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continuance of the kingdom of Judah, while a sceptre was in the hand, and a lawgiver came from between the feet of that tribe, Gen. xlix. 10; while the second temple was yet standing, Mal. iii. 1; Hag. ii. 7 ; just 450 chaldee years after the decree went forth to restore and to build Jerusalem, which was in the twentieth
of Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia, Dan. ix. 25.* This King likewise came into the world, and the God of heaven set up his everlasting kingdom, at that season of the fourth or roman monarchy, Dan. ii. 44, when there was an end put to the dreadful shaking of the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land, and indeed of all nations, by the wars of Alexander the great, the four kingdoms that arose out of his conquests, and the romans the conquerors of them all; and when peace was restored to the world, Hag. ii. 6, 7. 9, which happened when Augustus Cesar was emperor of Rome, and Herod the great was king of Judea.
As to the pedigree or descent of our blessed Saviour, it must be considered with respect to the two different natures that were united in this glorious Person. For how wonderful soever it may appear to us, the man Christ Jesus was also Immanuel, God with us, Isa. vii. 14; and that Divine Child which was born, and that Son which was given to us, (at the time before described,) is the mighty God, and the everlasting Father, as well as the Prince of peace, Isa. ix. 6. He is that God, whose throne is for ever and ever, Psa. xlv.
and though a man, yet such a man as is also God's fellow, Zech. xiii. 7. Now, if we consider his descent,
* Daniel's seven weeks and threescore and two weeks, or 483 years, were to terminate at the death of the Messiah. We must therefore substract from that number the 33 years of his life, and there remains 450 years to his birth.
with respect to his Divine Person, it must necessarily be, that though he be God the Father's Son, and begotten by him, Psa. ii. 7, yet "his going forth” must have “ been from of old, from everlasting.” And it is accordingly true, that the Lord “possessed him in the beginning of his way, before his works of old: He was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was," Prov. viii. 22, 23.
Being thus necessarily stopped from looking any further than to eternity, and to Him that inhabits eternity, in considering the original of his Divine Person, I proceed to take notice, that, in his human nature, he descended from the loins of Abraham, Gen. xii. 3; of Isaac, Gen. xxvi. 4; and of Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 14; from the tribe of Judah, Gen. xlix. 10 ; and from the royal family of David, Psa. lxxxix. 35, 36 ; and that in a way surprisingly different from any ordinary human generation : a virgin conceived and brought forth this Son, whose name is Immanuel, Isa. vii. 14; and this new thing did God create in the earth, that a woman hath compassed a man, Jer. xxxi. 22.
The place where our blessed Saviour was born, was Bethlehem Ephratah. This town, though but little among the thousands of Judah, was honoured with being the place out of which he came forth who is the Supreme Ruler in Israel, Micah v. 2.
Here he was born : but this was not the place of his chief and principal residence ; that was Galilee of the nations. This people, who had walked in darkness, saw this great light among them : even upon them who had dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, this light shined, Isa. ix. 1, 2.
The circumstances of his appearing in the world were low, mean, and abased ; very different from the
expectations men had entertained of the Messiah; and therefore he was despised and rejected of men ; they hid their faces from him ; he was despised, and they esteemed him not, Isa. liii. 3. Nay, many were astonished at him, his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men, Isa. lii. 14. So far was his
from that glory and majesty, that pomp and splendour, which was expected in the Messiah, that he was considered a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people," Psa. xxii. 6. Even the priests and rulers themselves, who should have been the builders of the jewish church, refused this stone, which is become the head of the corner, Psa. cxviii. 22. And the reason of this was, that they saw no form nor comeliness, no riches nor honour, no magnificence nor beauty in him, that they should desire him, Isa. liii. 2.
The characters in which he appeared in the world were those of a Prophet, Priest, and King : to each of which it is proper to speak something particularly.
The Lord our God did, in the person of our blessed Saviour, raise up unto his people a Prophet, like unto Moses, the greatest and most eminent prophet of the jewish church; he puts his words into his mouth, that he might speak unto them whatsoever he commanded him ; and held his people under the strongest injunction upon their peril, to hearken to the words which this Prophet should speak in his name, Deut. xviii. 18, 19. And as our Lord Jesus Christ was destined by God the Father unto the prophetical office, he cheerfully undertook it. “Lo, I come,” says he: “in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O
God : yea, thy law is within my heart,” Psa. xl. 7, 8. And
as he cheerfully undertook, so he diligently and faithfully discharged this sacred and important trust. He,
“ wonderful Counsellor,” Isa. ix. 6, preached constantly to the people, and made known the whole mind and will of God to them; and could make this appeal to his heavenly Father, “I have preached righteousness in the great congregation : lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation : I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation," Psa. xl. 9, 10. He constantly preached among the people the blessed and joyful news of a glorious salvation from their sin, guilt, danger, and misery. The Spirit of the Lord God was upon him ; because the Lord had anointed him to preach good tidings unto the meek; he sent him to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to thein that were bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, to comfort all that mourn ; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, and to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, Isa. lxi. 1-3. He exercised most tender compassion to dark, doubting, and tempted souls. The bruised reed did he not break, and the smoking flax did he not quench, until he brought forth judgnient unto truth, Isa. xlii. 3. He strengthened the weak hands, and confirmed the feeble knees; and said unto them of a faint heart, Be strong, fear not, Isa. xxxv. 3. He warned the careless and secure sinners of their misery and danger; and proclaimed unto them the day of vengeance of our God, Isa. Ixi. 2. He warned them to be a wise, to
serve the Lord with fear; and to kiss the Son, lest he should be angry, and they perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little,” Psa. ii. 10–12. He made the pathway of salvation plain before the eyes of all those who believe in him, like a highway, where the wayfaring men, though fools, could not err, Isa. xxxv. He considered his people as his flock; and took care of them, as a most watchful and careful shepherd. He fed his flock like a shepherd; he gathered the lambs with his arm; he carried them in his bosom, and gently led those that were with young,
Isa. xl. 11. Let us next take a view of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the great High Priest of our profession. As such, he undertook to make an atonement and expiation for our sins. He bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows; the chastisement of our peace was upon him ; and with his stripes we are healed. God laid
him the iniquity of us all; and he made his soul an offering for our sin, Isa. liii. 4–6. 10. Thus he finished the transgression, made an end of sin, and made reconciliation for iniquity, Dan. ix. 24. He likewise wrought out a perfect righteousness for sinners, whereby they should be justified before God, and accepted of him. God raised up this righteous Branch unto David, in whose day Judah is saved, and Israel dwells safely; and this is the name whereby He is called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. He is one who speaks in righteousness, mighty to save,” Isa. Ixiii. 1. For He has brought in everlasting righteousness, Dan. ix. 24. As a Priest, likewise, he brings us into a covenant relation to God. He is the Messenger, or Angel of the covenant, Mal. iï. 1. The Lord, in an acceptable time, heard ; and in a day of salvation has helped him, has preserved him,