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Redeemer; and to tell us of the rags of his manger, of the homeliness of his education, of his temptation and transportation by the devil, of his contemptible train, of bis hunger and thirst, of his weariness and indigence, of his whips and thorns, of his agony in the garden of Gethsemane, of his opprobrious crucifixion at Calvary, of his parted garments, and his borrowed grave; is not this He, to whose homely cradle a glorious and supernatural star guided the sages of the East for their adoration is not this He, whose birth, declared by one glorious angel, was celebrated by a multitude of the heavenly host, with that Divine anthem of, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men ?” Luke ii. 9, 10, 13, 14. Is not this He who filled the world with his Divine and beneficial miracles ? healing all diseases by his word, restoring limbs to the lame, giving eyes to the born blind, casting out devils, raising the dead, commanding winds and seas, acknowledged by an audible voice from heaven? Is not this He whom the very ejected devils were forced to confess to be the Son of the ever-living God? whom the heaven and all the elements owned for their Almighty Creator? whose sufferings darkened the sun, and shook the earth, and rent the rocks in pieces? and lastly, whom the dead saints, and the heavenly angels, attended in his powerful resurrection and glorious ascension? O Saviour, abundantly justified in the Spirit against all the malignancies of men and devils !
VIII. If thy malicious persecutors, whose hand was in thy most cruel crucifixion, shall, for the covering of their own shame, blazon thee for a
deceiver of the people ; how convincingly wert thou justified in the Spirit, by the dreadful and miraculous descent of the Holy Ghost in the cloven and fiery tongues ; and that sudden variety of language, for the spreading of the glory of thy name over all the nations of the earth! If the unbelieving world, bewitched with their former superstition, shall furiously oppose thy name and gospel in the times immediately succeeding ; how notably art thou justified in the Spirit, by the sudden stopping of the mouths of their hellish oracles, by the powerful predications of. thy holy apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and doctors, seconded by such undeniable miracles as shamed and astonished, if not won, the gainsayers.
But, o Saviour, being thus clearly justified in the Spirit against the old spite of hell, with what shame and horror do I see thy eternal Godhead called into question by the misgoverned wits of certain late misnamed Christians, who, as if they would raise up cursed Arius from his hateful grave, have dared to renew those blasphemous cavils against thy sacred person, which, with such great authority and full evidence of the Spirit, were long since cried down to that hell, whence (to the great contumely of Heaven) they were most wickedly sent up into the world. Woe is me! their founder did not send down his soul into that fatal draught in a more odious way, than these his followers vent themselves upward in most unsavoury and pestilent contradictions to thee, the Lord of life and glory: but even against these art thou justified in the Spirit, speaking in thy Divine Scriptures, whose evident demonstra
tions do fully convince their calumnies and false suggestions; and vindicate thy holy name and blessed Deity from all their devilish and frivolous argumentations.
Is there any weak soul that makes doubt of thy plenary satisfaction for his sin, of the perfect accomplishment of the great work of man's redemption ? How absolutely art thou justified, O blessed Jesus, in the Spirit, in that thou raisedst thyself from the dead ; quitting that prison of the grave, whence thou couldst not have come, till thou hadst paid the utmost farthing wherein we stood indebted to Heaven. O Saviour, not more concealed in the flesh, than manifestly justified in the Spirit for my all-sufficient Redeemer, not more meekly yielding to death for our offences, than powerfully raised up again for our justification, Rom. iv. 25; how should I bless and praise thee, both for thine humble self-dejection, in respect of thine assumed flesh, and for thy powerful justification in thine infinite and eternal Spirit! that Holy Ghost whereby thou wert conceived in the womb of the virgin, justified thee in thy life, death, resurrection. Now, then, how confidently can I trust thee with my soul, who hast approved thyself so complete and almighty a Redeemer! O blessed Jesus, with what assurance do I cast myself upon thee, for thy present protection, for my future salvation ! How boldly can I defy all the powers of darkness, while I am in the hand of so gracious and omnipotent a Mediator !
" Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth,” Rom. viii. 33. Even thou, the God who wast manifested in the flesh, and justified in the Spirit, shalt justify and save my spirit, soul, and body, in the day of our appearance before thee.
IX. O Saviour, it is no mystery, that being manifested in the flesh, thou wert seen of men; but it is no small part of the “great mystery of godliness,” that thou who art the God of spirits, wert seen by those heavenly spirits, clothed in flesh. It could not fail to great news to the angels, to see their God born, and conversing as man with men. For a man to see an angel, is a matter of much wonder ; but for an angel to see God become man, is a far greater wonder; since in this the change concerns an infinite subject, in the other, a finite, though incorporeal. But, pause here awhile, O my soul, and inquire a little into these strange spectators.—“Seen of angels”! Who or what might those be?
Are there any such real, incorporeal, permanent substances; or, are they only things of imagination, and extemporary representations of the pleasure of the Almighty ? 'Woe is me! (that no error may be wanting to this prodigious age,) do we live to see a revival of the old Sadduceeism, so long since dead and forgotten? Was Gabriel, that appeared and spake to Daniel, chap. viii. 16, 17, nothing but a supernatural phantasm ? And what, then, was the Gabriel that appeared with the happy news of a Saviour to the blessed virgin? What are the angels of those little ones, whereof our Saviour speaks, who do always behold the face of his Father in heaven ? Matt. xviii. 10. What were those angels who appeared to the shepherds, with the tidings of gratulations of the Saviour born at Bethlehem? Luke ii. 9, 15. What was that beneficent spirit who visited Peter in the prison; smote him on the side, to wake him from his sleep; shook off his chains, threw open the iron gate, and rescued him from the bloody hands of Herod ? Acts xii. 7, 8, 10. What are those spirits who shall be God's reapers at the end of the world, to cut down the tares, and gather the wheat into his barn? In short, what were all those spirits (whereof both Testaments are full) which God was pleased to employ in his frequent missions to the earth ? Were these phantasms too ? Certainly, though there may be many orders, yet there is but one general condition of those angelical attendants on the throne of the Almighty. Even in the Old Testament, was it a supernatural apparition of fancy, that in one night smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt? Was it a supernatural apparition of fancy, that in one night laid a hundred fourscore and five thousand Assyrians dead upon the ground? Could these be any other than the acts of living and powerful agents? It is not for us to contend about words ; those who are disposed to devise paradoxes, may frame to themselves what senses they please of their own terms. This we are sure of, that the angels are truly existing, spiritual, intelligent, powerful, eternal creatures, whose being is not exposed to our sense, but evidenced both to our faith and reason; not circumscribed in any gross locality, but truly being where they are, and acting according to their spiritual nature.