Home > Systematic Theology > Duty of Believing in Jesus Christ: States of Christ- Humiliation- Book Fifth- Chapter 2- Section 2

Duty of Believing in Jesus Christ: States of Christ- Humiliation- Book Fifth- Chapter 2- Section 2

Book Fifth




The full history of this wonderful humiliation, is given by the four Evangelist; and is often referred to in the New Testament, and sometimes in the prophetic declarations of the Old.

In contemplating this mystery of “God manifest in the flesh,” we are not to suppose that the divine nature underwent any real change. God cannot cease to be God. The change was in the manifestation, and not in the nature. In this manifestation, even the angels were concerned, for it is a part of the mystery that “God manifest in the flesh” was “seen of angels;”[13] but so wonderful was this new mode of manifestation, that the angels could not readily know their God, in this humble form, as the babe of Bethlehem, and the man of sorrows. Hence, they needed a special command from the eternal throne, before they could render him divine worship: “When he bringeth the first-begotten into the world, he saith, `Let all the angels of God worship him.’ “[14] But this fact, it may be objected , shows it to have been a concealment, rather than a manifestation. This, to some extent, is true; but it is a concealment resembling that by which God showed himself to Moses in the cleft of the rock, concealing the beams of insufferable brightness, that the favored servant might see the back parts of his glory. So the angels, while they behold the Godhead veiled in human nature, obtain views of the divine glory, which would otherwise have been impossible. These are the things “into which the angels desire to look.”[15] “Unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the Church.”–by the redemption and salvation of the Church, through the humiliation and death of Christ,–“the manifold wisdom of God.”[16]

The lowest point of Christ’s humiliation, was his death by crucifixion, and his being held for a time under the power of death, as a prisoner in the grave. Some have thought that he descended into hell; but this opinion has arisen from misinterpretation of the Scripture, “It was said, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell:”[17] but the word “hell” signifies in this place, as in many others, the unseen world, or the state of departed spirits. When it is said, “He went and preached unto the spirits in prison[18], the meaning is, that he, by his spirit, in the ministry of Noah, who was a preacher of righteousness, preached to the antediluvians, who, being disobedient, and rejecting the ministry, were swept away by the flood, and were, when these words were penned, spirits in prison.

The glorious benefits resulting to us from the deep humiliation of Christ, are intimated in the words of Paul: “that ye through his poverty might be rich.”[19] The extent of the riches which we shall acquire by this poverty, eternity must disclose.

[12] I Tim. iii. 16

[13] Phil. ii. 6.

[14] Heb. i. 6.

[15] 1 Pet. i. 12.

[16] Eph. iii. 10.

[17] Ps. xvi. 10.

[18] I Pet. iii. 19.

[19] 2 Cor. viii. 9.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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