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in flesh; yea,
creatures. This is the astonishing mystery, that God should be manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. 3:16, that the eternal God should truly and properly be called the Man Christ Jesus. 1 Tim. 2:5. It was a wonder to Solomon, that God would dwell in the stately and magnificent temple at Jerusalem: "But will God in very deed dwell with men on earth? Behold, the heaven, and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built !” 2 Chron. 6:18. But it is a far greater wonder that God should dwell in a body of flesh, and pitch his tabernacle with us. John, 1: 14.
The heathen Chaldeans told the king of Babel, that the " dwelling of the gods is not with flesh.” Dan. 2: 11. But now God not only dwells with flesh, but dwells
was made flesh, and dwelt among us." For the sun to fall from its sphere, and be degraded into a wandering atom ; for an angel to be turned out of heaven, and be converted into a fly or a worm, had not been such abasement ; for they were but creatures before, and so they would abide still, though in an inferior rank. The distance between the highest and low. est species of creatures is but a finite distance. The angel and the worm dwell not so far asunder. But for the infinite glorious Creator of all things to become a creature, is a mystery exceeding all human understanding. The distance between God and the highest order of creatures is an infinite distance. He is said to humble himself to behold the things that are done in heaven. What a humiliation then is it, to behold the things in the lower world! but to be born into it, and become a man! great indeed is the mystery of godliness. "Behold, (saith the prophet, Isa. 40: 15, 17,) the nations are as the drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. All nations before him are as nothing, and they are accounted to him less than nothing, and
vanity.” If, indeed, this great and incomprehensible Majesty will himself stoop to the state and condition of a creature, we may easily believe that, being once a creature, he would expose himself to hunger, thirst, shame, spitting, death, or any thing but sin. For that once being a man, he should endure any of these things, is not so wonderful, as that he should become a man. This was the low step, a deep abasement indeed!
2. It was a marvellous humiliation to the Son of God, not only to become a creature, but an inferior creature, a man, and not an angel. Had he taken the angelic nature, though it had been a wonderful abasement to him, yet he had staid, if I may so speak, nearer his own home, and been somewhat more like to a God than now he appeared, when he dwelt with us; for angels are the highest and most excellent of all created beings. For their nature, they are pure spirits; for their wisdom, intelligences; for their dignity, they are called principalities and powers; for their habitations, they are styled the heavenly host; and for their employment, it is to behold the face of God in heaven. One description both of our holiness and happiness in the coming world is this, we shall be " equal to the angels.” Luke, 20:36. As man is nothing to God, so he is much inferior to the angels; so much below them, that he is not able to bear the sight of an angel, though in a human shape. Judges, 13:22. When the psalmist had contemplated the hea. vens, and viewed the celestial bodies, the glorious lumi. naries, the moon and stars which God had made, he
"What is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him! thou hast made him a little lower than the angels.” Psalm 8:5, 6. Take man at his best, when he came perfect and pure from his Maker's hand, in the state of innocency; yet he was inferior to angels. They always bore the image of God in a more eminent degree than man, as being wholly spiritual, and so a more lively representation of God than man could be, whose noble soul is immersed in matter, and enclosed in flesh and blood. Yet Christ chooseth this inferior order of creatures, and passeth by the angelic nature ; He took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham.” Heb. 2: 16.
3. Moreover, Jesus Christ did not only assume the human nature ; but he also assumed its nature, after sin had blotted its original glory, and withered its beauty and excellency. For he came not in our nature before the fall, whilst as yet its glory was fresh in it; but he came, as the apostle speaks, " in the likeness of sinful flesh,” Rom. 8:3, that is, in flesh that had the marks, and miserable effects, and consequents of sin upon it. I say not that Christ assumed sinful flesh, or flesh really de. filed by sin. That which was born of the virgin was holy. By the power of the Highest it was so sanctified that no taint of original pollution remained in it. But yet, though it had not intrinsic native uncleanness in it, it had the effects of sin upon it; yea, it was attended with the whole troop of human infirmities that sin at first brought into our common nature, such as hunger, thirst, weariness, pain, mortality, and these natural weaknesses and evils that clog our miserable natures, and under which they groan from day to day.
