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THE FIRST ADVENT OF CHRIST, A GREAT EVENT.
Psalms Il. 7, 8.
Then said I, lo I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me. I delight to do thy v>ill, 0 my God, yea thy dan is with. in my heart.
THE appearance of Christ in our unhappy world, as the second Adam, to repair the ruins of the first, is an event of the greatest magnitude. Heaven sung, and earth was astonished. This surprising matter was predicted from the beginning, by many ancient Patriarchs and Prophets, but a blind world believed it not—and when he came, he could not be received. David, under the power of the spirit of prophecy, is in this Psalm, still continuing to repeat and hold up this wonderful expectation. This prediction is, in a very pointed manner, applied to the coming of Christ by the Apostle: thus he speaks in the epistle to the Hebrews. "Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith •* sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou "prepared me. In bornt offerings and sacrifices for sin, thou "hast had no pleasure; then said I, lo I come, in the volume of "the book, it is written of me, to do thy will, O God."
In these words, our minds are immediately carried to three observations.
first, Christ's coming was by a preceding agreement. in the* Holy Trinity; that he come not merefy and absolutely of him« lelf, yet by his own voluntary consent, according to previous compact or covenant ; which covenant is often stiled by divinity writers, in way of distinction, the covenant of redemption. It would be foreign to my purpose, in the present discourse, to describe to you the difference between what is commonly called the covenant of redemption, and the covenant of grace.- Let it suffice to say, the difference between the covenant of redemption, strictly so termed, and the covenant of grace is this: the former was the compact in the Trinity, and the part each divine person was to act in the economy of the salvation of a fallen world; and the latter respected the chosen of the race, who were effectually secured to Christ Jesus, as the seed and travail of his soul, and who by the powerful operations of the Holy Ghost, should he made the participant* of eternal life.
Secondly, Christ Jesus, the second person ef the adorable Trinity, was to sustain a grand part in this glorious plan. "In "the volume of the book, it was written of me." Some hav» referred the volume of the book to the eternal purposes and de* crees of God, respecting the salvation of sinners. B«t it.is abundantly evident, that this- " volume of the book," can only refer to the scriptural predictions of the Messiah. I need not mention Moses'book, "That the seed of the woman should bruise the "serpent's head." Nor Jacob's prophecy, " That the sceptre "should not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his • feet, until Shitoh come," with many others to the same purpose, long before David's time.
Thirdly, All that Christ did and suffered in the wonderful undertaking on his part, which makes so conspicuous a figure in the New Testament, was in conformity and obedience to the eternal agreement. Hearken to the consent of the blessed Saviour: "I delight to do thy will, O my God, yea, thy law is withiamy « heart." The will of the eternal covenant absorbed hi* whole heart.
The eminent enterprise of Christ in this business, is here exhibited in a very conspicuous point of light. "Lo, I come:" With what raptures of pleasure and delight, does he rush out and stand forth to this mighty undertaking ?" I delight to do thy *.' will:" The counsels of heaven in eternal agreement, charm and engage my whole heart. Some have translated the following words, "Thy law is within my bowels hereby wishing to express Christ's distinguishing and invincible inclination to accomplish the salvation of man. Every difficulty he would bravely •urmount; hell and earth he would vanquish, and strew the way for the triumphs of his redeemed, over fields of blood.
After these observations, the words afford to us the following subjects for our attention.
First, That the undertaking of Christ may be contemplated in th« whole of his humiliation; and his humiliation is often considered as consisting of his active and passive obedience. By the former, in the room of guilty man, he fulfilled all righteousness. All the rights and ceremonies of the Jewish religion were conformed to by him. He submitted to circumcisien, faithfully attended the Passover, and all the parts ef the temple worship, until all those ancient ordinances were nailed to, and finished on the cross.
The moral law, obedience to it, was his nature and delight. The purest and most perfect love ever flowed in his heart to God and man. The Scribes and Pharisees always observed him with the most jealous eye, but never .could discover any just cause of accusation against him. Satan used every opportunity to tempt him to transgression—but when the prince of the world came, he Sound nothing in him, "For the law of God was in his heart.'"
In regard to what is called Christ's passive obedience, consistIng in his voluntary engagement to undergo all those sufferings' which had been agreed upon in the eternal consultation, this was in the most perfect manner accomplished. Passive obedience, if it had not been long and usual language in the church, would have been an inadmissible solecism. There can be no such thing in scripture or reason, as passive obedience. The terms maintain a strong opposition. Yet by definition and explication, they are become easy, intelligible, and even comfortable to the christian. Perhaps there is nothmg fills the heart of a believer with more sweet and rapturous pleasure, than the sufferings of Christ; you may call them active or passive, or what you please ; .the christian's delight is in the atonement of Jesus. "I delight to do "thy will, O my Cod." No expression can equally answer the christian's heart in this view. His whole soul is absorbed in Chtist's making satisfaction for sin. "He became obedient unto "death." This is an assertion, which swallows up, and almost overwhelms his mind, in the strongest 'exercises of faith. Christ was as active in laying down his life, in his last sufferings, anct more so, than any part of his wonderful atonement. Hear his own ^declaration, in the concluding scene of his obedience. "I "lay down my life, that I may tnke it again ; no man taketh it "from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it "down, and I have power to take it again." I wish I had, in consistency with my original plan, liberty to enter into this ciescription^-but this extends far beyond my limits. The voluntary obedience of Christ, for the redemption of mankind, is an inexhaustable theme for the praises of eternity. How precious is this declaration to the heart of the believer ?" I delight to do thy « will, O my God."
Secondly, It was necessary to the acccptablcness of Christ's character, as Mediator in the wonderful plan of displaying the divine attributes in the reeovery of lost men, that he should fulfil all righteousness. Such an high Priest was absolutely expedient for us, who was holy, harmless, undefined, and separate from tinners. The reason of the institution of a Mediator was, ttrafr 'we were sinful, guilty and unclean, altogether incspable of making atonement, or satisfying divine justice and government.—' Had the least imperfection adhered to Christ Jesus, his mediation could have been of no avail. No glory could have redounded to God by a defective Mediator, and consequently no possible advantage to man. The prerogatives of God are of such a niture, that nothing can contribute to the benefit or happiness of the creature, but what is both consistent with, and conducive to his own glory. Therefore, the satisfaction or mediation of Christ, was infinitely perfect and compleat. He testified to his persecutors, and before the world, "That he always did those things that pleased God." Hence it was declared by the prophet, "The Lord is well pleas"ed for his righteousness sake." This testimony was astonishingly confirmed at his baptism, by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him, in the form of a dove. How perfect was Jesus in all conformity to the eternal plan, and unfailing in obedience and sufferings? His delight was to do the will of God amidst the most direful conflicts. Hence, he accomplished all righteousness for them that believe.
Thirdly, The exceeding greatness of Christ's humiliation and »liedience to the eternal council, more eminently shines forth to view, in some parts of his life than others. The whole time of his sojourning on earth, was filled with an uninterrupted series of obedience and sufferings. In the very nature of things, all acts of obedience and suffering cannot be equally conspicuous— Though all is divinely perfect, yet some must shine forth with a lustre far superior to others.
The degree of difficulty and self-denial, the quality and rank of the person, his condition and circumstances, all these thing» may exhibit super-eminent acts of humiliation, yet some of these must bear a distinction above others. These things show that the last sufferings and death of Christ, were principal and dtstin