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him. Now to know the human heart is de- | honourable and glorious, which demonstrate his scribed as a distinguishing characteristic of existence, and show forth his praise, and these Jehovah. "The heart is deceitful above all likewise are ascribed to Christ. The Father things. Who can know it? I, Jehovah, search loveth the Son, and hath given all things into the heart, I try the reins, even to give every his hand-all things pertaining to the proman according to his ways, and according to the vidence of the universe, the government of fruit of his doings.' But the self-same power is the church, the judgment of the great day. asserted of the Son of God, who hath his eyes He upholdeth all things by the word of his like unto a flame of fire: All the churches power; by him all things consist. When on shall know that I am He which searcheth the earth he had power to forgive sins, and now he reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one is exalted far above all principality, and power, of you according to your works.' Hence the and might, and dominion, and every name that declaration of Simon Peter: Lord, thou know- is named, not only in this world, but also in that est all things, thou knowest that I love thee.' which is to come. All things are put under Hence the prayer of the disciples when assem- his feet; in all things he has the pre-eminbled to appoint a successor to Judas: Thou, ence; he is the Head over all things to his Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show church; and as in him dwelleth all the fullness whether of these two thou hast chosen.' Hence of the Godhead bodily, he filleth all in all. the expectation of the waiting church for the Hence to him belongs the mighty work of the time when the Lord shall come, who will bring resurrection, and none but He shall fill the seat to light the hidden things of darkness, and will of judgment. We must all appear before the make manifest the counsels of the hearts.' judgment-seat of Christ: so then every one of us must give an account of himself unto God.'
Turn we from his perfections to his works,— from what he is to what he does. What is the most common representation given of the Supreme God in the bible? Is it not as the Maker of heaven and earth?' What is the most common of all the proofs appealed to there, as well as in natural religion, for the being of a God? Is it not the work of creation, in which the invisible things of him, even his eternal power and Godhead, are clearly seen from the things that he made? But of Christ it is asserted, in terms the most explicit and comprehensive, that he made the worlds-that without him not any one thing was made that was made-that by him 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 and for him. Is it alleged that he may have done all this by delegated authority and communicated power? What then becomes of the argument for the existence of a Supreme God, drawn from the works of his hand? Is it supposed that nothing more was intended in these passages than a spiritual and moral creation by the gospel? But did the unfallen principalities or powers stand in need of this new creation? Or can it be said that in this sense the world was made by him, when it is added of the same world, the world knew him not.' Moreover, of the earth and the heavens which he created, it is affirmed that they shall perish,' but can that be affirmed of any part of his new creation?
But there are other works of God, no less
It is after we find these attributes and works of God ascribed to the Saviour, that we are prepared to understand the sense in which the names and titles of God are given to him, for we then perceive that it is not the language of figure but of fact. The Word was God.' 'God was manifest in flesh.' As concerning the flesh he was of the seed of David, but being justified in the Spirit, he was declared to be God over all, blessed for ever.
Need we wonder then that he has been, and now is, the object of humble adoration, and the subject of grateful praise, both on earth and in heaven. The first disciples in every place called upon the name of the Lord. Thomas owned him as his God;' often was he besought of Paul, and to him Stephen commended his departing All the angels of God worship him; all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father; and a time is coming, when at the once despised name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that he is Maker, Proprietor, Governor, Lord of all-to the glory of God the Father.
reached the stature of a perfect man. susceptible of hunger and thirst, cold and heat
and pains of our common humanity.
This truth of the incarnation is set forth by the apostles of the Lord in a great variety of phraseology; and the frequent and emphatic manner in which they dwell upon it seems to show, that they thought there was a risk of the primitive Christians losing sight of it in the acknowledged glories of his divinity. But while they delight in unfolding that glory in all its splendour, they represent it as enshrined on earth in the tabernacle of his flesh. Great, indeed, is the mystery of godliness, 'God manifest in flesh.' It passeth the knowledge of men; it transcends the comprehension of angels; and, therefore, all our speculations and conjectures about the mode of the union and co-existence of the two natures, divine and human in one person, are unprofitable and vain. But as a clearly revealed bible-truth we must receive it in the simplicity of faith, in the same manner as all but atheists receive the truth of the being of a God who yet cannot be searched out or understood-in the same manner as all but materialists admit the union and co-existence in one person of the fleshly body and spiritual soul of man, who is himself one of the greatest mysteries with which he is conversant.
