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that he might be obedient unto his father: "Thus it behoveth us," saith he to John, "to fulfil all righteousness." John wondered that he that was pure and spotless, should come to him to be baptized. He knew baptism presupposed some sin or blot, some stain or corruption to be washed off; and therefore it is said, "Thatp there came unto him all the land of Judea to be baptized, confessing their sins." And sure if one who had been but a bare man should have come to John, and say, he had no sin, and yet desired to have been baptized by him, he had no right to baptism: yet our Saviour saith, "Let alone, let it be so, that we may fulfil all righteousness." I have no need indeed in regard of myself: but I have taken upon me the form of a servant; and therefore, what the lowest of them must do: therefore was I circumcised, and therefore was I baptized. "I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it." And he fulfilled it to the utmost, both in his active and passive obedience.
Now for his active obedience, it had a double rtrtXtaTcu, or cons ton mat inn est. First, for his active obedience in the whole course of his life.
"I have glorified thy name, and finished the work which thou gavest me to do." Would you know what it is to glorify God in this world? It is to finish the work which he giveth us to do. Art thou a minister? if thou wouldst glorify God, finish the work he gave thee to do; then mayest thou say, "Glorify thou me with thy glory." But now Christ's work was not all ended when he had finished it; the greatest part was behind, to wit, his passive obedience: all the works of his life were done; of which actions there Christ is to be understood: but then cometh his passion, and that being finished, there is something to do yet after that; for he was to rise "again to our justification:" but for the oblation of the sacrifice, it was fully finished. If we look upon our blessed Saviour in the whole course of his life. For,
1. Though he lived in a whole world of sin, yet he was free from all manner of sin.
P Mark, chap. 1. ver. 5.
2. He was enriched with all manner of good works, graces and virtue. Christ had both of these. He was free from any spot of sin, though in the midst of a wicked world; and there was nothing in him which could expose him to any temptations. He was continually assaulted, and yet he was spotless. "The Prince of the world came, and yet he found nothing in him." Satan could find nothing in him, whereon to fasten any temptation. "Suchq an high priest became us who was holy and harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners."
There is the purity of his nature, he is holy, and in his carriage harmless, he did no man hurt. Undefiled, a pure and innocent Lamb, "a Lamb without blemish, separate from sinners," and could not contract any guilt of sin. Though he conversed with publicans and sinners at the table, yet they could not infect him. "Her knew no sin, neither was there guile found in him." Therefore we see when it comes to the point that the Devil would tempt him, yet he himself must needs say, "What have I to do with thee thou Holy One of God?" He is forced to acknowledge him to be so. And so if we look on the place, where he saith, "Is do the will of my Father always," there likewise he shews himself the holy one of God. In a word, as he was thus obedient unto God, so was he subject to men too; to his father in the family, and to Caesar in the commonwealth:" as he taught, he did: subjection towards governors was his doctrine, and rather than he would not pay tribute, he would have it out of the fish's belly: to shew a recognition of his subjection unto higher powers, the text tells us, "He went about doing good. This man," say they, "hath done all things well." And at the last cast, when all the quarrels and accusations were brought against him, they could bring nothing that could hold water; that he could boldly challenge them all, as it were : " Which of you can accuse me of sin?" you that pick so many holes in my coat, come forth, spare me not, accuse me; yet at the
i Heb. chap. 7. ver. 26.
r 1 Pet. chap. 1. ver. 19.
last he is accounted a just man. Judas himself could acknowledge him to be blameless, and that "he had sinned in betraying his innocent blood." Pilate's wife could say to her husband: "Have thou nothing to do with that just man:" and Pilate himself washed his hands, and would be free from the blood of that innocent person. The thief crucified with him, acquits him; his whole life was a perfect obedience to the law of God. "Christ1 is the end of the law; That" the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us;" not by us, we are not able to fulfil the law; but in us, Christ did it for us: and the Father is better pleased with the thirty-three years' hearty obedience of his Son, than if Adam, and all his posterity had been obedient throughout the whole course of the world: so acceptable was this obedience to God. And thus much of his active obedience.
