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on the Vifible miraculous Proofs, by which Sbrm. our Lord afterwards gave Evidence of bis '. own Commission, and by which his Apo- W'*N' sties ascertained Their own Veracity, and the Truth of the Accounts they gave concerning Him.
2. Though it could not indeed be alledged properly, in Proof of the Truth of his Doctrine to Unbelievers; yet nevertheless, in the nature of the Thing, when a Person of such Dignity as our Lord professed himself to be, and with such a Divine Commission, was to come into the World; this one particular Distinction, the miraculous manner of his Birth, was in itself a very reasonable, proper, and not incredible Circumstance. We are taught in Scripture, that as the first man and his iCor.xy. Posterity, were of the Earth, Earthy; the 47second man was the^ Lord from Heaven. And our Lord himself frequently declared to his Disciples, that he came down from joh iii.ij. Heaven; that he came forth from the XV1'l8. Father, and came into the World. The Meaning of these Expressions is explained to us in Other places; where it is declared that he ivas in the Beginning The
Sirm. Word of God, the original Revealer of the I- Will of the Almighty to his Creatures, ^v^ long before he was made Flejh and dwelt among Us, even from the Creation of the World: Having been (as St Paul exPhil, ii. 6. presses it) in the Form of God, that is, in a-m'1- the Prophetick Language, the Angel or Messenger of the Covenant, before he took upon him the Form of a Servant, and was made in the Likeness of Men, and found in fashion as a Man; Phil. ii. 8. Now This being the Case; The most obvious manner in which it might naturally be expected that so extraordinary a Person, a Person of such Dignity as to have had job., xvii. glory with God before the World was; I s' fay, the manner in which it was most
natural to have expected that such a Person should come into the World, was in a way different from the Sons of Men. It was the Appointment of Divine Wisdom, for Reasons of Government in the infinite and eternal Kingdom of God over the Universe, that his Mercy and Compassion towards Penitent Sinners should be dispensed in a particular Method through the Atonement made by the
Blood Blood of Christ. In order to make This Serm. Atonement, and to become capable of *. Suffering as a Sacrifice by the shedding of his Blood, it was necessary for the Son of God to have a Body prepared for him; Heb. x. 5; and to be born after the Likeness of Men: Ch. ii. 14; Forasmuch as the children are Partakers of Fief} and Blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through Death he might destroy him that had the Power of Death, that is, the Devil. Yet, being such a Person as the Scripture describes him, sent down immediately from Heaven; his Birth could not naturally, if I may so speak, but be, miraculous, as the Text represents it. And miraculous as it was, it was yet really, in the nature of the Thing, nothing more miraculous, excepting only that God has not thought fit to do the like continually; it was in itself, I fay, not at all more miraculous, than what we vulgarly call (without Any Meaning or Signification in that Phrase,) the Course of Nature; that is, the Course of a mere empty Word, or abstract Notion, which has no Being or Reality of Existence,
5 E R M. tencc, and consequently cannot be the effi*. cient Cause of any thing.
3. This miraculous Birth of Christ, the Evangelist had just reason, when assured of the Truth of the Fact from things which followed, to insert at the Beginning of his Hi/lory of our Saviour's Life; and, in That Manner, and to That Purpose for which he relates it, had a just Right, and good and sufficient Grounds, to apply the Prophecy here cited, as a Prediction of it.
When our Lord first told his DisciJ0h.11i.13. ples tnat he came down from jjeaven, that
be came forth from the Father, and came into the World -, they did not clearly understand his Meaning j nor probably did the Blessed Virgin herself comprehend the Reason of That miraculous Work which God worked in Her. But, as St. Luke tells us, Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her Heart; ch. ii. 19: And so did his Disciples, both with regard to Mar. ix. This, and to Many Other things that JeLuke ii. sus did and said j Which at first they
5°;..ix-4S- understood not, and were afraid to ask him.
win- 3+- , j - 1
job. viii. But when Jesus was glorified; Joh. xii. 16,
andLw&'xxxiv. 8; then remembered they and S E R M. understood many things that were written _*L of him, and done and spoken by him. Again; Job ii. 22; When Jesus was risen from the Dead, then his Disciples remembered that he had J aid these things unto them: And they believed the Scripture, and the Word, which Jesus had said. When our Lord, by his Resurrection from the Dead, had confirmed to his Disciples all the Miracles which he had worked, and all the Doctrines which he had taught in his Life-time; and particularly, before his Afcenfon into Heaven, had explained to them the manner of his Descent from thence j which, among other things, insured them of the Truth, and un'lded to them the Reason, of the Miraculousness of his Birth: Then had they just grounds to declare the Dignity of his Person, and to expect that Credit mould be given by Relievers to the Accounts they had received of this miraculous Nativity; though it was what, in the Nature of the Thing, could never properly be alledged in their Preaching, among the Proofs they were to urge for the Conviction of Infidels.