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most to break through into the region of Divine illumination. Calvin, in theological discrimination and statement, was an Alpine summit among his cotemporaries. Newton, grasping some of the simplest laws of nature, was borne aloft to a grand survey of the system of the universe. Washington, in defence of human right and freedom, and as an example of moral virtue, patriotic devotion and self-sacrifice, stands forth in unparalleled grandeur. Yet these, in all their greatness, were only men. They were of the earth, earthy. But when Jesus appeared, though "found in fashion as a man," he was in reality "the Lord from heaven." And how does all science pale before his revealings of life and immortality. When he spoke to man, what gleams of hope shot into the gloom of despair! He pointed to the skies, and disclosed a pathway leading to the glorious regions that lie beyond the stars! He planted the seeds of the great banyan tree of the Gospel, which shall take root in every land, and whose branches, bathed in the light and vocal with the music of heaven, shall overshadow the whole earth.
Many distinguished men have been born into the world; but only one God-man-Christ Jesus-has appeared. The Divine Incarnation is an event that stands by itself alone. And when we connect with that event its grand design, and contemplate our own relation to it, how does it rise in greatness and value, until we realize at length something of its infinite importance! Other events may engross the attention of the world, for a season; but this, in its bearings upon human salvation and approaching eternity, immeasurably surpasses them all. And its importance will increase. As earth fades away and its vanities recede-as life wanes into the shadow of death, and the world to come draws near-our relation to Christ, in the work of Redemption, wrought through the mystery of the Incarnation, will tower into an interest that overshadows every thing else. Eternity will not be too long to lament our folly, if we have not availed ourselves of the gift immortal which it offers, nor too long to utter our grateful rejoicings, if by it we have been made partakers of the Divine Nature.
"Dear Lord and Saviour! for thy gifts
The world were poor in thanks, though every soul
To utter them like dew."
III. In the purity of his life and the character of his ministra tions, Christ was alone. God and man, mysteriously united in the Incarnation, he lived here humble, obedient as a creature, yet exercising the authority and power of the Creator. As God, he was the Author and Promulgator of the Divine Law; as man, he recognized and obeyed to perfection all its requirements. "He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." In this
respect he was alone. Patriarchs and prophets under the former dispensation were not, nor have apostles and saints under the gospel, though eminent servants of God, and occupying by his appointment positions of great responsibility and usefulness, been free from imperfection and sin. Moses, with all his meekness and wisdom, sometimes erred in speech and action. David, a man after God's own heart though he was, experienced the bitterness of remorse and repentance for his fearful transgression. Paul and Barnabas, chosen apostles of our Lord, yet differing in a matter of comparative unimportance, separated from each other amid sharp contention. So imperfection in wisdom and action attaches more or less to all human beings, even the most godly and sagacious. It exists in the toil-worn, faithful missionary abroad, and in the simple-hearted disciple at home. It is found in the pulpit; it is not absent from the pew. Not so with Christ. No blemish was ever discovered in him. Not the slightest admixture of human infirmity marred the resplendent integrity of his character, or detracted from the completeness and glory of his perfect example. Amid all his temptations and conflicts, privations and sorrows-amid all the misrepresentation and insult, the calumny and cruelty, of which he was the subject--he never did a wrong act, indulged an evil thought, or contracted the least taint of impurity. O, what a treasure earth held-a Being of sinless perfection!
Look at his ministrations-his works of mercy and of might. In these he stands alone, excelling all who lived before him, and all who have come after him. Whether he opened his lips as a Teacher, or commanded a miracle, "never man spake like this man." How great the number and variety of the mighty works he wrought-many of them recorded, or only hinted at in the narratives of his life. He controlled the elements of nature -restored to life the dead and buried-exercised dominion over evil spirits-cured, instantaneously, diseases. Wherever he went, he scattered mercy and blessing, life and salvation. The supernatural energy, the omnipotent power by which all this was accomplished, was not derived from another but was inherent in himself.
Though in the patriarchal and prophetic periods, and in apostolic times, the power of working miracles was, to a limited extent, bestowed, yet the recipients of that power always ascribed its source and efficiency to God. They were its appointed instrumentality; and it was often with apparent difficulty that the work was wrought. Not thus was it with the more stupendous miracles of Christ. "He spake and it was done." Distance and difficulty hindered him not. The nobleman's son, five leagues away, was suddenly healed by a word. One leper is cured by a touch and ten others by an exercise of will. Not with such ease did Elijah bring the rain from heaven, or restore the dead child to life. The wonderful works of Christ are more perfect
and sublime than any ever performed by others. A hundred men with twenty loaves are fed by Elisha; but Jesus with five loaves feeds fifty hundred. They to whom superhuman power was delegated could only exercise it through some object of instrumentality. Moses accomplished his mighty deeds in Egypt with the rod which he bore with him; nor would the sea divide, without his stretching that wonderous staff over its surface. Nor would the bitterness of Marah become sweet, without his casting the tree into its waters. But Christ needed no instrumentality-no name foreign to himself. His word is Omnipotence. "Be whole !" and health returns; "Arise !" and the sleeping dead awakes; "Come forth!" and the tomb gives back its trust; Peace, be still !" and the tumultuous billows are calmed. Death and the grave bore witness to his declaration: "I am the Resurrection and the Life." The winds and the waves and the storm obeyed their God. The Apostles ascribed their miraculous power to Him. To the cripple at the Beautiful gate they said: "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk." But Christ said to those whom he healed: "I will, be thou clean; Thou deaf and dumb spirit, I charge thee to come out of him;" and to the dead son of the widow of Nain, "Young man, I say unto thee, arise!" Thus do the miracles of Christ surpass all others-establishing his Messiahship and Divine mission, and symbolizing the future triumphs of his gospel.
