The holy Prophet, in the Book of the Proverbs,1 poseth all such as have not learned wisedome, nor knowne the knowledge of the holy, with this Question. Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the winde in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his SONS name, if thou canst tell? To help us herein, the SON Himselfe did tell us, when he was here upon earth, that None2 hath ascended up to heaven, but he that descended from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And that we might not be ignorant of his name, the Prophet Esay did long before foretell, that Unto3 us a Childe is borne, and unto us a Son is given; whose name shall be called Wonder full, Counseller, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Where, if it be demanded, how these things can stand together? that the Son of man speaking upon earth, should yet at the same instant be in heaven? that the Father of Eternity should be borne in time? and that the Mighty God should become a Childe; which is the weakest state of Man himselfe? we must call to minde, that the first letter of this great Name, is WONDERFULL. When he appeared of old to Manoah, his name was Wonderfull, and he did wonderously. Judg. 13:18, 19. But that, and all the wonders that ever were, must give place to the great mystery of his Incarnation, and in respect thereof cease to be wonderfull for of this worke that may be verified, which is spoken of those wonderfull judgments, that God brought upon Egypt; when he would shew4 his power, and have his name declared throughout all the earth. Before5 them were no such; neither after them shall be the like.
Neither the creation of all things out of nothing, which was the beginning of the works of God (those six working dayes putting as it were an end to that long Sabbath that never had beginning; wherein the Father, Son, and holy Ghost did infinitely glorifie6 themselves and rejoyce7 in the fruition one of another, without communicating the notice thereof unto any creature) nor the Resurrection from the dead and the restauration of all things, the last works that shal go before that everlasting Sabbath (which shall have a beginning, but never shall have end:) neither that first, I say, nor these last, though most admirable peeces of work, may be compared with this; wherein the Lord was pleased to shew the highest pitch (if any thing may be said to be highest in that which is infinite and exempt from all measure and dimensions) of his Wisedome, Goodnesse, Power and Glory.
The Heathen Chaldeans, to a question propounded by the King of Babel, make answer; that8 it was a rare thing which he required, and that none other could shew it, except the Gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. But the rarity of this lyeth in the contrary to that which they imagined to be so plain: that he who9 is over all, God blessed for ever, should take our flesh and dwell, or pitch10 his tabernacle with us. That as the glory of God11 filled the Tabernacle (which was a figure12 of the humane nature of our Lord) with such a kinde of fulnesse, that Moses himselfe was not able to approach unto it; (therein comming short, as in all things,13 of the Lord of the house) and filled the Temple of Solomon (a type likewise of the body14 of our Prince of Peace) in such sort15 that the Priests could not enter therein: so16 in him all the fulnesse of the Godhead should dwell bodily.
And therefore, if of that Temple, built with hands, Solomon could say with admiration: But17 will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens can not contain thee; how much lesse this house, which I have built? of the true Temple, that is not of this building, we may with greater wonderment say with the Apostle, Without18 controversie, great is the mystery of religion: God was manifested in the flesh. yea, was made of a Woman, and born of a Virgin, a thing so wonderfull,19 that it was given for a signe unto unbeleevers seven hundred and forty years before it was accomplished; even a signe of Gods owne choosing, among all the wonders in the depth, or in the heighth above. Therefore the Lord himself he shall give you a signe. Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and beare a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isa. 7:14.
The Person and Natures of Christ
A notable wonder indeed, and great beyond all comparison. That the Son of God should be made20 of a Woman; even made of that Woman, which was made21 by himselfe. That her wombe then, and the heavens22 now, should containe him, whom the23 Heaven of Heavens can not containe. That he who had both Father and Mother, whose pedegree is upon record even up unto Adam, who in the fulnesse of time was brought forth in Bethlehem, and when hee had finished his course was cut off out of the land of the living at Jerusalem; should yet notwithstanding bee in truth, that which his shadow Melchisedeck was onely in the conceit of the men of his time, without24 Father, without Mother, without Pedegree, having neither be ginning of dayes nor end of life. That his Father should bee greater25 than hee; and yet hee his Fathers equall.26 That he is,27 before Abraham was; and yet Abrahams birth preceded his, wel-nigh the space of 2000 years. And finally, that hee who was Davidís Son, should yet be Davidís Lord: a case28 which plunged the greatest Rabbies among the Pharisees; who had not yet learned this wisdom, nor known this knowledge of the holy.
The untying of this knot dependeth upon the right understanding of the wonderfull conjunction of the divine and humane Nature in the unity of the Person of our Redeemer, For by reason of the strictnesse of this personall union, whatsoever may be verified of either of those Natures, the same may bee truly spoken of the whole Person, from whethersoever of the Natures it be denominated. For the clearer conceiving whereof, we may call to mind that which the Apostle hath taught us touching our Saviour. In 29 him dwelleth all the fulnesse of the Godhead bodily, that is to say by such a personall and reall union, as doth inseparably and everlastingly conjoyne that infinite Godhead with his finite Manhood in the unity of the selfe-same individuall Person.
Hee in whom that fulnesse dwelleth, is the PERSON: that fulnesse which so doth dwell in him, is the NATVRE. Now there dwelleth in him not onely the fulnesse of the Godhead, but the fulnesse of the Manhood also. For we believe him to be both perfect God, begotten of the substance of his Father before all worlds; and perfect Man, made of the substance of his Mother in the fulnes of time. And therefore we must hold, that there are two distinct Natures in him: and two so distinct, that they doe not make one compounded nature: but still remaine uncompounded and unconfounded together. But Hee in whom the fulnesse of the Manhood dwelleth is not one, and hee in whom the fulnesse of the Godhead, another: but he in whom the fulnesse of both those natures dwelleth, is one and the same Immanuel, and consequently it must be believed as firmly, that he is but one Person.
