The Hypostatic Union in Relation to Our Union With Christ

I was reading in Thomas Manton today and discovered some very interesting thoughts on the above topic. Here are the relevant passages:

In the hypostatical union, our nature is united with Christ’s nature; in the mystical union, our person with his person. In the hypostatical union, Christ matched into our family; in the mystical union, the soul is the bride…Thus Christ first honoured our nature, and then our persons; first he assumeth our nature, and then espouseth our persons…The hypostatical union is indissoluble; it was never laid aside, not in death; it was the Lord of glory that was crucified, it was the body of Christ in the grave. So it is in the mystical union; Christ and we shall never be parted…In the hypostatical union, the human nature can do nothing apart from the divine; no more can we out of Christ…In the hypostatical union, God dwelleth in Christ σωματικῶς, Col. 2:9 “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” In the mystical union, God dwelleth in us πνευματικῶς, 1 John 4:4 “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” The hypostatical union is the ground of all that grace and glory that was bestowed on the human nature…By the hypostatical union, Christ is made our brother, he contracted affinity with the human nature; by the mystical union he is made our head and husband, he weddeth our persons. Volume XI of his complete works, pp. 35-36.

Incidentally, I came across another quotation on baptism in Manton that cuts against the grain of the Federal Vision:

We are ‘baptized into Christ,’ Galatians 3:27. It is the pledge of our admission into that body whereof Christ is the head. God is aforehand with us; we were engaged to make a profession of this union, before we had liberty to choose our own way. Let us not retract our vows, and make baptism only a memorial of our hypocrisy, to profess union when there is no such matter. Emphasis added, p. 68 of the same volume.



  1. Reed Here said,

    March 24, 2010 at 6:56 am

    You wanna bet how long before you hear, “yeah, but”?

  2. David Gray said,

    March 24, 2010 at 7:17 am

    > You wanna bet how long before you hear, “yeah, but”?

    I’ll say this. When I was a reformed Baptist we all loved the Puritans. Why? I think part of it was they weren’t nearly as Calvinistic in their view of the church and the sacraments and that fit our inclinations much better. I think Presbyterians who are uncomfortable with what Calvin and the WCF say on such matters are prone to prefer the Puritans for similar reasons. I’m not saying there isn’t value in them, I’ve still got my Banner of Truth sets I picked up in the UK but I read them a bit more carefully than I once did.

  3. Reed Here said,

    March 24, 2010 at 9:05 am

    David: I will admit the more I study the Reformed Fathers, from Calvin to the Puritans (sorry my Lutheran brothers), I see more and more examples of where these Fathers speak of the reprobate church member’s experience of the covenant of grace. I do understand why the FV’ers read these as support for their positions.

    The problem is that the Reformed Fathers are much more careful in their formulations than the FV’ers. The Reformed Fathers show a distinct absence of any sense of undifferentiated ministry in the the covenant of grace. There is that which all experience externally, and there is that which only the elect experience internally. Contra the FV’ers, the former is in no manner a form of, parallel to, or patterned after the latter, at least according to the Reformed Fathers.

    This actually gives me some hope that in time some FV’ers will think a little more congenially about our concerns, and see the lack of necessay nuancing in their formulations. Still, as this pattern ordinarily is the work of a “second generation”, we’re looking at another twenty years before this may be expected to happen.

    That gives me pause for great sadness.

  4. pduggie said,

    March 24, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Engagement is a pledge to get married and have sexual union, right?

    But Joseph needed to (justly and righteously) DIVORCE Mary because he found she had (seemingly) violated the engagement.

    So was there NO kind of union there? Why was divorce needed? How would you characterize the union?

  5. pduggie said,

    March 24, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Reed: I can agree that sometimes FVers aren’t careful.

    I don’t think it helped FVers be more careful that there was strenuous judicial and ad-hoc extrajudicial opposition to FV points of view almost immediately.

  6. Reed Here said,

    March 24, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Almost immediately is a bit of an overstatement Paul. Of course, this will end up in a quibble of timing, etc. I’m comfortable with the pace of response from my denomination (PCA), especially in light of it following well after such a significant event as the Knox Colloqium.

  7. TE Stephen Welch said,

    March 24, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Reed, in response to # 1, I predict this will come to pass before the week is over :-(

  8. Paul Duggan said,

    March 24, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I’m referring to the broader reformed world. The PCA in general was kinda well paced.

    But the RPCUS under Morecraft issued harsh judicial condemnations almost immediately.

    And some in the PCA publicly listed FV stuff as “aberrant” theology almost immediately too, without engaging in significant conversation on it. There were also publicly circulated slanders that FV naturally led to iconolatry, even though all FV principals were strenuously against it.

    I find it hard not to carry paper on that, but I’m trying.

  9. Ron Henzel said,

    March 24, 2010 at 12:05 pm


    You wrote:

    Engagement is a pledge to get married and have sexual union, right?

    It was not a modern engagement, but an ancient betrothal practice that does not directly correspond to more recent betrothal or engagement practices.

    But Joseph needed to (justly and righteously) DIVORCE Mary because he found she had (seemingly) violated the engagement.

    Again, it was not an “engagement” that was violated. Under the rabbinic interpretation of the Law, the couple was considered “married” as soon as the betrothal was contracted.

    So was there NO kind of union there? Why was divorce needed? How would you characterize the union?

    There was a legal union, at least from the perspective of the Second Temple period rabbis under whom Joseph and Mary were raised.

    Ancient Jewish marriage customs and practices developed over many centuries. By the first century they had been influenced by increasing contact with Gentile practices since the Babylonian Captivity and Diaspora. I think the article on “Betrothal” in the online Jewish Encyclopedia is a helpful place to start.

    It seems that you are trying to find some kind of analogy between betrothal and baptism. I think it would helpful if you clarified precisely how this works in your mind.

  10. Paul Duggan said,

    March 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    The only way it works for me is to say “hey there is some kind of analogy between baptism and betrothal” frankly.

    The baptized person has “some kind of union” and if they apostatize it doesn’t mean they NEVER WERE BETROTHED (which is what is stated too often by the non FV side) I’d be happy to say however, that the union isn’t a “consummated” one for future apostates. But I’m sure Joseph loved Mary, spent time with her, and gave her tokens of his actual love.

    I’d be happy to say that the baptized person has a legal union with Christ, but not mystical. In fact, I think that’s what some non FV people tend to say.

    I’m never sure how you can have a legal union with Christ and not posses his righteousness for justification then, if “legal union” has any real meaning other than a shibboleth to avoid deeper union terms.

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