A Short Read for Christmas Eve

Man only is the product of natural generation; this which is born of the virgin is the holy thing, the Son of God. In other generations, a rational soul is only united to a material body: but in this, the Divine nature is united with the human in one person by an indissoluble union.

The Second act of power in the person redeeming, is the union of the two natures, the Divine and human. The designing indeed of this was an act of wisdom; but the accomplishing it was an act of power.

1. There is in this redeeming person a union of two natures. He is God and man in one person (Heb. 1:8, 9). “”Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness,” &c. The Son is called God, having a throne for ever and ever, and the unction speaks him man: the Godhead cannot be anointed, nor hath any fellows. Humanity and Divinity are ascribed to him (Rom. 1:3, 4). “He was of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead.” The Divinity and humanity are both prophetically joined (Zech. 12:10), “I will pour out my Spirit;” the pouring forth the Spirit is an act only of Divine grace and power. “And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced;” the same person pours forth the Spirit as God, and is pierced as man. “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). Word from eternity was made flesh in time; Word and flesh in one person; a great God, and a little infant.

2. The terms of this union were infinitely distant. What greater distance can there be than between the Deity and humanity, between the Creator and a creature? Can you imagine the distance hetween eternity and time, Infinite Power and miserable infirmity, an immortal spirit and dying flesh, the highest Being and nothing? yet these are espoused. A God of unmixed blessedness is linked personally with a man of perpetual sorrows: life incapable to die, joined to a body in that economy incapable to live without dying first; infinite purity, and a reputed sinner; eternal blessedness with a cursed nature, Almightiness and weakness, omuiscience and ignorance, immutability and changeableness, incomprehensibleness and comprehensibility; that which cannot be comprehended, and that which can be comprehended; that which is entirely independent, and that which is totally dependent; the Creator forming all things, and the creature made, met together to a personal union; “The word made flesh”. (John 1:14), the eternal Son, the “Seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16). What more miraculous, than for God to become man, and man to become God? That a person possessed of all the perfections of the Godhead, should inherit all the imperfections of the manhood in one person, sin only excepted: a holiness incapable of sinning to be made sin; God blessed forever, taking the properties of human nature, and human nature admitted to a union with the properties of the Creator: the fulness of the Deity, and the emptiness of man united together (Col. 2:9); not by a shining of the Deity upon the humanity, as the light of the sun upon the earth, but by an inhabitation or indwelling of the Deity in the humanity. Was there not need of an Infinite Power to bring together terms so far asunder, to elevate the humanity to be capable of, and disposed for, a conjunction with the Deity? If a God of earth should be advanced to, and united with the body of the sun, such an advance would evidence itself to be a work of Almighty power: the God hath nothing in its own nature to render it so glorious, no power to climb up to so high a dignity: how little would such a union be, to that we are speaking of! Nothing less than an Incomprehensible Power could effect what an Incomprehensible Wisdom did project in this affair.

3. Especially since the union is so strait. It is not such a union as is between a man and his house he dwells in, whence he goes out and to which he returns, without any alteration of himself or his house; nor such a union as is between a man and his garment, which both communicate and receive warmth from one another; nor such as is between an artificer and his instrument wherewith he works; nor such a union as one friend hath with another: all these are distant things, not one in nature, but have distinct substances. Two friends, though united by love, are distinct persons; a man and his clothes, an artificer and his instruments, have distinct subsistencies; but the humanity of Christ hath no subsistence, but in the person of Christ. The straitness of this union is expressed, and may be somewhat conceived, by the union of fire with iron; “fire pierceth through all the parts of iron, it unites itself with every particle, bestows a light, heat, purity, upon all of it; you cannot distinguish the iron from the fire, or the fire from the iron, yet they are distinct natures; so the Deity is united to the whole humanity, seasons it, and bestows an excellency upon it, yet the natures still remain distinct. And as during that union of fire with iron, the iron is incapable of rust or blackness, so is the humanity incapable of sin: and as the operation of fire is attributed to the red-hot iron (as the iron may be said to heat, burn, and the fire may be said to cut and pierce), yet the imperfections of the iron do not affect the fire; so in this mystery, those things which belong to the Divinity are ascribed to the humanity, and those things which belong to the humanity, are ascribed to the Divinity, in regard of the person in whom those natures are united: yet the imperfections of the humanity do not hurt the Divinity.”60 The Divinity of Christ is as really united with the humanity, as the soul with the body; the person was one, though the natures were two; so united, that the sufferings of the human nature were the sufferings of that person, and the dignity of the Divine was imputed to the human, by reason of that unity of both in one person; hence the blood of the human nature is said to be the “blood of God” (Acts 20:28). All things ascribed to the Son of God, may be ascribed to this man; and the things ascribed to this man, may be ascribed to the Son of God, as this man is the Son of God, eternal, Almighty; and it may be said, “God suffered, was crucified,” &c., for the person of Christ is but one, most simple; the person suffered, that was God and Man united, making one person.61

4. And though the union be so strait, yet without confusion of the natures, or change of them into one another. The two natures of Christ are not mixed, as liquors that incorporate with one another when they are poured into a vessel; the Divine nature is not turned into the human, nor the human into the Divine; one nature doth not swallow up another, and make a third nature distinct from each of them.62 The Deity is not turned into the humanity, as air (which is next to a spirit) may be thickened and turned into water, and water may be rarified into air by the power of heat boiling it. The Deity cannot be changed, because the nature of it is to be unchangeable; it would not be Deity, if it were mortal and capable of suffering. The humanity is not changed into the Deity, for then Christ could not have been a sufferer; if the humanity had been swallowed up into the Deity, it had lost its own distinct nature, and put on the nature of the Deity, and, consequently, been incapable of suffering; finite can never, by any mixture, be changed into infinite, nor infinite into finite. This union, in this regard, may be resembled to the union of light and air, which are strictly joined; for the light passes through all parts of the air, but they are not confounded, but remain in their distinct essences as before the union, without the least confusion with one another. The Divine nature remains as it was before the union, entire in itself; only the Divine person assumes another nature to himself.63 The human nature remains, as it would have done, had it existed separately from the Λόγος, except that then it would have had a proper subsistence by itself, which now it borrows from its union with the Λόγος, or, word; but that doth not belong to the constitution of its nature. Now let us consider, what a wonder of power is all this: the knitting a noble soul to a body of clay, was not so great an exploit of Almightiness, as the espousing infinite and finite together. Man is further distant from God, than man from nothing.


What a wonder is it, that two natures infinitely distant, should be more intimately united than anything in the world; and yet without any confusion! that the same person should have both a glory and a grief; an infinite joy in the Deity, and an inexpressible sorrow in the humanity! That a God upon a throne should be an infant in a cradle; the thundering Creator be a weeping babe and a suffering man, are such expressions of mighty power, as well as condescending love, that they astonish men upon earth, and angels in heaven.


60 Lessius de Perf. Divin. lib. 12. cap. 4. p. 104.

61 Lessius, pp. 103, 104.

62 Lessius pp. 103, 104. Amyrald. Irenic. p. 284.

63 Amyrald. Irenic. p. 282.

Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 2 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 61–64.