Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

cents. In the future state, the Mind, advanced to perfect manhood, is completely sanctified; and cannot fail of being completely blessed. To Enjoyment and Virtue that state is wholly destined. Every thing found in it, as once in the earthly paradise, blossoms with life and happiness, and like Adam, all its inhabitants are formed for immortality.

In the last phrase of the Text, this good is disclosed to us in the declaration ; that saith unto Zion, Thy GOD REIGNETH.

God, the Author of all being, is the source of all good. Every good gift, in this and all other worlds, and every perfect gift, is from above; and cometh down from the Father Of Lights, with whom 18 no variableness, neither shadow of turning. From Him, the ocean, flow all those streams of holiness, which water, enrich, and beautify, his immeasurable kingdom. His Character, his moral Essence, is Love; and, wherever happiness is found, it may justly be said, that the name of every blessing, is like that of the City seen in vision by Ezekiel, The LORD IS THERE.

With these tidings resounding in their ears, the children of Zion may joyfully say, This God is our God for ever and ever. To their present and everlasting good his boundless power, wisdom, and goodness, are by himself graciously consecrated. To renew, purify, preserve, protect, enlighten, guide, quicken, and save, them in this world; and to form them in his own perfect image, and exalt them to his own perfect felicity in the world to come; is declared to be his constant and favourite employment. In that glorious and happy world, he will unveil his face to them; and give them to see as they are seen, and to know as they are known. In the smiles of forgiving, redeeming, and sanctifying, love, they will there rove, and bask, and brighten, for ever.

III. I shall consider the Messenger, who published these tidings.
In the investigation of this subject I shall inquire,
Who he was ;
What he became;
What he did ; and,
What he suffered..
1st. He was a Person of supreme glory and dignity.

This divine Person was, from everlasting, underived, independent, all-sufficient, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, goodness, and power. All things were the work of his hand, and lay beneath his feet. At the head of a kingdom, filling immensity and eternity, he was ; and in comparison with him there was none else. All nations before him were as nothing; and were counted unto him as less than nothing, and vanity. Angels in his presence veiled their faces; and Archangels durst not attempt to penetrate the unapproachable light, with which he clothed himself as with a garment. To obey him was their highest honour; to please him was their greatest happiness. In his service they employed all their powers, and found all their transports. Suns lighted up their fires

at his bidding; systems rolled, to fulfil his pleasure ; and to accomplish his designs, immensity was stored with worlds, and their inhabitants.

2dly. He was rich in all good.

All things were not only made by him, but for him. They were his property; they were destined to fulfil his pleasure. When he looked on all the beauty, greatness, and glory, conspicuous in the beings which compose, and which inhabit, the Universe; He beheld nothing but the works of his own hands, reflecting the boundless beauty, greatness, and glory, which, in forms and varieties infinite, were treasured up from everlasting in his own incomprehensible mind. If he chose to bring into existence any additional number of creatures, to display new forms and varieties of power, wisdom, and goodness, pre-existent in his own perfect intellect, his choice would instantaneously give them being. To the Universe, which he had made, he could with infinite ease add another, and another; and fill with worlds, and suns, and systems, those desolate wilds of immensity, where the wing of Angels never ventured to rove, and whither no created mind ever sent out a solitary thought. Thus the Universe of possible things was his own.

He was rich in the veneration and good-will, the complacency and gratitude, of all virtuous beings. Heaven, throughout her vast regions, had from the beginning echoed to his praise. The Morningstars had sung his perfections from their birth, and the Sons of God shouted his name for joy. The everlasting hymn of that exalted and delightful world had ever been, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and

power, be unto our God that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever: and to this divine ascription every virtuous world had continually, as well as solemnly, answered, Amen.

He was rich in himself. His own mind was the mansion of all things great, excellent, and delightful. Pure from every stain, free from every error, serene without a cloud, secure beyond a fear, and conscious of wisdom and holiness only, himself was an ocean of eternal and overflowing good.

