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God. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest : and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David : And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
Thus was explained the prophecy of Isaiah, “ Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel :"3 “ God with us :" God in our nature ; and yet justly distinguished as the Son of the Highest, because born without the intervention of an earthly father.
We readily perceive why this was so ordained. Had the Saviour, whom God designed for the redemption of the world, been born as other infants, the offspring of marriage, He might have been the chosen of God; He might have been the greatest of those born of women; He might have reigned over the throne of David for ever ; God might have given Him a name above every earthly name ; He might have delegated to Him the power of a conqueror, and the authority of a lawgiver ; but He could not have been properly styled “the Son of the Highest, “ the Son of God.” Neither could He have made satisfaction for our sins. His nature, derived from what was corrupt, would have been itself imperfect, and could not atone for the imperfection and corruption of others. “ Such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens :"4 so that those who trust in Him should have ground for confidence,
3 Isa. vii. 14. Matt. 1. 22. The prophecy of Isaiah had been immediately fulfilled in its primary application : this was its complete accomplishment.
4 Heb. vii. 26.
that they have committed their souls to one who “ is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by Him,” being Himself “ God over all, blessed for evermore.
Again, the eternal Word, instead of taking the substance of a human mother, like the children of Adam, might doubtless have descended from heaven, and assumed the form of man, and “ dwelt among us, as many suppose that he will hereafter do in a personal reign of a thousand years; but in that case he would not have been man, man in our own nature, and subject to our infirmities. There would not have been before mankind the example of one exposed to our wants, suffering our trials, submitting to our pains; “ in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.' Therefore, wisdom is justified of all her children,” in the supernatural dispensation which is here disclosed to Mary. And her conduct, which is different from that of Zacharias, exhibits true confidence in God. The Jewish people, and Mary amongst them, were expecting one who should rule over the house of Jacob for ever. The angel declares to her, that the power of the Highest shall be exercised, and that that holy thing should be born of her, not the son of her espoused Joseph, but the Son of God. She could not doubt the appearance of the'angel, and why should she doubt his words ? For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Her example may teach us to receive this great truth—with God nothing shall be impossible,--and to stagger not at his promises through unbelief. Those promises are clear, that “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life ; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” Our business is to say, in Mary's humble temper, Behold the servants of the Lord; Be it unto us according to his word.
3 Heb. iv. 15.
NAME AND BIRTH OF JESUS.
MATT, i. 21-23.
21. “ And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name
JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
The word Jesus was a name in frequent_use among the Jews, and simply means a saviour. It was particularly assigned to him who succeeded Moses in leading the people of Israel into the promised land of Canaan. We call him Joshua ; but the name is exactly the same as that of Jesus : and is so written, Acts vii. 45, and Heb. iv. 8.
Such was the meaning of the name ; a deliverer, a saviour : and it was given to the Son now born into the world, because it described the character which He should bear, and the office which He should perform. To save his people from their sins is mentioned as the purpose of his great undertaking, and of his longexpected coming
It is assumed, then, that this was what the world most wanted, and ought to be most grateful for. And we know it was so : Scripture acquaints us, that “in Adam all died;" that“ by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin;" “and so death passed upon
for that all have sinned.” Since, therefore, “judgment had come upon all men to condemnation,” what the world required was a DELIVERER from that judgment. Jesus came to be such a DELIVERER : not in the sense in which Moses and Joshua were deliverers: but in a sense as different as his birth was different from theirs : He came “to give his life a ransom for many ;" to " suffer once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." i Rom. v. 12, &c.
2 1 Pet, jii, 18,
But the world required something more ;-required to be delivered not only from the fatal consequences of sin, but from sin itself. This too is a part of the salvation brought by Jesus. It was for this salvation that St. Paul gave thanks to God. After lamenting the natural state of man,—that“ in him (that is, in his flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for the good that he would he does not, but the evil which he would not, that he does ”—he “thanks God,” who has delivered him “from the body of this death through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 3 To this power he trusted, saying, “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth
For he had been assured, and believed the promise, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” 5
Such is the fulfilment of that gracious purpose announced in the name of Jesus : He saves his people from their sins : He saves them from the guilt of sin by his blood; and by the power of his Holy Spirit He saves them from the dominion of sin.
The miraculous birth here related, which makes Jesus, emphatically, the Son of God, had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
22. “ Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken
of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23. “ Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
The purpose for which God thus vouchsafed to be “ with us," to dwell among men, to live and die in our nature, must have been no light purpose. And it was no light purpose to save his people from their sins. For the wages of sin is death ; “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish ;" “the blackness of darkness for ever.”
Is He such a DELIVERER to us? He must be, if we belong to the number of his people ; and if we do not belong to the number of his people, He is “ dead in vain ; we are yet in our sins." And we have the means at hand of answering the important question, whether, or not, we do belong to the number of his people. This same sentence which declares to us the office which Christ was designed to perform, enables us to perceive our own condition in respect to Him. Has He delivered you from sin itself? If so, He has delivered you from its penalty.
3 Rom. vii. 18-25.
4 Phil. iv. 13.
5 2 Cor. xii. 9.
But you will say,-no man is altogether freed from sin : for “ if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Certainly, this is what Scripture declares and our own hearts bear witness to. But though the corruption of nature adheres to the sincerest Christian, still he is not under the
power of sin as others are ; he does not yield to it, but strives against it; he does not indulge it, but mortifies it; he does not love it, but abhors it ; he does not desire it, but aspires after more and more holiness, and a more complete renewal of his heart in the image of God. As St. Paul has expressed it, “ sin has no more dominion over you.” If then this is your case ; if you
have so believed your Saviour, as to be convinced that sin, unless you forsake it, must destroy you; and if, in reliance upon his Spirit, you have renounced it, and are resolved to give it no place in your hearts, and are daily contending against it: then He has fulfilled that promise for you,
of which his name is the pledge ;-He was called Jesus, for He should save his people from their sins.
Observe, on the other hand, that the same title which brings comfort to the disciples of Christ, speaks the sentence of condemnation to the unrepenting transgressor. He shall save his people from their sins. Let the transgressor reflect. He has not saved me from sin; therefore I cannot be one of his people. From sin He is ready to save; even He cannot save