EIGHTEENTH LORD'S DAY.
Question 48. But if his human nature is not present wherever his God head is, are then these two natures in Christ separated from one another.
Answer. Not at all; for since the Godhead is incomprehensible and omnipresent, it must necessarily follow that the same is not limited with the human nature he assumed, and yet remains personally united to it.
This question contains another argument, or objection, which the Ubiquitarians are wont to urge. The two natures, say they, which meet in the person of Christ, are joined by an inseparable union. Therefore wherever the Godhead of Christ is, there his humanity must also necessarily be. Ans. These two natures are joined together in such a way, that the properties of each still remain distinct. There is, therefore, no change of the one into the other, which would be the case, if both were infinite, and every where.
To this answer they oppose the following objections: 1. Where there are two natures, one of which is not where the other is, they are separated from each other, and do not remain personally united. In the person of Christ there are two natures which remain personally united. Therefore, the human nature of Christ must necessarily be wherever his Godhead is, or else this union will be destroyed. Ans. The major proposition is true if it be understood of two natures which are equal, that is, which are equally finite, or infinite: but it is false if it has reference to two natures which are not equal, if one, for instance, be finite, and the other infinite. For a nature that is finite, cannot be at one and the same time in many places; but that which is infinite may be entire in the finite, and at the same time be complete without it; and this we may regard as being the case in relation to Christ. His human nature, which is finite, is in but one place; but his divine nature, which is infinite, is in his human nature, and without it, and for this reason every where. Obj. 2. There must, how ever, at least, be a separation between these natures in Christ, where the human nature is not, although this separation may not he where it is. Ans. Not at all; because the Godhead is complete, and the same in the human nature, and without it, according to what Gregory Nazianzen say, u The Word is in Ms own temple, and is every where; but is in an especial manner in his own temple.” Obj. 3. But if the human nature of Christ be not endowed with divine properties, it follows that there is no difference between him and the saints; for there can be no difference between Christ and Peter, unless it be in the equality of his human with his divine nature. Ans. The antecedent is false, because there are a variety of distinctions between Christ and the saints, beside that to which reference is here had. Obj. 4. The difference between Christ and the saints is either in substance, or in properties and gifts. It is not in substance, because the whole Godhead dwells as well in the saints as in Christ. Therefore it is in properties and gifts. Ans. We deny that the difference which holds between Christ and the saints is either in substance, or in properties and gifts; because this enumeration is not sufficiently full. There is a third difference, which is not here referred to, which is the mysterious and personal union of the two natures, the divine and human, which is in Christ, but not in Peter, or any of the saints. In Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, in such a manner that Christ-man is God, arid Christ-God is man ; but it cannot be said that the Godhead dwells thus in Peter, or in any of the saints. Obj. 5. But it is said, “God hath given him a name which is above every name.” (Phil. 2:9.) Ans. He hath given him this name together with his Godhead, that is to say, by virtue of the personal union of the two natures which meet in Christ, and not by virtue of any equaling of these natures. For just as the Godhead is given to Christ, so also are the properties thereof.
The Ubiquitarians, who urge these objections, are guilty of these three most pestilential errors, or they may, at least, be regarded as attaching themselves to the views which they hold in relation to this subject. 1. With Nestorius they separate the natures in Christ, inasmuch as they substitute for the union of these natures, the equaling, or the operation, and working of one by the other: for two things, two spirits and two natures may be equal, or act mutually through each other, even without a personal union. 2. With Eutyches they confound and blend these natures, inasmuch as they make them equal. 3. They take from us the weapons with which we oppose, and refute the Arian and Sabellian heresies; for they weaken the proofs of all those portions of Scripture which attest the Divinity of Christ, by attempting to establish from them the equality of his human, with his divine nature.
