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He was pleased to presentiate Himself in a peculiar manner to men, such as were able to bear it; and so to manifest Himself, and signify His pleasure to them in their own language. This He did for many ages together, in and by His holy Angels. Thus He spake to Abraham, to Jacob, and to Moses in the bush. For though he that appeared is said to be an Angel, He that spake in and by the Angel is called Jehovah; who also wrought many signs and wonders by Moses in Egypt, and the wilderness, for His people; and that great deliverance, which was a type and figure of that which He designed for all mankind.
And as sometimes before, so especially after this, He usually spake to His people by holy men, which He possessed with His Spirit of prophecy : for that it was His Spirit that was in the Prophets, we are infallibly assured by His Apostle. And therefore not only what they said, but 1 Pet. 1. 11. all the wonderful works which are recorded of them, were really done by Him, and His Spirit in them. Thus He continued to speak and act in and by other men for many ages together. But when the fulness of time was come, He assumed a body of His own: for by the mighty operation of His Holy Spirit, overshadowing the Blessed Virgin, He formed a body endued with a reasonable soul out of her flesh, (as He formed the first man out of the dust of the earth.) This He took unto Himself as His own proper body; He fixed His Divine majesty and presence in it for ever, and possessed it in such an intimate, mysterious, and Divine manner, that He thereby took upon Him the form of a servant; He became a real and perfect man, consisting of a reasonable soul and body, as other men do, and so was of the same nature in general that all men are of. But this His human nature, having never subsisted out of His Divine person, but being taken into it at its first formation or conception in the womb; it could not make a person of itself, distinct from that into which it was taken. And therefore although He was now man as well as God, yet as both God and man He was still but one person, one Christ; who being thus found in fashion as a man, He, as such, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; upon which He offered up the body which He
SERM. had thus assumed, as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole
world. But before He did that, He in His said body conversed for some years together among men, and did those many Divine works we have spoken of before their eyes, that they and all the world might see and believe, that notwithstanding His outward appearance among them as a man, He was indeed the one living and true God, or as He Himself here saith, that “He and the Father are one."
Now from what ye have heard upon this Divine argument, ye may observe, first, how necessary it is for all men to believe that Jesus Christ is God, seeing He was pleased to work so many miracles on purpose that we might believe it. It is indeed the foundation of our whole religion; and all our hopes of pardon and salvation in it, depend not only upon the truth itself, but likewise upon our believing it. And therefore, as ever ye desire to be saved, have a care of doubting of it, and of those whom the Devil employs to make you do so. To me it seems a great mystery, far greater than any they deny, that there should be any such among us, who profess to believe the Gospel, and yet will not believe that which is so plainly revealed in it. But our
Saviour Himself hath given us the plain reason of it, a sad John 10.26. one for them, where He saith a little before my text, “ But
ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep.”
From hence we may also observe, what firm ground we have to trust in Christ our Saviour for all things necessary to our salvation, seeing He is one with the Father, the Almighty and Eternal God. For what cannot He do for
us, who can do all things whatsoever He pleaseth? How Ps. 27. 1. well then may we say with David, “The Lord is my light
and my salvation, whom then shall I fear?" And with St. Phil. 4. 13. Paul, “I can do all things through Christ, which strength
Moreover, by this we may see what cause our Saviour John 5. 23. had to say, “That all men should honour the Son, even as
they honour the Father," seeing He and the Father are one; and by consequence, how much we are all bound to do Him all the service and honour that we possibly can, by vindicating His Divine glory from the blasphemies of those who have the impudence to speak against it; by taking all occasions to worship Him with reverence and godly fear, by observing all things whatsoever He hath commanded, and by walking in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life; remembering that He Himself said, “ If any man serve Me, him will My Father honour.” John 12. 26.
From hence, lastly, we may learn, what infinite cause we have to praise and magnify the Eternal God our Saviour, seeing He is one with the Father, and yet was most graciously pleased to become man, like unto us; and all to make us like unto Himself, partakers of His Divine nature and glory. Let us therefore now be glad, and rejoice, and give honour to Him. Let His praises be always in our mouths, that we may be always singing “ with Angels, Archangels, and all the company of Heaven, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, Heaven and Earth are full of Thy glory; glory be to Thee, O Lord, most High.” Amen. Amen.
THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST.
John i. 14.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.
THERE are two great works, wherein it pleased the Eternal God, in a most wonderful manner, to exert and manifest His Divine perfections; the creation of the world, and the redemption of fallen man. Of both which, He Himself hath given us a full account in His Holy Word; of the first, in the Old Testament, by His servant Moses; of the other in the New, by four several Evangelists, whereof St. John was one. Moses begins the history of the creation with, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth ;” and then goes on to shew how He made all things Gen. 1. 3. by His Word: “God said, Let there be light, and there was
light:” so all His works were made. Much after the same manner St. John begins the history of our redemption, with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God.” And then goes on to tell us, John 1. 3. that “all things were made by Him, and without Him was
not any thing made that was made.” And as Moses ac
quaints us, that the first thing that God formed by His ver. 4. Word was Light; so St. John assures us, that " in the same
Word was Life, and the Life was the Light of men;" and ver. 9. that, “ This is the true Light, which lighteth every man that
cometh into the world.” From whence we may observe, that as God made the world by His Word, so He likewise
redeemed mankind by His Word; and that it is only by the same Word, as the true Light, whereby men can see the things belonging to God, or to their everlasting peace.
Which that we may the better understand, the Evangelist, among other things concerning it, here saith, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.” In which words is briefly comprehended all that is necessary to be known or believed concerning our Saviour's incarnation. And therefore I shall, by His assistance, endeavour to explain them as they lie in order.
First he saith, “The Word was made flesh;” where, by the Word, we are certainly to understand the same Word he speaks of all along before; particularly that of which he saith, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” If He was in the beginning, He was long before He was made flesh. If He was with God, He must needs be a person of Himself distinct from God, otherwise He could not be said to be with Him: for no person can be said to be with himself. And if He was God, as He is here said to be, He must needs be of one and the same nature or substance with God; for there is but one God. And none can be truly said to be God, as He is here, but He that is that one God, blessed for ever. So that we have here both the personality and the divinity of the Word, as plainly revealed as words can do it. But lest any should mistake or doubt of it, the Evangelist, by God's direction, tells us further, that “the same Word was in the beginning with God, and that all things were made by Him, and without Him was not any one thing (oudt @v) made that was made.” But if He made all things, so as that there is not so much as one thing made but what was made by Him, He Himself be sure was never made, and therefore must needs be from all eternity, and by necessary consequence, “the one Eternal God.”
But He who is here called the Word, in other places of Holy Scripture is commonly called the Son of God, and in my text itself, “ the Only-begotten of the Father.” But why then is He here called the Word ? For that I shall