Thursday, November 22, 2007

James Ussher and the Incarnation

I understand that the complete Works of Ussher are now online at Google

A striking prediction made by Ussher was posted here recently with some details of his life.

More books written by Ussher have been republished lately

Crawford Gribben has also written an excellent popular biography.

Ussher wrote a study of the person and work of Christ especially his incarnation. This is a remarkable piece of spiritual and theological insight written in a meditative spirit and one of my favourite pieces of writing. Read it here:

Here are a few extracts from Ussher's work on the incarnation:
"The Nature assumed, is the seed of Abraham, Heb. 2:16, the seed of David, Rom. 1:3. the seed of the Woman, Gen. 3:15, the WORD, the second person of the Trinity, being made FLESH, that is to say, Gods owne Son being made of a Woman, and so becomming truely and really the fruit of her wombe. Neither did hee take the substance of our nature onely, but all the properties also and the qualities thereof: so as it might be said of him, as it was of Elias and the Apostles; that hee was a man subject to like passions as wee are. Yea he subjected himself in the dayes of his flesh to the same weaknesse which we find in our owne fraile nature, and was compassed with like infirmities; and in a word, in all things was made like unto his brethren, sin onely excepted. Wherein yet we must consider, that as he took upon him, not an humane Person, but an humane Nature: so it was not requisite he should take upon him any Personall infirmities, such as are, madnesse, blindnesse, lamenesse, and particular kindes of diseases, which are incident to some onely and not to all men in generall; but those alone which doe accompany the whole nature of mankinde, such as are hungring, thirsting, weannesse, griefe, paine, and mortality."

When Moses beheld the bush burning with fire, and yet no whit consumed, he wondred at the sight, and said; I will now turne aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. But when God thereupon called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Draw not nigh hither, and told him who he was; Moses trembled, hid his face, and durst not behold God. Yet although, being thus warned, we dare not draw so nigh; what doth hinder but we may stand aloofe off, and wonder at this great sight? Our God is a consuming fire; saith the Apostle: and a question we finde propounded in the Prophet. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who amongst us shall dwell with the everlasting burnings? Moses was not like other Prophets, but God spake unto him face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend: and yet for all that, when he besought the Lord that hee would shew him his glory; he received this answer, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. Abraham before him, though a speciall friend of God, and the father of the faithfull, the children of God; yet held it a great matter that hee should take upon him so much as to speak unto God, being but dust and ashes. Yea, the very Angels themselves (which are greater in power and might) are fame to cover their faces, when they stand before him; as not being able to behold the brightnesse of his glory.

"With what astonishment then may we behold our dust and ashes assumed into the undivided unity of Gods owne Person; and admitted to dwell here, as an inmate, under the same roofe? and yet in the midst of those everlasting burnings, the bush to remaine unconsumed, and to continue fresh and green for evermore. Yea, how should not wee with Abraham rejoyce to see this day, wherein not onely our nature in the person of our Lord Jesus is found to dwell for ever in those everlasting burnings; but, in and by him, our owne persons also are brought so nigh thereunto, that God doth set his Sanctuary and Tabernacle among us, and dwell with us; and (which is much more) maketh us our selves to be the house and the habitation wherein hee is pleased to dwell by his Spirit, according to that of the Apostle: Ye are the temple of the living God, as God hath said; I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. and that most admirable prayer, which our Saviour himselfe made unto his Father in our behalfe. I pray not for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they all may be one, as thou. Father art in me, & I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may beleeve that thou hast sent me. I in them, and thou in me, that they may bee made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou host sent me, and host loved them as thou host loved me."