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distances, scanned the motions, and foretold the changes, of the celestial orbs. And when coming back from the utmost limit of all visible things, to that which, invisible, is nearest, and every where around him, the viewless, graspless atmosphere; he has separated, detained, and analysed it; when having thus acquainted himself with all things, both seen and unseen, which press upon his outward sense, he has looked within, and there, busied in deep processes of thought and of calculation, has demonstrated the abstract properties and relations of number, of quantity, and of motion; how does he rise before us in dignity and in consequence, as a being, above all others, whom we behold nearly allied to God! And can it be that he who gave to man these faculties, capable as they are of almost infinite progression and improvement, is totally unmindful of hiin on whom they are bestowed ? Shall he neglect him whom he has formed, the master spirit of this lower world ? Or shall it be said of him that he despiseth the work of his own hands! · But look still farther. Consider man as a sensitive being. Think of his capabilities of suffering and of enjoyment. See him now lifted up in ecstacies of pleasure, and again sunk down into the depths of affliction and distress. Look at him as regarding the past, he is awakened to feel the half-forgotten sorrows which rankled in his heart; or lives over again scenes of delight which are for
ever gone. See him, when, regarding the future, he is excited by hope, or overcome by fear. Behold him lord of this lower creation, suffering deaths in apprehension, or living in imaginary scenes of felicity to come, of which all other creatures, confined to the perception of the present moment merely, can have no consciousness. Think of him as thus connected, in his nature, with the past, the present, and the future: and formed capable to receive from each the most exquisite enjoyment, or the most poignant sufiering. And then let me ask, Is he not a being, if not fit for the converse, yet deserving of the notice, of God?
These are claims upon which, had he remained in his state of primitive uprightness, I might insist, to show that man was not beneath the notice of the Most High; and in proof how reasonable it is that he should condescend to visit and regard him. I might go back, and tell a blissful period when, as the cool of the day came on, and the breeze of evening sighed through the foliage of Paradise, the voice of the Lord God was heard walking amongst the trees of the garden, which he himself had prepared, and fitted for the abode of human felicity; when God was the condescending companion of man, and man was permitted to be called the friend of God. But alas! the scene is sadly changed. Those days are gone; and with them all those high and honour
able claims to the interco'irse of the Supreme, which marked the innocence of our first estate. Not now for his dignity, his worthiness, his noble faculties, his lofty original, would we dare to hope that God would dwell with man on the earth. There is now a melancholy, but a more powerful reason, why God should interpose and look upon him. Our claims rest not now upon our merit, but upon our need. They are not the high and equal claims of right; but the humble and suppliant appeal, addressed to mercy. The creature that was made pure and upright, is de. praved and debased. He that was great in his birth-right, and great in his destiny, is humbled and in ruin. And now the only plea which he can urge for the favour and regard of God, is his degradation, bis misery, and his sin. And is this a plea to which infinite goodness can listen and not sympathize ? Is man, in his low estate, a spectacle upon which infinite compassion can look with indifference? . Is the image of God in ruin, an object which God can behold unmoved? Is there not mercy with God? And shall there be no wish to reclaim? No desire to restore? No effort to redeem? Is there not mercy with God? And though countless myriads of beings, who have kept their first estate, obey his will, and rejoice in his dominion and his care, will he not, like the good shepherd, leave the ninety and nine of his flock which have not strayed, and
himself come down to seek and to save that which was lost?
My brethren, these expectations which hope suggests, and which reason acknowledges, revelation has confirmed. Shall I recount to you the wonder of the incarnation, that astonishing display of goodness which constitutes the scheme of redemption and of grace? But why do I call it a wonder? Is it wonderful that a God of compassion should pity the miserable? And if the miserable be sinful also, is it wonderful that to admit them to the abodes of infinite purity, infinite holiness and justice, should demand an infinite satisfaction and atonement ? No. Did we rightly conceive of God and of ourselves, the wonder of the incarnation would cease; and far from rejecting a scheme so magnificent, so perfect, so divine, and so all-sufficient, because it transcends our highest thoughts, we should see combined in it, in a manner worthy of the greatness of God, interposing for the saving of a world, a provision for the demands of justice, the promptings of mercy, and the claims of misery.
This great fact of the incarnation, my brethren, is that which not only makes credible all the previously recorded interpositions of God, but gives assurance also of his continued regard for his creatures. And now when the question is asked with solicitude, or if unasked, rises fear, fully in our minds, “ But will God, in very deed,
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“ dwell with men on the earth ?” Here is that which must give assurance that he will. We point not, therefore, to the manifestation of his presence in the bush which burned, but was unconsumed, while a voice proclaimed to Moses, the ground whereon thou standest is holy; not to the pillar of the cloud which conducted the Israelites through the sea, and through the wil. derness; not to the ark of the covenant, and to the mercy-seat; nor yet to the visible glory which filled the ancient temple, and announced that God had there condescended to make his abode; but we point to this great fact, the appearance of a Divine Redeemer in our world; we tell of the coming of him who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but yet
humbled himself to be born of a virgin, and was made in the likeness of men ; we tell of him, that he dwelt among us full of grace and truth; and we argue that there can be no greater proof of the interest of our heavenly Father in our welfare, or of his willingness to regard, to visit, and to bless us, than this unquestionable truth, « God was manifest in the flesh.”
My Christian brethren, if we believe this truth, the question which we have this day asked with solicitude, we may answer with confidence. Still further to confirm that confidence, the Saviour whom we worship has left his unfailing assurance to his Church, “Lo! I am with you alway, even