III. FOR WHAT PURPOSE DID CHRIST ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?
Christ ascended into heaven for his own glory, and for that of his Father. It was proper, and necessary, that he should have a heavenly kingdom. Hence it was not expedient that he should continue on earth. “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things “Wherefore God hath also highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Eph. 4:10. Phil. 2:9, II.) It also belonged to, and was proper that Christ who is the Head should be glorified with an excellency, and superiority of gifts above all the members, which could not have been the case had he remained on earth. And still further, Christ ascended for our benefit, and that in these three respects. 1. That he might make intercession for us in heaven. “ Who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom. 8:34.) He intercedes for us, first, by the value of his sacrifice, already offered in our behalf, which is so great that the Father ought, on this account, to receive us into favor. Secondly, by Us own will, by which he continually desires, that the Father would receive us into favor at the sight, and recollection of that sacrifice which he accomplished in his own body. Thirdly, by the consent of the Father, approving the will, and de sire of the Son, accepting the value of his sacrifice, as a sufficient satisfaction for our sins, and together with the Son receiving us into favor. It is by making intercession for us in this manner that Christ applies unto us the benefits and merit of his death. And the entire glorification of the mediator, consisting in his resurrection, ascension and sitting at the right hand of the Father, was necessary in order that this application might be made unto us. But some one may, perhaps, be ready to object and say ; but Christ interceded for us already when he was on earth ? To this we reply, that the intercession which Christ made on earth had respect to that which was yet future; for it was made upon the condition, that the mediator, after he had accomplished his sacrifice on earth, should for ever appear in the sanctuary on high. 2. That we might also ascend, and have assurance thereof. Christ him self says in the gospel of John, “ I go to prepare a place for you.” “ In my Father’s house are many mansions,” that is, places to abide for ever; for he speaks of our continuance there. Christ ascended; therefore we shall also ascend. This conclusion is proper, and forcible ; because Christ is the head, and we are the members ; he is also the first-begotten among many brethren. 3. That he might send the Holy Spirit, and by him gather, comfort, and defend his Church, even to the and of the world. Hence he says, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.” “ Which (Holy Ghost) be shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (John 16:7. Tit. 3:6.)
Obj. He gave the Holy Ghost both before and after his resurrection. Therefore he did not ascend for the purpose of sending him. Ans. He had, indeed, given the Holy Ghost before his ascension into heaven, but not in such copious effusions as on the clay of Pentecost. And whatever influences of the Spirit were given to the church from the beginning of the world, were given on account of Christ, who was to be manifested in the flesh, and would then reign in his human nature, and shed on us abundantly the Holy Ghost. Hence the Holy Ghost, on account of the decree of God, was not given in such large measures before the ascension of Christ; because God had determined to effect both by man glorified. The mission of the Holy Spirit was the chief part of the glory of Christ. It is therefore said, in John 7:39, “The Holy Ghost was not yet given,” that is, the wonderful, and copious sending, or outpouring of the Spirit was not yet given, “because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” “If I depart I will send the Comforter unto you.” (John 16: 7.) This is the reason why the mission of the Holy Ghost was deferred until after the ascension of Christ into heaven.
IV. IN WHAT DOES THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST DIFFER FROM OURS?
Christ s ascension and ours agree, first, in this, that both, he and we, ascend to the same place. They agree, secondly, in this that both, he and we, ascend to glory. “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.” (Joh. 17:24.)
They differ in the following respect: 1. Christ ascended by his own peculiar power and virtue. “No man hath ascended up to heaven (that is, by his own peculiar virtue) but the Son of man.” (John 3:13.) Our ascension, on the other hand, will be effected by, and for the sake of, Christ. “I go to prepare a place for you.” “I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am.” (John 14:2; 17:24.) 2. Christ ascended that he might be head, we shall ascend that we may be members; he ascended to glory such as is proper for the head, we shall ascend to glory such as is becoming those who are members; he ascended that he might sit at the right hand of the Father, we shall ascend that we may sit upon his throne and that of his Father, not in the same dignity, but only by a participation therein. “To him that ovcrcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:21.) We shall, therefore, be par takers of his glory, a just proportion being preserved between the members and the head. 3. The ascension of Christ is the cause of ours, but not the contrary. 4. Whole Christ ascended, but not the whole of Christ; because he ascended only as to his human nature, and not as it respects his divine nature, which is also on earth. But we shall ascend whole, and the whole of us; because we have only a finite nature, and that but one.
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