And here we must consider, that the divine Nature did not assume an humane Person, but the divine Person did assume an humane Nature: and that of the three divine Persons, it was neither the first nor the third that did assume this Nature; but it was the middle Person, who was to be the middle one, that must undertake this mediation betwixt God and us. which was otherwise also most requisite, as well for the better preservation of the integrity of the blessed Trinity in the Godhead, as for the higher advancement of Mankinde by meanes of that relation which the second Person the Mediator did beare unto his Father. For if the fulnesse of the Godhead should have thus dwelt in any humane Person, there should then a fourth Person necessarily have been added unto the Godhead: and if any of the three Persons, beside the second, had been borne of a woman; there should have been two Sons in the Trinity. Whereas now the Son of God and the Son of the blessed Virgin, being but one Person, is consequently but one Sonne; and so no alteration at all made in the relations of the Persons of the Trinity.
Againe, in respect of us, the Apostle sheweth, that for this very end God30 sent his own SON, made of a Woman; that WE might receive the adoption of SONS: and thereupon maketh this inference; Wherefore thou art no more a Servant but a SON, and if a SON, then an HEIRE of God through Christ, intimating thereby, that what relation Christ hath unto God by Nature, we being found in him have the same by Grace. By nature he is the31 onely begotten Son of the Father: but this is the high grace he hath purchased for us; that as32 many as received him, to them he gave power, or priviledge, to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his Name. For although he reserve to himselfe the preheminence, which is due unto him in a peculiar33 manner, of being the34 first borne among many brethren: yet in him, and for him, the rest likewise by the grace of adoption are all of them accounted as first -borns.
So God biddeth Moses to say unto Pharaoh: Israel35 is my Son, even my first borne. And I say unto thee; Let my son goe, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him goe; behold I will slay thy sonne, even thy first borne. And the whole Israel of God, consisting of Jew and Gentile, is in the same sort described by the Apostle to be the36 generall assembly and Church of the first borne inrolled in heaven. For the same reason that maketh them to be Sons, to wit, their incorporation into Christ, the self-same also maketh them to be first-bornes: so as (however it fall out by the grounds of our Common Law) by the rule of the Gospel this consequence will still hold true; if 37 children, then heirs, heires of God and joynt-heires with Christ. And so much for the SON, the Person assuming.
The Nature assumed, is the seed of Abraham, Heb. 2:16, the seed of David, Rom. 1:3. the seed of the Woman, Gen. 3:15, the WORD,38 the second person of the Trinity, being made39 FLESH, that is to say, Gods40 owne Son being made of a Woman, and so becomming truely and really the41 fruit of her wombe. Neither did hee take the substance of our nature onely, but all the properties also and the qualities thereof: so as it might be said of him, as it was of Elias42 and the Apostles;43 that hee was a man subject to like passions as wee are. Yea he subjected himself in44 the dayes of his flesh to the same weaknesse45 which we find in our owne fraile nature, and was compassed with like infirmities; and in a word, in all things was made like unto his brethren, sin46 onely excepted. Wherein yet we must consider, that as he took upon him, not an humane Person, but an humane Nature: so it was not requisite he should take upon him any Personall infirmities, such as are, madnesse, blindnesse, lamenesse, and particular kindes of diseases, which are incident to some onely and not to all men in generall; but those alone which doe accompany the whole nature of mankinde, such as are hungring, thirsting, weannesse, griefe, paine, and mortality.
We are further here also to observe in this our Melchisedek,47 that as he had no Mother in regard of one of his natures, so hee was to have no Father in regard of the other; but must be borne of a pure and immaculate Virgin, without the helpe of any man.
And this also was most requisite, as for other respects, so for the exemption of the assumed nature from the imputation and pollution of Adams sin. For sin48 having by that one man entred into the world; every Father becommeth an Adam unto his childe, and conveyeth the corruption of his nature unto all those whom he doth beget. Therefore our Saviour assuming the substance of our nature, but not by the ordinary way of natural generation, is thereby freed from all the touch and taint of the corruption of our flesh; which by that means only is propagated from the first man unto his posterity. Whereupon, hee being made of man but not by man, and so becomming the immediate fruit of the womb, and not of the loyns, must of necessity be acknowledged to be that49 HOLY THING, which so was born of so blessed a Mother. Who although she were but the passive and materiall principle of which that precious flesh was made, and the holy Ghost the agent and efficient; yet cannot the man Christ Jesus thereby be made the Son of his owne50 Spirit. because Fathers doe beget their children out of their owne substance: the holy Ghost did not so, but framed the flesh of him, from whom himselfe proceeded, out of the creature of them both, the51 handmaid of our Lord; whom from thence all generations shall call blessed.
That blessed wombe of hers was the Bride-chamber, wherein the holy Ghost did knit that indissoluble knot betwixt our humane nature and his Deity: the Son of God assuming into the unity of his person that which before hee was not; and yet without change (for so must God still bee) remaining that which he was, whereby it came to passe, that this holy52 thing which was borne of her, was indeed and in truth to be called the SON OF GOD. Which wonderfull connexion of two so infinitely differing natures in the unity of one person, how it was there effected; is an inquisition fitter for an Angelicall intelligence, than for our shallow capacity to looke after, to which purpose also wee may observe, that in the fabrick of the Ark of the Covenant, the posture53 of the faces of the Cerubims toward the Mercy-seat (the type of our Savior) was such, as would point unto us, that these are the things which the Angels desire to stoop54 and look into.
