ance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godlinefs ; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity," These are the titles, the ftars and the ribbons in the kingdom of heaven, and " if these things be in you and abound, they make you that you thall neither be barren nor unfruiiful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let the spirit of adventure and fiience discover unknown regions and nations on the globe, and new planets in the firmament of heaven; be it your concern, Chriftian, your ftudy, your employment, to contemplate, through theglass ot promije,

new heavens and a new caith, wherein dwelleth righteoulnefs." Suffer the man of the world to enjoy his triumph ; futter him to ouiftrip his rival, to run down his enemy ; be thine the more glorious triumph to promote a rival, to spare an ad. versary, as knowing that " He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty : and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

Such, disciple of Jesus, be thy holy aspirations, such thy pride and ambition; and may such be thy blessed attainments even in time: thought is loft in contemplating “ the glory that is to follow. The beloved disciple ihall declare it, in the fublimity of his own conception and expression, or rather in the idea and diction with which the Holy Spirit fupplied his pen : “ Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we thould be called the lons of God! therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.' Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that bath this hope in him purifieth himselt, even as he is pure."


[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Who shall declare his generation ? THE

'HE history of courftries generally commences with a

graphical account of their situation and extent ; of the climåte and soil; of the names and the reason of imposing such names ; of the era and the means of discovery ; of the origine al inhabitants, and of other circumstances 'tending either to communicate useful information or to gratify curiosity." The biographer, in like manner, in delineating the life of bis prince, Natesman, hero or philosopher, usally begins with tracing his pedigree and parentage, and enables the reader to form fome acquaintance with his ancestors, in order to introduce the perfonage himself with greater advantage and effect.' But both the general historian andthe biographer quickly lose themselves in research.' The origin of no ‘nation or individual can be traced up to its source. The light becomes fainter and fainter as we proceed, the object is rendered more obscure and uncertain, till time at length spreads his fable mantle over it, and we behold it no more. Who then shall declare his generation, who'" was in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, and withou: whom was not any thing made that is made.”

We are advancing, men and brethren, upon holy ground; ground facred as Eden's blissful plains, as the region which surrounded the buth that burned with fire, as Sinai's awful summit. Borne aloft on the pinions of the celestial dove, we are aiming a bold, adventurous flight into the heaven of heav. ens, to expatiate through the boundless regions of eternity, to contemplate objects which "angels desire to look into," to search into the "g eat mystery of godliness," to lose ourselves in seeking " to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." We

e are going.tu attempt a delineation of the Life and His-, tory of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of Men. My heart fails at the thought of the task which I have undertaken ; my tongue


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

cleaves to the roof of my mouth. Spirit of Grace, eitablisha thou my heart

- O thou my voice inspire, " Who touch'd lsaiah's hallow'd lips with fire !" The question of the prophet which has now been read, and which suggested the idea that we mean to pursue through this Lecture, is interwoven with a variety of pointed and Itribing predictions which, whether taken separately or in their combination, can apply only to one person ; and who that person is, no doubt can possibly be entertained when we consider, that this is the very passage of Scripture to which Philip the Evangelift was providentially directed, as a text for “ preaching

Jelus,” to the Eịhiopian Eunuch. I shall not employ any part of your tine in detailing ihe various opinions which have been entertained respecting the meaning of the paflage in general, or the precise import of the term " generation' in particular. The question appears simply to be a bold defiance given to all created wildom to investigate, to untold the generation, the or. igin, the essence of that wonderiul Person concerning whom such singular circumftances and events are predicted ; it amounts to a strong and politive affirmation that it is imposible to declare Him as he is, io trace his existence through the fuccellive periods of duration up to its commencement, as you may do that of a mere man from the moment of his birth, or through a series of anceitors. What, in this view, is the onvious doctrine of ihe iext? That the generation of Him who the Spirit of prophecy, and the corresponding history reprefeat as an innocent, patient, vicarious lufferer, extends beyond the sphere of created nature, eludes pursuit, spreads the glory of eternity around it, and conceals it from mortal eyes. It is worthy of remark, that the genealogy of our blessed Lord's humanity is more clear, and distinct, and extended, than that of any other person. Two several Evangelists have declared it; pursuing it, through two different but parallel channels, up to Abraham, and from him up to the common Father of the human race. In this respect, therefore, “the Spirit himselt helpeth our infirmity ;” and he who by the mouth of Isaiah seems to forbid and defy all inguiry, by the pen of Matthew and Luke, makes a clear and full discovery, and enables us to trace the pedigree of Jesus Christ, like that of any other man, It is the peculiar privilege of the sacred volume to unfold the real history of human nature, of the globe, of the universe, to follow nature up to the hour of her birth, to declare " the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were

created ;

