subsists between the divine and human natures in the person of Christ.

5th.  The extraordinary exaltation of the human nature which Christ assumed is also a glorious consequence of this union.  The Apostle, mentioning the words of David, says, Heb. 2.6,7, “But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?  Thou madest him a little lower than the angels.”  These words are applied to Christ, verse 9, “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour.”  With these things, Job’s words agree, chap. 7.17. “What is man that thou shouldest magnify him, and that thou shouldest set thy heart upon him?”  As the infinite condescension of the Son of God is manifested in his assumption of our nature, and in his becoming a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death in it; so, by this amazing act, the human nature is unspeakably exalted.  By the union of the two natures in the person of the Son, Jehovah has been mindful of man’s salvation, has visited him in the most wonderful manner, has set his heart upon him with an everlasting love, and has magnified man’s nature above all created conception.  This exaltation of our nature is greater than the honour which is bestowed on holy angels, in their knowledge, service, and enjoyment of God, or in their gracious confirmation in a state of perfect purity and blessedness; “For he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”  This exaltation of our nature is greater than the honour that believers have in their union to Christ, in their participation of his Spirit, and in their enjoyment of eternal life.  While all believers shall be round about the throne, their nature in Christ’s person shall be in the midst of the throne.  Our nature by this union, is advanced to the highest honour, to the greatest knowledge, and to the most consummate felicity.  The honour and glory arising from the mediatorial offices and works of Christ, though chiefly belonging to the person of the Son, pertain in some degree to the human nature, as it subsists in {37} that Divine person.  The inconceivable knowledge of the nature, perfections, and works of God, bestowed on our nature in the person of the Son, is an inconceivable aggrandizement of that nature.  O, what felicity, of the most exalted kind, and in the highest degree, must fill our nature in Christ’s person for ever!

6th.  The ascription of the properties and acts of the human nature to the divine, is an astonishing consequence of their union.  When Paul called the elders of Ephesus to meet him at Miletus, that he might give them his last and solemn exhortation, the following words make a part of his interesting address.  “Feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20.28.  The blood by which the church is purchased, is called the blood of God.  The Divine nature has no blood, and cannot be the subject of suffering.  It is the human nature that suffered unto death, in the effusion of its blood.  With the greatest propriety, however, this blood is denominated the blood of God; because the human nature, whose blood was shed for our redemption, was united to the Divine nature, and had its subsistence in the person of God’s own Son.  The same thing is evident from the words of the Apostle John, 1st Epistle 3.16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.”  These words, of God, are supplied from the next verse, “How dwelleth the love of God in him.”  This is warranted and necessary.  What influence on him has that divine love, which was manifested in laying down his life for him?  The Divine life cannot be laid down.  The living God cannot die.  It was the human life that was laid down, and our nature that died.  But here it is said to be the life of God, because of this union of the two natures in the person of Christ.  Another instance of the same thing is contained in 1 Cor. 2.8, “For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”  The Divine nature cannot be crucified.  It was the human nature only that was crucified.  But because this crucified human nature subsisted in the person of Him who, in his Divine nature, is the Lord of glory; he is said to be crucified, and the properties and acts of our nature are ascribed to the Divine.

7th.  The ascription of the properties and acts of the Divine nature to the human, is another mysterious consequence of this union.  As this union warrants the ascription to Christ as God, of the things that belong to him as man, so it is the foundation of ascribing to him as he is man, the things that are peculiar to him as he is God.  This is done in the words of Isaiah, chapter 9.6, “For unto us a child is born,—and his name shall be called—The Mighty God.”  The child born is descriptive {38} of Christ’s human nature, that “holy thing” which was born of the virgin.  Of this human nature, or of this child born unto the church, the name shall be, “The mighty God.”  How can this thing be? because of the union of the two natures, Divine and human, in the person of Jesus.  Another instance of this is contained in Christ’s own words, John 3.13, “No man hath ascended up into heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”  It is on account his human nature that Christ designates himself “the Son of man.”  Christ affirms that he who is the Son of man, was in heaven, while he was on the earth.  This was true of him in his Divine nature only.  It could not be said of him, as the Son of man, but on account of the union of the two natures in his person.  He who was in his human nature the Son of man, was in his Divine nature the Son of God; and because both natures were united in one person, the Redeemer says of himself, “The Son of man, which is in heaven.”  Another illustration of this is found, Matt. 1.22,23, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is, God with us.”  The child that was conceived of the virgin, and the son she bare, are expressive of Christ’s manhood.  Of this child conceived, and son born of her, the name should be “God with us.”  The foundation of this ascription of Deity to Christ when he is spoken of in things which are peculiar to his manhood, is that union between his original and assumed natures, which was constituted when God was manifested in the flesh.

