Charles Richard Sumner John Milton.

A treatise on Christian doctrine: compiled from the Holy Scriptures alone online

. (page 32 of 35)
Online LibraryCharles Richard Sumner John MiltonA treatise on Christian doctrine: compiled from the Holy Scriptures alone → online text (page 32 of 35)
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semper in xiy^ tantum subsliterJt'




nature, without at the same time assuming man ; for
human nature, that is, the form of man in a material
mould, wherever it exists, constitutes at once the
proper and entire man, deficient in no part of his
essence, not even (if the words have any meaning)
in subsistence and personality. In reality, however,
subsistence is the same as substantial existence ; and
personality is nothing but a word perverted from its
proper use to patch up the threadbare theories of
theologians. It is certain that the Logos was made
that which he assumed ; if then he assumed the hu-
man nature, not man, he was made not man, but the
human nature ; these two things being inseparable.

But before I proceed to demonstrate the weakness
of the re~ceived opinion, it is necessary to explain the
meaning of the three terms so frequently recurring,
naturCy person^ and hypostasis, which last word is
translated in Latin, substantia or subsistentia, sub-
stance or subsistence. Nature in the present in-
stance can signify nothing, but either the actual es-
sence, or the properties of that essence. Since how-
ever these properties are inseparable from the essence,
and the union of the natures is hypostatical, not ac-
cidental, we must conclude that the term nature can
here mean only the essence itself. Person is a meta-
phorical word, transferred from the stage to the
schools of theology, signifying any one individual
being, as the logicians express it ; any intelligent ens,
numerically one, whether God, or angel, or man.
The Greek word hypostasis can signify nothing in
the present case but what is expressed in Latin by
substantia or subsistentia, substance or subsistence ;
that is to say, a perfect essence existing per se ;





whence it is generally put in opposition to merelj

Hence the union of two natures in Christ must be
considered as the mutual hypostatic union of two es-
sences ; for where there is a perfect substantial es*
sence, there must also be an hypostasis or subsist-
ence, inasmuch as they are the same thing ; so that
one Christy one ens, one person, b formed of this
mutual hypostatic union of two natures or essences.
For it is no more to be feared that the union of two
hypostases should constitute two persons, than that
the same consequence should result from the union of
two natures, that is to say, of two essences. If how*
ever the human nature of Christ never had any proper
and independent subsistence, or if the Son did not
take upon himself that subsistence, it would have
been no more possible for him to have been made
very man, or even to have assumed the real and per-
fect substance or essence of man, than for the body
of Christ to be present in the sacrament without
quantity or local extension, as the Papists assert.*
This indeed they explain by his divine power, their
usual resort in such cases. It is however of no use
to allege a divine power, the existence of which can-
not be proved on divine authority. There is then m
Christ a mutual hypostatic union of two natures, that
is to say, of two essences, of two substances, and
consequently of two persons; nor does this union
prevent the respective properties of each from re-

' Those words . . . are as much against plaio equity and the mercy
of religion, as those words of «' take, eat, this is my body,^ elementally
understood, are against nature and sense.' Dodrtue mi DMplme of
JDivorce, Prose Works, II. 37.




maining individually distinct. That the fact is so,
is sufficiently certain ; the mode of union is unknown
to us ; and it is best to be ignorant of what God ^
wills should remain unknown. If indeed it were
allowable to define and determine with, precision in
mysteries of this kind, why should not our philo-
sophical inquisitiveness lead us to inquire respecting
the external form comaK)n to the two natures ? For
if the divine and human nature have coalesced in one
person, that is to say, as my opponents themselyes |
admit, in a reasonable being, numerically one, it fol-
lows that these two natures must have also coalesced
in one external form. The consequence would be,
either that the divine form must have been annihilated
or blended with the human, which wbuld be absurd,
unless they were previously the same ; or, vice versa,
that the human must have been annihilated or blended
with the divine, unless it exactly resembled the lat-
ter ; or, which is the only remaining alternative,
Christ must be considered as having two forms. How
much better is it for us to know merejy that the Son j
of God, our Mediator, was made flesh, that he is
called both God and Man, and is such in reality;/
which is expressed in Greek by the single and ap-
propriate term 0BdvOgmno$. Since however God has
not revealed the mode in which this union is effected,
it behoves us to cease from devising subtle explana*
tions, and to be contented with remaining wisely ig-

It may however be observed, that the opinion here
given respecting the hypostatic union agrees with
what wa^ advanced relative to the Son of God in the
fifth chapter, namely, that his essence is not the same

