Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from A Body of Divinity, and is a meditation on the incarnation of Christ.
See here the wonderful humility of Christ. Christ was made flesh. O sancta humilitas, tu filium Dei descendere fecisti in uterum, Mariae Virginis [O holy humility, you made the Son of God descend into the womb of the Virgin Mary]. Augustine. That Christ should clothe himself with our flesh, a piece of that earth which we tread upon; oh infinite humility! Christ’s taking our flesh was one of the lowest steps of his humiliation. He humbled himself more in lying in the virgin’s womb than in hanging upon the cross. It was not so much for man to die, but for God to become man was the wonder of humility. ‘He was made in the likeness of men.’ Phil 2:2. For Christ to be made flesh was more humility than for the angels to be made worms. Christ’s flesh is called a veil in Heb 10. ‘Through the veil,’ that is, his flesh. Christ’s wearing our flesh veiled his glory. For him to be made flesh, who was equal with God, oh what humility! ‘Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God.’ Phil 2:2. He stood upon even ground with God, he was co-essential and con-substantial with his Father, as Augustine and Cyril, and the Council of Nice express it; yet for all that he takes flesh. He stripped himself of the robes of his glory, and covered himself with the rags of our humanity. If Solomon wondered that God should dwell in the temple which was enriched and hung with gold, how may we wonder that God should dwell in man’s weak and frail nature! Nay, which is yet more humility, Christ not only took our flesh, but took it when it was at the worst, under disgrace; as if a servant should wear a nobleman’s livery when he is impeached of high treason. Besides all this he took all the infirmities of our flesh. There are two sorts of infirmities; such as are sinful without pain, and such as are painful without sin. The first of these infirmities Christ did not take upon him; as sinful infirmities, to be covetous or ambitious. But he took upon him painful infirmities as (1:) Hunger. He came to the fig-tree and would have eaten. Matt 21:18, 19. (2:) Weariness, as when he sat on Jacob’s well to rest him. John 4:4. (3:) Sorrow. ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’ Matt 26:68. It was a sorrow guided with reason not disturbed with passion. (4:) Fear. ‘He was heard in that he feared.’ Heb 5:5. A further degree of Christ’s humility was, that he not only was made flesh, but in the likeness of sinful flesh. ‘He knew no sin, yet he was made sin.’ 2 Cor 5:21. He was like a sinner; he had all sin laid upon him, but no sin lived in him. ‘He was numbered among transgressors.’ Isa 53:12. He who was numbered among the persons of the Trinity is said ‘to bear the sins of many.’ Heb 9:98. Now, this was the lowest degree of Christ’s humiliation; for Christ to be reputed as a sinner was the greatest pattern of humility. That Christ, who would not endure sin in the angels, should himself endure to have sin imputed to him is the most amazing humility that ever was.
From all this learn to be humble. Dost thou see Christ humbling himself, and art thou proud? It is the humble saint that is Christ’s picture. Christians, be not proud of fine feathers. Hast thou an estate? Be not proud. The earth thou treadest on is richer than thou. It has mines of gold and silver in its bowels. Hast thou beauty? Be not proud. It is but air and dust mingled. Hast thou skill and parts? Be humble. Lucifer has more knowledge than thou. Hast thou grace? Be humble. Thou hast it not of thy own growth; it is borrowed. Were it not folly to be proud of a ring that is lent? I Cor 4:4. Thou hast more sin than grace, more spots than beauty. Oh look on Christ, this rare pattern, and be humbled! It is an unseemly sight to see God humbling himself and man exalting himself; to see a humble Saviour and a proud sinner. God hates the very semblance of pride. He would have no honey in the sacrifice. Lev 2:11. Indeed, leaven is sour; but why no honey? Because, when honey is mingled with meal or flour, it makes the meal to rise and swell; therefore no honey. God hates the resemblance of the sin of pride; better want parts, and the comfort of the Spirit, than humility. Si Deus superbientibus angelis non pepercit. ‘If God,’ says Augustine, ‘spared not the angels, when they grew proud, will he spare thee, who art but dust and rottenness?’