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to love ; fear not, if you love thus, but that you will be surely loved in return by Him who is the centre of your hopes, your imitation, and your affection. Yea, if you love thus, be sure that God already loves you ; that the seed which He has sown in your heart is the first pledge and promise of His affection; and that He has already taken possession of that temple wherein, unless we cast Him forth, He hath purposed to dwell for ever. man love me," said the Son of God, “he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."*
Amen, Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus. Even so, Father of all, for Thy Son's sake descend on us, and by Thy Spirit sanctify our hearts, that they may be filled with thy invisible presence in this dark and evil world, so that, in the world to come, we may see Thee as Thou and be in Thee and with Thee everlastingly.
* 1 Johin xiv. 23.
[Preached at Calcutta, Christmas Day, 1825.]
ST. LUKE ii. 14.
This is the hymn with which the angels celebrated the incarnation of our Blessed Saviour, and to us, whom the authority of our national Church, the precedent of early antiquity, and the example of the great majority of belivers in every age and country invite, as at this time, to give thanks for the same illustrious display of Divine mercy, no fitter subject of devout meditation can be found than the words in which the spirits of Heaven announced that mercy to mankind.
And of the topics of reflection which the words in question offer to the mind, the following are among the most striking. In the first place, the fact itself of that sympathizing joy which the angels are represented as feeling in the event which they announced with so much celestial pomp and splendour, must needs excite in us a powerful apprehension of the greatness and illustrious nature of the benefit thus extended to our race, and may convince us both that those evils are very grievous from which the coming of the Son of God was to free mankind, and those blessings are even greater than our familiarity with them leaves us always able to estimate, which could move beings, so much superior to ourselves, to express such a lively and unusual interest in them. And the inference, I think, will
follow both that, in the birth of the Messiah, the spirits of Heaven recognised something far more remarkable than the birth of a mere earthly prophet, and that something far
more valuable than a new and more perfect revelation of » God's will was anticipated by them in their song peace and good will to the sons of Adam.
Of earthly prophets and earthly heroes the birth had been announced, and announced by angels, in former and well-known instances. Isaac and Ishmael had each had his Heavenly harbinger, and the mother of Sampson was comforted in her lonely prayers by the promise of a distinguished offspring. * But in none of these instances was there the like promise displayed, in none of them was the like ardour of exultation and congratulation manifested which now brake the slumbers of the shepherds on the hill of Bethlehem; and which chaunted, this one time, in mortal ears that harmony which swells the choirs of Paradise. A celestial visitant, in form as a man, and suspected only to be more than man from the unmoved and terrible beauty of his countenance, a messenger indeed to mortal clay, but a messenger of too high a rank and too far removed from mortal pursuits or passions to mingle sympathies with that which was but the child of a day, or to occupy himself more or longer than his errand required with the fallen inhabitants of our planet, such was the form whose touch consumed to ashes the offering of Manoah and his wife ; such he who came to Agar in the wilderness, to Zacharias in the temple; and such the three (though with respect to one of these a yet further mystery belongs) who reproved the incredulity of Sarah, and received the homage and hospitality of Abraham beneath the oak of Mamre.† The time had been when God Himself came down to speak, in the form of God, with man, in might and majesty beyond a doubt, but with no tokens of gratulation, no songs of jubilee. On Sinai was a thick and lonely darkness, a mountain smoking like a furnace, which neither man nor beast could approach, save Moses only, and which Moses himself drew near in ex
• Gen. xvii. 16. xvi. 11. Judges xiii. 5.
ceeding fear aud trembling. No angel shapes broke through the gloom, no angel melodies were heard in the pauses of the thunder; but the trumpet alone waxing louder and louder, and the voice of God, of which they who heard it said, “ Let not God speak with us lest we. die !!* How different were these sights and sounds from the glory of the Lord, from the herald angel, accompanied by a multitude of the Heavenly host, and the hymn which, while it ascribed fresh glory to the Most High, spake of peace restored between Heaven and earth, and renewed good will from the Creator to His creatures.
If, however, we look back to what the angel had announced to the shepherds, “unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a SAVIOUR ;'* if we recollect that this birth was the first thing executed on earth towards reconciling mankind to God; that it was the first step towards the overturn of that evil spirit, who is the enemy and accuser of angels as well as of men; that it was the noblest instance of mercy and condescension which even Omnipotence could show, and the more noble in proportion to the wretchedness and manifold demerits of those in whose favour it was exerted, we shall not wonder that the happy and benevolent inhabitants of Heaven felt joy in the extension to other worlds of those blessings in which they themselves partook without measure; that the far-seeing cherubim beheld with delight and wonder a display of wisdom, of power, and of holiness which surpassed their most elevated contemplations, and the seraphs loved, with augmented ardour, that good and gracious Lord who had pity on the least worthy of His creatures.
The reason, then, assigned for the exultation of the Heavenly host, is that Christ was born "a Saviour.' And if we desire to ascertain in what peculiar sense the Lord Jesus was a Saviour beyond all the prophets who went before Him, we shall find, or I am much mistaken, a very considerable difficulty (on every hypothesis of His nature and functions but that which we call the orthodox one) in finding an adequate reason for the eminence and
peculiarity of the title thus appropriated' to Him; for the exultation expressed by the angels while thus appropriating it; and for the vast and lavish display of wonder, of prophecy, of vision, and of miracle, by which the birth, and life, and death, and resurrection, and ascension, and destined return of the Messiah, both have been and will be illustrated. Were these honours paid to Christ as to a mortal man, but taught of God and endued with an unexampled degree of God's spiritual assistance, the chosen instrument of bringing to light a more perfect and holy law of life and morals, confirmed with stronger sanctions than the law of Moses, and with that strongest sanction of all which arises from the resurrection of the dead and a future life without end? God forbid that I should underrate the benefits which, even according to this imperfect view of the Christian faith, will appear to have been conferred on man through Jesus of Nazareth. I admit that, though we were to consider Him as a human prophet only, “ He spake as never man spake ;'* I admit that a fuller stream of grace and wisdom has been poured on Him than on the most favoured sons of Adam, who had gone before or were to succeed Him; I admit that no dictates of human wisdom, no previous lesson taught by God's prophets to mankind, can equal the simple and sober majesty of the sermon on the mount, the touching softness of the parable of the lost sheep, and the returning prodigal, or the thrilling union of awe and tenderness which is inspired by His picture of the last judgment; I admit that neither Socrates, nor Moses, nor David, nor Isaiah, have left us any thing which can equal in purity and pathos His conversation during His last supper, and when bidding adieu to His disciples; I admit that the doctrine of a life after death, though intimated in many passages of the Mosaic law, and more largely dwelt on by the prophets ; though deducible, in a great degree, from the dictates of natural reason, and actually deduced from those dictates by more than one distinguished heathen philosopher ; though forming a part of the popular tradition of almost
St. John vii. 46.