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There are two things which, if considered, will put a bright lustre on this act of Christ's condescension.
1. The baseness of the matter of that body he assumed-a clod of earth, and that the worst of earth, viz. red earth : so the word Adam, in Hebrew, signifies.
2. The abject state and wretched condition into which it fell by the apostacy, and rebellion of Adam, to which he knew he must become subject. Hence it is that he is styled a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, Isa. liii. 3, 4. “ For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh; God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,” &c. Rom. viii. 3.
Fourthly, In his being born of mean parents. Christ, as God, did single out and choose the womb in which his humanity was to be conceived; which was not an empress, a queen, or some lady of rich and noble extraction according to the flesh; but a mean and despicable maid, of a mean and poor family; so poor, that she was not able to compass a lamb, but must be trusting to a pair of turtle doves for a sacrifice, Luke ii. 24. compared with Levit. xii. 8. I marvel which of all the wise men, or the professors of this age, would freely make such a choice for themselves or theirs? Christ had regard to the promise, not to riches or honours.
Fifthly, His taking on him the form of a servant, “ Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears thou diggedst through,” Psalm xl
6. David, personating Christ, speaks with allusion to Exodus xxi. 6. where the law for servants is set down. That ceremony of boring the servant's ear through with an awl, did prefigure Christ's perpetual servitude to his Father, until he should finish the work he had undertaken to go through with. “ I have glorified thee on the earth : I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” John xvii. 4. “ And made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,” &c. Phil. ii. 7.
Sixthly, The objects of his choice whom he loves and delights in; namely, the poor and despised ones of the world.
The design of the scriptures now quoted is not to assure us that all poor ones in this world are to be inheritors of the kingdom of heaven, or that all who are richly or nobly born after the flesh shall be damned; but the design is, that very few comparatively of the rich and noble of this world are saved.
Worldly greatness and saving grace very rarely meet together in the same person. When they do, none on earth prove more lowly-minded, and abundant in love to and zeal for God, than such. “ Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is made high, but the rich in that he is made low,” &c. James i. 9. 10.
A second thing in the apple tree which allegorically sets forth the excellency and usefulness of
Christ to the elect, is its spreading and shadowy nature. As the apple tree is of singular use and advantage to human bodies, to shelter them from storms and showers; so the Lord Jesus, spiritually fled or run to by faith, is useful and advantageous to the souls of God's elect in time of spiritual storms. Christ is set forth in scripture as the only shadow of security to the children of God in time of all their distress and tribulations. “ And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day-time from the heat; and for a place of refuge, and for à covert from storms and from rain,” Isa. iv. 6. “ Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall,” Isa. xxv. 4.
The prophecies now mentioned are to be understood of and applied to Christ and the elect, and none else. Christ is a shadow to them, and to none else; and none in earth or heaven can secure them from the dreadful storms they meet with but he, and none besides him.
The doctrinal observation which naturally results from the former part of the text is, that Christ the Son of God, allegorically set forth by the apple tree, is a shadow of protection to the weakest believer, let what storms will come on him in this world. Or thus: In the most distressed and deplorable case and condition a believer
can possibly be in, in respect of sin and misery, he is for ever secured from perishing, being found under the shadow of Christ's protection.
Besides the words of the text, that in Isa. xxv.4. is a full and convincing proof of the observation now laid down. To which many other scriptures may be added, out of both the Old Testament and the New. But, omitting many quotations, I shall proceed to a more clear and convincing demonstration of the truth of the doctrine now asserted; and that by an enumeration of the several particular storms wherewith the weak believer must look and expect to meet before he arrives at heaven; and out of all which Christ will most certainly deliver him.
There are six sharp and dreadful storms wherewith God's elect meet between the cradle and the crown in glory; from all which the shadow of Christ's mediatorship covers and secures them for
First, The storm of the law's damnatory sentence, which thunders out curses and eternal death ön all Adam's children, none excepted. “ Now we know that what things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law; that
mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God,” Rom. iii. 19. as are of the works of the law, they are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the law, to do them,” Gal. iii. 10.
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Here is a storm which is like the avenger of blood under the law : it will never be laid till the awakened, convinced sinner, be either in hell, or sheltered under the shadow of Christ's mediatorial satisfaction, given to offended justice for the sins of God's elect. From this storm none can secure but the Lord Jesus, “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,” John viii. 36. “ For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” Rom. x. 4. When the elect sinner flies for refuge to the shadow of Christ's mediatorial satisfaction from the terrifying sentence of the law's malediction and curse, the law sounds a retreat; it ceaseth to pursue the sinner, or to threaten him any more with damnation.
As the avenger of blood was not to follow the manslayer into the city of refuge, so neither will the law pursue with curse and vengeance the believing sinner who hath gotten under Christ's shadow.
Secondly, The bitter agonies of a wounded conscience when the law's terror reaches the soul, and, like fire, drinks
the very spirit of a poor sinner, so that he knows not which way to go, or what to do, for ease and healing. 0! what but Christ's mediatorial shadow can shelter such a wounded soul! It is marvellous to think what various and pitiful shifts the bewildered sinner makes to shelter himself from this storm, and to lick the wound whole which the killing terror of the law hath given the soul and conscience within: the dis