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way, not by removing guilt, which is done by his sufferings, but by supplying the want of an unble"mished righteousness, which both the perfect justice "of God and the condition of obtaining eternal life re"quire from us; as our Catechism rightly teaches in "the answer to the thirty-sixth Question." I do not dissemble, that the accurate Gomar distinctly ascribes the removal of the guilt of original sin to our Lord's sufferings. Yet to cover sin, which Gomar, after the Catechism, refers to the original righteousness of Christ, is to forgive it. To forgive, is to remove guilt. In popular language, too, that which supplies the want of original righteousness, removes, at the same time, the guilt of original sin. If we are truly willing, in fine, with the celebrated Gomar, to speak correctly, we shall say, that the immaculate nativity of Christ did not take place without an emptying of himself, in which suffering is involved. Cloppenburg also contends for the same opinion in the following words: "We have said, "too, that this holiness of the human nature, which "was perfect from its conception, and exactly holy according to the divine law, interposes, by its merit, "betwixt an offended and infinitely holy God, and "sinful man, alienated from the life of God.
For it appears that it is not without respect to this inherent "holiness of Christ's conception and birth, which is "the primary part, and the foundation, of his whole righteousness, that the Scripture pronounces the following propositions: that he is made of God to us righteousness;'" and that we have put on Christ ;'
Disput. xxvi. Sect. 16. He expresses the same sentiments Disput. xxv. Sect. 22.
"so that we are one in him,' that is, one new man."p And after exhibiting the words of the Catechism at the thirty-sixth Question, he adds the following remark: "This answer is either not adapted to the Question, or "it speaks of the holiness of the conception and birth " of Christ. The latter supposition is most conform"able to truth."*
XLII. These sentiments in no degree preclude the necessity of the death of Christ in order to the expiation of sin, as well original as actual; which the Catechism elsewhere inculcates, and which we also devoutly maintain. We by no means intend, that this holy conception and nativity of Christ can suffice to cover the impurity of our nature, separately from the other parts of his obedience and righteousness. But we consider it as the first part of the entire righteousness of Christ; the efficacy of which, (if all the parts of the righteousness of Christ may be contrasted with the different parts of our misery,) ought to be referred immediately to our original sin, and to the supply of our want of original righteousness.
XLIII. Without doubt, we should intermeddle preposterously with these sacred mysteries of Christian philosophy, were we not by pious and holy meditations to turn them to our own benefit, and to the glory of God in Christ. And, in the first place, we hence learn in general the divinity of our holy religion, which alone shows us that Mediator between God and sinners, in whom the conscience oppressed with the weight of its iniquities, and exhausted by the vain pursuit of remedies in other quarters, may acquiesce with security and pleasure. What human or angelical sagacity could
* De Instaurat. Hom. laps. Disput, iii. sect. 20.
have been able to discover things so hidden, so sublime, and so far surpassing the grasp of all creatures;-that the eternal Son of God should be born in time and become man, that he might be in condition to fulfil the law which was given to men, and, as their Surety, to undergo the punishment due to the offences of men ;that he should even become one of mankind, that he might love and redeem them as his brethren and kinsmen;-yet born of a virgin, who knew no man, that he might contract nothing of that filth of human depravity, which is communicated by ordinary generation to posterity! How adorable do the wisdom, the holiness, the truth, the goodness, and the philanthropy of God appear, in devising, admitting, providing, and perfecting this method of our recovery! How do these mysteries satisfy the soul, thirsting after salvation, yet justly despairing of relief from all that could be done by itself, or by any other amongst men or angels! Here, here, at last, it perceives, what is to be found no where else in heaven or in earth, a way of reconciliation worthy of the perfections of the Deity, and safe for man. These, these are the tremendous mysteries of Christianity, which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and which "have not entered into the heart of man ;" which were
kept secret since the world began, but now are made "manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, ac"cording to the commandment of the everlasting God, "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith."r
XLIV. In the second place, we ought to be dissolved in this unbounded love of Christ towards us. Who doubts that the excellence of the human race, even when the comparison is most favourably made, must yield to
9 1 Cor. ii. 19.
r Rom. xvi. 25, 26.
the dignity of celestial spirits. But, behold, angels sinned, and man, in like manner, sinned. Yet God, whilst he leaves angels to suffer the punishment due to their transgression, and consigns them to eternal misery, has compassion upon men, and that he may show them his compassion, becomes a partaker of the same nature with them. For he took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham. How great the height of love in this humiliation of Christ! The ill-advised inhabitants of Lystra of old, indulged in a tumultuous joy, when they beheld the miracles of Paul and Barnabas. "The Gods," said they, "are
come down to us in the likeness of men." What they rashly presumed, we may truly affirm,-that God has made a visit to us from heaven in the form of a man, praising him in these words, "What is man that "thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that "thou visitest him ?" Is it not the most incredible of all miracles, that the eternal Son of God, the Lord of glory, veiling the rays of his majesty, became a creature; -and among creatures, not one of the seraphim or cherubim, but a man (and how little is man to be accounted of!) and among men, not a king or a monarch, but "a servant of rulers." Truly he was pleased to converse familiarly with us, and to live in a condition which might obtain for us the name of brethren. "In "all things" he was "made like unto us, that he might "be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins " of the people." w "For we have not an High-priest
"who cannot be touched with the feeling of our in"firmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."x In short, he submitted to the lowest degree of our vileness, that he might exalt us above the rank of men, and make us partakers of his own, that is, of "a divine nature." O compassion! O almost incredible vehemence of love! O how far doth this love exceed the tenderness of a brother's or a father's affection! With what emotions of gratitude wilt thou be acknowledged! With what returns of love wilt thou be recompensed! What heart is so cold and frozen as not to be dissolved, warmed, and kindled into flames, by the ardours of so boundless a love!
XLV. It must, however, be observed, further, that if we wish to have a solid foundation for our joy in the incarnation of Christ, it is necessary that the same person who was once fashioned in the womb of the Virgin after the likeness of a man, be formed also in our hearts, that he live there, that he be nourished there, that he grow up there "unto a perfect man, unto the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."a Since he was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, it is not for us to pretend to be his brethren, unless we give evidence by a holy course of life, that we are renewed by the same Spirit after the image of God. And as he would not be conceived by any but a virgin, we too must embrace him with a pure and chaste mind, which detests every appearance of a whorish attachment to the world, and is animated with a virgin love to God alone.
XLVI. In fine, as at his birth, choirs of heavenly
* Heb. iv. 15.
• Gal. iv. 19.
y 2 Pet. i. 4.
■ Ephes. iv. 13.