BY what means was Christ made flesh? Through what means was He partaker of human nature? —Exactly the same means as are all of us partakers: all of the children of men. For it is written: "As the children [of the man] are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same."
Likewise signifies "in the like way," "thus," "in the same way." So He partook of "the same" flesh and blood that men have, in the same way that men partake of it. Men partake of it by birth. So "likewise" did He. Accordingly, it is written, "Unto us a Child is born."
Accordingly, it is further written: "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman." Galatians 4:4. He, being made of a woman in this world, in the nature of things He was made of the only kind of woman that this world knows.
But why must He be made of a woman? Why not of a man? —For the simple reason that to be made of a man would not bring Him close enough to mankind as mankind is, under sin. He was made of a woman in order that He might come, in the very uttermost, to where human nature is in its sinning.
In order to do this, He must be made of a woman; because the woman, not the man was first, and originally, in the transgression. For "Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." 1 Timothy 2:14
To have been made only of the descent of man would have been to come short of the full breadth of the field of sin; because the woman had sinned and sin was thus in the world, before the man sinned.
Christ was thus made of a woman in order that He might meet the great world of sin at its very fountain head of entrance into this world. To have been made otherwise than of a woman would have been to come short of this, and so would have been only to miss completely the redemption of men from sin.
It was "the Seed of the woman" that was to bruise the serpent's head; and it was only as "the seed of the woman," and "made of a woman," that He could meet the serpent on his own ground, at the very point of the entrance of sin into this world.
It was the woman who, in this world, was originally in the transgression. It was the woman by whom sin originally entered. Therefore, in the redemption of the children of men from sin, He who would be the Redeemer must go back of the man, to meet the sin that was in the world before the man sinned.
This is why He, who came to redeem, was "made of a woman." By being made of a woman, He could trace sin to the very fountain head of its original entry into the world by the woman. And thus, in finding sin in the world, and uprooting it from the world, from its original entrance into the world till the last vestige of it shall be swept from the world, in the very nature of things, He must partake of human nature as it is since sin entered.
Otherwise, there was no kind of need whatever that He should be "made of a woman." If He were not to come into closest contact with sin as it is in the world, as it is in human nature; if He were to be removed one single degree from it as it is in human nature, —then He need not have been "made of a woman."
But as He was made of a woman, —not of a man; as He was made of the one by whom sin entered in its very origin into the world, and not made of the man, who entered into the sin after the sin had entered into the world, —this demonstrates beyond all possibility of fair question that between Christ and sin in this world, and between Christ and human nature as it is under sin in the world, there is no kind of separation, even to the shadow of a single degree. He was made flesh; He was made to be sin. He was made flesh as flesh is, and only as flesh is in this world; and was made to be sin only as sin is.
And this must He do to redeem lost mankind. For Him to be separated a single degree, or a shadow of a single degree, in any sense, from the nature of those whom He came to redeem, would be only to miss everything.
Therefore, as He was made "under the law," because they are under the law whom He would redeem; and as He was made a curse, because they are under the curse whom He would redeem; and as He was made sin, because they are sinners, "sold under sin," whom He would redeem, — precisely so He must be made flesh, and "the same" flesh and blood, because they are flesh and blood whom He would redeem; and must be made "of a woman," because sin was in the world first by and in the woman.
If He were not of the same flesh as are those whom He came to redeem, then there is no sort of use of His being made flesh at all. More than this: Since the only flesh that there is in this wide world which He came to redeem, is just the poor, sinful, lost, human flesh that all mankind have; if this is not the flesh that He was made, then He never really came to the world which needs to be redeemed. For if He came in a human nature different from that which human nature in this world actually is, then, even though He were in the world, yet, for any practical purposes in reaching man and helping him, He was as far from him as if He had never come: for, in that case, in His human nature He was just as far from man and just as much of another world as if He had never come into this world at all.
It is thoroughly understood that in His birth Christ did partake of the nature of Mary—the "woman" of whom He was "made." But the carnal mind is not willing to allow that God in His perfection of holiness could endure to come to men where they are in their sinfulness. Therefore endeavor has been made to escape the consequences of this glorious truth, which is the emptying of self, by inventing a theory that the nature of the virgin Mary was different from the nature of the rest of mankind; that her flesh was not exactly such flesh as is that of all mankind. This invention sets up that, by some special means, Mary was made different from the rest of human beings, especially in order that Christ might be becomingly born of her.
