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But though, on Account of these Excellencies, as well as her peculiar Relation to him, fhe was the Object, both of her Son's dutiful Subjection in his younger Years; and of his tender Care, even when he hung upon the Crofs: yet we find no Footsteps of any fuch Repard paid her, either by him or his Difciples, as can give the leaft Pretence for afcribing to her thofe Prerogatives and Powers, which the Church of Rome doth. Our Saviour, in more Places than one of the Gospels, treats her in fo cold, and feemingly negligent a Manner, that one cannot well avoid thinking he did it on Purpose, to difcourage that monftrous Notion, of her Right, as a Mother, to command him, who was her Lord, as well as ours. In the other Parts of the New Testament, excepting those, which I have already quoted, or to which I have referred, there is only an incidental Mention made of her occafionally; as there is of many other Perfons and not the moft diftant Intimation of : any efpecial Honour fhewn, or directed to be fhewn her. Yet doth the Romish Church appoint Offices of Devo- tion to her, bearing her Name; addrefs her as Queen of Heaven, for fo they exprefsly call her; petition her, almoft in the fame Breath with God and our Saviour, that she would bestow on them Pardon and Grace here, and everlasting Life hereafter: Things infinitely beyond the Power of any Creature whatever. Nay, fome of them profeffedly bind themselves to pray much oftener to her, than they do their Maker or Redeemer: and appear accordingly to place much more Confidence in her. And all this, not only without the leaft Proof, that the bath any Authority in human Affairs, or even any Knowledge of them; but in open Defiance of the Scripture, which directs our Prayers to God alone; and particularly of that Paffage in St. Paul, where the voluntary Humility of worshiping even Angels, though they are known to be miniftring Spirits, is forbidden, as what may beguile us of our Reward; and the Perfons, who
practise it, condemned, as not holding the Head, which is Chrift P.
But to return to our Subject. The foregoing Doctrine, of God manifeft in the Flesh, is undoubtedly one very wonderful Part of that, which the Apoftle calls the Mystery of Godliness. And yet there is nothing in it, either impoffible, or indeed more difficult to the Almighty, than in those Productions of his, which we commonly call the Courfe of Nature; and wonder at them lefs, for no other Reason, but because we see them conftantly; the Manner of both being equally inconceivable.
And as the miraculous Conception, and Birth of Chrift, was easy to infinite Power: fo was it undoubtedly proper and fit, fince it was chosen by infinite Wisdom. Indeed fome Footsteps of that Wisdom even we may be able to trace in this wonderful Difpenfation. It appears most becoming the Dignity of so extraordinary a Perfon, not to enter into the World in the ordinary Manner. As the firft Adam, poffeffed of original Uprightness, was formed immediately by the Hand of God; it was fuitable, that the fecond Adam, who came to restore that Uprightness, fhould not be inferior, but indeed fuperior, in that Respect. Accordingly we read, that the firft Man was of the Earth, earthy: the fecond, the Lord from Heaven. It feems requifite alfo, that he, who was defigned both for a fpotlefs Example to us, and a spotless Sacrifice to God, fhould be perfectly_free from every Degree of that Impurity, and inward Irregularity, which the tainted Nature of a fallen earthly Father may, for ought we know, according to the eftablished Laws of this World, communicate: whereas being produced in the Manner that he was may have qualified him perfectly for becoming, both a Lamb without Blemish, and a high Prieft, in every Respect and Degree, holy and undefiled, and separate from Sin
P Col. ii. 18, 19. Heb. i. 14. 45, 47. •Exod, xii. 5.
91 Tim. iii. 16.
1 Cor. xv.
But whether these or others, concealed from us for wife though perhaps unfearchable Ends, were the Reasons why his Incarnation was in this Manner; yet, for his being incarnate, there are several weighty Reafons very evident; and poffibly many more, entirely unfeen by us.
