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Jesus offered himself to be baptized. Then, being miraculously informed of the Saviour's presence," he saw and bare record, that this was the Son of God”" the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” And this he continued to do, till a prison ended his testimony.-The Lord foretells,
II. THE TIME OF HIS COMING. The period at which He would come to his temple,” was to follow “ suddenly”-that is, immediately after the preparation of his way by the “ messenger.” No long preparation was to take place : no interval would come between the herald and his Lord : the silence of the one would be suddenly followed by the public ministry of the other.
And how remarkably did the facts agree with this prediction ! " When Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee :"-for what purpose ? To hide himself ? No; but to make it the habitual scene of his public labours. For St. Matthew adds, very pointedly—“ From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;"! instantly taking up, you observe, the same topic of instruction, which the lips of his messenger had just ceased to utter. So exactly was the precise time of his appearance foretold.-But observe,
III. THE DIGNITY OF HIS COMING.
Who is this great Personage, before whom John is to prepare
the way? It is the very Being who engages to send John for that
purpose ; “ I will send”. “ he shall prepare the way before Me.” Can it be any mere man, who uses such authoritative words? 1 John i. 19–34.
2 Matt. iv. 12. 17.
No-it is Jehovah himself; it is “ the Lord of hosts.”_Such then was the Messiah to be : and such, without all controversy, Jesus of Nazareth was“ the Son of the Highest "l_the Creator of that world, of which he was now to be the Redeemer. He“ thought it no robbery to be equal with God; ”s yea, he “ is over all, God blessed for ever.4
In order to prevent any doubt on this head, it is added - The Lord shall come to his temple ; manifestly alluding to the temple at Jerusalem. And who, I pray, was the Lord of that temple ? Who, but “ the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?” If, then, this be a prophecy of the coming of Christ to the temple at Jerusalem, the conclusion is undeniable, that Christ is the Lord of the temple ; and, if so, that he is “ the God of Israel.” And indeed, his own behaviour in that sacred place declared no less. Having “ found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves . . he drove them all out,” and said, “ Take these things hence ; make not my Father's house an house of merchandize.” 5
It was one of the first acts of his public life.- But you may object that he calls it his “ Father's house," not his
True-he did not choose at first to offend the Jews, by being more explicit than was needful at that time. But he repeated this act near the end of his ministry; and see the language which he then used, when there was no longer any occasion for reserve. After a solemn procession down Mount Olivet - after passing amid acclamations all through the city to this same temple --after once more casting out the buyers and sellers ; with what dignity does the Incarnate God pronounce-" My house is the house of prayer, but ye
have made it a den of thieves !” 6
3 Phil. ii. 6.
Thus did this “ son of a carpenter”_this poor houseless Galilean-this despised Jesus—“ manifest forth his glory;” and, while “ his disciples believed on him,” his enemies were stricken with awe, as before the visible Lord of the temple.
Again, this prophecy discloses
IV. THE SPECIAL BUSINESS OF HIS COMING. This is intimated in the other name here given to him—“ the Messenger of the covenant."
It may be thought strange, that he who is first described as the Lord of hosts, and Lord of the temple, should now be spoken of as a “ Messenger :" for, unquestionably, greater is he that sendeth, than he that is sent—but who then is greater than God ? To Christian minds, however, this will be no insurmountable difficulty. • Equal with the Father as touching his Godhead,' Christ is at the same time · inferior to the Father as touching his manhood.'1 He voluntarily “ took upon himself this form of a servant, ,"? 2 in order that he might become the Messenger of heaven to a lost world. And what was his message? He came to reveal, and to fulfil his own part in, a gracious covenant, formed « before the world began,” s between the Father and himself-a covenant of redemption for guilty sinners. The Son's part in that covenant, was, to be “ made flesh to bring glad tidings of joy” to the penitent believer—and then, as High Priest between God and man, to offer up the atoning sacrifice. This was his commission, as the Messenger of the "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure. And who will hesitate to say, that it was amply fulfilled by
1 Athanasian Creed.
2 Phil. ii. 7.
2 Tim. i.9.
2 Sam, xxiii. 5.
Jesus of Nazareth ? Yes; he “ came and preached peace”-he died to secure it-and even to this hour, in his name, and by his express command,“ to you is the word of this salvation sent.”—The prophecy declares, lastly,
V. The CERTAINTY OF HIS COMING. The unbelieving Jews doubted it : even the faithful were despondent: the prediction is therefore attested by a most solemn assurance Behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts."
And he did come, my Christian brethren! We are about to repeat our commemoration of that blessed event. We need no further argument, to prove that this is “ he that should come,” and that we must not o look for another.” To us then, you may say,
the prophecy is a dead letter. No, brethren ; it is we alone who enjoy the full benefit of it. It tells of the faithfulness of a covenant God. It
remind us, moreover, of another "
Coming of the Lord," which is no less certain-yea, it is near,
even at the door.” How are you looking forward to Christ's glorious advent ?
Are you really doing, what these Jews hypocritically pretended to do—“ delighting” in him ? “ seeking him ?" If not, tremble !
behold, he cometh with clouds ; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him ; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." But are you of the number of those, “ who love his appearing ? Then fear not ! When he comes,
your redemption draweth nigh.” When he comes, it will be that he may make you a pillar in his heavenly temple-and
go no more out."* * See Bp. Horsley's four Sermons on this prophecy.
1 John iii. 8.– For this purpose the Son of God was
manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
“ BLESSED be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people !” 1 He had indeed once visited them, amid the thunders of Mount Sinai : he had redeemed them from Egypt, and afterwards from Babylon : but he had taught them to expect greater things than these. At length, “ He came who was to come, and no longer tarried.” Six months before his own birth, he sent into the world his promised harbinger ; who had no sooner been admitted into the church by circumcision, than his father set the tune, as it were, for the songs of praise to be thenceforth sung by the faithful, in the words with which I opened this discourse-“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people.”
This hymn of thanksgiving we are once more called upon to sing, by the return of Christmas : that you may be enabled to sing it“ with the Spirit, and with the understanding also,"3 I have chosen a text which will direct your attention to
I. THE FACT THAT THE SON OF GOD WAS MANIFESTED.
“ The Son of God!" Can you form any adequate idea of what is meant by that glorious title ? Not a
1 Luke i. 68. 2 Hebrews x. 37. 3 1 Cor. xiv, 15.