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have I that the good work of grace is, in reality, begun in my soul? Have I truly been convinced of my sin, by nature and practice? Under this conviction have I fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before me in the gospel? Am I living a life of faith on Jesus the Son of God? Is my faith working by love, purifying my heart, and enabling me to overcome the world? Have I these evidences of my fellowship in the gospel? These are the works for which the apostle exercised his gratitude to God, for his beloved Philippians. Possessing, my brethren, these evidences of grace, you may appropriate to yourselves the consolations of the gospel and rejoice in Christ Jesus. For grace is glory begun, and glory is grace completed. You may look forward into futurity with comfort and hope. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. He will be with you through life; he will be with you in death, and, as the captain of your salvation, will conduct you in safety through its dark valley. His angels will then convey you to the mansions of bliss in paradise, where, when absent from the body, you will be present with the Lord. This is not all: the work will not be finally completed until the second advent of the Lord Jesus, when he will be revealed in all his glory, and come again, as the judge of the quick and dead, attended by his mighty angels. Then, Christians, your bodies as well as your souls will participate in the promised salvation. Your mouldered dust will be re-animated, and your vile bodies will be fashioned like unto the glorious body of your
96 THE PROMISE OF PERSEVERANCE.
exalted Redeemer. You will be owned and confessed by him before angels and men, and be graciously addressed by him in the words of the promise, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Glorified in body and soul, you will then enter the state and the place from which all the painful consequences and effects of sin will be everlastingly banished; you will for ever dwell in the city of God, where "there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God, and the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever." Amen.
THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.
PREAcHED ON CHRISTMAS-DAY.
Matthew i. 18.
NOW THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST WAS ON THIS WISE.
Everything in nature and in providence is full of mystery. Every leaf of the tree, every flower of the field, and every pebble in the brook, possesses qualities which a child is capable of observing and comprehending; while at the same time it contains hidden properties, which the wisest philosopher cannot find out to perfection. In all the ways and works of God, there is a simplicity level to the meanest understanding; and at the same time a depth and complexness, which confound the most enlarged mind. But if all the operations both of nature and providence present this combination, it is peculiarly displayed in the amazing scheme of redemption, the dawn of which shone forth in the incarnation of our blessed Saviour. "Great is the mystery of godliness! God manifest in the flesh." So exclaimed the inspired apostle; and should not the wondrous theme excite our admiration and
VOL. I. H
deepest gratitude, and our most lively praise 1 This is a day on which it is our happiness and our privilege to celebrate the great and glorious event of our Redeemer's birth. It is my intention therefore to offer on the subject some general observations, which may with propriety be founded on the text. "Now the birth of Christ was on this wise." These words will lead us to consider, I. The pre-existence of Jesus Christ.
II. His miraculous conception.
III. His birth.
IV. His character as Emmanuel, God with us.
I. We are to notice the pre-existence of Jesus Christ.
We need not inquire after any condition, in which we ourselves were placed previously to our birth; for this is evidently our first state of being. The Pythagorean notion of man's existence in another state, anterior to his present life, is a fanciful speculation opposed to universal experience, and not warranted by either reason or scripture. But the declarations of the word of God, respecting Jesus Christ, clearly prove that he was possessed of a glorious being before he took on him our nature by his incarnation. He was sent into the world as the Father's messenger. He came down from heaven and clothed himself with humanity. Jesus speaks of his "glory with the Father, before the world was." And the apostle asserts, "That he was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but that he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." In his pre-existent state of Jesus Christ, the scripture maintains his essential deity. "He was the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power." St. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, opens his gospel with an explicit declaration of this doctrine, which is the pillar and ground of the truth. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was not anything made that was made." "In the beginning," there must have been one, without a beginning, to make a beginning. Who this was, the evangelist immediately informs us. In the beginning was the Word. It is not necessary to make any remarks respecting the meaning of the Greek term. The sacred writer is evidently describing God the Creator, in the view of leading us to acknowledge the Redeemer, as one and the same with him, who "was made flesh and dwelt among us." "And the Word was with God." This sentiment is enlarged on by Solomon, the inspired writer of the book of Proverbs. "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before