VOL. I. 50




with that of the Father ; for if it were the same, it
could not have coalesced in one person with man,
unless the Father were also included in the same
union, nay, unless man became one person with the
Father as well as with the Son ; which is impossible.
The reasons, therefore, which are given to prove
that he who was made flesh must necessarily be the
Supreme God may safely be dismissed. It is urged,
first, from Heb. vii. 26, 27. that ^ such an high priest
became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate
from sinners, and made higher than tlie heavens.'
These words, however, do not even prove that he is
God, much less that it was necessary that he should
be so ; not to mention, that he is * holy,' not only as
God, but as man conceived of the Holy Spirit by the
power of the Most High ; nor is he said to be higher
than the heavens, but to be ^ made higher than the
heavens.' Again, what is said of him v. 24. ' he
continueth ever,' is a property which he has in com^
mon both with men and angels ; nor does it follow
that he is God because ^ he is able to save them to
the uttermost that come unto God by him,' v. 25.
Lastly, ' the word of the oath, which was since the
law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for ever-
more,' V. 28. so that he is not on this account ne-
cessarily God. Besides, Scripture nowhere teaches,
that none but God is able to approach God, to take
away sin, to fulfil the law, to endure and van-
quish the anger of God, the power of Satan, tempo-
ral as well as eternal death, in a word, to restore to
us the blessings which we had lost ; but it teaches
that he has power to effect this * to whom the Father
has given it ;' that is to say, the beloved Son of God,




in whom he has himself testified that he is well

That Christ, therefore, since his assumption of hu-
man flesh, remains one Christ, is a matter of faith;!
whether he retains his two-fold will and understand-! '^
ing, is a point respecting which, as Scripture is silent,!
we are not concerned to inquire. For having emptied
himself J* he might * increase in wisdom,' Luke ii.
52. by means of the understanding which he pre-
viously possessed, and might ^ know all things,' John
xxi. 17. namely, through the teaching of the Father,
as he himself acknowledged.! Nor is his twofold
will implied in the single passage Matt. xxvi. 39.
^ not as I will, but as thou wilt,' unless he be the
same with the Father, which, as has been already
shown, cannot be admitted.

That Christ was very man, is evident from his
having a body, Luke xxiv. 39. ^ a spirit hath not

* he that dwelt ahoFC

High thronM in secret hHss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, ev'n to nakedoess.

Ode on the CircumciHony 18.

Newton remarks that the expression is taken from Philipp. ii. 7. though
not as in our translation, ^e made himself of no reptUation^ hut as it is in
the original, Uvr^ {xly«n.

f . . . now hy some strong motion I am led
Into the wilderness, to what intent
I know not yet, perhaps I need not know ;
> For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.

Paradite Regained, L 290.
Several of the expressions in the soliloquy from which these lines are
extracted are founded on the supposition, that Christ was not possessed
of all the knowledge which his human nature was capable of receiving
by virtue of the union of the two natures, and from the first moment of
that onion. See the authorities by which this opinion is supported, in
the note on the above passage in Mr. Hawkins's recent edition of Mil*
ton's poetical works.

Digitized by VjOOQIC


flesh and bones, as ye see me have ;' a soul) Mark
X. 45. ^ that he might gime his life (animam^ his soul)
a ransom for niany ;' xiv 34. ' my soul is exceeding
sorrowful unto death ;' and a spirit, JLuke xxiii. 46.

* into thy hands I commend my spirit.' It is true
that God attributes to himself also a soul and spirit ;
but there are reasons most distinctly assigned in
Scripture, why Christ should be very man. 1 Cor.
XV. 21. * for since by man came death, by man came
also the resurrection of the dead.^ Heb. ii. 14. * for-
asmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh
and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the
same, that through death he might destroy him that
had the power of death, that is, the devil.' v. 17.

* wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made
like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful
and faithful high priest.' v. 18. ^ for in that he him-
self hath sufiered, being tempted, he is able to suc-
cour them that are tempted.' iv. 15. * we have not
an high priest which cannot be touched with the
feeling of our infirmities.' v. 2. * who can have com-
passion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of
the way ; for that he himself also is compassed with
infirmity.' Finally, God would not accept any other
sacrifice, inasmuch as any other would have been less
worthy. Heb. x. 5. * sacrifice thou wouldest not,
but a body hast thou prepared me.' viii. 3. * it is of
necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.'
ix. 22. * without shedding of blood is no remission.'

