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humbling treatment he was exposed to. Man fell off from God by his ambition, and therefore was Christ humbled, that he might be recovered again from his misery to the favour of God, and allegiance to him.
In discoursing further from this subject, I shall consider the several parts of our Lord's humiliation, as they are laid down in the Catechism, viz. ‘his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; his being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time. What a catalogue of humiliating circumstances is here, to which the Son of God was subjected froin the cradle to the grave; the consideration of all which should excite us to hate sin, the fatal cause of all, and to endear to us the merciful Redeemer, who for our sake went through all this scene to accomplish our salvation.
First, The Son of God was born, and that in a low condition. Here is a wide step at first, a step from heaven to earth ; which is a mystery of infinite condescension. Take this article in pieces, and behold humiliation in every point.
The Son of God was humbled in his incarnation, his conception, his birth, and the circumstances attending it.
1. The Son of God became man. To see a king become a slave, and the order of angels degraded into crawling worms, would be matter of wonder; but a greater is here, viz. God not become an angel, though that would have been infinitely below him, but a man, a son of Adam, taking the likeness of sinful flesh. Hence the apostle cries out with admiration, 1 Tim. iii. 16. Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.' O deep humiliation ! far greater than if all the creatures had been degraded to the lowest degree of existence.
2. He was conceived in the womb of a sinful woman, the virgin Mary, who, as a daughter of Adam, was certainly infected with original sin as well as the rest of his posterity. O the depth of the Son of God's humiliation! It would have been low, had the great God, the Creator of heaven and earth, purposing to become man, been created as Adam, as it were at once, and in a perfect state of manhood. But to be conceived in the womb of a woman, was yet lower. He whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain as God, was as man shut up for the ordinary number of months in the womb of a woman, whom he himself had made. His body was formed not of any substance sent down from heaven, but of her's a creature, Gal. iv. 4. He was made of a woman;' that is, his body was formed of a part of her substance, being of the seed of David, and
of the tribe of Judah. Io was born of a sinful creature, and yet without sin; the Holy Ghost having purified it from all defilement, as God alone can bring a clean thing out of an unclean, though man cannot.
3. He was born of a woman. Had there been no more about him but that he had been born of an empress, a sovereign princess, who made a great figure in the world, it would have been very wonderful : but that he was born of any woman at all, be her rank in life what it will, may well strike us with amazement. I shall say no more of this, but that our birth is such as the due consideration of it might humble us all our life ; and yet to it Christ humbled himself. O the depth of his humiliation.
4. He was born in a low condition. There were several circumstances of the lowest abasement about the birth of Christ. He was not born of a great princess, seated on a splendid throne, and attended with a brilliant court, but a mean woman, though of the seed-royal of David, and married not to a mighty potentate, but a poor mechanic, a carpenter, Luke i. 48. and that not in her own house, but in that of another; not in the inn, the great house where the richer and more noble company chuso their lodging, there being no room there for him who was born King of the Jews, yea, who is the Prince of the kings of the earth, but in a stable among cattle; and when born, not clothed with embroidered or costly garments, as the children of kings use to be, but swaddled in tattered clothes, rent pieces of a garment, as the original word signifies; and laid not in a servant's bed in the stable, but in a manger, out of which the cattle eat their provender, instead of a cradle, Luke ii. 7. A far lower state of humiliation than most of the sons and daughters of Adam are reduced to. Well may we cry out with astonishment, How low, O Son of God, wast thou humbled in every circumstance relating to thy conception and birth! O that we might study humility from thy low abasement !
Secondly, Our Redeemer was made under the law, though he be the Lord of all, and the Lawgiver unto his rational creatures. Rebellious man had shaken off the yoke of his obedience, and Christ therefore lays his neck under it. He submitted himself to the ceremonial law, undergoing the painful operation of circumcision on the eighth day after his birth, as was therein enjoined; to the civil law paying tribute, &c.; and to the moral law, obeying the precepts thereof, and suffering the penal sanction of it, which was added in case of transgression by man, in whose room he substituted himself.
1. Ile submitted to the preceptive part of the law as a covenant of works, which man had broken: and this he fulfilled, so that he
was even subject to Joseph his supposed father, and to Mary his Mother, according to the flesh, Luke ii. 51.; nay, to every branch of it, in fulfilling all righteousness, Matth. iii. 15. By this his obedience the law was magnified and made honourable, and got its full due in respect of active obedience, which it could never have got from men, though all their pieces of obedience had been accumulated into one sum.
2. He submitted to the threatening or penal sanction of the law. Though there was no guile found in his mouth, and ho owed the law nothing, as being the great Lawgiver, yet the law took him by the throat, as the undertaker for sinners, saying, 'Pay me what thou owest.' The threatening was enacted, and he answered it to a tittle, bearing that death in his soul and body which it had threatened on account of sin. And thus he took on the debt of elect sinners, and ho paid it to the utmost farthing. O wonderful condescension in the Lord and Lawgiver, to yield obedience to his own law, that was made for creatures, in all its demands, the most rigorous not excepted? O blessed Undertaker, who hast paid all the debt of bankrupt men !
