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sence; nothing impure could hold intercourse with him. But man was now become a fallen, a sinful creature : how then shall he ever again find favour in his sight? We have seen that nothing short of the perfection of obedience could qualify man for communion with his Maker: it would have been to deny himself, were the Holy One freely to remit the past; it were to offer violence to his own perfection, were he to accept henceforth a lower measure of obedience. This was the scheme, therefore, which in the counsel of his will he graciously devised: he would not lower the standard of his law to meet the level of our fallen nature; but he would send his own Son to take our nature into union with himself, and raise it up to meet the standard of his law. Mankind bad originally been constituted in one man as their head; they were all in the loins of Adam, their first parent. They were now to be gathered together in Christ: he was to become the head of the creature man, and by his own obedience unto death to restore our nature to the dignity and favour from which it had now fallen. The manhood had become exiled from the presence of the Lord in the person of Adam, it was to be reconciled to his favour in the person of Christ; and thus, “ as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one" were many to be “ made righteous.” Since “ by man came death, by man also” was to come “ the resurrection of the dead." The first Adam was 6 the figure of the true.” It became the justice of God 4 that in the nature in which he was offended, in the same should a satisfaction be made for sin: as, therefore, man had deeply wronged and offended, so man also should highly content and satisfy him. Fit it was, that as man had approved, so man also should condemn sin in the flesh: that as man by wilful self-pleasing had incurred misery, so man by voluntary suffering should recover happiness. Christ, therefore, came, as on this day, to set off his own obedience against the disobedience of Adam and of us his posterity, and to suffer in his own person the penalty due to our sins. He came also to demonstrate in his own life on earth the condition which man ought to have been ever occupying. Having emptied himself of his divine glory, and taken the form of a servant, he exhibited a continual dependence on his heavenly Father, receiving all things at his hands, committing himself to him at all times and in all circumstances, ascribing to him all praise. At the same time this glory he yielded to his Father in our name and on our behalf; he had linked himself to us by the bonds of a common
nature; he had connected himself with our species by the fibres and ligaments of a common humanity; he regarded himself as having now come in the place of the first Adam, standing forth as a public person, not in a private capacity. He sought no private ends; he cherished no separate interests; he performed not one act of selfishness. He felt every man to be a part of him; he was bowed down in spirit by our sins ; his holy soul clave to the dust. “ Forsmuch as" the objects of his love “were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” And herein is the wisdom of God displayed in the incarnation of the Saviour.
But he that would undertake for us must be God as well as man. No created being could give value to the work, or uphold the manhood in all the conflict which it was summoned to maintain. No man nor angel could achieve so mighty an enterprise. It was to be in the person of his own beloved Son that the Father would be glorified, and adopt into the place of children the outcast race of man.
The blessed virgin was ordained to become the temple in which the Holy Spirit should knit the indissoluble bond between our human nature and Christ's deity. And thus should peace on earth
and good will towards men accord in sweet harmony with glory to God in the highest.
These observations have not touched upon the deeper and more mysterious sense in which Christ is the wisdom of God. It might be shown you that in this character he was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the world was."5 It might be shown you that the founda
5 Prov. viii. 23. A literal version of Col. i. 16, 17, will exhibit this truth more manifestly: he is in ver. 15 called “ the first-born of every creature,” because this he was in the design of the Father, having covenanted to assume a creature-nature, and having been set up as such from everlasting. In the same sense he is elsewhere called the Lamb “ slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. xiii. 8.) It then follows in ver. 16, “ for in him (i. e. as Mediator) were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him (as the agent) and for him, (i, e. with respect to him as the great Archetype and Mediator; he is the perfect centre of God's ways with his creatures, to which all his other works and wonders do but serve and refer.) And he is before all things, and in him all things consist,” i. e. stand together. And as all things were created in and by and for the Christ, so it is in him, and by the sprinkling of his blood, that they are maintained in their present estate, (Col. j. 20; Eph. i. 10,) and upheld by his Spirit from falling into
tion-stone of creation was laid in Christ: that in him as Mediator all things were created, and in him all things consist, or stand together. In him the Father had laid in order all things “ from everlasting;"6 all things were created in and by,
dissolution. Lord Bacon has expressed this truth in the following words ; 'I believe that God is so holy, pure, and jealous, as it is impossible for him to be pleased in any creature, though the work of his own hands; so that neither angel, man, nor world, could stand, or can stand, one moment in his eyes, without beholding the same in the face of a Mediator ; and therefore, that before him, with whom all things are present, the Lamb of God was slain before all worlds ; without which eternal counsel of his, it was impossible for him to have descended to any work of creation; but he should have enjoyed the blessed and individual society of three persons in Godhead for ever.'-Confession of Faith, Works, vol. ii. p. 481. The reason, however, which is assigned by Bacon for this economy, savours too much of the Gnostic heresy, that all matter, as such, is sinful.
6 Called, in Prov. viii. 22, “the beginning of his way,” a term which limits this economy of the Triune Jehovah, this constitution of Christ as the Word, to a definite point in antecedent eternity, beyond which revelation offers not to light our path: behind it is a vast abyss, whose depth and length are unfathomable, and into which the creature must not presume to investigate. We cannot trace back the mystery of the ever-blessed Trinity beyond this point: its essential relationship eludes our grasp; here we must stop and adore.