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A Discourse, Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, Dec. 24, 1848,
BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.
“ Hath not the Scripture said that Christ cometh of the seed of David ?"
John vii. 42. It is not unfrequently recorded in the Scriptures, that the bitterest enemies of Christ were obliged to give utterance to some of the most interesting and important truths, relative to His Person and work. We have seen this in the discourse recently preached in your hearing, and now before your eyes, when, in a sarcastic spirit, and evidently from the venom and bitterness of their bearts, His enemies exclaimed, “Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?” (John vii. 26.) They did not believe it themselves, yet were nevertheless obliged to give utterance to that remarkable appellation, " the very Christ." So here, the multitude surrounding Jesus, were contending, murmuring, and quarrelling, as to whether He was the Prophet,” or an impostor, or whether He was really and truly Christ. Some said, “ Shall Christ come out of Galilee?"—thus proving their ignorance about His history while on earth, and either losing sight of, or never knowing, that He was literally born“ in the town of Bethlehem, where David was."
“ Hath not the Scripture said, that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem?” And so He did; yet this was overlooked by them, or unknown to them; and consequently they used it as an argument for the purpose of rejecting Him. Not unfrequently is the Scripture of truth thus perverted; and yet here is one truth set forth, “ Hath not the Scripture said ?". Take every description of heresiarch, beginning with the Papists, down to their offspring, the Arminians, and go on to the Socinian race, and only come to this one Published in Weekly Nurobers, 1d., and Monthly Parts, 5d.
point with them, “ What saith the Scripture ?' -“ Hath not the Scripture said ?”—and we shall find in the precious Word of God enough to refute every existing heresy, and confirm all the grand doctrines of God's eternal grace.
The coming of Christ into our world, was the subject of long anticipation by the Jews, and that anticipation was wrought up to its climax at the time of His appearance. Yet, when, according to their own Scriptures, the time was fulfilled, and according to the predictions their own prophets had set forth, all the circumstances, even the most minute, of His entrance into our world, were literally carried out; still they rejected Him, and even His brethren did not believe on Him. What a proof positive of what our precious Lord Himself said, “ Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep” (John X. 26). If they had been His sheep, they would have believed in Him. There is the first cause, --their relationship and eternal affinity; and all who are His sheep, shall sooner or later be brought to believe in His name. " The world hateth me;" “ the world cannot hate you, because you are of it; but me it hateth, because I testify of it; that the works thereof are evil ” (John vii. 7). Therefore, the coming of our precious Lord, though exactly in the order of time, and exactly according to date, and under all the circumstances that the Old Testament prophets had set forth, was rejected and despised, and the cry of “ Away with him, away with him” (John xix. 15), was reiterated, until He was crucified and slain. And yet this precious Christ came in the face of all this hostility, and accomplished all that the Father had given Him to do, overcame all that stood in the way of His work, wrought out and brought in an everlasting righteousness for His Church, and afterwards ascended to glory, at the right hand of the Majesty on high, where He was before the world began.
We may be supposed to be rather late in the season for our Advent sermon, but the first idea of my discourse this morning is that of the Advent of Christ; then, secondly, the line of descent in which He came, which I conceive to be very important to gospel truth; and then, thirdly, by way of examination, the life that He lived whilst on the earth.
1.-First of all, then, let us glance at what is generally termed the advent, “ Christ cometh. Of all the marvellous events that have engaged the attention of human beings since the creation of the world, this is the most stupendous; and therefore the Holy Ghost directed the apostle to call it " the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh ” (1 Tim. iv. 16). To know the glorious Person of this Christ, who came into the world, is foremost in every description of knowledge that is important to man, “ for this is life eternal.” He said Himself, " To know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent (John xvii. 3). We shall therefore endeavour to enter a little, as the Word of God and the Spirit of God shall enable us, into a view of the glorious Personage who came. If I turn to Hebrews i. 3, I find Him expressly described as “ the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His Person.' Viewing such a description of llim as that, I am brought to the full conviction that He is the Father's co-equal, co-eternal Son; and I begin with this as the fundamental principle of our holy gospel; for if we be in error here, we cannot be right anywhere. If we once err by the supposition, not merely of His being a creature, but of there being any inferiority in point of origin, essence, dignity, and glory, as God, between Jesus and the Father, we err everywhere. We cannot be right in a single principle of the gospel, without being right in this first fundamental principle, that our precious Christ, whose coming we are speaking of, was, and is, the Father's co-equal, co-eternal Šon. “ I and my Father are one (John x. 30), is His own declaration, “ This is the will of Him that sent me," saith He again, “ that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which sent Him” (John v. 23). And mark, he must honour the Son equally as he honours the Father, to the same extent, and with the same Divine honour and glory; yea, even at the very end of His ministerial career on earth, and just before He suffers, He makes the same unmistakeable demand, appealing to His Father on high: “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now, O Father, glorify thou me”-mark the extent—" with thine own self.” What! precious Lord, will nothing short of the Father's own self be sufficient glory for thee?-nothing short of all the attributes and perfections of Deity, self-existent and glorious, recognized as belonging to thee? " With thine own self,” adding, "with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Then I hold up the precious Christ as the co-equal, co-eternal Son of the Father, possessed of all the glory of the Father, and of essential Deity in cominon with the Father from everlasting—" the glory which I had with tbee before the world was (John xvii. 4, 5).
