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But as soon as Christ was incarnate, the purchase began. And the whole time of Christ's humiliation, till the morning that he rose from the dead, was taken up in this purchase. Then the purchase was entirely and completely finished. As nothing was done before Christ's incarnation, so nothing was done after his resurrection, to purchase redemption for men. Nor will there ever be any thing more done to all eternity. That very moment when the human nature of Christ ceased to remain under the power of death, the utmost farthing was paid of the price of salvation for every one of the redeemed.
But for the more orderly and regular consideration of the great things done by our Redeemer to purchase redemption for us, I would speak of his becoming incarnate to capacitate himself for his purchase—and of the purchase itself.
OF CHRIST'S INCARNATION.
Christ became incarnate, or, which is the same thing, became man, to put himself in a capacity for working out our redemption. For though Christ, as God, was infinitely sufficient for the work, yet to his being in an immediate capacity for it, it was needful that he should not only be God, but man. If
Christ had remained only in the divine nature, he would not have been in a capacity to have purchased our salvation; not from any imperfection of the divine nature, but by reason of its absolute and infinite perfection : for Christ, merely as God, was not capable either of that obedience or suffering that was needful. The divine nature is not capable of suffering; for it is infinitely above all suffering. Neither is it capable of obedience to that law which was given to man. It is as impossible that one who is only God, should obey the law that was given to man, as it is that he should suffer man's punishment.
And it was necessary not only that Christ should take
upon him a created nature, but that he should take upon himn our nature. It would not have sufficed for Christ to have become an angel, and to have obeyed and suffered in the angelic nature. But it was necessary that he should become a man, upon three accounts.
1. It was needful in order to answer the law, that the very nature to which the law was given should obey it. Man's law could not be answered but by being obeyed by man. God insisted upon it, that the law which he had given to man should be honored, and fulfilled by the nature of man, otherwise the law could not be answered for men. The words, 's Thou shalt not eat thereof," &c. were spoken 10 mankind, to the human nature; and therefore the human nature must fulfill them.
2. It was needful to answer the law, that the nature that sinned should die. These words, " Thou shalt surely die,” respect the human nature. The saine nature to which the command was given, was that to which the threatening was directed.
3. God saw fit that the same world which was the stage of man's fall and ruin, should also be the stage of his redemption. We read often of Christ's coming into the world to save sinners, and of God s sending him into the world for this purpose. It was needful that he should come into this sinful, miserable, undone world, to restore and save it. For man's recovery, it was needful that he should come down to man, to man's proper habitation, that he should tabernacle with us. John, 1:14. “ The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
Concerning the incarnation of Christ, I would observe these following things.
I. The incarnation itself; in which especially two things are to be considered.
1. His conception ; which was in the womb of one of the race of mankind, whereby he became truly the Son of man, as he was often called. He was one of the posterity of Adam, a child of Abraham, and a son of David, according to God's promise. But his conception was not in the way of ordinary generation, but by the power of the Holy Ghost. Christ was formed in the womb of the virgin, of the substance of her body, by the power of the Spirit of God. So that he was the immediate son of the woman, but not the immediate son of any man; and so was the seed of the woman, and the son of a virgin, one that had never known man.
2. His birth. Though the conception of Christ was supernatural, yet after he was conceived, his human nature was gradually perfected in the womb of the virgin, in a way of natural progress; and so his birth was in the way of nature.
But his con ception being supernatural, by the power of the Holy Ghost, he was both conceived and born without sin.
II. The second thing I would observe concerning the incarnation of Christ, is the fullness of the time in which it was accomplished. It was after things had been preparing for it from the very fall of mankind, and when all things were ready. It came to pass at a time which in infinite wisdom was the most fit and proper. Gal. 4: 4. “But when the fullness of time was come. God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
It was now the most proper time on every account. Any time before the flood would not have been so fit a time. For then the mischief and ruin that the fall brought on mankind were not so fully seen. The curse did not so fully come on the earth before the flood, as it did afterwards: for though the ground was cursed in a great measure before, yet it pleased God that the curse should once, before the restoration by Christ, be executed in a universal destruction, as it were of the very form of the earth, that the dire effects of the fall might be seen before the recovery. Though mankind were mortal before the flood, yet their lives were almost a thousand years in length, a kind of immortality in comparison with what the life of man is now. It pleased God that the curse, “ Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return," should have its full accomplishment, and be executed in its greatest degree on mankind, before the Redeemer came to purchase a never-ending life.
It would not have been so fit a time for Christ to
come, before Moses; for till then mankind were not so universally apostatized from the true God; they were not fallen universally into heathenish darkness; and so the need of Christ, the light of the world, was not so evident. The woful.consequence of the fall with respect to man's mortality, was not so fully manifest till then; for man's life was not so shortened, as to be reduced to the present standard, till about Moses' time.
It was most fit that the time of the Messiah's com ing should not be till all nations, but the children of Israel, had lain long in heathenish darkness; that the remedilessness of their disease might by long experience be seen, and so the absolute necessity of the heavenly Physician.
Another reason why Christ did not come soon after the flood, probably was, that the earth might be full of people; that he might have the more extensive kingdom; that the effects of his light, power, and grace might be glorified; and that his victory over Satan might be attended with the more glory in the multitude of his conquests. It was also needful that the coming of Christ should be many ages after Moses, that the church might be prepared by the Messiah's being long prefigured, foretold, and expected. It was not proper that Christ should come before the Babylonish captivity, because Satan's kingdom was not then come to its height. The hea. then world before that consisted of lesser kingdoms. But God saw fit that the Messiah should come in the time of one of the four great monarchies. Nor was it proper that he should come in the time of the Babylonish, the Persian, or the Grecian monarchy. It was the will of God that his Son should make his