« PreviousContinue »
divine promise, which is the source of a true and beneficial relation.a
xxxvII. By virtue of this right of propinquity, Christ has claimed us to himself; of which we have a form in the following words: "But now thus saith the Lord "that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, "O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I "have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” ↳ Christ too has omitted none of those duties that could be expected from a GOEL; for, 1st, By his meritorious righteousness he has recovered our lost possessions, and that heavenly inheritance which we had forfeited by our demerit;" having obtained eternal redemption.”d 2dly, He hath delivered us who were captives, and in a state of bondage to the devil. 3dly, He has taken vengeance on our enemies, who had murdered our souls. 4thly, He has dissolved our connexion with our former husband, to wit, the law and covenant of works, and joined us to himself in an everlasting and indissoluble marriage, according to the covenant of grace. For the confirmation of this union, too, he has spread over us the garment of his most perfect righteousness;h which is shadowed forth in Ezekiel, by a naked and polluted female, over whom it pleased God, having entered into a marriage-covenant with her, to spread his skirt.*
XXXVIII. Nothing is omitted even as to the manner of performing these offices; for, 1st, He has redeemed
In the first Edition, the Author here refers to Turretin. de Satisf. Christ. Disp. iii. Sect. 30, 31.
Ephes. iii. 15.
e Tit. iii. 7.
Luke i. 71.
Rom. vii. 4. Ephes. v. 25, 26.
.1 .Is. xliii כי גאלתיך b
d Heb. ix. 12.
f Col. ii. 15. Heb. ii. 14.
h Gal. iii. 27.
us by paying a most ample price. 2dly, He has rescued us from the slavery of the devil by the most signal exertions of might and power. 3dly, He has displayed incredible love in betrothing and purchasing the church to himself. See copious illustrations of these points by James Alting.*
XXXIX. With respect to our Lord's being born of a Virgin, this is an evidence of a holy and immaculate conception and birth: For these two consequences follow from his mother's virginity. 1st, That our Surety was not represented in Adam's covenant, since he was not born according to the law of nature, and consequently was not liable to the imputation of Adam's sin.7 2dly, That he could not be considered as existing in Adam, when Adam sinned; for he was not born by virtue of that blessing which God pronounced on marriage before the fall, and which was annexed to the old covenant, "Be fruitful and multiply;"-but by virtue of a new promise subsequent to the fall, in which he is denominated "the seed of the woman," and appointed the second Adam, the root and head of the new creation.
XL. This immaculate holiness of the conception and nativity of Christ, or, which is the same thing, this original purity of our Lord's human nature, tends without doubt to our advantage. It is a counterpart to that impurity and depravity of our nature in which we were conceived and born, and is intended to cover it. In
• In Commentariis ad Rom. xi. 26. et in quarta Heplade Disserta tionum, Dissert. iv. Sect. xv. et Dissert vi.
j Job xxxiii. 24. Mat. xx. 28. 1 Tim. ii. 6.
7 See NOTE VII.
other words, it forms a part of that perfect righteousness of Christ, by which, in the capacity of Surety, he satisfied all the demands of the law in our place, and which is ours in all its extent. The law declares that no man is worthy of eternal life, but one that is holy in nature as well as in conduct. Since sin consists wholly in contrariety to the law, that corruption of nature which is born with us will not be sin, unless it be contrary to the law. But it will not be contrary to the law, unless the law, by a precept opposed to it, require holiness of nature in every rational creature as soon as born. Besides, Christ, as our Surety, performed every thing that the law of righteousness demanded on our account. For our sake, therefore, it behoved him to be born righteous and holy, according to the demand of the law; that he might cover our original sin with his original righteousness, and supply our want of original righteousness.
XLL. This assertion is not, as some have imagined, a novel opinion, or an error springing from our ignorance and temerity. The most eminent men in the Church, have formerly, according to holy writ, taught the same doctrine. We read in the Palatine Catechism, Quest. xxxvi. "What benefit do you derive "from the holy conception and birth of Christ? Ans. "That he is our Mediator, and that, by his innocence "and perfect holiness, he covers my sins in which I
was conceived, that they may not appear in the sight " of God." Gomar says;—“ Of whose righteousness,
namely that of Christ, there are two parts, a habitual " and original righteousness of nature, and an actual " and perpetual righteousness of life. The former of these is opposed to our original, and the latter to "our actual unrighteousness; and covers it in its own
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.
in Ps. xxxii. 1.
n1 Cor. i. 30.
"so that we are one in him,' that is, one new man.”? 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 mainWe 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.