8th.  The conveyance of infinite merit to the obedience performed in Christ’s human nature, and of infinite satisfaction to the suffering and death endured in it, is another glorious consequence of this union.  Christ’s obedience to the law and precept, was given to it in the human nature.  This obedience was perfectly sufficient to constitute those persons to whom it was imputed, righteous in the sight of God, and to entitle them to eternal life.  Of it the apostle says, “By the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous.”  And again he adds, “That as sin hath reigned unto death; even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 5.19,21.  This obedience pleased God and magnified the Divine law, “For the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake, for he will magnify the law and make it honourable.” Isa. 42.21.  How could any obedience performed in human nature magnify Jehovah’s law, and make it honourable?  How could it make guilty and law-condemned sinners righteous {39} before God, and entitle them to eternal life?  This could not arise merely from the holiness of Christ’s manhood.  The obedience performed by a human nature, though perfectly holy, would have been a finite righteousness.  Of an obedience possessing this low quality, no such things as these could have been affirmed.  This arose entirely from the union of that nature with the Divine in the person of Jehovah the Son.  The infinite excellency of the Divine nature, to which the human was united, and the infinite dignity of the Divine person, in whom Christ’s manhood subsisted, rendered the obedience performed in the human nature infinitely valuable and meritorious.  The same things may be said of the sufferings that were endured, and the death which he died in the human nature.  These purge away our sins.  These redeem us from all iniquity.  They deliver the persons who are interested in them from condemnation.  They save them from the pit of everlasting destruction: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Gal. 3.13.  “Much more being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Rom. 5.9.  Whence is it that the sufferings and death of human nature can remove from us the curse of Jehovah’s righteous law, exhaust the treasures of misery contained in the Divine threatenings, and deliver guilty sinners from the infinite wrath of God?  It is on account of this glorious union of the Divine and human natures in the person of the Son of God, our Mediator.  The infinite glory and dignity of his Divine nature and person rendered his sufferings and death in our nature infinitely valuable and satisfactory.  All that he did and endured in our nature belonged to his person, and the Divinity of his personality imparted to his obedience infinite merit, and communicated to his sufferings and death infinite value, worth, and efficacy, for making infinite satisfaction for our sins.

III. Some of the glorious ends, for the accomplishment of which, God was manifested in the flesh, are now to be considered.

1st.  God was manifested in the flesh, that he might be our Brother and our kinsman Redeemer.  In wonderful condescension, Jesus, the Son of God, calls his people his Brethren: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren.  Go to my brethren and say to them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; unto my God, and your God.” [John 20.17.]  He is also called, “the first-born among many brethren.” [Rom. 8.29.]  Of the other two Divine persons, it cannot be said that the saints are their brethren.  But this is said of the Son of God, and said by himself.  His assumption of their nature, necessary to their salvation, was the reason of this. {40} He also took on him our nature that he might be our kinsman Redeemer.  The ancient ordinance of the Israelitish kinsman, which was fully illustrated in the conduct of Boaz to Ruth, was an eminent type of Christ.  The right of redeeming human persons could not have devolved on the Son of God, if he had not taken on himself the human nature.  That he might deliver his people from spiritual poverty and oppression, redeem their mortgaged inheritance, and form between himself and them a mystical marriage relation: “As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same:” [Heb. 2.14:] so that Christians may say of him, the God-man is near of kin to us, he is our nearest kinsman.  In the infinite wisdom of God, Christ’s human nature was so formed and brought into the world, that it should neither be too nearly connected with us, nor too distant from us; either of which would have marred the work of our redemption.  He came into our world by his being born into it.  His human nature was not [new] created as Adam was.  On this supposition it would have been too far removed from us, so that he would not have been either our brother, or our kinsman-redeemer.  He was born of a virgin, not in the way of ordinary generation, that he might not be included in Adam’s federal representation, nor subjected to original guilt, and moral depravity.  His human nature, having no human personality, subsisted continually in the person of the Son of God.  This was necessary, that he might owe nothing for himself to the Divine law; that his obedience and sufferings might be imputable to us; and that both might be of infinite value.  In these infinite depths of counsel and operation, God has abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence.

