« AnteriorContinuar »
vinity that dwelt in him from human observation. None were oppressed by its splendour; none were deterred by it from approaching him, as one who could be “touched “ with a feeling of their infirmities.” Thus meek, lowly, condescending, and unobtrusive was his deportment, even in the mighty works he performed ; fully corresponding with that remarkable prediction of him in the prophet Isaias, “ He shall not strive nor cry; neither “ shall any man hear his voice in the streets. “ A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quenchy.”
This wonderful humility in Him, “who, being in the form of God, and equal with God,” yet
him the form of a ser“vant, and was made in the likeness of men?;" this stedfast resistance of every temptation presented to him of overpowering those around him, by the might of an intellect surpassing the wisdom of the wisest, and by the energy of a divine Spirit given unto him “ without measure;” is indeed an inexhaustible subject of admiration, and never to be adequately conceived by human faculties. It is one of the highest and strongest proofs we could have “that he was without sin;” since no trials can be imagined more difficult to y Isa. xlii. 3.
6 took upon
2 Phil. ii. 6, 7.
encounter, than those which tempt to the exercise of the most exalted endowments. The disobedient angels, “ who kept not their first “ estate “,” fell through pride; through that aspiring and presumptuous spirit which a consciousness of the faculties belonging to their high estate had engendered. But our Lord, who, though he condescended to be made “lower than the angels,” was yet “the
brightness of God's glory, and the express “ image of his person,” never in one single instance departed from that obedience to the Father, which in his human character he was sent to perform. “Lo! I come,” said he, “ to “ do thy will, O God! I am content to do it ; yea, thy Law is within my heart *.”
Having thus briefly remarked upon the evidence of our Lord's immaculate character and conduct, we may now advert to those considerations which the sacred writers have suggested, to shew how indispensably necessary it was that the Redeemer of mankind should be thus perfectly irreproachable; one “ who did no sin, neither was guile found in “ his mouth.”
This necessity is shewn to result from those great purposes of his mission, that he was to be an Atonement for sin, an Intercesu Jude 6.
* Psalm xl. 7, 8.
sor for us with the Father, and an Example for our imitation.
1. The first of these purposes is thus stated by St. Paul; “ He hath made him to be sin “ for us who knew no sin; that we might be “ made the righteousness of God in him." If sin in general be irremissible without an atonement, the atonement itself cannot be available to its expiation unless it be free from sin. The very notion of a vicarious sacrifice implies that the victim offered has no guilt to answer for but that which it representatively bears. To suppose that the penalty of sin can be removed by an offering polluted or imperfect in its kind, is to forget that “God “ is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” The redemption of mankind depended, therefore, on the absolute purity of the Redeemer. “ The Lamb slain from the foundation of the “ world” was to be 5 without blemish and “ without spot ?.” It was by virtue of this immaculate character that Christ became “ The “ Lord our Righteousness*;" and that His infinite merits atoned for the sins of the whole world. Some meritorious cause of our justification was requisite; and in none could that be found, but in Him“ who did no sin, nei“ther was guile found in his mouth.”
2 1 Pet. i. 19. a Jer. xxii. 6.
y 2 Cor. y. 21.
2. In the next place, this was equally necessary,
in order to render him an efficient Intercessor for us with the Father. On this point St. Paul copiously enlarges in his Epistle to the Hebrews. Every high-priest," he observes, “taken from among men, ought,
as for the people, so also for himself, to offer “ for sins.” But “such an High-priest became “ us who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate “ from sinners, and made higher than the “ heavens; who needeth not daily, as those
high-priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for “ his own sins, and then for the people's : for “ this he did once, when he offered up him66 self b." This it is which assures us of the efficacy of his mediation. “ If any man sin," says St. John,“ we have an Advocate with the “ Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and he “ is the Propitiation for our sins.” But if he himself had not been free from sin; if he had not been, in the fullest sense of the term, righteous, he would have needed some other advocate to have interceded for himself.
3. Lastly, there was also the same necessity for this, that he might become a perfect Example for our imitation. St. Peter introduces the character given of him in the text, by saying that he hath left us “an example, that b Hebr. vii. 26, 27.
c1 John ii. 2.
“ we should follow his steps d.” St. Paul exhorts, that “this mind should be in
which was in Christ Jesus e. St. John declares, “ He that saith he abideth in him, ought him“ self also so to walk, even as he walked":" and, “ if we say that we have fellowship with “ him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do “ not the truth 8.” In these, and many
other passages, the sacred writers propose our Lord as the only unexceptionable pattern of human conduct; nor do they ever presume to recommend themselves as ensamples to their followers, otherwise than as they faithfully endeavoured to walk in the path which He had trod before them.
But it may, perhaps, be said, that the very perfection of our Lord's conduct seems to place it above our imitation.
If he was 66 without sin,” was it not because he was absolutely impeccable ? and if impeccable, was it not the mysterious union of the Godhead with the manhood which rendered it impossible that temptations should have any power over him? Are we, then, expected to perform what is impracticable, to imitate what is inimitable, to aim at what is confessedly beyond our reach?
d 1 Pet. ii. 21. fl John ii. 6.
e Phil. ii. 15. 8 1 John i. 6.