Inasmuch, however, as the two natures constitute
one Christ, certain particulars appear to be predicated
of him absolutely, which properly apply to one of
his natures. This is what is called communicatio




idiomaium or proprietatunij where by the customary
forms of language what is peculiar to one of two na^
tures is attributed to both jointly. John iii. 13. * he
that came down from heaven^ even the Son of man,
which is in heaven.' viii. 58. * before Abraham was,
I am.' Accordingly, these and similar passages,
wherever they occur, are to be understood xopt' aXko
xal aAAo, as theologians express it ; (for in speaking
of Christ the proper expression is not akXos xal aXXos^
but aXXo xal aXXoj inasmuch as it refers, not to him-
self, but to his person, or, in other words, his office
of mediator : for as to the subject of his two na-
tures, it is too profound a mystery, in my judgement
at least, to warrant any positive assertion respecting

It sometimes happens, on the other hand, that what
properly belongs to the compound nature of Christ, is
attributed to one of his natures only, 1 Tim. ii. 5.
^ one mediator between God and men, the man Christ
Jesus.' Now he is not mediator inasmuch as he is
man, but inasmuch as he is O^dvOgonog.

Scripture, however, more frequently distinguishes
what is peculiar to his human nature. Acts ii. 30.
^ of the fruit of the loins of David, according to the
flesh.^ See also Rom. ix. 5. 1 Pet. iii. 18. * being
put to death in the flesh,' that is to say, being afiected
chiefly and most visibly in his human nature. This
text will fte adverted to again in the sixteenth

The incarnation of Christ consists of two parts ;
his conception and his nativity. Of his conception
the efficient cause was the Holy Spirit. Matt. i. 20.
* that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy




Ghost.' Luke i. 35. ^ the Holy Ghost shall come
upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall over-
shadow thee ; by which words I am inclined to un-
derstand the power and spirit of the Father himself,
as has been shown above ; according to Psal. xL
6, 7. compared with Heh. x. 5, 6. 'a body hast
thou prepared me.'

The object of this miraculous cenception was to
obviate the contamination consequent upon the sin of
Adam. Heb. vii. 26. ^ such an high priest became
us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from

The nativity of Christ is predicted by all the pro-
phets, and more particularly in the following passages.
Mic. V. 2. * thou Bethlehem Ephratah . • . out of
thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler
in Israel.' Isau vii. 14. * behold, a virgin shall con-
ceive.' xi. 1. ' there shall come forth a rod out of the
stem of Jesse.' The history of the nativity is given
Matt. i. 18 — 25. Luke i. 42. * blessed is the fruit
of thy womb.' ii. 6, 7. * the days were accomplished
that she should be delivered.' v. 22. * when the days
of her purification were accomplished.'

That the Messiah is already come is proved, in
contradiction to the belief of the Jews, by the fol-
lowing arguments. First, the cities of Bethlehem
and Nazareth, (where according to prophecy Christ
was to be born and educated, Mic. v. 2. Zech. vi. 12.
* behold the man whose name is (Nezer, or) the
Branch,' are no longer in existence. Secondly, it
was predicted that his advent should take place while
the second temple and the Jewish government were
yet in being. Hag. ii. 7, 9. * I will fill this house




with glory : the glory of this latter house shall be
greater than of the former.' Dan. ix. 24. * seventy
weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy
holy city, to finish the transgression . . . and to anoint
the most Holy.' v. 26. * after threescore and two
weeks shall Messiah be cut off . • . and the people of
the prince that shall come shall destroy the city.' v.
27: ^ he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to
cease.' Zech. ix. 9. * rejoice greatly, O daughter of
Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem ; behold thy
king cometh unto thee.' Gen. xlix. 10. * the sceptre
shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from be-
tween his feet, until Shiloh come,' by which name the
three most ancient Jewish commentators, Onkelos,
Jonathan, and Hierosolymitanus, understood the
Messiah.^ Dan. ii. 44. ^ in the days of those kings
shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom.' Lastly,
because the Gentiles have long since put away the
worship of other gods, and embraced the faith of
Christ, which event, according to the prophecies, was
not to take place till after his coming, Gen. xlix. 10.
* unto him shall the gathering of the people be.' Isai.
ii. 2. ^ it shall come to pass in the last days • • • that
all nations shall flow unto it.' See also Mic. iv. 1.
Hag. ii. 6. ^ yet once, it is a little while . . . and I
will shake all nations.' Mai. iii. 1. ^ the Lord, whom
ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple.'

