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the habitable parts of his earth ; and my delights were with the sons of men.”
My beloved friends, it is delightful to look back to this well-spring of everlasting love; to behold those mansions in which that God whose name is “ Love” had for innumerable ages
fixed his residences, filled with this peculiar fragrance. The Son of God consenting, in the fulness of the times, to take our nature upon him; and ere he had gone forth on his work of creation, “delighting himself in the habitable parts of the earth, and rejoicing with the sons of men :" rejoicing in the anticipated fulfilment of the will of his Father “in bringing many sons to glory.”
These were the actings of our blessed Saviour's love before time began. Then those sons of God who afterwards shouted for joy, “ when the foundations of the earth werelaid,” and “the morning stars sang together,” might have used the words of these spectators, and looking forward to his taking our nature upon him, have said, “Behold how he loved him !” Behold this incomprehensible love: that God's eternal Son has engaged to take the nature of the children of men upon him; to become bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh.
These, my beloved friends, are the first outbreakings of his love, as made known by the eternal God in this blessed book; and it is to this fountain that all the streams that have since flowed in time may be traced. “I have loved thee,” says Jehovah to his people, " with an everlasting love ; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” In the same manner our Saviour is mentioned by St. Peter, “as the Lamb without blemish and without spot, who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world :" then provided by the tender mercy of God, although his actual coming was so long postponed
But as this love of the Lord Jesus, as the eternal Word, may appear too high a subject for some, let us behold our Lord, when that love which had been in his Divine mind from eternity past, shewed itself in time; when, to use the words of one of our hymns,
“Plunged in a gulf of dark despair,
We wretched sinners lay ;
Or spark of glimmering day.
With pitying eye the Prince of Peace
Beheld our helpless grief;
He came to our relief."
Such was the intensity of feeling with which the great Apostle to the Gentiles contemplated this love, that in speaking of the condescension of our Lord, it appeared necessary it should be developed by gradual disclosures. Thus he exhorts the Philippians, “Let that mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Here he leads us to a sight of our Lord, as he was in his original glory_namely, in the form of God, or in the Divine likeness; and this so absolutely, that he thought it no robbery to be equal with God. Although Jehovah had before declared, by the Prophet Isaiah, “I am the Lord,” or the self-existent God; "and my glory will I not give to another.” Yet being his only begotten Son, one with him in nature and in essence, He thought it no robbery to claim all the rights of Godhead : to declare, “I and the Father are one.
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Having thus described our Lord in his original glory, the Apostle proceeds to say, “Who being in the form of God, and thinking it no robbery to be equal with God, he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”
Here he sets before us that wonderful scene, when the“ Ancient of days,” born in his human nature of the Virgin Mary, became “a babe in swaddling clothes, and was laid in a manger ; for there was no room for
' him in the inn." Wherefore did he thus condescend? Why was he content to make himself of no reputation! Why also,-although his appearing as the child of a mother of the highest earthly rank, would have,
been an infinite condescension—why did he choose to be her child according to the flesh, who was in such straitened circumstances; yea, in such poverty, that when she had to offer the usual sacrifice after the birth of her first-born, she was constrained to give the most humble offering! Why was this, my beloved friends ? It was the same cause that produced his tears at the grave of Lazarus. The angels who announced his birth to the shepherds at Bethlehem, when they joined in the chorus, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men,” might have added, “Behold how he loved
“ him !” Mark, ye heavenly choirs, the love that the holy child Jesus has to the sons and daughters of men.
Descending still lower, the Apostle, after having noticed this marvellous act of bis ineffable love, proceeds : “ Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” As if our blessed Saviour, by consenting to this ignominious death, would shew that, in effecting the Divine pur