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Luke i. 33 Dan.vii. 13. Mic. iv. 7.
scribe ; whom Moses and Joshua, whom David and s E R M. Solomon in so many pat circumstances did foreshadow; whom God would set upon his holy bill of Sion; the fcepter.of whose kingdom is a mighty scepter ; who pl: '', 6. should raise the tabernacle of David that is fallen ; be- lxxii, ur. fore whom all Kings should fall down, and whom all na-Alts
. xv. tions should serve ; who should reign over the house of Am. ix. 11. Jacob for ever, and of whose kingdom there shall be no ba end. Now what can be more delightful, or satisfactory Acvs
. in Pf. to our mind, than to reflect on this sweet harmony of things, this goodly correspondence between the old and new world ; wherein so pregnant evidences of God's chief attributes (of his goodness, of his wifdom, of his fidelity and constancy) all conspiring to our benefit, do thine? Is it not pleasant to conteinplate how provident God hath ever been for our welfare? what trains from the world's beginning, or ever since our unhappy fall, he hath been laying to repair and restore us ? how wisely he hath ordered all dispensations with a convenient reference and tendency to this masterpiece of grace b? how steady he hath been in prosecuting his designs, and how faithful in accomplishing his promises concerning it?
If the holy Patriarchs did see this day, and were glad; Joh.viii. 56. if a glimpfe thereof did cause their hearts * to leap 'Hye:Arsáwithin them; if its very dawn had on the spirits of rata. the Prophets so vigorous an influence i, what comfort and complacence should we feel in this its real presence, and bright aspect on us ! How sensibly should we be affected with this our happy advantage above them; the which our Lord himtelf then did teach
h Non itaque novo confilio Deus rebus humanis, nec fera miseratione contuluit, sed a constitutione mundi unain eandemque omnibus caufam falutis inftituit. Leo P. de Nat. Sirm. 3.
i Magnam enim jucunditatem tunc carpebant ipsi fanéti Prophetæ, cum ea videbant in fpiritu, non jam impleta, fed adhuc futura. Aug. in Pf. xcvi.
SER M. us to estimate duly, when he said, Blefed are your
eyes, for they see ; and your ears, for they bear : for ve
rily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous mer Matt. xiii. bave desired 10 see those things which ye fee, and have not 16, 17
feen them; and to hear those things which ye bear, and bate not heard them.
2. Let us consider what alteration our Lord's Iph. ii. 14. coming did induce, by comparing the state of things
before it to that which followed it. The old world then consisting of two parts, severed by a strong wall
of partition, made up of difference in opinion, in Aēts x. 28.practice, in affection, together with a strict prohibi.
tion to one of holding intercourse with the other.
Of one, and that far the greater part, St. Paul Eph. ii. 32. hath given us these descriptions and characters : They
were aliens from the commonwealth of Ifrael, und ftran
gers from the covenant, having no hope, and being withEph. i. 3. out God in the world; they were by nature the childreit
of wrath, and of disobedience ; they were dead in trefpaljes and fins, walking according to the courfe of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air,
the Spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience; Eph.iv. they did walk in the vanity of their mind, having their
understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through tbe ignorance that was in them, because of the blindness of their heart; and being past feeling, did
give themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all unEph. ii. 3. cleanness with greedinefs; they had their conversation
in the lufts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, Tit
. ii3; and of the mind; being foolisi, disobedient, deceived, (Eph. v. 8. serving divers lifts and pleasures, living in malice and Cal.11. 13. envy, hateful, and hating one another. Such was the
cafe, the dismally wretched cafe, of the Gentile 2 Cor. iv. 4.world; such were our forefathers, (such after them
of course, by fatal consequence, should we have been,) 1 Pet. iv. 3.they were in their minds blinded with gross igno
rance, and deluded with foul errors ; they were in 29.) their wills and affections corrupted with great disorder, perverseness, sensuality, nalice ; they did in
1 Theft. iv. 5.
Gal. iv. 8.
