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from Heaven, it must contain real and important truth, and that truth clothed in plain, simple, and intelligible language; we must perceive, of consequence, in the “ man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” a person whose generation no one is able to declare, who is “ before all and by whom all things do consist :” whom all the angels of God are commanded to worship, “the heir of all things,” by whom the worlds were made and are upheld, whose “ throne is for ever and ever :" in one word Christ Jesus, “who is over all. God blessed for ever.”
You are well aware that the doctrine, which we wish to establish, is in the present day violently opposed; and while it is maintained in this place, it may be perhaps in the next street the subject of profane mirth, or of serious argumentation - Thinking as we do, we will not enter the lists of controversy.
We will not employ your time, nor endeavour to enlist your passions, by running down one name, party or opinion, and exalting another ; but will simply and humbly, though at the same time, firmly and unreservedly, propose for your instruction and improvement, what appears to be the meaning and object of Scripture : and, considering the divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as the first leading object of all Revelation, we will uniformly bring it forward in every discourse. If therefore these exercises are at all frequented, or attended unto, it will be by such as expect, and are well pleased, to hear of the great Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, in his original, everlasting, unchanging glory, and in his humiliation, as the son of man, to the form of a servant, to the death of the cross, a propitiation for sin. To this, we trust, not unknown God, our altar is erected, and dedicated, and on it we would again present our whole selves a living sacrifice unto the one true God, and “our Saviour Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and “Who shall declare his generation ?" Incapable thou art, O man, to trace back the short and slender thread of thy own existence and descent. Thou mayest have some faint recollection of weak and dependent childhood ; of a father's early care, and of a mother's tenderness; of the amusements, the companions, the solicitudes, the sorrows and joys of thy boyish days. But all beyond is a blank ; to thee creation began a few years ago; the second or third, at most, of thy own immediate progenitors, is blended with the men who lived beyond the flood. We are ignorant of and unknown to each other. How much more so are the men of distant nations and of times more remote ? But family tradition, national record, the inspired page can supply the want of personal knowledge, can carry us back to departed forefathers, and bring them down to
But what recollection, what tradition, what record, can carry us beyond the birth of nature, can convey us to a state of existence previous to the lapse of time ? Now the person of whom the prophet speaks, as we saw in the preceding lecture, is the Word who spake all things into existence, who built the world, who spread the flood, who set time a flowing, who “ breathed into man's nostril's the breath of life.” Who then of the sons of men, which of the angels of God shall declare the generation of Him who made them what they are, who placed them in their stations, who prescribed to them bounds which they cannot pass ? The slightest detail of nature, O man, presents a mystery which thou canst not solve, a world which thou canst not comprehend unto perfection. That seed cast into the ground cannot be “quickened except it die;" canst thou declare the generation of this insect, to day a butter fly, yesterday a moth, che third day a mere lifeless incrustation, and presumest thou to explain the great mystery of godliness, “God made manifest in the Hesh ;” at so many different times, in such divers manners made known unto the Fathers by the prophets ; and in these last days unveiled to us in the person of the Son, the brightness of his Father's glory and the express image of his person? We repeat the question, understandest thou, and art thou able to unfold, the union that exists in thy own frame, between the clay tabernacle and the immortal mind; earth and heaven blended in thine own person? And shall“ it be thought a thing incredible," that He who, in the uninterrupted course of his providence, produces this union which every one is conscious of existing, though no one is capable of explaining, should form other combinations, unite other natures, to declare his power and manifest his glory? Wherefore should “it be thought a thing incredible,” that He who unites himself to every one of us, through the medium of reason and conscience, for carrying on the plan of nature, should have united humanity to himself in the person of the Redeemer, in a manner still more incomprehensible, for perfecting the plan of redemption ? Shall I reject as untrue or absurd whatever I do not clearly understand or am unable perfectly to explain ? The consciousness which I have of my own being must be renounced then among the first, and every thing within and around us must be reduced to darkness, doubt and uncertainty.
Blessed Jesus, we cannot declare thy generation, and would not be wise above what is written, but we adore in silent wonder, we rejoice that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” and that men “beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” We rejoice that what we know not now we shall know hereafter. Suf. fice it now that we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man :" that “ it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the
Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” We can form no conception of a state pre-existent to this frame of nature, for imagination itself must draw its ideas from reality ; and to give scope to a faculty so fantastical, in treating a subject of such high moment, were presumptuous and profane. Let us reply then to the prophet's challenge, with the modesty and humility becoming creatures so ignorant, so limited, and so imperfect. We presume not to explore the records of eternity, to pry into the counsels of peace, to measure the infinite Jehovah, his nature, his decrees, his operations, by the contracted line of our finite understanding; but, taking Scripture for our instructor and guide, we will with reverence and joy contemplate the manifestation of the Son of God in the likeness of man, the mystery of the incarnation, his generation as one of our brethren. In the next lecture therefore, if God permit
, we will endeavour to lead your attention to some of the remarkable circumstances which immediately preceded the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and which give celebrity and notoriety to that illustrious event, and mark the interest which eternal Providence took in it, and the importance thereby stamped upon it to every serious and reflecting mind.
We conclude at present, with suggesting, from what has been said, and from every view which is given us in Scripture of the person of the Saviour, that there is spread around it at once an effulgence that dazzles and repels, and a mildness and simplicity which composes and attracts. Is he spoken of as a man, we are sent to Bethlehem to behold a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, to Nazareth to converse with the carpenter's son, to Cana of Galilee to join with him in the innocent festivity of a marriage solemnity, to Bethany to witness the endearments of private friendship, to Gethsemane to sympathize with the agonizing mourner, to scenes such as daily occur in human life ; but we are never left long to consider a mere man in situations and employments like our own, a man of like passions with ourselves; the glory of the Lord arises, the Son of God stands confessed, a generation not to be declared, a power that nothing can resist, at which devils tremble, which winds and seas obey, to which death and the grave' are subservient. He speaks as never man spake, legions of angels are continually on the wing to minister unto him-Prophecy and history represent him in the self same lights, in alternate humiliation and majesty, obscurity and splendour. What a contrast does the description of our prophet present ? “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
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” The progress of his history, in every particular stage of it, will elucidate the same observation, and therefore it shall not now be farther prosecuted.
Again, this subject seems much calculated to correct the prejudices which prevail among men in the matter of pedigree. There is in reality no such thing as mean and high birth: or if there be a distinction, to be born perfect in every limb and feature, with a sound and vigorous constitution, with a mind complete in all its faculties, this is to be nobly born: as, on the contrary, to come into the world diseased and debilitated, with a constitution undermined and destroyed by the vice of parents, is to have the disadvantage of being meanly born; a distinction which, if founded in reason, truth, and justice, leaves the great, in general, little to glory in, and the poor little at which to repine. Have we not all one father ? What genealogy is pure from every stain of infirmity,