come,' directs us to proceed in the following words, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven:' and elsewhere sets before us, to the same end, his own still more perfect example, [John iv. 34.] My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work.' But,

3rdly and lastly, There is still another sense of this petition, which was very much insisted on in the Primitive Church; and that is, that God's kingdom of glory might come speedily; and that, being quickly delivered from the miseries of this sinful and corrupt world, they might soon attain to that blessed hope of the resurrection from the dead.

And though (God be thanked!) we are not now under such continual and such severe persecution as the primitive and better Christians were, yet whosoever has a just sense of the vanity and disorders of this present world, and the glory of the world to come; whosoever observes what St. Paul foretels, [2 Tim, iii. 12.] Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution; and considers the difficulties continually arising to upright and sincere men in every station of life, from the numerous errors and corruptions, evil customs and debauched practices, of an ignorant, superstitious, and tyrannical world; will see reason to think it still, and ever, a most natural and proper part of the prayer of every good Christian, that the kingdom of God may come;' even that new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.'





HEB. ii. 16, and part of the 17th verse.-For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren.

THESE four particulars are naturally deduced from the words of the text:

I. The divinity of our Saviour pre-existent to his humanity.

II. His assuming, in time, the human nature into that divine nature, which he had with the Father, from all eternity.

III. The infinite grace and love to mankind, expressed in preferring them; in assuming their nature rather than that of the lapsed angels, who equally stood in need of a redeemer.

IV. The admirable wisdom and fitness of this method of our redemption, by Christ's becoming the Son of man, to advance us to the high privilege of being the sons of God.

I. And first, the divinity of our Saviour, the eternal Son of the eternal Father, and his everlasting existence before his appearing in the flesh, is plainly here taught us, in that he took not on him the nature of angels, but took on him the seed of Abraham.' He must have been neither angel nor man, while it was in deliberation whether of those two natures he would take upon him; and therefore must have needs been God, there being no third nature besides the divine, that can possibly be ascribed to him. He must also actually have had a being, before he could make that choice; rejecting the one nature and assuming the other, out of his own good pleasure. Accordingly, he, who the Apostle here says took upon him the seed of Abraham, tells us of himself, Before Abraham was, I am.' I am declaring hereby not only his existence, but his essence, his divine nature; not only that he was, but what he was; that is, no other than the Lord Jehovah, he whose incommunicable name is, I am; as himself spake to Moses, Thou shalt say unto them, I am hath sent me.' [Exod. iii. 14.] But is it needful to cite all those plain texts of Scripture, so many and so obvious, in which this fundamental truth is contained? That the Word was God,' and that thatWord was made flesh;' that Christ himself tells us, that he and the Father are one;' that he came forth from the Father;' and 'what if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" and that solemn address of Christ to the Father just before his passion; and now, O Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee, before the world was.' And again, No man has ascended into heaven but he that came down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven;' which being spoken by our Lord while he was yet on earth, implies, that he so came down from heaven as still to be in heaven, that is, in respect


[ocr errors]

of his divinity, by which he is every where present. If Christ were a mere man only, to what purpose do our Saviour and his Apostles lay so great stress upon God's sending him into the world to redeem it? Why do they so frequently and so emphatically magnify and extol this action, as the highest and chiefest mark of God's love to mankind? God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,' says he himself:-and St. John, In this was manifested the love of God, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him?' If we look upon all this as no more but that God should cause a man to be born after another manner than the rest of men, and then deliver him up, who, by his own nature, was mortal, to die for the expiation of the sins of the whole world; if the death of a man could, in this case, avail any thing; what such mighty and wonderful expression of his love to us, can we discover in this way of redemption, more than would have appeared, if he had redeemed us any other way? It had been, indeed, a greater and more wonderful love to Christ, if he had been man only, for God to employ him in this glorious work, and for his reward to advance him, if such a thing were possible, to the partnership of his own divinity. For it is more to make one man a god, than to make all mankind kings and saints, and capable of enjoying God, and reigning with him to all eternity. But it is not God's love to Christ in this wonderful dispensation; for he gave him for us; he spared not him that he might spare us; but God's love to the world, to the whole race of lost mankind, that the Scripture every where so justly magnifies and extols. Nor is it so much the redemption itself, as the surprising method and means of it, and the infinite dignity of the Redeemer, that both Christ and St. John aim at, in the fore-cited places, as the highest recommendation and most astonishing instance of the divine love.

