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11. The birth, or nativity of Christ, the other part of the incarnation, is next to be considered.
1. Of whom born; of a virgin, of the house of David, and of the tribe of Judah. – 1. Of a virgin; this was hinted at in the first promise of the seed of the woman; and is fully expressed by Isaiah ; A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son; to fulfil which prophecy, before Joseph and Mary cohabited as inau and wife, and so whilst she was a virgin, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. And it was brought about in this manner, that the human nature of Christ might be clear of original sin, which it otherwise must have ben infected with, had it been conceived and born in the ordinary and natural way of generation; for whatsoever is born of the flesh, is flesh, carnal and corrupt; but being produced in this extraordinary and supernatural way, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that which was born of the virgin is the holy Thing; free from all spot and blemish of sin. This is most surprisingly accounted for, by the more modern philosophy respecting generation, that every man is born of an animalculo which agrees with the sacred philosophy s and that all the animalcula from which millions of men spring in all ages, were originally formed by the great Creator in the first man; which, as it accounts for the guilt and pollution of all men in him; so for the purity of Christ's human nature, since that was not bora of an animalcule, as other men are; nor was it of man, nor of the seed of man"; but was according to the first promise, the pure seed of the woman; not was it ever in Adam, in the first man; no, not in animalculo, as the rest of the individuals of human nature, according to this hypothesis, and so was not represented by him; nor did he stand related to it, as a covenant-head; nor did it descend from him by ordinary generation; but was conceived in the virgin through the power of the Holy Ghost; and did not exist in any respect before; no, not in animalculo; which lies strongly against the pre-existence of Christ's human nature in any sense whatever ; and so, being free from sin, was fit to be a sacrifice for sin, since it could be offered up to God without spot, by the eternal Spirit. Moreover, so it was, that as the ruin of men came by means of a virgin; for the fall of Adam was before he knew his wife; so the Saviour of men from that ruin, came into the world by a virgin; and so it was ordered by the wisdom of God, that Christ should appear to have but one Father, having none as man, and so be but one Person; whereas, had he had two fathers, there must have been two persons. — 2. Christ was born of a virgin of the house of David; as in Luke i. 27. for the phrase, of the house of David, is equally true of the virgin, as of Joseph, and may be connected with her. God promised to David, that the Messiah should be of his seed; and accordingly, of his seed be raised up unto Israel, a Saviour Jesus, who is therefore called the Son of David, and is both the Root and Offspring of David; the Root of David, as God, and
Omnia nimirum animalia, etiam perfecta similiter ex vermiculo gigni, Harveus de Generat, Animal. Exercit. 18. p. 144. * The animalcula are only " in seminc masculo;" sed the Philosophical Transactions abridged, vol. 2, p. 912, 9'3.
David's Lord; and the Offspring of David, as man, descending from him; Acts xiii. 23. He was born of a virgin of the tribe of Judah; as she must be, since she was of the house of David, which was of that tribe; and it is manifest, as the apostle says, that our Lord sprung out of the tribe of Judah, as it was foretold he should, Heb. vii. 14.
2. The birth of Christ, or his coming into the world, was after the manner of other men; his generation and conception were extraordinary; but his birth was in the usual manner; he came into the world after he had lain the common time in his mother's womb; for it is said, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered; she went her full time with him, and brought forth him, her first born Son, as other women do; and no doubt with pains and sorrow, as every daughter of Eve does: and presented him to the Lord when the days of her purification were ended, according to the law, as it is written, Every male that openeth the womb, shall be called holy to the Lord, Luke ii. 6, 22, 23. So that in these respects Christ was made in all things like unto his brethren.
3. The place of his birth was Bethlehem, according to the prophecy in Mid : V. 2. here it was expected he would be born; and this was so well known to the Jews, that when Herod enquired of the chief priests and Scribes where Christ should be born; they, without any hesitation, immediately reply in Bethlehem of Judea, and quote the above prophecy in proof of it, Matt. ii. 4-6. yea, this was known by the common people, John vii. 42. and so it was wonderfully brought about in providence; that though Joseph and Mary lived in Galilee, yet through a decree of Cæsar Augustus to tax the whole empire, they were both obliged to come to the city of Bethlehem, the city of David, to be taxed, being of the lineage and house of David; and whilst they were on that business there, the virgin was delivered of her Son, Luke ii. 1-7
Bethlehem signifies the house of bread; a fit place for the Messiah to be born in, who is the bread that came down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.
