Page images
PDF
EPUB

we shall find that the providence of God was chiefly occupied in preparing the world for this event. If revelations from heaven be made to the patriarchs and prophets, it is to show them the day of the Messiah afar off—if Christ chose a peculiar people, it was to render them the depositories of the promises concerning his coming, Nor were indications of the divine intentions confined to the Jews only, the plan of providence extended over the whole earth. This was one great end of all the designs of the Deity, and furnishes the key to all the divine dispensations. “ If empires rose or fell, if war divided, or peace united the nations, if learning civilized their manners, or philosophy enlarged their views, all was, by the secret appointment of heaven, made, in some measure, to modify the world for that fulness of time, when the Messiah was to appear.” What a magnificent conception does this give us of the person of Christ, when we behold princes and kings, entering one after another upon the stage of time, to prepare the way for the King of kings!

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

Nor were the occurrences which immediately preceded, and attended our Lord's nativity, less remarkable---a celestial envoy is delegated to Joseph, to tell him not to hesitate to take Mary to wife, for that which was conceived in her was of the Holy Ghost. Gabriel, the most exalted of the angelic spirits, is despatched from the throne of God to proclaim the child's birth-a heavenly choir cheer the midnight hours, with repeating “glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will towards men;" the long expected star is seen in the east, to direct the magi where to pay their adorations, is it prohable? is it conceivable? is it credible that heaven should bestow such honours upon any being, whose nature was not eternally and essentially divine? But supposing that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world, of whom Isaiah prophecied"Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, (the Father of Eternity) The Prince of Peace;" then the magnificence of his attendants was highly graceful, and it

was no wonder that all the celestial armies should unite, with harmonious voices, and accordant hearts, in applauding and celebrating a condescension and benevolence, great and illustrious beyond all example.

CHAPTER IV.

ATONEMENT OF CHRIST.

“ Ye are bought with a price.”

1 Cor. vi. 20.

In the history of the creation, revelation teaches, that when the Almighty formed man, he made him just and upright, furnished with the means and fitted for the enjoyment of unadulterated happiness. That moral nature which was his glory, and capacitated him for the felicities for which he was designed, required that he should be free; and his sovereign Creator thought it best that a sense of his dependence should be impressed upon him, and his obedience tried by an easy, benevolent, explicit law, enacted and promulgated by the lips of the Deity himself. Whether the command of not eating the fruit of the forbidden tree in paradise is to be interpreted literally, or allegorically, of some other prohibition expressed in these terms, agreeably to the stile and genius of the oriental writers, it matters

not. This diversity of interpretation makes no difference in the case. Whatever the test of man's obedience was, the will of the lawgiver is clearly announced, “ If thou art guilty of disobedience, thou shalt surely die.”

Obedience then had the promise of continued life, the penalty threatened to disobedience was death. The gift freely bestowed on a certain condition, was to be withdrawn on the breach of it, and though the loss was immense, to the loser no wrong was done, and no complaint in reason can be made, for what man had no right to demand, might be offered, on what terms the giver pleased.

In this first state of trial, I could shew the wisdom and the goodness of the Deity, and the obligations thus imposed upon his new moral creatures, of implicit compliance with his will.

But, at present, it concerns us only to observe, that in abuse of that freedom, by which he was ennobled, man violated the law of his Maker, in defiance of the awful

« PreviousContinue »