This invention has culminated in what is known as the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Many Protestants, if not the vast majority of them as well as other non-Catholics, think that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Jesus by the virgin Mary. But this is altogether a mistake. It refers not at all to the conception of Christ by Mary; but to the conception of Mary herself by her mother.
The official and "infallible" doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, as solemnly defined as an article of faith, by Pope Pius IX, speaking ex cathedra on the 8th of December, 1854, is as follows: —
By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we declare, pronounce, and define, that the doctrine which holds that the most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of HER conception, by a special grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and, therefore, is to be firmly and steadfastly believed by all the faithful.
Wherefore, if any shall presume, which may God avert, to think in their heart otherwise then has been defined by us, let them know, and moreover understand, that they are condemned by their own judgment, that they have made shipwreck as regards the faith, and have fallen away from the unity of the Church. —"Catholic Belief," page 214.
This conception is defined by Catholic writers thus: —
The ancient writing, "De Nativitate Christi," found in St. Cyprian's works, says: Because (Mary) being "very different from the rest of mankind, human nature, but not sin, communicated itself to her."
Theodore, patriarch of Jerusalem, said in the second council of Nice, that Mary "is truly the mother of God, and virgin before and after childbirth; and she was created in a condition more sublime and glorious than that of all natures, whether intellectual or corporeal."—Id., pages 216, 217.
This plainly puts the nature of Mary entirely beyond any real likeness or relationship to mankind or human nature as it is. Having this clearly in mind, let us follow this invention in its next step. Thus it is, as given in the words of Cardinal Gibbons: —
We affirm that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word of God, who in His divine nature is, from all eternity, begotten of the Father, consubstantial with Him, was in the fulness of time again begotten, by being born of the virgin, thus taking to himself from her maternal womb a human nature of the same substance with hers.
As far as the sublime mystery of the incarnation can be reflected in the natural order, the blessed Virgin, under the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, by communicating to the Second Person of the adorable Trinity, as mothers do, a true human nature of the same substance with her own is thereby really and truly His mother. —"Faith of Our Fathers," pages 198, 199.
Now put these two things together. First, we have the nature of Mary defined as being not only "very different from the rest of mankind," but "more sublime and glorious than all natures:" thus putting her infinitely beyond any real likeness or relationship to mankind as we really are.
Next, we have Jesus described as taking from her a human nature of the same substance as hers.
From this theory it therefore follows as certainly as that two and two make four, that in His human nature the Lord Jesus is "very different" from the rest of mankind: indeed, His nature is not human nature at all.
Such is the Roman Catholic doctrine concerning the human nature of Christ. The Catholic doctrine of the human nature of Christ is simply that that nature is not human nature at all, but divine: "more sublime and glorious than all natures." It is that in His human nature Christ was so far separated from mankind as to be utterly unlike that of mankind: that His was a nature in which He could have no sort of fellow-feeling with mankind.
But such is not the faith of Jesus. The faith of Jesus is that "as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same."
The faith of Jesus is that God sent "His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh."
The faith of Jesus is that "in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren."
The faith of Jesus is that He "Himself took our infirmities," and was touched "with the feeling of our infirmities," being tempted in all points like as we are. If He was not as we are, He could not possibly be tempted "like as we are." But He was "in all points tempted like as we are." Therefore He was "in all points" "like as we are."
In the quotations of Catholic faith, which in this chapter we have cited, we have presented the faith of Rome as to the human nature of Christ and of Mary. In the second chapter of Hebrews and kindred texts of Scripture there is presented, and in these studies we have endeavored to reproduce as there presented, the faith of Jesus as to the human nature of Christ.
The faith of Rome as to the human nature of Christ and Mary, and of ourselves, springs from that idea of the natural mind that God is too pure and too holy to dwell with us and in us in our sinful human nature: that sinful as we are, we are too far off for Him in His purity and holiness to come to us just as we are.
The true faith—the faith of Jesus—is that, far off from God as we are in our sinfulness, in our human nature which He took, He has come to us just where we are; that, infinitely pure and holy as He is, and sinful, degraded, and lost, as we are, He in Christ by His Holy Spirit will willingly dwell with us and in us, to save us, to purify us, and to make us holy.
The faith of Rome is that we must be pure and holy in order that God shall dwell with us at all.
The faith of Jesus is that God must dwell with us, and in us, in order that we shall be holy or pure at all.