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'Hast thou That cannot
goodness defeated, by the malice of the devil? made all men for nought?' says the Psalmist. be; so great wisdom cannot do so great a work in vain: but in vain it had been if God had not shown mercy; and therefore was man's case, rather than that of the fallen angels, matter of the divine commiseration and pity.
But it will better become us humbly to adore the plain revelation of his love, than curiously to pry into the hidden secrets of his wisdom, to ascribe all this to the tender mercies of our God, whereby he from on high hath visited us; to the great love wherewith he loved us,' as the Apostle speaks. "God so loved the world,' says our Saviour, that he gave his only-begotten Son;' and we, taught by him, for a reason of this great mystery, say only, even so, Lord, for so it seemed good in thy sight.' [Luke x. 21.]
IV. Which leads me to the fourth thing to be considered,— and that is, the admirable wisdom and fitness of this method, which God has made use of for our redemption; and that in respect of his own glory, and the benefit of mankind.
1st, Of his own glory. This was the ineffable contrivance of the divine counsel, that God and man should be joined in one person, that so, as man, he might become a sacrifice for sin; and as God, make his sacrifice worthy to be accepted, his manhood giving him a capacity to suffer, and his godhead giving a value to his sufferings. Thus is God magnified in all his excellencies, having, to the triumph of his mercy, out of the hidden treasures of his wisdom excited by his love, found an expedient how both sin should be punished and the sinner pardoned; his justice at the same time fully satisfied; his majesty undiminished; his truth preserved entire and inviolate, by a person of infinite dignity interposing in the offender's room, answering the strictest demands of offended omnipotence, and doing not only right but honour to every one of his essential attributes and divine perfections.
2dly. In respect of the benefit of mankind, and the singu lar uses which we may, and should make of this gracious method, which his wisdom has adopted for our redemption.
1st. For, first, God has not only hereby secured his own honour, and vindicated the authority of his law, by exacting so high and full a satisfaction for the breach of it; but has publicly also given the greatest discouragement to sin that
can possibly be conceived, by so illustrious a manifestation of his irreconcileable aversion and mortal hatred to it, in punishing it so severely in the bitter sufferings and death of Him, in whom he was ever well pleased. In that he spared not him, God has openly declared and convinced the world, that he hates sin, if infinity were capable of degree, even more than he loved his own Son.
Ally. By this means, of Christ's being made in every thing like to us, and in this likeness familiarly conversing with us, and fulfilling all righteousness, God has both given us a perfect and imitable example of holiness and obedience; and by this means also taken away all manner of excuse, which we might urge from the inequality or impossibility of his commands. Is not the ready and perfect obedience which Christ in our nature paid, a full demonstration how reasonable a service God requires at our hands, while he exacts from us no other duties, but what are so excellent in themselves, that the Son of God was willing, and so possible to us, that the Son of Man was able, to perform them?
3dly. It behoved Christ to be made like unto us, for our great comfort and encouragement. In all things like unto us, for he did not only take our nature, but all the infirmities of it; and having been subject to all the evils and temptations of our frail mortality, cannot but have a fellow-feeling of all our sufferings, remembering his own,--and be ready, in all our afflictions and temptations, to support and deliver us, to supply our wants and assist our weakness, and to show mercy, and to afford grace to help in time of need. And this is the particular use, that the Apostle here makes of this gracious dispensation, in the words immediately following the text : “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things pertaining to God; for in that he himself suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.'
Lastly. We have hence a comfortable assurance of an equal and merciful judgement at that great day, when . God shall judge the world by the man whom he hath ordained. For, for this reason God hath given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man.' Had it been allowed to us to have chosen ourselves a judge, from whom could we expect a more favourable sentence than from a man
like ourselves ? one who has shewn the greatest kindness that can be possibly conceived, for human nature; who is sensible of the follies, and infirmities, and temptations of it; who will not require in us the purity of the angels or unbodied spirits; for he experimentally knows whereof we are made, and · remembers that we are but dust.' And, surely, we may conclude God has not designed, that sentence should pass upon us according to the rigour of the law, but the mildness and mercies of the gospel; since he has appointed him to be our Judge, who is our Redeemer, who is our High-priest, who is our Intercessor, who is our Advocate, who is our brother.
Thus we see, that, upon many important considerations, it was an appointment of infinite wisdom and goodness, that the Saviour of the world should in all things be made like unto his brethren.'
