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1. For the plants the way of vines is not to be bowed, but planted; that thus translated they might better fructify: so our Jesus, first sprung from his father, is planted in a virgin's womb; God from God, co-eternal with God; but by his incarnation made that he was not, and yet remaining that he was; God of his father, and man of his mother; before all time, yet since the beginning. Bernard, de Passione Dom. tells us, " That this vie sprung of the vine, is God begotten of God, the Son of the Father, both co-eternal, and consubstantial with the Father; but that he inight better fructify, he was planted in the earth; 2. e. He was conceived in a vir. gin's womb." There is indeed a resemblance in this; yet in this resem. blance we must be careful to observe that communication of properties, of which I told you, we may truly say, That God was planted, or conceived, but not the Godhead; God is a concrete word, and signifies the person of Christ, and his person was planted or conceived, not simply as God, but in respect of the manhood united to it; and thus he that is infinite was conceived; and he that is eternal, even he was born; the very fulness of all perfection, and all the properties of the divine essence are by this com. munication given to the nature of man in the person of the Son of God; no wonder therefore, that we say, that this vine (the Son of God) is plant. ed in Mary; I know some would have the plant more early; and therefore they say, That Christ was a vine planted in Adam, budded in David, and flourished in Mary: but I take this but for a flourish; all before Mary were but types, now was the truth: now in Mary was Christ planted, and not before; as in the beginning “there was not a man to till the ground, But out of the ground the Lord made to grow every tree;— And a river went out of Eden to water the garden:" so there was no man that tilled this ground, but out of this ground (the virgin) the Lord made to grow this plant, watering it by his Spirit; “ The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee,” Luke 1:35. Of this conception, and of the Holy Ghost's ethiciency, I believe, spake the prophet, when there was such longing after Christ's coming in the flesh, “ Drop down, ye heavens from above, and let the sky pour down righteousness, let the earth open and bring forth salvation," Isa. 45:8. But of this conception before.
2. For the bud; the nature of vines is to bud before it blossom or bring forth its fruit; so it was said of Christ before he came, "Truth shall bud out of the earth," Psal. 85:11. Now what was this budding of truth out of the earth but Christ born of a woman? What was the truth, (said Irenæus, L. 3, C. 5. and Augustin) “ but Christ? and what the earth but our fiesh? and what truth budding, but Christ being born?” Here let us stay a while, surely it is worth the while (as the spouse said in the other case) “ to get up early to the vineyard, and to see how the vine did fiourish, and how the tender grape did open," Sol. Songs 7:12.
In Christ's carrying on the great work of our salvation before all worlds, we told you of God's counsels,, as if he had been reduced to some straits and difficulties by the cross demands of his several attributes, but wisdom found out a way how to reconcile these differences by propounding a Je. sus; and in him“ mercy and truth mcet together, righteousness and peace kissed each other," Psal. 85:10. That reconciliation was in the counsel of God from all eternity: but for the execution of this counsel, it was now in the fulness of time, even at this time when Christ was born. Now indeed, and in truth, in execution, in performance, was the reconciliation of all differences; and of this time was the Psalmist's prophecy more es. pecially meant, “Mercy and truth shall meet together, righteousness and peace shall kiss each other: truth shall bud out of the earth, and ri eo u s. ness shall look down from heaven," Psal. 85:10, 11
In these words we find first, a meeting of God's blessed attributes, and secondly, This meeting at a birth, the birth of truth; at which meeting, thirdly, was that glorious effect, That “ righteousness looked down,” and indeed came down “from heaven." I desire a little to invert the words, and shall speak first to Christ's birth; secondly, to the effects of his birth, of “righteousness looking down from heaven." Thirdly, To the meeting and agreement of all God's attributes, as the issue and effect of all; “ When mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other."
