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We are expecting “peace,” though “in the way” of sin

We are “in the shadow of death,” or on the confines of destruction

But Christ became incarnate to deliver us from this stateThis end he invariably pursued in the days of his ministryHe still prosecutes it by the ministry of his servants-] The initial or moving cause was “the mercy of God”

[There was nothing in us that could induce God to send his Son

There was every thing rather that could provoke his indignation

Yet, unsolicited, he promised to send this Saviours-
Thus was he actuated by mere love and mercyh-
This account is confirmed by St. Paul_]
How should our souls glow with a sense of this


1. How willing is God to save sinners!

[With what unwearied kindness does he cause the sun to rise!

And how incomprehensible the love that sent us the Sun of righteousness !Surely we cannot doubt his willingness to bestow salvationLet not any then entertain hard thoughts of God

Let all rather seek to have this “ Day-star arise in their hearts”-]

2. How great is the happiness of those who believe in Christ!

[They were once sitting in darkness even as otherskBut they have been brought to behold this Day-spring from on high

They are now “in the way of” present and eternal “ peace”How great and inestimable is their felicity!

Let those that enjoy it be thankful for it, and look for its full completion-]

8 Gen. iii. 15.

b From the expression cardáy xov érées, “ bowels of mercy,” we may consider God as looking with pity upon fallen Adam, and reasoning with himself as he did in the case of his people Israel, Jer. xxxi. 20.

Eph. ii. 4, 7. k Tit. ii. 3. 11 Pet. ij. 9.



Luke ii. 34, 35. Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising

again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

THE ways of God are deep and unsearchable

The richest displays of his love have been often accompanied with the heaviest afflictions,

The honour bestowed on Paul was the forerunner of great sufferings

Thus the Virgin's distinguished privilege of bringing the Son of God into the world was a prelude to the severest anguish to her soul

Even the gift of the Messiah himself, while it saves some, is the occasion of a more dreadful condemnation to others

It was foretold, that, as this was one end, so it would also be an effect of Christ's mission 1. The remote ends of Christ's exhibition to the world

God has on the whole consulted his creatures' good as well as his own glory

But he will not effect the happiness of every individualThe “ fall of many" was one end of Christ's coming

[His appearance was contrary to the carnal expectations of the Jews

Hence he became a stumbling-block to almost the whole nation

It had been plainly foretold that he should be so

This prophecy is frequently quoted by the inspired writersb

Our Lord himself expressly refers to it-
He elsewhere confirms the declaration contained in ital]
The coming of Christ actually produced this effect

[Many took offence at hime

a Isai. viii. 14, 15.

bi Cor. i. 23. 1 Pet. i. 8. c Matt. xxi. 42, 44.

d John ix. 39. e At his low parentage, bis mean appearance, his sublime doctrines, his high pretensions, &c.

Thus they became more wicked than they would otherwise have been

Thus also they perished with a more aggravated condemnations-]

But this was by no means the chief end—

The "rising of many" was another end of Christ's coming

[Jews and Gentiles were in a most deplorable conditionThey were guilty, helpless, hopeless

From this state Christ came to raise them—

This also was a subject of prophecy

And our Lord often declares that this was the end of his coming


Hence he calls himself "the resurrection and the life".
And his coming produced this effect also

[Few believed on him before his death-
But myriads were raised by him soon after-
They rose from a death in sin to a life of holiness-
This effect is still carrying on in the world-

Many from their own experience can say with Hannah'-]
These ends, however, were more remote

II. The more immediate end

The minds of men in reference to God were very little known

Neither ceremonial nor moral duties could fully discover their state

But he came to make it clear how every one was affected towards God

In order to this he was (6 a mark or butt of contra

mי diction

[No man ever met with so much contradiction as he"— He was contradicted by all persons," on all occasions, in the most virulent manner, in spite of the clearest evidence," and in the most solemn seasons

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John xv. 22.

i Luke xix. 10. John x. 10. 11 Sam. ii. 8.

m Σημεῖον ἀντιλεγόμενοι. Scribes, pharisees, lawyers, Herodians.

P In all that he taught about his person, work, and offices, and in all he did, in working miracles, &c.

Matt. xi. 22.

h Isai. viii. 14.

k John xi. 25. n Hb. xii. 3.

They came to catch, ensnare, and provoke him.

They would rather ascribe his miracles to Beelzebub, and his doctrines to madness, impiety, and inspiration of the devil.

s Even on the cross itself.

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This was frequently as a sword in Mary's breast-]

By his becoming such a mark, the thoughts of men's hearts were discovered

[The Pharisees wished to be thought righteous— The Scribes, the free-thinkers of the day, pleaded for candour

The Herodians professed indifference for all religion-
Yet they all combined against Christ-
Thus they shewed what was in their hearts-]
The preaching of Christ still makes the same discovery

[Christ is still a butt of contradiction in the world Before his gospel is preached, all seem to be agreedBut when he is set forth, discord and division ensue'Then the externally righteous people shew their enmity

Then the indifferent discover the same readiness to persecute

On the other hand the humility of others appears
Many publicans and harlots gladly embrace the truth

And many believers manifest a willingness to die for
By way of IMPROVEMENT we may enquire

1. What self-knowledge have we gained from the preaching of Christ?

[He has been often “set forth crucified before our eyes”This must in a measure have revealed our thoughts to us-What discoveries then has it made!«

Let us take the gospel as a light with which to search our hearts

Let us beg of God to illumine our minds by his Holy Spiritą]

2. What effect has the preaching of Christ produced on our lives?

[We must either rise or fall by means of the gospelAre we then risen with Christ to a new and heavenly life?

Or are we filled with prejudice against his church and people?

Let us tremble lest he prove a rock of offence to us—

If we rise with him now to a life of holiness, he will raise us ere long to a life of glory-]

¢ Matt. x. 34-36.

• Has it shewn us our natural pride and self-righteousness, our self-sufficiency and self-dependence, our light thoughts of sin, our ingratitude, our unbelief, our enmity against God and his Christ? If it have not taught us these humiliating lessons, we have learned nothing yet to any good purpose.



Hos. viii. 5. How long will it be ere they attain to innocency?

MAN was originally made in the image of God

He then possessed perfect innocence both in body and soul

But this he lost through the commission of sin-
Nor can he ever recover it in this world-

Nevertheless there is a comparative innocence to which he may be restored

The Israelites had altogether revolted from God

Yet to them did God address this affectionate interrogation I. In what sense sinners may be said to attain to inno

cency It is certain we cannot undo any thing that is past

[Not only our actions, but the effects of them will remain

We cannot restore those who are now suffering the punishment of sins, which they were led into by our influence or example

Nor can we reclaim those who are now living in courses which we once countenanced and approved-] Nor can we absolutely live without sin in future

[The Scriptures plainly affirm this — They who boast of sinless perfection are under a delusion

The most perfect man on earth needs as much to implore a forgiveness of his trespasses, as a supply of his daily bread-]

But there is a sense wherein we may attain to innocencyOur guilt may be removed

(Christ died that he might take away all our sins! And they who are interested in his death are spotless before God-] Our natures too may be renewed

[The Holy Spirit is promised to renew our souls

* 1 Kings viii. 46. James iii. 2.
e Matt. vi. 12.
e Eph. v, 25-27.

bi John i. 8.
d Heb. ix. 26.
f Ezek. xxxvi. 25.

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