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And this "light of men" is the gift of Him, death ;" on unbelieving Jews and the blindwho " has life in himself.” " He that plant- ed posterity of Ishmael? Alas! “darkness ed the ear, shall he not hear ? He that form- still covers the earth,” of lands denominated ed the eye, shall he not see? He that Christian, "and gross darkness the people" teachethman knowledge, shall not he who bear that venerable name. What griev. know?"
ous ignorance have we to deplore! what iinAnd the light shineth in darkness. Ma- pudent infidelity, what abounding iniquity, terial light necessarily dispels darkness ; what horrid profanation of the name, of the when the sun rises the shadows flee away. day, of the book of God! “Sun of rightBut mental darkness resists the clearest light. eousness, arise" on these sinful lands “ with The great source of intellectual day has healing in thy wings," " deliver us from the shined through every age and upon every power of darkness,” that we may be “ light land; but every age and every land have ex- in the Lord.” hibited men grovelling in the dark, wilfully The evangelist having displayed the glory shutting their eyes, and then denying the ex- of the WORD, as the source of all being, istence of light. The history of mankind is a whether material, animal, or intelligent, admelancholy demonstration of this, "and this is verts to the mission of John Baptist, his imthe condemnation, that light is come into the mediate forerunner, " the voice crying in the world, and men loved darkness rather than wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, light, because their deeds were evil, for make straight in the desert a highway for every one that doth evil hateth the light, our God;" the finger pointing to "the Lamb neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds of God which taketh away the sin of the should be reproved.” It is a corrupted heart world.” Paying all due honour to that that disturbs and misleads the intellect. “ If, burning and shining light” which came in therefore," O man, “the light that is in thee the spirit and power of Elias, he represents be darkness, how great is that darkness!” him as merely the harbinger of the Licht, the On whom does this censure fall? On the true Light, which lighteth every man that ruder nations, and the grosser periods of ig- cometh into the world. John Baptist came for norance and barbarism ? Yes, and likewise a witness, and he faithfully delivered his testion periods of illumination and refinement, on mony: "He that cometh after me is preferred nations who, in the pride of their heart, ap- before me: for he was before me—whose propriated all wisdom to themselves, and shoes' latchet I am not worthy to unloose: He stigmatized the rest of mankind with the must increa but I must decrease," as the name of Barbarian: it falls on the boasted morning star “hides his diminished head” ages of Alexander and of Augustus, on when the great orb of day appears. learned Athens and imperial Rome. Of “Through faith we understand that the them it is that the apostle Paul thus writes: worlds were framed by the Word of God," “When they knew God, they glorified him but "the world by wisdom knew not God.” not as God, neither were thankful, but be- He was in the world through the whole excame vain in their imaginations, and their tent of its duration, as the all-upholding foolish heart was darkened. Professing them- Word, the all-regulating power, but the men selves to be wise, they became fools: and of the world, even “ the wise and prudent” changed the glory of the uncorruptible God discerned him not, acknowledged him not, into an image made like to corruptible man,
lored him not. “The fulness of time" at and to birds and four-footed beasts, and creep- length came. The Scriptures were fulfilled: ing things. Who changed the truth of God the day which “ Abraham rejoiced to see" into a lie, and worshipped and served the began to dawn; the “Star out of Jacob" creature more than the Creator.” This ac- arose. Surely man will fall down and worcounts for that earnestness of exhortation ship him. They surely, at least, “ to whom employed by the same apostle in his epistle pertaineth the adoption and the glory, and to the Ephesians: “This I say, and testify the covenants, and the giving of the law, in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as and the service of God, and the promises, other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their whose are the fathers and of whom, as conmind, having the understanding darkened, cerning the flesh, Christ came," they surely, being alienated from the life of God, through will flock to “the brightness of his rising. the ignorance that is in them, because of the This is a reasonable expectation, but it was blindness of their heart: who, being past not realized. The melancholy fact is, He feeling, have given themselves over unto came unto his own, and his own received him lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with not, and the prediction is verified by the greediness.” Thus though the Light of event; “When we shall see him, there is the world shone, and still shineth, the dark- no beauty that we should desire him: He is ness comprehended it not. On whom does despised and rejected of men"—they " hid the censure fall? On pagans of ages past, their faces from him; he was despised, and and on pagans now
walking in darkness, they esteemed him not.”. and dwelling in the land of the shadow of This carries us forward, with our evange.
