The incarnation of the Son of God.
The Son of God, true God, by whom the universe was brought into existence, in the fulness of time became incarnate. In the discussion of this subject, I shall lay down the following text for my premises:
“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 Word that was made flesh, was in the beginning with God, and was God. v.1, 2. This shows that the Word was God; and yet, distinguished from God; for it was with God. If here, two, divine persons be not indicated, the phraseology must be utterly unintelligible. He who is God, certainly is a divine person; and if God be with God, the God with whom he is, must be another divine person: for it would be uncouth to say, that the self-same person is with himself.
The Word was in the beginning with God. I do not presume that the beginning implies God’s eternity, but the commencement of creation; hence the Word already existed before creation.
This Word is a divine person, hence not a mere attribute or quality. For he is described as a person. He made the world — “all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made;” (v.8.) “he was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not; he came into his own, and his own received him not; but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” v.10,11,12, This is a true description of personal actions, which being ascribed to the Word, proves that the Word is a person.
It is manifest that the Word is the Son: for the text says, “and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father:” i.e. the glory of the Word is as that of the only begotten of the Father. Hence the term “Word” in this chapter, and “the only begotten Son of God,” are convertible terms.
The Word was made flesh. The term flesh denotes Christ’s human nature. A part of human nature is here taken for the whole. That the term flesh denotes human nature is manifest from the following passages : Gen. 6:12. Isa. 40:6. Joel 2:8. Matth. 24:22. Luke 3:6. Acts 2:17. Rom. 3:20. 1 Cor. 1:29. What St. John calls flesh, St. Paul calls man: “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2, 5.
I have already shown that the Word is a person, and such he was from eternity. But the human nature he assumed, cannot be a human person. There is but one Christ. Now if the human nature were a human person, Christ would be two persons; consequently there would be two Christs. By the term person I understand a complete intelligence, which is neither a part, nor an appendage of another person. A man is a person; because he is a complete subsistence for himself, without being a part, or an appendage of another person or existence. The humanity of Jesus is truly a complete human nature without sin, but is by no means a human person. Why so? Ans. The humanity of Christ was never produced to exist for itself like another man, but it was formed to be the flesh and blood of the Son of God. The humanity of Christ has therefore, no personal existence of itself, but its personal existence is solely in the person of the Son of God.
The Word was made flesh. The Word was not made flesh, merely by dwelling in and governing the humanity. For if so, the Father would also have been made flesh: seeing the Father dwells in Christ. But no one can prove the Father’s incarnation. Again, it is said, “that God dwells and walks in believers.” 2 Cor. 6,16. Now if to dwell in one would imply to be made flesh, then it would follow, that God was made flesh in every saint. But this would be absurd. If to be made flesh signifies merely to dwell in the flesh, then the order of the words ought to be reversed thus: “the flesh was made the Word’s, viz. the Word’s dwelling.”
Some deny that the divine nature was made flesh; they presume that only the person of the Son was made flesh. But if so, how could the Son be God? If the Son be God, how could the person of the Son be made flesh without God being made flesh? To say, that the Son, or his person, which is the same, but not his divine nature, was made flesh, is a positive denial of Christ’s Godhead. It is very strange indeed, that any Trinitarian should deny that the divine nature was made flesh! The divine nature exists in the Son’s, as well as in the Father’s person. How could the Son be God, if his person was not the divine substance? Each divine person must undoubtedly be the divine substance, but in a different relation. I have already repeatedly shown, that the Father is an uncreated light, and that the Son is this light reflected. Although, the light reflected is distinguished from the light by which it is reflected; yet, the light reflected is substantially the same nature with the light by which it is reflected. Thus the same light exists differently, viz. not reflected, and reflected. Christ is the uncreated light reflected. Or, Christ is the divine nature reflected. Now, truly the divine nature was made flesh, but not as it exists in the Father’s person, or the light not reflected; but the divine nature as it exists in Christ’s person, or the light reflected was made flesh.
Such as deny that the humanity of Christ in union with the divine nature, has omnipotent power and is omnipresent, must also deny that the divine nature was made flesh, and feign that the Son’s person could have been made flesh, exclusive of the divine nature: for they know if it be admitted, and proven that the divine nature was made flesh, that the flesh would have omnipotent power by the divinity.
The eternal Word is God; he is therefore unchangeable. Hence when the Word was made flesh, he did not undergo a change; so as either to become more perfect, or imperfect. Neither did the flesh change into the divine nature: for if so, the flesh would have lost its existence in the incarnation. But this is contrary to fact: for Christ had real flesh and blood after his incarnation.
Neither are we to suppose that the Word was made flesh, so that the Word might uphold the flesh in existence; If to be made flesh, implies nothing more than that the Word is in so far united with the flesh; so as to govern and uphold it, then it might be said, that God was personally united to every thing in existence: for he “upholds all things by the word of his power.” Heb. 1, 3. But this would be very absurd. Hence the personal union of the Word with the flesh, cannot consist in this, that the Word merely governs and supports the flesh.
The personal union of the Word with the flesh, cannot be precisely like the union between the body and the soul. The body by its members adds something to the soul, and the soul gives animation to the body. Both body and soul when united, are not the same in every respect as when both are separate. The body without the soul is dead, and the soul without the body is without corporeal members. But the eternal Word is unchangeable, and is therefore, the very same after as before the incarnation: and has not lost its personal unity. The Word is unchangeable, and the flesh changeable, thus an unchangeable person and a changeable nature are one. Now since the Word could not have lost its personal unity by being made flesh, it is manifest, that the flesh must have entered into the indivisible unity of the Word, so as to have its personal subsistence in the Word, or the person of the Word has become the person of the flesh; seeing the flesh has no personal subsistence in itself. If the flesh did not enter into the personal unity of the Word, there could have been no incarnation. The Word was made flesh; the Word is a divine person, the flesh in its own nature is not a person; therefore the person of the Word has become the person of the flesh. If the Word be not the person of the flesh how could the Word have been made flesh? The humanity did not take upon itself a divine person, nor did the divine nature take upon itself a human person; but only a human nature, which has its personal subsistence in the person of the Word.