And therefore let that satisfaction, which the Angel gave unto the Mother Virgin (whom it did more especially concerne to move the question, How55 may this be?) content us, The56 power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. For as the former part of that speech may informe us, that with57 God nothing is impossible: so the latter may put us in minde, that the same God having overshadowed this mystery with his owne vaile, we should not presume with the men of Bethshemesh58 to look into this Ark of his; lest for our curiosity wee bee smitten as they were. Onely this wee may safely say, and must firmly hold: that as the distinction of the Persons in the holy Trinity hindreth not the unity of the Nature of the Godhead, although every Person intirely holdeth his owne incommunicable property; so neither doth the distinction of the two Natures in our Mediator any way crosse the unity of his Person, although each nature remaineth intire in it self, and retaineth the properties agreeing thereunto, without59 any conversion, composition, commixion, or confusion.
When Moses60 beheld the bush burning with fire, and yet no whit consumed, he wondred at the sight, and said; I will now turne aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. But when God thereupon called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Draw not nigh hither, and told him who he was; Moses trembled, hid his face, and durst not behold God. Yet although, being thus warned, we dare not draw so nigh; what doth hinder but we may stand aloofe off, and wonder at this great sight? Our61 God is a consuming fire; saith the Apostle: and a question we finde propounded in the Prophet. Who62 among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who amongst us shall dwell with the everlasting burnings? Moses was not like other Prophets, but God63 spake unto him face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend: and yet for all that, when he besought the Lord that hee would shew him his glory; he received this answer, Thou64 canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. Abraham before him, though a speciall friend65 of God, and the father66 of the faithfull, the children of God; yet held it a great matter that hee should take upon him so much as to speak67 unto God, being but dust and ashes. Yea, the very Angels themselves (which68 are greater in power and might) are fame to cover69 their faces, when they stand before him; as not being able to behold the brightnesse of his glory.
With what astonishment then may we behold our dust and ashes assumed into the undivided unity of Gods owne Person; and admitted to dwell here, as an inmate, under the same roofe? and yet in the midst of those everlasting burnings, the bush to remaine unconsumed, and to continue fresh and green for evermore. Yea, how should not wee with Abraham rejoyce to see this day, wherein not onely our nature in the person of our Lord Jesus is found to dwell for ever in those everlasting burnings; but, in and by him, our owne persons also are brought so nigh thereunto, that God70 doth set his Sanctuary and Tabernacle among us, and dwell with us; and (which is much more) maketh us our selves to be the house71 and the habitation72 wherein hee is pleased to dwell by his Spirit, according to that of the Apostle: Ye73 are the temple of the living God, as God hath said; I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. and that most admirable prayer, which our Saviour himselfe made unto his Father in our behalfe. I74 pray not for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they all may be one, as thou. Father art in me, & I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may beleeve that thou hast sent me. I in them, and thou in me, that they may bee made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou host sent me, and host loved them as thou host loved me.
The Mediatorial Office of Christ
To compasse this conjunction betwixt God and us, he that was to be our Jesus75 or Saviour, must of necessity also be IMMANUEL; which being interpreted is, God with us. and therefore in his Person to be Immanuel, that is, God dwelling with our flesh; because he was by his Office too to be Immanuel, that is, he who must make God to be at one with us. For this being his proper office, to be Mediator76 between God and men, he must partake with both: and being from all eternity consubstantiall with his Father, hee must at the appointed time become likewise consubstantiall with his children. Forasmuch77 then as the children are partakers of flesh and bloud; he also himself likewise took part of the same, saith the Apostle. We read in the Roman History, that the Sabines and the Romans joyning battell together, upon such an occasion as is mentioned in the last Chapter of the book of Judges; of the children of Benjamin, catching every man a wife of the daughters of Shiloh: the women being daughters to the one side, and wives to the other, interposed themselves, and took up the quarrell, so that by the mediation of these, who had a peculiar interest in either side, and by whose meanes this new allyance was contracted betwixt the two adverse parties; they who before stood upon highest tearmes of hostility, did78 not onely entertaine peace, but also joyned themselves together into one body and one state.
God and we were enemies;79 before we were reconciled to him by his Son. He that is to be our80 peace, and to reconcile us unto God, and to slay this enmity, must have an interest in both the parties that are at variance, and have such a reference unto either of them, that he may bee able to send this comfortable message unto the sons of men. Go81 to my brethren, and say unto them: I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. For as long as he82 is not ashamed to call us brethren; God83 is not ashamed to be called our God, and his entring of our appearance, in his owne name and ours, after this manner; Behold,84 I, and the children which God hath given me; is a motive strong enough to appease his Father, and to turne his favourable countenance toward us: as on the other side, when we become unruly and prove rebellious children; no reproofe can be more forcible, nor inducement so prevalent (if there remaine any sparke of grace in us) to make us cast downe our weapons and yeeld, then this. Doe85 yee thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? Is not he thy Father that hath bought thee? and bought thee not86 with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blond of his own Sonne?