4. The tiine of his birth was as it was fixed in prophecy; before the sceptre, or civil government, departed from Judah: Herod was king in Judea when he was born; before the second temple was destroyed; for he often went into it, and taught in it: and it was at the time pointed at in Daniel's weeks; see Gen. xlix. 10. Mal. iii. 1. Hagg. ii. 6, 7, 9. Dan. ix. 24, &c. The exact year of the world in which he was born, is not agreed on by chronologers; but it was about, or a little before or after the four thousandth vear of the world; nor can the season of the year, the month and day in which he was born, be ascertained, However, the vulgar account seems not probable; the circumstance of the shepherds watching their flocks by night, agrees not with the winter-season. It is more likely it was in autumn, sometime in the month of September, at the feast of tabernacles, which was typical of Christ's incarnation ; and there seems to be some reference to it in John i. 14. The word was made flesh, and dwelt, or tabernacled among us; the temple of Solomon, a type of Christ's human na. ture, was dedicated at the feast of tabernacles: and as Christ the passover, was
sacrificed at the very time of the passover; and the Holy Ghost was given on' the very day ot Pentecost, typified by the first-fruits offered on that day; so it is most reasonable to suppose, that Christ was born at the very
feast of taber. nacles, a type of his incarnation; and which feast is put for the whole ininistry of the word and ordinances, to be observed in gospel-tiines, Zech. xiv. 16.' However, it was in the fulness of timc, or when the tiine was fully up to come, that God sent him, and he came; and in due time, in the fittest and most proper time, infinite Wisdom saw meet he should come: God could have sent him sooner; but he did not think fit to do it; but he sent hiin at the most seasonable time; when the wickedness of men was at its height, both in Judea and in the Gentile world; and there appeared a necessity of a Saviour of men' from it; and when the insufficiency of the light of nature, of the power of man's fiee-will, which had been sufficiently tried among the philosophers; and of the law of Moses, and of the works and sacrifices of it, to take away sin, and save men from it, had been clearly evinced. To conclude, it was in time, and not before time, that Christ became man. To talk of the human nature of Christ, either in whole or in part, as from eternity, is contrary both to scrip
and reason ; nor can that man, or human nature, be of any avail or benefit to us; hut he that is the Seed of the woman, the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, and the Son of Mary.
V. The ends of Christ's incarnation are many; there is a cluster of thein in the song of the angels at his birth; Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good-will towards men, Luke ii. 14. - 1. One end of Christ's incarnation was, to shew forth the glory of God in it; the glory of his grace, kindness, and goodness to men, in the mission of his Son in this way; the glory of his faithfulness in fulfilling his promise of it; the glory of his power in the miraculous production of Christ's human nature; and the glory of his wisdom in bringing it into the world in such a manner as to be free from sin, and so fit for the purpose for which it was designed : and all this that God might be glorified in these bis perfections; as he was by the angels, by Mary, by the father of John the Baptist, and by Simeon, at, or about, the ti:ne of Christ's birth; and as he has been by saints in all ages since. -2. Another end of Christ's incarnation was, to make peace with God for men on earth; to make reconciliation for sin, was the work appointed him in covenant; and to do this, was the reason of his being made in all things like unto his brethren; and this end is answered; he has reconciled sinners to God by his death, and made peace for them by the blood of his cross.
- 3. Another end of Christ's incarnation was, not only to show the good will of God to men, but that they might receive the fruits of his good will and favour towards them; even all the blessings of grace, those spiritual blessings provided in covenant, and laid up in Christ; and which came by him our High-priest, and through his blood, called therefore, the blood of the everlasting covenant. — 4. Particularly, Christ became man that he might be
our Goel, our near kinsman, and might appear to have a right to redeem us ; and he was, in the fulness of time, made of a woman, to redeem men from the law, its curse and condemnation; and that they might receive the adoption of children, and every other blessing included in, or connected with redemption ; as peace, pardon, and justification; for he was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, that by the sacrifice of himself for sin, he mighs condemn it in the flesh i and that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, as represented by him, and so be completely justifiod in hun ; see Gal. iv. 4, 5.-5. Christ became man, that he might be a Mediator between God and men; and the better to perforin several parts of his office as such, he took upon him the nature of man ; that he might have something to offer as a Priest to be a sacrifice for sin, and that be inight make satisfaction for it in that nature that sinned; and that he might be a prophet like unto Moses, raised up, as he was, among his brethren;. and having the Spirit of the Lord God upon hiin, might preach glad tidings to the meek; and that he might appear to be a King taken from among his brethren, as the kings of Israel were ; and to be a Ruler, Noble, and Governor that proceded from the midst of them, as was predicted he should, Jer. xXx. 21 and so sit and reign upon the throne of his father David.