When two created things unite together, the one cannot properly be said to have been made the other ; because the union intermixes, or changes their nature or properties. As for instance: water and wine being joined together, neither the water was made wine, nor was the wine made water. For the substances are mixed, neither the water, nor the wine in this coalescence retains its own nature entire. Again, the soul and body being united, they both are not what they would be, if each of them existed separately: for the soul could not operate by corporeal members, and the body would be dead. In neither of these cases is the one made the other. The water was not made wine, nor was the soul made the body: for if otherwise, the water would have all the properties of the wine, and the body the properties of the soul, and would be intelligent.
The Word was made flesh. The Word is God; hence immutable; he could therefore, in union with the flesh, neither have lost, nor changed any of his properties, nor have been made more noble. But the flesh being changeful in its own nature, must have entered into the unity of the Word, and thereby have obtained infinitely more than what is peculiar to its own nature; and consequently, have been exalted to the summit of uncreated divine glory. For how could the flesh have entered into the unity of the Word, without being exalted, having divine glory? If the flesh entered into the unity of the Word, it must have the Word’s own personal existence: for it has no personal existence in its own nature. For if Christ be also a human person, then would he be two persons, i.e. there would be two Christs, which would be repugnant to the scriptures: seeing he is a divine person prior to his incarnation. Now if the humanity had not the personal existence of the Word for its personal existence, then would the humanity have no personal existence at all. It cannot exist like another man by itself, in its own person, but solely exists in the person of the Word. But if the humanity have the personal existence of the Word for its personal existence, then by all means the flesh must have all what its own person possesses. The flesh being no human person, (but nature only) but having the Word for its person, it would appear very strange indeed, that the flesh should not possess all things, all divine majesty and glory its own person possesses. Or, it would be strange, that, that which is positively belonging to the person, should not possess what the person possesses. Now let us suppose that the flesh had not thus been exalted, how could a personal union ever have taken place? for since the Word is immutable, it could receive no alteration, and if the flesh received no divine perfections, then it remained altogether in its natural state, and acquired nothing.
The sacramental controversy between Luther and Zuinglius, necessarily involved the doctrine of the personal union of Christ’s two natures. Luther who maintained the omnipresence of Christ’s body, hence the presence of his body and blood and in the Lord’s supper, believed that the person of the Word was made the person of the flesh; so that the humanity in this union, without confusion or a change of natures, is in possession of all divine attributes, and is therefore omnipotent, omnipresent, and an object of adoration. Upon this ground, as Well as upon the words of the institution, he maintained the presence of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament.
Whereas Zuinglius, who denied the presence of the Lord’s body and blood in the sacrament, supposed that the humanity was not susceptible of receiving such divine dignity and glory, and that it is unreasonable to believe the omnipresence of Christ’s body. Calvin also, and his followers maintained the same position.
This is one of the principal points, on which the Lutheran and Calvinistic churches have been divided since the time of the Reformation. Lutherans according to their position, suppose that the humanity of Christ in union with the Word, is an object of religious worship. But Calvinists and the German Reformed, must necessarily according to their principles deny such worship to the Lord’s humanity, and consider it idolatry. If Lutherans should err in this point, they must certainly be idolators; but if Calvinists err, they are in open opposition to Christ’s glory in his mediatorial character, and deny him that honor, which God requires men and angels to render unto him. Again, if the position of Calvinists should be correct, one of the strongest objections of Unitarians against the doctrine of Christ’s Godhead, will remain utterly unanswerable.
This objection shall hereafter be stated and investigated.
For the better information of the reader, I shall make a few extracts from Calvin and some of his followers, and also from Luther. Whereupon, I shall more minutely investigate the subject.
Calvin says, “Tametsi philosophice loquendo, supracaelos locus non est, quia tamen corpus Christi, ut fert humani corporis natura & modus, finitum est, Et coelo, ut loco, continetur, necesse est a nobis tanto locorum intervallo distare, quantum coelum abest a terra.”
Which I translate thus: Although, in speaking philosophically, above the heavens there is no place; nevertheless, because the body of Christ is finite as the nature and manner of a human body shows, and contained in heaven as in a place, it is necessarily distant from us by so great an interval of places as heaven is distant from the earth.
Beza a principal Calvinistic writer says, “Hanc enunciationem qua DEUS dicitur passus, sic interpretamur, DEUS, id est, Caro Deitati, unita est passa. Homo est omnipotens, id est, Deltas humanitati unita est omnipotens.”
Which I translate thus: In this proposition, in which God is said to have suffered we interpret thus, God, that is the flesh united to the Godhead suffered. The man is almighty, that is, the Godhead united to the humanity is almighty.
Again he says, “concludimus ergo, Christum non modo nolle, verum etiam NON POSSE VELLE, corpus illud suum verum & περίγραπτος multis simul in locis sistere.”
Translated thus : We therefore conclude that Christ is not only unwilling, but yea, he is not able to be willing, to set up that his true and circumscribed body in many places at the same time.
Peter Martyr, another Calvinistic writer says, “Querimur, vos dicere, Corpus Christi esse in multis locis, quodque DEI potentiam objiciatis, cum hoc ex illorum sit genera, AD QUE DEI POTENTIA SE NON EXTENDIT.”
