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been made bare, but in this, the power of God had the armies of hell to defeat; prin"cipalities and powers to spoil; death to destroy, and all the powers of fallen nature io subdue. What a world of iniquity is there to destroy in man's fallen soul! There is a carnal mind, like a rock of adamant ; here is unbelief like a gate of brass; here is self will like an iron pillar; here is a poluted conscience, like an incurable leprosy; here sinful affections like the swarms of frogs and lice which corrupted all the land of Egypt; here is a corrupt memory, like a cage of unclean birds; or like a sieve which lets the precious liquor run out, but retains the dregs. These strong habits are hardened, or condensed into deadly prejudices; all these are combined in firm comSpact, and form a dreadful phalanx against
the power of the most high, and must be subdued, by that stone cut out without hands, (a) without human aid, without the wisdom and power of man. But to accomplish all this, behold, To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government is upon his shoulder ; his name is Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God the prince of peace. Of the encrease of his government there shall be no end. (b) Here is Jehovah's battle ax, and with him he will break in pieces the nations, and destroy king,
(a) Dan. ii. 45. (b) Isa. ix. 6, 7.
doms. (a) Yes, this wonderful child shall rule all nations ; and to him every, knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, to be glorious in, holiness, fearful in praises, doing of wonders. He will reign, in spite of all the sparkling wit of infidels, or their sophistical arguments; or all the persecuting rage of such as breathe violence and destruction. His power is manifest in subduing stubborn sinners unto himself; in turning the hearts of the disobedient unto the wisdom of the just; in turning the whole bent of the soul, the judgment, will and affections. No power on earth can do this; they may rack and torture the body; and break and bruise it even to death; but they cannot touch the will. This is the prerogative of our all-conquering Immanuel. It is his power alone, which can preserve the soul in its progress to glory; otherwise the cares and crosses, trials and persecutions on one hand, and the snares and allurements on the other, would certainly' prevail; or should these fail in working ruin and destruction, there is the roaring lion, going about continually, seeking whom he may devour. But the faithful soul is kept by the power of God, through faith unto full salvation. (b)
5 THE incarnation of Jesus manifests the mercy of God to a ruined world. If
(a) Jer. li. 20. (b) 1 Pet. i. 5.
there had been no sin, there would have been no misery in the world; for misery is the offspring of sin, and misery is the object that mercy has to do with; and therefore had there been no sin, we cannot see how the mercy of God could have been displayed; but as matters now stand in the world, there is ample room for that benign perfection of the deity, and all thanks be to his adorable name in his love, and in his pity he redeemed a fallen race. He who heard the groanings of the Israelites in Egypt, and saw their burdens, saw the fallen apostate race of Adam like the man fallen among thieves; no help was found in heaven or earth; all, like the priest or Levite, passed by; but he, like the good Samaritan, passing by, saw us and had compassion. This pity is set forth under a variety of striking images; but I think none more so than in Ezekiel, (a) where our helpless, hopeless case is set forth under the symbol of a new born infant, cast out into the open field; no eye pitied it to help it, and it could not help itself; for an infant is the most helpless of all creatures ; but Jehovah saw it and became its merciful nurse, and took care of it, and reared it up till it became a princess of renown. Indeed he is good to all, and his tendeurmercies are over all his works. I have, for the sake of brevity,
(a) Ezek. xvi. 8.
connected pity and mercy together; and indeed they are so nearly allied to each other, that usually, they go together like the sun beams on the figures of a dial, and perhaps differ no otherwise than the sentiment or feeling and the actions; something like faith producing works. For certainly pity in the deity is not an impotent sensation ; but is full of mercy and good fruits ; and like the sun shining on the evil and the good ; and like the rain which falls upon the just and the unjust, and issued through the man Christ Jesus; and in him Mercy and truth, that is justice, meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. (a) So that in consideration of the ransom of the cross, the tender mercies of God are over all his works.
6. THIS adorable advent of the Son of God, honours the purity of the most high. The holiness of the deity is set forth in scripture in awful and striking colours; and when contrasted with the brightest objects in creation, they shrink into darkness. Hence it is said, He looketh to the moon and it shineth not, and the stars are not pure in his sight. (b) Yea so glorious in holiness that no man can see his face and live, (c) so that in 'awful astonishment the men of Bethshemesh exclaimed, Who can stand before this holy Lord God! (d) (a) Ps. lxxxv. 10. (b) Job. xxv. 5. (a) Exod. xxxiii. 20.
(d) Sam. vi. 20.
And no doubt but it was a sense of this which made all the great congregation shake and tremble at the foot of Mount Sinai at the giving of the law, and which made even Moses to quake exceedingly.(a) Now as light and darkness cannot agree, so sin and purity can have no fellowship with each other. But, for ever blessed be God, in Jesus is opened a fountain for sin and uncleanness; and his precious blood can cleanse from all sin. In the very nature of things the unholy cannot enter into the kingdom. No; sin would turn heaven into hell; and therefore without holiness no man shall see the Lord. But no man can say, I have made my own heart clean; this made David cry out, Wash me. throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Mark, he entreats God to do it, plainly intimating that he could not perform it himself. This must be the Lord's doing; and he is faithful who hath promised, and will enable his church to sing, To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests to God and his father, to him be glory for ever and ever, Amen.(b)
7. This wonderful transaction displays the amazing goodness of God to fallen man.
(a) Ex. xix. Heb. xii. 21.
(b) Rev. i. 5, 6.