1. For his birth, our vine doth bud; “ truth shall bud out of the earth,” i. e. Christ shall be born upon the earth, or Christ shall be born of a wo. Dian, for truth is Christ, bud is born, and the earth is a woman. 1. Truth is Christ, “I am the way and the truth,” said Christ, John 14:6. He is the truth of all types, and the truth of all prophecies, and the truth of all promises. “For in him are all the promises, Yea and Amen.” 2. Bud is born; the vine budding, is the first putting forth of the grape, so Christ being born, was truth budding out of the earth, he then first showed him. self to the world, and was first seen (like the vine springing forth) above ground. 3. The earth is the woman, thus we render that text, “ Let the earth bring forth a Saviour,” Isa. 45:8. Look how the field-Mowers spring forth of themselves without any seed cast in by the hand of man, so the virgin brings forth Christ. It is observable, that in the cieation of Adam, was laid the prognostics of this future birth. Begin with the first man Adam, and you may see him paralleled in this second Adam, Christ. Adam was created of the virgin earth, Christ was born of a virgin mother, the earth had no husbandman, yet brought forth without seed, Mary had Do husband, yet brougbt forth without seed of man; in the creation God said, “Let us make man," Gen. 1:26. And now, saith the Holy Ghost, “ The word is made flesh,” John 1:14. Or the word is inan indeed; those were but types, but Christ is the truth; he is the vine that buds, the Mes. sias born; the angels own him, the star designs him, the prophets fore. show him, the devils confess him, his miracles declare him, the sages scek him, and heaven and earth rings with the news, That “truth is budded out of the earth."
2. For the effect of his birth; "righteousness shall look down from hearerie" No sooner is Christ born, but righteousness looked down from heaven; she cast her eye upon earth, and seeing truth freshly spring there, she looked and looked again; certainly it was a sight to draw all the eyes of heaven to it. It is said of the angels, That “they desired to look into these things," 1 Pet. 1:12. They looked wishfully at ther, as if they would look through them; no question, but righteousness looked as narrowly, and as piercingly as the angels: some observe, That the Hebrew word, “she looked down," signifies that “she beat out a window;" so desirous was righteousness to behold the sight of the vine budding, of Christ be. ing born, That she could not hold, but she beats out a window in heaven; before this time, she would not so much as look down towards earth; righteousness had no prospect, no window open this way; she turned away her eyes; and clapt to the casement, and would not abide so much as to look on such sinful, wietched, forlorn sinners as we are; her eyes were purer than to behold iniquity, she abhorred it, and us for it, and and therefore would not vouchsafe us once the cast of her eye. O but now the case is altered; no sooner doth our vine bud upon the earth, but sho is willing to condescend, and so willing that she breaks' a window through the walls of heaven to look down upon this bud; and no marvel; for what could righteousness desire to see, and satisfy herself in, that was not to be seen in Jesus Christ? He was all righteous, there was not the least spot of sin to be found in him, his birth was clean, and his life was holy, and his death was innocent; both his soul and body were without all sia; both his Spirit and his mouth were without all guile; whatsoever sat. isfaction righteousness would have, she might have it in him, “ Lay judg. ment to the line, and righteousness to the balance," and there is nothing in Jesus but straight for the line, and full weight for the balance.
3. For the meeting and agreement of all God's attributes, as the issue and the last effect of this budding vine, the verse before tells us, That "mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other;" this meeting presupposeth a distance before they met, for they that meet come from divers coasts: here then are two things consid. erable: First, the distance, and secondly, the meeting. But you will say, How came this distance? Are they not all the attributes of God's undivided essence? Are they not all four in the bosom of God from all eternity? I answer, Yes: They are undivided in themselves, but they were divided about us; it was Adam's sin, and ours in him, that first divided heaven, yea, the very attributes of God, and in a sort God bimself. I shall speak to both these, that you may first see the difference, and then the agreement and blessed harmony of these glorious attributes.
