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In most of the predictions concerning him, these two natures are distinctly recognised. “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son;" here is his humanity: “ His name shall be called Emmanuel," "God with us;" here is his divinity. “ Unto us a Son is born; unto us a Child is given;" here is his humanity: “ The government shall be laid upon his shoulder; he shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;" here is his divinity. It would be easy to collect numberless similar passages. In the New Testament also, many texts unite both natures. “The holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh.” “God manifest in the flesh.” Your own knowledge of the scriptures will supply you with numerous passages of the same import.
An examination of every part of our Saviour's life presents us with the two natures. In his birth we see a man, laid in the manger, and persecuted by Herod;
, and a God whom the angels celebrate, and the magi adore. In his baptism we perceive a man who submits to this ceremony from John, and a God declared by the voice from heaven. In the ship we behold a man overwhelmed with sleep, and a God whom the winds and waves obey. At the tomb of Lazarus, we contemplate a man who weeps, and a God who by his voice restores life, and wrests from death its prey. On the cross we view a man who dies, and a God who confers heaven on the penitent thief. Every where, in short, we behold in the incarnate Son the perfect union of the two natures.
His mediatorial office rendered it necessary that he should be both God and man. It was necessary
that he should be God, that he might be possessed of power sufficient to save us. None but an almighty arm could remove the obstructions to our felicity; could subdue our spiritual enemies; could vanquish the powers of hell, and abolish death in our behalf. It was necessary that he should be God, that from the dignity of his person his merits might be infinite; adequate to conciliate the favour of God to us, to appease his wrath against us, to satisfy his justice which was kindled against us, and to magnify his law, the curses of which impended over our heads. It was necessary that he should be God, that his laws should have supreme authority, his doctrine the greatest efficacy and obligation, and his example the strongest weight and certainty. It was necessary that he should be God, because the redemption and salvation of mankind was not only a work too difficult to be achieved by any creature, but also an honour too great to be conferred on any except a God.
It was also requisite that he should be man, that he might give us an example of the virtues we must practise; that he might be offered up as a victim for our sins; that in the nature which had transgressed, an atonement might be made; that we might have a familiar and confident access to him; that from his resurrection we might be assured of our own. I do not enlarge on this point. Do you yourselves review every part of his mediatorial office, and you will see new reasons why it was proper he should be both God and man.
But, in what manner were these two natures united in him? Here we must confess our ignorance. No human language can clearly express the nature of this mysterious union; no human mind can properly conceive it. All that we can do is to show what opi
nions concerning it are to be rejected, because they are inconsistent with scripture, or the nature of things. This union then is not merely the concurrence of the divinity and humanity for the production of the same work, in the same manner as many causes may concur for the production of the same effect. This was the error of Nestorius, who taught that in one Christ there were not only two natures, but also two persons, who were associated together by a common unction, and concurred in the work of redemption. But this sentiment is opposed by the terms in which the scriptures speak of the incarnation. They tell us, not that the Word was associated with the flesh, but “ was made flesh;" that “God sent forth his Son made of a woman;" that the same Son, who was “the brightness of his Father's glory," by himself purged our sins. All those passages too in which the actions, properties, and sufferings of one nature are ascribed to the other, prove the unity of person in Christ. Were there two persons, this mode of speaking, so frequent in the scriptures, would be improper and absurd. This union was made in such a manner that the two natures were not mingled with each other; it did not resemble the union of two substances, forming a third substance distinct in properties from them both. For if this were the case, Christ would have been neither God nor man; which is not only a dangerous error, but also an impossibility. The two natures, though in union, subsist distinct and entire, each preserving its essential properties. This union was not made in such a manner as to change one nature into another. This is impossible and inconceivable. The eternal God cannot become temporary; the infinite Jehovah cannot be circumscribed by limits. Neither on the other hand can a corporeal substance be changed into a spiritual one, a finite into an infinite. These three errors being rejected, all that we can positively say on this point is, That the eternal and ever blessed Son of God did, in the fulness of time, assume a human nature, with all its innocent passions, affections, and infirmities, into union with his divinity, so that these two natures formed but one person.
There are many who have gone further, and traced resemblances of this union in nature. These resemblances are all of them imperfect. There is nothing in the whole frame of nature which can fully parallel this mystery. Nevertheless, the union of our soul and body in one person in some degree illustrates it. These two substances are different in kind, in properties, in dignity; the one of itself material, divi
' sible, corruptible, and senseless: the other immaterial, indivisible, incorruptible, endued with life, knowledge, and feeling: and both of them capable of a separate existence. Yet these two are united in a manner impossible for us to conceive, and concur to form a man. In their union they remain distinct in substance, each of them retaining its peculiar properties, without any confusion, or change of one into the other; and from them the same man is termed corporeal or spiritual, mortal or immortal. In like manner, though in a degree still more wonderful, the divine and human natures are conjoined in one Christ.
I feel, my brethren, that I express myself most imperfectly on this abstruse subject. I feel that there are obscurities in this subject which cannot be dispelled. But what then?
But what then? Shall we reject the doctrine, because in some respects it is incomprehensible? Cannot infinite wisdom, sustained by infinite power, perform any thing beyond the comprehension of weak mortals? Does not reason itself teach us that it is probable, that in beings so highly elevated above us there may be modes of existence and action, unions and distinctions, to conceive of which our apprehensions may be too coarse, and to express which our language may be totally inadequate? You might have some shadow of reason to reject a doctrine because it was incomprehensible, if your faculties were so perfect and extensive as to pierce into the essences of things, and combine in your mind the past, the present, and the future. But that you, the child of darkness, the insect of a day, who can behold only some rude effects of things, while their essences remain hidden from you in inaccessible darkness; that you, who cannot pierce into the nature of a pebble, who are baffled in your philosophy about a gnat, or a worm, that you should vainly debate concerning the profoundest mysteries of God, and arrogantly reject what you cannot perfectly understand : what despicable folly! what impious pride! Do you say, (for some persons have dared to say it,) that this doctrine is not only incomprehensible, but also contradictory? Prove your assertion, and we will reject it; for though Christianity requires us to believe on the testimony of an unerring God things that are above our reason, it never requires of us an assent to things contrary to reason. It would be a contradiction, if we said that Jesus Christ is God in the same respect that he is man, and man in the same respect that he is God. But we say that he is God in one respect, and man in another. This is wonderful and mysterious, but not contradictory. It would be a contradiction, if we said that what was divine and infinite in Jesus Christ became human and finite by a real