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That is the First particular propounded: by whom this joy is proclaimed, namely, a multitude of the heavenly host.
II. I might likewise have added, that the angels rejoiced at the Birth of Christ, because there is laid in it the great and wonderful design of God's glory; but that falls into the Second General, and that is, WHAT THIS ANGELICAL SONG CONTAINS IN IT.
It is set down in Three most amiable and excellent things, Glory, Peace, and Good-Will, which are here applied to their several objects; Glory to God, Peace on earth, and Good-Will towards men.
j. To begin with the first, GOD'S GLORY. Now God's glory is of two sorts, essential and declarative.
God's Essential Glory is nothing else, but the infinite perfections of his own nature: it is a constellation of all his un. conceivable attributes, of wisdom, power, holiness, and the like, into his own ever blessed essence. And, thus, God was from all eternity: before ever there was creature made to admire him, he was infinitely glorious in bimself.
The Declarative Glory of God is nothing else, but that visible splendor and lustre, which reflects from the Essential Glory, upon the notice and intimation that the creatures have of it. Thus we are said, to give glory to God; not that we can con. tribute any thing to him, and set any jewels in his crown, which did not shine there before; but when we observe and admire those bright corruscations of his attributes, which appear in several ways that God takes to express them: then we glorify God, when we admire those strictures of God's Essential Glory, which appear in his attributes. So, here, when the angels sung, Glory to God in the highest ; the meaning is, “Let heaven and earth behold, with admiration, and acknowledge those attributes of God, which now shine forth in the Incarnation of his Son."
From the words thus opened, let me observe, that,
THE ABASING NATIVITY OF JESUS CHRIST, IS THE HIGHEST ADVANCEMENT OF GOD'S GLORY.
This is a strange riddle to human reason; which is apt to judge it a most preposterous course, for God to raise his glory
out of the humiliation and abasement, yea out of the very ruins, of his Son. " What if God had thrown open the gates of heaven, and given all the world a prospect into that heavenly and glorious palace; there to have seen the throne of majesty and his glittering attendants, ten thousand flaming spirits ready to execute his will, cherubims and seraphims flying as swift as lightning within those boundless roofs; would not this have been more expressive of God's glory, than thus to cloister it up and immure the Deity in clay? to expose Him, who was God, to the miseries of wretched man, to an ignoble and cursed death? The cratch in which he lay, and the cross on which he hung, were not high places of any glorious appearance. Thus
may carnal reason urge, upon this score. The Apostle, in 1 Tim. iii. 16, speaking of the incarnation of Christ, calls it the mystery of godliness. It is a riddle, and a mysterious one: not only how it should be, that the Eternal and Infinite God should unite himself in oneness of
person with frail and despicable flesh; but why it should be done.
Now, to give you some account of this, I shall briefly, in a few particulars, shew you how much glory redounds to God hereby.
1. In the Birth of Christ, God glorified the riches of his Infinite Wisdom.
This was a contrivance, that would never have entered into the hearts either of men or angels. Heaven, at this very day, stands astonished at it: angels are continually looking into it, and confess their understandings infinitely too short to fathom it. 1 Cor. i. 24. Christ is called the Wisdom of God. He is, first, the Essential Wisdom of God, as he is the Second Person of the Ever-blessed Trinity: he is the Intellectual Word, that was in the beginning with God, and was also God himself. He was likewise the Declarative Wisdom of God, as Mediator; God-Man united in one person. Let us a little put the difficult case concerning Man's salvation; that, withal, we may see whether it was not the contrivance of Infinite Wisdom. Justice and mercy lay in their different claims for sinful man: severe justice pleads the law and the curse, by which the souls of sinners are forfeited to vengeance; and therefore challengeth the malefactors, and is ready to drag them away to execution: mercy interposes, and pleads, that, if the rigorous demands of justice be heard, it must lie an obscure and an unregarded attribute in God's essence for ever: it alone must be excluded, when all the rest had their share and portion. The case is infinitely difficult: call a bench of angels to debate the case: when all is said, we find no way to accommodate this difference: it is beyond their reach, how to satisfy justice in the punishment of sinners, and yet to gratify mercy in their pardon. Here now, in this gravelling case, is the wonderful wisdom of God seen: justice demands that man should die; saith God, “ My Son shall become man, and die under thy hands : seize upon him, and pursue him through all the plagues and curses that my Law threatens: only, there, satisfy thyself on the Surety: my mércy shall forgive and save the principal.” Think what a shout and applause heaven gave at the decision of this great controversy. Oh the infiniteness of thy wisdom, that couldst contrive means to reconcile such different interests, and twist thy glory with them both! Oh, it is delightful for reason to lose itself in such a divine meditation : for it is an unfordable deep for the soul to enter into: it utterly swallows up all our apprehensions: we never find ourselves at such a ravishing ecstasy of loss, as when we trace out the intrigues and admirable ways of our recovery.