He was rich in the complacency of his Father. He was from everlasting his beloved Son, in whom he was ever well pleased. From everlasting was he by him, as one brought up with him. He was daily his delight, rejoicing alway before him. In the transcendent communion of the ever-blessed Trinity he experienced enjoyment, which created

eye hath seen, or can see; and which no mind, less than infinite, can conceive. On this subject beings of yesterday must not presume to expatiate. With the deepest reverence, they can only exclaim, It is higher than heaven, what can we know?

2dly. This glorious Person, to accomplish the good, announced in these tidings, became man.

Although he was originally in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal with God; yet he made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness

no

of men. In this character of immense humiliation, he lived in this sinful, melancholy world. To man, who is a worm, and the son of man, who is but a worm, he allied himself by birth, kindred, and character. All the infirmities of our nature, except sin, he voluntarily assumed; sprang from a humble lineage ; lived in a humble employment, was united to humble companions; and was invariably in humble circumstances. So depressed was he in all things, that he himself has thought proper to say, I am a worm and no man.

3dly. In this situation he did all things well.

His life was filled up with usefulness and duty; was laborious beyond example; and was wholly consecrated to the glory of God, and the good of mankind. In conformity to this great purpose, he spent all the former part of his life in an illustrious discharge of the duties of filial piety: In his public ministry, he taught, with unceasing diligence, the Law of God; the ruin of man by his disobedience ; and the tidings of his recovery by his own Mediation. The

way of life he marked out with an unerring hand : the means of life he disclosed with a benevolent voice. The duties, to which man is summoned, he exemplified in his own perfect conduct. The hopes, which man was invited to cherish, he portrayed in colours of light. The door of heaven, shut before to this Apostate world, he unbarred with his own power; and love invited labouring and heavy laden sinners to enter in, and find rest. Wandering prodigals, perishing with want and nakedness, and lost to the universe of God, he sought, and found, and brought home to his Father's house rejoicing. Wretches, dead in trespasses and sins, he raised to spiritual and immortal life. This vast earthly catacomb he entered; and summoned together by his voice the bones of the immense congregation in its gloomy recesses, bone to his bone. The host of skeletons he covered with flesh; and breathing upon them the breath of life, bade them stand upon their feet, as an exceeding great army for multitude.

To accomplish this Divine purpose, he underwent every humiliation, and every suffering. He was born in a stable, and cradled in a manger. The greatest part of his life he spent in the humble and la

. borious business of a mechanic ; and literally earned his bread with the sweat of his brow. Poor beyond the common lot of poverty, he had not, while ministering immortal blessings to a world, a place where to lay his head. For all the suffering he wrought miraculous works of beneficence; but the power, with which they were wrought, ready at the call of others, was rarely exerted for himself. At the same time, he was hated, and persecuted day by day, Wickedness employed all its hostility against him; its pride and cunning; its malice and wrath ; calumniated his name, invaded his peace, and hunted his life. By his friends he was betrayed and forsaken. By his enemies he was accused of drunkenness and gluttony, of impiety and blasphemy, of being the friend of sinners,

a

and the coadjutor of Satan. From the agonies of Gethsemane he was conveyed successively to the iniquitous tribunal of the Sanhedrim ; to the bloody hall of Pilate; to the cross; and to the tomb. At the close of a life, spent in bitterness and sorrow, he consummated all his sufferings, by undergoing that last and greatest of all evils, the wrath of God, poured out upon him as the substitute for sinners.

All these things he foresaw, when he brought these tidings to mankind. They were always before him; and were indispensable parts of that Mediation, which he voluntarily assumed. They were undergone, therefore, in a continual anticipation. Every day he was literally, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. In the full view of them all, he came to this world, to proclaim peace and salvation to those, who despised, rejected, and persecuted him ; who nailed him to the cross, and compelled him to

h the grave. To these very men he announced all good; himself; his favour; his kingdom ; his house; his presence; his everlasting joy. Think what tidings these are. Think to whom they are

. published.