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be and weariness; in short, of all the sinless pleasures made like unto his brethren,' Heb. ii. 17. IN setting forth the love of God the Son towards our sinful race, as shown in his spontaneous and devoted interposition between them and merited punishment, the scriptures often dwell upon the fact, that he did not disdain to assume their own frail and dying flesh. And it is, indeed, very evident, that this is a circumstance which is well fitted to show the deep intensity of his attachment to them, and the low condescension to which, on their account, he was willing to submit. For suppose the case, that it had come within the purpose of the Father's mercy to have devised, and of the Son's grace to have undertaken a scheme of redemption for fallen angels, and that, in order to its execution, Christ had taken upon him the nature of angels; though doubtless it had been infinite humiliation for the Creator to have vailed himself in any nature not his own, still as he made angels spirits like himself, and as they retain their high powers of intellect, even in their apostacy, there would have been some shadow of assimilation in point of spiritual capacities and spiritual energies between God the Spirit and those angelic spirits whose nature he had deigned to assume. 'But verily he took not on him the nature of angels-he was made lower than the angels,―he took on him the seed of Abraham.' There was this peculiarity in the case of ruined man, that that body in which, had he preserved his innocence, he would have flourished in immortal health and strength, has now become the source of debility, disease, death. And yet that is the very body in which, with all its weaknesses, the Son of God appears-that is the very body which, with all its meanness, misery and mortality the ever-blessed One deigns to put on. Knowing that without this depth of humiliation, the salvation of men could not have been accomplished, he despised not their affliction, he abhorred not their misery, he consented that a body should be prepared for him, and forasmuch as 'it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren,'-like unto his brethren in all things, sin only excepted, did he become.
But if the Son of God became man, it was purely for the benefit and advantage of men his brethren; it was that he might be a High Priest, merciful towards them, while faithful in the things of God, and that fulfilling the law's righteousness and suffering the law's penalty in the nature that had transgressed, he might make reconciliation for the sins of the people. The heathen represented their deities as sometimes coming down to earth in the likeness of men. But with their grovelling conceptions of the divine character, they ascribed as the reasons for this disguise, either motives of curiosity, a wish to engage in vain-glorious exploits, or to indulge in the most debasing vices. But contrasted with these imaginary visits, O how holy and beneficent, how pure and godlike, does the manifestation of the Son of God appear, when He descends into the lower parts of this earth. The meanness of our origin, the frailty of our frame, the agonising sufferings and ignominious and accursed death which in our flesh and blood he knew he was to undergo, nothing repelled him, nothing could dis
The leading fact involved in this statement is the incarnation of our blessed Lord, or his taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, becoming a partaker of the flesh and blood of those whom he came to redeem, and whom, in conse-courage him. Never was there disinterestedness, quence of this assumption of their nature, he acknowledges as his brethren. Like them he passed through infancy, childhood, and youth, till he
never self-devotedness like his; for he became like unto man, not merely that he might introduce them into God's family as his brethren, but
in order that in their nature for them he might | writings, which was sometimes simply called suffer, and for them he might die, and that by his the Psalms,' from the book with which it began. sufferings and death they might escape endless suffering and death everlasting. The importance then of this doctrine cannot be too greatly magnified. Reject the fact of the incarnation, and you undermine the whole gospel scheme, you destroy the possibility of a sacrificial atonement, you deprive the Christian of a suffering and sympathising brother, a powerful succourer, a once crucified but now ever-living Redeemer.
Let his own people, whom he is not ashamed to call his brethren, fix their adoring and grateful contemplation upon this marvellous truth, that he was in very deed partaker of their flesh and blood. We see him who thought it no robbery to be equal to God, vailing for a time his glory behind our feeble, dying clay, and humbling himself to the manger, to the cross, to the dust of death. We see him who inhabited the praises of eternity, leaving the happy society of heaven, and mingling with wretched outcasts; becoming an heir of the same infirmities, subject to the same laws, exposed to the same curse, and coming down among us, not in the splendours of majesty and power, but in a form of meanness and poverty, degradation and servitude. When we can realize the simple fact, that in that young man of Nazareth there dwelt for a period of thirty-three years, all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,' we stand in amazement at the divine condescension; we are overawed by a sense of the divine loving-kindness; we fear the Lord and his goodness.' Will God in very deed dwell with man upon the earth? When we know that God did, in very deed, dwell with man upon the earth, we feel as if this polluted globe had been sanctified by such a visitant, and every spot of it on which we tread is now holy ground.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me,' Luke xxiv. 44.
