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the plan of redemption? Shall I reject as the innocent festivity of a marriage solemuntrue or absurd whatever I do not clearly nity, to Bethany to witness the endearments understand or am unable perfectly to ex- of private friendship, to Gethsemane to symplain? The consciousness which I have of pathize with the agonizing mourner, to my own being must be renounced then scenes such as daily occur in human life; among the first, and every thing within and but we are never left long to consider a around us must be reduced to darkness, doubt, mere man in situations and employments and uncertainty.
like our own, a man of like passions with Blessed Jesus, we cannot declare thy ge- ourselves; the glory of the Lord arises, the neration, and would not be wise above what Son of God stands confessed, a generation is written, but we adore in silent wonder, not to be declared, a power that nothing can we rejoice that “the Word was made flesh resist, at which devils tremble, which winds and dwelt among us,” and that men “ be- and seas obey, to which death and the grave held his glory, the glory as of the only begot- are subservient. He speaks as never man ten of the Father, full of grace and truth." | spake, legions of angels are continually on We rejoice that what we know not now we the wing to minister unto him.—Prophecy shall know hereafter. Suffice it now that and history represent him in the self-same "we see Jesus who was made a little lower lights, in alternate humiliation, and majesty, than the angels, for the suffering of death obscurity, and splendour. What a contrast crowned with glory and honour, that he by does the description of our prophet present ? the grace of God should taste death for For unto us a child is born, unto us a son every man:" that “ it became him, for whom is given, and the government shall be upon are all things, and by whom are all things in his shoulder; and his name shall be called bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, Captain of their salvation perfect through The everlasting Father, The Prince of sufferings.” We can form no conception of Peace. Of the increase of his government a state pre-existent to this frame of nature, and peace there shall be no end, upon the for imagination itself must draw its ideas throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to from reality; and to give scope to a faculty order it, and to establish it with judgment and so fantastical, in treating a subject of such with justice, from henceforth even for ever. high moment, were presumptuous and pro- The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform fane. Let us reply then to the prophet's this.” The progress of his history, in every challenge, with the modesty and humility particular stage of it, will elucidate the becoming creatures so ignorant, so limited, same observation, and therefore it shall not and so imperfect. We presume not to ex- now be farther prosecuted. plore the records of eternity, to pry into the Again, this subject seems much calculated counsels of peace, to measure the infinite to correct the prejudices which prevail Jehovah, his nature, his decrees, his opera- among men in the matter of pedigree. There tions, by the contracted line of our finite un- is in reality no such thing as mean and high derstanding; but, taking Scripture for our birth; or if there be a distinction, to be born instructer and guide, we will with reverence perfect in every limb and feature, with a and joy contemplate the manifestation of the sound and vigorous constitution, with a mind Son of God in the likeness of man, the mys- complete in all its faculties, this is to be tery of the incarnation, his generation as nobly born; as, on the contrary, to come into one of our brethren. In the next Lecture, the world diseased and debilitated, with a therefore, if God permit, we will endeavour constitution undermined and destroyed by to lead your attention to some of the remark- the vice of parents, is to have the disadvanable circumstances which immediately pre- tage of being meanly born; a distinction ceded the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus which, if founded in reason, truth, and jusChrist, and which give celebrity and noto- tice, leaves the great, in general, little to riety to that illustrious event, and mark the glory in, and the poor little at which to reinterest which eternal Providence took in it, pine. Have we not all one father? What and the importance thereby stamped upon it genealogy is pure from every stain of infirmto every serious and reflecting mind. ity, folly, or vice? Is it any diminution of
We conclude at present, with suggesting, our Saviour's dignity, any impeachment of from what has been said, and from every his perfect purity, or any imputation on his view which is given us in Scripture of the great public character, that in the roll of his person of the Saviour, that there is spread ancestry after the flesh, we find the name of around it at once an effulgence that dazzles Rahab the harlot, and of her who had been and repels, and a mildness and simplicity the wife of Uriah, and that he was brought which composes and attracts. Is he spoken up under the roof, perhaps to the occupation, of as a man, we are sent to Bethlehem to of an obscure craftsman? Virtue and vice behold a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, are personal not hereditary, and nothing but to Nazareth to converse with the carpenter's vice is a just ground of shame. Shall I caļl son, to Cana of Galilee to join with him in myself a disciple of Jesus then, and think it
a reproach to be called a carpenter's son, that he is making you by redemption, by the despised because I am a Galilean, lightly spirit of adoption, by the hope of glory to be esteemed because my parents were poor and revealed. Support the honour of your bea. ignoble, because a paltry monosyllable intro- venly Father's name, prove your relation, duces not my name? Real worth ennobles preserve unclouded your prospects. You itself independent of the breath of kings, it are now in a state of depression, “ in hea. draws obscure progenitors into light, and viness through manifold templations,” your leaves a fair and honourable inheritance to title lies dormant, your possession is at a dis posterity—in a bright example, and a re- tance, but “your life is hid with Christ in spectable name.