2 Cor. iv.
their conversation practise all sorts of impiety, ini-S E R M. quity, and impurity; their conceptions of God were very unworthy, and their worship answerably such; (full of sottish, savage, beastly superstitions;) their principles were vain, and their life conformably difTolute; in short, they lived under the domination and influence of wicked spirits, who thence are styled lords and princes of this world, of this air, of this secu- Ep. vi. 12. lar darkness : even of the wifest among them, (the (John sii. number of whom, notwithstanding the clatter their 31. xiv. 30. writings made, was very small and inconsiderable,) of this those who by the conduct of natural light strove to 4. disengage themselves from vulgar mistakes and inif-2
Tim. ii. carriages, the case was little better ; for even their Col. i. 13. minds (after all their studious disquisitions and de- Aas zari. bates) proved dark and giddy ; full of ignorance, of 18.) error, of doubt in regard to the main points of religion, and of morality; some of them flatly denying the existence, or (which in effect is the same) the providence of God; the natural distinction between good and evil, the fpiritual nature and future subsistence of our fouls, the dispensation of rewards and punishments after this life; others wavering in doubt, or having but faint persuasions about these matters; few or none having clear notions, or steady opinions about any such things ; whence their practice, in correspondence to their rules, must needs have been very loose, or very lame ; so that well might our Apostle say of them, They became vain in their_reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened ; 1:280yisprofeffing themselves wise, they became fools ; and as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave 21-28. them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.
As for the other part, or little parcel of men, the condition of that was also very low : if the rest of the world did lie in dark night, they did live but in a dusky twilight; their religion was much wrapt up in shadow and mystery ; they had but dilute ideas
Col. ii. 17.
5. X. I.
Rom. xi. 32. iii. 9. 19.
SER M. of God's nature, and scant discoveries of his will ;
their law or rule of practice in divers respects was defective and infirm ; they were locked under the discipline of childish rudiments, suiting their raw capacities, and under the bondage of Navilh yokes, befitting their stubborn dispositions; which defailances in notion their practice commonly did outstrip; being fond, corrupt, hypocritical, void of interior, substantial and genuine righteousness; as the old Prophets did often complain, and as our Lord, with his Apostles, did urge.
Such was the state of the world in its parts, and Gal. iii. 22. jointly of the whole it may be said, that it was sout
up under fin and guilt, under darkness and weakness, under death and corruption, under forrow and woe: that no full declaration of God's pleasure, no clear overture of mercy, no express grant of spiritual aid, no certain redemption from the filth or the force of sin, from the stroke of death, from due punishment hereafter ; no encouragements suitable to high devotion, or strict virtue, were any wife in a folemn way exhibited or dispensed before our Lord's appear
ance : so that well might all men be then repreIsa. ix. 1. sented as Cimmerians, fitting in darkness, in the region
and shadow of death; well may we suppose all ages
foregoing to have teemed with hope and desire of Rom. viii. this happy day ; or that (as St. Paul faith) the whole
creation (that is, all mankind) groaneth together, and travaileth together until now; as labouring with pangs of implicit desire, or under a painful sense of needing
a Saviour ; well might Isaiah thus proclaim his comfa. lx.1, ing ; Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory
of the Lord is risen upon thee : for behold darkness fall cover the land, and gross darkness the people ; but the Lord Mall arise upon thee, and his glory Mall be seen
14 pon thee; and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and Pfal. xcviii. kings to the brightness of thy rising : for, now, the
Lord hath made known his salvation, his righteousness hath be openly served in the light of the hearben. The
Joel ii. 28.
Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all thes E RM. nations, and all the ends of the earth do see the falvation of cl!r God.
Now we are all children of the light, and of the day ; , Theff. v. all do know God from the least to the greatest ; the rar-5; eft, the deepest notions are grown common and ob- Cor.co. vious; every child is instructed in the highest truths, Heb. viii. every peasant is become a great philosopher, (beyond Jer. xxxi. Aristotle, or Plato, or Epictetus,) ikilful of the best 34. knowledge, able to direct his life in the best way, capable of obtaining the best good.
Now the spirit of God (the spirit of direction, of as ii. 17. succour, of comfort spiritual,) is poured upon all felh. Now the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, Luke xxiv. bath appeared 10 all men; fully instructing them in 47. their duty, and strongly enabling them to perform it, freely offering them mercy, mightily encouraging them with hopes of most blessed ruwards.
Now Jew and Gentile are reunited and com-Eph. ili. 6. pacted in one body; walking in the same light, and ü. 15. under obligation to the fame laws; sharing in a common redemption and inheritance; being inseparably linked together with the bands of faith, of charity, of spiritual fraternity ; thus old things are passed 2 Cor. v. away, behold all things are become new, in virtue and consequence of our Lord's appearance : in contemplation of which so great, so general, so happy a Adip9no15. change, how can we forbear to rejoice ?
But farther, that we may yet more nearly touch the point,
3. Let us consider that the nativity of our Lord is a grand instance, a pregnant evidence, a rich earnest of Almighty God's very great affection and benignity toward mankind : for, In this (faith St. John) the 1 Join is. love of God was manifested, that God sent his oily be- % gotten Son into the world ; and, Through the tender mer- 17. cies of our God (fang old Zechariah) the day-spring Like i: 43. from on high did visit us : this indeed is the peculiar experiment, wherein that most divine attribute did
John iii. 16,