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as “by one man's offence judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.”! It displays his WISDOM: for by showing, in one example, his hatred of sin, and his mercy towards the sinner, He brings his adopted children to obedience, by all the ties of fear, and gratitude, and love; and purifies unto Himself a peculiar people, redeemed from all iniquity.
Therefore do the angels sing, Glory to God in the highest ! “ Mercy and truth are met together, righteous
have kissed each other.” The next result of the Incarnation is, Peace on earth. Peace between man and his Creator, between the sinner and his Judge ; a state of sure and solid peace, such as may satisfy the most inquiring, and comfort the most fearful soul. True, man is corrupt and sinful, owing a large debt to God. But if a friend has discharged the debt, the debtor can face his creditor without alarm. Christ is that friend. He, by his one offering of Himself once offered, has made a full, perfect, and sufficient satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. The benefit of this satisfaction, which is freely proposed to all, we take to ourselves by faith. “Therefore, beingjustified by faith, we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ.” By Him the covenant of peace on earth was mercifully ratified. He is the “ Prince of Peace," the appointed Mediator of reconciliation.
The last blessing revealed by the angels, as assured by the coming of Christ, is God's good-will towards men. For what was the object of Christ's coming ? That He might “suffer for our sins, the just for the unjust.' God has indeed displayed his good-will, by the nature of his message ; calling men to repentance, and offering them pardon. He has displayed it by the bearer of this message ;
“ even his beloved Son.” He has displayed it by the purpose of this message ; the
i Rom. v. 21.
sanctification of our hearts, their restoration to his love, their conformity to his will, their preparation for a heavenly kingdom. This is indeed good-will towards men ; this raises man's condition in the world; exalts the meek and humble, how mean soever their degree, and sets them but a little lower than the angels.
How, then, ought we to feel towards the possessor of this glory, the author of this peace, the instrument of this good-will? How ought we to feel towards Him who so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that all that believe in him might not perish? How ought we to feel towards the Lord, who “ bought us,” and " washed us from our sins in his own blood ?"
Surely our first and latest thought should be, to secure this inestimable blessing to ourselves, and to prove our gratitude towards Him who has called us to enjoy it. Yes ; "worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever,
TESTIMONY OF GOD TO HIS SON.
LUKE iii. 21, 22. 21. “ Now when all the people were baptized it came to pass, that Jesus
also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22. “ And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon
him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved
Son; in thee I am well pleased.” Thus Jesus also was baptized. He insisted upon submitting to the ordinance, though “ John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee: and comest thou to me?" He chose to give this testimony 2 Rev. v. 12, 13.
i Matt. iii. 14.
to the importance of a rite, which was to be the future entrance into his religion. And God confirmed the testimony, and declared by a voice from heaven, that this was He of whom Moses and the prophets had written, whom the nation had been so long expecting, and who was now come to fulfil the promise made to Abraham and his seed for ever. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
A testimony so important should be carefully weighed, and the consideration of it may help to fix and settle our faith. What was there in the character of Christ, which the Father thus solemnly approves ?
His Incarnation had two great objects. First, to make an atonement for sin, and reconcile man to God. And, secondly, to give a rule of righteousness, inculcated by his precepts, and illustrated by his example.
And with the Son, in his two-fold character, as a sacrifice of sin, and an example of righteousness, the Father declares himself well pleased.
1. He was well pleased with him as a sacrifice for sin. He was well pleased, that “mercy and truth should meet together, that righteousness and peace should kiss each other." His justice was satisfied by the proof held up
to all the universe, that “the wages of sin is death.” And the mercy which He delights in was gratified by the deliverance of the penitent offender. He was “in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself," and saying to all who have ears to hear, “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and return unto the Lord, for he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
2. But, further, God was well pleased with his beloved Son, now "manifest in the flesh," as a pattern of perfect righteousness. It is the nature of God to delight in holiness. “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty.” Our reason tells us that it must be so: and Scripture confirms what our reason tells us,
and shows throughout, that sin is “the abominable thing which He hates :” that He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity: that perfect goodness is inseparable from his own nature: and that his creatures, who are in the world, the nearer they approach to goodness, are more and more the objects of his regard and favour. Now, the Lord Jesus was altogether holy. His enemies could find no fault in Him: He was without spot of sin : and He displayed in his life and conversation an example of unblemished purity; an example of uninterrupted godliness; an example of meekness, of courteousness, of patience, and forgiveness; an example of universal love and charity; an example of unwearied diligence in the service of God.
This character was not merely described or mended, but seen and practised in the life of the Lord Jesus. “ Tempted in all points like as we are, he was yet without sin :” when He was reviled, He reviled not again : when He suffered, He threatened not: the mind that was in Him was of one “meek and lowly of heart.” Armed with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," He resisted the devil, and the devil fled from Him. The principle on which He lived and acted was the glory of God, and the love of man. And with this example of perfect and unspotted righteousness, God declares Himself well pleased.
Such was the ground of that testimony, which God now gave publicly to the character of his beloved Son. And the voice came not on account of Him, but for our sakes, that we might learn to contemplate that character, and approve it too.
1. God was well pleased that his Son should pay the price of our redemption, and reconcile us to Himself. Are we also well pleased with this ? Are we willing to confess, that in ourselves we have nothing to plead or claim, but must receive “eternal life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ ?" If not, our mind, and the mind of God, do not agree : we must look
closer into ourselves, closer into the holy law of God, and closer into that judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed ; and so learn to thank God, that “ by grace we are saved, through faith ; not of works, lest any man should boast." We must receive Christ under the character in which He is revealed to us, as the Saviour, the Redeemer.
2. God, however, was well pleased with Christ, not only as a propitiation for sin, but also as a pattern of righteousness. And He will be pleased with the disciples of Christ, in proportion as they follow that pattern. They were redeemed for this especial purpose, that they might become “a peculiar people, zealous of good works :” might imitate Him, whose“ meat and drink it was to do the will of his heavenly Father.” As He, “ for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame,” so must we “ walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” and “ set our affections on things above."
He who declared Himself well pleased with his beloved Son, has also declared Himself well pleased with those who thus receive Him: receive Him as their Priest to atone, and as their King to rule. For He
says of them, “I will receive you, and be a Father unto you; and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
2 Eph. ii. 8, 9.