2d.  God was manifest in the flesh to fulfil whatever had been spoken before concerning himself.  From eternity God had decreed the incarnation of his Son: “Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” [1 Pet. 1.20.] A Divine purpose had been established before the foundation of the world, and this decree was fulfilled by his manifestation in the flesh.  He had also entered into his Mediatorial engagement, by which he had undertaken to become man, and to purchase salvation for sinners.  Behold him appearing at the councils of peace, and saying to his Father, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears thou hast opened. Then said I, Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is within my heart.” Psalm 40.6-8.  He had frequently appeared in the human form to the patriarchs and prophets.  These were blessed preludes to his incarnation, and strong encouragements to the church’s {41} faith and hope that the Deliverer would come out of Sion to turn away ungodliness from Jacob.  The ancient sacrifices were typical of his incarnation.  As our Mediator it was necessary that he should be a great High Priest, to offer to God, a sacrifice on the altar of his Divine nature, which did sanctify the gift.  By his assumption of our nature, the Son of God provided himself with a sacrifice, and had somewhat also to offer.  The predictions of the Old Testament had also foretold his incarnation: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isa. 7.14.  “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Mic. 5.2.  The Son of God, therefore, took on him our nature, that the purpose of God might stand; that his engagements might be implemented; that his former appearances might be confirmed; that the ancient types might be fulfilled: and that the scripture predictions might be accomplished.

3d.  God was manifested in the flesh that he might, for our salvation, obey the precept of the law, and endure its penalty.  He took our nature on him that he might pay the infinite debt which we owed to Divine justice, and purchase for us the inheritance of eternal life.  The apostle informs us, Heb. 2.9, “That Christ was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death—that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for every man.”  When he was manifested in the flesh he possessed a nature by which he was capable of obeying and suffering.  When he had assumed it, he perfectly obeyed the law’s precept, fulfilled all righteousness, went about continually doing good, and brought in everlasting righteousness.  In our nature the Son of God, by sufferings and death, was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [2 Cor 5.21.]  For he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  To the end he persevered in this work, till he could say, “It is finished, and he bowed the head, and gave up the ghost.”  For accomplishing this glorious work, which shall be celebrated through eternity in the unceasing songs of the blessed, the Son of God was made in the likeness of men.

4th.  God was manifest in the flesh, that he might, in the highest degree, advance Jehovah’s glory.  This is evident from the song of the angels at his birth: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will to man.” Luke 2.13,14. {42} If the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, when the Lord laid the foundations of the earth, [Job 38.6,7,] much more reason had these same holy and blessed spirits when the Lord laid the foundation of the new creation, in the incarnation and birth of his only begotten Son, to sing, Glory to God in the highest.  He took our nature on him that he might perform a work by which the glory of the Divine persons and perfections might be brightly displayed, in our salvation.  For this reason did the Lord say to him, “Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” [Isa. 49.3.]  On this account he said to the Father, “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”  By Christ’s appearing in our nature, and finishing in it his Father’s work on earth, he laid the meritorious foundation of the scheme of our redemption, in the execution of which Jehovah’s sovereignty appears to be most absolute, his wisdom most profound, his grace most free, his justice most awful, his mercy most amiable, his holiness most pure, his faithfulness most inviolable, his power most conspicuous, and his love most attractive and astonishing.

5th.  God was manifest in the flesh, that sinners might be united to him for their everlasting salvation.  He took our nature into union with the Divine in his person, that he might, at the day of our conversion, savingly unite our persons to himself.  The scriptures represent it as the privilege of all believers to be united to Christ, as the body is with the head, as the wife is with the husband, as the building is with the foundation, and as the branches are with the stock.  This union to Christ is necessary to our salvation; for as all in Adam die, so all in Christ are made alive.  He would not have assumed our nature, if it had not been his design to take our persons into union with himself, that we might be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. [Isa. 45.17.] The Son of God, by his incarnation, espoused our nature, that he might betroth us unto himself for ever.  If he not had united our nature to himself, that he, being made perfect through sufferings, might be the Author of our eternal salvation, our persons could never have been united to him in the enjoyment of that salvation.  For this purpose was Christ incarnate, that he might be in us and we in him. [John 6.56.]

