« AnteriorContinuar »
But though, on Account of these Excellencies, as well as her peculiar Relation to him, she was the Object, both of her Son's dutiful Subjection in his younger Years; and of his tender Care, even when he hung upon the Cross: yet we find no Footsteps of any such Repard paid her, either by him or his Disciples, as can give the least Pretence for ascribing to her those Prerogatives and Powers, which the Church of Rome doth. Our Saviour, in more Places than one of the Gospels, treats her in so cold, and feemingly negligent a Manner, that one cannot well avoid thinking he did it on Purpose, to discourage that monstrous Notion, of her Right, as a Mother, io command him, who was her Lord, as well as ours, In the other parts of the New Testament, excepting those, which I have already quoted, or to which I bave referred, there is only an incidental Mention made of ber occasionally; as there is of many other Persons: and not the most diftant Intimation of any especial Honour shewn, or directed to be thewn her. Yet doth the Romith Church appoint Offices of Devotion to her, bearing her Name; address her as Queen of Heaven, for so they expressly call her ; petition her, almoft in the same Breath with God and our Saviour, that she would bestow on them Pardon and Grace here, and everlasting Life hereafter : Things infinitely beyond the Power of any Creature whatever. Nay, some of them professedly bind themselves to pray much oftener to her, than they do their Maker or Redeemer : and appear accordingly to place much more Confidence in her. And all this, not only without the least Proof, that she hath any Authority in human Affairs, or even any Knowledge of them ; but in open Defiance of the Scripture, which directs our Prayers to God alone; and particularly of that Paffage in St. Paul, where the voluntary Humility of worshiping even Angels, though they are known to be ministring Spirits, is forbidden, as what may beguile us of our Reward; and the Persons, who
practise it, condemned, as not holding the Head, which is Chriftp.
But to return to our Subject. The foregoing Doctrine, of God manifeft in the Flesh, is undoubtedly one very wonderful Part of that, which the Apostle calls the Mystery of Godliness. And yet there is nothing in it, either impoffible, or indeed more difficult to the Almighty, than in those Productions of his, which we commonly call the Course of Nature, and wonder at them less, for no other Reason, but because we see them constantly; the Manner of both being equally inconceivable.
And as the miraculous Conception, and Birth of Christ, was easy to infinite Power : so was it undoubtedly proper and fit, fince it was chosen by infinite Wisdom. Indeed some Footsteps of that Wisdom even we may be able to trace in this wonderful Dispensation. It appears most becoming the Dignity of so extraordinary a Person, not to enter into the World in the ordinary Manner. As the first Adam, possessed of original Uprightness, was formed immediately by the Hand of God; it was suitable, that the second Adam, who came to restore that Uprightness, should not be inferior, but indeed superior, in that Respect. Accordingly we read, that the first Man was of the Earth, earthy: the second, the Lord from Heaven' It seems requisite also, that he, who was designed both for a spotless Example to us, and a spotless Sacrifice to God, should be perfectly free from every Degree of that Impurity, and inward'Irregularity, which the tainted Nature of a fallen earthly Father may, for ought we know, according to the established Laws of this World, communicate whereas being produced in the Manner that he was may have qualified him perfectly for becoming, both a Lamb without Blemish, and a high Priest, in every Respect and Degree, boly and undefiled, and separate from Sinners'.
P Col. ii. 18, 19. Heb. i. 14. 91 Tim. iii. 16. 450 47 • Exod. xii. So · Heb. vii. 26.
1 i Cor. XV
But whether these or others, concealed from us for wise though perhaps unsearchable Ends, were the Reasons why his Incarnation was in this Manner ; yet, for his being incarnate, there are several weighty Reafons very evident; and possibly many more, entirely unseen by us.