list, to the great, the eventful day when the of his divine excellence and perfection, but we Word was made flesh and dweli among us. may with him descend to the lowliest offices The Scripture term, flesh, it is well known of beneficence and condescension! we may means man, human nature, the human race. learn of him to overcome evil with good." Thus in describing the universality of hu On the other hand, to what height of eleman degeneracy it is said, “All flesh had vation may not the Christian aspire? Let corrupted their ways." Thus, in confidence not the idea of temporal elevation seduce you. of divine protection, the Psalmist exultingly Think not of "the kingdoms of this world and exclaims, " I will not fear what flesh can do the glory of them,” which perish with the unto me. And the Prophet, viewing the using. Christ's “ kingdom is not of this redemption of mankind as co-extensive with world." Let not the blind ambition of the mortality, while he declares that "all flesh sons of Zebedee suggest a dream of right and is grass,” triumphs in the thought that "all left hand places by the side of an earthly flesh should see the salvation of God.” To throne. Be it your study and ambition to these, innumerable instances might be ad- " have this mind in you which also was in duced to prove that the evangelist, when he Christ Jesus.” Let the avarice of theworldly says " the Word was made fiesh" means to mind accumulate bag upon bag, add house to convey this idea, that the WORD, all-creating, house, field to field, but let a nobler avarice all-vivifying, all-illuminating, assumed hu- excite you, the disciples of the blessed Jesus, manity, was in the world,” tabernacled to “add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, among men, emitted a sensible glory, “as knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; of the only begotten of the Father, full of and to temperance, paticnce; and to pagrace and truth.”
“ Verily he took not on tience, godliness; and to godliness brotherly him the nature of angels; but he took on kindness; and to brotherly kindness, chahim the seed of Abraham"_"as the chil-rity." These are the titles, the stars, and dren are partakers of flesh and blood, he also the ribands in the kingdom of heaven, himself likewise took part of the same” and “if these things be in you, and abound, " in all things it behoved him to be made like they make you that you shall neither be unto his brethren"_" for which cause he is barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of not ashamed to call them brethren." our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let the spirit of
And thus, men and brethren we perceive adventure and science discover unknown reone and the same animating principle calling gions and nations on the globe, and new worlds into existence, peopling them with planets in the firmament of heaven; be it angels and men, communicating intelligence, your concern, Christian, your study, your emexercising unbounded empire-and making ployment, to contemplate, through the glass himself of no reputation, in the form of a of promise, “new heavens and a new earth, servant, in the likeness of men, and being wherein dwelleth righteousness." Suffer the found in fashion as a man, humbling himself man of the world to enjoy his triumph ; suffer to a mean estate, to the suffering of reproach him to outstrip his rival, to run down his and contempt, becoming "obedient unto i enemy; be thine the more glorious triumph death, even the death of the cross.” To to promote a rival, to spare an adversary, as what meanness of condition ought not we knowing that “He who is slow to anger is his disciples, therefore, cheerfully to submit? better than the mighty; and he that ruleth “For our sakes he became poor," and sha his spirit, than he that taketh a city." we be ashamed of honest poverty? Did he Such, disciple of Jesus, be thy holy aspirago by the name of “the carpenter's son," tions, such thy pride and ambition; and may and dare a Christian ostentatiously to display such be thy blessed attainments even in time: the heraldry of his ancestors, or to blush at thought is lost in contemplating "the glory what the world calls low birth? “ He hath that is to follow." The beloved disciple not despised, nor abhorred the affliction of shall declare it, in the sublimity of his own the afflicted, nor hid his face from him when conception and expression, or rather in he cried,” and can one called by his name the idea and diction with which the Holy turn a deaf ear to the cry of distress, or hide Spirit supplied his pen: “Behold, what manhis face from a poor brother ? We cannot ner of love the Father hath bestowed upon like him say "Let there be light”—“Lazarus, us, that we should be called the sons of God! com; forth ;" we cannot like him walk on therefore the world knoweth us not, because water or silence the wind: we cannot like it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the nim give eyes to the blind, or speech to the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what dumb. But we may with him be “meek we shall be: but we know that, when he and lowly in heart," merciful and compas- shall appear, we shall be like him; for we sionate, forbearing and forgiving: we can shall see him as he is. And every man that go about doing good, and ministering to the hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even necessitous. We cannot attain to the height | as he is pure.”
