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SERMON XVII.

ON THE BIRTH, GIFT, NAMES, THRONE, KINGDOM, INCREASE, AND PEACE OF MESSIAH, AND HIS PRINCIPALITY OF GRACE.

Isaiah ix. 6, 7.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever: the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this."

THE Holy and Eternal Spirit, who is distinct in personality from the Father and the Son, the co-equal, co-eternal, and co-essential with them, in the unity of the one incomprehensible Godhead, was pleased to give an outward evidence of his personality, deity, and office, in the economy of grace, to the old testament church, by raising up a succession of prophets, who spake as they were moved by him, and who foretold the incarnation, work, and office of the God-man, Christ Jesus. The prophet Isaiah is one of them who bore testimony to the eternal acts and transactions of the incomprehensible Three, and spake out most freely, fully, clearly, and distinctly, how the everlasting counsel and covenant were to be carried into execution by God manifested in the flesh. In the words before us, he expresses himself most divinely on thejsubject of the birth of Christ; and with transporting joy celebrates the unspeakable gift of God's love to his church realized in the advent of his Son. That the people to whom he ministered, as a prophet, these glad tidings, might feel the mercy he relates to them, what joy would be diffused by the birth of Christ, and how some parts of Galilee would be Comforted and enlivened by the presence and preaching of Messiah amongst them.

Ver. 1. " Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first lie lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations," Those parts of Israel suffered much by Tiglath-Pileser, who carried them captive. See 2 Kings xv. 29. This is what the prophet refers to, he calls it vexation. Now, as the inhabitants of these parts of Judah. were to suffer, according to prophecy, so the prophet comforts them, that in future time these parts in Judea should be honoured and very glorious by the presence and ministry of Christ among them, so that he comforts them with the promise and prospect of it.

Ven 2. "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." The evangelist shews the accomplishment of this by our Lord's going to, and dwelling at Capernaum, a city on the sea coast of Tiberias, or Genesareth, in the borders of Zebulun and INepthalim, and quotes this very prophecy, saying, "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, the land of Zebulun and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles, the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." Matt. iv. 14, 16. Christ, the Sun of righteousness, rose upon them, by which they must be enlightened, comforted, and refreshed: " For he is the light of everlasting life."

Ver. 3. "Thou hast multiplied the nation and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil." The meaning seems to be this: though Messiah preached good things, wrought and performed divers miracles> so that it might truly be said, "It was never so seen in Israel," for he was followed by a goodly company of persons who believed on him; though this ought to have been a means of increasing joy throughout the whole land, yet, through their blindness, ignorance, and unbelief, it did not; those who received Christ, and confessed him, rejoiced in him with exceeding great joy; and great reason they had for it, as it follows, in the next verse.

Ver. 4. "For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian." Christ came to destroy the works of the devil; to throw down his strong holds in the souls of men; to conquer sin, the world, death, and hell; and this by the power of his own arm. As the Lord delivered Israel from the Midianites by the hand of Gideon, who cried, "the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon;" so he would bring back his people from their captivity, and restore them to their ancient dwelling-places: they should dwell in them. Christ should tabernacle amongst them, preach his gospel unto, them, work his miracles amongst them, be life and light unto them; and the whole should be accomplished by the invincible power of the Lord, as easily, and more so, than in the days, of Gideon, when Israel was delivered., . , .

Ver. 5. "For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood, but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire." The salvation of the church of Christ was to be wrought miraculously. Not by war and blood-shedding, but by his, coming in the flesh; and having finished his work, and poured out his Spirit, he shewed his indignation towards his enemies who destroyed them, and burnt up their city, so that Christ's coming was attended in the issue with burning and fuel of fire.

The prophet having thus prepared the way for the reception of the account he had to deliver concerning the ineffably precious Jesus, proclaims his subject thus: ver. 6, 7. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice, from henceforth even for ever. The

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