6th.  God was manifest in the flesh, that he might bring his people into a near relation to the Father, and to intimate fellowship with him.  The former is mentioned as an end of Christ’s incarnation, and of the work he performed in his humbled state, in the words of Paul, Gal. 4.4,5, “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”  It is evident {43} from these words that the Son of God took our nature, and in it became obedient to the law in our stead, that all who believe in him might become the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.  By receiving, through our incarnate Saviour, the adoption of sons, we are raised to the nearest and most endeared relation to God as our Father in Christ.  Nor is this all: by the incarnate Saviour’s mediation, we are interested in God as our portion; for the apostle adds, verse 6, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God through Christ.”  It was also said, that by his incarnation and work, believers in Jesus are dignified with the most intimate fellowship with God.  As the human nature, which is united to the Divine, is exalted to the most ineffable fellowship with God; so human persons, who are vitally united to Christ, are blessed with most intimate fellowship with God.  All who have seen Jesus, the eternal life who was with the Father, and was manifested to us, can say, “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1.3.  This fellowship, to which all believers are advanced through their incarnate Saviour, is enjoyed in grace here, and shall be perfected in glory hereafter.  It consists in that mutual interest which the parties have in one another, and in that reciprocal intercourse which subsists between them.

7th.  God was manifest in the flesh, that he might deliver his people from all their spiritual enemies.  These are sin, satan, the world, and death.  He assumed our nature that he might deliver us from sin and satan: “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins.  For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 2.5,8.  God was manifest in the flesh that sin might not be our ruin, and that satan might not triumph over us for ever.  He became man that he might set us free from the guilt, the punishment, the power, and the pollution of our sins.  He appeared in the likeness of men that he might spoil principalities and powers, make a show of them openly, and triumph over them in his cross. [Col. 2.15.]  Having taken part of flesh and blood, he died; and by his death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. [Heb. 2.14.]  He also redeems from the world.  After he had taken on him our nature, “He gave himself for us, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Gal. 1.4.  He also delivers his people from death: “The Divine purpose and grace are now made manifest, by the appearing of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by the gospel.” 2 Tim. 1.9.  O wonderful deliverances!  To {44} his people he has infinite reason to say, “Know ye what I have done unto you!” [John 13.12.]

8th.  God was manifest in the flesh that he might sustain and execute all those offices which are necessary for his people’s salvation.  The chief of them is the office of Mediator: “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” [1 Tim 2.5.] The office of a Saviour belongs to him; for at his birth the Angel proclaimed, “To you is born—a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”  As a Redeemer, his office and work are connected with his incarnation: For he was made of a woman, “to redeem them that were under the law.”  His prophetical office is predicted in connection with his incarnation: “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren,” out of the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, and family of David.  This is also true of his kingly office: “And David my servant shall be king over them, and they shall have one Shepherd, and my servant David shall be their Prince for ever.” [Ezek. 37.24,25.]  He who was David’s Root and Lord in his divinity, and his son and offspring by the incarnation, is King upon God’s holy hill of Sion.  His incarnation is so essential to his priesthood, that the human nature is necessary to constitute the Priest, and that nature is itself the great sacrifice which he offered: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God.” [Heb. 10.12.]  The Son of God was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, that he might sustain all those offices which are necessary either for his glorifying God or saving sinners; and that he might execute them, whether by dealing with God on our behalf, or with us on God’s behalf, for accomplishing God’s gracious purpose concerning our salvation, both on earth and in heaven.

9th.  God was manifest in the flesh that he might possess an infinite fulness of all blessings for supplying every want of his people. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us—full of grace and truth.” John 1.14.  That this fulness was designed for his people’s good, is evident from verse 16, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”  This fulness is deposited in the eternal and uncreated Word, who was made flesh; in our Mediator who is God and man in one person.  Of Christ’s mediatorial fulness, glorious things are said, both with respect to God and to his people: “It hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” Col. 1.19.  “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Eph. 3.19.  The Son of God was incarnate, that in him, as our Mediator, might be lodged, for {45} the abundant supply of his people, an unmeasurable fulness of light and life; of merit and satisfaction; of spirit and influence; of grace and glory.  We would not have heard of this fulness, nor would we have received out of it grace for grace, if the wonderful purpose of God, concerning the incarnation and work of our Mediator, had not been formed and executed.  As this fulness is lodged in Christ, so to him is its distribution committed: “I give unto them eternal life.”  “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matth. 11.28.]  God the Son, therefore, clothed himself with our nature, that he might possess all spiritual blessings, and freely bestow them on his people, both in the life that now is, and in that which is to come.

