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pride and vanity, at the birth of your first-born son, the stars roll on in their courses, angels pursue their work: the festivity is confined to human beings, and to a small circle of them: neighbouring countries scarcely hear of it.
What are other children at twelve years of age? The mind is only beginning to open; the ideas are trifling and unarranged; it is the transition from fool into intelligent. But behold this child, when twelve years old, doing his Heavenly "Father's business, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers." After this," he went down to Nazareth, and was subject unto his own parents." And here a large proportion of his life is concealed from our view. We only know that he received no learned education, and have reason to believe that he laboured with his own hands; for in one place he is called the carpenter. But when he appeared in public, he spake as never man spake. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He cast out devils. "He went about doing good. He died for our sins. He rose for our justification. And he entered into his glory, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." What a gift then was here! But this brings us
II. To consider his empire: the government shall be upon his shoulder. The utmost to which a child can be born is to fill a throne-and this is deemed a wonderful honour. But if he should be fortunate enough to reach the envied pre-eminence- -what a short time does he hold the scep
tre, before it drops from his feeble hand by the decays of nature, or is forced from his grasp by the effects of violence. But the child Jesus is decreed a permanent, unchangeable authority: "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."
And over what a mole-hill does the most extensive worldly monarch reign? The babe lying in the manger claims unbounded empire. There is not a being in the universe, but is either his subject or his slave. He has the keys of hell and of death. All the affairs of this world are under his management. Nothing occurs by chance. "It is he determines concerning a nation, and concerning a people," to establish, or to destroy; to enlarge, or to diminish. They are all in his hands, but as clay in the hand of the potter. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; they are amenable to his authority; they rule by his permission; they are controlled by his power. He girds them and guides them though they know him not-as far as they move in the direction of his purpose, they are invincible; when they oppose it, a straw checks and overthrows them. He is peculiarly king in Zion. He is a Prince as well as a Saviour to his people and they that know his name not only trust in him, but submit themselves to him. And their submission is natural and cheerful, because he puts his laws into their minds, and writes them in their hearts. While they obey his com mands, they also acquiesce in his dispensations.
To him they refer all their temporal concerns, and are willing that he should choose their inheritance for them. Thus he has a kingdom within a kingdom; a kingdom of grace within the kingdom of his providence; and the one is subservient to the other. "He is head over all things unto his body the church." He has everything necessary for the defence of his people, and the success of his cause. Therefore, this "king shall reign and prosper. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. Yea, all the kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him. His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun; and men shall be blessed in him : all nations shall call him blessed."
Much has been said on the subject of government, and volumes have been written to ascertain the prerogative of princes, and the duties of subjects. While men are depraved beings, absolute power lodged in the hands of an individual would be dangerous. Authority must therefore be limited; one part of government must be a balance to another, and laws must be placed above men. But it is generally acknowledged, that could a governor be found perfect in wisdom and goodness, who in all cases knew what was proper to be done, and would be always inclined to do it-his power could not be too absolute, nor his authority too uncontrolled. Such a person is the Lord Jesusand therefore he is "the blessed and only Potentate; and has all power given unto him in heaven and in earth."
But where does this government, thus all his own, rest? Upon his shoulder. This may appear to some a coarse image: ancient poetry, however,
has beautified it, by representing a man bearing upon his shoulders the pillars of the universe. But what was this fabled Atlas ? The world and all its concerns really depend on the Redeemer : he "upholdeth all things by the word of his power.' And government upon the shoulder is significant; it implies burden, difficulty. It cannot be administered without much labour and care. And this is one reason among others, why we are commanded "to pray for kings, and for all that are in authority." Who can need our prayers so much? What a charge devolves upon a parent, when Providence puts into his hands a living mercy, and says, "Take this child, and nurse it for me: I constitute thee its governor, and at thy hands will I require it." What an awful task has the tutor of youth! What a weighty undertaking has the pastor of a congregation!But think of the affairs of a kingdom. Ask the rulers of this world whether government be an easy or an enviable concern? How distracted is the head that wears a crown! "I am not able, (says Solomon,) to go in and out before so great a people." "I am not able, (said Moses) to bear all this people:" hence he had assistants provided him. The weight of government is too much for one person, and therefore it is divided among many. A king has his council and ministers and officers. He cannot be all eye, all ear, all hand; he therefore avails himself of the eyes, the ears, and hands of others. But the King of Saints stands in need of no help: infinite as his empire is, he manages the amazing whole without fatigue, and without perplexity.
Let us review, thirdly, his names. Names are designed to distinguish, to describe, and to ho
nour. And, in common, a single name is sufficient for a single individual. Human excellencies and accomplishments are rare and solitary : one man attends to the stars, and we call him an astronomer: a second is skilled in the various species of plants, and we call him a botanist; a third speaks well, and we call him an orator. The name generally sums up all his claims. But what a number, and what a variety of sublime titles are employed to show forth the praises of our Lord and Saviour: "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
I. He is Wonderful. And he is so principally in the constitution of his person. Here we see combined deity and humanity; finite, and infinite: all-sufficiency and omnipotence; weariness and want. This is the great mystery of godliness, which will for ever employ the admiration of the redeemed: "God was manifest in the flesh. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Indeed his whole history appears to be unparalleled. His manner of life, his mode of teaching, his death, his resurrection, and his dealings with his people in providence and grace, are all marvellous.
II. He is Counsellor. He is our Advocate with the Father; he appears for us in court: and while he pleads our cause above, he guides our affairs below. In "him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." He is the source of all spiritual knowledge. "I am come," said he, "a