1. The difference; immediately after the fall, the great question (which before you heard of in the decree and counsels of God) was actually propounded, What should be done with sinful man? In this case we must speak of God after the manner of men; and I hope you will give me the liberty that others (I suppose warrantably) take: Come, saith God, What shall be done with sinful man?" He bath violated my law, broken my command, and as much as lies in him unpinned the fabric of the world, spoiled my glorious work of heaven, and earth, and sea, and all therein; undone himself for ever and ever, and ever. “O what shall be done with this sinful, rebellious, forlorn, unhappy creature man?" Silence being a while in heaven, and all struck into amaze to see the great God of heaven stirred up in wrath, at last mercy and peace stand up, and they seek with sweet gentle entreaties to pacify God's anger: but righteousness and truth are on the contrary side, and they provoke God Almighty to go on and to manifest himself (as he is indeed) “ a consuming fire," a sin revenging God. The plea is drawn up and reported at large by Bernard, Andrews, and others.
1. Mercy began, for out of her readiness to do good, she is ever fore. most; her inclination is to pity, or rather she herself is an inclination to pity those that are in miscry; and if she can but relieve them, let them deserve what they will, be sure she will relieve them; for she looks not to the party, what he is, nor what he hath done, nor what he deserves; but (which is the comfort of us miserable sinners) she looks at what he suffers, and in how woful and wretched a case he is. Her plea was thus, “ What, Lord, hast thou made all men in vain? Wilt thou now destroy him for whom thou madest the world? Shall the householder be cast out, and thrown into prison, and there remain till he hath paid the utmost farthing? Shall all the men and women in the world, froin first to last, be damned for ever and ever? Alas! what profit is in their blood? What will it avail in crowd men and devils together in heil flames? Will not those devils, the grand enemies of God, rejoice at this? And what then will become of thy great name on earth? Is not this thy name, “The Lord, the Lord merciful, and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sins?” “What, will the Lord undo his name? Will the Lord cast off for ever? And will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Will he be no more entreated? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Ilath he in anger shut up his tender bowels?” With these, and such like holy whisperings, or mutterings, did mercy enter into God's bowels, and make them yearn, and melt again into compassions.
But, 2. Truth must be heard as well as mercy; and she lays in matter of exception, and her plea was thus? “What is God, but his word? Now this was thy word to Adam, In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die the death, Gen. 2:17; and this was thy word to all the sons of Adam, The soul that sinneth, that soul shall die, Ezek. 18:20. And God may not falsify his word; his word is truth; falsify truth, that may not be; all men are liars, but God is true, even truth itself,” This plea of truth is seconded by righteousness; and thus she bespeaks God, “Shall not the Judge of all the world do right? Thou hast declared thyself over and over to be just and righteous; O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous,” Ezra 9:15. “Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments,” Psal. 119:137. “Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and stall be, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments," Rev. 16:5. 7.-Yea the Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works,” Psal. 145:17. And wherein consists this righteousness, but in rendering to every one according to his due? And what is the sinner's due but death? “The wages of sin is death,” Rom. 6:23. What, shall not these sinners die the death? That were (as before) to make truth false, so here to do right wrong.
These were the controversies at that time, so that Peace could not tell how to speak a prevailing word among them: Nay, the controversy grew 80 high, that they made it their own cases, “What shall become of me, (said Mercy) if God spare not sinners? And, What shall become of me (said Justice) if God do spare sinners? What shall become of me, (said Mercy) if God will shew no mercy? And, What shall become of me, (said Justice) if God will not do justice? Why, alas! I perish, (said Mercy) If thou wilt not pity; If man die, I die also. And I perish, (said Jus. tice) if thou wilt have mercy; surely I die, if man die not.” To this it came, and in these terms brake up the assembly, and away they went ono from another; Truth went to heaven, and was a stranger upon earth; Righteousness went with her, and would not so much as look down from heaven; Mercy, she staid below still, for where should mercy be if not with the miserable? As for Peace, she went between both, to see if she could make them meet again in better terms: in the mean while our sal. vation lies bleeding, the plea hangs, and we stand as prisoners at the bar, and know not what shall become of us; for, though two be for us, yet two are against us, as strong, and more stiff than they; so that much depends upon this meeting, for either they must be at peace between themselves, or they cannot be at peace with us, nor can we be at peace with God.
