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only without shame, but with malice. It is their least ill to do evil. Behold, they speak for it, joy in it, boast of it, enforce to it; as if they would send challenges into heaven, and make love to destruction. Their lewdness calls for our sorrow, and zealous obedience; that our God may have as true servants, as enemies. And as we see natural qualities increased with the resistance of their contraries, so must our grace with others' sins. We shall redeem somewhat of God's dishonour by sin, if we shall thence grow holy.
GREAT MYSTERY OF GODLINESS;
LAID FORTH BY WAY OF AFFECTUOUS AND FEELING
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.- 1 Tim.
iii. 16. ŞECT. I. Let no man go about to entertain the “great mystery of godliness,” but with a ravished heart, a heart filled with a gracious composition of love, and joy, and wonder. Such a one, O Saviour, I desire, through thy grace, to bring with me to the meditation of thine infinitely glorious work of our redemption. It was as possible for thy chosen vessel, who was by a Divine ecstasy caught up into paradise, and there heard unutterable words, to express what he saw and heard above, as to set forth what was acted by thee here below; as therefore unable either to comprehend or utter things so far above wonder, he contents. himself with a pathetical intimation of that which he saw could never be enough admired. “Great is the mystery of godliness !” There are great
mysteries of art, which the wit and experience of skilful men have discovered; there are greater mysteries of nature, some part whereof have been described by art and industry, but the greater part lies hidden from mortal eyes. But these are less than nothing to the “ great mystery of godliness:” for what are these, but the deep secrets of the creature? mean, therefore, and finite like itself: but the other are the unfathomable depths of an infinite Deity ; fitter for the admiration of the highest angels of heaven, than for the reach of human conception. Great were the mysteries of the law; neither could the face of Moses be seen without his veil: yet what other were these, but the shadows of this “ great mystery of godliness ?” What did that golden ark overspread with glorious cherubims, that gorgeous temple, those perfuming altars, those bleeding sacrifices, that sumptuous priesthood, but prefigure thee, O blessed Saviour, who in the fulness of time shouldst be revealed to the world, and make up this “great mystery of godliness ?” There is nothing, O dear Jesus, that thou either didst or sufferedst for mankind, which is other than mysterious and wonderful; but the great and astonishing “mystery of godliness,” is thyself, God manifested in the flesh. Lo, faith itself can never be capable of apprehending a mystery like this; thou, who art a Spirit, and therefore immaterial, invisible, to expose thyself to the view of earthen eyes ; thou, who art an infinite Spirit, to be enwrapped in flesh; thou, an all-glorious, eternal Spirit, to put on the rags of human mortality ; thou, the great Creator of all things, to become a creature ; thou, the omnipotent God, to subject thyself to miserable frailty and infirmity. Oh mys.