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1. It (his incarnation) affords the brightest discovery of the Divine perfections,
[The angels had doubtless seen much of the Divine glory before: they had seen God's wisdom, power, and goodness in the creation and government of the world. But they never before had such a view of his condescension and grace as when they beheld him lying in the manger, a helpless babe. Now also the design of God to glorify all his perfections in the work of redemption was more clearly unfolded. Hence the whole multitude of the heavenly choir began to sing, “ Glory to God in the highest.” And if their hosannas increased with their discoveries of the Divine glory, should not ours also ? Have not we also abundant reason to magnify our incarnate God; and to exalt our thoughts of him in proportion as he has debased himself for our sakes?]
2. It opens a way for our reconciliation with God
[Men were indeed accepted of God before Christ's advent in the flesh; but it was through him who was to come, as we are accepted through him who has come. But when Christ was manifested in the flesh, his mediatorial work commenced; and that course of sufferings and obedience, which is the meritorious ground of our acceptance, was begun. It may be said, that, though we are bound on this account to adore him, the angels feel no interest in it. But can we suppose that those benevolent spirits, who minister to the heirs of salvation, and bear them on their wings to the realms of glory, feel no delight in our happiness? Doubtless they do; and are themselves made happier by their sympathy with us. If they rejoice over one sinner that repenteth, they also have reason to adore the Saviour for opening both to us and them such an inexhaustible fountain of blessedness and joy.] 3. It reunites men and angels under one Head
[Christ was the Creator and sovereign Lord both of men and angels'; but man, by casting off his allegiance to his Lord, lost also his connexion with angels. Jesus however, by becoming man, gathers together againm both men and angels under himself as their common head: yea, he comes, as it were, to the very gates of hell, that he may take from thence sinners of the human race to fill the thrones once vacated by the apostate angels. It is by no means improbable that the very same humiliation of Jesus that exalts men to glory, is the source of establishment to the angels that retained their
I Col. i. 16.
η 'Ανα-κεφαλαιώσασθαι. Εph. 1. 10.
innocence. At all events, the restoration of their Lord to the honour of which man by transgression had deprived him, and their communion with man in the benefits conferred upon him, cannot fail of exciting in their breasts the liveliest emotions of gratitude. Indeed, we see that this is no fanciful idea, since it is realized in heaven, where saints and angels join in one general chorus, ascribing “salvation to God and to the Lamb."] TO ENFORCE then the injunction we have been con
sidering, we would say, 1. Welcome him
(Let not his advent be regarded with indifference; but welcome him with acclamations and hosannas. The captious indeed condemn
you; but if you neglect to honour him thus, the very stones will cry out against you.] 2. Submit to him
(Jesus comes, not merely to save mankind, but to set up his kingdom in the world. Let your hearts then, yea, “the very thoughts of your hearts, be brought into a willing captivity to him.”
** Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perishp:” and present your offerings before him in token of your allegiance to him, and your unreserved subjection to his will) 3. Depend upon him
[He is that nail in a sure place on which are to be hanged all the vessels of his Father's house". Trust then on him; and let his vicarious sufferings and obedience be the stay and support of your souls. 4. Glory in him
[Since he is the boast of all in heaven, let him be the boast of all on earth. Let the frame of your hearts be joyous, exulting, and triumphant". Thus from worshipping him here below, you shall be brought to worship him for evermore in heaven above.]
n Rev. v. 9, 13.
o Luke xix. 38–40.
p Ps. ii. 12.
EXCELLENCY OF CHRIST'S PERSON AND GOVERNMENT. Heb. i. 8. Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for
ever and ever : a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
IN the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apostle's main object is to shew, that the Jewish ritual was completely fulfilled in Christ, and was therefore superseded by the Christian dispensation. But before he comes to the argumentative part, wherein this subject is regularly discussed, he shews how great and glorious a person Christ was : for, as the Jews had a high regard for Moses, and as they had received their law from God, it was necessary that they should be informed who Christ was; that he was greater than Moses, yea, than the very angels in heaven; and that therefore he had full authority to introduce the religion which was now established amongst his followers, and which the Jews were everywhere called upon to embrace. This, however, he takes care to ground upon their own Scriptures. He speaks of nothing as now, for the first time, revealed to himself; but appeals to the writings of their own prophets, in proof of every thing that he asserts.