God, and when he shall appear, you shall Once more, whatever may be our preten- appear with him in glory. Beloved, now are sions or our want of pretension as citizens of we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear this world, we have all equal right and what we shall be, but when He shall apencouragement to aspire after the title, and pear we shall be like him, for we shall see the spirit, and the privileges of the sons of him as he is.” “ Fear not," then, "liule God.' He whose generation cannot be de-flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure clared, is not ashamed to call the humblest to give you the kingdom.”
6 Ye are a of you, brethren. The end of his coming chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an into the world, of his humbling himself to holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye death, of shedding his blood, was to make should show forth the praises of him who you kings and priests unto God and his hath called you out of darkness into his marFather.” What he is by eternal generation, vellous light.”
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
For thus saith the Lord of hosts. Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth,
and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: an I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts : And in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.-Haggai Ü6–9.
The great Lord of Nature demonstrates the stars withdraw their light; the barrier his existence and divine perfection, in the which restrained the ocean is removed, the original formation, and in the constant pre-windows of heaven are opened, and the earth servation of all things. “He spake and it is overflowed. The rain that falls on Sadom was done, he commanded and it stood fast.” becomes a fiery tide; the flame of NebuHe upholdeth all “ by the word of his power." chadnezzar's fiery furnace is rendered harmiThe continual support of the universe has less air; the hungry lion licks the prophet's accordingly, with the utmost propriecy, been feet. The glaring eccentric comet, the wanrepresented as creation every instant repeat-dering planet, and the fixed star, all, all refer ed. In a system which is all life and motion, us to one original, to one moving, restraining, power almighty, and attention unintermitting, directing, supporting cause. must ever be exerted to maintain life, to car- Neither, however, the regular observance, ry on motion, to preserve harmony. Every be- ror the occasional suspension of the laws of ing is subjected to the peculiar law of its own nature are mere wanton displays of power, nature; and the great whole is governed by to amuse the curious, to alarm the fearful, or general laws. Unity, simplicity, multitude, to confound the proud. Every word that provariety, strike the eye of every attentive be- ceedeth out of the mouth of God, and every holder; every individual presents a little act of omnipotence have an important meanworld apart, and the vast combination of in- | ing and design. The end at which the Rodividuals forms but one world, animated by ler of the world still aims, is the manifestaone vital principle.
