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except their own imagination, contradicted by all Scripture.
As we are told, the Word was made flesh--that the divine, and not any angelic nature, was incarnate; So, we may confidently infer, that the assumption of manhood by any inferior, or created spirit, would not have answered the mighty purposes of God's mercy in our redemption. For the divine wisdom will never employ a mightier agency than the occasion demands. On the other hand, if all the designs which the infinite wisdom contemplated in our redemption, could have been effectuated, without God being made man, we may rest assured that amazing humiliation would never have been submitted to, nor would the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, ever have been revealed to the faith of Adam's sons.
As we may reasonably conclude, that the incarnation of the divine nature was nccessary to the accomplishment of our eternal salvation, so the Scriptures assure us that conclusion is correct. For (not to allude to other passages at present,) the text affirms, not only that he took on him not the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, but it alleges a necessity, or propriety, in this arrangement. Ver. 17, Wherefore it behove him whom? the same who is described before (i. 3.) as the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his substance--and whom the Father himself addresses, (ver. 8.) Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever ; at sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. It became, it behoved him, the Son, the Word of God, the divine nature, and none else : for it never could
have behoved him peculiarly, if the same might have been accomplished by others--it behoved him to be made in all respects like his brethren, the sons of Adam and of Abraham, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest ;-merciful to men, whose brother he was—faithful to God, as his Son. then, intimates, by no means obscurely, what the person of our Redeemer must be. He must be God, but God made flesh ; divine, but divinity incarnate; the divine glory, the Sheckinah from the sanctuary in heaven, but enshrined in the body of a man—the Word made flesh, and dwelling in that tabernacle among us.
Having thus stated the necessity, as this is evidently asserted in the Word of God, that our Saviour should unite in his person the nature of God and the nature of man, I would proceed, Secondly, to inquire, Wherein that necessity consisted ?-Why was this necessary? Why might not God have made by miracle some sinless man, that he might have redeemed us ? or why might not some mighty angel have redeemed us ? or why might not God himself have saved us, without the wonderful expedient of the incarnation ?
I do not propose to inquire into the propriety of this dispensation, as it regards the divine nature or the divine government. We are, indeed, assured of the fact, that the incarnation of the divinity, and the atonement made by the God-man, were requisite, in order that the expression of mercy to sinners might not be inconsistent with the glorious character, which unites perfect holiness and rectitude with boundless love and compassion. And we are not left to doubt, that the divine
government (no less than the divine nature) demanded the incarnation and the sacrifice of the Son of God. For when we are told that Christ suffered for us, that God might be just when he justifies the ungodly who believeth in Jesus, we are distinctly given to understand, that, unless Christ had suffered in our nature, God could not have justified the ungodly, or, if he had done so, justice would have been infringed. But with this simple statement of the fact, that, in relation to the nature and government of God, the incarnation of the Word was required in order to our salvation, we should rest satisfied. For though men have written and spoken immensely on this subject, God has spoken to us almost nothing regarding it, except to assert the fact. And they who have most confidently dogmatized on it, have only made it darker by their explanations, and have raised more doubts and greater than they solved, For we cannot comprehend this aspect of the incarnation, unless we could fathom the depth of the divine nature, and survey the length and breadth of the divine government, both of which are infinite. No; in this case, as in that of the Trinity, and all such doctrines, it is our business not to speculate, but believe-to apply not imagination, but faith. God reveals these things to us only as far as our present necessities require ; and further, with certainty of truth, we cannot go.
But, as regards ourselves, and their bearing on our interests, our Father in heaven is as liberal in his communications, as he is reserved in the other case. And I propose at present to suggest a few of the reasons which make it apparent, that, in order to perform the part of a Saviour to us, it behoved Christ, the Son of God, to take on him the nature of man.
What are our wants, our miseries, as sinners? We have broken the divine law; and of course we are condemned. We need, therefore, pardon or justification. This can be obtained only by a sacrifice. Therefore, we need a priest who may offer the sacrifice and reconcile us. This is our first want. Then, we are very weak; we need support. We are very
stubborn; and therefore we need to have our hard hearts broken. We cannot regulate our actions ; therefore, we need a law and a lawgiver: and we are exposed to powerful enemies, from whom, unless protected, we perish; and for all these reasons, it is manifest we need one who has the authority and power of a King. This is our second want. And yet further, we are most ignorant of that which we are infinitely concerned to know, which we are most unwilling to learn, and most ready to forget; which needs to be demonstrated to us, and impressed upon us with the most striking evidence; and so Christ supplies our third wanthe is our Prophet. What is necessary to be shown is, that our Redeemer must be both divine and human, otherwise he could not discharge any one of these three offices.
It was needful that, in order to be a Priest, our Redeemer should be both God and man. In other words, he who was merely God, could not be our Priest, neither one who was merely man. If the Word had not become man, he could not have died-he could not have up to God.
suffered-he could not have offered up a sacrifice, nor made expiation. A priest implies a sacrifice, as a father implies a child, a master a servant, a governor subjects. If he were a priest, he must have a sacrifice to offer. Wherefore he took human nature, and made it part of himself, that he might have something to offer
We need to advert here to two distinct and important considerations :- 1st, The essence of a sacrifice, a real sacrifice, is obedience, contrary to the natural inclination or will of that which is sacrificed. The divine nature of the Son could not be a sacrifice to God, having the very will of God itself. But every man has that distinct will which is of the essence of freedom and responsibility. The man Jesus had that will. As a man, Christ was capable of obedience and of sacrifice, of which, unless he had laid aside the form of God, he could not be. The reason why the bulls and goats, which the sons of Aaron offered continually, were not pleasing to God, or profitable to men, except for exhibition and instruction, was, that those creatures had no reasonable will, and they were slain contrary to that will they had. But when the only begotten Son cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering, and burnt-offerings, and offerings for sin, such as those presented by the law, thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein. For the doing of his will, which the bulls and goats could not do, is the sacrifice with which God is truly pleased. But Christ our Priest came clothed with our nature, that he, being both possessed of a reasonable will, and rendered capable of obedience and suffering, might offer that sacrifice; for,