Page images

ance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godlinefs; and to godlinefs, brotherly kindnefs; and to brotherly kindness, charity," Thefe are the titles, the ftars and the ribbons in the kingdom of heaven, and "if thefe things be in you and abound, they make you that you fhall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jefus Christ.” Let the fpirit of adventure and fience discover unknown regions and nations on the globe, and new planets in the firmament of heaven; be it your concern, Chriftian, your study, your employment, to contemplate, through the glass of promife, "new heavens and a new carth, wherein dwelleth righteoulnefs." Suffer the man of the world to enjoy his triumph; fuffer him to outftrip his rival, to run down his enemy; be thine the more glorious triumph to promote a rival, to spare an adverfary, as knowing that He who is flow to anger is better than the mighty: and he that ruleth his fpirit than he that taketh a city."


[ocr errors]

Such, difciple of Jefus, be thy holy afpirations, fuch thy pride and ambition; and may fuch be thy bleffed attainments even in time thought is loft in contemplating "the glory that is to follow." The beloved difciple fhall declare it, in the fublimity of his own conception and expreffion, or rather in the idea and diction with which the Holy Spirit fupplied his pen : Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we thould be called the fons of God! therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the fons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be but we know that, when he fhall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."




Who fhall declare his generation?

THE hiftory of countries generally commences with a geographical account of their fituation and extent; of the climate and foil; of the names and the reafon of impofing fuch names; of the era and the means of difcovery; of the original inhabitants, and of other circumftances tending either to communicate ufeful information or to gratify curiofity. The biographer, in like manner, in delineating the life of his prince, flatefman, hero or philofopher, ufally begins with tracing his pedigree and parentage, and enables the reader to form fome acquaintance with his ancestors, in order to introduce the perfonage himfelf with greater advantage and effect. But both the general hiftorian andthe biographer quickly lose themselves in research. The origin of no nation or individual can be traced up to its fource. The light becomes fainter and fainter as we proceed, the object is rendered more obfcure and uncertain, till time at length fpreads his fable mantle over it, and we behold it no more. Who then fhall declare his generation, who was in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, and without whom was not any thing made that is made."


We are advancing, men and brethren, upon holy ground; ground facred as Eden's blifsful plains, as the region which furrounded the bush that burned with fire, as Sinai's awful fummit. Borne aloft on the pinions of the celeftial dove, we' are aiming a bold, adventurous flight into the heaven of heav. ens, to expatiate through the boundless regions of eternity, to contemplate objects which "angels defire to look into," to fearch into the "great mystery of godlinefs," to lofe ourselves in feeking "to know the love of Chrift which paffeth knowledge."

We are going to attempt a delineation of the Life and Hif. tory of Jefus Chrift, the Saviour of Men. My heart fails at the thought of the task which I have undertaken; my tongue


cleaves to the roof of my mouth. Spirit of Grace, establi thou my heart

"O thou my voice inspire,

"Who touch'd Ifaiah's hallow'd lips with fire !"

The queftion of the prophet which has now been read, and which fuggefted the idea that we mean to purfue through this Lecture, is interwoven with a variety of pointed and ftriking predictions which, whether taken feparately or in their combination, can apply only to one perfon; and who that person is, no doubt can poffibly be entertained when we confider, that this is the very paffage of Scripture to, which Philip the Evangelift was providentially directed, as a text for "preaching Jefus," to the Ethiopian Eunuch. I fhall not employ any part of your time in detailing the various opinions which have been. entertained respecting the meaning of the paffage in general, or the precife import of the term "generation" in particular. The queftion appears fimply to be a bold defiance given to all created wildom to inveftigate, to unfold the generation, the origin, the effence of that wonderful Perfon concerning whom fuch fingular circumftances and events are predicted; it amounts to a strong and pofitive affirmation that it is impoffible to declare Him as he is, to trace his exiftence through the fucceffive periods of duration up to its commencement, as you may do that of a mere man from the moment of his birth, or through a series of ancestors. What, in this view, is the obvious doctrine of the text? That the generation of Him who the Spirit of prophecy, and the correfponding history reprefent as an innocent, patient, vicarious fufferer, extends beyond the sphere of created nature, cludes purfuit, fpreads the glory of eternity around it, and conceals it from mortal eyes. It is worthy of remark, that the genealogy of our bleffed Lord's humanity is more clear, and diftin&t, and extended, than that of any other perfon. Two feveral Evangelifts have declared it, purfuing it, through two different but parallel channels, up to Abraham, and from him up to the common Father of the human race. In this refpect, therefore, "the Spirit himfelt helpeth our infirmity ;" and he who by the mouth of Ifaiah feems to forbid and defy all inquiry, by the pen of Matthew and Luke, makes a clear and full difcovery, and enables us to trace the pedigree of Jefus Chrift, like that of any other man, It is the peculiar privilege of the facred volume to unfold the real hiftory of human nature, of the globe, of the universe, to follow nature up to the hour of her birth, to declare "the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created;