2. The Birth of Christ glorified the Almighty Power of God.
It was his Infinite Power, that spread abroad the heavens, that poized the earth in the midst of the air: and it would be a glorious expression of power, if God should draw up this globe of the earth to the heavens; or if he sfiould let down the concave of heaven to earth. This God hath done, in the miraculous Birth of Christ: he hath joined heaven and earth together: he hath made an inseparable union between them: he hath caused heaven and earth to meet in the midway: he hath raised earth to heaven, and stooped heaven to earth. It is an effect of the Almighty Power of God, to unite himself to huinan nature, to frail flesh: this was to put forth his power, only to make himself weak. Is it not Almighty Power, that the infinite, unconceivable Godhead should unite to itself dust and ashes; and be so closely united, that it should grow into one and the same person? The glory of God's power is hereby exceedingly advanced.
3. By the Birth of Christ, God glorified the severity of his Justice.
His Son must rather take flesh and die, than that this attribute should remain unsatisfied. And so strict was God, that, when he found but the imputation of sin upon his Son, justice arrests him. And, indeed, by this course the justice of God was more fully satisfied, than if it had seized upon the offenders themselves : for they are but finite, and cannot bear the utmost severity and infliction of divine wrath and vengeance: this, the Son of God can and hath done; who, by virtue of the divine nature, underwent it all, and came triumphantly from under it all. So that God glorified the attribute of his justice more, by sending Jesus Christ into the world, to undergo the execution of that wrath that was due to sinners; than if he had taken particular vengeance upon sinners, and sent away every soul of them to hell. * No other sacrifice could avail to appease the Divine Justice, but that true and only sacrifice of the Son of God, who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God.
And therefore we find it expressed, Heb. x. 5, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me : for, because the divine nature is altogether impassible, and not at all subject to grief, sorrow, or sufferings, it was therefore necessary that the Mediator between God and Man should be Man as well as God; for, by this ineffable union, the one nature suffers and the other supports, 'the one conflicts and the other conquers; and, for the payment of our debt, the one' brings the ore, the other stamps it and makes it valuable. And, by this means, likewise, satisfaction is made unto justice in the same nature that sinned; for, as man offended, so man also is punished: the same, which made the forfeiture, makes the redemption. For, as by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead : i Cor. xv. 21. the same, which was shamefully foiled, doth now most gloriously overcome: Heb. ii. 14. Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that, through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil.
4. By the Birth of Christ, the Truth and Veracity of God is eminently glorified ; by fulfilling many promises and predictions, which were made concerning the sending of Christ into the world.
That primitive promise, Gen. iii. that the seed of the woman should break the serpent's head, which lay for many ages under
and figures, at the birth of Christ broke forth into accomplishment. All those prophecies, all those ceremonial resem
* From this sentence, inclusive, to the end of this subdivision, is added from the Appendix. EDITOR.
blances, which, through the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, went big with a Saviour, when they had gone out their full time, were safely delivered, and the veracity of God gave them all their expected issue in his birth. So we have it, Gal. iv. 4. But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, &c.
5*. The Birth of Christ glorifies the Infinite Purity and Holiness of God.
When God formed the First Adam, he drew upon him the lineaments of his own image : and, because holivess is the most illustrious part of this image, his Almighty Creator impressed upon him that best resemblance, that he might be a visible type of his infinite purity to all the world. Buț, sin having despoiled mankind of that glory, the best having but some few strictures and weak glimmerings of it restored unto them in their renovation; God was pleased to raise up a Second Adam, who should be not only sinless but impeccable, and to exhibit him unto the world as the most perfect representation of his own holiness. And therefore his birth must be miraculous, that it might be pure: his extraordinary conception preserved him from original sin; and the hypostatical union, together with the unmeasurable unction of the Holy Ghost, froni all actual, And, though Jesus Christ was the greatest sinner in the world (as Lúther, with no bad intent, made bold to call him) by imputation; yet had he no sin, either of nature or of practice, inherent in him. He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: 2 Cor. v. 21. And he did no sin, neither was guile found in his inouth : 1 Pet. ji. 22: and this, that he might be to us, not only an example of unspotted sanctity, but also a perfect idea of the infinite purity of God.
6t. I might add, that, hereby, the Infinite Love and Pity of
* The whole of this sub-division is added from the Appendix. EDITOR.
+ This head stands in the Appendix, as follows. It seems to have been used, in this form, as an Application, when the Discourse was divided at this place: part of it is again found in the Application at the end of the whole Discourse.
“ 6. The Birth of Jesus Christ most eminently glorifies the infinite Love and Mercy of God towards sinners.
“ So very dear were our souls to God, that, when he saw us lie forlorn in our sin and misery, forfeited to his justice, exposed to his curses, and liable to his eternal wrath, he was pleased to commiserate our wretched condition, and to send his only-begotten Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem us who were under the curse and malediction of the Law. O miracle of love and mercy! that God should send his Son out of his