The Psalm from whence the text is cited, relates chiefly to the Messiah. Whatever relation it may have to Solomon, it confessedly cannot be altogether applied to him. The ancient Jews understood it as speaking of the Messiah : and of the propriety of applying it to him, there can be no doubt. The words before us are addressed by the Father to the Messiah : and they lead us distinctly to notice two things; namely, I. The dignity of his person
Many there are, both Jews and Christians, who deny that the Divinity of Christ is here asserted
[Jews have said, that the word Elohim is applied in Scripture to creatures, and therefore cannot be justly interpreted as importing the proper Deity of the person to whom it is addressed. But to this it may be observed, that though the word Elohim is applied to magistrates officially, as representatives of the Deity, it is no where applied to any individual but to Jehovah himself; and that to apply it to any individual besides Jehovah would be blasphemy.
But Christians also have attempted to invalidate the testimony of the Apostle, as the Jews have of the prophet; and for that purpose would translate the words thus ; "God is thy throne for ever and ever.” But this is to force the words from their plain and obvious meaning: nor will it answer the end which they would endeavour to attain: for the very next quotation from the Psalms asserts the divinity of Christ, as clearly as the text itself does; speaking of him as the Creator of all things, and as continuing immutably " the same” for ever and evera : and just before the text, another passage is cited from the Psalms to the same purpose, saying, “ Let all the angels of God worship him b." We may safely therefore affirin, that the Messiah (who is here called “ the Son,") is addressed as truly and properly “God.”]
But the doctrine of his proper Deity, whilst it is asserted here, pervades also the whole Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament
[The very name Emmanuel was assigned him on this account, because he was “ God with us.” Yes, verily, he is “ Jehovah's fellowc:" even“ the mighty God 4;" “ Jehovah our righteousness.” Nor does the New Testament leave this in doubt: for it asserts him to be “ God manifest in the flesh"," even “the great God and our Saviour 5,” “God over all, blessed for everh."] And this doctrine lies at the root of all our hopes-
[The whole scope of this epistle is to shew, that what the blood of bulls and goats could not do, the blood of Christ, as shed upon the cross, has effected; namely, that it has made a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. But is it the blood of a mere creature that could effect this? If Christ be a mere creature, what force is there in that argument of the Apostle, “ If the blood of bulls, &c. sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, &c. purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living Godi?" What sense would there be in this, “ If the blood of one creature could effect the smallest thing, how much more
a ver. 10-12.
e Jer. xxiii, 6. h Rom. ix. 5.
c Zech. xiii. 7.
shall the blood of another creature effect the greatest?" But if Christ be God as well as man, then is the argument clear, and worthy of an inspired Apostle. In a word, if Christ be not God, he cannot be the Saviour revealed in the Old Testament: for of him it is expressly said, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth : for I am God, and there is none else. There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour : there is none beside mek."]
But it is not so much of the essential, as of the mediatorial, dignity of Christ that the text speaks : for it immediately proceeds to mark, II. The excellency of his kingdom
Earthly kingdoms are but of a limited duration : and, from the imperfection of all human institutions, there must of necessity be something in them of partiality and of comparative oppression. But Christ's kingdom is perfect in every respect: it is, 1. In its duration perpetual
[The four great monarchies all found a termination of their powerl: but the kingdom which Christ has established, shall endure for ever m. True it is, that the present mode of administering it will cease, when there are no more subjects to be governed, or enemies to be subdued. When the final judgment is passed, the enemies of the Messiah's kingdom will all be shut up in the prison prepared for their reception; and his subjects be exalted to those regions, where their every want will be supplied. “ Then the Son will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be all in alla." Still, however, the kingdom itself will remain : and Christ, as its glorious Head, be acknowledged by all his subjects, as the one source of their happiness, the one author of their salvation] 2. In its administration just
[“ His sceptre is a sceptre of righteousness." Every law that proceeds from him is "holy, and just, and good.” Nothing of imperfection is found in any one of them: they are alike incapable of diminution or addition. If any one law appears too strict, it is only through our own ignorance and love of sin. To the renewed soul, not one of his commandments is grievous: the only thing that is grievous to it is, that it is not
k Isai. xlv. 21, 22.
i Dan. ii. 37-41.