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commodation but a stable, wherein the blessed virgin brought
22. forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swadIn a fiablo
.dling-cloaths, and laid him in amanger ; doing herself the offices of a pious and tender parent; whilst all the an: gels of God worshipped him, and published to the world the glad tidings of his birth. For, as certain shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night, the angel of the Lord Published came upon them, and the glory of the Lord fhone by angels. round about them; so that the splendor of the appearance confounded their senses, and made them fore afraid. But the angel quickly removed the terror that seized them, with the tidings he broughtof great joy to all people in thosecomfortable words, Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Yet, left they should expect a prince accompanied with pomp and magnificence, the angel described the meanness and obscurity of his circumstances, as a token to guide them in the search of his new-born prince: This shall beasign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapt in swaddling-cloaths, and lying in a mnanger. And having this notice, the shepherds immediately went to Worshipped Bethlehem; and, having found the account true, byspepherds. they returned, glorifying and praising God.
The Jews were in a general expectation of the appearing At the ex- of the Messiah at the time of his birth, as appears pected time. from the ancient and general tradition, that at the end of the second two thousand years the Messiah should appear; and likewise from that particular computation of the Jewish doctors, not long before our Saviour's coming, who, upon a solemn debate of that matter, did determine the Melfiah would coine within fifty years; which is confirmed from the great jealousy which Herod had concerning a king of the Jews, that was expected about that time to be born; and from the testimony of Josephus, who tells us, the Jews rebelled against the Romans, being encouraged thereto by a celebrated prophecy in their scriptures, that about that time a famous princeshould be born among them, that should have dominion overall the earth. And that the heathen world was in expectation of such an appearance is evident from the famous testimo-nies of two eminent Roman historians. Suetonius fays, there
was an ancient and general opinion famous throughout all the eastern parts, that the fates had determined, that there should come out of Judea those that should govern the world. Which words seem to be a verbal translation of that prophe. cy, Out of Judah should come the ruler. Tacitus writes, that a great many were possessed with a persuasion, that it was contained in the ancient books of the priests, that at that very time the East should prevail, and that they who should govern the world were to come out of Judea. Which phrase, that the East should prevail, refers to that title given the Meffiah by the prophet, who says, He is called the man whose name is the East. *
When our Saviour appeared in the world, he scattered and dispelled that cloud of idolatry, and that corruption les adgana of manners, which had fatally overspread it: he be- tages to came a light to lighten the Gentiles, as he was the man. glory of his people Israel. When, under the conduct of such a guide, we cannot fail of acquiring the knowledge of God's willin this world, and thecomfortableexpectation of lifeeverlasting in the world to come; whether we consider the dignity and excellency of his person, the clearness and perfection of his precepts, or the brightness of his own example, together with the encouragements of the gracious assistances and glorious rewards, which he hath promised to all those that engage and perseverein his service; for he, who lay in the bosom of the Father, and had the spirit communicated to him without measure, in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily, could not want a perfect knowledge of what was most agreeable to the divine will: and consequently we must have abundant reason to put our trust and confidence in that method of attaining falvation he hath discovered; and we cannot fail of success, if we are not wanting to ourselves in our neg. lect thereof. And it not only directs us to the true object of worship, and gives us rational and worthy notions of that Being we are obliged to adore; but it is most fitly adapted to Faise our natures to the greatest improvements they are capable of in this world.
SUNDA Y For, though we translate it Branch, yet the Hebrew word fignifies both, and may be rendered the one as well as the other.
SUN DA Y IV.
