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This, again, is further confirmed by a passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the Apostle represents our Lord's appearing in our nature to have been the result of his own voluntary determination : “For verily “ he took not on him the nature of angels, “ but he took on him the seed of Abraham!.” That our Lord had it in his power to make a choice between the natures he would assume, implies that he already possessed some other nature, not only distinct from either men or angels, but superior to both; a nature, indeed, above those of all created beings; since we cannot conceive a creature, however exalted, to have it in his power to take any other nature upon him than that assigned to him by his Creator. This mode of expression, therefore, simple as it appears to be, directly refutes the notion that our Lord had no existence before his conception in the Virgin's womb, or that he partook not of ture but that of earthly parents. It is equally conclusive also against those who acknowledge his preexistence, and invest him with some high angelical or super-angelical dignity, but deny his essential divinity; since it shews that, “ in the beginning,” he was neither man nor angel, but so infinitely greater than either, that he had it at his own command to unite himself to the one or the other at his good pleasure.
1 Heb. ii. 16.
2. But secondly, the words of the text contain an express recognition of our Lord's human nature; « The Word was made flesh, “ and dwelt among us.”
The Scripture proofs of this point are abundantly clear
clear and decisive. St. John seems to speak of the Godhead as rendered, in a certain sense, visible to mortal sight, by the union of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ. In no other way
could it be visible. 6 No man hath seen “ God at any time; the only-begotten Son “ which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath “ declared him." In what sense we are to understand this, may be gathered from the same Apostle's expressions at the beginning of his first Epistle; “ That which was from “ the beginning, which we have heard, which “ we have seen with our eyes, which we have 6 looked upon, and our hands have handled 66 of the Word of Life; (for the Life was ma“ nifested and we have seen it, and bear wit
ness, and shew unto you that Eternal Life “ which was with the Father, and was mani“ fested unto us;) that which we have seen 6 and heard declare we unto you"." This can only relate to the incarnation of our Lord ; by which one Person of the eternal Godhead became, as it were, perceptible to mortal sense. Not that any transmutation, any conversion, took place of the divine nature into human substance; or that the essential properties of either were destroyed by the union of both. But that in Christ were visibly displayed the characteristic attributes of the one and the other. To this his whole conduct, his words and works, bore unequivocal testimony. As the declarations already cited establish his divinity; so, innumerable instances might be given, in which the physical qualities of the manhood he had assumed were placed beyond all reasonable doubt. He was made like unto us in all respects, sin only excepted. He was tempted like as we are. He experimentally knew and was touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Hunger and thirst, pain and sorrow, suffering and death, were his portion. The second Adam was therefore as truly Man as the first; the proofs of which, from his life and actions, are so manifold, that any attempt to call this in question seems to argue a degree of perverseness almost inconceivable. Nevertheless, visionaries were not wanting, even in the time of the Apostles, who taught that Christ was not actually a man; that he was so in appearance only, not in reality ; that his sufferings as a mortal were only figurative; and that all the circumstances attending his passion and his crucifixion were illusions upon the senses of the beholders: notions so extravagantly absurd as hardly to deserve notice in these days, were it not evident that they did once prevail to no inconsiderable extent, and did they not shew how prone men are to adopt the grossest errors, when the plain sense of Scripture is set aside, to make room for the wanderings of their own imaginations.
m John i. 18.
In no instance, indeed, has inconsistency in the interpretation of Scripture been more strikingly exemplified, than in the very opposite errors which have prevailed respecting our Lord's incarnation ; errors also, (strange to say !) that seem to have arisen from the very clear and unambiguous terms in which both our Lord's divine and human nature are set forth. Some, finding his Godhead so expressly asserted, imagined that what was said of his being “made flesh,” could only be true in a metaphorical sense. Others, perceiving no less clearly the continual declarations of his human properties, urged this in proof that he could not be possessed of Divine perfections, and tortured every passage to that effect, so as to bear some forced and incongruous meaning, unwarranted by the plainest rules of criticism. Both errors, contradictory as they are, may be traced to partial views of the subject, or to hazardous abstract speculations on what is beyond the grasp of the human intellect. Both equally originate in the vanity of endeavouring to be “ wise above “ what is written,” and wresting the Scriptures to a conformity with their own inadequate conceptions. It is moreover remarkable, that these attempts to remove difficulties have had, for the most part, an opposite effect; entangling the inquirers in still more inextricable perplexities. For, (distort the subject how we may,) the doctrine of our Lord's incarnation, taken in its simplest acceptation, meets us at every step. We find him speaking, acting, and suffering, in every respect as man; we find him also asserting and exercising powers, attributes, and perfections, exclusively belonging to God. Every thing recorded of him harmonizes with this twofold representation. But the instant we depart from either of these, all that is affirmed concerning him by Prophets, Apostles, or