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God's elect, then certainly there can be no other. If he hath finished that work, then there is no need of our additions. And if that work be not finished by him, how can it be finished by men ? It is simply impossible for any creature to finish that which Christ himself could not. But men would fain be sharing with him in this honour, which he will never endure. He is the only Saviour of sinners; and he will never divide the glory of it with us. Men would fain have something of their own to atone offended justice. There is a legal strain, a strong tang of the first covenant, running in the hearts of all men by nature. We would do something for ourselves, and are unwilling to be obliged to another for our deliverance from that wretched condition that sin hath brought us into. "What good thing shall I do (said the young man in the gospelthat I may have eternal life. But all our righteousnesses are but as filthy rags. Though your heads were waters, and your eyes a fountain of tears, and you should weep day and night continually ; nay, though you should weep tears of blood, all would be in vain; for it could not cleanse you from the guilt and pollution of the least sin. To depend upon any thing that ever he did, or can possibly do, is but like the setting up of a paper-wall to keep off a devouring fire : for it cannot screen you from the consuming flames of God's wrath and fiery indignation. By the works of the law (says the apostle), no flesh can be justified.?
7. Lastly, If ye would be delivered from the state of sin and misery into which ye are brought by your fall in the first Adam, come unto and accept of the Lord Jesus Christ as your Redeemer, God has laid help for you upon this mighty One, who is both able and willing to save all that come unto God by him. Close with him by faith, and you shall be redeemed from the guilt 'of sin, have its power subdued in you, and at last be delivered from the inbeing of it, and from all the penal consequents and effects thereof. He is now saying, Behold me, behold me; O do not refuse him, lest ye perish for ever.
OF CHRIST'S INCARNAȚION.
LUKE i. 35.- The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the
power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called
the Son of God. THESE words are the angel's answer to Mary, who, un
derstanding the angel as speaking of a thing presently to be done before Joseph and she should come together, de. sires to know how she, being a virgin, should conceive, Here,
1. The angel tells her how she should conceive and bring forth a Son, namely by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the power of the Highest, the Spirit of God being the true God, and so the Highest. The author of this conception is the Holy Ghost, not to exclude the Father and the Son, who also concurred to this work, as to all works without God himself; and besides the power of all the three persons is one. But it is appropriated to the Spirit, as creation to the Father, and redemption to the Son, so the consummation of all things to the Spirit. The way of the Spirit's powerful working to this miraculous conception is denoted by two words. One is, that the Holy Ghost should come upon her, not in an ordinary way, as in the conception of all men Job x. 8. “ Thine hands have made me, and fashioned me together round about ;' but in an extraordinary way, as on the prophets, and those that were raised to some extraordinary work. The other is, that the power of the Highest, which is infinite power, should overshadow her, to wit, make her, though a virgin, to conceive by virtue of the efficacy of infinite power, by which the world was created, when the same Spirit moved on the waters, cherished them, and framed the world. I shall say no more of this, seeing the Holy Spirit did overshadow or cast a cloud over the virgin in this operation, that men might not pry curiously into this mystery.
2. He shews what should follow on this miraculous conception, namely, that the fruit of her womb, the child she should bear, should be called the Son of God. Where the angel teaches two things. . (1.) The immaculate sinless conception of the child Jesus, that holý thing, a holy thing though proceeding from a sinful creature, not tainted with sin, as all
other children are. Job asks, 'Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? and answers, Not one.' But though this be impossible with men, yet it is possible with God, whose infinite power can do every thing. The pow. erful operation of the divine Spirit sanctified that part of the virgin's body of which the human nature of Christ was formed, so that by that influence it was separated from all impurity and defilement. So that, though it proceeded from a creature infected with original sin, there was no sin or taint of impurity in it. This was a glorious instance of the power of the Highest. (2.) He tells the virgin, that therefore, see, ing that child to be thus conceived, he should be called, that is, owned to be, the Son of God. He says not, Therefore that holy thing shall be the Son of God, for he was the Son of God before, by virtue of his eternal generation; but, There. fore he shall be called, i. e, owned to be really so, and more than a man. The reason of this is, because Isaiah had pro. phesied that the Son of God should be the Son of a virgin, When therefore you, a virgin, shall conceive, your child shall be acknowledged to be the Son of God in man's nature. Matth. i. 22, 23. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, say. ing, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, whịch, being interpreted, is, God with us.' He was promised to the church as the Messiah, a child born unto us, a son given unto us.' Isa, ix. 6. And he actually was so, Luke ü. 11. Doct. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became man, by
taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, be. ing conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.'