Thirdly, He underwent the miseries of this life, which was infected with the plague of sin, and thereby rendered very grievous to bear; and yet he, though sinless, humbled himself to bear the tokens thereof. As,
1. Poverty: Though the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, yet he, the Son of man, had not where to lay his head.' Adam had reduced all his posterity to beggary, and Christ submitted to the poverty following it; not having wherewith to maintain himself, but receiving supplies from some women who ministered to him of their substance. He was so poor that he had not wherewith to pay the tribute exacted of him till he wrought a miracle for it. In his greatest state, and when attended with the grandest cavalcade, he was mounted, not on a horse finely caparisoned, but on a silly ass, and that none of his own, but borrowed from another.
2. Sorrow : Isa. liii. 3. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.' There was a constant cloud of sorrow on him. Once wo read of his rejoicing in spirit, but never of his laughing; frequently of his complaints, tears, and groans. He was content to sorrow for us, that we might rejoice, and to weep that we inight be glad.
3. The indignities of the world, in the contempt, reproach, and despite poured upon him. He was despised and rejected of men. hence he says of himself in this respect, Psal. xxii. 6. I am a
worm and no man: a reproach of men, and despised of the people.? He was contradicted of sinners, called Beelzebub, a madman, a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners, &c.
4. The temptations of Satan. He was tempted of the devil forty days in the wilderness and elsewhere : nay tempted to self-murder, and to the worship of that damned spirit, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. And Satan seems to have often set upon him, though the particular times are not mentioned in the sacred records; as appears from Luke iv. 13. where it is said, that the devil departed from him (after his grand temptation) for a season;' denoting that he would attack him again.
Lastly, The sinless infirmities of human nature. He was subjected to weariness, hunger, thirst, &c. as the history of his life in the evangelists abundantly declares. Thus low was the Son of God humbled on account of sinners, that they might not perish for ever. O let us adınire his humiliation and abasement, and let his low estate for ever hide pride from our eyes, and teach us, in whatever state we are, therewith to be content.
Fourthly, He underwent the wrath of God. • Thus he humbled himself to drink the bitter dregs of his Father's wrath for us. The curse of the law was laid upon him, and he bore it for us, Gal. iii. 13. His soul was troubled, John xii. 27. He was beset with sorrows of the deepest sort, when he said, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death,' Matth. xxvi. 38. He was in an agony, se as it made him sweat great drops of blood, that trickled from his blessed body in a cold night in the open air. Whence was all this but from the load of his Father's wrath that lay on him, on account of all the sins of his elect people imputed to him ? a load, which, if laid on all the angels in heaven and men on earth, would have sunk them to the lowest hell. Compare the martyrs quietly bearing the most fearful deaths. They were supported by divine consolations flowing into their souls, without one drop of God's wrath in tho cup given them to drink. But from him all divine comforts were withheld. See that desertion of God of which he so bitterly cried out on the cross, when there was an eclipse of comfort from his holy soul, as there was of the sun in his cheering beams from the earth, that he might bear that wrath in full measure. O what an amazing step of humiliation was this! Who knows the power of the Lord's wrath? If fatherly anger made David to roar, and vindictive justice devils to tremble under the fearful apprehensions of the wrath to come upon them, how dreadful behoved that wrath to be which was duo to the sins of all tho elect, when accumulated in one sum, and all charged upon Christ at once? He was set up as a mark
against which all the arrows of the divine wrath were levelled; the quiver thereof was emptied upon him. No wonder then that he was in agony, that blood trickled from every pore of his body, and that his holy human soul recoiled, as it were, from the terrible shock it underwent under this load of wrath and the curse of the law.
Fifthly, He underwent the cursed death of the cross. Being betrayed by Judas, forsaken by all his disciples, denied by the selfconfident Peter, and condemned by Pilate, he was put to death on the cross.
This death of Christ was, 1. Most painful. No death is without pain. But his death was most painful : for 'it pleased the Lord to bruise him.' Consider here,
(1.) Our Lord was scourged, having his blessed back beaten with sharp rods, Matt, xxvii. 26. which was a most shameful and painful thing.
(2.) He was crowned with thorns; and the mad soldiers struck him on the head, when this prickly crown was on his head, thereby driving the thorns into it, and making them penetrate the deeper, Matt. xxvii. 29, 30. whereby it seems he was so overspread with his own blood, that Pilate thought him already an object of commiseration, and brought him forth to the Jews, saying 'Behold the man,' John xix. 5. Add to this what he suffered from blows and cuffs laid on him without mercy, and their compelling him to bear his own cross, till, fainting with the heavy load and his inward sufferings, they obliged another to drag it to the place of execution.
(3.) He was crucified; which was a most painful and excruciating death. For consider,
[1.] The extending of his body on the cross, which lying on the ground, his body was with such force stretched out its full length, that his bones were drawn out of joint, as he himself pathetically expresses it in prophetical language, long before the tragical event took place, Psal. xxii. 14. 'My bones are out of joint,' His sinews were distended, and his bones dislocated by the violent distension.
[2.] The nailing of the body so extended unto the cross. These nails were driven through the hands and the feet, the sinewy and most sensible parts of the body; which could not but occasion greater pain to Christ's body, which was of a finer temperature and more acute feeling than the bodies of other men, as being entirely exempted from the corruption and distempers these are liable to. And great indeed it seems they were ; for he says, they pierced my hands and feet;' in Hebrew they digged them, as it were with spades and mattocks, which could not but occasion the most excruciating and acute pain.