Many means were inade before Christ's time for a blessed meeting, but it would not be, “Sacrifice and burnt-offering thou wouldst not have," Heb. 10:5. These means were not prevalent enough to cause a meeting. Where stuck it, you will say? Surely it was not the fault of Mercy, she was easy to be entreated; she looked up to heaven, but Righteousness would not look down; and, indeed here was the business, Righteousness must and will have satisfaction, or else Righteousness should not be righteous, either some satisfaction for sin must be given to God, or she will never meet more; better all men in the world were damned, than that the righteousness of God should be unrighteous. And this now puts on the great transaction of our Saviour's birth.
Well then, our Saviour is born, and this birth occasions a gracious meeting of the attributes; such an attractive is this birth, this bud of Christ, that all meet there; indeed they cannot otherwise but meet in him in whom all the blessed attributes of God do meet: it is Christ is Mercy, and Christ is Truth, and Christ is Righteousness, and Christ is Peace. 1. Christ is Mercy; thus Zacharias prophesied, That “ through the tender mercy of our God, the day spring, (or branch) from on high hath visited us,” Luke 1:78. And God the Father of Christ, is called “the Father of mercies,” 2 Cor. 1:3. as if mercy were his son, who had no other son but his dearly beloved Son in whom he is well pleased. 2. Christ is Truth, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life," John 14:6. That Truth in whom is accomplished whatsoever was prefigured of the Messiah, “God shall send forth his mercy and his truth," Psal. 57:3. And, “O prepare mercy and truth,” Psal. 61:7. And this is his name, “ The Lord, the Lord abundant in goodness and truth,” Exod. 34:6. “Ho is a God of truth,” saith Moses, Deut. 32:4. “Plenteous in mercy and truth,” saith David, Psal. 86:15. “Full of grace and truth,” saith John, 1:14.17. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” He is truth by name, and truth by nature, and truth by office.-3. Christ is righteousness. “ This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness," Jer. 23:6. And “Unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of righteusness arise with healing in his wings,” Mal. 4:2 And, “ Christ of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," 1 Cor. 1:30. And according to his type, Melchisedec, this was his style, “King of righteousness,” Heh. 7:2.-4. Christ is Peace, This is his name where. with he is called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlast. ing Father, The Prince of Peace," Isa. 9:6. And, “Christ is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of par. tition between us,” Eph. 2:14. And therefore prays the apostle, “ Now the Lord of peace himself, (or the Lord himself who is peace) give you peace always by all means," 2 Thess. 3:16. And according to his type Melchisedec, as he was “ king of righteousness, so also he was king of Salem, which is king of peace," Heb. 7:2.-Thus Christ is Mercy, and Christ is Truth, and Christ is Righteousness, and Christ is Peace. Now, where should all these meet but in him, who is them all? Surely, there they meet, and at the meeting they all ran first and kissed the Son; and that done, Truth ran to Mercy and embraced her, and Righteousness to Peace, and kissed her; they that so long had been parted, and stood out in difference, now they meet and are made friends again: 0 the blessed effect of this birth of Christ! it is Christ that reconciled them, and that reconciled us and them. “He reconciled all things,” (saith the apostle,) " whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven," Col.1:20. Now is heaven at peace with itself, and heaven and earth at peace with one another; and that which glues all, and makes the peace, is this birth of Christ; the budding of this vine, “ Truth shall bud out of the earth, and tben mercy and truth shall meet together," &c.
3. For the blossom; the nature of a vine is in its season to blossom, or to bear sweet flowers. Pharaoh's butler, you know, dreamed of a vine,