Translated thus: We lament that you say, that the body of Christ is in many places, and that ye interpose the power of God, when this may be among the kind of those things to which the power of God does not extend itself.
Palatine Kednadon another Calvinistic writer says, “Negamus, quod omnipotente Dei virtute fieri possit, ut unum & idem Christi corpus in uno loco sit circumscriptum, definitum, visibile, palpabile, alibi autem incircumscriptum, indefinitum, invisibile, impalbabile.
Translated thus: We deny that through the omnipotent power of God it can come to pass, that the one and same body of Christ is circumscribed, visible, and comprehensible in one circumscribed place, but elsewhere, uncircumscribed, unlimited, invisible and incomprehensible.
These quotations are taken from Lucas Osiander’s work.
The following is copied from the Heidelberg catechism:
47ste Frag. Ist dann Christus nicht bei uns bis ans Ende der Welt, wie er uns verheissen hat?
Antwort. Christus ist wahrer Mensch und wahrer Gott. Nach seiner menschlichen Natur ist er jetzunder nicht auf Erden: Aber nach seiner Gottheit, Majestät, Gnad und Geist weicht er nimmer von uns.
48ste Frag. Werden aber mit der Weise die zwo Naturen in Christo nicht voneinander getrennt; so die Menschheit nicht überall ist, da die Gottheit ist?
Antwort. Mit nichten: dann weil die Gottheit unbegreiflich und allenthalben gegenwärtig ist, so muss folgen, dass sie wohl ausserhalb ihrer angenommenen Menschheit, und dannoch nichts destoweniger auch in derselben ist und persönlich mit ihr vereiniget bleibt.”
Quest. 47th. Is not Christ then with us, even to the end of the world, as he hath promised?
Ans. Christ is very man and very God: With respect to his human nature, he is no more on earth; but with respect to his Godhead, Majesty, Grace and Spirit, he is at no time absent from us.
Quest. 48th. But if the human nature is not present wherever his Godhead is, are not then these two natures in Christ separated from one another?
Ans. Not at all, for since the Godhead is incomprehensible and omnipresent, it must necessarily follow, that the same is not limited with the human nature He assumed, and yet remains personally united to it.
This translation is taken from an edition printed in Philadelphia, A. D. 1812.
Contrary to the Calvinists and the Heidelberg catechism, Dr. Luther writes: “Cum Christus talis homo sit, qui praeter naturae ordinemcum Deo una est persona: et extra hunc hominem nullus Deus reperiatur necessario conficitur, quod etiamjuxta tertium supernaturalem ilium modum sit, et esse possit, ubique, ubi Deus est: ita ut omnia plena sint Christi, etiam juxta humanitatim, non quidem secundum primam illam corporealem et comprehensibilem rafionem, sed juxta supernaturalem divinum ilium modum.
In hoc enim negotio fateri te oportet et dicere: Christus, secundum divinitatem, ubi est, ibi est naturalis divina persona: et revera ibi naturaliter et personaliter est: quod perspicue ipsius incarnatio, in utero materno, testatur. Si enim filius Dei erat, certe eum personaliter esse in utero matris, et ibidem incarnari oportebat. Quod si naturaliter et personaliter est, ubi est, profecto ibidem etiam necessario homo erit. Non enim in Christo sunt duae separatae personae, sed unicatantum est persona. Ubicunque ea est, ibi est unicatantum etindivisa persona. Et ubicunque recte dixeris: hic est Deus; ibi fateri oportet, et dicere: ergo etiam Christus Homo adest. Et si locum aliquem monstrares, in quo solus Deus, non autem homo esset, jam statim persona, divideretur. Possem enim turn tecte dicere: hic est Deus illc, qui non est homo, et qui adhuc, nunquam homo factus est.
Absit autem, ut ego talem Deum agnoscam aut colam. Ex his enim consequeretur quod locus et spatium possent duas naturas separare, et personam Christi dividere: quam tamen, neque mors neque omnes Diaboli dividere aut separare potuere. Et quanti tandem, obsecro, pretii esset talis Christus, qui unico tantum loco simul divina et humana persona esset: in omnibus vero locis, duntaxat et quidem separatus Deus, aut divina persona esset, sine asaumta sua humanitate. Nequaquam vero id tibi, quisquia es, concessero: quin potius quocunque locorum Deum oollocaveris: eo etiam humanitatem Christi una collocare te opporfebit: non enim duae in Christo naturae separari aftt dividi possunt; una in Christo facta est persona: et filius Dei assumtam humanitatem a se non segregat.”
In libello, de ultimis verbis Davidis, D. Lutherus paulo ante mortem suaminhanc sententiam scripsit: “Secundum alteram temporalem humanam nativitatem etiam data est illi aeterna Dei potestas: sed in tempore, et non ab aeterno. Humanitas enim Christi non fuit ab aaterno, ut divinitas: sed Jesus Mariae filius, juxta supputationem veram, hoc anno natus est annos mille, quingentos, quadraginta tres. Interim tamen ab eo momento, in quo divinitas cum humanitate unita est in unam personam, homo ille, qui est filius Mariae, revera est et vocatur omnipotens seternus Deus, qui aeternam habet potestatem: qui omnia creavit et conservat (per communicationem jdiomatum:) propterea quod cum divinitate una sit persona, et verus sit Deus. De ea re loquitur cum inquit: omnia mini tradita sunt a Patre. Et alibi: Mihi data est omnis potestas in coslo et in terra. Quis est ille, qui dicit MIHI? Mihi videlicet, Jesu Nazareno, Mariae filio, nato homini. Ab aeterno quidem habebam earn a Patre, priusquam homo fierem. Cum autem humanam naturam assumerem, accepi earn in tempore, secundum humanitatem: occultari autem earn, donec a mortem resurgerem, et ad coelos ascenderem: turn ea debebat manifestari et declarari, sicut Paulus dicit, eum declaratum seu demonstratum filium Dei cum potentia’: Johannes vocat, clarificatum, seu glorificatum. Concordia, p. 784, 785.
