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“ Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be " called the sons of God!"* There is but one cause of higher admiration and gratitude, and that is, the ground of the Father's adopting love; which the same apostle thus expresses in the following chapter—“In this was manifested the love of God " toward us, because that God sent his only begot
ten Son into the world, that we might live " through him.”+
Abraham obtained the venerable name of the father of the faithful, because his faith and love led him, at the command of God, to lay upon the altar his only son, the son of his old age, the son of a promise, and the son in whom many promises rested. Yet what he offered to God was not absolutely his own; and though it had been his own, the gift was not worthy to be compared with the Son of the Highest. This Son was in himself infinitely great ; and to the giver, infinitely dear. For he was “ the
brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person.” I “ In the beginning of his way, before his works of old,” this Son“ was by
him, as one brought up with him. He was daily “his delight, rejoicing always before him.”g In this Son, even under his form of humiliation, dwelt " all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”|| He was distinguished from the Father, therefore, only in being his Son: he possessed all his infinite perfections; and was dear to him as his own person, He was “the only begotten of the Father.” And of him, the Father's voice twice solemnly proclaimed—“ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
Heb. i. 3.
#Col. ii. 9. # Ibid. iv. 9.
$ Prov. viii. 22, 30.
1 John iii. 1,
John i. 14.
“ pleased.”* This was indeed a gift of inestimablo value; a pearl of price, too great to be equalled by all the gold of Ophir; a jewel, which worlds wanted worth to purchase, and in which, all the glory of divinity shines forth. Yet such, thou God of boundless love, is thy gift to man !- It was a bright instance of divine goodness and condescension, that an angel was sent to announce tidings of great joy, at the Saviour's birth. It is an ever-renewed expression of divine care and love, that angels are
sent forth, to minister for them who shall be heirs “ of salvation.”+ But the gift of the only begotten Son could not have been paralleled, had God emptied heaven of its inhabitants for our sakes; and presented in one band, to serve and save us, the ten thousand times ten thousand that surround the throne. “ Who can utter the mighty acts of " the Lord? Who can shew forth all his praise ?"}
2. This gift of God will appear the greater, if we consider the unspeakable degradation and suffer, ings to which he subjected his Son.
Our apostle, in an abstract of the humiliation of Christ, in the epistle to the church at Philippi, divides it into two parts. “ Being in the form of so
God, he made himself of no reputation, and took upon
him the form of a servant, and was made in “ the likeness of men: and, being found in fashion “ as a man, he humbled himself, and became obe“ dient unto death, even the death of the cross."S
Human nature, in itself, cannot be called unspeakably low: yet the distance between God and man is infinite; and therefore the subjection of his * Matt. iii. 17. and Luke ix. 35.
+ Psalm cái gì Heb. i. 14.
Ś Phil. ii. 6, 7&
Son to our condition, proves the infinite extent of his love, and the greatness of his gift. Had our Saviour appeared, erecting his throne in the skies, veiling his divinity with a cloud, attended by an host of angels, and preaching, to the sons of men, the acceptable year of the Lord ; his own condescension, and the gift of his mission, would have been unspeakably great. The garments of amazed nations, and the boughs of a thousand forests, might have been spread beneath him. Loud Hosannahs, from every tribe and tongue, might have been raised in his praise. But men, contemplating him in such circumstances, would have been more apt to feel astonishment, than to receive instruction; to admire his glory, than to imitate his example. For our sakes, therefore, the Father prepared for him a body: and He, whose throne is heaven, whose footstool is earth, and before whom the inhabitants thereof are as grashoppers, was humbled to associate with men, to feel their wants, and to partake of their frailty. What an immeasurable descent is this! “ God is manifest in the flesh."* " The mighty God, the everlasting Father,” becomes “ a child born, and a son given unto us.”+
But this is not all: a descent still lower marks the greatness of the Father's gift. He subjected him not only to all the frailty, but to more than the misery of our nature. Surely it might have sufficed to make him, if a man, a man of renown,
form, and comeliness, and beauty, that we " should desire him;"I to render him prince visi. ble of the kings of the earth; to give him monarchs for his attendants; and to cause the nations
* 1 Tim. iii. 16. † See Isaiah ix. 6. * Sec Ibid. liii. 2.
to submit to his sway. Could it be necessary to degrade him to become “ a servant of rulers,” “ man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief?”* Such were the dreams of the Jews; and such things is human nature apt to dream. But " the foolish“ ness of God is wiser than men.”+ He saw it meet for the purposes of example, and necessary for those of atonement, to place his Son in the lowest state of humiliation, and in the severest circumstances of trial. In every period of the life of Christ, therefore, we read the history of the man of sorrows, “ compassed about with innumerable evils.”I In his birth, he seemed an outcast from the society of men; nor was even a manger long allowed him as the place of his repose : a jealous tyrant sought his life; and in his infant years, he sojourned in a land of bondage and oppression. When he began to declare his mission, and the purposes of his manifestation, his sorrows thickened apace. Hunger and poverty were his companions; contempt, reproach, and persecution, his perpetual assailants. The description of his condition was, that “ foxes have
holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the “ Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”S His character was traduced. His good was evil spoken of. His miracles were ascribed to the
of hell. His endeavours to reclaim the wicked, to a friendship for sinners. His affable manners, his courteous and social disposition, were stigmatized as evidences of intemperance. His public teaching was attributed to presumption and ostentation. Never was character so defamed as the Isaiah xlix. 7. and lüi. 3.
* Psalm xl. 12. * I Cor. i. 25.
S Matt. viii. 20.
powers of hell.
perfect character of Jesus. Never was life so tormented, as that of the Prince of life: and never was inhabitant of the world so miserably treated, as the Lord who made it. Never did any experience so thoroughly as he, the blindness, the folly, the weakness, the unbelief, the perversity, the ingratitude, the perfidy, and malice of mankind. “ All day long, he stretched forth his hands unto
a disobedient and gainsaying people."*
came unto his own; and his own received him “ not.”+ Yea, he “ was wounded in the house of “ his friends."I Did not Judas betray; did not Peter deny ; did not all his disciples forsake him? His own brethren mocked him. The hands of the envious and revengeful seized him. False witnesses sware against him. The appointed guardians of justice unrighteously condemned him. Priests and Levites forgot their office of mercy; joined, and excited an insensate multitude, in exclaiming“ Away with him; away with him !") Pilate timidly yielded him up. The soldiers derided, spit upon, buffeted, and crucified him. And as he hung on the accursed tree, the tongues of the cruel sought to aggravate his pangs, by bitter insult. All, all on earth conspired to vex his soul; his friends, by ungrateful desertion ; his enemies, by relentless persecution. And was it not then, enough for the Son of God, thus to be enclosed by the assembly of the wicked; to have his judgment taken away, and to be led as a lamb to the slaughter? Would to God, O thou unresisting sufferer, would to God, that this could have been all! But the dregs of the cup were yet untasted ; and these a Father's hand
Rom. X. 21. 7 John i. 11. Zech. xiii. 6. § John xix. 15.