Refer again to that beautiful chapter, the first of Hebrews, in which, previously to speaking of Him as “ the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His Person,” He is declared to be * His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things.” Lower down in the same chapter, the Holy Ghost records, that " when He bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him." So that by the predictions of the prophets, the assertions of Christ Himself, the acknowledgments of all the sacred writers in the inspired page, and the uniform testimony of the Holy Ghost, we learn that our precious glorious Christ is the everlasting God, the Lord, the co-equal, co-eternal with the Father, and by whom the worlds were made. He that made all things is God; therefore Christ must be God.
I scarcely need dwell upon this point in a congregation, amongst whom these truths have been delivered for thirty years; but still we need “ line upon line, and precept upon precept;" and there have been cases, in which Arminians and Socinians have strolled in bither. It is possible that a few such may be here this morning: if this is the case, I must be clear of their blood, by reminding them, that unless Jesus is honoured with the very same honour, and to the same extent, as the Father is, the Father will not accept of any honour at your hands or lips; and, consequently, rejecting your worship, will reject you, and you must therefore eternally perish, as rejectors of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But mark yet further here, how delighted the dear Redeemer always was to speak of Himself as sent. Several times the phrase occurs in this chapter, as well as in other portions of the evangelist's writings, “ Yet a little while I am with you, and then I go unto Him that sent
(John vii. 33). “ I came not of mine own self, but my Father hath sent me." Here, then, you have the grand appointment, commission, direction, entrusting to the care of a precious Christ the whole matter of salvation and redemption under the predestinating enactments of the Father. So that while paternal love sets upon the throne the King of Zion, and appoints Him to His work on behalf of Zion, the Son voluntarily undertakes, voluntarily receives the commission, voluntarily puts Himself in the character of the Advocate of His Church, the Mediator, and the Daysman that God appointed; and yet, when on the earth, He says, “ I came not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me;" that is, His own will, as we shall presently notice. “I came not to do my own will," in my delegated character as the servant of the Father, “ but the will of Him that sent me ” (John vi. 38); and then He says, “ I and my Father are one (John x. 30): My Father's will is mine, I having voluntarily undertaken all that the Father predestinated and enacted.
Having glanced, then, at this glorious Person in His essential Deity, as the Father's only-begotten Son coming into the world, we will just observe, that He occupied a body prepared for Him. To have descended to our earth as essential, unveiled Deity-I say it with reverence-could not have accomplished the purpose for which He came. The bright shining glory of essential Deity could not have been borne by mortal vision. Our God, in that character, would have been a “consuming fire ;” and it was therefore essential that our precious Christ, at His coming, should occupy human nature; hence we read in the Hebrews, "A body hast thou prepared me” (Heb. x. 5). And in the Psalms, “ Lo, I come” (Ps. xl. 7); "a body hast thou prepared me."
Here I wish to insist upon the momentous point of the purity and perfection of the humanity of Christ. It is set down in the Word of God, that this body was prepared by the Father, In the incarnation, it is represented as the immediate work of the Holy Ghost; so that the Father's sovereign will and purpose in sending down the Holy Ghost to overshadow the Virgin, produced the humanity of Christ, in which eternal Deity was to dwell, and carry on and accomplish the grand scheme of redemption settled in the council of peace. Thus we must ever view the humanity of Christ as the prophet did, when he said, “ The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth: a woman shall encompass a man (Jer. xxxi. 22); no doubt with reference to the incarnation of Christ. The prophet Isaiah was commissioned to speak of it in the same terms; and yet, though these Scriptures were referred to by these cavilling Jews, they would not believe their own Scriptures, Hath not the Scripture said, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emanuel ?” (Isa, vii. 14), “ which being interpreted, is God with us” (Matt. i. 23). Yet, so blind were their eyes, that all this was not received.
Again, mark especially, how the same prophet was commissioned to distinguish between His sonship and His childhood ; that is, between His eternal Deity and His manhood. “ Unto us a child is born," but
a Son is given "-"unto us a Son is given." It is nowhere said, a Son is born, but a child is born, and a Son is given (Isaiah ix. 6). Childhood, the infancy of His humanity, was born into the world; the eternal Sonship was a gift : " God gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should have everlasting life" (John iii. 16).
I am anxious you should have correct views of the glorious Person of
Christ; because that will lead to accurate views of His official character
Allow me to tell you an anecdote here. I once met two persons, whom I believed to be Christians, one of whom warmly contended that the law was the rule of life to believers; and the other as warmly contended that it was not. I listened to their disputation, which appeared to me to be very puerile ; but at length I broke in upon them, and said, “ Brethren, you are both wrong.' “ Nay,” they replied, “ if one is wrong, the other must be right; we cannot both be wrong.” “ I tell you that you are both wrong. “ How can you prove it?” I met the one who contended so warmly that the law was the rule of life, and I said, “ My good brother, is it any part of your rule of life to live by faith, and to love your enemies?" Why, yes,” he said.
“ Where do you find that in the law ?" Upon this, the other began to triumph. “ There, that is cutting it very short," said he; “ I did not think of that." “ But stop,” said I; you are quite as wrong as he is. You insist that the law is not the rule of life;" and I held up a pocket
for He says,