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affection; because the wish of David would in the latter case be carried into effect, so far at least as it could be with the least hope of escaping from personal destruction. But neither of these instances will bear any comparison with that act of Divine love which our collect celebrates. For David's wish was not, and could not be, carried into effect. And if an opportunity of fulfilling it had offered, we know not whether cool reflection might not have repressed the ardour of his affection. And the act of the mother, just described, is not performed under a certainty of personal destruction, but with a hope of escape. And moreover, the object of her tender anxiety is worthy the risk she runs. But God incarnate not only risked, but actually laid down His life. He engaged in the work of redemption on the absolute condition of making Himself a sacrifice for sin-a sacrifice for the sins of those wlio were utterly unworthy of His notice, and from whom He could expeci no shadow of return. No addition could be made to the Divine felicity by the salvation of man, nor could any diminution of it have resulted from his eternal ruin.
The proof of love to man which our collect describes is the highest that God could give. If He could, consistently with His justice, have pardoned sin without receiving for it any satisfaction, the exertion of His prerogative for this purpose would have afforded a much lower demonstration of the love wherewith He loveth us than redemption has given. That would have cost Him nothing; but this demanded the whole treasury of infinite compassion.
We have already discoursed on the incarnation and nativity of our Lord when we reviewed the collect for Christmas-day; and therefore we shall not now enlarge on His assumption of our flesh which is mentioned in our present collect. We are now brought by the revolving year near to that time when we commemorate the concluding act of our Saviour's humiliation, and the great end of his incarnation. We are to follow Him by faith, in the course of the ensuing week, to the garden of Gethsemane, where His dying agonies commenced; we are to ascend with Him in spirit the mount of Calvary, mingling our tears with those of the daughters of Jerusalem; and, shortly after, we are to receive the oil of joy “ for mourning, and garments of praise for the
spirit of heaviness,” while we witness the commencement of His triumphs in the garden of Joseph of Arimathea. By a guilty transaction in the garden of Eden paradise was lost: by the glorious work which was begun in the garden at the foot of the mount of Olives, and finished in the garden of Joseph, paradise is restored.
By the collect for to-day our church prepares us to weep with a weeping Saviour and to triumph with our triumphant Lord. The twofold event of Good-Friday and Easter-day is incorporated in our collect.
The dignity of the person who was sent on that work of love which our collect describes; His near relation to God who sent Him; the errand on which He came; the character of those whose salvation He undertook; these and a thousand other considerations concur to enhance the tenderness of that love which we celebrate, that love which passeth knowledge. But as we shall soon have an opportunity of entering inore fully into this subject, we shall not now enlarge on it.
We therefore proceed to a consideration of that important end of Christ's mission which is specified great humi
in our collect, and which, though not the principal object of the incarnation and death of Christ, is closely, yea inseparably connected with that principal object. Christ was sent by His Father to “ take upon Him our flesh, and to “ suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind
might follow the example of His " lity.” That this was not the principal object which Divine love had in view, is evident from the general tenour of Scripture, which continually represents atonement to be the chief end of our Lord's work. Yet are there various sects of religionists who deny, or at least place in the back ground of their painting, Christ's expiatory sacrifice, while they exhibit His example as alone worthy of regard. But they labour in vain; for a display of the pattern which Christ hath set for our imitation is a useless task, if unaccompanied with those motives to copy it which can only be drawn from His atonement. In the charge here brought against those who mutilate the Gospel, not only the Socinian, but also the various classes of mystical theologues, are implicated. Like Prometheus, they may form the figure of a Christian, but they cannot give it animation.
The end however of Christ's coming which our collect specifies, though not the principal, is an essential one, and closely connected with the atonement. For the latter would be of no value to man, unless a conformity to the example of Christ were produced by it. And an imitation of Christ is necessarily produced by a reception of His atonement, for « faith workéth by love."
From among the various graces which were exercised by Christ as a pattern for our imitation, our collect has selected in His great humility,” as being that grace to which the season of Lent now
observed, and the great day of atonement just at hand, particularly call our attention. And indeed in mentioning this grace of Christ's character our church has mentioned all His other excellences. For it supposes and implies every other attribute of His mediatorial office. And if we
And if we « follow the example of His great humility;" we shall also follow the example of every other virtue which shone in the heart and life of the God-man. The cluster of Eshcol's grapes which the spies exhibited to the Israelites, though nothing more than a specimen, was a sufficient specimen of the rich productions of Canaan, from which the fertility of the good land might legitimately be inferred. And if we are imitators of Christ's humility, “ whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things
are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatso“ ever things are pure, whatsoever things are “ lovely, whatsoever things are of good report," will accompany that imitation. We shall then « add to our faith, virtue; and to virtue, know
ledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to
temperance, patience; and to patience, God“ liness; and to Godliness, brotherly kindness; w and to brotherly kindness, charity. And if “ these things be in us and abound, they will « make us that we shall neither be barren nor 6s unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord “Jesus " Christ.” Humility is the sap which, pervading every fibre of the Christian violet, produces that odour which is so grateful and acceptable both to God and man.
Now Christ is the great pattern of humility. Of Him only it can be said that He “humbled “ Himself.” A creature, as such, however selfabased before God, can sink no lower than his proper station
And much less can a sinner