“Which I translate thus: Since Christ is such a man, who above the order of nature is one person with God, and beside this man no God is found, it necessarily follows, that he also according to the third supernatural manner is, and may be every where, wherever God is; so that all things may be full of Christ, yea according to the humanity; however not according to the first corporeal and comprehensible manner, but according to that supernatural, divine manner.
For in this matter it behooves thee to confess, and say: wheresoever Christ is according to the divinity, there he is a natural divine person, and there he is indeed naturally and personally, which his incarnation in the maternal womb plainly testifies. For if he was the Son of God, it was certainly meet for him to be personally in his mother’s womb, and there become incarnate. Now since he is naturally and personally, wherever he is, he must there also be truly a man. For in Christ there are not two separate persons,but there is only one person. Wherever that is, there is the only one, and undivided person. And whensoever thou couldst have spoken rightly: here is God, then it is proper to confess and say: consequently, there is also the man Christ present. And if thou canst show any place in which God only might be, but not the man, immediately, straightway the person is divided. For then I might rightly say, here is that God, who is not man, and never heretofore was made man.
But, God forbid! that I should acknowledge, or adore such a God. For from hence it would follow, that place and space could separate the two natures and divide the person of Christ, which, however, neither death nor all the devils have been able to divide or separate. And finally I ask, of how much worth might such a Christ be, who could be in one place only at the same time a divine and human person, but in all (other) places he would only be God, and also separated, or a person without his assumed humanity. But whosoever thou art, I shall by no means grant that to thee: but rather in whatsoever of the places thou dost place God, thou must also at the same time place the humanity of Christ: for in Christ the two natures cannot be separated or divided; in Christ the person is made one, and the Son of God does not separate from himself the assumed humanity.
In a little book concerning the last words of David, Dr. Luther shortly before his death had written this sentence.
According to the other temporal human birth, the eternal power of God has also been given to him, but in time, and not from eternity. For the humanity of Christ has not been from eternity like the divinity: but Jesus the Son of Mary according to the true calculation is in this year, 1543 years of age. However, in the mean while, from the moment in which the divinity was united in one person with the humanity, that man who is the Son of Mary is indeed, and is called the eternal omnipotent God, who hath eternal power, who hath created and preserves all things (by an idiomatical communication:) therefore on that account he may be one person with the divinity and be true God. Concerning this subject it is said, when he says, “all things are given to me by the Father; and elsewhere, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Who is he, that says to me? To me, viz. to Jesus the Nazarene, born a man. I indeed had it from eternity from the Father, before I could be made man. But when I assumed human nature, I have received it in time according to the humanity, but I have kept it concealed until I rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven, then this should be manifested and declared, as St. Paul saith he was declared or manifested the Son of God with power: John calls it glorified.
According to the position of the Calvinists and the Heidelberg catechism, the divine person of God’s Son is not personally united to the flesh; although the contrary is pretended. All the union admitted by them, is similar to a diamond in a ring, or a planet in its orbit. This comparison has been made by some. The diamond being truly united to the ring, is still, not where every part of the ring maybe; and the planet being in its orbit, is yet not wherever the orbit extends. Similar to this it is supposed, that the divine nature of Christ is extended over the universe, and the humanity united to it, as it were al one part of the divinity in a local situation. So that the divinity might be omnipresent, and the humanity united to it, and yet be located. But it must be observed, that this, or any similar comparison is foreign to the purpose: for the diamond is not made the ring, nor is the planet made the orbit: for if the diamond had been made the ring, and the planet the orbit, then would the diamond and the planet be wherever the ring, and the orbit might be. But the Word was made flesh.
If Christ’s divine nature were omnipresent without the humanity; and yet, be personally united to the same, then it would follow, that every saint was personally united to God: for God is united with, and dwells in all believers; they indeed are located, whilst God united to them, is omnipresent. But can this be called a personal union? Can it be said that God was made flesh in them? By no means. The Father and the Holy Ghost also are united to the humanity of Christ. This is so manifest, that no one would attempt to deny it. But is the Father, or the Holy Ghost personally united to the humanity of Jesus? Or, was the Father, or the Holy Ghost made flesh? By no means. Now since neither the Father, nor the Holy Ghost was made flesh, but the Son only, it must follow that the person of the Son is deeply united to the flesh; so that the flesh is wherever the Godhead may be. Thus it must be evident that the filial Godhead is more closely united to his flesh, than the Father or the Holy Ghost, and therefore, exists no where without his assumed humanity.
Calvinists admit that the Son is personally united to his flesh; and yet, deny that the flesh in this unity, is wherever this divine person exists. They admit that Christ is a divine person, who is omnipresent. Now it may be asked, is not the divine nature of Christ a person in all places, wherever he exists? Or, is he a person only at one particular place? To suppose that Christ’s divinity is a person at one place only, would be denying his omnipresence. His person is himself; hence if his person be not omnipresent, then he himself is not omnipresent. But as It is admitted that he is omnipresent, It Is also admitted that he is a person every where. Now if the flesh be personally united to God’s Son, does it not follow that the flesh must be with this person? How can this be otherwise? The person of God’s Son is omnipresent, and to this person the flesh is personally united. If the flesh be not wherever this divine person is, how can it be personally united to the same? For it would be very strange indeed to suppose that the flesh is personally united to the Son of God, and yet not to exist where the Son of God exists.