tion of his own glory in promoting the wis. But Jehovah makes himself known to his dom and happiness of his creatures. intelligent creatures not only in the stated The prophet, in the passage of the sacred order and harmony of his works, but in the volume which has now been read, is evidentoccasional and temporary interruption of ly referring to some signal display of the dithat order, and in deviation from that harmo- vine glory. We behold universal commotion ny.. The powers of earth and heaven are raised and settled by the same power; heashaken; the sun is turned into darkness and / ven and earth, the sea and the dry land,
and all the kindreds of the nations shaken, burnt-offering." But when “sacrifice and oftogether. Universal attention is excited, fering thou didst not desire, when burnt-offeruniversal expectation is raised, and that ex- ing and sin-offering were not required, then pectation is completely gratified, by the ap- said I, Lo, I come, I delight to do thy will, pearance of the desire of all nations;" by O my God.” This, Christians, like the star the restoration of peace to a troubled world; which conducted the wise men of the East, by a lustre bestowed on the second temple leads us directly to the Saviour of the world. which should eclipse the glory of the first. Would you behold the superior glory of the Now, the expression, " the glory of this lat- latter temple, look to Simeon visiting it, lookter house shall be greater than the former, ing and longing for the consolation of Israel: saith' the Lord of hosts," enables us to fix behold him with the babe in his arms, exultthe period, and to discover the person here ing with joy unspeakable and full of glory, described. Haggai lived and prophesied af- in having seen the salvation of God. Look ter the Babylonish captivity, and the imme- to Jesus at the age of twelve years “sitting diate object of his prophecy was to urge his in the temple in the midst of the doctors, restored countrymen to industry and perse- both hearing them and asking them quesverance, in the work of rebužiding the tem- tions," displaying at that tender age, a wisple of the Lord. And as the most powerful dom and dignity far superior to that of Soloand encouraging of all motives he is commis- mon in his zenith. Look to that same Jesus, sioned to assure them, that the period fast ap- in his zea! the honour of the sacred ediproached when the fabric which they were fice, purging it of those impurities which a then rearing should be invested with much worldly spirit had introduced into it. Listen greater honour, than that of Solomon in all to the divine eloquence which there flowed his glory ever possessed. But if this were from the lips of him who spake as never man meant of temporal splendour merely, the fact spake. Hear him predicting its destruction, contradicts it; for from Ezra we learn, that and establishing the truth of his own mission in this respect, the former temple was far in denouncing against it, and devoting it to superior to the latter; “ many of the priests total and irrecoverable ruin. Behold him on and levites, and chief of the fathers who those ruins, rearing an everlasting and a were ancient men that had seen the first spiritual building, on a rock against which house, when the foundation of this house the gateş of hell shall never prevail; and in was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud all this, behold as in a glass the glory here voice;" so mortifying was the comparison. spoken of, the advent of “the desire of all Our prophet himself holds the same lan- nations," the “ star of Jacob" arisen, Shiloh guage, eh. ii. 3. “Who is left among you come, to whom the gathering of the nations that saw this house in her first glory? and shall be, “the Prince of Peace,” by whom how do you see it now? is it not in your eyes peace is proclaimed, and through whom in comparison of it as nothing ?" We must peace is given to " him that is afar off and look therefore for a different kind of glory, him that is nigh.” to explain and confirm the prediction : and it In order still farther to justify the applicais impossible to be at a loss about an inter- tion of this prophecy to the person and chapretation, when we consider wherein the real racter of the Redeemer, we may inquire into glory of the second temple consisted. Not the import of the other expressions here emin being filled, and overlaid with silver and ployed, to describe the appearances of nature gold, for these are spoken of as comparatively and providence, which signalized the era of vile and contemptible. “The silver is mine, his manifestation in the flesh. “ Yet once, it and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts," is a little while.” The reign of prophecy was a claim exactly in the same spirit with that hastening to a conclusion. Haggai was one made in the fiftieth Psalm. “Hear, O my of the last on whom that spirit rested; with people, and I will speak: 0 Israel, and I will Malachi, who lived probably somewhat later, testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. it entirely ceased; and a dark period of I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or five hundred years without a vision, interthy burnt-offerings, to have been continually vened, till it was revived in one who came in before me. I will take no bullock out of thy the spirit and power of Elias, the forerunner house, nor he-goats out of thy folds: for eve- of the Messiah, “ the voice crying in the wil. ry beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle derness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls make straight in the desert a highway for of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the our God,” Isaiah xl. 3, and it shone in all its field are mine. If I were hungry I would not lustre in the Messiah himself, “ the great tell thee: for the world is mine, and the ful- prophet that should come into the world.”. ness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, By him it is here intimated that God should or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God speak “ once" for all; that he should be the thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the full and final declarer of the will of God to Most High.” “ Lebanon is not sufficient to mankind; “ yet once,” but no more. burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a “ It is a little while.” With God, what is
