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telligent heathen could go over them all, with a full comprehension of their meaning, without a continual joining in the exclamation of the centurion, as each new incident was placed before him, “ Truly this was the Son of God.”
It is, at present, only my intention cursorily and generally to touch on these, with a view of enlarging on each of them hereafter, in a series of consecutive discourses. May He, “ from whom every good and perfect gift cometh,” aid our endeavours in his service, and bless us in the task which we have undertaken.
We will begin by a review of some of the circumstances which attended the birth of Jesus Christ. Here we see a combination of miracles worthy the dignity of him for whose sake they were wrought, and wonderfully illustrative of the prophecies which had been spoken of the Messiah. We see the miraculous virgin-birth, foretold by the prophet, accomplished. We see the Shiloh, though the son of a carpenter in Nazareth of Galilee, yet lineally descended from Judah,
and, by unlooked-for means, born in Bethlehem of Judæa. We see angels announcing his birth; a new star appearing in the heavens, and the eastern sages journeying from a distant country to welcome and to salute their King. Surely he, whose birth was thus attended by wonders and by miracles, must have been more than man. “ Truly he was the Son of God.”
The life which followed was worthy of such a commencement; grand and impressive in reality, humble and unassuming in appearance. During the first part of it he seems to have been unknown beyond his immediate neighbourhood, and we are told, that with regard to his earthly parents, “ he was subject unto them!.” But previous to his entering on his public office, when he had arrived at a time of life, when both his mind and body had attained their highest maturity, he suffered himself to be subjected to a trial, from whence, more, almost, than from any other occurrence, we gather a proof of his di
vinity. The Scriptures tell us, that “he was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil!" The particular incidents of this temptation we will not now dwell on; nor will we insist, at present, on the circumstance, that in his combat with Satan, he was victorious; for this, if he was the Son of God, he could not but be; I will rather draw your attention, at the present moment, to the mode in which he effected it. We hear of no boastful efforts, of no vaunting defiances, of no obtrusive violence on the part of our Lord, circumstances which might make us doubt the truth of the story, or the sanity of the relators of it. The calm dignity with which the whole was done, the simple plain manner in which it is recorded, is the best witness of its truth. Satan is conquered by “ the sword of the Spirit, the word of God 2,5" and we can scarcely believe, that they who read the account, so quietly and explicitly related, will refuse to give it the
* Matt. iv. 1.
Eph. vi. 17.
benefit of this internal evidence, or will refrain from exclaiming; “ Truly this was the Son of God."
Our blessed Saviour's mode of teaching next claims our attention, as a proof of his divinity. The precepts which he delivered, and the rules which he enjoined, combine in them at once purity, holiness, wisdom, and simplicity. There was also in them a novelty, at that period in particular, very attractive, and one which appears exceedingly to have affected his hearers. When he had concluded his Sermon on the Mount, we are told', that “the people were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes.” The mode also in which he led their notice to the laws delivered by Moses, and explained them, not only in the letter but in the spirit, at once shews the comprehensiveness of his mind, and the simple dignity and power which belonged to him; and the inferences which
1 Matt. vii. 28, 29.
he gathered from them were very different from what would have been drawn by a mere man, and still more different from what would have been deduced by an impostor. Men are too apt to be dazzled by pomp and splendour, and the passions of pride and ambition are too frequently the objects of their praise and imitation. But our Saviour's mind was exalted far above such sublunary grandeur, and his pleasure it was to commend the virtues of those who, like him, were “ meek and lowly in heart !," and to bid them “ find rest for their souls.” It is in the Sermon on the Mount that we shall see the truth of these observations principally shewn, and to this we will refer. It will be sufficient for us to look at the commencement of it, and these are the words ”, “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Matt. xi. 29.
2 Matt. v. 3, &c.