Page images
PDF
EPUB

which every one is conscious of existing, though no one is capable of explaining, should form other combinations, unite other natures, to declare his power and manifest his glory? Wherefore should " it be thought a thing incredible," that He who unites himself to every one of us, through the medium of teafon and conscience, for carrying on the plan of nature, ihould have united humanity to himself in the person of the Redeemer, in a manner still more incomprehensible, for perfecting the plan of redemption ? Shall I reject as untrue or ab. furd whatever I do not clearly understand or am unable per. fectly to explain ? The consciousness which I have of my own being must be renounced then among the first, and every thing within and around us muft be reduced to darkness, doubt and uncertainty.

Blessed Jesus, we cannot declare thy generation, and would tot be wise above what is written, but we adore in flent won. der, we rejoice that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt a. mong us," and that men" bebeld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." We re. joice that what we know not now we shall know hereafter. Suf. fice it now that we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that he by the grace of God should taste death for everý man :" that" it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their falvation perfect through sufferings." We can form no conception of a state pre-existent to this frame of na. ture, for imagination itself mult draw its ideas from reality ; and to give scope to a faculty so fantastical, in treating a subject of such high moment, were presumptuous and profane. Let us reply then to the prophet's challenge, with the modesty and humilia ty becoming creatures so ignorant, so limited, and foimperfect. We presume not to explore the records of eternity, to pry into the counsels of peace, to measure the infinite Jehovah, his nature, his decrees, his operations, by the contracted line of our finite understanding ; but, taking Scripture for our in. itru£tor and guide, we will with reverence and joy contemplate the manifeftation of the Son of God in the likeness of ian, the mystery of the incarnation, his generation as ore of our brethren. In the next Lecture therefore, it God permit, we will endearour to lead your attention to some of the remarkable circumstances which immediately preceded the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and which give celebrity and notoriety to that illustrious event, and mark the interest which eternal Providence took in it, and the importance there by stamped upon it to every ferious and refleting mind.

which

1

We conclude at present, with Tuggeiting, from what has been said, and from every view which is given us in Scripture of the perion of the Saviour, that there is spread around it at once án effulgence that dazzles and repels, and a mildness and fimplicity which composes and attracts. Is he ipoken of as a Man, we are sent to Bethlehem to behold a babe wrapped in {waddling clothes to Nazareth to converse with the carpenter's son, to Cana of Galilee to join with himn in the innocent feftivity of a marriage solemnity, to Barhany to witness the endearments of private friendthip, to Gethsemane to sympathize with the agonizing mourner, to Icenes such as daily occur in human life ; but we are never left long to conlider a mere man in situations and employments like our own, a man of like passions with ourselves ; the glory of the Lord arises, the Son of God stands confessed, a generation not to be declared, a power that nothing can reliít, at which devils treinsBle, which winds and seas obey, to which death and the grave are subservient. He speaks as never man spake, legions of angels are continually on the wing to minister unto him.-Prophecy and history represent him in the felt fame lights, in alternate humiliation and majeity, obscurity and fplendour. What a contrait does the description of our prophet present? " For 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 shuil be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establith it with judgment and with Justice, frorn henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” The progress of his hiftory, in every particular stage of it, will elucidate the same observation, and therefore it shall not now be farther prosecuted.

Again, this subject seems much calculated to correft the prejudices which prevail among men in the matter of pedigreea There is in reality no such thing as mean and high birth : or if there be a distinction, to be born perfect in every limb and feature, with a sound and vigorous constitution, with a mind complete in all its faculties, this is to be nobly born ; as, on the contrary, to come into the world diseased and debili: tated, with a constitution undermined and destroyed by the vice of parents, is to have he disadvantage of being meanly E

born i

born ; a distinction which, if founded in reason, truth, and justice, leaves the great, in general, little to glory. in, and the poor litile at which !o repine. Have we not all one father ? What genealogy is pure from every stain of infirmity, fol. ly or vire ? Is it any dininution of our Saviour's dignity, ary impeachment of his perfect purity, or any imputation on his great public character, that in the roll of his ancestry after be flesh, we find the name of Rahab the harlot, and of her who had been the wite ot Uriah, and that he was broughs up under the roof, perhaps to the occupation, of an obscure craftsman ? Virtue and vice are personal not he. reditary, and nothing but vice is a just ground ot shame. Shall I call myself a disciple of Jesus then, and think it a reproach to be called a carpenter's son, despised because I am a Galilean, lightly esteemed because my parents were poor and ig. noble, because a paltry monosyllable introduces not my name? Real worth ennobles itself independent of the breach of Kings, it draws obscure progenitors into light, and leaves á tair and honorable inheritance to pofterity in a bright example, and a respectable name.

