All office fulness with all office gifts
Embossed are in thee, whereby thy grace
Doth treat both God and man, brings up by hifts
Black sinner and white justice to embrace:
Making the glory of God’s justice shine
And making sinners to God’s glory climb.
Office: At this point, Taylor is using the standard theological language of “office” to describe the work of Jesus Christ. It is a reference to particular aspects of Christ’s work as prophet, priest and king. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, questions 23-27 read as follows:
Q. 23. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet [a], of a priest [b], and of a king [c], both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.
[a]. Deut. 18:18; Acts 2:33; 3:22-23; Heb. 1:1-2
[b]. Heb. 4:14-15; 5:5-6
[c]. Isa. 9:6-7; Luke 1:32-33; John 18:37; 1 Cor. 15:25
Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word [a] and Spirit [b,] the will of God for our salvation [c].
[a]. Luke 4:18-19, 21; Acts 1:1-2; Heb. 2:3
[b]. John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8; 1 Pet. 1:11
[c]. John 4:41-42; 20:30-31
Q. 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice [a], and reconcile us to God [b]; and in making continual intercession for us [c].
[a]. Isa. 53; Acts 8:32-35; Heb. 9:26-28; 10:12
[b]. Rom. 5:10-11; 2 Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:21-22
[c]. Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24
Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us [a], and in restraining and conquering all his
and our enemies [b].
[a]. Ps. 110:3; Matt. 28:18-20; John 17:2; Col. 1:13
[b]. Ps. 2:6-9; 110:1-2; Matt. 12:28; 1 Cor. 15:24-26; Col. 2:15
What Taylor means is that Christ fulfills the work of prophet, priest and king in the Incarnation, and that also Christ has the “gifts,” the abilities to fulfill such work.
Treat God and man: Christ, in his unique position as God Incarnate can deal equally with God and with Human Beings. He can communicate between the two as a bridge before the finite and infinite, the creator and creature.
Justice and mercy: The concept which causes Taylor to so praise, is that Christ, by means of his unique position being God and Man, can reconcile two completely opposite demands.
Justice by its nature requires satisfaction of the guilty party. If one is guilty, it is unjust for the law to ignore the demand. To understand this point, perhaps you need to feel it.
Imagine that someone you dearly loved was victimized by a brutal criminal. This criminal was then brought before a judge, where the fact of the crime was unquestionably established. However, the judge simply determined to let the criminal free without any penalty. You would rightly be angry: the law was unjust in permitting the guilty to go free.
Thus, God – to be God – must be perfectly just and cannot ignore crime.
However, this presents an unsolvable problem for humanity. The wrong done to an infinitely perfect being does not permit an easy resolution. What could we possibly do to satisfy the justice of God?
The prophet Micah put it this way:
Micah 6:6–7 (ESV)
6 “With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
What we need is mercy from God.
How then can God be perfectly just (fully punishing crime) and merciful (passing over crime)?
Jesus as God and Man stands in for humanity. God’s justice is brought upon Jesus who suffers as a substitute and thus obtains mercy for human beings. In the act of faith and repentance, God transfers our guilt to Christ and Christ’s righteousness to us and so the sinner and justice “embrace.”