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O God! how great is the sum of them !” Here we see, first, the formation of the body of Christ in the virgin's womb, by the power of the Holy Ghost, with all its parts and members : and, secondly, we have a beautiful view of Christ, the head of the elect, and of all his members, which were written in the Lamb's book of life in eternity; and of their coming to him in time, until the whole mystical body of Christ becomes complete, and enjoys communion and fellowship with him : “Thine eyes did see my substance,” or my mystical body, being appointed and ordained from all eternity, though yet unperfect; not all the members yet united to Christ, their covenant head and head of influence : and in thy book (the Lamb's book of life) all my members were written at once, when given by the Father to Christ, as he says, “ Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” while they had no actual existence, but should have from the commencement of time: “ Which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” Hence we read of Christ rejoicing in the foreview of becoming incarnate, to save his sheep, before .sin entered into the world, or death by sin : “ While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world;" or the chiefest part, which was man, Prov. viii. 26; but even then (in eternity) “ rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men" (verse. 31) when the earth was not created, nor any of the sons of men formed: but this shews his goings forth, in love and tender mercy, to have been from of old, from everlasting, Micah v.2. And in another place we read, “Thou, O Lord, art our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting ;” or as in the margin, (a better reading) “ Redeemer from everlasting is thy name,” Isa. Ixiii. 16. He was the eternal Word, that spoke for us in eternity, and undertook to be our Saviour and Redeemer; and, in order to accomplish his loving, gracious, purposes towards his people, he was to become incarnate, as quoted before: “A body hast thou prepared me;” which in the fulness of time he did assume.“ Then said I, LO, I come, in the volume of the book (in the very first roll of the book of God's decrees) it is written of me,” (that I shall become incarnate and assume this body prepared, and in it) “ I delight to do thy will, O my God!” Ps. xl. 7, 8. And, as preludes to this his future incarnation, he sometimes assumed thę appearance of a man.-To Abraham, as one of three men, "in the plains of Mamre," Gen. xviii. 1, 2. "To Joshua, in the plains of Jericho, as the captain of the Lord's host, with a drawn sword in his hand,” Josh. v. 14. But never actually became
incarnate, nor appeared in a real human body, until he was born of Mary, full four thousand years after, and revealed as the woman's promised seed in the garden of Eden to our first parents. The appointed time, the fulness of the, time appointed and settled in eternity, was when Mary bronght him forth at Bethlehem in a stable, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, That was the time when he really was revealed as Immanuel, God with us. God 'and man in one person!-One of the grandest-one of the most sublime-one of the most astonishing mysteries and which was attended with the most wonderful and glorious consequences to poor sinners that was ever made known ! There was not an angel of heaven absent on the occasion—they were all present with the shepherds, to proclaim the glad tidings of the birth of the Saviour, and to sing “ Glory to God in the highest, on earth, peace, and good will towards men!” Luke ii. 14. Where it is said (in ver. 13). a multitude, it ought to be the multitude, which would agree with that other scripture “ When he bringeth his first-begotten into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him,” Heb. i. 6; which I have no doubt was exactly fulfilled. The heavenly choir for that time were absent from heaven, to attend upon their Creator and preserver.
· I come now to the manner of his conception and birth. Had the humanity of the Saviour come by natural generation, as is the case with the fallen children of Adam, his nature would have partaken, first, of original sin, and thence of actual transgression; and then he could not have been a Saviour, for he would have been a sinner himself. But God, who is infinite in wisdom and almighty in power, formed a plan, and executed it, to accomplish all his decrees and purposes respecting the salvation of his elect family, of which we read thus: “The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth—a woman shall compass a man!” Jer. xxxi. 22. This means the formation of the human nature of Christ in the womb of the virgin without the interference of man,! fully explained in the word thus: “ And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured; (graciously accepted, or much graced ;) the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” This salutation begetting in her fear, “ The angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God; and, behold, thou shalt conceive in
thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that HOLY THING which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,” Luke i. 26-35. Here we have the truth fully before us--the human nature of Christ formed in the 'virgin's womb by the power of the Holy Ghost, and when born called a holy thing. It is spoken of in the neuter gender, because it never had personal subsistence, although the Son of God took it into union with his divine person in the virgin's womb: hence it is said, “ therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." So that the great mystery of godliness is “God manifest in the flesh”-two perfect natures, God and man, in one person. This is the mystery of mysteries, which none but God can comprehend. Now, if the human nature was holy, the produce of the Holy Spirit, how could it be mortal ? No; he possessed no mortality in his holy and pure nature—the workmanship of God when it was “ curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth,” Psalm cxxxix. 15. It was entirely free from sin and from all pollution; and, in con