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THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST.
Isarah ix. 6,7.
Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given ; and the government
shall be upon his shoulder : and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever.
ANTICIPATE the festival, which the goodness,
or rather the magnificence of God, invites you to celebrate on Wednesday next. All nature seems to take part in the memorable event, which on that day we shall commemorate. I mean the birth of the Saviour of the world. Herod turns pale on his throne; the devils tremble in hell; the wise men of the East suspend all their speculations, and observe no sign in the firmament except that, which conducts them to the place, where lies the incarnate Word, God manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. an angel from heaven is the herald of the astonishing event, and tells the shepherds, Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ait people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord, Luke č. 10, 11, the multitude of the heavenly host eagerly descend to congratulate men on the Word's assumption of mortal flesh, on his dwelling among. men, in order to enable them to behold his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full. of grace and truth, John i. 14. they make the air resound with these acclamations, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men, Luke ii. 14.
What think ye? does this festival require no preparation of you? Do you imagine, that you shall celebrate it as you ought, if you content yourselves with attending on a few discourses, during which, perhaps, while you are present in body, you may be absent in spirit ; or, with laying aside your temporal cares, and your most turbulent passions, at the church-gates, in order to take them up again, as soon as divine service ends ? The king Messiah is about to make his triumphant entry among you. With what pomp do the children of this world, who are wise, and, we may add, magnificent in their generation, Luke xvi. 8. cèlebrate the entries of their princes? They strew the roads with flowers, they raise triumphal arches, they express their joy in shouts of victory, and in songs of praise. Come, then, my brethren, let us to-day prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight, Matt. ii. 3. let us be joyful together before the Lord, let us make a joyful noise before the Lord the King, for he cometh to judge the carth : Psal. xcviii. 6, 9. or, to speak in a inore intelligible, and in a more evangelical manner; Come ye miserable sinners, loaden
with the unsupportable burdens of your sins ; Come ye troubled consciences, uneasy at the remembrance of your many idle words, many criminal thoughts, many abominable actions : Come ye poor mortals, tossed with tempests and not comforted, Isa. liv. 11. condemned first to bear the infirmities of nature, the caprices of society, the vicissitudes of age, the turns of fortune, and then the horrors of death, and the frightfal night of the tomb; Come behold The Wonderful, The
Unto us a
Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace; take him into your arms, learn to desire nothing more, when you possess him. May God enable each of you, in transports of joy, to say, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Amen.
You have heard the prophecy, on which our meditations in this discourse are to turn. child is born, unto us a son is given ; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever. These words are more dazzling than clear: let us fix their true meaning; and, in order to ascertain that, let us divide this discourse into two parts,
I. Let us explain the prediction.
In the first part, we will prove, that the prophet had the Messiah in view : and, in the second, that our Jesus had fully answered 'the design of the prophet, and hath accomplished, in the most just and sublime of all senses, the whole prediction: Unto us a child is born, and so on.
I. Let us explain the prophet's prediction, and let us fix on the extraordinary child, to whom he gives the magnificent titles in the text. Indeed, the grandeur of the titles sufficiently determines the meaning of the prophet; for to whom, except
to the Messiah, can these appellations belong, The Wonderful, The Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Prince of Peace, The everlasting Father? This natural sense of the text, is supported by the authority of an inspired writer, and what is, if not
any great weight in point of argument, at least, very singular as an historical fact, it is supported by the authority of an angel. The inspired writer, whom we mean, is St. Matthew, who manifestly alludes to the words of the text, by quoting those which precede them, which are connected with them, and which he applies to the times of the Messiah: for, having related the imprisonment of John, and, in consequence of that, the retiring of Jesus Christ into Galilee, he adds, that the divine Saviour came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea-coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up, Matt. iv. 12. The angel, of whom I spoke, is Gabriel ; who, when he had declared to Mary the choice which God had made of her to be the mother of the Messiah, applied to her Son the characters, by which Isaiah describes the child in the text, and paints him in the same colors ; Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son,and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest : and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever : and of his kingdom there shall be no end, Luke i. 31, &c.
How conclusive soever these proofs may appear