Though he was not a sinner, yet he appeared like a sinful man, and they that saw and conversed with him took him for a sinner, seeing all these effects of sin upon him. In these things he came as near to sin as his holiness could admit. O what a stoop was this! To be made in the likeness of flesh, though the innocent flesh of Adam, had been much; but to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh, the flesh of sinners, rebels; Oh what is this! and who can declare it! And indeed, if he were to be a Mediator of reconciliation, it was necessary it should be so. It behoved him to assume the same nature that sinned: to make satisfaction in it. Yea, these sinless infirmities were necessary to be assumed with the nature, as his bearing them was a part of his humiliation, and went to make up satisfaction for us. Moreover, by them our High Priest was qualified from his own experience, and filled with tender compassion to us. Oh the admirable condescension of a Saviour, to take such a nature ! to put on such a garment when so very mean and ragged ! Did this become such a Saviour ? Oh grace unsearchable !
4. And yet more, by this his incarnation he was greatly humbled, inasmuch as this so vailed, clouded, and disguised him, that during the time he lived here he looked not like himself as God. Hereby "he made himself of no reputation.” Phil. 2:7. By reason hereof he lost all esteem and honor from those that saw him, "Is not this the carpenter's son ?" Matt. 13:55. To see a poor man traveling up and down the country, in hunger, thirst, weariness, attended with a company of poor men; one of his company bearing the bag, and that which was put therein, John, 13: 29; who that saw him, would ever have thought this had been the Creator of the world, the Prince of the kings of the earth? He was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Who of you would not rather endure much misery as a man, than be degraded into a contemptible worm ? Yet Christ stooped to an infinitely deeper degradation. And think with yourselves now,
was not this astonishing self-denial? It was a black cloud that for so many years darkened and shut up his glory, that it could not shine out to the world ; only some weak rays of the Godhead shone to some few eyes, through the chinks of his humanity; as the clouded sun sometimes breaks forth a little, and casts some faint beams, and is hid again. "We saw his glory," says the beloved apostle, as of the only begotten Son,” John, 1 : 14; but the world knew him not. If a prince walk up and down in disguise, he must expect no more honor than a mean subject. This was the case of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Again, Christ was greatly humbled by his incarnation, inasmuch as thereby he was put at a distance from the Father, and that ineffable joy and pleasure he eternally had with him. Think not, reader, but the Lord Je. sus had high and inimitable communion with God while he walked here in the flesh; but yet to live by faith, as Christ here did, is one thing; and to be in the bosom of God, as he was before, is another. To cry,
and God not hear, as he complains, Ps. 32:3, nay, to be reduced to such distress as to be forced to cry out so bitterly as he did, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Ps. 22:1; this was a thing Christ was utterly unac. quainted with till he was found in fashion as a man.
6. And lastly, It was a great stoop and condescension of Christ if he would become a man, to take his nature from such obscure parents, and choose such a low and contemptible state in this world as he did. He is born, not of the blood of nobles, but of a poor woman in Israel, espoused to a carpenter: yea, and that, too, under all the disadvantages imaginable; not in his mother's house;
but an inn; yea, a stable. He suited all to that abased state he was designed for; and came among us under all the humbling circumstances imaginable: "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor.” 2 Cor. 8:9. Thus I have shown you some few particulars of Christ's humiliation in his incarnation.
INFERENCE 1. Hence we gather the fulness and completeness of Christ's satisfaction, as the sweet first-fruits of his incarnation. Did man offend and violate the law of God? Behold, God himself is become man to repair that breach, and satisfy for the wrong done. The highest honor that ever the law of God received, was to