By Henry Edward, Manning. Cardinal Archbishop Of Westminster.
'The Word,' that is the Eternal Son of God, ' was made flesh' without ceasing to be God. From all eternity He is God. In time He took upon Him our nature and was made man. He 'dwelt' in the midst of men, and men ' saw His glory,' and that glory was 'the glory of the Only-begotten of.the Father.' It was therefore a divine glory. These are the words of the Apostle. How are we to understand this doctrine? What is the Incarnation ?
1. The Athanasian Creed will tell us; it is assumptio humanitatis in Deum : the assumption of humanity into God. It is not the conversion of Godhead into flesh, nor the conversion of the flesh into Godhead. It is not the confusion of two natures into one. It is the assumption of human nature into the unity of the Divine Person of the Eternal Son of God. He took the nature of man ; He assumed it to Himself. And this assumption was the work of the Three Persons of the Ever-blessed Trinity, for all the works of Omnipotence ad extra are the works of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. The Father and the Holy Ghost assisted in the divine work of the Incarnation, but it was the Son of God alone who invested Himself with our humanity. The Person of the Son became incarnate, and not the Person of the Father, nor the Person of the Holy Ghost. But, as the Son of God is God, it is God who became incarnate. And in that Incarnation He assumed a human soul. In the order of reason, though not in the order of time, the Word of God assumed a human soul, and thereby a human body; a human soul like ours and a human body like ours in all its sinless infirmities; and therein He assumed the whole nature of man. a
a In which wonderful conception Wisdom built herself a house, and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and yet the Word was not converted or changed into flesh, that He should cease to be God who willed to be man; but the Word was so made flesh, that not only the Word of God and the flesh of man were there, but also the rational soul of man: and this Whole should be called God because of Godhead, and man because of manhood. In whom, the Son of God, we believe that there were two natures, one of Godhead, another of manhood, which the one person of Christ so united in Himself, that the divinity could never be separate from f the humanity, nor the humanity from the divinity: nor in saying s that there are two natures in the Son do we make in Him two Persons, lest, which God forbid, a quaternity should seem to enter into the Trinity. For God the Word did not assume the Person of a man, but the nature, and into the Eternal Person of His Godhead He assumed in time the substance of flesh ; so although we believe the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost to be of one substance, we yet do not say that the Virgin Mary bore the unity of this Trinity, but the Son alone, who alone assumed our nature into the unity of His Person. It is to be believed also that the whole Trinity wrought the incarnation of the Son of God, because the works of the Trinity are inseparable. Yet it was the Son alone who assumed the form of a servant in the singularity of His Person, not in the unity of the Divine nature, in that which is proper to the Son, not in that which is common to the Trinity: which form was fitted to Him in the unity of His Person, that is, that the Son of God and the Son of man should be one Christ.' Symbolum Fidei Concilii Toletani, II., a.d. 675.