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and in the majesty of that all-glorious Deity, which assumed it to that ever blessed society of glory.
It was thy mercy, O God, that thou wouldest not keep up thyself close in thine eternal, spiritual, and incomprehensible essence, unknown to thy creatures upon earth; but that thou wouldest be manifested to the world. It was yet thy further mercy, that thou wert not only pleased to manifest thyself to man, in the wonderful works of thy creation, (since those invisible things of thine are understood, and clearly seen by the things that are made, even thine eternal power and Godhead) but to manifest thyself yet more clearly to us in thy sacred word, the blessed oracles of thine eternal truth. But it was the highest pitch of thy mercy, that thou wouldest manifest thyself yet more to us in the flesh. Thou mightest have sent us thy gracious messages by the hands of thine angels, those glorious ministering spirits that do continually attend thy throne: this would not content thee; but such was thy love to us forlorn wretches, that thou wouldest come thyself to finish the work of our redemption. Neither didst thou think it enough to come to us in a spiritual way, imparting thyself to us by secret suggestions and inspirations, by dreams and visions; but wouldest voucbsafe openly to be manifested in our flesh.
How then, O my God, how wert thou “ manifested in the flesh ?” Was not the flesh thy veil? Heb. x. 20. And wherefore serves a veil, but to hide and cover ?
Did not thy Deity then lie hid and obscured, while thou wert here on earth, under the veil of thy flesh? How then wert thou “ manifested in that flesh,” wherein thou didst lie obscured? Surely thou wert certainly manifested in respect of thy presence, in that sacred flesh of thine; though, for the time, thy power and majesty lay hid under the veil. Sometimes thou wert pleased, that this sun of thy Deity should break forth in the glorious beams of divine operations, to the dazzling of the eyes of men and devils, to the full eviction of thine omnipotent power against thy envious gainsayers; at other times thou wert content it should be clouded over with the dim and dusky appear
ces of human infirmity. The more thou wert obscured,
the more didst thou manifest thy most admirable humility and unparallelable love to mankind, whose weakness thou disdainedst not to take up; and the more thou didst exert thy power in thy miraculous works, the more didst thou glorify thyself, and vindicate thine almighty Deity thus “ manifested in the flesh.” O that thou wouldest enable me to give thee the due praise, both of thine infinite mercy in this thine humble obscurity, and of thy divine omnipotence; who, as thou wert“ manifested in the Aesh," so wast also “justified in the Spirit.”
Justified in the Spirit. He that should have seen thee, O Saviour, working in Joseph's shop, or walking in the fields or streets of Nazareth, or journeying towards Jerusalem, would have looked
upon thee as a mere man; neither did thy garb or countenance bewray any difference in thee from the ordinary sort of men. So did thy Godhead please to conceal itself for a time in that flesh, wherein thou wouldest be manifested. It was thine all-working and co-essential Spirit, by whose evident testimonies and mighty operations thy Deity was irrefragably made good to the world.
If the doubtful sons of men shall, in their peevish infidelity, be apt to renew the question of John's disciples, « Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another ?” thine ever blessed and co-eternal Spirit hath fully justified thee for that only true, absolute, perfect Mediator, by whom the great work of man's redemption is accomplished. While the gates of hell want neither power, nor malice, nor subtlety, it is not possible that thy divine person should want store of enemies. These, in all successions of times, have dared to open their blasphemous mouths against thy blessed Deity ; but against all their hellish oppositions, thou wert still and shalt be ever justified by thy co-omnipotent Spirit, in those convictive wonders which thou wroughtest upon earth, in those miraculons gifts and graces which thou pouredst out upon men, in that glorious resurrection and ascension of thine,
wherein thou didst victoriously triumph over all the powers of death and hell.
Lo, then, ye perverse Jews and scoffing Gentiles that are still ready to upbraid us with the impotency and sufferings of a despised Redeemer, and to tell us of the rags of his manger, of the homeliness of his education, of his temptation and transportation by the devil, of his contemptible train, of his hunger and thirst, of his weariness and indigence, of his whips and thorns, of his agony in the garden of Gethsemane, of his opprobrious crucifixion on Calvary, of his parted garments and his borrowed grave; is not this he to whose homely cradle a glorious and supernatural star guided the sages of the east for their adoration? Is not this he whose birth, declared by one glorious angel, was celebrated by a multitude of the heavenly host with that divine anthem of, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men?” Is not this he that filled the world with his divine and beneficial miracles; healing all diseases by his word, restoring limbs to the lame, giving eyes to the born blind, casting out devils, raising the dead, commanding winds and seas, acknowledged by an audible voice from heaven? Is not this he whom the very ejected devils were forced to confess to be the Son of the everliving God? whom the heaven and all the elements owned for their almighty Creator ? whose sufferings darkened the sun, and shook the earth, and rent the rocks in pieces ? and, lastly, whom the dead saints and the heavenly angels attended in his powerful resurrection and glorious ascension ? O Saviour, abundantly “justified in the Spirit” against all the malignances of men and devils!