Christ in so far as he is the second Adam, i.e. in so far as he is man, having been made a quickening Spirit, proves a communication of divine attributes by virtue of the personal union with the Word. The flesh of Jesus has become full of immortality. He says, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6, 51. And 6, 54-55, “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.”
Now since Christ’s flesh is the living bread that came down from heaven, and can cause eternal life in those who partake of it, the conclusion is, that it must have such source of life by the Word with whom it is personally united: for the flesh without this union, in its own nature, could not possess immortality: because to have immortality is God’s prerogative. By the personal union with the Word, the flesh without all contradiction possesses an inexhaustible fountain of life and miraculous gifts. By touching his sacred flesh, healing gifts issued to cure diseases: as for instance when the woman that was diseased with an Issue of blood, had touched his garment was made whole. Matt. 9, 20-22. Again, “And the whole multitude sought to touch him; for there went virtue out of him, & healed them all.” Luke 6, 19. Now I would ask, could such miraculous virtues have proceeded out of Christ’s flesh; so as to cure the most inveterate diseases; virtues that were truly divine, if the flesh had not divine attributes? By no means. No one could touch this sacred flesh, without touching the eternal Word, or filial Divinity. The divine, invisible power and glory were rendered visible and palpable through the flesh. Hence St. John says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; &c.” 1 John 1,1. Christ according to his divine nature is invisible and impalpable; hence if the apostles could see and handle this eternal Word of life, how could they do it, otherwise than by seeing and handling his humanity? His humanity being filled with the fulness of the Word, the Word himself was seen and handled by the apostles in seeing and handling the humanity: for the Word was made flesh. The Word’s glory became visible: for says St. John, “and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” ch. 1,14. as little as a coal has the virtue of itself to burn, but has it by the fire in it; even so little has the flesh of Christ in its own nature, healing virtues and omnipotent power, but has such really imparted by the personal union with the Word.
It has already been shown that the Holy Ghost is Christ’s, as well as the Father’s Spirit. Although it cannot be said that the Holy Ghost was made flesh; yet as this Spirit is the Spirit of the Son, the flesh also became a partaker of this Spirit. Christ was anointed with the Holy Ghost. For this reason he is called Christ, which word signifies one that is anointed. He was not anointed according to his divinity, because the divinity always had this Spirit: the humanity therefore, must have received this holy unction. I would however, not presume to affirm that the humanity was anointed by virtue of the Word’s incarnation. It indeed would follow, that the humanity would have been anointed by and through the incarnation: provided the Holy Ghost was only the Son’s, and not also the Father’s spirit. But since he is also tho Father’s spirit, the humanity could not have been anointed, merely in consequence of the Son’s incarnation: for if the incarnation only were the cause of the anointing, then it would follow that the Father also, had been made flesh, which is contrary to the scriptures. Since the Holy Ghost is not the Son’s spirit alone, but also the Father’s; therefore, as the Father was not incarnate, the humanity was anointed, not by virtue of the incarnation, nor by the Son only, but by the Father also. The reason assigned, why he was anointed, was because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity: “Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Heb. 1,9. Thus we see, that he was not anointed merely in consequence of his incarnation, but because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity.
It must be confessed that the personal union of the flesh with the Word, is the original cause why the humanity is in the form of God, and is a partaker of infinite attributes; but when the Father anointed him with the Spirit, he then particularly received special gifts and glories as a man, by which his human intellects became enlarged, and by which he as man is ornamented with a fulness of gifts above all men and angels: for he was made much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Heb. 1,4. He was anointed in his state of humiliation, i.e. before his resurrection: for at his baptism in Jordan the spirit of God descended upon him like a dove. Matt. 3, 16. After which time he began his public ministry: for then the spirit of the Lord was upon him, because he had anointed him to preach the gospel to the poor; he had sent him to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of light to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4, 18,19; and to perform divine miracles of benevolence. The prophets and apostles were inspired by the Holy Ghost, but they had received the spirit by measure; but Christ was not only anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, but he received the spirit without measure. John 3, 34.
The humanity of Christ by the personal union with the Word has divine power and glory; and also, was particularly anointed with the Holy Ghost without measure, he is therefore, worthy of adoration, and is the most lovely and beautiful of all objects in creation.
The humanity of Jesus was undoubtedly glorified, not with a created, but an uncreated glory. Just before his crucifixion he prayed to his Father. “And now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” John 17, 5. We know that the Father always granted his prayers; hence Christ was glorified with the glory for which he prayed. Christ being consubstantial to the Father according to his divine nature, could not have prayed to be glorified according to this nature; because it is unchangeable, and therefore could not have been restored to its pre-existent glory. Christ in so far as he is a mediator offered prayers to the Father; hence in this character he prayed to be glorified. This shows that Christ had a glory with the Father before the foundation of the world; this he had as eternal God by the Father; it also shows that he desired to be glorified in time as a God-man with the same glory. This pre-existent or divine glory is no created glory: for it existed before creation; hence it is the glory which is peculiar to, and the prerogative of the Supreme Being. Now since Christ desired to be glorified in time with this glory, he must have received it according to his humanity; hence his humanity in its re-exalted state has the full exercise of all Infinite attributes, or the uncreated glory of God,
Calvinists who deny that the humanity has received such glory are not able to explain this text otherwise, without denying Christ’s eternal Godhead. For if they say, that he was glorified according to his divine nature, it will then prove that he according to this nature was for awhile destitute of this divine glory; consequently, must have changed, which supposition would be contrary to the idea of his being eternal God, who is in his own nature immutable. To suppose that this glorification did not really happen to Christ’s person, and that he was only glorified in the sight of intelligent creatures, is out of the question: for the text says, “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self;” hence not merely in the sight of intelligent creatures. Thus was Jesus glorified; though no creature should have known it.
