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2. Another of his names is Counsellor.' The great councils of redemption, in which every concern respecting the glory of God, and the salvation of sioners, was adjusted, were established with him, and in him, before the foundation of the world. And he is our Counsellor or Advocate with the Father, who pleads our cause, and manages all our affairs in perfect righteousness, and with infallible success ; so that no suit can possibly miscarry which he is pleased to undertake. To him, likewise, we must apply, (and we shall not apply in vain,) for wisdom and direction, in all that belongs to our duty and the honour of our profession in the present life. In all our difficulties, dangers, and cares, we must look to him for guidance and support. This is to be wise unto salvation. His secret is with them that consult him ; so that, though the world may deem them weak and ignorant as babes, (and he teaches them to think thus of themselves,) they have a cheering and practical knowledge of many important subjects, which are entirely hidden from those who are wise and prudent in their own eyes.
3. He is The Mighty God.' Though in the office of Mediator, he acts in the character of a servant, his perfections and attributes are truly divine. Only the Mighty God could make a provision capable of answering the demands of the boly law, which we had transgressed. Only the mighty God could be a suitable Shepherd to lead millions of weak, helpless creatures to glory, through the many difficulties, dangers, and enemies they are exposed to in their passage. Add to this, the honour, dependence, and obedience which this great Shepherd claims from his sheep, are absolute and supreme ; and they would be guilty of idolatry, if they did not know that he is the Mighty God. Though real Christians, who are enlightened and taught by the Holy Spirit, may, and do differ in their views and explanations of some revealed truths, I conceive they must be all agreed in this point. It is not only necessary to be known as the only solid foundation of a sinner's hope, but it immediately respects the object of divine worship. For if the Redeemer is not possessed of the incommunicable perfections of Deity, the New Testament, in its most obvious and literal signification, would be chargeable, not only with countenancing, but with expressly, teaching and enjoining idolatry.
4. Further, he shall be called · The Everlasting Father.' · He is not ashamed to call them brethren,'* having condescended to assume their human nature. But they are also his children. They are born into his family by the efficacy of his own
* Heb. ii. 11.
word and Spirit. From him they derive their spiritual life, being united to him by faith, and receiving, from first to last, out of bis fulness. And he is an • Everlasting Father. Our fathers, according to the flesh, are subject to death. But his relation to them subsists unchangeably, and, therefore, they cannot be destitute ; and he is thus equally to them all. They live upon the earth, and are removed from it, in a long succession of ages; but He is the Father of the everlasting age, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.' • All generations shall call him blessed.' To him, therefore, the apostle teaches us to apply that sublime passage of the Psalmist, Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands.* They shall perish, but thou remainest ; and they shall wax old as doch a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.'t
5. Lastly, He shall be called “The Prince of Peace,' whose sovereign prerogative it is to speak peace to his people ;'1 and there is no peace deserving the name, but that which he bestows. The Scripture expressly declares, .There is no peace to the wicked.' By whatever name we call that thoughtless security and insensibility, in which mankind generally live, while ignorant of God and themselves, we cannot allow it to be peace. It is the effect of blindness and hardness of heart; it will neither bear reflection nor examination. Can they be said to possess peace, however fatally regardless they may be of futurity, who are at present under the dominion of restless, insatiable, and inconsistent passions and appetites ? But the kingdom of Messiah is a kingdom of peace, and in him his happy subjects enjoy a peace which passeth all understanding, I such as the world can neither give nor take away. He has made peace by the blood of his cross,'T. for all that come unto God by him. Until they are in trouble and distress, until they feel the bitterness and fear the consequences of their sins, and see the impossibility of belping themselves, they will not apply to him ; but whenever they do seek bim thus weary and heavy laden,' he hears their prayer. Their minds, for a season, are like the sea in a storm ; they are distressed with guilt, fears, and temptations : but when he reveals his mighty name and boundless grace to their hearts, and says, • Peace, be still,'** there is a great calın. · Being justified by faith, they have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.' He gives them peace, likewise, in a changing, troublesome world
* Psalm, cii. 25—27. Heb. i. 10-12. | Psalm, Ixxxv. 8. Isa. lvii. 21. || Phil. iv. 7. 1 Col. i. 20.
by inviting and enabling them to cast all their cares upon him, and to trust all their concerns in his hands, upon the assurance his word gives them, that he careth for them, and will manage and overrule every thing for their good. In proportion as their faith realizes his promises, they feel a composure and satisfaction. Knowing that the hairs of their head are numbered,' that their afflictions, no less than their comforts, are tokens of bis love, that he will give them strength according to their day , that he will be their guide and their guard even unto death,' they are not greatly moved by any events, or disturbed by apprebensions, because their hearts are fixed, trusting in the Lord.* Further, he teaches them (what can only be learnt of him) how to seek and maintain peace among men.