Thus from a summary view of this subject, Christ, in publishing these tidings to mankind, appears invested with supreme amiableness and beauty. No attribute, which forms, no action which becomes, the perfect character, is wanting in him. With all things in his hands; with all excellence and enjoyment in his mind; he pitied us, miserable worms of the dust ; descended from heaven, became man; lived, and died, and rose again; that we might live for ever. With his own voice he proclaimed, in the tidings of the text, the very things, which he has done, and suffered, and the intnite blessings, which in this manner he has purchased for mankind. “ There is now," he cries, "glory to God in the highest, while there is peace on earth, and good-will towards men. In this ruined word. so long enveloped in darkness, so long deformed by sin, so lore wasted by misery; where guilt, and sorrow, and suffering, have spread distress without control, and mourning without hope: wher war and oppression have ravaged without, and remorse and des pair consumed within; where Satan has exalted his throne abuia the stars of God, while its sottish millions have bent before him in religious worship; in this ruined world, where, since the Apostacy, real good was never found, and where tidings of such good were never proclaimed; even here, I announce the tidings of expiated sin; a pardoning God; a renewing Spirit; an opening heaven; and a dawning immortality. Here peace anew shall lift her olive branch over mankind. Here salvation from sin and wo shall anew be found : and here God shall dwell, and reign, the God of Zion. Come unto

те, ye

that labour, and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest. Incline your ear, and hear, and your soul shail live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. The Spirit of Jehovah is upon me, because Vol. II.

38

[ocr errors]

all

[ocr errors]

he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meck; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. ] will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my

God; for he hath clothed me with garments of salvation; he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness; as a Bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments ; as a Bride adorneth herself with jewels.

Every Messenger of good news is, of course, desirable and lovely in the eyes of those, who are deeply interested; and a part of that lustre, belonging to the tidings themselves, is by a natural association diffused around him, by whom they are borne: especially because he is regarded as voluntarily announcing good to us, and as rejoicing in our joy. How glorious, how lovely, then, does Christ appear, when coming with all the inherent splendour and beauty of his character, and the transcendent dignity of his station, to proclaim to us tidings infinitely desirable, of good intinitely necessary and infinitely great! Men to him were wholly unnecessary. Had all their millions been blotted out of the kingdom of God; they would not even have left a blank in the creation. With a word he could have formed, of the stones of the street, other millions, wiser, better, and happier ; more dutiful, and more desirable. How divinely amiable does he appear, when the tidings, which he brings, are tidings of bis own arduous labours on our behalf, and of his own unexampled sufferings : labours and sufferings, without which good tidings could never have reached us, and real good never been found in this miserable world! How divinely amiable does he appear, when, notwithstanding the apostacy and guilt of the race of Adam, he came, of his own accord, to publish these tidings of immortal good to rebels and enemies; and while proclaiming them, rejoiced in the habitable parts of the earlh, and found his delights with the sons of men !

What, then, must be the guilt, what the debasement, of those, who are regardless of the glorious declarations, hostile to the benevolent designs, and insensible to the perfect character, of this Divine herald! How blind, and deaf, and stupid, must they be to all that is beautiful, engaging, and lovely! How grovelling must be their moral taste! How wonderful their neglect of their own well-being! How evidently is their ingratitude as the sin of witch. craft, and their stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry! Were these tidings to be proclaimed in hell itself; one can scarcely fail to imagine, that all the malice, impiety, and blasphemy, in that dreary world, would be suspended; that fiends would cease to conflict with fiends; that sorrow would dry the stream of never-ending tears; that remorse would reverse, and blunt, his stings; that Despair would lift up his pale front with a commencing smile; that the prisoners of wrath, (then prisoners of hope) would shake their chains with transport; and that all the gloomy caverns would echo to the sounds of gratitude and joy. In our own world, once equally

« ForrigeFortsæt »