How dangerous a matter it is to bee at odds with God, old Eli sheweth by this maine argument: If87 one man sinne against another, the Judge shall judge him: but if a man sinne against the Lord, who shall plead or intreat for him? and Job, before him. He88 is not a man as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgement: neither is there any Daysman or Umpire betwixt us, that may lay his hand upon us both. If this generall should admit no manner of exception, then were we in a wofull case, and cause to weep much more then S. John did in the Revelation; when none89 was found in heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth, that was able to open the booke which he saw in the right hand of him that sate upon the Throne, neither to looke thereon. But as S. John was wished there, to refraine his weeping, because the90 Lyon of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, had prevailed to open the booke, and to loose the seven seals thereof: so he himselfe elsewhere giveth the like comfort unto all of us in particular. If 91 any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is a propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
For as there92 is one God, so is there one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: who gave himselfe a ransome for all; and in discharge of this his office of mediation, as the only fit umpire to take up this controversie, was to lay his hand aswell upon God the party so highly offended, as upon Man the party so basely offending. In things concerning God, the Priesthood of our Mediator is exercised; For93 every high Priest is taken from among men, and ordained for men in things pertaining to God. The parts of his Priestly function are two; Satisfaction and Intercession: the former whereof giveth contentment to Gods justice; the latter solliciteth his mercy, for the application of this benefit to the children of God in particular. Whereby it commeth to passe, that God in shewing94 mercy upon whom he will shew mercy, is yet for his justice no looser: being both just,95 and the justifier of him which beleeveth in Jesus.
By vertue of his Intercession, our Mediatour appeareth96 in the presence of God for us, and maketh97 request for us. To this purpose, the Apostle noteth, in the IIIIth to the Hebrewes, I. That we have a great high Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. (vers. 14.) II. That we have not an high Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all things tempted as we are; yet without sin. (vers. 15.) Betwixt the having of such, and the not having of such an Intercessor, betwixt the height of him in regard of the one, and the lowlinesse in regard of his other nature, standeth the comfort of the poore sinner. He must be such a sutor as taketh our case to heart: and therefore in98 all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a mercifull and faithfull high Priest. In which respect as it was needfull he should partake with our flesh and bloud, that he might be tenderly affected unto his brethren: so likewise for the obtaining of so great a sute, it behoved he should be most deare to God the Father, and have so great an interest in him, as he might alwayes be sure to be heard99 in his requests: who therefore could be no other, but he of whom the Father testified from heaven; This100 is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. It was fit our Intercessor should be Man, like unto our selves; that we might boldly101 come to him, and find grace to help in time of need: it was fit he should be God, that he might boldly goe to the Father, without any way disparaging him; as being his fellow,102 and equall.103
But such was Godís love to justice, and hatred to sinne; that he would not have his justice swallowed up with mercy, nor sinne pardoned without the making of fit reparation. And therefore our Mediatour must not looke to procure for us a simple pardon without more adoe; but must be a propitiation104 for our sinnes, and redeem us by fine and ransome:105 and so not onely be the master of our requests, to intreat the Lord for us; but also take upon him the part of an Advocate,106 to plead full satisfaction made by himselfe, as our surety,107 unto all the debt wherewith we any way stood chargeable. Now the satisfaction which our surety bound himselfe to perform in our behalfe, was a double debt: the principall, and the accessory. The principall debt is obedience to Gods most holy Law: which man was bound to pay as a perpetuall tribute to his Creator, although he had never sinned; but, being now by his owne default became bankrupt, is not able to discharge in the least measure. His surety therefore being to satisfie in his stead, none will be found fit to undertake such a payment, but he who is both God and man. . . .
And now are wee come to that part of Christís mediation, which concerneth the conveyance of the108 redemption of this purchased possession unto the sons of men. A deare purchase indeed, which was to bee redeemed with no lesse price than the bloud of the Sonne of God: but what should the purchase of a stranger have beene to us? or what should we have been the better for all this; if we could not derive our descent from the purchaser, or raise some good title whereby wee might estate our selves in his purchase? Now this was the manner in former time in Israel, concerning redemptions: that unto him who was the next of kinne, belonged the right of being GoŽl,109 or the Redeemer. And Job had before that left this glorious profession of his faith unto the perpetual! memory of all posterity. I110 know that my GoŽl or Redeemer liveth, and at the last shall arise upon the dust (or, stand upon the earth.) And after this my skin is spent; yet in my flesh shall I see God. Whom I shall see for my selfe, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another for me. Whereby we may easily understand, that his and our Redeemer was to bee the invisible God; and yet in his assumed flesh made visible even to the bodily eyes of those whom he redeemed. For if he had not thus assumed our flesh; how should we have been of his bloud, or claimed any kindred to him? and unlesse the Godhead had by a personall union been unseparably conjoyned unto that flesh; how could he therein have been accounted our next of kinne?
For the better clearing of which last reason; wee may call to minde that sentence of the Apostle. The111 first man is of the earth earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. Where, notwithstanding there were many millions of men in the world betwixt these two; yet wee see our Redeemer reckoned the second man, and why? but because these two were the onely men who could be accounted the prime fountaines from whence all the rest of mankinde did derive their existence and being. For as all men in the world by meane descents doe draw their first originall from the first man: so in respect of a more immediate influence of efficiency and operation doe they owe their being unto the second man, as hee is the Lord from heaven. This is Gods owne language from Jeremy. Before112 I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee. and this is Davidís acknowledgment, for his part. Thy113 hands have made me and fashioned me; thou114 hast covered mee in my mothers womb: thou115 art he that took me out of my mothers bowels. and Jobís, for his also. Thy116 hands have made me and fashioned me together round about: thou hast cloathed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews, and the Apostles117 for us all: in him we live, and move, and have our being. who inferreth also thereupon, both that we are the off spring or generation of God; and that he is not farre from every one of us. this being to bee admitted for a most certaine truth (notwithstanding the opposition of all gaine-sayers) that God118 doth more immediately concurre to the generation and all other motions of the creature, then any naturall agent doth or can doe. And therefore, if 119 by one mans of fence, death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousnesse, shall reigne in life by one, Jesus Christ. Considering that this second man is not onely as universall a principle of all our beings, as was that first, and so may sustaine the common person of us all, as well as he; but is a farre more immediate agent in the production thereof: not, as the first, so many generations removed from us, but more neere unto us then our very next progenitors; and in that regard justly to be accounted our next of kinne, even before them also.
