Of the Union of the Two Natures in Christ

by William Perkins

Now followeth the Union of the two natures in Christ, which especially concerneth his Mediation, for by this union it commeth to pass, that his humanity did suffer death upon the cross in such sort, as he could neither be overcome, nor perpetually overwhelmed by it. Three things belong to this uniting of Natures.

I. Conception, by which his human nature was by the wonderful power and operation of God, both immediately, that is, without man’s help, and miraculously framed of the substance of the virgin Mary. Luke 1:35, “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

The Holy Ghost cannot be said to be the Father of Christ because He did minister no matter to the making of the humanity, but did only fashion and frame it of the substance of the virgin Mary.

II. Sanctification, whereby the same human nature was purified, that is, altogether severed by the power of the Holy Ghost, from the least stain of sin, to the end that it might be holy, and He made it fit to die for others. Luke 1:35, “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit ” 1 Peter 2:22, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”

III. Assumption, whereby the Word, that is, the second person of the Trinity, took upon Him flesh and the seed of Abraham, namely, that his human Nature to the end, that it being destitute of a proper and personal substance, might in the person of the Word obtain it, subsisting, and as it were, being supported of the Word forever. John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Heb. 2:16, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”

In the assumption, we have three things to consider: 1) The difference of the two natures of Christ. For the divine nature, as it is limited to the person of the Son, is perfect and actually subsisting in itself; the human nature, which consisteth in whole of body and soul, doth neither subsist in itself, nor by itself; 2) the manner of union. The person of the Son did by assuming the human nature, create it, and by creating assumed it, communicating His subsistence unto it; the like example of union is nowhere to be found. 3) The product of the Union. Whole Christ, God and man, was not made a new person of the two natures, as of parts compounding a new thing; but remained still the same person. Now where the ancient Fathers termed Christ a compound person, we must understand them not properly, but by proportion. For as the parts are united in the whole, so these two natures do concur together in one person, which is the Son of God.

By this we may see that Christ is one only son of God, not two: yet in two respects he the son of God. As he is the eternal Word, he is by nature the son of the Father. As he is a man, the same son also, yet not by nature, or by adoption, but only by personal union (Luke 1:35) Matt. 3:17, “This is My beloved Son…”

The phrase in Scripture agreeing to this Union, is the communion of properties, which is a true and real predication; even as far as it ariseth of the true and real union of natures; concerning which, observe two rules.

I. Of those things, which are spoken or attributed to Christ, some are only understood of his divine nature. As that John 8:58, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” And also, Col. 1:15, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” Some again only agree to his humanity, as born, suffered, dead, buried, &c. Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Lastly, other things are understood, only of both natures united together, as Matt. 17:5, “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Eph. 1:22, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.”

II. Some things are spoken of Christ as he is God which must be interpreted according to his human nature. Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” 1 Cor. 2:8, “Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Contrarily, some things are mentioned of Christ, as he is man, which only are understood of his divine nature. John 3:13, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” This is spoken of his manhood, whereas we must understand, that only his Deity came down from heaven. John 6:62, “What if ye should see the Son of Man (viz. Christ’s human nature) ascended up where he (viz. his Deity) was before.”

Lastly, by reason of this Union, Christ, as he is man, is exalted above every name, yea, he is adored, and hath such a great (though not infinite) measure of gifts as far as surpass the gifts of all saints and angels. Eph. 1:21, “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” Heb. 1:6, “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” Col. 2:3, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Phil. 2:9-10 “Therefore God exalted him on High, and gave him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow [namely worship, and be subject to him] both of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth.”


Source: The Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)

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