OF CHRIST'S STATE OF HUMILIATION. Christ's state of humiliation began at his incarnation, and was continued through the whole of his life unto death, which is fully and clearly expressed in a few words in Phil. ii. 7, 8. but made himself of no reputation, &c. and which the apostle illustrates and confirms by placing it in a contrast with his glorious estate previous to it; for by how much the higher he was in that state, the lower, and meaner he appears in iis; and higher it was not possible for him to be, than as described by the apostle, as in the forin of God, in his nature and essence; and as equal with God his Father; having the same perfections, names, works and worship ascribed to himn. Now in this state of humiliation he appeared the reverse of this; he, who was in the form of God, was not only made in the likeness of mar, and in fashion as a man, but took on him the form of a servant, of one of the meanest of men; and he, who was equal to his divine Father, made himself of no account among men, and became obedient in all things to his Father, and that even to death itself, the accursed death of the
I. The humiliation of Christ took place at his incarnation, and therefore in the above account of it, the phrases of being made in the likeness of men, and of being found in fashion as a man, are used as expressive of it; and which are to be understood of his being ically and truly man, as has been observed in the preceding chapter; for though the asgumption of the human natare into union
with the person of the Son of God, was an exaltation of it, and gave it a preeminence to all the other individuals of human nature, and even to angels them selves, as has been shewn; yet it was an humbling of the person of Christ to take a nature so inferior to his into union with Kim; for I see not why the phrase of humbling may not be used with respect to this matter of the person of the Son of God, since it is used of the divine Being, Psal. cxin. 6. and if it is an humbling of God, a stoop of Deity, to look upon things in heaven and earth; a condescension in him to dwell on earth, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, it must be much more so for the Word and Son of God, who was in the beginning with God, and was God, and to whom the creation of all things is ascribed, to be made flesh and dwell among men, John i. 1-14.
1. The humiliation of Christ appeared both in his conception and birth; though there were some things relating to his conception which were very illus trious and glorious; as a remarkable prophecy concerning it some hundreds of years before it was, Isai. vii. 14. the dispatch of an angel to the virgin to acqaint her with it, when near or at the instant of it, and that itself was of the mighty power of the holy Spirit, Luke i. 26-35: yet it was amazing humility that he who was the Son of God, lay in the boson of his Father, should by assumption of human nature into union with his divine person, lie nine months in the womb of a virgin; and he that ascended on high, should first descend into these lower parts of the earth. And though there were many great and glorious things that attended his birth, which made it very illustrious; as an unusual star, which guided the wise men from the east to the place of his nativity, who worshipped him, and presented gifts unto him; and an angel appeared in a glorious form to the shepherds, who acquainted them with his birth ; and a multitude of the heavenly host descended and joined with him, singing Glory to God in the highest on account of it; yet, besides many things that followed it, very inglorious; as Herod's search after him to take away his life; the flight of his parents with himn into Egypt, where they continued awhile in fear and obscurity; and the massacree of a great number of infants in and about Bethlehem: it
may be observed, - 1. That he was born of a woman, which very phiase is expressive of meanness, Job xiv. 1. born of a sinful woman, though he himself withe out sin; made of a woman, as the expression is in Gal. iv. 4. made of one that was made by him, and to whom he stood in the character of Creator, Lord and Saviour, as she herself owned, Luke i. 46, 47. — 2. Born of a poor woman; for though his mother, the virgin, was of the house of David, of that illustrious family, yet when that family was become very low, like a tree cut down to its Foots; for when in such a state was the Messiah to spring froin it, as he did, according to the prophecy, Isai. xi. 1. that his mother was a poor woman, appears from the usage she met with at the time of her delivery in the inn, where there was 110 room for her to be received in, because of her poverty; and therefore was obliged to lay her new born infant in a manger. Jato