Yet is not this sufficient neither: but there is an other kinde of generation required, for which wee must bee beholding unto the second man, the Lord from Heaven; before we can have interest in this purchased Redemption. For as the guilt of the first mans transgression is derived unto us by the meanes of carnal! generation: so must the benefit of the second mans obedience be conveyed unto us by spirituall regeneration. And this must be laid downe as a most undoubted verity: that, except120 a man bee borne againe, hee cannot see the kingdome of God; and that every such must bee borne,121 not of bloud, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Now, as our Mediator in respect of the Adoption of Sonnes, which hee hath procured for us, is not ashamed to call us Brethren:122 so in respect of this new birth, whereby hee begetteth us to a spirituall and everlasting life, he disdaineth not to owne us as his Children. When thou123 shalt make his seed an offering for sinne, hee shall see his seed: saith the Prophet Esaias. A124 seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation: saith his Father David likewise of him. And he himselfe, of himselfe: Behold125 I, and the children which God hath given me. Whence the Apostle deduceth this conclusion: Forasmuch126 then as the children are partakers of flesh and bloud, he also himselfe likewise took part of the same. He himself, that is, he who was God equall to the Father: for who else was able to make this new127 creature, but the same God128 that is the Creator of all things? (no lesse power being requisite to the effecting of this, then was at the first to the producing of all things out of nothing:) and these new babes129 being to be born130 of the Spirit; who could have power to send the Spirit, thus to beget them, but the Father and the Son from whom hee proceeded? the same blessed Spirit, who framed the natural! body of our Lord in the womb of the Virgin, being to new mould and fashion every member of his mysticall body unto his similitude and likenesse.
For the further opening of which mystery (which went beyond the apprehension of Nicodemus,131 though a master of Israel) we are to consider; that in every perfect generation, the creature produced receiveth two things from him that doth beget it: Life and Likenesse. A curious Limmer draweth his own sons pourtraicture to the life (as we say:) yet because there is no true life in it, but a likenesse onely; bee cannot be said to be the begetter of his Picture, as he is of his Son. And some creatures there be that are bred out of mud or other putrid matter: which although they have life, yet because they have no correspondence in likenesse unto the principle from whence they were derived, are therefore accounted to have but an improper and equivocall generation. Whereas in the right and proper course of generation (others being esteemed but monstrous births that swarve from that rule) every creature begetteth his life:
óóónec imbellem feroces
Now touching our spirituall death and life, these sayings of the Apostle would be thought upon. We132 thus judge, that if one dyed for all, then were all dead: and that he dyed for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which dyed for them and rose again. God133 who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherwith he loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. And134 you being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses. I135 am crucified with Christ. Neverthelesse I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in mee: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Sonne of God, who loved mee and gave himselfe for me. From all which wee may easily gather, that if by the obedience and sufferings of a bare man, though never so perfect, the most soveraigne medicine that could be thought upon should have beene prepared for the curing of our wounds: yet all would bee to no purpose, wee being found dead, when the medicine did come to be applyed.
Our Physitian therefore must not onely bee able to restore us unto health, but unto life it selfe: which none can doe but the Father, Son, and holy Ghost; one God, blessed for ever. To which purpose, these passages of our Saviour also are to be considered. As136 the Father hath life in himselfe: so hath he given to the Son to have life in himselfe. As137the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. I 138 am the living bread, which came downe 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. The substance whereof is briefly comprehended in this saying of the Apostle: The139 last Adam was made a quickening spirit. An Adam therefore and perfect Man must he have been; that his flesh, given for us upon the Crosse, might be made the conduict to conveigh life unto the world: and a quickening spirit he could not have been, unlesse he were God, able to make that flesh an effectuall instrument of life by the operation of his blessed Spirit. For, as himselfe hath declared, It140 is the spirit that quickneth; without it, the flesh would profit nothing.
As for the point of similitude and likenesse: we reade of Adam, after his fall, that he begat141 a sonne in his own likenesse, after his image. and generally, as well touching the carnal! as the spirituall generation, our Savior hath taught us this lesson, That142 which is borne of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is borne of the spirit, is spirit. Whereupon the Apostle maketh this comparison betwixt those who are borne of that first man, who is of the earth earthy, and of the second man, who is the Lord from heaven. As143 is the earthy, such are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly: and as wee have borne the image of the earthy, wee shall also beare the image of the heavenly. We shall indeed hereafter beare it in full perfection: when the144 Lord Jesus Christ shall change our base body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body; according to the working, whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himselfe. Yet in the meane time also, such a conformity is required in us unto that heavenly man, that our145 conversation must be in heaven, whence we looke for this Saviour: and that we must put146 off, concerning the former conversation, that old man, which is corrupt according to the deceit full lusts, and bee renued in the spirit of our mind; and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousnesse and true holinesse. For as in one particular point of domesticall authority, the147 Man is said to be the image and glory of God, and the Woman the glory of the man: so in a more universall manner is Christ said to bee the148 image of God, even the149 brightnesse of his glory, and the expresse image of his person; and we to150 be conformed to his image, that he might be the first-borne among those many brethren, who in that respect are accounted the151 glory of Christ.