purposed, is begun to be executed, his agents by degrees strengthening her wing, and preare already at work, time is lost with him paring to take her flight round half the globe. who sees the end from the beginning. “The The succession of those great monarchies, Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as those shakings of the heavens and the earth, some men count slackness;" " beloved, be this shaking of all nations, led gradually and not ignorant of this one thing, that one day imperceptibly to that happy conjuncture, that is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a fulness of time, that maturity of divine counsel thousand years as one day.” The interval which suited the introduction of Christianity. between the prediction and the accomplish- They arose one after another, they enlarged ment, though a period of five centuries, is, one upon another, till at length the genius in the sight of God, “a little while;" and of Rome, under the permission of Heaven, five centuries, when they are past, are but triumphed over and swallowed up all others, "a little while” in the eyes of man also. and expanded, opened, united, consolidated, But to what circumstances attending the that wide-extended, well-informed, civilized coming of our Saviour refers the prophet, empire, through which the gospel of Christ when he represents the great God as "shak- was destined to make a progress so rapid ing the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and so successful. To favour this great and the dry land, and all nations ?" It is well event, to procure attention to the Author known that the sacred writers frequently and finisher of our faith, and to render the employ, by a bold figure, the appearances of first appearance of our holy religion at once the natural world to represent and explain more august and more secure, the struggles moral objects. In the case before us, it will of ambition which had so long shaken the be found that both the literal and figurative world, those restless contests for superiority, sense of the words are strictly applicable to subsided at last, suddenly and unexpectedly, the subject. Every one, who is at all ac- into universal peace. That stormy ocean, quainted with the history of mankind, knows which had been for ages and generations in that the whole course of things has been a continual agitation, now all at once sunk constant and successive concussion and con- into a surprising calm; the bloody portal of vulsion, a shaking of the nations, struggle Janus, which had so long emitted unrelenting for dominion, the progress of empire from destruction to mankind, was shut, and the east to west; and an aspect of the heavenly globe was instantly overspread with tranbodies and influence, analogous to the state quillity, relieved from the din of arms, from of the moral world. The observer of nature the confused noise of the warrior, and the endeavours to trace all these up to their na- horrid sight of garments rolled in blood, in tive causes in the great system of the uni- order to receive the Prince of Peace. verse; the moralist looks for them in the The shaking of the nations, as paving the nature and constitution of man, and the poli- way for the desire of all nations, is striking tician, in the combinations and exertions of to the contemplative mind in another point passion and interest. The Believer, the of view. Philosophy rode triumphant, every Christian, refers all to God, sees him in the question relating to physics, morals, politics cloud, in the sky; hears him in the wind, in science, religion, was freely canvassed; and the thunder, in the songster of the grove: the noise of the schools in many instances and he sees the swelling tide of nature and drowned that of the ensanguined plain. The providence labouring with one object of pe introduction of Christianity was preceded by culiar importance; all things are shaken and a remarkable diffusion of knowledge and composed in subordination to the preparation the radiance of science ushered in the gospel of the gospel of peace.
day, as Aurora announces the approach of Let me compress what I mean to say with the sun, and prepares the world for it. Egypt, in a narrow compass; and I shall do it nearly Persia, Greece, and Rome, poured from their in the words of an elegant preacher whom I separate urns, those distinct rills of science, have oftener than once had the honour to which meeting in one great channel, became quote in this place. The eastern part of the a mighty flood, and overspread the vast Roworld was, in the wisdom of Providence, first man empire. And thus was revelation eng. peopled, great and extensive empires were bled to give a most illustrious proof of its first formed there, and there learning and coming down from above, by diffusing over the the arts were first brought to perfection. world, all at once, a light superior to all colBut while science and empire flourished in lected human wisdom in its brightest glory. the east, a power was rising by degrees in And need we ask who it was that thus shook the western world, which was one day to and settled the sea and the dry land, who re surpass all that had gone before it. Unknown gulated the vast engine, who conducted all to the proud empires of the eastern hemi- these great events, and brought them to me sphere, which vainly flattered themselves that issue, concurrence, and conclusion? At the they divided the world amongst them, this same period of time the promised Mesesh power was then silently advancing from con- came; the greatest empire that ever existed quest to conquest, and the Roman eagle was was at the height of its glory: Learning
flourished beyond what it had done in any markable circumstances wnich immediately former age: and the world was blessed with preceded, or which accompanied the birth of universal peace.