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall shew, 1. Who she was that was the mother of Christ as man. II. What we are to understand by his becoming man. III. That he was true man.
IV. What we are to understand by his being conceived of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary,
V. Why he was born of a virgin,
I. Iam to shew who she was that was the mother of Christ as man. Christ as God had no mother, and as man no fae
ther. But his mother as man was Mary. She was the seed of Abraham; and so Christ was that seed of Abrahám, in whom all nations were to be blessed, Gal. iii. 16. . She was of the tribe of Judah, Luke iii. 33. and of that tribe Christ by her did spring, Heb. vii. 14. She was also of the family of David, as appears by her genealogy, Luke iii. and therefore Christ is called the Son of David, as the Messiah behoved to be. She was, however, but a mean woman, the family of David being then reduced to a low outward condition in the world, having long before lost its flourishing state; so that our Lord sprung up as a root out of a dry ground, Isa. xi. 1. and liii. 2. She was a virgin before and at the time of her bringing forth Jesus, but espoused to Joseph, who was of the same tribe with her. What she was after, I think Chris.. tians should raise no question about that matter, seeing the scripture has buried it in silence. And therefore, as they are presumptuous who would always make her being a virgin an article of faith, so they are rash that would define the contraty. For they are but little versed in the scripture, who know not that kinsmen among the Jews are ordinarily in sacred writ called brethren; as Abraham and Lot, his brother's son, are called brethren, Gen. xiii. 8. So no argument can be drawn from persons being designed the brethren of Christ, in the evangelists, to prove that Mary bore children to Joseph.
II. I come to shew what we are to understand by Christ's becoming man. It implies,
1. That he had a real being and existence before his incarnation. He truly was before he was conceived in the womb of the virgin, and distinct from that being which was conceived in her. He tells us himself, that he was in heaven before he ascended thither : What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? John vi. 62. Yea, he was with his father from all eternity, before any of the creatures come out of the womb of nothing. So Prov. viii. 29, 30, “When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth. Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” Here the Spirit of God describes the most blessed state of Jesus Christ, from those eternal delights which he had had with his Father before his assumption of our nature, Then was I by him,' or with him:' he was
so with him as never any other was, even in his very bosom; John i. 18. • The word was with God,' ver, 1. And he calls himself the bread of life that came down from hea. vein,' chap. vi. ver. 33. Here he opposeth himself to the manna, wherewith God fed the Israelites in the wilderness; which never was really in heaven, nor had its original from thence. Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but the Father gave you Christ really from thence.' John xvi. 28. "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world : again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. He is called ' Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.'
2. That he actually took upon him our nature. He assumed the entire nature of man into the unity of his divine person, with all its integral parts and essential properties; and so was made or became a real and true man by that assumption. Hence it is said, John i. 14. “The Word was made fesh.' But though Jesus Christ had two natures, yet not two persons, which was the error of Nestorius, who lived in the fourth century. He so rent the natures of Christ asunder, as to make two distinct persons of them, and consequently two Christs, of which one was crucified at Jerusalem, and the other not, as he blasphemously alleged; and so he plainly denied the hypostatical union of the divine and human natures in the person of our blessed Redeemer. But though Christ had two naturés, yet but one person : for his human nature never subsisted separately and distinctly by any personal subsistence of its own, as it is in all other men; but, from the first moment of his conception, it subsisted in union with the second person of the adorable Trinity. Again, though the Word was made flesh,' yet it was without any confusion of the natures, or change of the one into the other : which was the heresy of the Eutychians of old, who so eonfounded the two natures in the person of Christ, that they denied all distinction between them. Eutyches thought that the union was so made in the natures of Christ, that the humanity was absorbed and wholly turned into the divine nature; so that, by that transubstantiation, the human nature had no longer being. To oppose this heresy, the ancient fathers did very fitly make use of the sacramental union between the bread and wine and the body and blood of Christ, and thereby shewed that the human nature of Christ is no more really converted into the Divinity, and so ceaseth