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diminish than augment their faith. Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. These signs, to a people the wisest of whom believed, that the appearance of the Messiah would restore the pristine glory, and grandeur of the kingdom of Israel ; nay, would place it in circumstances which should make it surpass its ancient splendour, whose ideas all centered in a terrestrial kingdom. To such individuals I say
the appearance of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger, exhibited no proof that the intelligence they had received was of divine origin. Poverty was stamped in legible characters upon the new born infant, upon his mother, and upon his supposed father. The prejudices of the Jewish nation were strong in favour of worldly grandeur. Yet the birth was strikingly announced; the character of the messenger was unquestionable. We know that nothing short of the power of God, can make a believer, and the power of God was upon this occasion wonderfully manifested, while, to corroborate the divine testimony, suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will toward men.
Toward men. It appears that the shepherds conceived themselves included in this general description; they were men, and this was their title to the peace and good will descending from heaven. They hastened to Bethlehem, they were the first to do homage to the cradled infant, and they returned glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, which had been told unto them.
Let us, my beloved friends, unite with these believing shepherds in adoring our God in his state of humiliation ; let us follow him worshipping, even from the manger through all the various scenes of his suffering, blameless life, till we see him taken down from the cross, till we behold him laid in the sepulchre. Let us follow him in imagination to those abodes of darkness, whither, as we are informed by the apostle Peter, he went to preach the gospel to those imprisoned spirits, who were sometimes disobedient in the days of Noah. Do we not see the sudden illumination of those prisoners of darkness? Do we not behold them leaping from their dungeons at the sound of their Redeemer's voice? Their preacher is Almighty, his doctrines are luminous, he speaks as never man spake, information most follow, they cannot but know God, their emancipation is certain, their chains are broken, and what heart but must congratulate those long-suffering, those finally liberated spirits ?
Let us follow the Saviour in his triumphant resurrection. Let us transfer our affections to that heaven into which he has entered ; let us prostrate before the throne of grace and devoutly say, Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there are none on earth that I desire beside thee. We, who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, have every incentive to love, to adoration and to praise ; we have every incentive to gratitude, every motive to stimulate to the adornment of that doctrine, on which our future hopes of happiness are based. I conjure you, my dear hearers, my long loved friends, to be careful to add to your faith, virtue; let no one say in reference to you, There, there, so would we have it. Give not our adversary, or his adherents, reason to triumph over you; but give, I beseech you, give, I conjure you, give, I charge you, Give unto the God of your salvation, your whole heart.
Luke iv. 4.
First, To whom did our Saviour upon this occasion reply.? To the grand adversary, who arrogantly dared even in the presence of Deity, to sanction his seductive wiles, by the authority of sacred writ.
Secondly, What advantage did he reap by his presumption? He learned, to his confussion, that man should LIVE. This declaration both tormented and surprised him; he had heard the Creator say, in the day thou eatest, thou shalt surely DIE, and although he knew himself to be a liar, he knew the Creator was a God of truth. Blessed be the name of this God of truth, There was a way which this Vulture's eye had never seen.
Thirdly, How could man, sinful man live by every word of God? Was not the law the word of God ? and is not this law said to be the ministration of DEATH ?
But, Fourthly, For the consolation of every one, who is solicitous for the honour of God, and the felicity of man, and to the confusion of the adversary, and all those in whose paths are misery and death ; let us once more listen to the Redeemer of men. John xii. 49, 50, “For I have not spoken of myself: but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commardment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting ; whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”
I know, said Emmanuel, that this commandment is Life everlasting. The testimony of the royal Prophet, Psalm xix. 7, 8, 9, Beautifully illustrates and confirms the doctrine of our text. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the cominandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether."
Johx i. 1-4.
First, In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the WORD was God. We are informed that the WORD in Hebrew, Dabar, in Greek, Logos, is the eternal Son of God, the uncreated wisdom. The Evangelist, says a learned Commentator, to impress every reader with a sense of the dignity of Christ, as God, gives an account of his first existence, in quality of the logos or word of God, and Creator of the world. According to the Greek etymology, the word logos signifies the reason of God, or the wisdom of God. The eighth chapter of the Proverbs of Solomon contains a luminous and beautiful delineation of the God-man; and, saith our text, the word was God. The human nature of the Redeemer is styled the word ; he being the express image of the Pather, as our words are of
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our thoughts. Thus, the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews, chapter i. 3, “ Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Secondly, The Jews considered the Messiab as the word of God, and to this word they ascribed all the attributes of the Deity. They tell us that Memra or the woRD, which created the world, appeared to Moses on mount Sinai, to Abraham on the plains of Mamre, and to Jacob at Bethel. In fact, God has never manifested himself to the children of men, in any other character, and as a man, body, soul and spirit is but one man, so Father, WORD, and Holy Ghost is but one God. It was to exhibit God to the human family, in this character, that the gospel of St. Luke was written, and we embrace, as a first principle, that truth, which asserts that Jesus Christ is the only wise God our Saviour, Matthew i. 23, “ And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
Thirdly, All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made, that was made. Thus the word is the Cre. ator. John i. 10. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” Psalm xxxi. 6, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth.”
Fourthly, In him was life, and the life was the light of men. Colossians iii. 4, “ When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Jesus Christ is indeed the light of men. John i. 9, “ The true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” He is before all things, and by him all things consist. Finally, 1 John v. 1 “ This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
John i. 18.
First, What is God ? He is a spirit ; He is that self created, self existent Being, who in the beginning said, “Let us make man in our own image:” and in the image of God created he them, and called their names Adam. Thus was exhibited a figure of God manifest in the flesh, the divine in the human nature. He called their names Adam. The same name is named on them. He shall be called the LORD our righteousness. She shall be called the LORD our righteousness. The divine in the human nature, or the soul in the body. No man hath at any time seen the soul. Exodus xxxiii. 20, “And he said thou canst not see my face ; for there shall no man see me and live.”
Secondly, What are we to understand by the only begotten of the Father? The only one of the human race, which was begotten by the divine Nature. Matthew i, 20, “ But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife : for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Isaiah vii. 14, “Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign : behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Luke i. 35, “ And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.”
In the seventythird verse of this memorable chapter, Zacharias refers to the oath which God sware to our Father Abraham, as recorded Genesis xxii. 16. The apostle Paul alludes to this promise, Romans i. 2, “ Which he hath promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.
(Thirdly, The only begotten Son of God is said to be in the bosom of the Father. The Holy Ghost speaketh in the present tense. The only begotten Son, zohich ia in the 6980m of the