A coincidence of facts, Christ. every one of which is in itself so extraordi- And was all this mighty preparation made nary that it cannot be paralleled by any other to introduce a mere man of like passions with times, clearly points out the hand of that su- ourselves ? Were the heavens from above preme, overruling Power, who from eternity and the earth beneath stirred to meet him at beheld the great plan of his providence his coming ? Did flaming ministers descend through its whole extent, who alone can singly and in bands, did departed prophets declare the end from the beginning and from revisit the earth, and the dead bodies of saints ancient times the things which are not yet arise to do homage to a creature, their equal, done,” saying, “ My counsel shall stand, and their fellow ? It is not to be believed. But I will do all my pleasure."
surely this is the Son of God; and to receive To put this beyond all doubt, let it be ob- him, coming for our salvation, what solemnity served, that these events took their rise in of preparation was too great, what homage remotest ages, and were prepared in times of angels and men too submissive, what testiand countries far distant from and unknown mony of created Nature too ample? “Hoto each other. Empire which sprang up sanna to the son of David, blessed is he who amidst the seven hills of Rome; science cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in nursed in the academic groves of Greece; the highest." and religion from the obscure vales of Judea, Is his name and description “the desire of all met at one grand crisis. To one another all nations ?” how fitly applied ! Is light deunknown, they must have been conducted by sirable to the benighted, bewildered traveller the hand of Providence. But meet they did, in a land of snares and of the shadow of and peace from heaven crowned them with death? Is pardon desirable to a wretch conher olive. And thus were the nations shaken, demned? Is the cooling stream desirable to to prepare the way of the Lord; thus “ the the parched pilgrim, and bread to the hungry valleys were exalted, and the mountains and perishing wretch ? Is the friendly haven hills laid low, the crooked made straight, and desirable to the tempest-tossed mariner, and the rough places plain,” and the high and liberty to the languishing captive? What aspiring thoughts of men were brought into then to an ignorant, guilty, perishing world, captivity to the obedience of Christ. must that wonderful man be whom Provi.
But the heavens and the earth were literal- dence has raised up to be “a hiding place ly shaken, at the coming of "the desire of from the wind, and a covert from the temall nations." Witness that new created star pest; as rivers of water in a dry place; which conducted the eastern Magi to the as the shadow of a great rock in a weary place where the Saviour was born ; witness land." the descent of Gabriel and a multitude of But what if when he shall appear, desirthe heavenly host, to announce his arrival ; able as he is, a blind world shall see “no and witness the other appearances of celestial form or comeliness in him, no beauty why he spirits to minister to the Lord of Glory in his should be desired ?" Afflicting thought! temptation and agony, at his resurrection and “ He was despised and rejected of men!" ascension into heaven; witness the descent "He came to his own and his own received of Moses and Elias to the mount of transfigu- him not." They "denied the holy one, and ration; witness too the eclipse of the sun the just, and desired a murderer to be grantbeyond the course of nature, which marked ed unto them.". The cry was, “ away with the hour of his death, the quaking of the him, crucify him;" his blood be upon us earth, the rending of the rocks, the rising of and upon our children!" O Lord, remove the dead: witness the voice from heaven the film from the eyes of those prejudiced which, like thunder, oftener than once, shook Jews; dispose them to receive “The Prince the echoing air, while God himself declared of Peace," let him be all their salvation and his well beloved Son, and demanded atten- all their desire. Lord, remove the film from tion for him. All these confirm the testi- my eyes that I may see in him, whom God mony of the prophet, they point it to the the Father hath sent and sealed, one " fairer Lord Jesus, and inspire joy unspeakable and than the children of men; into whose lips full of glory, on discovering the perfect coin- grace is poured :" that though he may be, cidence between prediction and event. To " unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto this auspicious, this all important era we are the Greeks foolishness, He may be unto us now brought; and the next Lecture, with who believe, Christ, the power of God, and the divine permission, will detail the re-l the wisdom of God." Amen.