Now since l have irrefragably proven that Christ in his mediatorial character received the uncreated glory of God, even that which he had before the foundation of the world, it is unquestionably proven that the humanity possesses infinite, divine attributes.
In speaking on the re-exaltation of Christ according to his humanity,” I would not wish to be understood to say, that he in his state of humiliation had utterly lost his divine glory, which he had by the personal union with the Word, which he again received in the exaltation. St. Paul affirms of Christ Jesus, that he was in the form of God during his state of humiliation. Phil. 2, 6-8, “Who being in the form of God,” i.e. in the mean while that he had made himself of no reputation, and had become obedient unto death. See v. 7, 8. The Greek participle υπαρχων is in the present tense, signifying existing or being. That is, he was existing in the form of God, during his humiliation. He therefore, had never laid the form of God aside, even in his deepest humiliation. For he had during his public ministry, performed many miracles,which required a divine power. He says in this state, “I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” John 5, 36. At his rebuke the winds and the sea were calm; so that the men who were with him in the ship marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! Matth. 8, 26, 27.
To suppose that Christ was in the form of God according to his Godhead, would be the same as to say, that God was in the form of God, which would be uncouth. There would be no sense in affirming that God was in the form of God. Hence Christ in his mediatoreal character, or incarnate state was in the form of God. For by the incarnation a divine visible form was seen, beaming forth with divine splendour. Christ having this divine form throughout his state of humiliation, shows that he had never laid aside his divine attributes. His humiliation therefore, consisted in acting like a servant, in being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. In these respects he had no use of his power and glory: for if he would suffer abuse from his enemies, and lay down his life, he must become passive. Being passive in these respects, was indeed a very deep humiliation.
His re-exaltation consisted in being freed from sufferings and death, and in having the full use and exercise of his divine power and glory after his resurrection. He was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Rom. 1, 4. Christ’s humanity in this exalted state is not only personally linked to the Word, and has a source of infinite power and glory, but he is also enthroned at the Father’s right hand, exercising divine prerogatives and reigning in the plenitude of power.
The humanity of Jesus thus glorified is truly omnipresent. The Word was made flesh. The Word is God; God is omnipresent, the flesh is therefore one thing with the Word, hence omnipresent: for it is out of the question to suppose that the Word has any thing nearer to himself than his assumed humanity. Christ said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matth. 18, 20. To be in the midst of every two or three assembled in Christ’s name over the whole world, requires omnipresence. Although this text be sufficiently explicit in itself, to prove Christ’s omnipresence; hence the omnipresence of his human nature, seeing that pertains to his person; yet because Calvinists suppose that the idea of the omnipresence of a body is repugnant to reason and the principles of philosophy, they give this text an explanation contrary to its reading, and say, instead of Christ being in the midst of two or three assembled in his name, that his spirit only is in their midst, when yet it is evident that the person who is God-man is in their midst. The appellation Christ, in their views on this text means his Godhead only, and thus they separate his humanity from his person, and make void the doctrine of the Word’s incarnation.
The principal objection against the omnipresence of Christ’s body is founded upon supposed reason. It is said, two bodies or substances cannot at the same time fill the same space, and that if a body were every where present, it would fill up all space; so that no other creature could exist. Again, some say, it would require an immense body in size to be every where present. Since Christ possesses a real human body of an ordinary size, it is concluded, that it cannot be omnipresent.
This pretended reasoning is not reason, but a sophism. The premises of this objection are: a mere human body or created substance has its ordinary size bounded by space; and then the conclusion is brought in: therefore the body of Christ cannot be omnipresent. Calvinists believe that Christ was born a man of the virgin Mary without a human Father. This is according to truth. But I might oppose this doctrine upon a similar ground. I could say: no man is born without a human father, therefore it is contrary to reason to believe that Christ had no human father. This though similar to the position of Calvinists would be a sophism. Though all men descend from human fathers; yet it does not follow that the humanity of Jesus was not produced without a father, because the virgin Mary conceived not in an ordinary manner, but by the energy of the Holy Ghost. Again, Calvinists admit and teach that Christ’s spirit is every where present; although they deny the omnipresence of his body. Now I may also object to the omnipresence of Christ’s spirit upon a similar ground. I can say no created spirit, whether an angel or the soul of a man can be omnipresent: for no man can possibly think on two things at the very same instant; therefore Christ’s spirit cannot be omnipresent. This truly would be a sophism. For what may be affirmed of a created spirit cannot be applied to an uncreated spirit, who is God. A created spirit is present like a creature, but an uncreated spirit is God, and therefore is omnipresent. The body of Jesus, though created, yet does not sustain the same relation of other bodies, nor exist in the same manner. Other men’s bodies are not the bodies of the Son of God; they have their subsistence in human persons; whereas the body of Christ is the body of the Son of God, and subsists in his divine person: for the Word was made flesh. Now to conclude. that because a mere man’s body is not every where present, that therefore Christ’s body cannot be omnipresent, is unfair and sophistical. If his body were the body of a mere man, the conclusion would be correct. But since his body is the body of the Son of God, it is in a far different state from all other bodies. Though a cremated body, having according to its own nature a limited presence; yet by the personal union with the Word, it has obtained an uncreated presence, or rather the omnipresence of God. The body of Jesus therefore is omnipresent, not after the manner of a created substance, but after the manner of God, i.e. it is omnipresent like God is omnipresent.
