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Here is a name above every name: a name which is as ointment poured forth—it is Jesus. This name was not only given by the order of God, but explained by the same order. Jesus signifies Saviour. But this name was not peculiar to himothers had worn it. The Hebrew name which answers to Jesus is Joshua, and two persons had this name expressly given them under the old testament: the commander who succeeded Moses, and the high priest concerned in the building of the second temple. The Levites, also, in the days of Nehemiah, confess to God-according to thy manifold mercies, thou gavest them saviours who saved them out of the hands of their enemies." Such saviours were Gideon, and Samson, and others.
The name, then, is common, but not the reason of the imposition" for he shall save his people from their sins.” As if he had said, “ Others have been called saviours, because they rescued the body : they were temporal deliverers; they saved the Jews from the Egyptians, the Philistines, the Midianites. But this child is called a Saviour for a nobler reason—he rescues the soul; he is an eternal deliverer; he saves his people from their sins."
By this explanation, the angel not only distinguishes Jesus from every other saviour, but opposes the favourite prejudices of the nation to which he belonged. The Jews expected a Messiah who should be called a Saviour; but in this name they found a hero, a conqueror, who should break the civil yoke, free them from the tyranny of Rome, and, if not lead them to universal empire, at least restore them to all their original dignity in their own land. But, 0 ye Jews,'
says the angel, “ the Saviour is come to restore you, not to an earthly Canaan, but a better, even a heavenly country. He is come to deliver you, not from civil bondage, but from spiritual slavery; not from Cæsar, but Satan. He is come to save you from your greatest enemies, and these arenot the Romans, but your SINS.
Let us not pass over this. Jesus came not to suggest improvements in agriculture ; plans of commerce; theories of civil policy-he left the governments of the world as he found them : these are things which fall within the reach of our wisdom to devise, and our power to accomplish. But who could save a soul from sin ?
Let us, I., Consider sin as an enemy, and, II., See in what manner the Saviour delivers us from it.
We talk of enemies. What should we think of an adversary, .who, filled with malice, and armed with power, should invade our country, ravage our fields, destroy our cottages and mansions, our palaces and temples ; who should despoil us of our goods, tear us from our families, deprive us of our liberty, and lead us away in irons to terminate a wretched existence in a dungeon or a mine! And 0! were a deliverer to arise, to crush the foe, and to save the captives— how should we prize him! If he had suffered in the struggle, his wounds would be deemed scars of honour. " When the ear heard him, it would bless him; and when the eye saw him, it would give witness to him.” Our very children, made familiar with the story, would never see him pass along, without exclaiming, “ Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord !"But this enemy would be a friend, compared
with sin: and such a deliverer, therefore, would be nothing compared with the Saviour of sin
How is it then that we feel so much indifference towards him ? that we are not continually uttering the memory of his great goodness ? that we are not daily praying, let the whole earth be filled with his glory. I will tell you whywe do not believe the enemy to be so dreadful. The reason is—we entertain slight notions of sin. To judge of the importance of a remedy, it is necessary to know the malignity of the disease : to ascertain the claims of a benefactor to our gratitude and love, it is necessary for us to know the evils from which he delivers us.
Everything turns upon this. If sin be our worst enemy, it is easy to prove that he who saves us from it, is our best friend. Let us then look at sin, and take three or four views of its evil and malignity.
Behold sin with regard to God. That must be the greatest evil, which is most opposite to the greatest good. In forming our estimate of sin, we are not to judge of it so much by the relation it bears to us, or to our fellow-creatures, as by its relation to God; for against him it is committed ; and every
sin strikes at God as much as if no other being were affected by it: and, notwithstanding its fatal effects with regard to mankind, we may say to God, of every transgression, " against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” Sin is enmity against God; against his attributes and his government. God never yet revealed a design which sin hath not withstood : nor given a law which sin has not trampled under foot. Sin deposes God from his sovereignty, abuses his goodness, abhors his ho
liness, vilifies his wisdom, insults and denies his omniscience, his justice and his power.
And hence nothing is so offensive to God. It is called the abominable thing which he hates. And we read, that he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. It is a metaphor taken from a person who has such a perfect abhorrence of a thing that he cannot bear the sight-the very thought of it shocks him. What can this be, concerning which Jehovah expresses himself thus strongly? He speaks so of nothing else in the universe. And this is that which renders man, though the work of his hands, filthy and abominable; and constrains even the God of love, the Father of mercies, to say concerning him, “ The wicked shall not stand in my sight; I hate all workers of iniquity.
Behold sin in its names. For what term is there expressive of reproach or misery: what image is there that can produce aversion, or fear that is not employed by the Scriptures to represent sin. Sin! it is disobedience, it is rebellion, it is treason, it is murder, it is the work of the devil. Sin! it is ignorance, it is folly, it is madness. Sin! it is blindness, it is deafness, it is dumbness, it is sickness, it is poison, it is slavery, it is plague, it is death, it is hell. Now, as it is said of Nabal, as the name is, so is the man; the same may be observed of sin: as the name is, so is the thing. Sin is not libelled by any of these dreadful representations : they are all given us by One who perfectly understands sin, and they fall infinitely short of the subject. For if we compare sin with other evils, it will be found substantially to contain them all, and to be the cause of all. This is the fountain which has imbittered all our streams, and the seed which has so thickly sown the world with wretchedness.
Behold, therefore, again, the effects of sin.How different is man from what he was originally! but sin has made this change ; sin has stripped him of his glory, and taken the crown from his head: wo unto us, that we have sinned.
Observe the soul of man-It is sin that has de. based it, defiled it, robbed it of the image, and banished it from the presence of God-it is this that has filled it with confusion, and regrets: it is this that has produced unruly passions, tormenting anxieties, a terrified conscience, a wounded spirit. Consider the body of man.
This was once allimmortal, without a defect, a disease, a danger. But by sin death entered into the world, and was crowned king of terrors. And now,
man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” At his birth he enters a labyrinth of thorns and Oriers, and cannot move without piercing himself through with many sorrows. Even every comfort has its cross, and every
blessing its curse. And how little of the misery of the world comes under our observation ! O could we witness all the pains of the diseased at this moment: could we behold all the effects of war, pestilence, and famine ; could we see the bones of all the human race, from the death of Abel to this very hour piled into one immense heap! O! what could we think of an enemy capable of producing such mischief as this ?
Behold Adam and Eve expelled from paradise. Behold the deluge sweeping away the world of the ungodly. Behold Sodom and Gomorrah, " set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." See the plagues of Egypt, the destruction of the former inhabitants of Canaan,