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II. That his incarnation affords a special call to all both in heaven and earth to worship him
"The bringing in of the first-begotten into the world" may comprehend the whole period of his reign under the gospel dispensation; in which case the command to worship him is general: but if we confine the expression to the time of his incarnation, the command to worship him will be a special call, arising from the circumstance. of his incarnation, and founded on it-To elucidate it in this latter view we may observe that
1. It affords the brightest discovery of the divine perfections
[The angels had doubtless seen much of the divine glory before they had seen God's wisdom, power, and goodness in the creation and government of the world. But they never before had such a view of his condescension and grace as when they beheld him lying in the manger, an helpless babe-Now also the design of God to glorify all his perfections in the work of redemption was more clearly unfoldedHence the whole multitude of the heavenly choir began to sing, "Glory to God in the highest"--And if their hosannas increased with their discoveries of the divine glory, should not ours also?-Have not we also abundant reason to magnify our incarnate God; and to exalt our thoughts of him in proportion as he has debased himself for our sakes?-]
2. It opens a way for our reconciliation with God
[Men were indeed accepted of God before Christ's advent in the flesh; but it was through him who was to come, as we are accepted through him who has come-But when Christ was manifested in the flesh, his mediatorial work commenced; and that course of sufferings and obedience, which is the meritorious ground of our acceptance, was begun-It may be said, that, though we are bound on this account to adore him, the angels feel no interest in it: but can we suppose that those benevolent spirits, who minister to the heirs of salvation, and bear them on their wings to the realms of glory, feel no delight in our happiness? Doubtless they do; and are themselves made happier by their sympathy with us-If they rejoice over one sinner that repenteth, they also have reason to adore the Saviour for opening both to us and them such an inexhaustible fountain of blessedness and joy--]
3. It reunites men and angels under one head
[Christ was the Creator and sovereign Lord both of men and angels-But man, by casting off his allegiance to his Lord,
1 Col. i, 16.
lost also his connexion with angels-Jesus however, by becoming man, gathers together again" both men and angels under himself as their common head: yea, he comes, as it were, to the very gates of hell, that he may take from thence sinners of the human race to fill the thrones once vacated by the apostate angels-It is by no means improbable that the very same humiliation of Jesus that exalts men to glory, is the source of establishment to the angels that retained their innocence-At all events, the restoration of their Lord to the honour of which man by transgression had deprived him, and their communion with man in the benefits conferred upon him, cannot fail of exciting in their breasts the liveliest emotions of gratitude-Indeed, we see that this is no fanciful idea, since it is realized in heaven, where saints and angels join in one general chorus, ascribing "salvation to God and to the Lamb ""—]
TO ENFORCE then the injunction we have been considering, we would say
1. Welcome him
[Let not his advent be regarded with indifference; but welcome him with acclamations and hosannas-The captious Pharisees may indeed condemn you; but if you neglect to honour him thus, the very stones will cry out against you o-]
2. Submit to him
[Jesus comes, not merely to save mankind, but to set up his kingdom in the world-Let your hearts then, yea, very thoughts of your hearts, be brought into a willing captivity to him"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish :" and present your offerings before him in token of your allegiance to him, and your unreserved subjection to his will
3. Depend upon him
[He is that nail in a sure place on which are to be hanged all the vessels of his Father's house-Trust then on him; and let his vicarious sufferings and obedience be the stay and support of your souls-]
4. Glory in him
[Since he is the boast of all in heaven, let him be the boast of all on earth-Let the frame of your hearts be joyous, exulting, and triumphant-Thus from worshipping him below, you shall be brought to worship him for evermore in heaven
Eph. i. 10.
P Ps. ii. 12.
n Rev. v. 9. 13. 9 Matt. ii. 11.
CLXXIV. CHRIST'S EXECUTION OF HIS PASTORAL
Ezek. xxxiv. 16. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
THERE is no office under heaven so important as that of ministering unto men the gospel of Christ. But, alas! its importance is too little felt, and its duties are too negligently performed. There is, however, one shepherd, whose care and vigilance are without intermission. He it is, who, many hundred years before he came into the world, spake by the prophet, and declared the manner in which he would execute his office".