Do Calvinists suppose that if the body of Christ were omnipresent, that it could not be omnipresent but by an extension of parts filling the universe with a created dimension? It seems that they entertain this idea: otherwise they would not object to the omnipresence of Christ’s body, upon the ground, that two bodies or substances cannot at the same time occupy the same space. If there can be no omnipresence without an extension of parts filling all space, how can God as God be omnipresent? Would it not also follow that God’s parts would be extended over the universe like the air? If so, would he not also occupy the space of every creature, and would not then every creature be forced out of existence? Whether any of the Calvinists believe that God is omnipresent by extension of parts I do not presume to affirm. But it is out of the question to suppose that God is omnipresent by extension of parts, diffusing himself over all creation like the subtile air: for he is unchangeable. Before the world or any thing was created, God could not have been every where present. For it is impossible for a being to be present in a place when no place exists. Before any thing was created, nothing could have existed but God. But where did he exist? In no world, in no place, but in himself, in his uncreated glory. In short he existed out of all creation, and could therefore not have been omnipresent by extension of parts. Since the creation he did not change; and although he operates upon, and is present with all creatures and in all places; yet does he not extend his parts, nor is he confined by any creature, nor limited by locality. Thus it is evident that God is omnipresent, not like a created substance would be in a place, but after an uncreated manner, peculiar to his own nature. Now since the body of Christ is personally united with the Word, it has received the uncreated omnipresence of God, and is therefore not omnipresent like a creature would be present in a place; hence it is in vain to urge any objection founded upon a creature presence. Before the doctrine of the omnipresence of Christ’s body ought to be pronounced unreasonable, it ought first be proven that it was impossible for the Son of God to receive the humanity into his own person, or for the Word to have been made flesh. By what can it be proven that the Word could not have received the humanity into his person? Or by what text can it be proven, that it was not received into the Word’s person? Is the mere assertion of men to be taken as evidence?
To say it is impossible for a being to have a limited and visible presence; and yet, at the same time to be omnipresent, and in all other places to be invisible, is contrary to fact.
God as God, before the incarnation in sundry instances, manifested a visible and local presence, whilst at the same time he was omnipresent, and in all other places invisible. It is said that “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the East of Eden.” Gen. 4,16. Is not the presence of the Lord every where? By all means: for this is clearly revealed in the Scriptures. How then could Cain have went out from the presence of the Lord and dwell in the land of Nod? The Lord had a limited presence: otherwise Cain could not have went out From it. It seems this presence was not in the land of Nod, because when Cain was in it, he was out of the Lord’s presence. Again, when Adam and Eve, “heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden, in the cool of the day: they hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” Gen. 3, 8. The Lord walking in the garden, proves that he moved; hence had occupied space, and that Adam and Eve hid themselves from his presence, shows that he had a limited, visible presence: for it would have been impossible for them to have hidden themselves from his unlimited, invisible presence.
Again, upon the prayer of Moses, the LORD God caused his glory to pass by, and his back parts were seen by Motes. Exod. 33, 22,23. This again proves that God had a limited, visible presence, whilst he was omnipresent, and at all other places invisible. Many more instances might be adduced from the old Testament, by which it could be made appear that God had a limited, visible presence; though an Omnipresent Being, but I deem these already mentioned sufficient. I will yet observe, that a being that can be seen by finite beings, must have a limited, visible presence: for no creature could see God in all places, unless the same could also be in all places. Although God may not be seen by us in the present state of mortality; yet, if we become pure in heart we shall hereafter see him. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matth. 5, 8. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3, 2. These texts most unequivocally prove, that believers shall see God, even as he is. Although their bodies shall be raised up from the dead and be clothed with immortality; yet they will remain finite creatures. Now if they shall see God, does it not follow, that God in heaven has a limited, visible presence; whilst he is also in other respects invisible and omnipresent.
Having positively proven that the eternal God has a limited, visible presence, whilst yet he is invisible and omnipresent; how then can any man say with propriety, that it is absurd to believe that the body of Christ can be visible and limited in one place, and yet in other respects be invisible and omnipresent? It is in vain to argue, because Christ, when upon earth had a limited, visible presence, and that when he ascended to heaven, he has also somewhere, a glorious, visible presence, that therefore his humanity in so far as it is personally united with the Word is not also invisible and omnipresent. For the visible and limited presence of Christ’s body proves nothing against its invisible omnipresence. If it did, it would also prove that God as God, could not be invisible and omnipresent; because I have shown that he has a limited, visible presence.
Now the following objection may easily be answered: viz. Christ ascended up to heaven, and he shall come again; now if he were already present, why then would it be necessary for him to come? Those who make this objection admit that God’s Spirit is omnipresent; hence I would also ask them, why did Christ say, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John 16, 7. Why was it necessary that the Comforter, i.e. the Holy Spirit should come when he was already omnipresent? Whatever may be answered to this question, may also be answered with respect to the coming of Christ. If it be said that the coming of the Holy Ghost implies a visible manifestation of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, I may with equal propriety affirm that the coming of Christ implies the manifestation of his visible presence from heaven to judge the world. But neither the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit, nor of Christ, proves away the invisible omnipresence of either.