I. Of the sufferings, crucifixion; and II. Of the death, III.
Burial. IV. Resurrection, and V, Ascension of Jesus Christ. VI, Of bis mediatorial office and fitting on the right hand of God. And VII. Of bis coming to judge the
world at the last day. TN the fourth Article of our christian faith we thank
fully profess our belief, That this fame Jesus Christ, Cbrift the eternal Son of God, begotten of his Father beJuffirs. fore all worlds, God of God, very God of very God, the Prince of glory, the heir of everlasting bliss, the promised Messiah ; who taking the nature of man, yet being in that nature still the same person he was before, suffered under Pontius PILATE, was crucified, died, and was buri. ed; Or, that he was subject to all those frailties and infirmi. ties, those outward injuries and violent impressions, to which mortality is liable. His whole life was full of sufferings, from his birth in the stable to his death on the cross; but, particuJarly in his last bitter passion, he suffered most exquisite pains and torments in his body, and inexpressible fears and forrowe, and unknown anguish in his soul; he sweat drops of blood. One of his disciples betrayed him, and he was denied by another. He was apprehended, and bound by the rude soldiers as a malefactor; accused by false witnesses; arraigned and condemned by that judge who declared he could find no fault in him : he was buffeted, and scourged, and fpit upon; derided and mocked by the people, the soldiers, and at last by the high-priest himself: he was made the scorn and contempt, and sport of his infolent and insulting enemies; and was hurried to death by the clamours of the rab. ble, who cried out, Crucify him, crucify him. According, Was cruci ly he was nailed to the cross; on whịch, after fied. Þaving hung several hours, he gave up the ghost, This way of putting to death was called crucifixion, a Roz man punishment, remarkable for the exquisite pains and ignominy of it. The torment of it appeared from the piercing
those parts of the body with nails, which are most nervous, and yet did not quickly procure death ; and the shame of it was evident from those upon whom it was inflicted, being only flaves, and such as had run away from their masters.
And that our Saviour also fuffered in his mind appears from those grievous agonies he felt; first, in the Tormented, garden, just before his apprehension, when his soul in mind. was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; when he sweat as it were drops of blood, and prayed thrice with great ven hemence to his Father, that, if it were possible, that bittercup might pass from him; and from that inconceivable anguish, which he expressed upon the cross, when he broke out into, that passionate exclamation, My God, my God, why haft thou forsaken me? Thus.evil to come torinented his soul with fear; and evil present, with sadness, anguish, and forrow. Not that he suffered the torments of the damned; for as he knew no guile, consequently he deserved and could suf fer no punishment. But, when we reflect how perfectly the blessed Jefus understood the evil and guilt of fin: how zealous he was of God's glory; how desirous of the salvation of mankind; and yet withal that he knew how small.a number.would be saved; how an ungrateful and rebellious world would frustrate the end of his death, and the deligns of his mercy; we may in some measure guess at that anguish that sunk and depressed him in such a wonderful manner, as made him say, My soul is forrowful even unto death. For we may imagine how much he, who loved us so well as to die to redeem us, might be grieved and afflicted, when he foresaw, that even by his dying he should not save us all from the damnation of hell.
But here let it be remarked, that our blessed Saviour sufe fered only in his human nature, or that nature of Only as . man, which he took upon him; yet, since it was man. , united to the divine nature, and that there was a most inti, mate conjunction of both natures in the person of the Son, there did from thence result a true proper communication of pames, characters, and properties : so that the very eternal Son of God may rightly be said to have suffered whatfoever the man Christ Jefus endured in the flesh for sinners; because
i r 64 - - the the properties of each nature separate may reasonably be affirmed of that person, in whom the two natures are united by the power of God. And our Saviour suffered the painful and shameful death of the cross, to deliver us from the wrath to come, and to purchase eternal redemption for us ; (for thus our church declares, “That the offering of Christ * once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and • satisfaction for all the fins of the whole world, both ori*ginal and actual; and that there is none other satisfaction • for sin but that alone, *
The reason of his undergoing these sufferings was, that The reason he might put away sin by the sacrifice of himfelf; wby... that he might be a propitiation for us thro' faith in his blood: that he might redeemus from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; and to give us a perfect pattern of patience and resignation to the will of God, and of all those christian virtues which are necessary to qualify us to receive the benefit of his fatisfaction ; leaving us an example that we fhould follow his fteps. For,
When by our fins we had justly incurred the displeasure Its berefit of almighty God, and were liable to eternal mido man, sery, our blessed Saviour discharged the obligation; and, by shedding his most precious blood, as the price of our redemption, made satisfaction to God for us: he was contented to be offered a facrifice for us, to bear our sins in his own body on the tree, and to atone for the guilt of our offences by the one oblation of himself once offered for us all, And he died not only for our benefit and advantage, but in our place and stead; so that, if he had not died, we had eternally perished, without being able to escape the justice of · an angry God. For which reason the blood of Christ, which was shed for us upon the cross, is called the blood of the covenant; becaufe thereupon God was pleased to enter into a çovenant of grace and mercywith mankind, wherein he hath pro.nised and engaged, for the sake of Christ's sufferings, voluntarily undergone upon our account, and in our stead, to forgive the sins of all those that truly repent and believe,
and * See the zist Article of Religion,