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tery, transcending the full apprehension of even glorified souls! If but one of thy celestial spirits have, upon thy gracious mission, assumed a visible shape, and therein appeared to any of thy servants of old, it hath been held a spectacle of such dreadful astonishment that it could not be consistent with life; even so much honour was thought no less than deadly; neither could the patient make any other account than to be killed with the kindness of that glory. What shall we say, then, that thou, who art the God of those spirits, and therefore infinitely more glorious than all the hierarchy of heaven, vouchsafedst, not in a vanishing apparition, but in a settled state of many years' continuance, to show thyself in our flesh, and to converse with men in their own shape and condition! Oh “great mystery of godliness,” God manifested in the flesh! so great that the holy ambition of the heavenly angels could not reach higher than the desire to look down into it, 1 Pet. i. 12.
II. But, O Saviour, that which raised so much amazement at the appearance of thy angels, was their resplendent glory; whereas, that which heightens the wonder of thy manifestation to men, is the depth of thine abasement. Although thou wouldst not take the nature of angels, yet why wouldst thou not appear in the lustre and majesty of those thy best creatures ? Or since thou wouldst be a man, why wouldst thou not come as the chief of men, commanding kings and princes of the earth to attend thy train ? Thou, whose the earth is, and the fulness thereof, why wouldst thou not raise to thyself a palace, comprised of all those precious stones which lie hid in the close coffers of that thine inferior treasury? Why did not thy court glitter with pearl and gold, in the rich furnitures and gay suits of thy stately followers ? Why was not thy table furnished with all the delicacies that the world could afford? O Saviour, it was the great glory of thy mercy, that being upon earth, thou wouldst abandon all earthly glory; there could not be so great an exaltation of thy love to mankind, as that thou wouldst be thus low abased ; manifested then thou wert, but manifested in a despicable obscurity. Whether shall I more wonder, that, being God blessed for ever, thou wouldst become man; or that, condescending to be man, thou wouldst take upon thee the form of a servant; a servant to those, whose Lord, whose God, thou wert.
What proportion could there be, oblessed Jesus, betwixt God and a man; betwixt finite and infinite ? the only power of thy everlasting and unmeasurable love, hath so reduced one of these to the other, that both are united in that glorious person of thine, to make up an absolute Šaviour of mankind. Oh the height and depth of this super-celestial mystery, that the infinite Deity and finite flesh should meet in one subject ! yet so as the humanity should not be absorbed of the Godhead, nor the Godhead contracted by the humanity, but both inseparably united ; that the Godhead is not humanized, the humanity is not deified, both are indivisibly conjoined ; conjoined so as without confusion distinguished. So wert thou, O God, manifested in the flesh, that thou, the Word of thine eternal Father, wert made flesh, and dwellest among us; and we men beheld thy glory, “the glory as of the only begot
ten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” John i. 14. Yet so wert thou made flesh, as not by conversion into flesh, but as by assumption of flesh to thine eternal Deity; assumption not into the nature of the Godhead, but into the person of thee, who art God everlasting. Oh mystery of god. liness, incomprehensibly glorious! Cease, cease, O human curiosity, and where thou canst not comprehend, wonder and adore.
III. But, O Saviour, was it not enough for thee to be manifested in flesh; did not that elementary composition carry in it abasement enough, without any further addition ; (since, for God to become man, was more than for all things to be reduced to nothing ;) but that in the rank of miserable manhood, thou wouldst humble thyself to the lowest of humanity, and become a servant ? Shall I say more? I can hear Bildad the Shuhite say, “ Man is a worm,” Job xxv. 6. And I hear
m, who was a noble type of thee, say, as in thy person, “I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of all the people,” Psa. xxii. 6. O Saviour, in how despicable a condition do I find thee exhibited to the world! Lodged in a stable, cradled in a manger, visited by poor shepherds, employed in a homely trade, attended by mean fishermen, tempted by presumptuous devils, persecuted by the malice of envious men, exposed to hunger, thirst, nakedness, weariness, contempt! How many slaves under the vassalage of an enemy fare better than thou didst from ungrateful man, whom thou camest to save! Yet, all these were but a mild and gentle preface to those thy last sufferings, wherewith thou wast pleased to shut up this scene of mortality. There
I find thee sweating blood in thine agony, crown, ed with thorns, bleeding with scourges, buffeted with cruel hands, spat upon by impure mouths, laden with thy fatal burden, distended upon that torturing cross, nailed to that tree of shame and curse, reviled and insulted by the vilest of men, and at last (that no part of thy precious blood might remain unshed) pierced to the heart by the spear of a late and impertinent malice.
Thus, thus, O God and Saviour, wouldst thou be manifested in the flesh, that the torments of thy flesh and the spirit might be manifested to that world which thou camest to redeem; thus wast thou wounded for our transgressions; thus wast thou bruised for our iniquities ; thus were the chastisements of our peace upon thee; and thus with thy stripes are we healed. Oh blessed, but still incomprehensible mystery of godliness! God thus manifested in the flesh, in weakness, contempt, shame, pain, death, Isa. liii. 5.
Once only, O blessed Jesus, while thou wert wayfaring upon this globe of earth, didst thou put on glory; even upon Mount Tabor in thy heavenly transfiguration; then and there did thy face shine as the sun, and thy raiment was white as the light, Matt. xvii. 2; Mark ix. 2; Luke ix. 28. How easy had it been for thee to have continued this celestial splendour to thy humanity all the whole time of thy sojourning upon earth, that so thou mightest have been adored of all mankind! how would all the nations under heaven have flocked unto thee, and fallen down at the feet of so glorious a majesty! What man in all the world would not have said with Peter, “ Lord, it is good for us to be here?" Or if it
had pleased thee to have commanded Moses and Elias to wait upon thee in thy mediatorial perambulation, and to attend thee at Jerusalem, on the Mount of Sion, as they did on the Mount of Tabor, whom hadst thou not in a zealous astonishment drawn after thee? But it was thy will, and the pleasure of thy heavenly Father, that this glorious appearance should seem to be overshadowed with a cloud. And as those celestial guests, now in the midst of thy glory, spent their conference about thy bitter sufferings, and thy approaching departure out of the world; so wert thou, for the great work of our redemption, willing to be led from Mount Tabor to Mount Calvary, from the height of that glory to the lowest depth of sorrow, pain, and death.
Thus vile wert thou, O Saviour, in the flesh; but in this vileness of flesh, manifested to be God. How did all thy creatures, in this extremity of thine abasement, agree to acknowledge and celebrate thine infinite Deity! The angels came down from heaven to visit and attend thee; the sun withdrew his head, as abhorring to look upon the sufferings of his Maker; the earth was covered over with darkness, and quaked for the horror of that indignity, which was offered to thee in that bloody passion; the rocks rent, the graves opened themselves, and sent up their long-since putrified tenants to wait upon thee, the Lord of life, in thy glorious resurrection; so that thou, in thy despised and crucified flesh, wast abundantly manifested to be the Almighty God of heaven and earth.
IV. O blessed Saviour, thou, the true God manifested in the flesh, be thou pleased to mani