10th.  God was manifest in the flesh, that he, in our nature, and as our Mediator, might be advanced to inconceivable and everlasting glory.  “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” Heb. 12.2.  That which Jesus had in view when he suffered and died, must be considered also as an end of his incarnation, which was necessary to his sufferings and death.  God was therefore manifested in the flesh for the joy that was set before him.  Though the promotion of the Divine glory, the salvation of his people, and the destruction of his Father’s, his own, and his church’s enemies belonged to that joy; yet from it, his own mediatorial exaltation must not be excluded.  We may be the more convinced of this, because it is added, in the end of the verse, to show us in what this joy, which was set before him, did chiefly consist, “And is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  As the reward of his incarnation and mediatorial work on earth, his Father bestowed on him this glory. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2.6-11.  O, what glory is bestowed on the Son of God in our nature, and as our Mediator, in his resurrection from the dead, his ascension to heaven, his sitting at the right hand of God, his intercession above, his headship over the church, his lordship over all creatures, his judging the quick and the dead at the last day, his being in the midst of the {46} throne among his ransomed children for ever, and his communicating to them everlasting felicity.  With a view to the enjoyment of all this glory, the Son of God was manifested in the flesh.

We shall now subjoin a few inferences.

1st.  From this subject may be seen, the greatest wonder that is to be found in all the works of God: An incarnate God, the Divine and human natures united in one person!  This is a wonder of wonders, a mystery of godliness, the great mystery of godliness.  It is the foundation of all the other mysteries of the divine will.  The mysteries of our union to Christ, the imputation of our sins to him, and of his righteousness to us; the mystery of his obedience, sufferings and death for us, and of our pardon and acceptance with God, through his merit and satisfaction; the mysteries of the Spirit’s dwelling in believers, and his saving and powerful influences on them by the divine word; the mysteries of our regeneration, sanctification, comfort, and establishment by his operations on us; all those mysteries of grace rest on the great mystery which is contained in the text.  It is not a mystery to the Divine persons.  They completely understand it, fully comprehend it, and take infinite pleasure in it.  But to all finite and holy minds it will be an unsearchable mystery, and the object of their wonder and song for ever and ever.

2d.  This subject displays the wonderful nature of Divine love to sinners of the human family.  All this mystery of wisdom and grace was confirmed and executed by the great Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for our salvation.  He sent his only begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and by this wonderful act he manifested his love to us.  The work of our redemption, contemplated in its divine contrivance, its meritorious accomplishment, and its effectual application, is such a display of the love of God to men, as will make them exclaim, “How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God!” [Psalm 36.7.]  Let us meditate on this love, let us consider its effects, and let us exercise our faith on it; that we may know and believe that God commended his love towards us, that when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Rom. 5.8.]

3d.  The glorious excellency of our Redeemer is also evident from this subject.  He is God manifested in the flesh.  He is God possessed of the divine nature, and all its glorious attributes.  He is man, possessed of our nature, consisting of soul and body.  He is God and man in his one divine person, and though he is both God and man, he is the one Mediator between God and men.  In his humbled state he has finished, for our salvation, that work which the Father gave him to do. [John 17.4.]  In {47} his exalted state, he is administering the covenant of grace to those who believe on him.  He has all the blessings of eternal life treasured up in him, and communicates them to those whom the Father hath given to him.  He is now at the right hand of God, making intercession for transgressors.  At the end of the world, he will come the second time, without sin, unto the complete and everlasting salvation of his people.  Meditate on the glory of the Word made flesh, the glory as of the only begotten Son of God.  Say of him, “yea, he is altogether lovely; this is my beloved, this is my friend.” [Cant. 5.16.]  Believing with your heart, and confessing with your mouth, say, with wonder and thanksgiving, “How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty!”

