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having been outwardly devoted to the service of God by baptism with water, will be of no benefit to us hereafter. But a participation of the outward ordinance is a pledge, that if we really turn to the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul, earnestly desiring and humbly supplicating His grace for Christ's sake, He will not deny us the request of our lips, but will bestow His promised blessing upon us. We are to notice
Secondly, The Baptist's testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ. He announced the actual presence of the Messiah among His people, There standeth One among you, whom ye know not. And he declared his own utter inferiority to this glorious Personage. He it is, who coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoes'latchet I am not worthy to unloose. How mean was the opinion which this greatest of them that were born of women26 had of himself, in comparison with the Personage of whom he was the forerunner! He felt himself unworthy to fill the humblest office about the person of Christ. Though Jesus was his follower or successor in point of time, yet John acknowledged Him to be infinitely his superior; One mightier than himself; to be preferred before him. For as he afterwards observes of Jesus, He was before me. He came after John, 62 THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
26 Matthew xi. 11.
27 John i. 30.
but He existed before him. So our Saviour said also of Himself, with regard to His own pre-existence, Before Abraham was, I am. 28 This could not be truly testified of any other but of Him, who was before all things, and by whom all things consist.29
The actual presence of this glorious Personage among His people, was the subject of the Baptist's testimony. There standeth One among you, whom ye know not. The Person concerning whom they were inquiring, the Christ, the Messiah, was in reality among them. The Prophet of whom Moses had spoken was in the midst of them. God was manifest in the flesh. The Son of God had come down from heaven to earth. The Lamb of God who was to take away the sin of the world by the sacrifice of Himself, was standing ready to be offered up as a burnt-offering, when the fulness of time should come that the Scriptures were, in this respect, to be fulfilled. But the people among whom He was residing, upon whom He was conferring benefits, such as had never been conferred by any other person who had ever appeared in the world, knew Him not. His wonderful miracles were looked on with indifference. The circumstances of His birth were disregarded as if they were merely common events. His having
28 John viji. 58.
29 Colossians i. 17.
been announced as the Son of God, by a voice from heaven at His baptism, when multitudes were present, was not viewed as any thing extraordinary. The people were ready to receive any one who might choose to lay claim to His character, rather than the Personage whose every word and action showed Him to be, Him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus, 30 Jehovah the Saviour. They knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which were read every sabbath day.31 And therefore they rejected Him when He appeared among them.
It is our privilege to celebrate at this season the incarnation of this our Divine Redeemer. May we be enabled to commemorate it with grateful hearts. May we rejoice that unto us He is made known as a child that was born, a son that was given 32 to do and to suffer all that was requisite for our salvation. Let us view Him as the Word who was in the beginning with God, and who was God, made flesh and dwelling among us, displaying the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.30 Let us seek to know Him by faith, and not be content to live in ignorance of the blessings which He bestows. Let it be our prayer that we may receive out of His fulness those continual supplies of grace which we need, to enable us to
press forward in the narrow way to the kingdom of heaven. Let us pray that every high thought of ourselves may be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ ;33 that our crooked and perverse dispositions may be made straight; that our rough tempers may be subdued by the power of His Spirit; that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, 34 and that we may be exalted, through the knowledge and love of Him, to enjoy communion and fellowship with the God of heaven, as our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus; and may have a good hope that we shall be hereafter exalted with Him in His eternal kingdom, to behold His glory, and to rejoice in His salvation when time shall be no
33 2 Corinthians viii. 5.
34 Ephesians ii. 17.
THE DIVINITY AND INCARNATION OF CHRIST.
John i. 14.
AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, AND
DWELT AMONG US, AND WE BEHELD His GLORY, THE GLORY AS OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH.
The wonderful event which we this day commemorate, filled heaven with admiration, and was designed to fill earth with gladness and rejoicing. A multitude of the heavenly host sang on the occasion, as you heard in the second Lesson of this morning's service, in joyful accents of praise, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. To the dawn of that glorious morning, when the Sun