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August 15, 2005

Ch. XVI. Q. 101. Purposes of the Incarnation

THE ULTIMATE purpose for which the eternal Son took our nature was to bring men into union with God in Himself, so that in Him they might fulfil the end for which they were created. But because of sin, His immediate purpose was to suffer and die for the redemption of mankind.1

2. As has been shown, man's chief end is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever";2 and the relation in which he stands to God requires habitual expression in sacrifice—in corporate self-oblation to his Creator. This requirement had been ceremonially fulfilled before Christ came by a ritual which was merely symbolical.3 An offering was needed which should effect what it figured—a sacrament, in which man might truly attain to God and effectualIy offer himself.

3. The Incarnation was designed to afford this sacramental medium; which is our own nature, assumed by very God, perfected by redemptive suffering and grace, and glorified.4 This manhood, thus exalted, and mysteriously identified with consecrated symboIs of bread and wine, becomes at once (a) the food of our immortality, whereby we can live and can identify ourselves with Him who became incarnate; (b the veil and propitiatory memorial, through and by which we gain access to God; (c) the sacred gift and oblation, by offering which we effectively express and enjoy the divine communion and fellowship for which we were made.5

4. If we accept the evolutionary description of man's physical development, we seem to discover in the mystery of the Incarnation and redemption a supernatural completion of natural evolution, made effectual by purifying and redeeming grace. The native factors in human nature which make men struggle for adjustment to, and survival in, a spiritual universe, suggest that human evolution is not completed, and that the involution of a superhuman factor is needed for its completion. The glorified manhood of God-incarnate contains that factor—a factor which regenerates, purifies, recovers from physical death and finally develops in man the likeness of God in Jesus Christ. In this likeness man can forever enjoy true life with God.6

5. But this evolution is preëminently moral and spiritual, and sin has interrupted it. Sin is more than a brake upon progress. It is a violation of the moral order, which can only be remedied by expiation. It is a disease which can only be eradicated by the surgery of death—unendurable by the natural man. By the Incarnation God came to the rescue, fashioning and proving a morally perfect manhood, in which He made the required satisfaction for sin and overcame the fatal power of death. And the manhood in which He thus overcame the consequences of sin becomes not only our place of effectual propitiation, but the sustaining virus which changes death from a fatal operation to successful surgery.7

1 Ephes. i. 3-14; Gal. iv. 4-5; I Tim. i. 15. Incarnation, ch. iii. 5-6; A.J. Mason, Faith of the Gospel, vi. 2, 4; A.P. Forbes, ,cite>Nicene Creed, pp. 161-163.

2 Q. 87.2 above.

3 Q. 93.5 above.

4 Creation, ch. x. 1, 6-7; W.J. Carey, Life in Grace, chh. iv-v: W. Milligan, Resurrection of Our Lord, Lec. v; H.P. Liddon, Christmastide in St. Paul's, pp. 77-80, 115-121; M.F. Sadler, Second Adam, ch. ii.

5 Cf. Q. 150, in vol. III.

6 Incarnation, ch. iii. 6.

7 Incarnation, ch. iii. 5; St. Thomas, III. i. 4; A.J. Mason, vii. 3; W. Milligan, Ascension, pp. 114-142, 264-268, 307-313.

Posted by AKMA at August 15, 2005 04:43 PM