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
Who shall declare his generation ?-ISAIAH liii. 8.
The history of countries generally com-, consider, that this is the very passage of Scrip mences with a geographical account of their ture to which Philip the evangelist was situation and extent; of the climate and soil; providentially directed, as a text for "preachof the names and the reason of imposing such ing Jesus,” to the Ethiopian eunuch. I shall names; of the era and the means of discovery; not employ any part of your time in detailing of the original inhabitants, and of other cir- the various opinions which have been entercumstances tending either to communicate tained respecting the meaning of the passage useful information or to gratify curiosity. in general, or the precise. import of the term The biographer, in like manner, in delinea- “ generation" in particular. The question ting the life of his prince, statesman, hero, or appears simply to be a bold defiance given to philosopher, usually begins with tracing his all-created wisdom to investigate, to unfold pedigree and parentage, and enables the the generations, the origin, the essence of reader to form some acquaintance with his that wonderful Person concerning whom such ancestors, in order to introduce the personage singular circumstances and events are prea himself with greater advantage and effect. dicted; it amounts to a strong and positive But both the general historian and the bio- affirmation, that it is impossible to declare grapher quickly lose themselves in research. Him as he is, to trace his existence through The origin of no nation or individual can be the successive periods of duration up to its traced up to its source. The light becomes commencement, as you may do that of a mere fainter and fainter as we proceed, the object man from the moment of his birth, or, through is rendered more obscure and uncertain, till a series of ancestors. What in this view is time at length spreads his sable mantle over the obvious doctrine of the text? That the it, and we behold it no more. Who then generation of Him who the Spirit of prophecy, shall declare his generation, who “was in and the corresponding history represent as an the beginning with God, by whom all things innocent, patient, vicarious sufferer, extends were made and without whom was not any beyond the sphere of created nature, eludes thing made that is made."
pursuit, spreads the glory of eternity around We are advancing, men and brethren, upon it, and conceals it from mortal eyes. It is holy ground, ground sacred as Eden's blissful worthy of remark, that the genealogy of our plains, as the region which surrounded the blessed Lord's humanity is more clear and disbush that burned with fire, as Sinai's awful tinct, and extended, than that of any other summit. Borne aloft on the pinions of the person. Two several evangelists have decelestial dove, we are aiming a 'bold, ad-clared it, pursuing it, through two different renturous flight into the heaven of heavens, but parallel channels, up to Abraham, and wexpatiate through the boundless regions of from him up to the common Father of the hueternity, to contemplate objects which“ an- man race. In this respect, therefore, "the gels desire to look into," to search into the Spirit himself helpeth our infirmity;" and he “great mystery of godliness,” to lose our- who by the mouth of Isaiah seems to forbid selves in seeking " to know the love of Christ and defy all inquiry, by the pen of Matthew which passeth knowledge.”
and Luke, makes a clear and full discovery, We are going to attempt a delineation of and enables us to trace the pedigree of Jesus the Life and History of Jesus Christ, the Sa- Christ, like that of any other man. It is the viour of Men. My heart fails at the thought peculiar privilege of the sacred volume to of the task which I have undertaken; my unfold the real history of human nature, of tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth. the globe, of the universe, to follow nature Spirit of Grace, establish thou my heart up to the hour of her birth, to declare “ the O thon my voice inspire,
generations of the heavens and of the earth Who touchd Isaiah's hallow'd lips with fire!" when they were created; in the day that the The question of the prophet which has Lord God made the earth and the heavens ;" now been read, and which suggested the idea to exhibit the first man Adam in the plastic that we mean to pursue through this Lecture, hands of the Creator springing out of the dust is interwoven with a variety of pointed and of the ground, and, inspired with the breath striking predictions which, whether taken of life, becoming “a living soul.” The same. separately or in their combination, can apply inspired volume represents to our attentiononly to one person; and who that person is, no one person, and one event, as of peculiar imdoubt can possibly be entertained, when we portance; as pervading, influencing, and
