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who -would save us if he were not God 1 how could he have care of us if he were not man, and our brother? O most gracious Saviour, how wisely hast thou done all things; I know that thou art my brother; 'as it is said in Psalm xxii. 22. "I will declare thy name unto my brethren." And again in the epistle to the Hebrews, although thou art God, the Lord Jesus Christ, King of heaven and earth, yet I can not be afraid of thee; for thou art my friend and brother.
It is no hinderance to us, because we are sinners, and Christ holy; for if we had not been sinners, there would be no need that Christ should suffer for us. We see in his genealogy that both good and evil are rehearsed, of whose posterity he should come; that weak and timorous consciences might be comforted, that they might confidently and cheerfully put their trust in him who has taken away our sins. That we may be certain of this, he has left us his word, which assuredly declares it to us. Among the kings and princes that Matthew rehearsed, some were exceedingly evil, as we may read in the bookg of the kings; yet God suffereth them to be rehearsed in his genealogy, as if they were worthy that he should come to them.
Likewise four women are named, all of whom had an evil report. 'As Thamar, of whom Judah the father of her husband begat Pharez and Zarah. Gen. xxxviii. Rahab is called a harlot in the book of Joshua; Ruth was a heathen woman, of whom, although no evil was written, yet she was despised and detested by the Jews. Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah, was an adulteress before she was married to David, and of her he begat Solomon. These women are undoubtedly rehearsed, that we may see how God hath set forth, as it were, a looking glass to sinners; that they may see that he would be born of the posterity of sinners; that the chief of sinnera might trust in him, aud flee to him for refuge. Me is our God, priest, and king; in whom only we are able to fulfil the law, and obtain the grace of GocL
Christ requires us to believe that he came down from heaven, that he is our God, priest, and king. By him alone we become the sons of God, and heirs of the heavenly kingdom; as St. Paul saith, Gal. iii. 26. "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Here the hearts of all sinners may leap for joy, that they are counted worthy of such a Saviour. Must not he needs be regenerate, whose heart understandeth and feeleth this 1 yea, he is enticed by an ardent desire and love to lead a new life 1 for he is inspired with the grace of God, and layeth hold of the promise of the remission of all his sins.
The number of persons rehearsed in this text, is forty-two; which is the number of mansion places occupied by the children of Israel, before they entered into the promised land; as written in the fourth book of Moses. If we also will come into the promised land, which our Lord Jesus Christ hath prepared for us by his nativity, we must also occupy two and forty mansion places; that is, we must cease from our own purpose, and be regenerate man by man, and thereby come to Jesus where we shall find rest to our souls. But this nativity is hard, as our evil and corrupt nature is loth* to leave its own will and purpose. The case of nature is such, that no nativity can take place without grief; yet one hath more grief, temptation and affliction than another. The thief on the cross came suddenly to Christ; so did many martyrs, and other holy men.
We must go faithfully from Abraham to Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob, &c. We must begin at Abraham that we may be found endued with like faith, and obtain the blessing promised to him: then we ■hall more easily and cheerfully go from one patriarch to another; that is, we shall pass over one affllction after another, until we end the journey of life, and are called unto our rest. For a man must be exercised with afflictions, and renounce his own will, until he be brought under, and his flesh subdued; that it may obey the spirit, and walk joyfully in the will and obedience of God.
Wherefore let no man think, of himself, to get to heaven by leading a quiet life, and following pleasure. Christ saith, Luke xviii. 25. "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." And in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul teacheth, that through great tribulation we enter into the kingdom of God. Again, Abraham saith to the rich man, Luke xvi. 25. " Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." It was also necessary that Christ should suffer, and by the cross enter into his glory. And St. Paul saith, 2 Tim. iii. 12. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." Here we may learn that all is poison which is according to the lusts of the flesh: wherefore Paul saith to the Romans, viii. 13. "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." The spirit which is of God, is ready to suffer, but the flesh resisteth.
This Jesus signified by his answer to Peter: when he showed to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the Jews, and be slain also. When Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee; Jesus turned, and said unto Peter, get thee behind me, Satan; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. It is here manifest that the reason of man strives against the will of God.. God will have us enter into glory by the cross and persecution; but the flesh resisteth, and is troubled in affliction. Moreover, they that are endued with the spirit of God, rejoice if they be afflicted for his sake; as it is written of the apostles; Acts v. 41. "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
James saith in his epistle, chap. i. 2. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations: knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." O how necessary is patience for a christian! We must enter into a new kind of life; and if calamity comes, we must not burst forth into evil speeches, and take it impatiently, but we must lift our hearts to God, and bear affliction with a patient mind; he will deliver us when it seemeth good to him. We must always think that he bears a fatherly affection toward us; even when he sends persecution, anguish, affliction, and adversity; as Hebrews xii. 5. "Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children: my son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is lie whom the father chasteneth not 1 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons." God give us his divine grace that we may courageously pass through all afflictions and temptations, and with the Lord Christ be regenerate into a new life. Amen.
Matthow II. From the 1st to the llth verse, inclusive.
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that was born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea; for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda; for out of thee shall come a Governour, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go, and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may como and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed ; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw tho youna child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him : and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
We celebrate this day, concerning the appearing of our Lord Jesus; who appeared a special comfort to all who sought him with a strong faith. First, to the wise men who came from the East: Secondly, to John the Baptist; when being about thirty years of age, he was baptized of him in Jordan; when the Holy Ghost, and voice of the Father, gave testimony of him, that he was the son of God: Thirdly, when he