In the words before us we see
I. The different states of Christ's sheep
[All are considered as the sheep of Christ, who by name and profession belong to him, as well" the fat and the strong, who shall be destroyed," as those who shall be saved e.
All without exception, while in their natural state, are "lost," straying from God, and ignorant of the way in which. alone they can return to his fold. Some feel an inclination to enjoy his benefits, and at times resolve that they will turn from their evil ways: but they are "driven away" by the violence of their passions or the fear of man.
Of those that have been brought home to the fold, many, like David, are complaining of griefs and sorrows, more painful than a "broken" bones. And all are 66 sick " of sin, that loathsome malady which pervades all their powers both of body and soul, and incapacitates them for serving God as they would wish to dof.
There are too many, alas! who are "fat and strong," in their own conceit. Were they really in good condition, they should not be " destroyed." But, like the Laodiceans of old, they deceive themselves; being really destitute of all wisdom, goodness, and strength, in exact proportion as they fancy themselves possessed of these things.]
* See ver. 2-10.
• Ps. li. 8.
• John x. 16.
b Ver. 23.
• Isai. liii. 6. Gal. v. 17.
h Rev. iii. 17.
It is in this sense that our Lord speaks of "the whole,' and "the righteous." Matt. ix. 12, 13.
II. The correspondent dealings of Christ with them
[Though in many instances our Lord displays his sovereignty in stopping the progress of most grievous sinners, while he suffers persons of more amiable deportment to wander further from him, yet all are to expect that he will deal with them in a perfect correspondence with their character. He came from heaven in human flesh, and still comes in the preaching of his gospel, to "seek" and save " that which was lost." And if any, who have been "driven away" by the force of temptation or persecution, are desirous to put themselves under his care, he will gladly bring them to his fold, and protect them from every inward or outward foek.
As for those who are already in his fold, he will administer to all their wants, binding up" the broken-hearted', and "renewing the strength" of those who are ready to faint". By the efficacy of his word, and the consolations of his Spirit, he will turn their sorrows into joy": and his grace shall be sufficient for them under all the trials they may be called to endure.
Willing as he is to pardon the very chief of sinners on their repentance, he will awfully punish the impenitent. The proud and self-sufficient, who despise his offers of mercy, shall surely feel his awful displeasure. He will "destroy" them as enemies both to himself and his flock: and, in order to their destruction, he will "feed them with judgment," giving them up to follow their own delusions, till they shall have completed the measure of theft iniquities, and fattened themselves for the sword of his indignation P. Yes; to eternity shall they eat of the fruit of their own ways, and feel the judgments which they would not deprecate1.]
1. Let us put ourselves under the care of this good shepherd
[The more we consider our state the more shall we see, that we are straying, or, at best, diseased sheep. But here is our comfort, that we have a tender and faithful shepherd that will forgive our wanderings, and supply our wants3. then return to him, if we are afar off; or, if he have brought us to his fold, let us rely upon his care and faithfulness ".]
2. Let us imitate him to the utmost of our power
[Doubtless it is in the first place the duty of ministers to follow the steps of this great shepherd, because his flock is more immediately committed to their care *. But it is also the duty of every one in his place and station to exert himself to the utmost to enlarge and edify the flock of Christ. And, if we were more diligent in our respective spheres, how many might be reduced from their wanderings, or strengthened in their difficulties, or comforted in their troubles! We know not how useful a word in season might prove. "Let us then, as the elect of God, put on bowels of mercies," and shew our relation to Chris by our conformity to his image.]
* If this were the subject of a Visitation or Ordination Sermon, this thought should be prosecuted at some length, in reference to the whole preceding part of the chapter.
CLXXV. THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST TOWARDS THE
Matt. xii. 18-21. Behold, my servant whom I have chosen; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in him shall the Gentiles trust."
ONE might gather almost as complete a character of Christ from the prophecies as from the gospels themselves—
Not only the great incidents relating to his life and death were foretold, but his spirit and conduct were most minutely delineated—
He had just withdrawn himself from the Pharisees who sought to destroy him
And had strongly enjoined his attendants not to make known his miracles
This conduct appeared strange to those, who were expecting him to erect a temporal kingdom
But the Evangelist declares that these very things had been made the subject of prophecy many hundred years
The passage quoted by him from Isaiah is recorded, not with literal exactness, but according to its true import-It declares