His love subdues the power of self, and forms them to a spirit of philanthropy and benevolence, which has often such an effect, that they who dislike them for their attachment to him and to his precepts, and would willingly speak evil of them, are ashamed, and put to silence, by their perseverance in well-doing. Thus their peace increases as a river, which runs with a deeper and a broader stream as it approaches the ocean. For their peace is then strong est and most unshaken, when they draw near to death, and are upon the point of resigning their souls into his hands. This is the time when, if not before, the false peace of the worldling will give way to terror and dismay. But mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.'t It inust be allowed, that many of his people, through the power of temptation and remaining unbelief, have, at some seasons, uncomfortable fears concerning a dying hour ; but when the time of their dismission actually arrives, we seldom see them afraid of the sunimons. There is a strength necessary to support the soul at the approach of death, which is usually withheld till the time of need. But then it is vouchsafed. They who liave frequent access to the beds of dying believers, can bear testimony, as eye witnesses, to the faithfulness of their Lord. How often have, we seen them triumphing in the prospect of immortality! as happy, in defiance of pain and sickness, as we can well conceive it possible to be while in the body, and as sure of heaven as if they were already before the throne.
Such is the character of Messiah! This is the God whom we adore ; our almighty, unchangeable Friend ! His greatness and goodness, his glory and his grace, when once known, fix the heart, no more to rove, and fill it with admiration, gratitude, and desire. From hence spring a cheerful unreserved obedience to
* Psalm cxii. 7.
* Psalm xxxvii. 37.
his commands, and a deliberate, voluntary submission to his holy will. For his people do pot serve him or yield to him by constraint; at least, it is only the pleasing constraint of love, which makes their duty their delight; and their burden and grief is, that they can serve him no better.
May we be all thus minded. I dare not hope it is so with us all at present. But this is the day of his grace. For this cause he came into the world, that he might draw many hearts to himself.* And for this purpose he favours us with bis Gospel, by which he still says, "Look onto me, and be ye saved ;'t Come unto me, and I will give you rest.' I To be found among his faithful followers, in the great day when he shall come to judge the world, is the one thing which, above all others, deserves our solicitude.
Hear, then, bis voice to-day. Perhaps you are apprised of the necessity of a change of heart and life, at some future period, in order to die safely. Such a change is equally necessary, if you wish to live comfortably. While you are unfit to die, you can have no true enjoyment of life. It were easy to prove, at large, that procrastination is highly dangerous. Admitting that, according to your present feelings, you really think yourself determined to seek the Lord at some future time, do you consider how many uncertainties you presume upon ? Are you sure that you shall not be suddenly cut off, by an unexpected and unthought of stroke ; or visited by a fever, which may quickly bring you into a state of delirium or stupefaction, and render your projected repentance impracticable? Yea, it will, in any circumstances, be impracticable, unless God is pleased to influence your mind by his good Spirit. If you grieve this Spirit now, by resisting his operations, what reason have you to expect that he will then return? Do we not see many instances of what the poet, with great propriety, calls, • A slow, sudden death ?! How many people, wbile pining away under the power of incurable disease, amuse themselves with the hope of recovery to the last gasp ; and though their acquaintance read death in their countenance for weeks or months, in defiance of such repeated and long-continued warnings, they die as suddenly, with respect to their own apprehensions, as if killed by lightning. Tremble, lest such be your last end, if you trifle with God, who now calls you, by his Gospel, to seek him to-day, while it is called today.'
Bat I would lead you to consider your delay not only as dangerous, but as unreasonable. Why are you afraid of being
Matth. xi. 28.
John, xii. 32. Vol. III.
Isa. xlv. 22.
happy too soon ? What strange and hard thoughts have you of God, if you suppose you can find more pleasure in living according to your own wills, than in obedience to his commands? Can the world give you such peace and satisfaction as I have attempted to describe ? Do you think a real persuasion that God is your friend, and that heaven will be your home, will spoil the relish of your earthly enjoyments, or make your lives uncomfortable ? What hard thing does the Lord require of you, that you are so unwilling to comply ? If we set aside, for a moment, the consideration of a future state and a final judgment, yet, even in a temporal view, you would be a great gainer, if your spirit and your conduct were regulated by the Gospel. What heart-breaking troubles, what losses, contests, pains of body, and remorse of conscience, would some of you have avoided, if you had believed and obeyed the word of God! What distresses may your headstrong passions soon plunge you into, if you presume to go on in your sivs For that the way of transgressors is hard, is not only declared in Scripture, but proved by the history and observation of every day. Forsake the foolish, therefore, and live. And, while the door of mercy is still open before you, pray to him who is able to bless you indeed, by delivering you from the guilt, and from the power of your iniquities ; lest, if being often reproved,'* and still • bardening your hearts, you shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.'
THE ANGEL'S MESSAGE AND SONG.
LUKE, ii. &–14. There were in the same country shepherds alriding in the field, keeping watch
over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them ; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them. Fear not ; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you : Ye shall find the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude oj* the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good-will toward men.
The gratification of the great, the wealthy, and the gay, was chiefly consulted in the late exhibitions in Wesminster-Abbey.
* Prov. xxix. 1.