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“ the children of Israel, and will be their God.”b And Jehovah himself marched in the ark, in the sight of the people, to search out a resting-place for them. 2dly, Besides that symbolical presence, he showed that he was near them, by his special favour and liberality, and by his readiness to succour them in every time of need; of which we read in the following passages : “ Is not the Lord in Zion ? Is not her King in her ?"d “ God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved." “ Thy paths drop fatness.”f 3dly, The above promise, however, was most signally accomplished, when, he prepared for himself a human body, and graciously visited his people, walking among them through the land of Israel. In reference to this visit it is said; “ Sing " and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for, lo! I come, and “ I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.” Zacharias also says with respect to it; “ The day-spring “ from on high hath visited us ;'h and John,—“ The “ word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."i The meaning of the Greek expression is, he conversed among us in the flesh, as in his own habitation or tabernacle, just as the Divine Shechinah dwelt of old in the temple. This mystery was called by the Fathers, his coming in the flesh.* And since it is the foundation of our hope, and the source of all our joy, it becomes us to consider it with close attention.
11. Long before the incarnation took place, various preludes of it were exhibited to the ancient Church. There were symbols, amongst which the most remarkable was the ark of the covenant; of which the gold signified the eternity, glory, and dignity of the Divine nature of Christ, and the wood prefigured the meanness of the human nature, in reference to which he is called “ the fruit of the earth.”j There were also extatic visions, such as those with which Ezekiel,k and Daniel, were honoured ; in which God presented himself to view in a human, but an uncommonly splendid form; not to give occasion of sinning to Anthropomorphites,* and Iconoplasts,t but to exhibit in a prophetic figure the mystery of the wonderful incarnation. It was adumbrated, in particular, by those appearances of God to Abraham and others, in which, having assumed the form of the human nature, he was seen by them face to face, hospitably received, and entertained at their table. To this the following words of our Lord may be applied : “ Your father Abraham rejoiced to “ see my day, and he saw it and was glad.”m « The “ day of the Lord,” is his coming in the flesh." Abraham, having received a promise of that day, earnestly desired to see it : and this desire he, in some respects, obtained. He not only contemplated the incarnate Jehovah, and made him in a manner present, by the eye of faith ; but also beheld him at hand, eating, drinking, and conversing familiarly with him, in that human form which he condescended to assume. The Messiah appeared in like manner to Jacob in the similitude of a
• Ενσαρκος επιδημία.
d Jer. yüi. 19.
• Heretics who attributed a human shape to God. T.
k Ezek. i. 26. I Dan. vii. 13.
m John viii. 56. n Mal. iv. 5.
man wrestling with him;" to Joshua in the form of an armed man ;P to Gideon under an oak in Ophrah ;4 and to Manoah and his wife. These appearances paved the way for the prophecy : “ Thy watchmen lift up the “ voice, with the voice together do they sing; for they “ behold before their eyes ;' that is, they behold him " that speaks, saying, Behold it is I.”+1
ul. We, however, to whom the matter is related as a fact which has actually taken place, are bound to examine it more distinctly. We may refer what concerns it to four heads. 1. The SUBJECT of the incarnation. 11. Its MODE. III. Its CAUSE. Iv. The FRUIT and benefit arising from it.
iv. The Subject of the incarnation, or he who became man, is not the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, but the Son alone. “ The Word was made flesh.”u “God "sent forth his Son, made of a woman. “ Jesus Christ " is come in the flesh.”w Although the essence and operation of the three persons in the godhead are the same, the flesh was not assumed by the divine essence, but by a certain person. It was at least assumed by the divine ensonce, only as it is characterised, and, so to speak, restrictod, in the person of the Son. Neither the father, nor the Holy Spirit, indeed, was unconcurned in the incarnation of the Son. The glory of the wholo adorablo Trinity is displayed in the human nature of Christ. But though the Father is in the
Son, he is not therefore incarnate with the Son; he is only in his incarnate Son.A body was formed to be the future residence of the Deity, by that will which is common to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. But whilst it was determined by the will of the Father and the Holy Spirit that that body should belong to the Son, the Son, by the same will, determined that it should be his own; and thus by the united consent of all the Three, it could be the body of none but the Son.
V. As to the question, Why the Son, and not the Father or the Spirit, assumed the human nature, it cannot be answered in a more satisfactory manner than by resolving it into the good pleasure of the Divine counsel, which is always distinguished by the most consummate wisdom. Yet, in consequence of the manifestation of that counsel to us in the Gospel, faith observes without difficulty, that it is most suitable to the Divine perfections, and most worthy of them. It is proper, in particular, Ist, That man should be regenerated and created anew,a by the same person by whom he was created at first.b 2dly, That he who is the personal Word of God, should publish to us those words of God in which he promised to address us in the last days, and which none but the Lord could speak.d 3dly, That he who is the Son of God by nature, should make us the sons of God by grace. 4thly, That the glorious image of God should be restored within us by him who is “the image” of the Father, and “the express image " of his person.”' In fine, the unbounded love of the Father could not be more brightly demonstrated, than by giving his only-begotten Son to us, and for us.s
John xiv. 10.
z Heb. X. 5.
vl. With respect to the Mode of the incarnation, let us, in the first place, attend to its truth. The Son of God did not become man merely in appearance, but in reality. He had all the essential parts of a man,a soul, and a body,j which is expressly opposed to a phantom and spectre; and the faculties and affections of each,-in body, extension and palpability, and increase of stature-in soul, a finite and limited understanding, and a will distinct from the Divine will." He had also experience of hunger, of thirst, and of sorrow, which expressed itself by tears. In short, the Son of man came eating and drinking, and was found in fashion as a man."
VII. Further, the incarnation of the Son of God was effected, 1st, Not by a change of the Divinity into humanity, for it is altogether incapable of change. Most absurdly have some inconsiderate men restricted this perfection to the Deity of the Father: for the Divine nature is one only; immutability is clearly ascribed to God the Son;" and even after becoming man, he continued God.: 2dly, Not by the confounding of both natures into one; for in Christ each nature remains dis. tinct, and has its own distinct properties.y 3dly, Not
8 John iii. 16.
h Heb. ï. 14, 17.
I Luke xxiv. 39.
Luke ü. 52. Mark xüi. 32. • Mat. xxvi. 39.
P Mat. iv. 2.
I Mat. xxvi. 37.
"Mal. iii. 6. James i. 17.