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This was the Perfon that the Text faith, Now appeared, that is, the Son of God in Hua man Nature. God, of the Substance of his Father, begotten before all Worlds; and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the World. Perfect God, and Perfect Man,' and yet but one Person. For as the Reasonable Soul and the Body make one Man, fo here God and Man make one Chrift; as our Creed expreffes it.
And this leads me to his Office. This Divine Perfon God-Man, that the Text here faith appeared, was, by his Office, the Chrif the Meffas, that is, that great Minister of God, that anointed King and Priest and Prophet, which, from the Beginning of the World, he promised to send down upon Earth for the Salvation of Mankind; who was believed in by the Patriarchs ; Typified by the Law;
Foretold by all the Prophets; Shadowed out . in all the Déconomy of the Fewish Nation;
Expected by all the Israelites; and wished for by the best of the Heathen World: · This Perfon invested with this Office, at last appeared; and in what manner, you all know from his story in the Gospel.
He was, by the Holy Spirit of God conceived in the Womb of a Virgin, as was foretold of him by the Prophets; of which an Angel of the highest Order in Heaven, first brought the happy Tidings to the Virgin herfelf.
This Virgin, by as strange a Providence, when the Time of her Delivery drew near,
was brought from her own City and Habita'tion in Galilee, to Bethlehem, a City of Judah, where she brought forth this illustrious Babe; and thereby fulfilled another Prophecy concerning him, namely, That he should be born in Bethlehem, which also the Scribes at that Time acknowledged.. .
The Circumstances, indeed, of his Birth, were far from any outward Pomp and Magnificence. The Virgin his Mother was poor, and a Stranger, and ill-befriended; that in 100 the Confluence of People, with which the City was then crowded, she was able to procure no better a Lodging than the Stable of an Inn: So that à Manger was the Place that first received the Lord of Glory. This Slur, this Affront God then thought fit to put upon all that external Splendor and Grandeur, which usually doth so much dazle the Eyes of Mortal Men.
But God failed not to make abundant Amends for the Meanness of his Birth, by giving sundry other demonstrable Evidences of the Dignity of the Person that was then Born.
For the Magi from the East (Princes shall I call them, or Philosophers? ) being conducted by a new Star, came and paid their Homage, and brought their Offerings to this King of the World in a Manger : And the Shepherds, that were watching the Flocks in the Fields by Night, were surprized with the Glory of the Lord shining round about them, and an Angel that thus spoke to them; Fear not, for be
hold I bring you Tidings of great Joy, which shall be to all People; for unto you is born, this Day, in the City of David, a Saviour which is Chrift the Lord. And this shall be a Sign unto you, ře fall find the Babe wrapped in swadling Cloaths, lying in a Manger. And suddenly there was with the Angel, a Multitude of the Heavenly Host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the Highest, on Earth Peace, Good Will towards Men.
After this Manner was the Appearance of our Saviour, and much after the same Manner was his following Life. It was à Life of much Poverty and Meanness as to outward Circumstances; but it was a Life in every Period of it, fraught with Wonders. Whether we consider the admirable Goodness and Charmingness of his Temper; or the exemplary Virtue and Piety that did shine out in all his Converfation; or the Divinity of his Sermons and Doctrines; or his prodigious inimitable Miracles; or the Attestations which were given him from Heaven ; or the Usage he received from Men; or the Events which followed upon all these Things in the World.
But it is his first Appearance in the Fleshi, that we are this Day met together to commemorate. And never had Mankind fo Noble an Argument given them, to exercise their Thoughts and Meditations upon.
If we consider the Quality of the Perfon apa pearing, that he was no other than the Eternal Son of God; how ought we to be wrapt with Wonder and Astonishment, at the Infiniteness of the Divine Condescension ? How Vol. I.
ought we to be affected with Love and Thankfulness, at fuch a never-to-be parallelled InItance of God's Kindness to us, that he should so love us, as to send bis only begotten Son into the World, that we might live through him?
If we consider that this Son of God resolving to appear in the World, of all others Ways, chose to do it in our Fles, and so united both the Deity and Humanity in one Perfon; O what à Sense ought this to impress upon us, of the Honour that is here done to our Nature, and the Dignity it is advanced to? And how ought that Sense, either to fright us, or to shame us from prostituting this our Nature, to any vile unworthy Mixtures and Communications, which God did not disdain to take into fo near a Relation to himself?
If we consider that this God, in Human Flesh, came as the Messiah; the Saviour of the World, so long before promised, and so long expected; how ought this to fill our Hearts with Joy and Thankfulness? How should it move us to pour qut our Souls in Benedictions to God, for having thus visited and redeemed bis People?? And putting us into that Dispensation, which so many Holy Men, for so many Ages, wished to see, but did not see it; nay, and which the Angels themselves desired to look into; and which the Yews for rejecting, at the Time it was Published, are to this Day a standing Monument of God's Displeasure and Vengeance ?
If we consider the many Evidences, that this our Saviour gave at his Appearance, of
his being the true Chrift; how exa&ly in all the Circumstances of his Nativity, and all the Passages of his Life, he fulfilled the Prophen cies which went before of him; and how convincing the Testimonies were, which God gaye to the Truth of his Mission : how ought this Consideration to strengthen our Faith in this Christ? To make us conftant to the Death, in owning him for our Saviour, our Messiah, in Opposition to all the Pretences of the Jews, and Infidels, and Atheists, and Scepticks, to the contrary.
Lastly, If we consider the mean Circumstances that this our Christ chose to appear in; so far below the Dignity of so great a Prince, that there is not the poorest Beggar's Child among us, but generally finds better Accommodation when it comes into the World ; ( what a Check, what a Rebuke ought this to be to that Spirit of Ambition, and Pride, and Vain- . glory, that too often possesses us poor Mortals? How ought it to take off our Admiration, and lessen the too great Esteem we are apt to have of all outward Pomp and Greatness ? Nay, and to make us despise all the glittering Shews and Bravery of the World: Since God has given us so visible a Demonstration, by the sending his own Son into it, how little a Value he sets upon these Things. But,
I proceed to the Second Point, which my Text leads me to speak to, and that is the Time of our Saviour's Appearance here mentioned, Once hath he appeared in the End of the World.