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Testament as a revelation from God. By assuming the Christian name, and so far calling the Saviour Lord, while they reject
, the spirit and design of the Gospel, and treat the ministers of it with neglect or contempt, they tread in the steps, and share in the guilt, of those who pretended to expect Messiah, and yet crucified him when he appeared among them. In person he could be crucified but once; but the Scripture speaks of those who crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame.' How far this is the case of the persons who can bear to hear of his passion and his kingdom when made the subject of a musical entertainment, but upon no other occasion, deserves their serious consideration.
II. The exhortation can only be complied with by those who are sensible of their need of a Saviour, and his authority and ability to save. To these the prophet brings a joyful message, and they will rejoice and shout. The joy of harvest* and of the victors in war when dividing the spoil of the vanquished, is celebrated with shouting. But sinners, who, by the knowledge of Messiah, are delivered from going down into the pit, from the dominion of the powers of darkness, and are translated into the kingdom of God, experience a joy far superior, in kind and degree, to any satisfaction that any temporal things can afford. It is a joy unspeakable and full of glory.'t Jesus, when known and received by faith, is, in the highest sense, light to those who sat in darkness, health to the sick, food to the hungry, and rest to the weary soul. Thus many rejoiced in his goodness when he was upon earth ; and he still has people, and will have to the end of time, who do and shall rejoice in him upon these accounts, though every spring of temporal joy shall be dried up. They who know his name, and put their trust in him, are warranted to appropriate those strong expressions of another prophet, “ Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls : yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.'I
III. The ground and cause of tbis joy is assigned. “The King cometh. Messiah is a king. This title be avowed to Pilate, || by whose order it was fixed over him upon his cross. That this was not a slight and arbitrary circumstance, but providential and important, we may, I think, infer from the care taken by the evangelists to preserve the remembrance of it, for it is recorded by them all. He is, indeed, King of kings, King and Lord
* Isa. ix. 3.
+1 Pet. i. 8.
1 Hab. iii. 17, 18.
|| Mark, xv. 2.
of nations, King of worlds ; but he is here spoken of as King of Zion. The kingdom he came to establish upon earth is not of this world, nor like the kingdoms of the world. The maxims, language, interests, and aims of it, are peculiar to itself. His power and providence rule over all ; but he is only known,
; admired, and willingly obeyed by the subjects of his spiritual kingdom, who, though they are in the world, are not of it, but strangers and pilgrims upon earth. There* Fodutsupa, their true citizenship is in heaven. These are his peculiar people. And though they partake with others in the changes and trials ipcident to this mortal life, and have their several departments and duties assigned them according to his will, as members of society, and it does not yet appear what they shall be ;t they are even now the children and servants of the Lord, and he manifests himself to them as he does not to others. Happy are these his subjects who dwell under his shadow. He rules them, not with that rod of iron by which he bruises and breaks the power of his enemies, but with his golden sceptre of love. He reigns by his own right, and by their full and free consent, in their hearts. He reigns upon a throne of grace, to which they have at all times access ; and from whence they receive, in answer to their prayers, mercy and peace, the pardon of all their sins, grace to help in every time of need, and a renewed supply answerable to all their wants, cares, services, and conflicts. So that, though they are surrounded with snares, and fiercely opposed by many enemies, they cannot be overpowered, for the Lord himself is their King and their Saviour. We have,
IV. Two characters of this King. He is just, having salvation,' or, as it is in the passage of the Messiah,' He is a righteous Saviour.'
1. He is righteous.' His kingdom is founded in righteonsness. It is the effect and reward of his obedience unto death, by which he made an end of sin, and brought in an everlasting right
As his people receive and expect all from his hand, so, likewise, for his sake. Such is his command, and such is his promise. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.'I In pleading their cause, and managing their concerns, he is their righteous advocate. And therefore, because his intercession is founded upon a righteous stipulation, which he has completely fulfilled, he does not say, ' Father' I ask, but, I will, that those whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.'ll
* Phil, jii. 20.
f 1 John, ii. 2.
| John, xiv. 14.
|| John, xvii. 24.
2. He is a 'Saviour ! having salvation in himself; yea, · He is their salvation."* His wisdom, power, compassion, and determined purpose, are all engaged to save them fully, freely, and for ever ; to save them from guilt, from Satan, and from sin, through all the dangers and trials of this life ; to save them to the uttermost, till he fixes them finally out of the reach of all evil, and puts them in possession of all the happiness of which their natures are capable, in a conformity to his own image, and the enjoyment of unclouded, uninterrupted communion with God.