IV. Christ was alone in his sufferings. Suffering is the result of sin. It comes in consequence of the violation of God's moral law or the laws of our own physical constitution. Whoever sins against God, or against himself, must suffer. Jesus taught this when he charged the impotent man whom he had healed at Bethesda, saying, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee." But the sufferings of the Saviour had no such origin as this. They were not the result of any sin which he had committed, of any law he had broken. Intense as they were, infinitely beyond all that mortal ever experienced, they were endured by a Being of spotless innocence. When he bowed under the agony of the garden, and prayed that, if it were possible, that cup might pass from him-the pains which he felt were not those of remorse. When his "soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death"-that bloody baptism of anguish overwhelmed him, not in consequence of any guilt of his own. It was the crushing weight of a world's iniquities whose awful pressure he sustained. It was the innocent suffering for the guilty, that the guilty might escape eternal condemnation and wrath. It was the Almighty Saviour, as a voluntary substitute for the sinner under the law, that He might be "the end of the law, for righteousness to every one that believeth." "Truly, he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows" -treading the wine-press alone. In that dreadful, solitary hour, "On him was laid the iniquity of us all:"
"That he who gave man's breath might know
V. Christ was alone in his death. There has been but one Calvary-one cross of expiation-one vicarious victim-one expiring Saviour, whose blood is efficacious to atone for sin. The death of that Saviour stands out in the universe by itself in unparalleled sublimity and moral grandeur. That was the culminating point in the great work of atonement-the tremendous crisis where the hope of the world was centred and suspended. O what a scene for heaven and earth to witness! There stood the Saviour, firm to his purpose, bearing up the burden of a condemned and dying world. "I have trodden the wine-press alone; and of the people there was none with me."
Martyrs have died for their faith-patriots have sacrificed their lives for their country-but there has been no death in our world like that of Christ. Were it possible for man to give a thousand lives, "none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” "But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Benefits sometimes accrue to others when men die. The monarch of an empire, the chief magistrate of a nation, being removed by death, another succeeds to his honors. When a man of wealth dies, his children come into the possession of a fortune. But there is no moral virtue in the death of any human being. When the King of Israel wept over his fallen son and poured forth the touching lamentation, "Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom," had he been permitted to do so, he could not have saved the soul of his beloved, but rebellious boy. What were the benefits resulting from the death of Christ? That death opened the door for the salvation of a world. It was that which bridged the awful gulph that hopelessly separated man from God-earth from heaven. In that death, Justice and Forgiveness mingled and blended-" Mercy and Truth met together-Righteousness and Peace kissed each other." "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself," through the efficacy of that atoning sacrifice.
Jesus came into the world to die. That event was always before him. Never did he lose sight of it amid all his journeyings, all the exhibitions of his benevolence and power. He looked forward to the solemn scene; he often alluded to it; he desired its fulfilment. "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?" As he saw the event approaching-in all its dread and unutterable reality -he knew that he must endure it alone. He had always had a few sympathizing disciples and friends; he had had the presence and aid of his Father; but now, in the very darkest scene of his agony, he was to be left to himself. O, what were his emotions, when he uttered the words, "Father, the hour is come!"
As the terrible tragedy proceeded, where were his disciples? "Of the people there was none with me." As the weight of the world's guilt rested upon him in that dark and awful hour, why did he exclaim," My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" Did not his Father leave him to bear that weight alone, that his value, as a complete sacrifice and an Almighty Saviour, might be manifest both in severity and glory? He trod the winepress alone. He came forth from that scene of struggle and conflict a triumphant victor-man's great enemy conquered, and the world in possession of a finished redemption. His garments were dyed with the blood of atonement. In his resurrection, he appeared "glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save."
Where shall we find a parallel to all this? Has another such scene transpired, is another such fact lodged in any part of the universe? History! thou hoary chronicler of the past, unroll thy records, disclose their wonders, and search out all thou hast forgotten to write-and wilt thou find another event like this? Prophet! that gazest down the ages to come, and seest all that is glorious and marvellous in the future-say, is it there? Ye worlds that sweep the circle of the heavens, which of you has been the place where "God was manifest in the flesh?" Where, in all your realms, has a Saviour died? Feeling, perhaps, the influence of that death, restraining, saving, glorious yet it transpired not with you! O earth, rebellious earth! how has Jehovah looked upon thee and visited thee, and made thy one and only Golgotha the centre of a system before which the stars in yonder canopy shall fade, and all material splendor vanish away!
VI. Christ was alone in his intercessory and mediatorial work. "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." When, after his humiliation, he' ascended triumphant, he took our nature with him up to the throne of intercession, there as the God-man to mediate and plead in behalf of sinners. There is no other medium of access to God and heaven. The Jewish priesthood, having fulfilled its appointment, was abolished when Christ appeared. All its service and its ceremonials were superseded by the in-coming of a new dispensation, with its more excellent ministry, and wherein Jesus "is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises." There is no priestly office on earth now; there are no sacerdotal grades and sacrifices akin to those of the Aaronic institution. The plea for their existence and the support they claim are, under the gospel, false in theory and without foundation in fact. They are deroga-. tory to Christ, and an infringement on the method of salvation by grace. They detract from the value of the great sacrifice, and obstruct and involve the way to the Only Intercessor. Ministerial functions and religious ceremonies, founded on offices