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with affluence? Evince your gratitude by a liberal disposal of His bounty. Pray for grace that you may use your abundance for the glory of God, and the benefit of your fellow creatures. “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness ; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Are you poor? then, dear brethren, befrugal and industrious. Entreat the God of all grace to give you a contented mind, and to make you “rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love Him.” Whatever our worldly circumstances may be, let us not be immoderately careful about what is termed bettering our condition. Prudence and diligence in our worldly concerns are necessary and commendable. But the anxious pursuit of wealth is prejudicial to our highest interests: it often ends in disappointment; and, what is of infinitely worse consequence, it entangles the soul in a perilous net. “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
2. Contentment implies patient submission to the dispensations of divine providence.
God's ways are often in the great deep: his footsteps are not known. Dispensations, which appear dark and mysterious to us, are conducted by the controlling and directing hand of Him, who does all things wisely and well. Are we exercised with trials and afflictions? They are intended for our good. He chastens us “ for our profit, that we may be
been free from original sin nor from the peccable nature of man, had he been born in the natural way from sinful parents. His body therefore was formed by the immediate agency of the Holy Ghost. The Saviour, therefore, although a perfect man, was entirely without sin in his conception and birth, as well as in his life and death.
But the necessity of man's case essentially required that Christ should be God as well as man. Otherwise how could he have saved us ? His atonement must necessarily be of a divine character and of infinite value. Otherwise how could it be a “ full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world ?” His power, also must be infinite; otherwise how could he attend to the miseries, the wants, and the necessities of all the millions of his redeemed? How could he give rest to the weary and heavy laden ? How could he, as the mediator, bear the concerns of the church and the world upon his shoulder? How could he judge the world? How could he bring all his sons and daughters to the possession of an eternal weight of glory? Take away the divinity of Jesus, and you take away the foundation-stone of the religion of the Bible, and with it the foundation of all your hopes. Reject the divinity of the Son of God, who condescended to become the son of man, the babe of Bethlehem, born in a stable and laid in a manger ; and oh! what a dismal void then opens upon you! But let this Sun of Righteousness arise in his glorious perfections—let him shine forth upon
your souls in his transcendent glories; and then, as believers, your hearts will glow with his cheering rays, your eyes will meet with rapture the opening scenes of immortality, and your feet will press forward with vigour and delight toward the possession of your mansions in the heavens - the inheritance of the saints in light. God manifest in the Aesh is the great mystery of godliness, which the angels desire and rejoice to look into.
A review of this subject might lead to many remarks for its improvement ; but let it be concluded by considering the incarnation of Christ in three points of view :--as the ground of our deliverance, as the means of our holiness, and as the source of our joy.
1. The incarnation of the Saviour is the ground of our deliverance.
I mean here, deliverance from all our spiritual enemies; and this is the view in which it was contemplated by Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of the Redeemer ; when his tongue was loosed, he “ was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began : that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us." We are in the hands of enemies more cruel, tyrannous, and hateful, than were the Egyp
tians to the Israelites. We are by nature in bondage to sin, Satan, death, and hell. But Jesus is our Almighty Deliverer. By the power of his grace, the blood of his cross, and the omnipotence of his arm, he will deliver his people from all their powerful enemies. He liberates from the guilt and dominion of sin; he treads Satan under his feet; and destroys him that had the power of death, that is the devil ; he redeems his people from death, and delivers them from the jaws of hell. Thus he is a horn of salvation-a mighty and irresistible Saviour, who will prostrate all his and our enemies. None can detain us longer in bondage, when he comes to our release. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed!”
2. The incarnation of the Saviour is the means of our holiness.
This is another reflection made on the subject by Zacharias. The coming of Christ was the fulfilment of the promise that God would “grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” This is one important branch of the salvation procured for us by Jesus Christ. Deliverance from the punishment of sin would not be complete unless we were restored also to a state of holiness, of which so long as we remain destitute, we must be strangers to happiness. Heaven itself would confer no felicity to an unrenewed soul. But Jesus came into the world that he might save his people from their sins. “The
unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your Father, which is in heaven : for he maketh his sun to arise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust. . . . . Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect.”
Before I proceed to the second head of the subject, it may be necessary to remark that true Christian contentment can only proceed from right principles. Some persons may be the subjects of a sort of natural contentment, the effect of insensibility, or lack of feeling. But this is a contentment, if it may be so called, like that of a log of wood which feels not the axe that strikes it. Others may possess a spurious species of the grace, produced by reasoning on the principles of fatal necessity. They may argue that it is folly to torment ourselves on what we cannot prevent, or to strive against the decrees of fate. But this is the contentment of a stoic, who pretends that pain is an imaginary evil, of which he can divest himself at will, by the face of a philosophy conferring happiness independent of situation and in spite of circumstances. But this is not “the patience of the saints,” nor the contentment inculcated by the religion of Jesus Christian contentment proceeds from more solid arguments, and arises from much higher principles. It eyes the sovereignty of God, to which it is our duty to submit : it views his wis