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far beyond the guilt of heathen ; and you had
that it has been, and still is received in vain, not-
ON THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.
LUKE, ii. 10.
Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy.
In this chapter we have the account of Christ's birth, and the extraordinary circumstances attending this glorious event. Agreeably to the prediction of the prophet, he was born of a virgin, and laid in a man. ger. Though his birth was attended with indications of indigence, yet a multitude of the ministers of God's throne descended from heaven, and were the first to spread and rejoice in the news of a Saviour's birth. At this important hour, one of these heavenly messengers appeared to the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night; and while they were terrified at his appearance he dispelled their fears by addressing them in these words, “ Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people ; for unto you is born, this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.” These words imply I. That the incarnation of Christ is a very joy. ful event. We shall
II. Show why it is joyful.
1. The birth of Christ is a joyful event. On this branch of the subject, I shall briefly observe, that we may conclude the birth of Christ is a joyful event, from the character of the beings who rejoiced in it. From the whole history of Christ's birth, and other passages of scripture, it is plain, that this event filled the world of light with peculiar joy. The pure and benevolent spirits in glory were enraptured at this, and expressed their joy in communicating the information to the Shepherds. It is natural to desire to communicate the joys of our hearts to others; and there is in the human mind, a degree of impatience attending great joy, to convey the tidings of that which occasions it to our friends, and to all who are interested in it. We ourselves love to be the bearers of joyful tidings. When we are full of joy, on account of any event, we naturally wish to be the first to publish it ; and our joy is increased by communicating it to others. And this is a propensity, which seems to be common to all intelligent creatures. Accordingly the holy Angels lost no time, but flew to carry the news which filled their own hearts with joy. Nor was this an event, which occasioned joy among those only, who announced the happy tidings to the Shepherds; but immediately after publishing the news to the ears of mortals, a multitude of the heavenly hosts united inexpressing the overflowing joy of their hearts in an anthem of praise, and the Shepherds heard them sing,"Gloto the view of angels, as well as to men, in a light vastly more clear than ever it had appeared before, or perhaps could have appeared. And as the happiness of angels as well as all other holy creatures, consists in the knowledge, love and enjoyment of God; and the more they know of God, the more they will love him, and their happiness is consequently increased; hence to a holy mind, every medium of knowing God, becomes the means of increasing the happiness of that mind. That work, that event, which serves to display the glorious perfections of God in the clearest manner is, to a holy mind, the most joyful. But the incarnation of Christ, with its inseparable concomitants and effects, will, the most clearly, exhibit the divine character, and promote the greatest happiness; so it will answer the ultimate wish of a benevolent mind. It is in itself greatly to be desired, that the perfections of God should be displayed, known and admired. For if the existence of those perfections be desirable, the display of them is desirable ; and the knowledge of them, is the most important to creatures. This knowledge is as important both to angels and men, as
it is that they should love and enjoy God; because · without this knowledge of God, creatures could neither
love nor enjoy him. Now by the incarnation of Christ, with its attendants, the perfections of God, are more clearly displayed than in all his other works, especially his love his benevolence to sinners. That attribute of the divine nature, called mercy, appears in the face of Jesus Christ, and is seen in no other way. Indeed all the divine perfections are here displayed with pe
culiar lustre. Here the wisdom of God appears, in opening a way in which God can be just, and justify the believing sinner.
Here the holiness of God is displayed, as it never could have been, in any other way. Never did his hatred of sin appear as it did in the sufferings of his incarnate Son. Here he demonstrated to all intelligent creatures his irreconcilable hatred of all sin.
The truth of God, both in his promises and threatings is manifested in a singular manner and degree, in the face of Jesus Christ. God showed, by giving his Son to become incarnate, that not only " heaven and earth should pass away,” but what is infinitely more, that the life of his eternal Son should be sacrificed, beforé one jot, or tittle of his violated and dishonoured law should fail of its complete fulfilment. But above all, hath God displayed his mercy and love by the incarnation of Christ. His mercy was never before seen, until it appeared in the work of redemption by Christ. There was no exercise of mercy in the conduct of God towards apostate angels. His justice, but not his mercy was displayed. His goodness appeared in giv. ing angels being and happiness. It also appeared in creating man in a holy, happy state. But in the incarnation of Christ, God hath shown that he can exercise mercy to those who deserve his eternal wrath ; that he can show favour to those who have risen
in rebellion against him, and are still his enemics; that he can exercise such good will to them, as to do greater things for them, than he ever did for angels.
I have already observed, that by the incarnation of