4th.  This subject presents to us the grand object of the believer’s faith; it is the person of Christ, He who is God and man in one person.  God manifested in the flesh is the object whom the saints embrace, and on whom they rely, in all the actings of their faith.  The Christian religion, and Christ’s church, who profess it, are founded on the person of Jesus.  The believer’s state, his privileges, and his exercises, are built on the same foundation.  Scriptural views of Christ’s person, an interest in his person, and an improvement of that person, are essentially necessary to our salvation.  A scriptural knowledge of his person will enable us to understand the things that are his; his offices, righteousness, fulness, and salvation.  We will then see that his offices are sustained and executed by a divine person; that his righteousness was wrought out by a divine person; that his fulness is entrusted to a divine person; and that his salvation is purchased and bestowed on us by a divine person.  On this ground, the Christian is assured, that his offices are glorious and effectual; that his righteousness is infinitely meritorious and satisfactory; that his fulness is inexhaustible and complete; and that his salvation is perfect and everlasting.  That blasphemous sentiment concerning him, “as a person of our own order,” degrades his offices, righteousness, fulness, and salvation, and reduces them so low, as those of a mere creature.—An interest in his person, by faith in him, is necessary to our obtaining an interest in the things that are his.  If we are united to his person by the Spirit and faith, his offices are ours, and shall be executed on us for ever; his righteousness is ours, for our justification to eternal life; his fulness is ours, for the supply of all our wants; and his salvation is ours, to be enjoyed in grace and glory.  But if we have no saving interest in his person, in his offices, righteousness, fulness, and salvation, we have neither part nor lot in them. [Acts 8.21.]  A believing of Christ, as God and man in one divine person, is necessary to our sensible enjoyment of him, and {48} the things that are his.  We cannot have any present comfort in his offices, righteousness, fulness and salvation, but by a believing improvement of his glorious person, or by living a life of faith on the Son of God.  Every thing belonging to our Mediator, and every blessing he bestows on his church or children, receive glory, perfection, and permanency from his divine person.  In all our approaches to God, and in all our expectations from him, let us improve Christ’s person, by believing on him, and by loving, adoring, and praising him, who is for our salvation, God manifested in the flesh.

5th.  The believer’s salvation is built on a sure foundation, which is the person and mediation of God manifested in the flesh.  In the sacred oracles, we often read of the rock of our salvation, and the foundation which God has laid in the church.  Our text directs us to that rock, and to that foundation.  Of himself he says, “And on this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Matth. 16.18.]  Of him the apostle declares, “Other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” [1 Cor. 3.11.]  The Son of God, in our nature, has obeyed, suffered, and died for our redemption.  He has therefore become the author of eternal salvation, to all them that obey him.  His righteousness is sufficient for our justification, his fulness for the supply of all our wants, for his righteousness is the righteousness of God, and his fulness is the fulness of God.  This glorious person is the dwelling rock of his people, the rock of ages, and the munition of rocks to their souls.  He is the sure foundation which God hath laid in Sion, and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. [1 Pet. 2.6.]  Let us therefore, flee to this rock, and build on this foundation, that when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, our house may stand for ever.

6th.  From this subject we may see the duties we should perform to Jesus, who is God manifested in the flesh.  It is certainly our duty to contemplate him.  “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!” [John 1.29.]  Let us fix our minds upon him, exercise our understanding about him, and fill our hearts with frequent meditation on the mystery of his person, the grandeur of his work, and the fulness of his spiritual blessings.  It is certainly our duty to believe on him.  In the verse which contains the text, it is said of him, that he was “believed on in the world.”  Let us, therefore, embrace him as our Saviour, make choice of him whom God hath chosen, and entrust the salvation of our souls into his hand, that we may not perish, but have everlasting life.  It is certainly our duty to love him.  Since he has loved us, and given himself for us, how ought we to cultivate toward {49} him a most affectionate frame of heart?  He is the object of the Father’s love; he is infinitely worthy of our love; let us study such a respect for him as will warrant us to say, “Thou knowest that we love thee.” [John 21.15.]  It certainly is our duty to obey him.  In the mortification of all sin, in the performance of every duty, and in the observation of every instituted ordinance, let us serve the Lord Christ.

7th.  Sinners have every encouragement to fly for salvation to God, who was manifested in the flesh.  The scheme of their salvation was devised by Jehovah himself—it is established for ever through Christ’s incarnation and work—by the execution of it in our salvation, God is glorified in the highest—it is revealed to us in the gospel, and proposed to us for our acceptance—we are divinely commanded to give it the obedience of faith—a promise of quickening power is made to us in the Divine word—assurance of salvation is given to them who embrace it, and threatenings of destruction are denounced against all those who despise and neglect this blessed scheme of wisdom and love.  To the duty of believing in Christ for salvation, these are encouragements which are most captivating and powerful.  O that they were seriously considered!  Since God has contrived the plan of our salvation; since the Son of God has taken our nature, and obeyed, suffered, and died for us, and since the execution of this scheme in our salvation, glorifies his great name, will he not approve of those who seek salvation by divine grace reigning through Christ’s righteousness?  Since this scheme is proposed to us in the gospel, and since we are commanded to embrace it; will he reject those who credit what he has revealed, and obey his call?  Since he has promised to draw them, has assured them of salvation in this way, and threatened to punish the disobedient and unbelieving; will he not accept those who fly for refuge to lay hold on this hope which is set before them? [Heb. 6.18.]  Here is ample encouragement for sinners to embrace Christ, and for the saints to renew their acceptance of him.  In these encouragements there is a sufficient answer to every objection that Satan or unbelief can urge against the duty of believing on Christ, who is offered to us in the gospel.  With deep concern, let every gospel hearer meditate on these encouragements, till his heart is determined to embrace the incarnate Saviour.