created; in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens;" to exhibit the first man Adam in the plastic hands of the Creator fpringing out of the duft of the ground, and, inspired with the breath of life, becoming "a living foul." The fame infpired volume reprefents to our attention one perfon, and one event, as of peculiar importance; as pervading, influencing and affecting the whole courfe of Nature and Prov idence; as contemporary with every generation of men ; as looked unto, and longed for by fucceffive ages. In order that the truth of God might be fully juftified and have its complete effect, the relation, in which this illuftrious perfon ftood to thofe who had received the promises of his coming, is diftinctly afcertained and minutely defcribed; fo that at every period of the world we can fay, lo He is here, and lo He is there. But the infpired volume likewife reprefents him as before all and above all. If therefore this book be a Revelation from heaven, it must contain real and important truth, and that truth clothed in plain, fimple and intelligible language; we must perceive, of confequence, in the "man of forrows and acquainted with grief," a perfon whofe generation no one is able to declare, who is before all and by whom all things do confift:" whom all the angels of God are commanded to worship," the heir of all things," by whom the worlds were made and are upheld, whose" throne is for ever and ever :" in one word Chrift Je"who is over all, God bleffed for ever."


[ocr errors]

You are well aware that the doctrine, which we wish to eftablish, is in the prefent day violently oppofed; and while it is ma ntained in this place, it may be perhaps in the next street the fubject of profane mirth, or of ferious argumentation.Thinking as we do, we will not enter the lifts of controverly. We will not employ your time, nor endeavour to enlift your paffions, by running down one name, party or opinion, and exalting another; but will fimply and humbly, though at the fame time, firmly, and unrefervedly, propofe for your inftruction and improvement, what appears to be the meaning and object of Scripture; and, confidering the divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jefus Chrift as the firft leading object of all Revelation, we will uniformly bring it forward in every difcourfe. It therefore these exercises are at all frequented, or attended unto, it will be by such as expect, and are well pleased, to hear of the great Mediator between God and man, the Man Chrift Jefus, in his original, everlasting, unchanging glory, and in his humiliation, as the fon of man, to the form of a fervant, to the death of the cross, a propitiation for fin. To this, we truft, not unknown God, our altar is erected, and dedicated,

icated, and on it we would again prefent our whole felves a living facrifice unto the one true God, and our Saviour Jefus Chrift; to whom be glory forever and ever.'

"Who fhall declare his generation ?" Incapable thou art, O man, to trace back the fhort and flender thread of thy own existence and descent. Thou mayeft have fome faint recollection of weak and dependent childhood; of a father's early care. and of a mother's tendernefs; of the amufements, the companions, the folicitudes, the forrows and joys of thy boyish days. But all beyond is a blank; to thee creation began a few years ago; the fecond or third, at moft, of thy own immediate progenitors, is blended with the men who lived beyond the flood. We are ignorant of and unknown to each other. How much more lo are the men of diftant nations and of times more remote? But family tradition, national record, the inspired page can fupply the want of perfonal knowledge, can carry us back to departed forefathers, and bring them down to us. But what recollection, what tradition, what record, can carry us beyond the birth of nature, can convey us to a fate of exiftence previous to the lapfe of time? Now the perfon of whom the prophet fpeaks, as we faw in the preceding Lecture, is the WORD who fpake all things into existence, who built the world, who fpread the flood, who fet time a flowing, who "breathed into man's noftrils the breath of life." Who then of the fons of men, which of the angels of God fhall declare the generation of Him who made them what they are, who placed them in their ftations, who prefcribed to them bounds which they cannot pass? The flightest detail of nature, O man, presents a mystery which thou canst not folve, a world which thou canst not comprehend unto perfection. That feed caft into the ground cannot be "quickened except it die;" canft thou declare the generation of this infect, to day a butterfly, yesterday a moth, the third day a mere lifeless incrustation, and prefumeft thou to explain the great mystery of godliness, "God made manifeft in the flesh;" at fo many different times, in such divers manners made known unto the Fathers by the prophets; and in these last days unveiled to us in the perfon of the Son, the brightness of his Father's glory and the exprefs image of his perfon? We repeat the queftion, underflandeft thou, and art thou able to unfold, the union that exifts in thy own frame, between the clay tabernacle and the immoral mind; earth and heaven blended in thine own perfon? And fhall" it be thought a thing incredible," that He who, in the uninterrupted courfe of his providence, produces this union

« EelmineJätka »