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no sin, Christ would not have come in the flesh; in the prevision of His Conception was included the prevision of His Cross. Against this Duns Scotus urges, that His human nature was predestined antecedently to the Fall, and was the model on which ours was formed; and that Christ would, in any case, have come to be the Second Adam and Head of the
mystical body. He considers this view most congruous to the honour of God; most accordant with the testimony of Scripture, especially in such passages as the first chapters of the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians; and not inconsistent with the language of the Fathers, who need not mean more, when they seem to contradict it, than that Christ would not have come in a passible body, if we had not sinned.
To enter on a detailed discussion of the scriptural argument would be out of place here. It is sufficient to observe, that the line of interpretation suggested by Scotus certainly opens out to us a deeper meaning in many passages of Holy Writ, both in the Old and New Testament; while such statements as that of our Lord Himself, that He is come “to seek and to save that which is lost," and the noble supplication of the hymn founded upon it,' miss none of their constraining force, even if it be true that He would have come to be our Brother, though we had needed no redemption. As
Joann. Duns Scoti Summa, Pars III. Quæst. i. Art. 3. (Opp. tom. iv. Rome, 1737). Recordare, Jesu pie,
"Quærens me sedisti lassus,
Redemisti crucem passus ;
Tantus labor non sit cassus.”
regards the Fathers, an opinion has already been expressed, that the Scotist view of the Incarnation is most consistent with the general spirit of their teaching; but the question never came directly before them for adjudication. The greater number of passages quoted by advocates of the opposite side, such as Thomassin and Petavius, though not all of them, may be understood as stating the purposes for which Christ actually did come, after we had fallen, or as referring to the altered conditions under which He came, in a passible and corruptible body, or as meaning that but for our sins He would not have died on the Cross, Neither, indeed, if it could be shown that some or most of the Fathers express or imply the reverse of an opinion, which in their day had never been put forward, would it at all follow that the opinion was not in fact a legitimate development of their belief. What is certain is, that they attach to the sacrament' or 'economy' of the Incarnation, considered in itself and apart from the Passion, a significance quite disproportionate to what it bears in many later schemes of doc. trine. And more, while most of them regard the death of Christ as a ransom paid to Satan; none hold such a payment to have been necessary for our redemption. The Anselmic notion of its exclusive, or almost exclusive object being the discharge of a debt to God, incurred by sin, and still more the Lutheran
| This seems also to meet the argument sometimes drawn from such passages as John iii. 16; Gal. iv. 4, 5; and the “propter nostram salutem” of the Nicene Creed. See especially, on the other hand, Col. i. 15—20 : Epli. i. 10.
idea of a literal punishment of our sins inflicted vicariously by the Father on His spotless Son, are foreign to their whole habit of thought. On the contrary, their way of looking at the matter seems to imply a belief, that in any case the predestined method for perfecting our nature, and bringing us into full communion with God, was the Incarnation of His Son. We have seen, again, how some of the greatest Fathers, like St. Augustine, are specially carefully to point out the priority of the idea of sacrifice to the idea of sin, and in this they are followed by later Catholic divines. Sacrifice is the spontaneous expression of the homage due from the creature to his Creator, and the purest Heathen sacrifices were those which simply expressed this idea. “All devotional feeling,” it has been truly said, “requires sacrificial expression.” Sin impressed on it, as on all human acts of devotion, an additional character of reparation. But from the beginning it was not so. If man had never fallen, the most perfect sacrifice would still have been offered to the Eternal Father in the human life, though not in the death, of Jesus; for it is the will that consecrates the outward act. Oblatus est quia Ipse voluit. To repeat once more the memorable words of St. Bernard, Non mors sed voluntas sponte morientis placuit. Without the Fall there would have been no Passion; perhaps, but only perhaps, there would have been no Eucharist. The earliest recorded type of Holy Communion is the tree of life in Paradise, the great prefigurement of the Christian sacrifice is the bloodless offering of Mel
chisedec, and that was not a sacrifice for sin. It is anyhow beyond dispute, that the Incarnation need not presuppose the Fall.
A few words will suffice to indicate the bearing of the Scotist theory-which, though by no means universally accepted, has obtained the general suffrage of the later Church-on our way of regarding the Atonement. The very
title of the Cur Deus Homo loses its meaning in the sense in which the author applied it. Theories about ransom and satisfaction, though not therefore rejected, sink into subordination to a higher truth, when the Incarnation is no longer looked upon as a merciful after-thought, to remedy man's corruption and make reparation to the wounded majesty of God, but as the fulfilment of an eternal purpose, modified indeed, but only modified, by sin into a deeper act of love. Bethlehem and Calvary are transfigured with a more exceeding brightuess, yet the brightness of a sunshine all our own, when they are seen to reveal, under the conditions of time and the pathetic incidents suited to our fallen state, the unutterable yearning of a Love which knows no change, to win our hearts, and make our natures His.
The full extent of the difference between these two theories did not, as has already been remarked, make itself felt at once. We sometimes find St. Thomas using language that would seem rather to belong to the opposite school,' nor is it to be imagined that so
I Thus, e.g.
he calls our Lord, "similitudo exemplaris totius naturæ.” Summa, Pars III. Quæst. i. Art. 8.
great a mind as his would rest in
exclusive system. In their view of the satisfaction of Christ the Nominalists and Franciscans for the most part followed Duns Scotus, while the Dominicans naturally ranged themselves under the banners of Aquinas, but not without exceptions or modifications on either side. Thus the Dominican, Durandus of St. Pacian, denies that Christ satisfied in strict rigour of justice, because all He had, as Man, was already owed to God; Raymund Lully, the Franciscan, goes beyond or rather against Scotus, in maintaining the necessity of the Incarnation, assuming the creation of man, as the perfection and crown of human nature. But we need not examine in detail the later Scholastic writers, who add little new to what the great masters had said before them. It is worth while to observe that Wicliffe, the precursor of the Reformation, recurred to the Anselmic view of an absolute necessity for the Incarnation, as the only adequate satisfaction for Adam's sin, though his argument differs in some respects from that of the Cur Deus Homo. He gives a strange reason why Satan cannot be saved. As it was needful for the Second Person of the Trinity to be incarnated for man's redemption, who had sinned against the Wisdom of God, the Third Person must have been incarnated for the redemption of Satan, who had sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is therefore unpardonable, because no such Incarnation can possibly take place!
! John Wicliffe Trialog. iii. 24, 25. De Inc. et Morte Christi. He considers all God's external operations, and the Incarnation among them, absolutely necessary