8th.  The certain and everlasting ruin of Christ’s enemies, may be deduced from this subject.  By the incarnation, he has become the Lion of the tribe of Judah. [Rev. 5.5.]  He will destroy the roaring lion of hell, and those who do his works.  Such is his amiable beauty, and such are the merciful designs of his coming, that it is a wonder he should have any enemies.  Such is the irresistible power and awful wrath of {50} the Lamb, that it is astonishing any should dare to be his enemies.  But who are his enemies?  All persons who corrupt the doctrines of his word, who scoff at sacred things, who live in the practice of sin, and who continue in unbelief; these are his enemies.  Concerning all such, Jesus will give that sovereign command, “Bring forth those mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me.” [Luke 19.27.]  Concerning him, it is the purpose of the Eternal, “for he must reign, till all his enemies are made his footstool.”  What a blessed station will his real friends occupy, and in what a miserable situation will his enemies be placed?  Let us therefore embrace his gospel, reverence his ordinances, and live a life of faith and holiness; so shall we be the friends of him who came to seek and to save that which was lost. [Luke 19.10.]

9th.  From what has been said, we may see the nature and design of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.  It makes to the faith of believers a symbolical representation of God manifested in the flesh.  This ordinance represents him to be truly God—to be really man—and to be God and man in one person.  The Lord’s Supper exhibits to us the divinity of Christ, because it is the principal design of it to impress the christian’s mind with a religious remembrance of him, “This do in remembrance of me,” [Luke 22.19.]; to direct their spiritual meditations to his sufferings, and the shedding of his blood, “This is my body which is broken for you, and this cup is my blood of the New Testament shed for many, for the remission of sins,” [1 Cor. 11.24, Matth. 26.28.]; and to fix their attention on his death, “for as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” [1 Cor. 11.26.]  The Lord’s Supper is the most solemn ordinance of religious worship that has been instituted in the church under any dispensation.  Since it is the great employment of those who partake of this ordinance to remember Christ; to fix their attention on his sufferings, and the shedding of his blood; and to contemplate his death, then Jesus Christ, who is the immediate object of those religious exercises, in a most solemn ordinance of divine worship, must be a Divine person.  Were he a creature, the remembrance of him, the contemplation of his sufferings and the shedding of his blood, and meditation on his death, when christians are engaged in a most solemn act of divine worship, would be abominable idolatry; and, since the ordinance is of divine appointment, God would be the author of this wickedness.  Such are the necessary consequences of the doctrine of those who deny the Saviour’s divinity.  But when he is considered as a Divine person, and his sufferings and death as an infinite atonement for our sins, a glory is seen in the ordinance, which {51} encourages the faith, enlivens the love, and excites the adoration of spiritual worshippers.  The ordinance of the Supper of our Lord, presents him to our view as he is man.  In it we have the symbols of his body which was broken, of his blood which was shed, and of the death that he died.  None of these can be ascribed to his divine nature; but all of them belong to his human nature.  The glorious person of whom this ordinance is a symbolical representation, is man.  By this ordinance, he is exhibited to us as God and man in one person.  In the institution of the ordinance, he speaks of himself in the singular number, which could not be done, did he possess, besides his Divine person, a human personality; “This is my body.  This is my blood.  This do in remembrance of me.”  Though this ordinance represents him to be both God and man, yet this way of speaking of himself proves that he is but one person.  It is, therefore, the grand design of this ordinance, to represent to your faith, O believers, by the symbols of bread broken, and wine poured out, God manifested in the flesh, suffering, shedding his blood, and dying, for your everlasting salvation.