By becoming Man, he was capable of becoming the moft complete and engaging Pattern of Virtue to Man. The Example of the invisible God might seem too high, and too remote from our View. The Examples of Men were all, in one Respect or another, faulty, and likely to mislead us. But our blessed Saviour, by joining in his own Perfon Perfection with Humanity, gives us the most encouraging Invitation to endeavour at doing so too, according to our Power. He was in all Points tempted like as we are, yet without Sino; to leave us an Example, that we might follow his Steps'. But in particular, by this Means he hath fet us the brightest Example of that excellent Virtue, Humility, that ever was, or could be ; to this Intent, that the same Mind might be in us, which was in him: who being in the Form of God, took upon him the Form of a Servant, and was made in the Likeness of Men w. Of mutual Love also he hath set before us the most amiable Pattern, by this amazing Proof of his Love to Mankind. He, who was rich in all the Glories of God, became poor for our Sakes; that we, through his Poverty, might become rich * in heavenly Blessings. He, who was exempted from all Sufferings, suffered every Thing terrible in Life and Death for our Good. Surely these are powerful Motives both to give up, and do, and undergo, whatever we are called to, for our Brethren ; and to love one another, as he hath Loved us y. His Resignation likewise, his Meekness, his Zeal, his Prudence, every one of his Virtues, (and his whole Character was composed of Virtues,) are most useful Lessons, derived from his appearing in our Nature,
u Heb. iv. 15. * 2 Cor, viii. 9.
vi Pet. ii, 21. ? John XV, 121
. Phil. ii. 5, 6, 7.
that in a very peculiar Manner command our Attention, and require our Imitation.
But further still; by becoming Man he had the Means of most familiarly and beneficially instructing Men, in every Point of Faith and Practice. The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us, full of Grace and
Truth, and of bis Fulness have we all received". This Condescension enabled him to accommodate his Manner of teaching to the Capacities and Dispositions of his Disciples, to remove their Prejudices, insinuate Truth into their Minds gradually: and thus gently training them up to the Kingdom of Heaven, lay such deep Foundations of his Church, as shall never be moved.
By taking upon him our Nature, he was likewise capable of being a Sacrifice for our Sins ; a Doctrine, which in its proper Place shall be explained to you: Therefore, since we are Partakers of Flesh and Blood, he also himself took Part of the fame, that, through Death, he might destroy him, that had the Power of Death, that is, the Devila.
And there was another Benefit, consequent to his suffering in our Nature, viz. his rising again in it; and thus giving us the fullest Certainty of our own Refurrection to eternal Life.
Even while he sits at the right Hand of the Father, interceding for his Church, and ruling over it, his being Man both makes him a proper Person to represent Men, and offer up their Devotions : and affords us the most sensible Assurance of his knowing the Wants, and being touched with the Necessities, of the Nature in which he shares. Wherefore in all Things it behoved him, says the Apostle, to be made like unto his Brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high Priest in Things pere taining unto God. For, in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to fuccour them that are tempted b. Seeing then that we have not a high Priest, that cannot be touched with the Feeling of our Infirmities : but one, who was
? John i. 14, 16,
a Heb, ii. 14,
Heb. ii. 17, 18.
in all Points tempted, like as we are: we may come boldly is the Throne of Grace, in Confidence of obtaining Mercy, and finding Grace to help, in Time of Need". And since, lastly, we have a Judge appointed us, who hath experienced whereof we are made; we may be in the utmost Degree certain, that his Judgment will be according to Equity : that on the one Hand, all due Allowances will be made to us; and, on the other, no undue ones must be expected by us, in that Day, when God will judge the World in Righteousness by that Man, whom he hath ordainedd; and to whom he hath given Authority to execute Judgment, because he is the Son of Man Heb. iv. 14, 15, 16.
& Acts xvii. 31.
Jobo v. 27.
Article IV. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was
crucified, dead and buried; be descended into Hell.
Mmediately after the Mention of our Saviour's Birth,
the Creed goes on to the Mention of his Sufferings : for indeed his whole State on Earth was a suffering State. By condescending to be made in the Likeness of Man", he exposed himself to all the Neceflities, Infirmities, and Pains, to which Men are naturally subject. Besides this, he underwent the many Inconveniences of a low and unsettled Condition. And, which was yet much heavier, though his whole Life was spent in doing Good, yet was it spent also in bearing Troubles and Uneasinesses from all around him.
The Prejudices and Misapprehensions of his Kindred and Disciples were no finall Trial. But the Perverseness : Phil. ii. 70 Acts X. 38.