THE ancient Jews divided the Old Testament scriptures into three great portions, viz. the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses: the Prophets, comprising the historical books (exclusive of the Pentateuch), and the Prophets strictly so called: and the Chetubim or Hagiographa, i. e. holy
Our blessed Lord then in the above passage, before opening the understandings of his disciples to understand the scriptures,' intimates to them that all these scriptures had testified of himself. He was the sum and substance of all the ancient revelations, and especially of the recorded predictions. To Him gave all the prophets witness, throwing around him the beams of their united light. The spirit of prophecy' was 'the testimony of Jesus;' for it was the Spirit of Christ' that was in these holy seers, and it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
Even in the age before the flood, God left not himself without witness to the great work of redemption that was to be accomplished by his Son. No sooner had man fallen, than his guilty fears were relieved (even before the threatened curse was uttered) by the cheering announcement that the woman's seed should bruise the serpent's head.' In the faith of his advent, Adam worshipped and Abel sacrificed before the 'presence of the Lord' at the east of Eden; and Enoch walked with God as reconciled by the Messiah's first coming, while he prophesied of his second coming to judgment. Noah, too, was a preacher of that righteousness of faith of which he was an heir, his deliverance by the ark being a figure at once of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and of the baptismal purifi-. cation of his people.
In patriarchal times the Redeemer was made known to Abraham as he in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed;-and the gospel promise thus preached to him was, through his faith, counted unto him for righteousness. The same assurance was often renewed to him, more especially on the occasion of his offering up Isaac the son of promise-an affecting emblem of God not sparing his own Son but delivering him up for us all. In Melchisedec, the righteous and peaceful king of Salem, and the priest of the Most High God, do we not perceive a figure of the Son of God, who is now a priest upon his throne, and being a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec hath, like him, a divinely-derived and untransferable priesthood? At Bethel, where the Angel of the covenant talked with Jacob, he saw a mystic ladder bringing heaven and earth into union like the great Mediator, and upon which the holy angels of God ascended and descended as on the Son of man. But from which of Jacob's many sons is the Messiah to be born? That our Lord was to spring out of Judah
it is evident;' for of him was it said by his dying father: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and to him shall the gathering of the nations be.' About the same period a voice was heard from the land of Uz, saying, 'I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.'
We next come to the grand era of Moses, who was himself an eminent type of the Christ, as Deliverer, Prophet, Governor, and Judge of his people. And in the law of Moses' many things are written of him. As his salvation had been shadowed forth by the redemption from Egypt, by the passover and the sprinkling with blood, so the whole ritual that was established was one grand prefigurative image of Him that was to He was set forth in every bleeding sacrifice as an offering for sin; in the manna from heaven as the bread of life; in the smitten rock as the source of refreshment; in the brazen serpent as the crucified, exalted Saviour; in the tabernacle and temple as the residence of the present Deity-God with man upon the earth; and in the Urim and Thummim of the sacred oracle as the brightness of glory, the perfection of beauty, the light and life of men.
and spitting, so that 'his visage would be more marred than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.' They were to pierce his hands and feet, and yet a bone of him was not to be broken. They were to part his garments among them, and yet for his chief vesture they were to cast lots. Even the sorrowful plaint he was to utter from the cross had been expressed by the Psalmist by anticipation: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' In fulfilling the law and the prophets, he who is the grand theme of the Old Testament, the antitype of the types, the substance of the shadows, the sum of God's ancient revelation, not only put honour upon it through life, but in the very act of dying. He held his life until the scriptures should be accomplished. And knowing that his receiving a draught of vinegar was the last thing connected with his death, recorded in the book of Psalms, he looked down upon his murderers, and raising his expiring voice into a loud cry,' he begged that that might be given him as the last conclusive proof that he was indeed the Messiah of whom Moses, and David, and Isaiah had spoken: Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.'
When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,' Gal. iv. 4, 5.
