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have been able to discover things so hidden, so sublime, and so far surpassing the grasp of all creatures;-that the eternal Son of God should be born in time and become man, that he might be in condition to fulfil the law which was given to men, and, as their Surety, to undergo the punishment due to the offences of men ;that he should even become one of mankind, that he might love and redeem them as his brethren and kinsmen;-yet born of a virgin, who knew no man, that he might contract nothing of that filth of human depravity, which is communicated by ordinary generation to posterity! How adorable do the wisdom, the holiness, the truth, the goodness, and the philanthropy of God appear, in devising, admitting, providing, and perfecting this method of our recovery! How do these mysteries satisfy the soul, thirsting after salvation, yet justly despairing of relief from all that could be done by itself, or by any other amongst men or angels! Here, here, at last, it perceives, what is to be found no where else in heaven or in earth, a way of reconciliation worthy of the perfections of the Deity, and safe for man. These, these are the tremendous mysteries of Christianity, which " eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and which "have not entered into the heart of man ;" which were
kept secret since the world began, but now are made "manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, ac"cording to the commandment of the everlasting God, "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith."r
XLIV. In the second place, we ought to be dissolved in this unbounded love of Christ towards us. Who doubts that the excellence of the human race, even when the comparison is most favourably made, must yield to
9 1 Cor. ii. 19.
Rom. xvi. 25, 26.
the dignity of celestial spirits. But, behold, angels sinned, and man, in like manner, sinned. Yet God, whilst he leaves angels to suffer the punishment due to their transgression, and consigns them to eternal misery, has compassion upon men, and that he may show them his compassion, becomes a partaker of the same nature with them. For he took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham. How great the height of love in this humiliation of Christ! The ill-advised inhabitants of Lystra of old, indulged in a tumultuous joy, when they beheld the miracles of Paul and Barnabas. "The Gods," said they, "are "come down to us in the likeness of men." What they rashly presumed, we may truly affirm,-that God has made a visit to us from heaven in the form of a man, praising him in these words, "What is man that "thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that "thou visitest him?" Is it not the most incredible of all miracles, that the eternal Son of God, the Lord of glory, veiling the rays of his majesty, became a creature; -and among creatures, not one of the seraphim or cherubim, but a man (and how little is man to be accounted of!) and among men, not a king or a monarch, but "a servant of rulers." Truly he was pleased to converse familiarly with us, and to live in a condition which might obtain for us the name of brethren. "In "all things" he was "made like unto us, that he might "be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things per
taining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins " of the people." "For we have not an High-priest
$ Acts xiv. 11.
" Is. xlix. 7.
▾ Verse 17.
t Ps. viii. 4.
▾ Heb. ii. 11, 12.
"who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."x In short, he submitted to the lowest degree of our vileness, that he might exalt us above the rank of men, and make us partakers of his own, that is, of “a divine nature." O compassion! O almost incredible vehemence of love! O how far doth this love exceed the tenderness of a brother's or a father's affection! With what emotions of gratitude wilt thou be acknowledged! With what returns of love wilt thou be recompensed! What heart is so cold and frozen as not to be dissolved, warmed, and kindled into flames, by the ardours of so boundless a love!
XLV. It must, however, be observed, further, that if we wish to have a solid foundation for our joy in the incarnation of Christ, it is necessary that the same person who was once fashioned in the womb of the Virgin after the likeness of a man, be formed also in our hearts, that he live there, that he be nourished there, that he grow up there "unto a perfect man, unto the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."a Since he was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, it is not for us to pretend to be his brethren, unless we give evidence by a holy course of life, that we are renewed by the same Spirit after the image of God. And as he would not be conceived by any but a virgin, we too must embrace him with a pure and chaste mind, which detests every appearance of a whorish attachment to the world, and is animated with a virgin love to God alone.
XLVI. In fine, as at his birth, choirs of heavenly
* Heb. iv. 15.
y 2 Pet. i. 4.
* Ephes. iv. 13.
Angels praised the incarnate Son of God in joyful strains, it is incumbent upon us to celebrate that great mystery of godliness, and God the author of it, with devout and unceasing praises. The blessed Angels begin the song; let us follow them with the voice and the heart. 66 Glory to God in the highest," who has exhibited a brighter display of his admirable perfections in this illustrious work, than he did of old in the creation of the whole universe! Glory to the Father, who has raised up, admitted, and given us such a Surety! Glory to the Son, who clothed himself with human flesh, and so cheerfully accomplished his surety-undertaking on our behalf! Glory to the Holy Spirit, the revealer and witness of so deep, so momentous, so precious a truth; and the earnest of so invaluable and longed-for a salvation! Hosanna, blessed Jesus, thou true and eternal God, thou true and holy man! In the unity of thy person, we recognise both natures, each possessing its own distinct properties. Thee we acknowledge. Thee we worship. From thy hand alone we expect salvation. May the whole world of thine elect unite with us in knowing, acknowledging, and adoring thee, and thus be saved through thy blessed name! Amen.
b Luke ii. 13, 14.
I. NOTHING can be imagined more elegant, instructive, and impressive, than the emblems made use of in sacred writ; and that which occurs in Zech. iii. 9. has always appeared to me particularly beautiful. Our Saviour is there represented as a STONE laid by the hand of God before Joshua the High-priest, to which one Stone seven eyes are directed, and the engravings of which the Lord of hosts engraved, whilst by means of it he purposed to remove the iniquity of the earth in one day. The Stone signifies Christ, who is "the "rock of our salvation," and "the corner-stone, in "whom the whole building of the church fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”b He is called " one Stone;"" for other foundation can "no man lay." God hath laid the Stone, namely, God, who so loved the world that he gave his onlybegotten Son." He laid it, too, before Joshua, that he and the rest of the priests, and all the teachers
ON CHRIST'S SUFFERING UNDER
a Deut. xxxii. 15.
c 1 Cor. iii. 11.
b Ephes. ii. 20, 21.
d John iii. 16.