We read in the holy story, that God tooke152 of the spirit which was upon Moses, and gave it unto the seventy Elders; that they might beare the burden of the people with him, and that hee might not beare it, as before he had done, himselfe alone. It may be, his burden being thus lightned, the abilities that were left him for government were not altogether so great, as the necessity of his former imployment required them to have been: and in that regard, what was given to his assistants, might perhaps be said to be taken from him. But we are sure the case was otherwise in him of whom now we speake: unto whom God153 did not thus give the Spirit by measure. And therefore although so many millions of beleevers doe continually receive this supply154 of the Spirit of Jesus Christ; yet neither is that fountaine any way exhausted, nor the plenitude of that well-spring of grace any whit impaired or diminished: it being Gods pleasure That155 in him should all fulnesse dwell; and that of 156 his fulnesse all we should receive, grace for grace. That as in the naturall generation there is such a correspondence in all parts betwixt the begetter and the Infant begotten; that there is no member to be seen in the Father, but there is the like answerably to be found in the childe, although in a farre lesse proportion: so it falleth out in this spirituall, that for every grace which in a most eminent manner is found in Christ, a like grace will appeare in Gods Childe, although in a farre inferiour degree; similitudes and likenesses being defined by the Logicians to bee comparisons made in qualitie, and not in quantitie.
Wee are yet further to take it into our consideration, that by thus enlivening and fashioning us according to his owne image, Christs purpose was not to raise a seed unto himselfe, dispersedly and distractedly, but to gather157 together in one, the Children of God that were scattered abroad; yea and to bring158 all unto one head by himselfe, both them which are in Heaven and them which are on the Earth, that as in the Tabernacle, the159 vaile divided between the Holy place and the most Holy; but the curtaines which covered them both were so coupled together with the taches, that it might still be160 one Tabernacle: so the Church Militant and Triumphant, typified thereby, though distant as farre the one from the other as Heaven is from Earth, yet is made but one Tabernacle in Jesus Christ; in161 whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy Temple in the Lord, and in whom all of us are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The bond of this mysticall union betwixt Christ and us (as elsewhere162 hath more fully been declared) is on his part that quickening163 Spirit, which being in him as the Head, is from thence diffused to the spirituall animation of all his Members: and on our part Faith,164 which is the prime act of life wrought in those who are capable of understanding by that same Spirit. Both whereof must bee acknowledged to be of so high a nature, that none could possibly by such ligatures knit up so admirable a body, but hee that was God Almighty. And therefore although we did suppose such a man might be found who should performe the Law for us, suffer the death that was due to our offence and overcome it; yea and whose obedience and sufferings should be of such value, that it were sufficient for the redemption of the whole world: yet could it not be efficient to make us live by faith, unlesse that Man had been able to send Godís Spirit to apply the same unto us.
Which as no bare Man or any other Creature whatsoever can doe; so for Faith we are taught by S. Paul,165 that it is the operation of God, and a worke of his power, even of that same power wherewith Christ himselfe was raised from the dead. Which is the ground of that prayer of his, that the eyes166 of our understanding being enlightned, wee might know what is the exceeding greatnesse of his power to usward who beleeve; according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when hee raised him from the dead, and set him at his owne right hand in the heavenly places farre above all Principality, and power, and Might, and every Name that is named not onely in this world, but also in that to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fulnesse of him that filleth all in all.
Yet was it fit also, that this Head should bee of the same nature with the Body which is knit unto it: and therefore that he should so be God, as that bee might partake of our flesh likewise. For167 wee are members of his body, saith the same Apostle; of his flesh, and of his bones. And, except168 yee eate the flesh of the Son of man, saith our Saviour himselfe, and drinke his blood; yee have no life in you. Hee169 that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in mee, and I in him. Declaring thereby, first, that by this misticall and supernaturall union, wee are as truely conjoyned with him, as the meat and drinke wee take is with us; when by the ordinary worke of Nature, it is converted into our own substance. Secondly, that this conjunction is immediately made with his humane nature. Thirdly, that the Lambe170 slaine, that is, Christ171 crucified, hath by that death of his, made his flesh broken, and his blood powred out for us upon the Crosse, to bee fit food for the spiritual! nourishment of our soules; and the very well-spring from whence, by the power of his Godhead, all life and grace is derived unto us.
Upon this ground it is, that the Apostle telleth us, that wee have172 boldnesse to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus; by a new and living way which hee hath consecrated for us, through the vaile, that is to say, his flesh. That as in the Tabernacle, there was no passing from the Holy to the most Holy place, but by the vaile: so now there is no passage to bee looked for from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant, but by the flesh of him, who hath said of himself; I 173 am the way, the truth and the life, no man commeth unto the Father but by mee. Jacob in his dream beheld a174 ladder set upon the Earth, the top whereof reached to Heaven, and the Angels of God ascending and descending on it, the Lord himselfe standing above it. Of which vision none can give a better interpretation than bee, who was prefigured therein, gave unto Nathaneel. Hereafter175 you shall see heaven opened, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. Whence wee may well collect, that the onely meanes whereby God standing above and his Israel lying here below are conjoyned together, and the onely ladder whereby Heaven may be scaled by us, is the Sonne of man. the type of whose flesh, the vaile, was therefore commanded to be made176 with Cherubims; to shew that we come to177 an innumerable company of Angels, when we come to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Testament: who as the head of the Church hath power to send178 forth all those ministring spirits, to minister for them who shall be Heires of salvation.
