Imágenes de páginas

admonished by this example, may preserve himself within the bounds of sobriety and modesty: yet I conceive this will be unnecessary here, as I have already done it in a separate treatise. The substance of them all is, that the Son of God was from the beginning an ideal existence, and that even then he was predestinated to be a man who was to be the essential image of God. Nor does he acknowledge any other word of God than what consists in an external splendour. His generation he explains thus; that there existed in God from the beginning a will to beget a Son, which was carried into effect by his actual formation. He likewise confounds the Spirit with the Word, by asserting that God distributed the invisible Word and Spirit into body and soul. In short, he puts the prefiguration of Christ in the place of his generation; and affirms that he who was then in external appearance a shadowy Son, was at length begotten by the Word, to which he attributes the properties of seed. Whence it will follow, that the meanest animals are equally the children of God, because they were created of the original seed of the Word of God. For though he compounds Christ of three uncreated elements, to countenance the assertion that he is begotten of the essence of God; yet he pretends him to have* been the first.born among creatures in such a sense, that even inanimate substances, according to their rank, possess the same essential divinity. And that he may not seem to despoil Christ of his Deity, he asserts that his flesh is co.essential with God,' and that the Word was made flesh bv a conversion of the humanity into Deity. Thus while he cannot conceive Christ to be the Son of God, unless his flesh proceeded from the essence of God, and were reconverted into Deity, he annihilates the eternal hypostasis of the Word, and deprives us of the Son of David, the promised Redeemer. He frequently indeed repeats this, that the Son was begotten of God by knowledge and predestination, but that at length he was made man of those materials, which in the beginning appeared with God in the three elements, and which afterwards appeared in the first light of the world, in the cloud, and in the pillar of fire. Now how shamefully he contradicts himself, it would be too tedious to relate. From this summary the judicious reader will conclude.

that by the subtle fallacies of this heretic, the hope of salvation is completely extinguished. For if the body were the Deity itself, it would no longer be the temple of it. Now we can have no Redeemer, except him, who became man, by being really begotten of the seed of Abraham and David according to the flesh. Servetus makes a very improper use of the language of John, that "the word was made flesh:" for while it opposes the error of Nestorius, it is as far from affording the least countenance to this impious notion which originated with Eutyches. The sole design of the evangelist was, to assert the union of the two natures in one person.


The Consideration of Christ's three Offices, Prophetical, Regal, and Sacerdotal, necessary to our knowing the End of his Mission from the Father, and the Benefits which he confers on us.

IT is a just observation of Augustine, that although heretics profess the name of Christ, yet he is not a foundation to them in common with the pious, but remains exclusively the foundation of the Church: because, on a diligent consideration of what belongs to Christ, Christ will be found among them only in name, not in reality. Thus the Papists in the present age, although the name of the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, be frequently in their mouths, yet since they are contented with the mere name, and despoil him of his power and dignity, these words of Paul, "not holding the head," (n) are truly applicable them. Therefore, that faith may find in Christ a solid ground of salvation, and so may rely on him, it is proper for us to establish this principle, that the office which was assigned to him by the Father consists of three parts. For he was given as a Prophet, a King, and a Priest; though we should derive but little benefit from an

{,,) Col. ii. 19. Vox.. I. 3 X

acquaintance with these names, unaccompanied with a knowledge of their end and use. For they are likewise pronounced among the Papists, but in a frigid and unprofitable manner, while they are ignorant of what is included in each of these titles. We have before observed, that although God sent prophets one after another in a continual succession, and never left his people destitute of useful instruction, such as was sufficient for salvation; yet the minds of the pious were always persuaded, that the full light of understanding was not to be expected till the advent of the Messiah. And that this opinion had even reached the Samaritans, notwithstanding they had never been acquainted with the true religion, appears from the speech of the woman, "When Messias is come, he will tell us all things." (o) Nor had the Jews entertained this sentiment without sufficient ground, but believed as they had been taught by infallible oracles. One of the most remarkable is this passage of Isaiah: "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people:" (p) just as he had before styled him "the Wonderful Counsellor." (g) In the same manner the apostle, with a view to display the perfection of the evangelical doctrine, after having said, that "God at sundry times and in divers manners spake unto the fathers by the prophets," adds, that he "hath ia these last days spoken unto us by his Son." (r) But because it was the office of all the prophets to keep the Church in a state of suspense and expectation, and also to support it till the advent of the Mediator, we therefore find the faithful complaining, in their dispersion, that they were deprived of this ordinary blessing: "We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long." (e) At length when Christ was at no great distance, a time was prefixed for Daniel to seal up the vision and prophecy, not only to authenticate the prediction it contained, but in order that the faithful might patiently bear for a time the want of prophets, because the plenitude and conclusion of all revelations was near at hand, (t)

