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image of God, that is, the Word of God, came into him who was after the image of God, that is man. And this image of God seeks him who was after the image of God, that he might seal him with it again, and confirm him, because he had lost that which he had received.' And Austin in one instance gives a rational account why it was condecent unto divine wisdom, that the Son, and not the Father, or the Holy Spirit, should be incarnate; which we also inquire into; lib. de Definition. Orthodoxis, cap. 2. 'Non Pater carnem assumpsit, neque Spiritus Sanctus, sed Filius tantum ; ut qui erat in divinitate Dei Patris Filius ipse fieret in homine, hominis Matris Filius; ne Filii nomen ad alterum transiret, qui non esset æterna nativitate filius.' 'The Father did not assume flesh, nor the Holy Spirit, but the Son only; that he who in the Deity was the Son of the Father, should be made the Son of man, in his mother of human race; that the name of the Son should not pass unto any other, who was not the Son by an eternal nativity.'
I shall close with one meditation of the same author, concerning the wisdom and righteousness of God in this mystery. Enchirid. ad Laurent. cap. 99. 'Vide -universum genus humanum tam justo judicio Divino in apostatica radice damnatum, ut etiam si nullus inde liberaretur, nemo recte possit Dei vituperare justitiam; et qui liberantur, sic oportuisse liberari, ut ex pluribus non liberatis, atque damnatione justissima derelictis, ostenderetur, quod meruisset universa conspersio, et quo etiam istos debitum judicium Dei duceret, nisi ejus indebita misericordia subveniret.' Behold, the whole race of mankind by the just judgment of God so condemned in the apostatical root, that if no one were thence delivered, yet no man could rightly complain of the justice of God; and that those who are freed, ought so to be freed, that from the greater number
who are not freed, but left under most righteous condemnation, it might be manifest what the whole mass had deserved, and whither the judgment of God due unto them would lead them, if his mercy, which was not due, did not relieve them.' The reader may see what is discoursed unto these purposes: and because the great end of the description given of the person of Christ, is that we may love him, and thereby be transformed into his image, I shall close this preface with the words of Jerome, concerning that divine love unto Christ which is at large declared. 'Sive legas,' saith he, 'sive scribas, sive vigiles, sive dormias, amor tibi semper buccina in auribus sonet, hic lituus excitet animam tuam, hoc amore furebundus; quære in lecto tuo, quem desiderat anima tua.' Epist. ad Pammach. cap. 4. 'Whether thou readest or writest, whether thou watchest or sleepest, let the voice of love (to Christ) sound in thine ears; let this trumpet stir up thy soul; being overpowered (brought into an ecstasy), with this love, seek him on thy bed, whom thy soul desireth and longeth for.'
THE PERSON OF CHRIST.
Peter's confession; Matt. xvi. 16. Conceits of the Papists thereon. The substance and excellency of that confession.
OUR blessed Saviour inquiring of his disciples their apprehensions concerning his person, and their faith in him, Simon Peter, as he was usually the forwardest on all such occasions, through his peculiar endowments of faith and zeal, returns an answer in the name of them all; Matt. xvi. 16. 'And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.'
Baronius, and sundry others of the Roman church, do affirm that the Lord Christ herein did prescribe the form of a general council.. 'For here,' say they, 'the principal article of our Christian faith was declared and determined by Peter, whereunto all the rest of the apostles, as in duty they were obliged, did give their consent and suffrage.' This was done, as they suppose, that a rule and law might be given unto future ages, how to enact and determine articles of faith. For it is to be done by the successors of Peter presiding in councils, as it was now done by Peter in this assembly of Christ and his apostles.
But they seem to forget that Christ himself was now present, and therefore could have no vicar, seeing he presided in his own person. All the claim they lay unto the necessity of such a visible head of the church on the earth, as may
determine articles of faith, is from the absence of Christ since his ascension into heaven. But that he should also have a substitute whilst he was present is somewhat uncouth; and whilst they live they shall never make the pope president, where Christ is present. The truth is, he doth not propose unto his disciples the framing of an article of truth, but inquires after their own faith which they expressed in this confession. Such things as these will prejudice carnal interest, and the prepossession of the minds of men with corrupt imaginations, cause them to adventure on, to the scandal, yea, ruin of religion.
This short but illustrious confession of Peter, compriseth eminently the whole truth concerning the person and office of Christ. Of his person, in that although he was the Son of man, under which appellation he made his inquiry, 'Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?' yet was he not only so, but the eternal Son of the living God. Of his office, that he was the Christ, he whom God had anointed to be the Saviour of the church, in the discharge of his kingly, priestly, and prophetical power. Instances of the like brief confessions we have elsewhere in the Scripture; Rom. x. 9. 'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.' 1 John. iv. 2, 3. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God.' And it is manifest, that all divine truths have such a concatenation among themselves, and do all of them so centre in the person of Christ, as vested with his offices towards the church, that they are all virtually comprised in this confession; and they will be so accounted unto all who destroy them not by contrary errors and imaginations inconsistent with them; though it be the duty of all men to obtain the express knowledge of them in particular, according unto the means thereof which they do enjoy. The danger of men's souls lieth not in a disability to attain a comprehension of longer or more subtle confessions of faith, but in embracing things contrary unto, or inconsis tent with, this foundation thereof. Whatever it be, whereby men cease to hold the head, how small soever it seem, that alone is pernicious; Col, ii. 18, 19.
This confession, therefore, as containing the sum and substance of that faith, which they were called to give testimony unto, and concerning which their trial was approaching, is approved by our Saviour. And not only so, but eminent privileges are granted unto him that made it, and in him unto the whole church, that should live in the same faith and confession; ver. 17, 18. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'
Two things doth our Saviour consider in the answer returned unto his inquiry. 1. The faith of Peter in this confession, the faith of him that made it. 2. The nature and truth of the confession; both which are required in all the disciples of Christ; For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation; Rom. x. 10.
1. The first thing which he speaks unto is the faith of Peter, who made this confession; without this no outward confession is of any use or advantage. For even the devils knew him to be the Holy One of God; Luke iv. 34. yet would he not permit them to speak it; Mark i. 34. That which gives glory unto God in any confession, and which gives us an interest in the truth confessed, is the believing of the heart, which is unto righteousness. With respect hereunto, the Lord Christ speaks, ver. 17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.'
He commends and sets forth the faith of Peter, (1.) From its effect. (2.) From its cause. Its effect is, that it made him blessed in whom it was. For it is not only a blessed thing to believe and know Jesus Christ, as it is called life eternal, John xvii. 3. but it is that which gives an immediate interest in the blessed state of adoption, justification, and acceptance with God; John i. 12. (2.) The immediate cause of this faith is divine revelation. It is not the effect or product of our own abilities, the best of which are but flesh and blood. That faith which renders them blessed in whom