II. Secondly; We are to consider the reality of Christ's human nature; which was as necessary as the other, to his being a mediator between God and man. Therefore the Apostle teaches us, There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.' The second Adam was as truly a man as the first; that since by man came death, by man also should come the resurrection from the dead.' But I shall waive insisting on the proof of the

manhood of Christ; for though we had none of those many plain and positive doctrinal assertions in holy Scripture, of the two distinct natures of our blessed Lord, yet the bare history of his actions upon earth, a simple narrative only of his life, his miracles, his death and resurrection, would be sufficient to prove him, what we, with the whole catholic church, believe him to be, both God and man. And this is the proof which our Church makes use of in that plain but excellent homily on the incarnation, as fitted for the capacity of the weakest, as the conviction of the wisest. In that he did hunger and thirst, eat and drink, sleep and wake, in that he wept and sorrowed over Jerusalem, in that he suffered the most grievous pains both of body and soul, and finally death itself,-what can be more apparent than that he was perfect man as we are? But in that he forgave sins; cast out evil spirits; knew the thoughts of men's hearts; walked upon the waves, and had the winds and the seas at his command; lastly and chiefly, in that he raised himself from death to life, and ascended up into heaven; what can be more evident, than that he was perfect God also, and equal to the Father as touching his deity? It is therefore necessary to everlasting salvation, that we thus believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.'

III. I now come to the third particular, the infinite grace and love to mankind expressed in preferring them and assuming their nature rather than that of the fallen angels, who stood equally in need of a Redeemer.

• Without all controversy,' says the Apostle elsewhere, 'great is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.' Absolutely, and by itself considered, wondrous great; but, behold the same mystery here, by the comparison of angels and men, made much greater and infinitely more gracious. That God, who is himself a spirit, should rather assume flesh than spirits; that he should choose wretched man, vile dust and ashes, and pass by those once glorious heavenly and immortal spirits; that God the Father, who spared not the angels that sinned,' as St. Peter tells, should yet be so desirous to spare men, that for their sakes he spared not his own Son,' as St. Paul assures us; that the glorious cherubim and seraphim, thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, so far

before and above us in every thing else, should, in this dignity conferred on our nature by being taken into the Godhead, come so far behind and beneath us, is beyond the rules and reach of our weak reason, is matter of wonder and astonishment. It casts us into an ecstasy, and makes us imagine of our nature some great matter, we cannot well express what. 'Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou regardest him!' says holy David, transported with the wonder of God's goodness to man, in that he made him a little lower than the angels.' But the wonder is now infinitely increased; for, by taking our nature, Christ has made him a great deal higher than the angels. For those bright and immortal spirits, since his incarnation, have and do continually adore our nature in the personal, indivisible, but unconfused union with the Deity. As the Apostle to the Hebrews, When he bringeth in the First-begotten into the world, he saith, Let all the angels of God worship him.' [Heb. i. 6.]

And can we pass by this wonderful grace and dignity conferred on our nature, without asking the question which St. John Baptist's mother did on a like occasion,- Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?' [Luke i. 43.] Whence is this to us, that the Lord himself should come to us? should be one of us? If the angels themselves were not counted worthy of this favour, whence is this to us? Man's case was more to be pitied than theirs; because man was by them tempted, and deceived by the cunning of their chief: but the angels had no tempter; none but themselves, their own pride and ambition, to seduce them to so foul an apostasy. There was nothing of ignorance or deceit to lessen the voluntariness of their sin; they fell in the light of heaven, and rendered themselves incapable of pity. But man, as he fell by the devil's malice, was the fitter object of God's mercy; and accordingly, as he was undone by another's wickedness, he was recovered by another's merit. When the angels rebelled, though some fell, yet others stood; each of them sinned and suffered only for himself, did not involve a whole nature in his guilt, and so they all did not perish. But in the first man that sinned, all men fell: all were virtually and federally in Adam; and the decree of death passed upon all mankind, in him concluded under the common condemnation. And should God's creation be thus destroyed, and his

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »