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is not liable to abuse. The instances of rich and adorable
grace that are recorded in the holy volume induce many to live thoughtlessly and securely in rebellion against God. But presume not, careless man, from this history, that it will be well with thee though, like Manasseh, thou add crime to crime. There are instances of those who are recovered after going to the greatest lengths of wickedness, that we may see that our Redeemer is a strong and mighty to save," and that none may despair: these instances are few, that none may presume.
66 There were,” says Bishop Hall, “ many Jeroboams, and Abijams, and Ahabs, and Joashes, and Ahazes, on these sacred thrones: there was but one Manasseh."
Humbled and broken-hearted penitent, receive consolation from this history! The same God who forgave Manasseh is ready to forgive thee. Approach him with faith and penitence, and though thy sins be as crimson,” thou shalt obtain the pardon of them all. They are not greater than the atonement that is provided; they do not more loudly demand thy perdition, than the blood of Christ demands thy salvation, if thou flee to it. If all the sins committed since the creation of the world were united in thee, yet if this blood were sprinkled upon thy conscience, it should obtain for thee salvation. Commit thyself to Jesus, , and cry, “ Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he hath saved us ;" and then thou shalt hereafter join with the countless number of redeemed sinners in shouting 66 Unto him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood, and hath made us kings and priests to his God and Father, unto him be the everlasting glory. Amen.”
LIFE OF CHRIST.
BIRTH OF A VIRGIN-INCARNATION-TIME OF HIS ADVENT.
LUKE, i. 35. That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called
the Son of God
Such was part of the salutation of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, when he appeared to reveal to her the honour which God was about to confer upon her. It is not my intention particularly to explain these words, or to illustrate all the circumstances of the annunciation. I have chosen them to conduct me to a subject introductory to a course of sermons, which will for some time occupy your attention the morning of every sabbath, on the life of your Saviour.
Following the relations of the evangelists, we shall trace him from the manger to the cross, illustrating his life, his doctrine, and his miracles. Nothing can be more important than this design; and if I have your prayers and the blessing of God, I trust you will find that nothing could be more instructive and useful. It is the life of Him who came down from heaven, to teach you by his example the path thither; and to die, that all the obstructions to your felicity might be removed. It is the life of Him, who was animated by the most expansive benevolence; who, influenced by no selfish passion, seeking only the welfare of mankind, ever “ went about doing good.” It is the life of Him, in whom were laid up the treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge, who spake as never man spake, and who alone can instruct us in the will of God and our duty. It is the life of Him, whose example, of all those who have ever lived upon earth, is alone free from spot, and may be followed, at all times, with confidence and security.
Immediately after the apostacy of man, the Messiah was promised to our first parents to repair the ruins of the fall; and in proportion as the time of his advent approached, more definite and precise predictions concerning him were given, to nourish the faith and hope of the ancient church, and clearly to designate this Redeemer when he should appear. The place, the time, the manner of his birth; the events of his life; the circumstances of his death, were foretold, and an anticipated history of him given by the Spirit of God.
Among other remarkable predictions, it was declared, more than seven hundred years before his appearance in the world, that he should be born of a Virgin. For reasons which we shall see in the prosecution of this discourse, it was expedient that the Messiah should be really man, of the same nature and race with us. But though it was proper that he
should be born of a woman that he should be the Son of Man; it was also fit that he should be born of a Virgin, that it might clearly and satisfactorily be shown to all men, that he was the Son of God, that his original was divine. Besides, by entering upon the world thus miraculously, the reverence and veneration, the expectations and hope of mankind would be excited. Can we avoid regarding him with deference and faith whose birth was so peculiar and supernatural, so evidently produced by the immediate influence of God? And, finally, in no other way could the Messiah have avoided that stain of original pollution which would have rendered him unfit for the office of Mediator, and incapable of atoning for the sins of man. For these and similar reasons Jesus was born of a Virgin.
The person on whom God conferred this exalted privilege of being the mother of Jesus, was Mary, of the tribe of Judah, and family of David; nobly descended, but in indigent circumstances; having none of the pomps and splendours which dazzle the world, but possessed of that piety and virtue which secured the love of God. The power of the Holy Ghost overshadowed her, and Jesus was born.
I shall not wound your feelings, my brethren, by mentioning the profane sneers which have been thrown on this important doctrine. There can be nothing incredible in this miracle to those who believe any miracles at all. He who established the laws of nature can control them at his pleasure; and that he did control them on this occasion is proved by the declarations of those scriptures, the evidence of which has appeared only more irrefragable from the subtlest and strongest attacks of infidelity; by the public and innumerable miracles of the Saviour's
life; and by his well attested resurrection from the dead. To these we appeal for the truth of his miraculous incarnation and birth. “If he did not the works of his father, works which none other man did, believe not on him.”
To this Jesus, thus born of a virgin, the eternal Son of God united himself in an ineffable manner, so that in one Christ there was a true humanity and a true divinity.
This doctrine lies at the very foundation of our religion. It therefore deserves our attention. Let us come then to the contemplation of this profound “ mystery of godliness,”, with that reverence which becomes weak and short-sighted creatures, when they view the abysses of divine wisdom and grace. Let us follow the guidings of revelation and reason as far as they can lead us; and when they cease to conduct us, let us not dare to lift that veil which covers the proceedings of God; let us not rashly attempt to penetrate within those clouds which surround his throne; but let us adore in silence what we cannot comprehend.
The fact itself, that Christ is true God and true man, is written with a sun-beam in every part of the holy volume. In it you find the most exalted and appropriate names, titles, and perfections of God ascribed to him; divine works attributed to him ; and the same worship required to be paid to him as is paid to the Father. What stronger evidence can there be that he is truly God. You also find him represented with a body subject to the same innocent infirmities and frailties, and possessing the same properties with our own; and with a soul with the same faculties as ours: was he not then truly man?