The frequency with which Christ is spoken of in the 'Prophets and Psalms' may be gathered from the fact that in no less than thirty-three different places, the Evangelist Matthew alone, after adverting to some particular incident in the life of his divine Master, adds: 'These things were done that the scripture might be fulfilled.' The period at which he should appear, the family whence he should descend, the place where he should be born-the beauties of his character, the value of his doctrine, the might and mercy of his works-all was foretold. But still more minute were the predictions to which he himself here referred, as having been fulfilled in his last sufferings and death. The description of the traitor had been given in the Psalms, as his own familiar friend who ate of his bread, yet lifted up his heel against him.' The exact price for which he sold his Lord (the price of the vilest slave), and its employment in the purchase of the potter's field had been specified by the prophet Zechariah as the price of him whom the children of Israel did value.' When brought to prison and to judgment, 'false witnesses were to rise up against him, and such as breathed out Hence the gospel is called the 'dispensation cruelty. All that should then see him would of the fullness of times. The mystery hid for 'laugh him to scorn.' He was to give his back ages was not disclosed till the moment appointed to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked and approved of God; and that moment was off the hair, and hide not his face from shame the fullness of time'-because it was neither too
GOD is not a God of confusion, but of order; he does every thing not only in the best possible way, but at the best possible time. He might have sent his Son into the world as soon as man fell, or he might have delayed his mission until the end of the world; but in making known to us the riches of his grace 'he has abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence;' and, therefore, not until the period fixed in the eternal counsels of the 'only wise God,' was the Lamb manifested, who had been foreordained before the foundation of the world.
soon nor too late. All the reasons for this arrangement can be known only to God, yet there are some of them which appear sufficiently obvious to every candid and humble inquirer.
It was not too soon; for it was necessary that men should be taught by long and universal experience, how little could be effected by human wisdom or human power, in securing the grand objects of religion and virtue. The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick;' and the Gentile nations were suffered so long to walk in their own ways, that they might have at last a thorough proof and an entire consciousness of their spiritual malady, and thus be the better prepared to welcome the Great Physician. After so lengthened and so extensive a trial, it had become evident beyond all controversy, that mankind were utterly impotent to deliver themselves from their darkness and misery; and this conviction would pre-dispose them to embrace more readily the light and life of the gospel. For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe.' Another reason for the seeming delay may be found in the necessity which existed for preparing the untutored minds of Jews as well as Gentiles, for the revelation of abstract truth, by a previous economy of type and symbol, which presented outward things to the outward senses as patterns of the things spiritual and heavenly that were to be exhibited to the eye of faith. Moreover, the peace and consolation which the gospel was to impart would be more eagerly sought, and more highly valued, in consequence of the dispensation of terror and bondage which preceded it; and thus the law, both ceremonial and moral, was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.'
But while the period here designated the 'fullness of time' was not too soon, so neither was it too late, as (speaking after the manner of men) it might have been, had the coming of the Son of God been delayed any longer. For by this time, as at the period of the deluge, 'all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.' The heathen world had been for ages sunk in the grossest ignorance of all that it most concerned them to know and to practice in order to happiness. And the night of thick darkness which so long overspread the other nations had now extended its deadly shadow to the favoured land of the Most High. Religion had degenerated into a lifeless form; morality was an empty name; judgment, mercy, and the love of God had nearly disappeared beneath the withering influence of Pharisaic hypocrisy and Sadducean infidelity and licentiousness.
There had nevertheless arisen not in Judea only, but throughout all the East an earnest, longing expectation of some merciful Deliverer. And at length the day dawned, the Sun of Righteousness appeared, the Great Prophet was manifested, mighty in word and deed, who was to be at once a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel. When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son.'
And as there was manifold wisdom displayed in the ara selected for his mission, so there was love and grace unutterable in the mission itself. It was not the highest of created beings that was sent, but God's own Son, his only Son, his wellbeloved Son, who had been in his bosom from eternity, and in whom his soul delighted. Him he sent forth' from riches and glory to poverty and shame, from the songs of angels to the scorn of sinners, from heaven's highest happiness to earth's lowest misery. He became man born of woman,' and his days, therefore, though few, were full of trouble. He was made under the law'subject to its ritual ordinances which he scrupulously observed, bound by its moral precepts which he righteously fulfilled,-yet, as the substitute of transgressors, exposed also to its penalty which he meekly endured. He thus became the Redeemer by being himself the Ransom. By his perfect righteousness imputed, and his powerful grace imparted, he redeems at once from the yoke of the law ceremonial, and the curse of the law moral, from the dominion of sin and the tyranny of Satan. His ransomed people thus pass from darkness to light, from death to life, from the condemnation of rebels to the adoption of sons.' God is their Father, Christ their elder brother, angels their ministers, and heaven their home.
'Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!' Amazing condescension! that the Son of God should become the Son of Man, in order that sons of men might become sons of God. Let the life and character correspond, in some measure, to the high rank, the exalted privileges, the glorious hopes. Now are we the sons of God; and we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him.' 'Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.'