Let us, therefore, give all possible thanks and praise to our merciful Redeemer, for this gracious condescension in abasing himself so far as to be the son of man, that he might exalt us to be the sons of God. Should we not gladly join with that heavenly host, who, not envying our felicity, though so much preferred to their once-glorious but now fallen and miserable fellow-spirits, ushered in the birth of God incarnate, with this triumphant song, Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men !' Shall these, who have no interest or share in this great salvation, be desirous to bow down and look into this glorious mystery; and shall not we who are so much concerned, lift up our hearts, raise up our souls to a devout contemplation, and frequent and serious and grateful meditation of his incomprehensible love, who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was made man ? Abraham, whose seed he long after took upon him, was transported with the remote foresight only of so great a blessing; · He saw this day afar off, and was glad.' How should we then be affected, to whom the Son of God is actually come! What acknowledgments can we pay in any wise suitable and becoming for such mighty love,—not in dim shadows, as to this great patriarch, the friend of God, prefigured only and promised, but in real blessings substantially performed ! ' Certainly, the best way of expressing our joy, and gratitude, and love, is heartily to comply with this merciful design of the Son of God in being made man. Let not
us receive this grace in vain! This grace which has appeared indeed to all men, but bringeth salvation to those only whom it. teacheth to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and righteously in this present world, looking for his second glorious appearing;' for which, if we have not rightly prepared ourselves, it will be much better for us that the first had never been. • Let us not say within ourselves, We have Abraham for our father, and him that took upon him the seed of Abraham, for our brother,' if we go on in our iniquities, lest we justly receive the same rebuke which the Jews did from him, when he was upon earth. I know that ye are Abraham's seed,' says our Saviour to those hypocritical pretenders, that is, “ that you boast of your high descent from that great man, and that according to the flesh ye are, what ye pretend to be, really descended from him; but yet you have none of that spiritual and more valuable relation to him, which only can entitle you to those glorious promises made to him as father of the faithful, and to as many as are the heirs of his faith. For if ye were, in this divine and comfortable sense, Abraham's children, the works of Abraham
ye would do.”—Let us thus secure our title and adoption by bearing as near a similitude, as is possible, to this our elder brother. If in our lives are expressed the resemblance and lineaments of his divine perfections; if in our conversations there appear any remarkable traces of his innocence and purity, his sanctity and love, his humility and meekness, his zeal for the honour of God and the welfare of man; if we are thus conformed to the image of his son, his honourable, true, and only son by nature,- for this likeness to the first-born, God will own us also for his sons by adoption and grace, nor will Christ be ashamed to call us brethren. Let us, then, since he has condescended in all things to be made like unto us, earnestly endeavour to be made like unto him. Let us not, by the impurities of sin, disgrace and dishonour that flesh which he has been pleased so highly to dignify as to partake of; let us keep holy and undefiled that nature which he has so far honoured, as to assume and unite unto his own. And since he has vouchsafed to take upon him our flesh, let us, in return, as the Apostle exhorts, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.' Let us set all the graces and virtues of that divine life, which he, out of his great humility, was pleased to lead here among us, as a constant pattern to model our own by; that by' a lively faith in his infallible word, a cheerful obedience to his holy will, and a studious imitation of his perfect example, we may, at last, be made meet to be partakers of those joys, that he has purchased for all those that love, obey, and resemble him.
[RICHARD DUKE, A.M.]
AN INCARNATE GOD. 1 Tix. ii. 16.-And, without controversy, great is the mystery of gode
liness; God manifest in the flesh. This mystery of godliness, an incarnate God, is too deep to be explained; too awful to be boldly and curiously pried into; and is then improved to the best purpose, when we receive it with reverence and humble faith, and endeavour to excite those pious affections, which the earnest contemplation of it hath a natural tendency to kindle in every devout mind.
1. And First, How ought we to be filled with holy wonder, at this surprising and altogether new instance, which God hath given of his Almighty power, in the incarnation of his blessed Son! I call it surprising and altogether new, because so very different from all the other demonstrations of omnipotence, at any time exhibited to the world. The distance between God, and all created beings, is so vast, as to admit no manner of proportion, upon which may be founded the least shadow of a comparison. And, therefore, every dispensation of His, which proclaims his excellence above these, is less amazing ; because it is more agreeable with the notions, which men naturally have of his infinite greatness. But that God should . empty,' and as it were, go out of himself;' (Phil. ii. 8. Mic. v. 2.] that the Ancient of days, whose . outgoings have been from everlasting,' should be born in Bethlehem, a child, not an hour old; [Luke ii. 12, 16.) that He whom all the angels worship,' should vouchsafe to be made lower than the lowest of those ministring spirits, who are commanded to pay him adoration; in a word, that the immortal Creator should take upon him