Lastly, we are to take into our consideration, that as in things concerning God, the maine execution of our Saviours Priesthood doth consist; so in things concerning man, hee exerciseth both his Propheticall office, whereby hee openeth the will of his Father unto us, and his Kingly, whereby he ruleth and protecteth us. It was indeed a part of the Priests office in the Old Testament,179 to instruct the people in the Law of God, and yet were they180 distinguished from Prophets: like as in the New Testament also, Prophets181 as well as Apostles, are made a different degree from ordinary Pastours and Teachers, who received not their doctrine by immediate inspiration from Heaven; as those other Holy182 men of God did, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Whence S. Paul putteth the Hebrewes in minde, that God183 who in sundry parts and in sundry manners spoke in time past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last dayes spoken unto us by his Son Christ Jesus: whom therefore he stileth the184 Apostle, as well as the High Priest of our profession; who was faithfull to him that appointed him, even as Moses was in all his house.
Now Moses, wee know, had a singular preheminence above all the rest of the Prophets: according to that ample testimony which God himselfe giveth of him. If 185 there bee a Prophet among you, I the Lord will make my selfe knowne unto him in a vision, and will speake unto him in a dreame. My servant Moses is not so, who is faith full in all mine house: with him will I speake mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in darke speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall hee behold. And therefore wee finde, that our Mediatour in the execution of his Propheticall office is in a more peculiar manner likened unto Moses: which hee himselfe also did thus foretell. The186 Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy Brethren, like unto me; and unto him yee shall hearken. According to all that thou desirest of the Lord thy God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, saying, Let mee not heare againe the voyce of the Lord my God; neither let me see this great fire any more, that I dye not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken, that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to passe, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which hee shall speak in my Name, I will require it of him.
Our Prophet therefore must be a Man raised from among his Brethren the Israelites, (of 187 whom, as concerning the flesh, he came) who was to performe unto us, that which the Fathers requested of Moses: Speake188 thou to us and we will heare; but let not God speak with us, lest we dye. And yet (that in this also we may see, how our Mediator had the preheminence) when Aaron,189 and all the children of Israel were to receive from the mouth of Moses all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai, they were afraid to come nigh him, by reason of the glory of his shining countenance: so that he was fame to put a vaile over his face, while he spake unto them that which he was commanded. But that which for a time was thus made190 glorious, had no glory in respect of the glorie that excelleth; and both the glory thereof, and the vaile which covered it, are now abolished in Christ: the vaile of whose flesh doth so overshadow the191 brightnesse of his glorie, that yet under it we may behold192 his glory, as the glory of the onely begotten of the Father; yea, and we193 all with open face, beholding as in a glasse the glorie of the Lord, are changed into the same Image, from glorie to glorie, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
And this is daily effected by the power of the Ministery of the Gospel, instituted by the authority, and seconded by the power, of this our great Prophet: whose transcendent excellency beyond Moses (unto whom, in the execution of that function he was otherwise likened) is thus set forth by the Apostle. He is counted194 worthy of more glory then Moses, in as much as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some one: but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faith full in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after: but Christ, as the Sonne, over his owne house. This house of God is no other then the195 Church of the living God: whereof as hee is the onely Lord, so is he also properly the onely Builder. Christ therefore being both the Lord and the Builder196 of his Church, must bee God as well as Man: which is the cause, why wee finde all the severall mansions of this great197 house to carry the title indifferently of the Churches198 of God, and the Churches199 of Christ.
True it is, that there are other ministeriall builders, whom Christ employeth in that service: this being not the least of those gifts which hee bestowed upon men at his triumphant ascension into Heaven, that he gave not onely ordinary Pastours200 and Teachers, but Apostles likewise, and Prophets, and Evangelists; for the perfecting of the Saints, for the worke of the ministerie, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Which, what great power it required, he himself doth fully express in passing the grant of this high Commission unto his Apostles. All201 power is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth. Goe yee therefore and teach all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the World. Amen.
S. Paul professeth of himselfe, that he laboured202 more abundantly then all the rest of the Apostles: yet not I, saith he, but the grace of God which was with me. And therefore although according203 to that grace of God which was given unto him, he denyeth not but that, as a wise Master-builder, he had laid the foundation; yet hee acknowledgeth that they upon whom he had wrought, were Gods building, as well as Gods husbandrie. For who, saith hee,204 is Paul, and who is Apollo, but Ministers by whom you beleeved, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollo watered: but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth: but God that giveth the encrease.
Two things therefore we finde in our great Prophet, which doe farre exceed the ability of any bare Man; and so doe difference him from all the Holy205 Prophets, which have been since the world began. For first, we are taught; that no206 man knoweth the Father, save the Sonne, and he to whomsoever the Sonne will reveale him: and that no207 man hath seen God at any time; but the onely begotten Son, which is in the bosome of the Father, he hath declared him. Being in his bosome, he is become conscious of his secrets, and so out of his owne immediate knowledge, inabled to discover the whole will of his Father unto us. whereas all other Prophets and Apostles receive their revelations at the second hand, and according to the grace given unto them by the Spirit of Christ. Witnesse that place of S. Peter, for the Prophets: Of 208 which salvation the Prophets have enquired, and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what or what manner of time THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST WHICH WAS IN THEM did signifie, when it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, and for the Apostles, those heavenly words which our Saviour himself uttered unto them, whilst he was among them. When209 the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for hee shall not speak of himselfe, but whatsoever he shall heare, that shall he speake; and he will skew you things to come. He shall glorifie me: for he shall receive of mine, and shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath, are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall skew it unto you.