By becoming Man, he was capable of becoming the moft complete and engaging Pattern of Virtue to Man. The Example of the invifible God might feem too high, and too remote from our View. The Examples of Men were all, in one Refpect or another, faulty, and likely to mislead us. But our bleffed Saviour, by joining in his own Perfon Perfection with Humanity, gives us the most encouraging Invitation to endeavour at doing fo too, according to our Power. He was in all Points tempted like as we are, yet without Sin"; to leave us an Example, that we might follow his Steps". But in particular, by this Means he hath fet us the brightest Example of that excellent Virtue, Humility, that ever was, or could be; to this Intent, that the fame Mind might be in us, which was in him: who being in the Form of God, took upon him the Form of a Servant, and was made in the Likenefs of Men". Of mutual Love also he hath fet before us the most amiable Pattern, by this amazing Proof of his Love to Mankind. He, who was rich in all the Glories of God, became poor for our Sakes; that we, through his Poverty, might become rich in heavenly Bleffings. He, who was exempted from all Sufferings, fuffered every Thing terrible in Life and Death for our Good. Surely thefe are powerful Motives both to give up, and do, and undergo, whatever we are called to, for our Brethren ; and to love one another, as he hath loved us. His Refignation likewise, his Meekness, his Zeal, his Prudence, every one of his Virtues, (and his whole Character was compofed of Virtues,) are most useful Lessons, derived from his appearing in our Nature,
Phil. ii. 5, 6, 7.
u Heb. iv. 15. 2 Cor. viii. 9.
VI Pet. ii, 21. ? John xv. 12,
that in a very peculiar Manner command our Attention, and require our Imitation.
But further ftill; by becoming Man he had the Means of moft familiarly and beneficially inftructing Men, in every Point of Faith and Practice. The Word was made Flefh, and dwelt among us, full of Grace and Truth, and of bis Fulness have we all received. This Condefcenfion enabled him to accommodate his Manner of teaching to the Capacities and Difpofitions of his Difciples, to remove their Prejudices, infinuate Truth into their Minds gradually and thus gently training them up to the Kingdom of Heaven, lay fuch deep Foundations of his Church, as fhall never be moved.
By taking upon him our Nature, he was likewife capable of being a Sacrifice for our Sins; a Doctrine, which in its proper Place fhall be explained to you: Therefore, fince we are Partakers of Flesh and Blood, he also himself took Part of the fame, that, through Death, he might deftroy him, that had the Power of Death, that is, the Devil".
And there was another Benefit, confequent to his fuffering in our Nature, viz. his rifing again in it; and thus giving us the fulleft Certainty of our own Refurrection to eternal Life.
Even while he fits at the right Hand of the Father, interceding for his Church, and ruling over it, his being Man both makes him a proper Perfon to represent Men, and offer up their Devotions: and affords us the moft fenfible Affurance of his knowing the Wants, and being touched with the Neceffities, of the Nature in which he shares. Wherefore in all Things it behoved him, fays the Apostle, to be made like unto his Brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high Prieft in Things pertaining unto God. For, in that he himself bath fuffered, being tempted, he is able to fuccour them that are tempted. Seeing then that we have not a high Priest, that cannot be touched with the Feeling of our Infirmities: but one, who was
2 John i, 14, 16,
Heb. ii. 17, 18.
in all Points tempted, like as we are: we may come boldly to the Throne of Grace, in Confidence of obtaining Mercy, and finding Grace to help, in Time of Need". And fince, laftly, we have a Judge appointed us, who hath experienced whereof we are made; we may be in the utmost Degree certain, that his Judgment will be according to Equity that on the one Hand, all due Allowances will be made to us; and, on the other, no undue ones must be expected by us, in that Day, when God will judge the World in Righteousness by that Man, whom he hath ordained; and to whom he hath given Authority to execute Judgment, because he is the Son of Man©.
Heb. iv. 14, 15, 16.
dActs xvii. 31.
John v. 27.
Article IV. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; be defcended into Hell.
the Creed goes on to the Mention of his Sufferings: for indeed his whole State on Earth was a fuffering State. By condefcending to be made in the Likeness of Man, he expofed himself to all the Neceffities, Infirmities, and Pains, to which Men are naturally fubject. Befides this, he underwent the many Inconveniences of a low and unfettled Condition. And, which was yet much heavier, though his whole Life was spent in doing Good, yet was it fpent alfo in bearing Troubles and Uneafineffes from all around him.
The Prejudices and Mifapprehenfions of his Kindred and Difciples were no fmall Trial. But the Perverseness Phil. ii. 7. b Acts x. 38.