« הקודםהמשך »
world would have flocked and kept festival; for what did it signify but that the great God himself was become a dweller with man upon the earth. But the dedication of Christ was worthy to be a day of jubilee to the universe. Here human instrumentality was dispensed with, as unworthy the greatness of the occasion; nothing lower than angelic agency was employed; the arrangement and process was wholly divine. His only human herald was directed to announce, him hath God the Father sealed ; he needs no human induction or testimony; he enters on his office sealed and signalized with all the marks of divinity upon him. He proclaimed himself, as 'him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world. The splendid scene at his baptismal inauguration, when the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended upon him, was only the after imitation, the faint repetition of a scene in heaven, in which the eternal Father, passing by all the hosts and hierarchies of heaven, had elected and devoted him to the office of his divine representative and our mediator: a scene, of which all the thrones, and dominions, and principalities of heaven stood around, the awed and admiring spectators; and in which the only share they took, was reverently and joyfully to worship him. God of eternal glory! thou thyself wast never so glorious in thine own eyes as at that moment, never so great in the eyes of thy creatures ! Could thine unbeginning and unending existence admit of dates, surely that would stand out as an era in thine eternal round of years. Never was the ocean of thy love stirred so completely to its depths. Never didst thou put forth thine hand on so glorious an occasion as then, when thou didst give up and devote thine only begotten Son, to the great work of embodying and bringing thy character into the world that men might behold it and live! And thou, co-equal and co-eternal Son, of pao
never hadst thou shone more glorious in the eyes ternal love, nor made so large and unanswerable a demand on the admiration and homage of the universe, as when, accepting thy new and mysterious office, thou didst say,
For their sakes I sanctify myself.' In pursuance of thy voluntary engagement, thou didst come and offer thyself and thy glory to the world; thou didst withdraw thyself from the grandeur of heaven, and set thyself apart to the wants and sorrows of earth; and, having set up thy tabernacle amongst us, thou didst keep it consecrated for the indwelling glory and for the worship of man. Ambition never entered it: the kingdoms of the world, and the glories of them, were brought in perspective before thee; but thou sawest them as though thou sawest them not. Thou couldest, with a single sentence, have flashed light on the darkest mysteries of science; but thou wouldest not spare a moment from teaching that sublimer knowledge—the science of salvation. Thou hadst ears only for one sound, and that was the sound occasioned by sin; the voice of penitence imploring forgiveness; the voice of fear and conscious guilt deprecating the vengeance of eternal fire. Thou hadst eyes only for one sight-a wilderness of woe, a captive world, chained to the wheels of the great enemy, and already arrived in the gloomy precincts of hell. This object filled the whole sphere of thy vision; thou couldst see nothing else; and had all the thrones of earth been vacant and invited thy acceptance, it would not have induced thee to diverge a single step from the path which led direct to the cross. Thou hadst tears but for one object, and thou didst weep them over lost souls. So fully wast thou possessed with the vastness of thy design, that thou didst value moments, faculties, life itself, only as the means of working it out; and through every step of thy course thou didst bring the whole of thy glory to bear on its completion. Thou hadst not to cast out aught evil from thy capacious mind; thou hadst not to sweep and cleanse the temple of thy soul from sordid cares, for never didst thou know a thought alien from thine object; and though all the fulness and fire of the passions dwelt in thee, thou didst not waste a single feeling, but didst devote the whole as consecrated fuel for offering up the great sacrifice in which thy life was consumed, and by which the world might be saved. And how godlike was the object to which he set himself apart! At the altar of God he swore eternal war against the principle of sin ; devoted himself to the work of chasing it from the earth, of putting it to shame in the face of the universe; and of achieving this task, not by the arbitrary domination of power, but by merely showing what God is, by the exercise of omnipotent love. Were we to hear of a design contemplated by God, to subdue the rebellion of hell, and to rescue its victims; what a view would it give us of his unresting benevolence, and with what impatient longing should we desire to know the way in which the sun of the divine glory would arise on the blackness of darkness, and how it would paint its lustre on the clouds of perdition. But the importation of the divine character and glory to earth, in the person of Christ, however from circumstances we may disparage the event, would bear a comparison even with that; for our carnal mind was enmity against God like theirs, while we possessed not even the redeeming quality, to believe and tremble.
It seems to be one of the laws of mind, that it shall be not merely employed, but employed to the full ; and when it becomes conscious of its dignity and powers, nothing less than great objects can satisfy it. Now, what a theatre did the blessed Jesus select, what an object did he adopt in coming into the world! Let us receive it in his own words to the eternal Father; 'For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they may be sanctified through the truth;' that he might make truth do the work of power; that he might pervade and transform pollution into sanctity, by merely showing it the face of truth; that he might erect living temples out of the wreck and refuse of humanity, swept by the besom of destruction to the very mouth of perdition.
Let us hear him repeat the design in other language; 'I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. He contemplated nothing less than the conveyance of the love of God to man; to bring it to us as our portion ; entail it on us as our inheritance; transfuse it through us as our life. Like the prophet emblematically extending himself over the dead body of the child, to convey life into all its parts, the Savior proposes to shed abroad the love of God through every member of his body the church, to convey the circulating vitality of that love through every part of our nature, that it may dwell in us as it does in him. But is not this an unattainable design? is it possible that God can love us as he loves Christ ? Jesus himself declares, that nothing less than this can satisfy his desires in our behalf; and we may rest assured that, vast as those desires are, they are all defined and accredited by the hand of infinite wisdom ; they are only the pulsations of the heart of paternal love; they are the desires of one, who knows, if we may say so, from actual admeasurement, the length and breadth, the height and depth of the love of God; and who knows that, as soon as come united to him, the Father loves us as parts of Christ, as members of that mystical body of which Christ is the glorified head. The tide of the divine love, on its first flowing forth from the heart of God, found its rest in Christ; till having opened for itself an ample channel through his sufferings and death in our stead, it poured on with unabated strength to reach his people, carrying away all their sins, bearing every obstacle before it, and shedding itself abroad in their hearts; Christ, at the same time, entering with it, and infinitely augmenting it by the accession; and thus realizing his great and godlike design, 'that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.'
So great was the avowed intention of the Redeemer's advent, that none but a mind of infinite compass could have formed it; and so amazing the manner in which he achieved it, by the humble organs and instruments of humanity, that were it not for the immortal interests at stake, we could scarcely wonder at the ancient heresy which taught that the whole of his life was a phantasm, a supernatural illusion of the senses. That God should be manifested in the flesh, was truly the mystery which had been hid from ages, and from generations. That, in the nature of a man, God should have been, like light in the sun, enthroned, uttering and unburdening infinite love with his tongue; beaming divine compassion through his eyes; illustrating purity and grace by his actions—it is this which renders the person of Christ ineffably glorious above the whole creation; it is this which crowns him with glory and hon
There is nothing like it in the universe: take the wings of the morning, and flee to the uttermost parts of the earth ; ransack the treasures of creation ; visit and behold its brightest glories, plunge into the depths beneath ; soar to the heights above ; survey and question the blest inhabitants of heaven; and you will find that the person Christ, as the manifested glory of God, has no comparison. Bring all that is great into his presence, and it becomes little; bring all that is glorious, and it is eclipsed and lost. Oh! the depth of the riches of that love, wherein God