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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE STATES OF CHRIST'S HUMILIATION AND EXALTATION


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    DISPUTATION XXXVIII

    ON THE STATES OF CHRIST'S HUMILIATION AND EXALTATION

    I. Respecting the imposition and the execution of the offices which belong to Christ, two states of his usually come under consideration, both of them being required for this purpose - - that he may be able to bear the name of saviour according to the will of God, and, in reality, to perform the thing signified under this name. One of these states is that of his humiliation, and is, according to the flesh, natural; the other is that of glory, according to the Spirit, and is spiritual.

    II. To the first state, that of his humiliation, belong the following articles of our belief: "He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; he descended into hell." To the latter state, that of his exaltation, belong these articles: "He arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead."

    III. The sufferings of Christ contain every kind of reproaches and torments, both of soul and body, which were inflicted on him partly by the fury of his enemies, and partly by the immediate chastisement of his Father. We say that these last are not contrary to the good of the natural life, but to that of the spiritual life. But we deduce the commencement of these sufferings from the time when he was taken into custody; for we consider those things which previously befell him, rather to have been forerunners of his sufferings, by which it might be put to the test, whether, with the prescience of those things which were to be endured, and, indeed, through an experimental knowledge, he would still be ready by voluntary obedience to endure other sufferings.

    IV. The crucifixion has the mode of murder, by which mode we are taught, that Christ was made a curse for us, that we, through his cross, might be delivered from the curse of the law; for this seems to have been the entire reason why God pronounced him accursed who hung on a tree or cross, that we might understand that Christ, having been crucified rather by divine appointment, than by human means, was reckoned accursed for our sake, by God himself.

    V. The death of Christ was a true separation of his soul from the body, both according to its effects and according to place. It would indeed have ensued from crucifixion, and especially from the breaking of his legs; on which account, he is justly said to have been killed by the Jews; but death was anticipated, or previously undertaken, by Christ himself, that he might declare himself to have received power from God the Father to lay down his soul and life, and that he died a voluntary death. The former of these seems to relate to the confirmation of the truth which had been announced by him as a prophet, and the latter, to the circumstances of his priestly office.

    VI. The burial of Christ has relation to his certain death; and his remaining in the grave signifies, that he was under the dominion of death till the hour of his resurrection. This state, we think, was denoted by the existence of Christ among the dead, of which his descent into hell [or hades] was the commencement, as his interment was that of his remaining in the tomb. This interpretation is confirmed, both by the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and by the consent of the ancient church, who, in the symbol of her belief, had only the one or the other of these expressions, either "He descended into hell," or "He was buried." Yet if any man thinks the meaning of this article -- "He descended into hell" -- to be different from that which we have given, we will not contradict his opinion, provided it be agreeable to the Scriptures and to the analogy of faith.

    VII. This state [of humiliation] was necessary, both that he might yield obedience to his Father, and that, having been tempted in all things without sin, he might be able to sympathize with those who are tempted, and, lastly, that he might, by suffering, be consecrated as priest and king, and might enter into his own glory.

    VIII. But this state of glory and exhaltation contains three degrees -- his resurrection, ascension into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of the Father.

    IX. The commencement of his glory was his deliverance from the bonds of the grave, and his rising again from the dead, by which his body, that was dead and had been laid in the sepulcher, after the effects of death had been destroyed in it, was reunited to his soul, and brought back again to life, not to this natural, but to a spiritual life; though, from the overflowing force of natural life, he was able to perform its functions as long as it was necessary for him to remain with his disciples in the present life, after having "arisen again from the dead," to impart credibility to his resurrection. We ascribe this resurrection, not only to the Father through the Holy Spirit, but likewise to Christ himself, who had the power of taking up his life again.

    X. The assumption of Christ into heaven contains the progress of his exaltation. For, as he had finished, on earth, the office enjoined, and had received a body -- not a natural, earthly, corruptible, fleshly and ignominious body, but one spiritual, heavenly, incorruptible and glorious, and as other duties, necessary for procuring the salvation of men, were to be performed in and concerning heaven, it was right and proper that he should rise and be exalted to heaven, and should remain there until he comes to judgment.

    From these premises, the dogma of the papists concerning transubstantiation, and that of the Ubiguitarians concerning consubstantiation, or the bodily presence of Christ in, with and, under the bread, are refuted.

    XI. The exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the Father is the supreme degree of his exaltation; for it contains the consummate glory and power which have been communicated to Christ himself by the Father -- glory, in his being seated with the Father in the throne of majesty, both because the regal office has been conferred on him, with full command, and on earth above all and over all created things, and because the dignity was conferred on him of further discharging [the duties of] the sacerdotal office, in that action which was to be performed in heaven by a more sublime High Priest constituted in heaven itself.

    XII. In relation to the priesthood, the state of humiliation was necessary; because it was the part of Christ to appear in heaven before the face of his Father, sprinkled with his own blood, and to intercede for believers. It was also necessary, in relation to his regal office; because, (and in this behold the administration of the prophetical office placed in subordination to the regal!) because it was his duty to send the word and the Spirit from heaven, and to administer from the throne of his majesty all things in the name of his Father, and especially his church, by conferring on those who obey him, the blessings promised in his word and sealed by his Spirit, and by inflicting evils on the disobedient after they have abused the patience of God as long as his justice could bear it. Of this administration, the last act will be the universal judgment, for which we are now waiting. "Come, Lord Jesus!"

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