10th.  From this subject we may see the privilege and duty of the saints.  God manifested in the flesh is the compassionate Feeder, and the spiritual Food of their souls.  From the 3d to the 10th verse in the 11th chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy, we have a clear prediction of the ministry of John Baptist, and of Christ’s incarnation and birth, or his coming into the world.  The work of this illustrious personage when he comes, is stated in verse 11th, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”  God was manifested in the flesh, that he might perform for his people that work which these amazing words describe.  The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water.”  To be interested in this glorious Feeder of our souls must be a very precious and desirable privilege.  O unite yourselves with his flock by faith in himself, commit yourselves to his pastoral care, enter often into the pastures of his grace, and endeavour always to feed on the spiritual provision which he sets before you.  But this is not all; he is not their feeder only, but he is their very food.  God was manifested in the flesh, that he might be spiritual nourishment to their immortal souls.  This wonder of wisdom and love is disclosed to us by himself, in that discourse which begins at the 26th, and ends at the 58th verse of the 6th chapter of John’s gospel.  Though every part of this most instructive discourse deserves our attention, yet {52} we shall mention only the following words:—"I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life.  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed,” verses 51, 54, 55.  The provision of our souls is the Redeemer’s “flesh, his flesh and blood.”  He, by his human nature in union with the nature of God in his person, obeying, suffering, and dying for our redemption, glorified God in the highest, and purchased for his people eternal life.  This provision is exhibited to us in all the doctrines and promises of the Divine Word, in the preaching of the gospel, and in the administration of the sacraments.  Believers feed on him by faith, as their spiritual food, when they embrace and rely on him in his incarnation, obedience, sufferings, and death, as the procuring cause of their deliverance from guilt and punishment, and of their title to eternal life.  By this acting of their faith, which is compared to eating and drinking, believers are savingly interested in his person and righteousness, are entitled to all the blessings of his purchase, daily feed on him as the bread of life, and rejoice in their portion and privileges.  Let us improve this provision.  O Christians, “eat ye that which is good, and let your souls delight themselves in fatness.” [Isa. 55.2.]  Remember and obey the Saviour’s invitation, “Eat, O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” [Cant. 5.1.]  Hungering for the bread, and thirsting for the water of life, encourage in your hearts vehement desires after Christ.  That perishing sinners might have heavenly provision prepared, presented, and applied to them, the Son of God was manifested in the flesh, and finished the work which the Father gave him to do.  Bless the holy name of God for the preparation of this provision, saying, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.” [2 Cor. 9.15.]  Be thankful also for its presentation to you, for Jesus is crying to all, “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine that I have mingled.”  Pray for its powerful application to your souls, that you may be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of his house, and that he may cause you to drink of the rivers of his pleasures.  O study the increase of faith on him this day, at all times, and at the hour of death, by receiving and resting on God manifested in the flesh, for salvation, as he is offered to you in the gospel.

The Celebration of Christ’s Birth

On Annual Festival Days:

The Public Testimony of the Above Pastor

And the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

NOT to insist further in enumerating particulars, the presbytery finally testify against church and state, for their negligence to suppress impiety, vice, and superstitious observance of holy days, &c.  The civil powers herein acting directly contrary to the nature, and perverting the very ends of the magistrate’s office, which is to be custos et vindex utriusque tablæ; the minister of God, a revenger, to execute wrath on him that doeth evil.

—Act, Declaration, and Testimony for the whole of our Covenanted Reformation, &c. Part 2, Respecting the Revolution Settlement of Scotland in 1689, Last Paragraph.

The above discourse is found in an 1835 publication of Discourses by the Late Archibald Mason, who had died four years previous to its publication.  At that time the Act, Declaration, and Testimony, quoted immediately above in opposition to superstitious holy days, was then the official testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  Two years subsequent to this publication a new Testimony was adopted in Scotland.  It gives a more distinct declaration of what is intended on this subject: “We also condemn the following errors;——that the Sabbath is not obligatory under the New Testament;——that it has not been changed from the seventh to the first day of the week;——that the sanctification of the Sabbath does not require a total rest from civil labour and recreations, excepting in works of necessity and mercy, and that the keeping it holy respects only, or chiefly, the time of public worship;——and we testify against the celebration of Christmas, or other festivals of the Papal or Episcopal church.”  Reader, if the above Discourse was edifying to your soul, and its doctrines induced you to admire the wonder of the incarnation of our Lord, do not dilute these good effects with vain festivities which have no promise of the Lord’s blessing. If you add the traditions of men to the doctrine of the Word, (Mark 7.7-9,) you will but mar the work wrought by the Spirit of Christ through that good doctrine.——JTKER::2014.12.27.