If thy malicious persecutors, whose hand was in thy most cruel crucifixion, shall, for the covering of their own shame, blazon thee for a deceiver of the people, how convincingly wert thou “ justified in the Spirit” by the dreadful and miraculous descent of the Holy Ghost in the cloven and fiery tongues, and that sudden variety of language for the spreading of the glory of thy name over all the nations of the earth!
If the unbelieving world, bewitched with their former superstition, shall furiously oppose thy name and gospel in the times immediately succeeding, how notably art thou “ justified in the Spirit” by the sudden stopping of the Inouths of their hellish oracles, by the powerful predications of thy holy apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and doctors : seconded by such undeniable miracles, as shamed and astonished, if not won the gainsayers!
But, O Saviour, being thus clearly “justified in the Spirit” against the old spite of hell, with what shame and horror do I see thine eternal Godhead called into question, by the misgoverned wits of certain late misnamed Christians ! who, as if they would raise up cursed Arius from his hateful grave, have dared to renew those blasphemous cavils against thy sacred person, which, with so great authority and full evidence of the Spirit, were long since cried down to that hell, whenee, to the great contumely of heaven, they were most wickedly sent up into the world. Woe is me, their damned founder did not send down his soul into that fatal draught in a more odious way,
than these his followers vent themselves upward in most unsavory: and pestilent contradictions to thee, the Lord of life and glory. But even against these art thou “justified in the Spirit,” speaking in thy divine scriptures, whose evident demonstrations do fully convince their calumnies and false suggestions, and vindicate thy holy name and blessed Deity from all their devilish and frivolous argutations.
Is there any weak soul that makes doubt of thy plenary satisfaction for his sin, of the perfect accomplishment of the great work of man's redemption? How absolutely art thou justified, O blessed Jesu, in the Spirit, in that thou raisedst thyself from the dead; quitting that prison of the grave, whence thou couldest not have come till thou hadst paid the utmost farthing, wherein we stood indebted to heaven!
O Saviour, not more concealed in the flesh, than manifestly “justified in the Spirit” for my all-sufficient Redeemer ; not more meekly yielding to death for our offences, than powerfully raised up again for our justification; how should I bless and praise thee, both for thine humble self-dejection in respect of thine assumed flesh, and for thy powerful justification in thine infinite and eternal Spirit ? That Holy Ghost, whereby thou wert con
ceived in the womb of the virgin, justified thee in thy life, death, resuscitation. Now then how confidently can I trust thee with my soul, who hast approved thyself so complete and almighty a Redeemer! O blessed Jesu, with what assurance do I cast myself upon thee for thy present protection, for my future salvation! How boldly can I defy all the powers of darkness, while I am in the hand of so gracious and omnipotent a Mediator!“ Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Rom. viii, 33. Even thou, the God who wast “manifested in the flesh ” and “justified in the Spirit,” shalt justify and save my spirit, soul, and body, in the day of our appearance before thee.
Seen of Angels. O SAVIOUR, it is no mystery, that, being manifested in the flesh, thou wert seen of men ; but it is no small part of the great mystery of godliness, that thou who art the God of spirits, wert seen by those heavenly spirits, clothed in flesh. It could not be but great news to the angels, to see their God born, and conversing as man with men. man to see an angel, is a matter of much wonder ; but for an angel to see God become man, is a far greater wonder, since in this the change concerns an infinite subject; in the other, a finite though incorporeal.
But pause here awhile, O my soul, and enquire a little into these strange spectators. “ Seen of angels?” Who or what might those be ? Are there any such real, incorporeal, permanent substances ? or are they only things of imagination, and extemporary representations of the pleasure of the Almighty? Woe is me, that no error may be wanting to this prodigious age, do we live to see a reviction of the old Sadduceism so long since dead and forgotten? Was Gabriel that appeared and spake to Daniel, nothing but a supernatural phantasm? And what then was the Gabriel that appeared, with the happy news of a Saviour, to the blessed virgin? What are the angels of those little ones, whereof our Saviour speaks, which do always behold the face of his Father in heaven ? What were those