2. Now for his passive obedience, his suffering. If our Saviour will be a sacrifice, he must be used like one; he must be slain, if he will make satisfaction to his Father for us. He must for our eating sour grapes, have his own teeth set on edge. Consider his humiliation both in life and death; if we look on the service of Jacob, under his uncle Laban, his "service11 was an hard service, twice seven years did he serve: the drought consumed him by day, and the frost by night, and the sleep departed from his eyes; twenty years' hard service; fourteen years for his two wives, and six years for his cattle." Our Saviour spent thirty-three years in his hard service; and oft did the sleep depart from his eyes. When Israel came to appear before Pharoah, "Myy days," saith he, "have been one hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of thy servant been." The true Israelite might say more. Jacob's days were few, but as few as they were, they were one hundred and thirty years; but if we look upon our Saviour's days, they were scarce a quarter so many.
1 Rom. chap. 10. ver. 4.
And that is our Saviour's humiliation, that he was cut off "in the midst of his days." If we look into the psalm, we shall find it a curse on the " bloody and deceitful man, that he shall not live out half his days." The lively part of a man's age, from Moses's time to this day, in that psalm of Moses, "isz three score years and ten." Half this is thirty-five years; and our Saviour is taken off before this thirty-five is expired. He was to take on him all the curses due to sinners, to the bloody and deceitful man: he is cut off and cropt off in the midst of his vigour, he that is that Melchisedech, "that" hath neither beginning nor end of days, was cut off as a branch, lopt off as a twig from the land of the living." He is pulled out, so his days were few, far fewer than Jacob's: he was not suffered to live out half his days: yet if we look upon his days they were evil too; evil enough as few as they were, full of trouble, and full of misery: from his first coming into the world to his last going out.
1. When he did descend into the lowermost part of the earth, He was nine months in the womb of his mother: and if we take the opinion of the schoolmen, he had his full understanding and judgment all that time, the free use of sense and reason, though I do not aver it to be a truth; only I say, if it be so, it makes his humiliation insupportable. What an extreme burden would it be to us to be so long in the womb, and in ripe understanding; therefore there was somewhat in that. But now:
2. Look at his coming forth into the world: though his mother were in her own city, yet he was so despicable, that "thereb was not room for them at the inn." Our Saviour that should, one would think, have been brought into a stately palace, was fain to have his lodging among the beasts, and a cratch for his cradle. The wise men, when they came to worship him, found him in no better case: and what a disgrace was it, instead of a palace, the king of the east should find our Saviour in a cratch.
3. And now when eight days are over, he must have his skin cut off, he must be circumcised, and give the first payment or earnest of his blood. How painful and irksome a thing circumcision was, appears by that story in Gen. chap. XXXIV. Where the sons of Jacob offering the Shechemites the condition of circumcision, and they accepting it, it was so troublesome a thing, that by reason of their soreness and weakness by it, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, slew a whole city. The pain was so great that they could not manage their weapons, therefore two men slew thousands of them. Our blessed Saviour was thus served, when the eight days were over he was thus made sore, and this was the first effusion of his blood.
4. After the eight days are over, then come the forty days, and then he must be carried a long journey to be offered up to the Lord, and his mother, as if she had brought an unclean and impure thing into the world, must be cleansed and purified. And then she came to offer a sacrifice according to the law of the Lord. "Ac pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons:" but was this the law? It were good if the law were looked into. The law is this: "Shed shall bring a lamb, or if she be not able to bring a lamb, then two turtles, or two young pigeons. If she be not able;" but the margin hath it, "If her hand cannot reach to a lamb," if she be so poor that she cannot offer a lamb. As if the text should have said, Alas, poor woman, poor lady, all she had was not able to reach to a lamb, so poor was she: doubtless her heart was as large as another's, but she was not able to offer a lamb, and is therefore content with two turtles.
5. Hence we may conceive in what state our Saviour lived, till he came into the ministry, questionless in a poor house: and he made many a hungry meal, when his mother was not worth a lamb. All that they had, must be by hard labour.
6. Now our Saviour, notwithstanding after he had tra
c Luke, chap. 2. ver. 24.
d Levit, chap. 12. ver. 8.