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

created ; in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens ;" to exhibit the first man Adam in the plastic hands of the Creator springing out of the dust of the ground, and, inspired with the breath ot lite, becoming "a living soul." The same inspired volume represents to our attention one perfon, and one event, as of peculiar importance ; as pervading, influencing and affecting the whole course of Nature and Prov. idence; as contemporary with every generation of men ; as looked unto, and longed for by succeflive ages. In order that the truth of God might be fully justified and have its complete effect, the relation, in which this illustrious person stood to those who had received the promises of his coming, is diftin&ly afcertained and minutely described ; so that at every period of the world we cân fay, lo He is here, and lo He is there. But the inspired volume likewise represents him as before all and above all. If therefore this book be a Revelation from heaven, it must contain real and important truth, and that truth clothed in plain, simple and intelligible language; we must perceive, of consequence, in the“ man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” a person whose generation no one is able to declare, who is

before all and by whom all things do consist :” whom all the angels of God are commanded to worship, " the heir of all things," by whom the worlds were made and are upheld, whose " throne is for ever and ever :" in one word Christ Je. fus," who is over all, God blessed for ever.'

You are well aware that the do&trine, whics we wish to ela. tablish, is in the present day violently opposed; and while it is ma ntained in this place, it may be perhaps in the next street the fubject of profane mirth, or of serious argumentation Thinking as we do, we will not enter the lifts of controverty. We will not employ your time, nor endeavour to enlift your passions, by running down one name, party or opinion, and exalting another ; but will simply and humbly, though at the fame time, firmly, and unreservedly, propose for your instruc- . tion and improvement, what appears to be the meaning and object of Scriprure; and, considering the divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as the first leading object of all Rev. elation, we will uniformly bring it forward in every discourse. If therefore these exercises are at all frequented, or attended unto, it will be by such as expect, and are well pleased, to hear of the great Mediator between God and man, the Man Chrift Jesus, in his original, everlasting, unchanging glory, and in his humiliation, as the son of man, to the form of a servant, to the death of the cross, a propitiation for fin. To this, we trust, not unknown God, our altar is erected, and ded


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

icated, and on it we would again prefent our whole felves a living sacrifice unto the one true God, and “our Saviour Je. fus Chrift; to whom be glory forever and ever."

“Who shall declare his generation ?" Incapable thou art, O man, to trace back the short and slender thread of thy own existence and descent. Thou mayest have lome faint recollection of weak and dependent childhood; of a father's early care. and of a mother's tenderness; of the anzusements, the companions, the folicitudes, the sorrows and joys of thy boyish days. But all beyond is a blank; to thee creation began a few years ago; the second or third, at most, of thy own immediate pro. genitors, is blended with the men who lived beyond the flood. We

e are ignorant of and unknown to each other. How much more lo are the men of distant nations and ot times more remote ? But family tradition, national iecord, the inspired page can supply the want of personal knowledge, can carry us back to departed forefathers, and bring them down to us. But what recollection, what tradition, what record, can carry us beyond the birth of nature, can convey us to a itate of exiftence previous to the lapse of time ? Now the person of whom the prophet speaks, as we saw in the preceding Lecture, is the WORD who spake all things into existence, who built the world, who spread the food, wbo fet time a flowing, who “ breathed into man's noftrils the breath of life.” Who then of the sons of men, which of the angels of God shall deciare the generation of Him who made them what they are, who placed them in their stations, who prescribed to them bounds which they cannot pass ? The fightest detail of nature, O man, prelents a mystery which thou canst not folve, a world , which thou canst not comprehend unto perfection. That feed cast into the ground cannot be " quickened except it die;" canst thou declare the generation of this insect, to day a butter. fly, yesterday a moth, the third day a mere lifeless incrustation, and prelumeft thou to explain the great mystery of godliness, “ God made manifest in the flesh ;' at so many different times, in such divers manners made known unto the Fathers by the prophets; and in these last days unveiled to us in the person of the Son, the brightness of his Father's glory and the express image of his person? We repeat the question, understandelt thou, and art thou able to unfold, the union that exists in thy own frame, between the clay tabernacle and the immoral mind; earth and heaven blended in thine own person ? And fhall " it be thought a thing incredible,” that He who, in the uninterrupted course of his providence, produces this union

« ElőzőTovább »