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1. God, who is every where present, cannot remove from one place to another. Therefore, the descent of the Son of God from heaven is no change of place; but a voluntary taking of the nature of man on himself, in which he, being in his divine nature invisible, "appeared upon earth and dwelt among the children of men;" Bar. iii. 38. When he descended upon earth, he took to himself flesh in the womb of the most blessed Virgin Mary, preserving her virginity immaculate. And this incarnation was mysterious and inexplicable; because it was accomplished by the almighty operation of the Holy Ghost, whose manner of acting is known alone to himself. But we are assured of this truth by the undoubted word of God, which the angel spake to the Virgin: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee;" Luke i. 35. And thus, in the womb of the Vir gin, began the fulfilment of that glorious prophecy of Isaiah: "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," vii. 14. The conception of the Son of God was supernatural, and without sin: because
justice itself required, that he who came to cleanse the world from sin, should himself be separated from sinners, Heb. vii. 26.
It was necessary, that the Son of God should
become man; 1st, That our heavenly Father might enter into the work of our salvation with him as our mediator and surety, and might act towards him as he would have done towards the sinner, whose likeness Christ had taken upon himself; and this was impossible in
any other way, than by assuming the human nature." For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. v. 21.
2d, That his visible intercourse with mankind might the better attach us to himself, as representing before our very senses the will of our heavenly Father and the way of salvation. This our Saviour himself points out in these words: "Henceforth, I call you not servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends: for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." John xv. 15.
3d, That the law might be perfectly fulfilled, and thereby, not only our transgression of it pardoned, but that his most holy life should remain to us, as the rule of all our actions, which we ought to follow in order to obtain salvation. This also could not have taken place, except by his taking to himself the human nature. In re
gard to this, the apostle Paul teacheth:
"God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." Gal. iv. 4.*
4th, That he might die, and by his death satisfy the justice of God, deliver us from our merited punishment, and procure for us eternal life. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Heb. ii. 14, 15.
These are the chief reasons for the incarnation of the Son of God. This incarnation took place after the lapse of many ages from the fall of the first man. It did not please our divine Mediator, immediately after the fall, to appear upon earth in the flesh; but first he prepared his way by the law of nature, by the written law, by the prophets, by different instances of exemplary punishments inflicted on the wicked, and eminent rewards bestowed upon the righteous, together with promises of rewards that are yet greater.
*Slavonian." God sent forth his (only begotten) Son, born of a woman, made under the law."
But still mankind were prone to follow the dictates of their fallen nature, and the evil of sin spread universally, so that there remained no hope of deliverance except on the part of God; and thus, when, according to secret divine counsels, the appointed time was come, "God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath, in these last days, spoken unto us by his Son." Heb. i, 1, 2.
This appearance of our Saviour, which took place many ages ago, was in no way inconsistent with the salvation of the chosen saints of God who lived before his coming; for as we believe in his having already appeared, so they believed in him as a future deliverer. Their faith in its nature was not different from ours. 66 By faith, the ancients obtained a good report;" Heb. xi. 2. And Jesus Christ" is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever;" Heb. xiii. 8. For this reason, St Paul not only styles Abraham a believer, but presents him as an example to all who desire to be justified by faith.
Jesus Christ is one person in two natures.
2. In the incarnation of the Son of God, the human and the divine natures were in a most wonderful and incomprehensible manner united; and
from the union of these two, was produced the one divine person, God-man, Christ, because there are not two Christs but one, the Son of God and son of Mary. When he became man, he did not cease to be
God; he continues to be
true God and true man. But though the two natures are united in one Christ, yet they are not mixed; and in each nature, the wills, desires, and the powers of action, still remain complete and distinct. Hence, when we read in the Holy Scriptures what Christ saith of himself, that the hour of the last day he knoweth not; Matth. xiii. 32: That his Father is greater than he; John xiv. 28 That he offered up prayers to the Almighty, to save him from death; Heb. v. 7: That he suffered and died. All these, and similar passages, must be referred to his human, and not to his divine nature. That Christ was true man, the Scriptures clearly inform us; "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;" Heb. ii. 14. And in regard to his divinity, amongst others St Paul testifieth, "Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen," Rom. ix. 5; and, "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh." From the very time