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all consolations, the news of the birth of the Saviour of the world.
Proceed now to the second part of the text, the angel's discourse to the shepherds: And observe,
1. The angel says to them, Fear not. He uses this preface to gain their attention, which fear, no doubt, had almost entirely dissipated.
After this preface, the angel acquits himself of his commission, and announces to the shepherds the
and mysterious news of the Redeemer's birth. Behold!
says he, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall beto all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Remark, in the front of his message, the word Behold! which is generally used in Scripture to denote the greatness and importance of the subject in question, and to gain attention. The prophets had often used it. Isaiah on a like account had said, Behold! a virgin shall conceive. Zechariah had cried, Daughter of Zion, Behold! thy King cometh, just, and having salvation. Malachi had said, Behold! the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple. It is easy to remark, that the angel could never more properly use this word than on this occasion. Do you doubt of it? Hear his message: I bring you, says he to them, glad tidings of great joy.
In order to examine the words properly, you must begin with the angel's description of the person, of whom he speaks; a Saviour, Christ the Lord. Then pass to what he says about him; He is born unto you, says he. He marks the time; This day. He describes the place; In the city of David. And, in fine, he specifies the nature of this important news; A great joy, which shall be to all people.
Having considered his titles in general, and each apart, you may proceed to consider them
in a comparative view. This comparison may be of the words with each other, or with the other parts of the text, or with the words which follow the text.
In the first view, you may say, that the angel intended primarily to give the shepherds an idea of the benefits which they might expect of the Messiah, and for this reason began with the title Saviour, in order to affect them with their own interest, and indeed with the greatest of wil interests. Afterwards, to confirm their hope upon
that point, he rises to the source of this salvation, the mercy of God, who bestowed it on them; therefore he says, the Saviour is Christ, that is, the promised Mes. siah. In fine, in order to convince them with what profound respect men ought to receive him, he adds, that he is sovereign Lord. In the title Saviour, he shews the end of Christ's coming into the world. In that of Christ, the right, which he had to undertake so great a work, which was the Father's mission, who for that purpose had anointed him. And in that of Lord, he marks the sove. reign power, with which he should happily execute the office that the Father liad committed to him.
In comparing these three titles with the other parts of the text, you may shew, that the angel calls him a Saviour, to justify that great joy, which, says he, I bring you. That he calls him Christ, the Son of God, the promised Messiah, with relation to his birth in the city of David. And that he calls him Lord, to render, in some sort, a reason for an angel's coming with the glad tidings; as if he had said, I bring you the glad tidings; because he is Lord of ail, both yours and ours.
In comparing the words with what follows, you may observe, that the angel calls him a Saviour, Christ, the Lord, in order to guard the shepherds against their being offended at what he was about to tell them, that they should find him a babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, ly. ing in a manger. As if he had said, Ler not these sad appearances otfend you; he whom you will find an infant, in swaddling clothes, and in a manger, is the Redeemer of the world, the true Anointed of God, the Lord of the whole universe.
This Saviour, this Christ, this Lord, says the angel, is born unto you.
Here you may commence a lively exhortation to joy, the motives to which may be taken from the terms of the text--that there is a Saviour--that he is Christ-that he is the Lord—that after being so long expected, at length he came-that he was born for us—that we have an interest in him above angels—that he has testified his love to us by submitting to sinless infirmities—you may compare his first with his last Advent, and dispose your auditors to feel a still greater joy in expectation of his coming to raise them from the dead, and putting the last hand to the work of our redemption-Then will he appear a Saviour indeed, for he will complete the salvation of the faithful—Then will he appear a Christ indeed, for he will finish the design of his unction, and will make us kings and priests to God his Father— Then will he appear Lord indeed, for all things shall be subjected to him, he will triumph over all our enemies, he will swallow up
death in victory, and he will elevate us to the possession of eternal glory."
Having spoken of simple terms, I proceed to add something concerning expressions peculiar to Scripture. These deserve a particular explication, and should be discussed and urged with great diligence, as well because they are peculiar modes of speaking, as because they are rich with meaning. In this class I put such forms of speaking as these: To be in Christ Jesus. To come to Jesus Christ. To come after Jesus Christ. To live in the flesh. To live after the flesh. From faith to faith. From glory to glory. To walk after the flesh. To walk after the spirit. The old man. The new man. Jesus Christ lives in you.