V. His great design was not confined to Israel after the flesh. • He shall speak peace to the heathen’ also. His kingdom comprises, besides the believing posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a great multitude gathered from amidst all nations, people, and languages, from the east and the west, from the north and the south.'t Though the Heathen were universally alienated from God, by evil works and an evil conscience, he has undertaken to reconcile them, and to bring those near who were once afar off. By their knowledge of him, their prison shall be opened, their chains broken, I their condemnation reversed, and they shall be renewed, and accepted in the Beloved, as the true children of Abraham. He shall likewise conciliate peace between Jew and Gentile, make of both one people,ll pulling down the walls of separation and prejudice, that with one heart and mind they may love, serve, and praise him. For where faith in him obtains, all distinctions are lost and superseded. • There is,' then,
neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision, nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all.'s
Much has been already done by the Gospel. Multitudes have been turned from darkness to light, and from the worship of dumb idols to serve the living and true God. And we expect a time when this promise will be more extensively and literally fulfilled ; when the kingdom shall be the Lord's to the end of the earth; when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, all Israel be saved, and the nations shall learn war no more.
From these characters of the Saviour, we may collect the character of his people. For they, beholding his glory, are changed (according to the measure of their faith) into the same image. The incommunicable perfections of God, such as his sovereignty and all-sufficiency, can only produce in his people correspondent impressions of reverence, submission, and dependence; an attempt to be like him in these respects would be highly impious, and was, indeed, the original source of our apos
* Isa. xii. 2. $ Col. iii. 11.
+ Like, xiii. 28, 29.
| Isa. xlv. 14.
Eph. i. 13-16.
tacy from him. Man, by indulging a desire of being like God, rebelled against him, aspired at independence, and preferred the gratification of his own will to the righteous and equitable commands of his Maker. The unavoidable consequence of this madness is misery. It is not possible that he should be happy till be be reduced to his proper state of subordination. But that light of the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ, which is revealed to the renewed heart by the Gospel, bas a transforming effect upon those who receive it; they are made partakers of a divine nature, and resemble him, whose they are, and whom they serve, in righteousness, goodness, and truth.'*
They are righteous as he is righteous. I speak not of their relative state, as they are accepted and accounted righteous in the Beloved, but of their real character, They learn of him to love righteousness and hate iniquity.'t Their principles are right, drawn from the revealed truths of God. They comport themselves as becomes weak and unworthy sinners, and ascribe the glory of their salvation to the Lord alone ; and therefore the general tenour of their conduct is governed by the righteous rules of his precepts ; of which they have the most endearing and animating exemplification in the conduct of their Saviour; from him they learn to frame their tempers, desires, and hopes, and thus give evidence that they are in deed and in truth, a saved people. His love, in proportion as it is realized in their hearts by faith, teaches them likewise to love one another, and to exercise benevolence to all men. When they understand the true nature of his spiritual kingdom, which consisteth not in external distinctions and forms, .but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;'I and that it is his great design to form to himself a people from amongst the nations of the earth, who shall be one body, enlivened by one and the same spirit, they acquire a large and comprehensive mind. They rise above the influence of name, parties, and divisions ; are freed from the narrow views and interest of self; and put on, as the elect of God, bowels of mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, forbearance and forgiveness,'ll in conforınity to the pattern and will of their great Exemplar. Thus he speaks peace to them, and hushes all their angry, tumultuous passions into a calm. Such is the spirit and tendency of the Gospel. Let us try ourselves by this touch stone, measure ourselves by this rule, and weigh ourselves in these balances of the sanctuary. They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, have put off the old man, and are renewed in the spirit of their minds. If he be indeed your King, your consciences will bear you witness that you revere, imitate, and obey him. If he be your Saviour, you certainly must be sensible yourself, and others must observe, that you are different from what you once were.
Eph. v. 9.
Psalm xlv. 7.
| Rom, xiv. 17.
|| Col. jj. 12,
And if any of you should be convinced, that hitherto you have been a Christian only in name and in form, but destitute of that which constitutes the life and power of real godliness, this will be a good beginning. For though it be high time that you should in good earnest, attend to these things, blessed be God, it is not yet loo late.
He is a righteous and a gracious Saviour : seek him as such, and he will speak peace to you also. His sure promise is recorded for your encouragement, Him that cometh anto me I will in powise cast out.'*
EFFECTS OF MESSIAH'S APPEARANCE
Isalan, xxxv, 5, 6.
The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstop
ped: Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.
How beautiful and magnificent is the imagery, by which the prophet, in this chapter, represents the effects of Messiah's appearance! The scene, proposed to our view, is a barren and desolate wilderness. But when he, who in the beginning said, * Let there be light, and there was light,' condescends to visit this wilderness, the face of nature is suddenly changed by his presence. Fountains and streams of water burst forth in the burning desert, the soil becomes fruitful, clothed with verdure, and adorned with flowers. The towering cedars, which were the glory of Lebanon, and the richest pastures, which were the excellency of Carmel, present themselves to the eye, where a little before, all was uncomfortable and dreary. How is it that so few of those who value themselves upon their taste, and who profess to be admirers of pastoral poetry in particular, are struck with the elegance and beauty of his description ? Alas! we can only ascribe their indifference to the depravity of the human heart, They would, surely, have admired this picture, could they have