* See Poole's Synoptis in loc. where, besides the authorities Diention-
ed by Milton, other Jewish commentators are cited as admitting- the
same interpretation of the passage.





The nature of Christ the Mediator, human as well
as divine, has been already defined.

The mediatorial office of Christ is that whereby,
at the special appointment of God the Father^ he
voluntarily performed^ and continues to perform^ on
behalf of many whatever is requisite for obtaining
reconciliation with God^ and eternal salvation.*

At the special appointment of God the Father.
Isai. xlii. 1. ' behold my servant . . . mine elect in
whom my soul delighteth.' Ixi. 1. * Jehovah hath
anointed me.' Hence he derived the name of Mes-
siaSj of Christy Psal. ii. of the messenger of the
covenant^ Mai. iii. 1. and of the advocate^ 1 John
ii. 1. * we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ.' Psal. ex. 4. * Jehovah hath sworn, and
will not repent.' Rom. iii. 25. * whom God hath

* Men hereafter may discern

From what coosummate virtue I have. chose
This perfect man, by merit cali'd my Son,
To earn salvation for the sons of men.

Paradiit Regained^ L 164.




set forth.' Heh. v. 4 — 6. Vso also Christ glorified
not himself to be made an high priest.' x. 9, 10. ^ I
come to do thy will, O God ... by the which will
we are sanctified.' John iii. 16, 17. * God gave
his only begotten Son . . . God sent not his Son into
the world to condemn — '. v. 34. * God giveth not the
Spirit by measure unto him.' vi. 27. ^ him hath God
the Father sealed.' x. 36. * him whom the Father
hath sanctified and sent into the world.' Gal. i. 4.
* who gave himself . . . according to the will of God
and our Father.'

Voluntarily. John xv. 9. * as the Father hath
loved me, so have I loved you.' Rom. viii. 35. * who
shall separate us from the love of Christ ? shall

tribulation,' &c * or sword ? ' Eph. iii. 19. * the

love of Christ which passeth knowledge.'

Whatever is requisite for obtaining reconciliation
with God. Rom. v. 10. * we were reconciled to God
. by the death of his Son.' 2 Cor. v. 18, 19. * all
things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself
by Jesus Christ : God was in Christ reconciling the
world unto himself.' 1 John ii. 2. * he is the propitia-
tion for our sins.'

Eternal salvation. Matt. i. 21. ^ thou shalt call
his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their
sins.' 1 Tim. i. 15. ^ Christ Jesus came into the
world to save sinners.' John i. 17. ^ grace and truth
came by Jesus Christ.' 1 John iv. 9. * God sent his
only begotten Son into the world, that we might live
by him.' 1 Thess. v. 9. 10. * God hath not ap-
pointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through
Jesus Christ our Lord.'

VOL. I. 51




The name and office of mediator is in a certain
\/ sense ascribed to Moses, as a type of Christ.* Go/,
iii. 19. ^ the law was ordained by angels in the hand
of a mediator.' What the nature of his office was, is
explained Acts ?ii. 38. * this is he.. ..who received the
lively oracles to give unto us,' compared with Deti<.
V. 5. * I stood between Jehovah and you at that time
to show you the word of Jehovah.'

In treating of the functions of the Mediator, we are
to consider his threefold office, as prophet^ priest^ and
kingj and his manner of administering the same.

His office as a prophet is to instruct his church in
heavenly truths and to declare the whole will of his
Father. Deut. xviii. 15. compared with Acts iii. 22.
and vii. 37. * Jehovah thy God will raise up unto thee
a prophet from the midst of thee.' Isai. Ixi. 1. ^Je-
hovah hath annointed me to preach,' compared with
Ltuke iv. 1 8. Ezek. xxxiv. 23. * I will set up one
shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my
servant David.' Zech. vi. 12, 13. * behold the man....
he shall build the temple of Jehovah.' Matt. xxiiL 8.
'one is your master, even Christ.' Luke x. 22. * no
man knoweth who the Father is, but the Son, and
he to whom the Son will reveal him.' Rev. v. 7.
* he took the book.' Hence he is called * counseUor,'
Isai. ix. 6. and Iv. 4. * a witness, a leader and com-
mander to the people.' John i. 9. * that was the true
light which lighteth every man that cometh into the

* .-..:.... To God is no access
Without mediator, whose high office dow
Moses in figure bears, to introduce
One greater. Paradise Lotty XII. 239.




world.' 1 Cor. i. 24. * the wisdom of God.' Heh.
iii. 1. ^tbe apostle of our profession.' xii. 2. ^ the
author and finisher of our faith.' xiii. 20. ^ that great
shepherd of the sheep.' Rev. i. 5. *the faithful wit-
ness.' Heb. i. 2. ^ God hath in these last days
spoken unto us by his Sou.' John i. 16 — 18. * grace
and truth came by Jesus Christ.... the only begotten
Son.. ..he hath declared him.' iv. 25. * when Christ
is come, he will tell us all things.' xviii. 37. ^to this
end was I bom, and for this cause came I into the
world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.'
XV. 15. * all things that I have heard of my Father,
I have made known unto you.'