Once more, whatever may be our pretensions, or our want of pretension as citizens of this world, we have all equal right and encouragement to aspire after the title and the spirit, and the privileges of the sons of God. He whose generation can. not be declared, is not ashamed to call the humblest of you, brethren. The end of his coming into the world, of his humbJing himself to death, of lhedding his blood, was to make you “ kings and priests unto God and his father." What he is by eternal generation, that he is making you by redemption, by the spirit of adoption, by the hope of Glory to be revealed. Support the honour of your heavenly Father's name, prove your relation, preferve unclouded your prospects. You are now in a state of depression, " in heaviness through manifold temptations," your title lies dormant, your pofleffion is at a diftance, but" your life is bid with Christ in God, and when he fhall appear, you shall appear with him in glory. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. but when He shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.'' Fear no!," then,“ little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." “ Ye are a cholen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peruliar people ; that ye should thew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous-light."

LECTURE

[blocks in formation]

HAGGAI, 11. 6-9. For thus faith the Lord of hosts. Yutonce, it is a little u hile,

and I will share the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land ; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations Thall come and I will fill this house with giory, faith the Lord of hosts. The silver is one, and the gold 25 mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The g'ory of this latter house. shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts :

And in this plac: will I give peace, faith the Lord of hols. THE great Lord of Nature demonßrates his existence and

divine perfection, in the original fomation, and in the constant preservation of all things. "He spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fait." He upholdeth all " by the word of his power.” The continual fupport of the uni- . verfe has accordingly, with the utmost propriety, been repreresented as creation every instant repeated. In a system which is all lite and motion, power almighty, and attention unintermitting, most ever be exerted to mais tain lile to carry on motion, to preserve harmony. Every being is subjected to the peculiar law of its own nature ;'and the great whole is governed by general laws. Unity, fimplicity, multitude variety, strike the eye of every attentive beholder ; every individual presents a little world apart, and the vaft combination of individuals torms but one world, animated by one vital principle.

But Jehovah makes himselt known to his intelligent crea. tures not only in the stated order and harmony of his works, but in the occasional and temporary interruption of that order, and in deviation from that harmony. The powers of earth and heaven are shaken; the fun is turned into darkness and the stars withdraw their light'; tre barrier which restrained the ocean is reinoved, the windows of heaven are opened, and the earth is overflowed. The rain that falls on Sodom becomes a fiery tide; the flame of Nebuchadnezzar's fiery fure nace is rendered harmless air ; the hungry lion licks the prophet's feet. The glaring excentric comet, the wandering, plan. et, and the fixed star, all, all refer us to one original, to one Gving, restraining, directing, supporting cause.

Neither,

tion of

Neiller, however, the regular observance, nor the occa. foral suspension of the laws of nature are mere wanton displays of power, to amuse the curious, to alarm the fearful, or, to contound the proud. Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, and every act of omnipotence have an important meaning and design. The end at which the Ruler of the world still aims, is the manifestation of his own glory in promoting the wisdom and happiness of his creatures. · The Prophet, in the passage of the facred volume which has now been read, is evidently referring to some signal display of the divine glory. We behold universal commotion raised and settled by the same power ; heaven and earth, the fea and the dry land, and all the kindreds of the nations fhaken together. Universal attention is excited, universal expectaLion is raised, and that expectation is completely gratified, by the appearance of “ the desire of all nations;" by the restora,

peace to a troubled world ; by a lufire bestowed on the second temple which should eclipfe the glory of the first. Now the expression, " the glory of this latter houfe shall be greater than the former, faith the Lord' of hoft's," enables us to fix the period, and to discover the person here described. Haggai lived and prophesied after the Babylonish captivity, and the immediate object of his prophecy was to urge his restored countrymen to industry and perseverance, in the work of rebuilding the temple of the Lord. And as the moft powerful and encouraging of all motives, he is commiflioned to assure them, that the period fait aproached when the fabric which they were then rearing should be invefted with much greater honor, than that of Solomon and all his glory ever: poflefled. But if this were meant of temporal splendor mere.. ly, the fact contradicts it ; for from Ezra we learn, that, in this respect, the former temple was far fuperior to the latter ; "many of the priests and levites, and chief of the fathers wha: were ancient men that had seen the first houle, when the toundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with à loud voice:” so mortifying was the comparison. Our Prophet himselt holds the same language, ch. ii. 3. “Who is Jeft among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do you see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing ?" We must look therefore for a different kind of glory, to explain and confirm the prediction; and it is impossible to be at a loss about an interpretation, when we confider wherein the real glory of the second temple consisted,

Not

« PreviousContinue »