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as was sometimes granted to the prophets. Jesus, in a way of gentle rebuke, replied, " Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?" and then added these remarkable words, fully proving that God was manifest in the flesh:—" He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." John xiv. 8, 9. "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? Henceforth, ye have known him and seen him," ver. 7,10. " I and my Father are one." Jesus Christ, then, is God manifest in the flesh. Let us go to Bethlehem, and see this great sight: Angels desire to look into it. Glorious mystery! We cannot fully comprehend it. "Men may speak and write of it; but it is not so proper to describe it, as to say that it cannot be described. We may speak of it; but the most we can say about it is, that it is unspeakable; and the most we know is, that it passeth knowledge!" Suffice it that we believe and adore. Let but "the light shine into our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ," and it is enough; we will dwell at Bethlehem all our days, until he shall remove us to Bethel above, where we hope no longer to see "through a glass darkly, but face to face."
II. Let us go to Bethlehem, and behold Man redeemed!
The redemption of fallen, guilty, helpless man, was the grand design of the Saviour's birth. "God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to Redeem them that were under the law." He was named Jesus, because he came to "save his people from their sins." There is something delightful in the name Saviour. Cicero, the Roman orator, said that,when travelling in Greece, he saw a pillar inscribed with this word, Saviour. He admired the fulness of the name; but he knew not its Christian meaning. How much more may the redeemed sinner admire it!
"'Tis music in the sinner's ears;
It was in this character that the saints of old long expected his appearance. "To him gave all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him should receive remission of sins." About the time of his coming, the godly people in Jerusalem were "looking for redemption," and, with Simeon, "waiting for the consolation of Israel." Our Lord himself declares this to be the chief design of his coming :—" God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have eternal life." John iii. 16. Observe, it was to save sinners from perishing; for perish we must, without an interest in him. Do we know this? Why do we call him a Saviour, if we see not our need of deliverance? and from what ?—from sin and from hell. If we are not saved from sin here, we shall not be saved from hell hereafter.
"God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh; and (by making him a sacrifice) for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." Rom. viii. 3. Mark how the Son of God appeared !—" in the likeness of sinful flesh :" his nature was perfectly pure; but it had the likeness of ours, which is wholly corrupt. "He knew no sin; none in nature, none in practice. He had a "clean heart and pure hands." He could challenge his bitterest enemies to convince him of sin; yea, he defied Satan himself, the great accuser:—" The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." Thus he was a pure and spotless Lamb, fit to become a sacrifice for sin. Under the law, every victim must be perfect and without blemish. It was necessary the Lamb of God should be so; for "he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin." 1 John iii. 5.
Being thus pure and holy, the sins of the whole church were laid upon him. "He was made sin for us;" "he suffered for our sins;" " the Lord laid upon him our iniquities;" "he bore our sins, in his own body, on the tree." And thus God condemned sin in the flesh: he condemned our sin in the flesh of Christ; he showed h is extreme hatred of it; he passed sentence of death upon it; and executed that sentence in the dreadful death of our Lord. And thus, the condemning of sin in Christ our Surety, prevents the condemnation of our persons for it. And this is the ground of that excellent privilege mentioned, Rom. viii. 1: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." But this is not all: the end and design of this is, "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." Thus the perfect righteousness, demanded by the moral law, is fulfilled in us: not in us personally; but by our Surety, in our nature and in our stead; and so might be deemed, in legal estimation, to be fulfilled for and by all those of us who truly believe, and who prove the sincerity of our faith by a holy walk.
O the grace and love of the blessed Jesus! He, the most high God, blessed for evermore, consented to become man. He who was life, and gave life to all, became a mortal man. He was born to die. "Because we were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same." O love beyond example or degree!
"O for this love let rocks and hills
Their lasting silence break;
Thus Jesus " delivered us from the wrath to come." Our' sin deserved wrath; the wrath that is to come: for God bears with sinners now, and " endures with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath which are fitted for destruction." But God is reconciled to every believer in Jesus. "He was angry; but his anger is turned away." Those who believe " have passed from death unto life:" those who are "redeemed from the curse of the law, receive the adoption of sons." They are also redeemed from the power and dominion of sin; it shall not reign in their mortal bodies. They are redeemed to God; body, soul, spirit, substance, talents; all they have, and all they are, belong to the Lord : and when they have served him and their generation, during his appointed time, he will take them to himself, and they shall know the full meaning of that comprehensive phrase, Eternal Life.—Such are the inestimable blessings which Jesus, the Redeemer of man, came to procure. But let us take another turn to Bethlehem, and see,
III. Satan ruined.
It was Satan, the head of all fallen spirits, who, assuming the form of a cunning serpent, seduced our first mother in the garden; and, employing her as the tempter of Adam, seduced our first father also. Thus were the flood-gates of sin opened in our world. Thus Satan usurped a sovereign authority over the souls of men; insomuch that, in sacred scripture, he is distinguished by the names of " the prince of this world;" yea, "the god of this world." He hath set up an opposite throne to that of God: he rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience, who are led captive by him at his will. Millions of souls have readily submitted to his chains, and have lived and died in love with their bondage. Cruel tyrant! who shall deliver us from thy destructive power?
It was when our fallen parents stood trembling before the Judge, expecting every moment to taste the threatened death; it was then that a dawn of mercy glimmered in the first gospel-promise. Gen. iii. 14, 15. The Lord, turning to the serpent who seduced them, utters this curse:—"Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field. Upon thy belly shalt thou go; and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head; and thou shalt bruise his heel." No doubt the devil is here condemned, under the name of the Serpent, because he had abused that creature in order to deceive man. He is cursed; for " everlasting fire is prepared for him and his angels." His power was contracted; he was to creep, not fly; his power should be restrained to the dust; that is, to earthly-minded men, or to the bodies of the saints. His head was to be bruised; that is, his power was to be finally destroyed by Jesus Christ; for so St. John expounds it:—" The Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil." The Serpent's poison, craft, and life, are in his head; if this be bruised, he is destroyed. Jesus Christ in his temptation, baffled the tempter in all his cunning assaults. He cast out devils from the bodies of men; he enabled his disciples to do the same; and empowered them '' to tread on serpents, and scorpions, and all the power of the enemy;" and he has promised also to his people, "that he will bruise Satan under their feet shortly."
God also declared there should be "constant enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman; which includes the sanctification of all the elect. Unconverted men are at peace with the devil; but, when grace comes, war commences; and God will make the believer more than a conqueror.
But all this is in consequence of the birth of Jesus. He is most eminently "the seed of the woman; "the Son of God, made of a woman." By the merit of his death, and by the grace of his Spirit, he destroys the power of the old serpent. Satan was indeed allowed "to bruise his heel:" and he did so, by his agents, when he prevailed to procure the crucifixion of our Lord; but it was then, even then, that he bruised Satan's head, and laid the foundation of his everlasting destruction. Never before did fallen spirits discover so much opposition to Christ. "They were aware, probably, of Christ's design to overturn their empire; therefore