Secondly, all other Prophets and Apostles can doe no more (as hath beene said) but plant and water; onely God can give the increase: they may teach indeed and baptize; but unlesse Christ were with them by the powerfull presence of his Spirit, they would not bee able to save one soule by that ministerie of theirs. Wee210 as lively stones, are built up a spirituall house: but, except211 the Lord doe build this house, they labour in vaine that build it. For who is able to breathe the spirit of life into those dead stones, but he, of whom it is written; The212 houre is coming, and now is, when the dead shall heare the voice of the Son of God; and they that heare it shall live, and againe: Awake213 thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead; and Christ shall give thee light. Who can awake us out of this dead sleep, and give light unto these blinde eyes of ours; but the Lord our God, unto whom we pray, that he would lighten214 our eyes, lest we sleep the sleep of death.
And as a blinde man is not able to conceive the distinction of colours, although the skilfullest man alive should use all the art he had to teach him; because he wanteth the sence whereby that object is discernable: so the215 naturall man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God (for they are foolishnesse unto him;) neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Whereupon the Apostle concludeth, concerning himselfe and all his fellow-labourers, that God216 who commanded the light to shine out of darknesse, hath shined in our hearts; to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ: but we have this treasure in earthen vessels; that the excellency of the power may bee of God, and not of us. Our Mediatour therefore (who must be217 able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him) may not want the excellency of the power, whereby hoe may make us capable of this high knowledge of the things of God, propounded unto us by the ministry of his servants: and consequently, in this request also, must be God as well as Man.
There remaineth the Kingdome of our Redeemer: described thus by the prophet Esay. Of 218 the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his Kingdome; to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice, from henceforth even for ever, and by Daniel: Behold,219 one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of dayes; and they brought him near before him. And there was given him Dominion, and Glory, and a Kingdome, that all People, Nations and Languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not passe away; and his kingdome that which shall not be destroyed. and by the Angell Gabriel, in his ambassage to the blessed Virgin. Behold,220 thou shalt conceive in thy wombe, and bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give him the Throne of his Father David. And he shall reigne over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdome there shall bee no end.
This is that new David221 our King, whom God hath raised up unto his owne Israel:222 who was in Truth, that which Hee was called; the Son of Man, and the Son of the Highest. That in the one respect, we223 may say unto him, as the Israelites of old did unto their David; Behold,224 we are thy bone and thy flesh: and in the other, sing of him as David himselfe did; The225 Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, untill I make thine enemies thy foot-stoole. So that the promise made unto our first Parents, that the226 seed of the Woman should bruise the Serpents head, may well stand with that other saying of Saint Paul; that the227 God of peace shall bruise Satan under our feet. Seeing for this very purpose228 the Son of God was manifested in the flesh, that229 he might destroy the works of the Devill. And still that foundation of God will remaine unshaken: I 230 even I am the Lord, and beside me there is no Saviour. Thou231 shalt know no God but me: for there is no Saviour beside me.
Two speciall branches there be of this Kingdome of our Lord and Saviour: the one of Grace, whereby that part of the Church is governed which is Militant upon Earth; the other of Glory, belonging to that part which is Triumphant in Heaven. Here up on Earth, as by his Propheticall Office he worketh upon our Minde and Understanding, so by his Kingly, he ruleth our Will and Affections; casting232 downe imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itselfe against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Where, as we must needs acknowledge, that it233 is GOD which worketh in us both to will and to doe, and that it is he which sanctifieth234 us wholly: so are we taught likewise to beleeve, that both235 he who sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one, namely of one and the selfsame nature; that the sanctifier might not be ashamed to call those, who are sanctified by him, his brethren, that as their nature was corrupted, and their bloud tainted in the first Adam, so it might be restored again in the second Adam; and that as from the one a corrupt, so from the other a pure and undefiled nature might be transmitted unto the heirs of salvation.
The same God236 that giveth grace, is he also that giveth glory: yet so, that the streames of both of them must run to us through the golden pipe of our Saviours humanity. For237 since by man came death; it was fit that by man also should come the resurrection of the dead. Even by that man, who hath said: Who238 so eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternall life; and I will raise him up at the last day. Who then, shall come239 to be glorified in his Saints, and to be made marvellous in all them that beleeve: and shall change240 this base body of ours, that it may be fashioned like unto his owne glorious body; according to the working, whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himselfe. Unto him therefore that hath thus loved241 us, and washed us from our sins in his owne bloud, and hath made us Kings and Priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, AMEN.
I COUNT ALL THINGS BUT LOSSE, FOR
Though not a Puritan as such, James Ussher was a Calvinist and the Puritans esteemed him highly. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, and educated at Trinity College, being one of its first students. Ordained in 1601, he became chancellor of St. Patrickís in 1603. In 1607 he was appointed professor of divinity at Trinity College, and eight years later he became vice chancellor of the University of Dublin. He continued to rise, becoming bishop of Meath (1620), then privy councilor for Ireland (1623), and finally archbishop and primate of Armagh (1625).
Conflicts stemming from the war between Charles I and Parliament forced Ussher to leave Ireland in 1640, and he became a preacher at Lincolnís Inn. This unusual man retained the favor of both the High Church advocates (because he supported the episcopacy and the king) and the Puritans (Cromwell admired him for his learning and Calvinism). He declined a professorship at the University of Leyden, Holland, and spent his last years with the family of Lady Peterborough at Reigate, where he died on 21 March 1656.
His Annales Vetes et Novi Testamentae (1650-1654) established him as a Biblical scholar and chronologist. Though outdated now, his chronology was adopted by the King James Version of the Bible. He also produced Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates (1639), De Graeca LXX Versione Syntagma (1652), An Answer to a Jesuit in Ireland (1624), and many other historical and theological works. C. R. Elrington and J. H. Todd edited The Whole Works of the Most Rev. James Ussher, D.D., a seventeen-volume work published 1847-1864.
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