II. Now it is to be observed, that the appellation of" Christ"

(o) John iv. 25. (/>) Isaiah Iv. 4. (g) Isaiah ix. 6.

(r) Heb. i. 1,2. (t) Psalm lxxiv. 9. (f) Dan. ix. 24.


belongs to these three offices. For we know that under the law not only priests and kings, but prophets also, were anointed with holy oil. Hence the celebrated title of " Messiah" was given to the promised Mediator. But though I confess that he was called the Messiah with particular reference to his kingdom, as I have already shewn, yet the prophetical and sacerdotal unctions have their respective places, and must not be neglected by us. The former is expressly mentioned by Isaiah in these words: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken.hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." (v) We see that he was anointed by the Spirit, to be a preacher and witness of the grace of the Father; and that not in a common manner; for he is distinguished from other teachers, who held a similar office. And here again it must be remarked, that he received this unction, not only for himself that he might perform the office of a teacher, but for his whole body, that the preaching of the gospel might continually be attended with the power of the Spirit. But it remains beyond all doubt, that by this perfection of doctrine which he has introduced, he has put an end to all prophecies; so that they who, not contented with the gospel make any extraneous addition to it, are guilty of derogating from his authority. For that voice, which thundered from heaven, "This is my beloved Son; hear ye him," (u) has exalted him by a peculiar privilege above all others. From the head this unction is afterwards diffused over the members, according to the prediction of Joel: "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and see visions." (w) But the declarations of Paul, that "he is made unto us wisdom," (x) and that " in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," (y) have rather a different meaning; namely, that beside him there is nothing useful to be known, and that they who by faith apprehend him as he is, have embraced the whole infinitude of celestial blessings. For which reason he writes in another place; "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him

(n) Isaiah Ui. 1, 2. («) Matt. xvii. 5. (to) Joel ii. 29.

(,r)lCor.i.m (?) Col. ii. 3.

crucified:" (2) which is perfectly just, because it is unlawful to go beyond the simplicity of the gospel. And the tendency of the prophetic dignity in Christ is, to assure us that all the branches of perfect wisdom are included in the system of doctrine which he has given us.

III. I come now to his kingdom, of which it would be useless to speak, without first apprizing the reader, that it is of a spiritual nature: because thence we may gather what is its use, and what advantage it confers upon us, and in short all its power and eternity. The eternity, which the angel in Daniel ascribes to the person of Christ, the angel in Luke justly applies to the salvation of the people. But this also is twofold, or is to be considered in two points of view; one extending to the whole body of the Church, the other belonging to every individual member. To the former must be referred the fol.. lowing passage in the Psalms: "Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven." (a) There is no doubt that God here promises to be the everlasting Governor and Defender of his Church, through the medium of his Son. For the truth of this prophecy will only be found in Christ; since immediately after the death of Solomon, the dignity of the kingdom sustained a considerable degradation, the greater part of it, to the disgrace of the family of David, being transferred to a private man, and afterwards was diminished more and more, till at length it fell in a melancholy and total ruin. The same sentiment is conveyed in this exclamation of Isaiah: "Who shall declare his generation?) For when he pronounces that Christ will survive after his death, he connects his members with him. Therefore, whenever we hear that Christ is armed with eternal power, let us remember, that this is the bulwark which supports the perpetuity of the Church; that amidst the turbulent agitations with which it is incessantly harassed, and amidst the painful and formidable commotions which menace it with innumerable calamities, it may still be preserved in safety. Thus when

(*) 1 Cor.ii.2. (a) Psalm Ixxxlx. 35—37. (A) Isaiah liii. 8.

« AnteriorContinuar »