The Heidelberg catechism, in order to prove that the humanity of Jesus is not omnipresent, marks the following passages:
Matth. 26, 11. “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” This text does not say one word that the humanity of Christ is not omnipresent. It alludes to a good work performed upon his body: For a certain woman having poured a precious ointment on his head his disciples when they saw it had indignation, saying, to what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor: verse 7-9. Whereupon Jesus said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. V. 10, 11. Now it is manifest, that they would not always have Christ in a visible manner, so that they could anoint his body. That he afterwards withdrew his visible presence, and needed nothing for the comfort of his body, does by no means prove that his body has not an invisible, divine omnipresence. There is a considerable difference between saying, that his disciples should not have him any more in a visible manner; so that they might administer comforts to his body; such as anointing him with precious ointment; and that he would not be omnipresent.
Heb. 8, 4. “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest.” Christ’s visible, limited presence as it once was in his humiliation, is no more on earth.
It is evident from the context that Christ was exalted at God’s right hand; hence is no more on earth in a state of humiliation, but is truly omnipresent: “We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” V. 1. To sit at the right hand of God is opposed to be on earth in a state of humiliation, and positively implies to be omnipresent and to reign with omnipotent power.
John 16, 28 : “I leave the world and go to the Father.” That Christ left the world by withdrawing his visible presence is evident from the context. But how that his leaving the world and going to the Father, should prove that his body is not omnipresent, is indeed very strange. If he went to the Father, where can he be? Is it not acknowledged by all that the Father is omnipresent? If Christ according to his humanity went to the Father, it is so far from proving that the same is not omnipresent, that it establishes its omnipresence. For if Christ went to the Father, then he must be wherever the Father may be, but the Father is omnipresent.
When Christ ascended to heaven, he was also exalted at God’s right hand. “He is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” 1 Pet. 3, 22. If it be asked, according to which nature was Christ exalted at God’s right hand? It must be answered, according to his human nature. It has already been shown, that he humbled himself according to this nature; for he was put to death in the flesh. 1 Pet. 3, 18. And as this exaltation took place in consequence of his preceding humiliation, it is evident that the humanity was exalted. His divine nature as such is not susceptible of being thus exalted, because it is the divine majesty and glory itself.
As the scriptures represent God as having eyes, ears, mouth, hands, &c. it follows that the right hand of God is a part of himself. When I say the hand of a man, I mean it to be one of his members, pertaining to his person. If God have hands as the scriptures plainly show, then his right hand is one of his members inseparable from himself. The right hand of God is therefore as little confined by space and locality as his Being. The right hand of God destroyed Israel’s enemies. “Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.” Exod.15, 6. See Ps.18, 35. Ps.118, 15,16. Again, the Lord says, “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens.” Isa. 48, 13. The hand of God having laid the foundation of the earth, and his right hand having spanned the heavens proves that his right hand is his Almighty power, and infinite majesty. No angel however dignified he may be, was ever told to sit at God’s right hand: “But to which of the angels said he at any time, sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool!” Heb. 1,13. To be at God’s right hand is the same as to possess infinite power and glory.
The right hand of God is omnipresent. “Whether shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy light hand shall hold me.” Ps. 139, 7-10. From these passages it is sufficiently manifest that the right hand of God is Almighty and omnipresent.
Now since the humanity of Jesus was exalted at God’s right hand, it must consequently have the full exercise of Almighty power, and be every where present. This man Jesus, who is our brother, is in the heavens enthroned at God’s right hand and is worshipped by angles. That nature according to which he was highly exalted, and according to which he received a name which is above every name, is to be worshipped in union with the divinity. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in 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, 9-11. “And I beheld, and heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with aloud voice, Worthy is the lamb that was slain (he was slain according to the flesh) to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Rev. 5, 11,12.
How highly is this man Jesus dignified by heavenly hosts! O my soul rejoice in his exaltation. He arose with the same body: for he showed his wounds to his disciples, and ascended with it to his Father. How highly is human nature ennobled by the exaltation of Jesus! Now is it possible that vain philosophy should prevent so many who profess themselves Christians from acknowledging this glory and dignity to this man their brother, and refuse to worship him, whom all the angels in heaven worship! Let such who have hitherto denied this divine dignity and glory of the man Jesus ponder on these remarks. This man exercising universal dominion at God’s right hand, proves that we need not fear death, nor the powers of hell: for he having the keys of hell and of death, has them under his control, so that they cannot injure us. He being exalted as man, he can succour us in this world of temptation. As a high priest upon the throne of glory, he having himself been tempted and felt all the miseries of human life, is able and willing to direct all things for the benefit of his brethren. “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high-priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” Heb. 2, 17, 18.
Although Christ having ascended into the heavens, yet he is with his church, not only as God, but also as man: for by his exaltation he has the exercise of all power and dominion. “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.” Ephes. 4, 9,10. Christ ascended according to his body. This no one denies. Now if he ascended up far above all heavens, can he be confined in any one particular heaven, or contained in a place? He that is far above all heavens, is he not exalted at the summit of Jehovah’s uncreated glory, and must he not be omnipresent? Can any thing be higher than the heavens, but God? The text says, that he ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. He that fills all things; hence the universe, must undoubtedly be omnipresent. By Christ’s ascension he fills all things, which proves that by his exaltation he got the exercise of all dominion. His ascension therefore, is so far from proving that he is not omnipresent, that it establishes his omnipresence. When Christ fills all things, no place can be found where he is not present.
After Christ’s glorious ascension St. John the Divine saw him in a vision walking in the midst of the seven candlesticks, i.e, in the midst of his church. He saw him as the Son of man; for he describes his head, hairs, eyes, feet, right hand, &c. which are members indicating his human body, Rev. 1, 13-17. Now when John saw the glorified body of his Jesus in the midst of the churches, it proves his omnipresence, and a knowledge of it proves a great consolation to all believers.