To live to Jesus Christ. To live to ourselves. To die to the world. To die to ourselves. To be crucified to the world. The world to be crucified to us. Jesus Christ made sin for us; we made the righteousness of God in him. Christ put to death in the flesh, quickened by the Spirit. Die unto sin. Live unto righteousness. Quench the Spi. rit. Grieve the Spirit. Resist the Holy Ghost. Sin against the Holy Ghost: and I know not how many more such expressions, which are found almost no where but in Scripture. * Whenever you meet with such forms of speech as these, you must not pass them over lightly, but you must fully explain them, entering well into the spirit and meaning of them. It would be very convenient for a young man to procure for this purpose an exact collection, and endeavour to inform himself of the sense of each.
This subject would require, as it well deserves, a particular treatise; however, I will briefly give an example of the manner in which expressions of ihis kind should be
m This discourse was very long and tedious. All that could elucidate the treating of texts by comparison is retained; but that which tended only to distract the mind, is expunged.
discussed. Let us take these words; Mark viii. 34. Who. soever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. Methinks it would not be improper to divide the sermon into two parts. In the first we would treat of the expressions, which Jesus uses, Come after me—deny himself-take up his crossmand follow me. And in the second we would examine the entire sense of our Saviour's whole preposition.
To begin then with the explication of these expressions. To come after Jesus Christ signifies no other thing than to be his disciples, to take him for the rule and model of our conduct; in a word, to profess an acknowledgment of him as our head and master, our supreme prophet and teacher, our pattern and exemplar.
Deny himself is an expression so singular, that it seems to shock reason and nature, and to suppose a thing difficult, yea, absolutely impossible; or at least extremely criminal. Yet, it is certain, nothing can be more holy, nothing more necessary, nothing more just than this selfrenunciation which Jesus Christ here ordains. He does not mean that we should divide ourselves from our, selves, or that we should hate ourselves; but he intends,
1. In general, that we should renounce all that is in us excessive, vicious, and irregular: this he calls self, because corruption is become, as it were, natural to us, we being conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity.
2. He commands us particularly to rènounce that violent, immoderate, and excessive love, which man, in a state of depravity, has for himself, making self-love his chief and only principle of action, in one word, being a god to himself.
3. He enjoins the renunciation of that false and per. verse pretence, which all sinners have, that they are their own masters, that no one has a right over them, that to themselves only belongs the disposition of words, actions, and thoughts. The Saviour means, that, renouncing this unjust and foolish pretence, we should submit ourselves to the government and direction of God, confiding in the conduct of his wisdom, and receiving him to reign in our hearts by his word and spirit. Take up his cross, is an expression consecrated by Je
sus Christ to a sacred purpose, though it does not belong only to Scripture style. Here two things are intended by it; the mystical cross of conversion, and the cross of afflictions.
1. Conversion is called in Scripture a cross; because sin and carnal lusts are made to die within our hearts: this the Scripture calls crucifying the old man.
2. Afflictions are very justly called crosses, not only because nature suffers, but also because by these means we become the horror and reproach of the world.
Finally, to follow Jesus Christ, is, l. To become his disciple, to believe his doctrine, to approve his maxims, to be persuaded of the truth of his mysteries and holiness of his laws.
2. To follow is to imitate him, to propose him as our exemplar and pattern in the whole conduct of our lives, to walk in the same way as he walked, in order to obtain communion with him in glory.
3. To profess openly our subjection to him, as our Master and Lord, to obey his orders, &c. In a word, to follow is the same as to come after him, which we just now explained.
This is the first part—The second consists in considering the entire sense of Jesus Christ's whole proposition. He means then, that, if we would be really of the number of his disciples and followers, we must submit to two things, sanctification and affliction.
1. Sanctification. Here enter into the subject, and shew how impossible it is to belong to Jesus Christ without forsaking sin and entirely changing the life. The grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men; teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and gudly, in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
These are St. Paul's words to Titus; and three things may be remarked in them, grace, holiness, and glory. And you may easily observe, that grace conducts to glory only by means of holiness: take away holiness, and grace and glory, can never be joined together. The apostle therefore does not say, The grace of God hath appeared to all men, teaching us to look for the glorious appearing