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OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHO GAVE HIMSELF FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD! AND OUR FATHER.
THERE is no subject on which the human mind can be employed, that furnishes more ample matter for reflection than the history of Jesus Christ. The events connected with his miraculous birth ; the lustre of his personal qualities, and the spotless purity of his life; the train of wonderful circumstances involved in his death ; form together an assemblage of interest. ing objects, to which there has not occurred a parallel since time began.
Jesus was ushered into the world with an uns : usual folemnity; a dignifying pomp that rendered him, from the very womb, an object of
general attention and general expectation. His conception was previously announced by a melfenger from God.“ A multitude of the hea“ venly hoft” descending from on high to publish and celebrate his nativity. Wise men of the east, under the guidance of a star, came from a distant land to honour his birth and “ to wor“ fhip him.” And Jews, venerable for their age, and still more for their prophetic character, openly rejoiced in him, and“ spake of him “ to all them that looked for redemption in " Ifrael.”
From a life begun with such distinguished honours, the mind would draw the presage of future greatness ; and this presage the sequel verified. The superior brightness of the dawn was but a natural prelude to the transcendent glories of the succeeding day.
The firit part of his life indeed, Jesus passed in the obscurity of a private station, without exhibiting any thing transmitted to us, that could justify the early expectations which were formed of him. During that period, the sun was hid behind a cloud; its rays were intercepted ; its native glory was obscured. But in process of time it emerged, and shone forth in full splendor. The glory of Jesus appeared : and men “ be66 held it as the glory of the only begotten of * the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus displayed, in his conduct, the highest possible excellence, without a shade of imperfection. He could challenge the utmost malice of his enemies to “ convince him of sin. He knew “ no fin, nor was guile found in his mouth. “ Holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from “ finners,” his life was the image and pattern of universal righteousness.
With the lustre of human virtue, Jesus united a far brighter glory. Professing to have come into the world with authority from God; alfuming the name and character of the Son of God; claiming, and “ thinking it no robbery “ to be equal with God;" he justified these high pretensions by displays of wisdom, power and goodness, which bespoke the presence and perfe&tion of God. His wisdom was infinite;
all things were naked and open to him ;" he clearly “ discerned the thoughts and intents . “ of the heart; he knew what was in man.” When he opened his mouth to dispense “ the “ treasures of his wisdom,” his enemies were constrained to own that “ never man spake like
“ this man." The language of heaven dropped from his lips. He “ had the words of eternal “ life. He fpake with authority. His word " was with power.”
To his power all nature was obedient. At his command, the boisterous winds were laid ; the raging fea was calm. The most malignant, and igreterate, and hopeless diseases, were healed with a word. Nay, the bands of death were difsolved; and, yielding to his fovereign influence, the “ cruel grave” resigned her dead, • This almighty power he made fubfervient to the purposes of goodness. Ever attentive to the calls of humanity, and regardless of any incon. venience that attended its service, “ he went “ about doing good;” ministering health and comfort, and happiness, wherever he came.
To this excellent person, who united the fullness and sufficiency of the Godhead with the kindly sensibilities of human nature, what regard shall we suppose to have been paid? what reception shall we suppose to have been given? Did he not attract the eager attention, and cap. tivate the best affections of mankind? Did not his conduct extort their admiration ; his prefonce command their respect ; his character ex
- cite their reverence and engage their love? Wera they not counted happy who obtained access to him; who heard his heavenly instructions and saw his godlike acts ? Did not “ the wise, and " the noble, and the mighty," list themselves in his train ? Did not all men concur to honour him, and with earnest zeal express their affection and confidence ?
With every claim to this reception, who could suppose that Jesus should have experienced a treatment dire&tly the reverse? that instead of paying him his just homage, a whole nation should have combined against him? that his actions should have been vilified ; his character traduced ; his person hated; his ministry despised ? that he should have been “ oppressed, “ amicted,” persecuted, arraigned, condemned and put to death, with peculiar circumstances of indignity and cruelty? · It is difficult to conceive how men, depraved as they are, should have so far divested them. selves of the feelings of humanity, and violated every right principle of conduct, as to requite the conspicuous innocence and perfe& virtue of Jesus Christ, with such barbarity and injustice. But that Jesus should have condescended to suffer