His prophetical o£^ce consists of two parts ; one
external, namely, the promulgation of divine truth ; ^
the other internal, to wit, the illumination of the
understanding. The former is mentioned Matt. iv. 1 7.
* from that time Jesus began to preach and to say — ; '
ana Marh i. 14. the latter Luke xxiv. 32, 45. * did
not our heart burn within us.... while he opened to us
the Scriptures ? then opened he their understanding, v
that they might understand the Scriptures.' Acts
^vi. 14. ^ the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that
she attended unto the things that were spoken of
P?iul.' John viii. 12. * I am the light of the world ;
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but
shall have the light of life.'

Christ's prophetical office began with the creation /
of the world, and will continue till the end of all
things. 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. * the spirit of Christ which
was in them.... when it testified beforehand the suffer-
ings of Christ,' &c. iii. 19. * by which also he went
^nd preached unto the spirits in prison.' John i. 10.




*he was in the world... .and the world knew him not.'
Matt, xxviii. 19, 20. *go ye therefore and teach all
nations.. ..and lo, I am with jou alway, even unto the
end of the world.' Acts i. 3. * to whom also he
showed himself alive after his passion. ...speaking
of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.'
2 Cor. xiii. 3. * since ye seek a proof of Christ
speaking in me.'

Chrises sacerdotal office is that whereby he once
^ offered himself to God the Father as a sacrifice for
sinners^ and has always made^ and still continues to
make intercession for us.

ChrisVs sacerdotal office, PsaL ex. 4. * thou art
a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. ZecA.
vi. 13. * he shall be a priest upon his throne.' Heb.
V. 10. * called of God an high priest after the order
of Melchizedek.' See also vii. 17, 20, 21.

Once offered ; virtually, and as regarded the eflS-
cacy of his sacrifice, from the foundation of the world,
as above stated ; Rev. xiii. 8. actually in the fulness
of time, and that once for all, Heb. vii. 27. ix. 25,
26, 28. * Christ was once offered.' x. 10, 12, 14.

* by one offering.' 1 Pet. iiL 18. * Christ hath once
suffered for sins.'

Himself as a sacrifice. Isai. liii. 10, * when thou
shalt make his soul an offering for sin.' Psal. xl. 6, 7.

* burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required :
then said I, Lo, I come.' Eph. v. 2. * Christ hath
given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to
God.' Heb. ix. 14. *who through the eternal Spirit
offered himself.' Being God-man, he offered himself
in that capacity ; ' he who thought it not robbery to
be equal with God, made himself of no reputation,' &c.




Philipp. ii. 6, 7. He offered himself, however, more
particularly in bis human nature, as many passages of
Scripture expressly indicate. Matt. xx. 28, * the Son
of man give hi^ life a ransom for many.'
Acts XX. 28. * the church of God, which he hath pur-
chased with his own blood.' CoL i. 20. ' through the
blood of his cross.' v. 22. * in the body of his flesh
through death.' Heb. ix. 12. *by his own blood he
entered in.' x. 10. * through the offering of the body
of Jesus Christ.' 1 Pet. ii. 24. * who his own self
bare our sins in his own body on the tree.' iv. 1.
^ forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh.'
1 John iv. 10. ^ he sent his son to be the propitiation
for our sins.' Rom. iii. 25. * whom God hath set
forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,
to declare his righteousness.'

For sinners. Isai. liii. 12. * he bare the sin of
many.' 2 Cor. v. 2L * he hath made him to be sin
for us, who knew no sin,' Gal. iii. 13. * Christ hath
redeemed us frolm the curse of the law, being made a
curse for us.' Heh. ix. 28. * Christ was once offered
to bear the sins of many.' 1 Pet. ii. 24. * who his

Online LibraryCharles Richard Sumner John MiltonA treatise on Christian doctrine: compiled from the Holy Scriptures alone → online text (page 32 of 35)