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THIRD ARTICLE OF THE BELIEF:
" Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of
the Virgin Mary.”
LUKE, 1. 30, 31, AND PART OF VER. 35. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the HIGHEST shall overshadow thee; therefore also, that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the SON OF GOD.
Whatever helps to strengthen the faith and hope of Christians, and to brighten the prospect of a blessed eternity, is a subject which, of all others, demands our most serious attention. In proportion as we can prove the nature and character of the Author of our salvation to be di, VINE, the surer are the grounds of that happiness which it is the wisdom of every creature to strive to obtain. To this good end, we have a never-failing guide, which is the Holy Scripa ture, and in this treasury we shall be sure to find the words of eternal life. Herein is contained all that was foretold and fulfilled concerning the Lord of glory, our ever-blessed Saviour Jesus Christ; and from that fountain I shall produce all that is necessary to instruct you on the subject of my present Lecture.
This third article of our Creed, or Belief, viz. that we believe our “ Lord Jesus Christ was “ conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the
Virgin Mary,” contains that stupendous mystery, called the incarnation, or coming of Christ in the FLESH. This is the deep secret, and hidden working of God, which, through his infinite power and wisdom, united, he judged proper so to order, as it is revealed to us in his holy word ; and no further doth it concern us to dive into such wonders of God's contriving, than as they are therein plainly set forth, for the object of our faith, and the pledge of our dependence; for we may rest secure, that He who can bring about such miraculous works, is mighty to save all who come unto him through the Son, so conceived and born as is related in the text.
The main subject of our inquiry at this time will be, what this article teaches us as necessary to be further believed concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. First, it contains several import
ant particulars proper for us to know so far as they relate to the great work of our redemption, which was accomplished by his giving up himself to the death of the cross for us. Forasmuch (as St. Peter observes, 1 Pet. i. 18, 19) as ye should know, that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. For when the world was grown so exceedingly wicked, and ignorant of the only true God, as, through the depravity of nature and length of time, to have forgotten and corrupted the tradition of the fathers, and to disregard God's prophets, and all the various gracious methods of teaching them his ways, which in mercy he had appointed, in order to turn mèn from darkness to light; he at last displayed his tender regard for mankind, by sending his Son into the world, who took upon himself the nature of man, by being born of a virgin, that, as a man, he might be capable of suffering for the sins of men, for which from the beginning he had engaged to suffer (for he was the Lamb slain from the beginning of the 'world). And from the necessity of our Saviour's being rendered capable of suffering, is derived that essential doctrine of the expediency of our being made capable of partaking of his divine nature. If Christ had not taken upon himself the nature of man, he could not have suffered
of his Spirit, prepare ourselves to serve him, and live with him for ever. And to show that this is both our duty and interest, it is now time we should further consider in what relation we stand to him in consequence of his authority over us; which is the next thing I purposed to speak to, and with which I shall conclude.
In all pursuits after godliness, we should ever be cautious not to follow our own vain thoughts too far, but to direct them by the words of truth itself, which give eternal life ; that is, we should always entertain an humble regard to the sense of Holy Scripture, and make this constant prayer in all our religious studies : Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth, and desireth to obey thậe. In compliance, therefore, with this rule, we will have recourse again to Scripture, to describe this relationship that binds us to the service of our Lord. There is a further sense, in which Jesus Christ is more peculiarly our Lord than any other, and which points out this relationship very strongly.
Now, in right of redemption, we are become his servants ; and this right contains a double title; (1.) to a dominion by conquest ; and (2.) to another by purchase,
Before he redeemed us, we were enemies to God, and servants of sin ; for his servants we are, whom we obey. (Rom. i. 16.) When Christ
through his own death destroyed him who had the power of death, and delivered us (Heb. ii. 14), he is said most justly to have spoiled principalities and powers, and to have made a show of them openly, triumphing over them. (Col. ii. 15.) Now (contrary to the custom of the conquerors of this world), he did not sell, but buy us; because he died on purpose to save us. Death was the price by which he bought us, for we were sold under sin before. The dying Conqueror gave us life, which before was lost by transgression. We may call the cross his triumphing chariot; and in shedding that precious blood that bought us, he clearly became our Lord by right of REDEMPTION, both as to conquest' and purchase'; for he thereby conquered death, and recovered those who were subject to death.
Besides, his gracious goodness did not stop here ; for he not only bought us, but still provideth for us; for whatever we have, we receive through his merits. We hold of him all temporal and eternal blessings, which we enjoy in this, or hope for in another life. He is the Prince of life, and by him we live; he is the Lord of glory, and we are called by his Gospel to the obtaining a share in the glory of our LORD.
By right of purchase, then, we are his servants; and surely it becomes us to obey in all