affecting the whole course of Nature and childhood; of a father's early care, and of a Providence; as contemporary with every mother's tenderness; of the amusements, the generation of men; as looked unto, and companions, the solicitudes, the sorrows and longed for by successive ages. In order joys of thy boyish days. But all beyond is a that the truth of God might be fully justified blank; to thee creation began a few years and have its complete ettect, the relation, in ago; the second or third, at most, of thy which this illustrious person stood to those own immediate progenitors, is blended with who had received the promises of his com- the men who lived beyond the flood. We ing, is distinctly ascertained and minutely are ignorant of and unknown to each other. described; so that at every period of the How much more so are the men of distant world we can say, lo He is here, and lo He nations and of times more remote ? But fais there. But the inspired volume likewise mily tradition, national record, the inspired represents him as before all and above all.- page can supply the want of personal knowIf therefore this book be a Revelation from ledge, can carry us back to departed foreHeaven, it must contain real and important fathers, and bring them down to us. But truth, and that truth clothed in plain, simple, what recollection, what tradition, what reand intelligible language; we must perceive, cord, can carry us beyond the birth of naof consequence, in the “man of sorrows and ture, can convey us to a state of existence acquainted with grief;" a person whose gene- previous to the lapse of time? Now the ration no one is able to declare, who is “be- person of whom the prophet speaks, as we fore all and by whom all things do consist :” saw in the preceding Lecture, is the WORD whom all the angels of God are commanded who spake all things into existence, who to worship, “ the heir of all things,” by whom built the world, who spread the flood, who set the worlds were made and are upheld, whose time a flowing, who “breathed into man's “ throne is for ever and ever:” 'in one word nostrils the breath of life." Who then of Christ Jesus, " who is over all, God blessed the sons of men, which of the angels of for ever.”
God shall declare the generation of Him You are well aware that the doctrine, who made them what they are, who placed which we wish to establish, is in the present them in their stations, who prescribed to day violently opposed; and while it is main-them bounds which they cannot pass ? The tained in this place, it may be perhaps in the slightest detail of nature, 0 man, presents a next street the subject of profane mirth, or mystery which thou canst not solve, a world of serious argumentation. Thinking as we which thou canst not comprehend unto perdo, we will not enter the lists of controver- fection. That seed cast into the ground sy. We will not employ your time, nor en cannot be "quickened except it die;" canst deavour to enlist your passions, by running thou declare the generation of this insect, todown one name, party, or opinion, and exalt- day a butterfly, yesterday a moth, the third ing another; but will simply and humbly, day a mere lifeless incrustation, and presumthough at the same time, firmly and unre- est thou to explain the great mystery of servedly, propose for your instruction and godliness, "God made manifest in the flesh;" improvement, what appears to be the mean- at so many different times, in such divers ing and object of Scripture; and, consider- manners made known unto the Fathers by ing the divinity of our Lord and Saviour the prophets; and in these last days unveiled Jesus Christ as the first leading object of all to us in the person of the Son, the brightRevelation, we will uniformly bring it for- ness of his Father's glory, and the express ward in every discourse. If therefore these image of his person? We repeat tl.e quesexercises are at all frequented, or attended tion, understandest thou; and art thou able unto, it will be by such as expect, and are to unfold, the union that exists in thy own well pleased, to hear of the great Mediator frame, between the clay tabernacle and the between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, immortal mind; earth and heaven blended in his original, everlasting, unchanging in thine own person ? And shall "it be glory, and in his humiliation, as the son of thought a thing incredible,” that He who, man, to the form of a servant, to the death in the uninterrupted course of his Proviof the cross, a propitiation for sin. To this, dence, produces this union which every one we trust, not unknown God, our altar is is conscious of existing, though no one is caerected, and dedicated, and on it we would pable of explaining, should form other comagain present our whole selves a living sa- binations, unite other natures, to declare his crifice unto the one true God, and “our Sa- power and manifest his glory? Wherefore viour Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for should it be thought a thing incredible," ever and ever."
that He who unites himself to every one of “Who shall declare his generation ?" In- us, through the medium of reason and concapable thou art, Oman, to trace back the science, for carrying on the plan of nature, short and slender thread of thy own exist- should have united humanity to himself in ence and descent. Thou mayest have some the person of the Redeemer, in a manner faint recollection of weak and dependent still more incomprehensible, for perfecting
he 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 an 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 siiall 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 inust 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 call son, to Cana of Galilee to join with him in myself a disciple of Jesus then, and think it