Page images
PDF
EPUB

fought for the amusement of the people. Humanity, kindness, and benevolence, were made no account of; and such a thing as an hospital was not known. Revenge was both prallised and recommended; and those excellent Christian graces, humility, universal charity, and forgiveness of injuries, were considered as weaknesses and faults. I shudder to think of the dreadful ftate of mankind in those days.' God grant that the same evils may never return. They are the natural consequences of being without Christia. nity in the world; for, when Christianity is gone, there is no rule to go by. Every man may then set up a false goodness of his own. Morals, of course, grow worse and worse; a fierce and proud spirit comes in the place of Christian meekness and benevolence, and claims the name of virtue; and the Saviour of the world, with all his works of mercy, being forgot, man becomes cruel, and unjust, and selfish, and implacable, and unmerciful, for all the violent pas. fions of our nature are let loose.

If we enquire also into the character of the Jews, who lived before the coming of our Saviour, we shall find them to have been deplorably corrupt, though they expected his coming, and were, in some measure, acquainted with true religion. The little knowledge which they had, seems to have been perverted, through the wick. edness of their hearts; and, in short, the scriptures assure us, that “ both Jews and Gentiles were all under fin.” Such was the state into

[ocr errors]

fer

vant.

which the world was funk before the time of our Saviour's appearance in it. ,

Let us describe, next, who Christ was, and what were the consequences of his coming. He is called in scripture " the Son of God;" and in fome places, “God's only Son;" which shews that there is no other being like unto him. We know that a son, by his very birth, derives privileges from his father which belong to no other person; that he partakes in the fame rank and inheritance with his father; and that he possesses also, in an especial manner, his father's favor, and altogether differs from a stranger or

Christ, then, is to be considered, in all fuch senses as thefe, as the Son of God. It is true, he is called also the Son of Man, for he was born of a woman (namely of the Virgin Mary,) and he took upon him our nature, dw.elling on carth for thirty years.

We should take great care, however, that his appearance among lis, as a man, does not lead us to form any low and unworthy notions of him. Suppose now that the son of a king was to travel in the dress of a private subject, on some merciful and condelcending errand, to a distant and obscure

of his territory, surely it would be very ungenerous and ungrateful, if the poor villagers, whom he came to serve, were to deny him the honors of a king's son, merely because they could not be. lieve that so great a person could stoop so low as to come among them, especially if he brought proofs of his power and greatness along with him.

part

Just so, methinks, are all those persons ungenerous and ungrateful, who refuse to Christ that divine honor which belongs to him, merely because he condescended to be made flesh and blood, and to dwell among us.

Let us, then, receive, with fimplicity and humility, the scripture testimony concerning him. Ii speaks of him in terms that are quite astonishing. 66 His name,” says the prophet, foretelling of his birth, “hall be called Wonderful, Counseller, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and the government shall be on his shoulders." The evangelift John tells us, that “the Word (meaning Christ) was with God, and the Word was God.”-“By him,” it is faid, in the Hebrews, “ God made the world;" and again, “ let all the angels of God worship him. All power has been given him, both in heaven and earth, and God hath committed all judgment to the Son."-" The hour also cometh when they that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation."

Such are a few of the expressions used in scripture concerning Christ. Let us learn from these to adore his Divine Majesty, and trust his power, as well as to fear his wrath, and to account him able to fulfil all the purposes of his coming.

But let us next describe what these purposes were: it may be said in general, that "it was

[ocr errors]

for us men, and for our salvation, that he came down from heaven;" or, as the - scripture expresses it, “ the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost, and to give his life a ransom for many.

. The world, as hath been already shewn, was funk in fin, and not in fin only, but in condemnation also. Ever since the fall of our first parent Adam, man had become a sinful creature. 66 But as in Adam all had died, so now in Christ were all (that is, all who would receive him) to be made alive." Chrift, then, was the second Adam: as Adam was the destroyer, lo Christ was the restorer of our race. The devil, who is called the Prince of Darkness, has, we are told in scripture, become the god and the prince of this world. Christ, therefore, came into the world as a conqueror comes to recover an empire that was lost, and to bring back the rebels to their obedience, and to happiness. He came to overthrow that kingdom of darkness which, through the power of the devil and the corruption of man, had been set up. " For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” He came “ to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

But how does Christ fulfil his purpose of delivering us? First, I would observe, that he lived a molt holy life, hereby setting before us an example that we should tread in his Iteps.

He was

He went about doing good; never was any one so kind and gracious to all who came to him, as Jesus Christ. I would here obsere also, that he preached the gospel to mankind; he told us what we must believe and do, in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Through him also, the holy spirit of God is granted to us. And, to crown all, he died for us. nailed to the cross, and suffered a cruel death for our sakes, bearing the wrath of God in our stead. “ Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Christ is that lamb of God" which has been offered up as a facrifice," and " which taketh away the lins of the world.” Now then, let us rejoice, and say triumphantly with the prophet of old, “ Unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given." % Behold, (faid the angels) I bring you glad tidings of great joy; for unto you is born, this day, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.?? * Glory be to.God in the highest, on carth peace, good will towards men.”

Oh ! how many thousands have had reason to bless the season which we are now commemorating—the season of the birth of Jesus Christ ! The world, it is true, is still" wicked, for there are many who do not believe in this Saviour; and there are not a few who think they believe in him, and who do not. Nevertheless, even the world in general has been the better for his coming, for the thick darkness is past, and the

« PreviousContinue »