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after. This apprehension strengthens his aversion from God. And, indeed, without an express assurance from the Lord himself, whom he has offended, that there is forgiveness with him, he would not only fear, but sink into despair, if he rightly understood the horrid enormity of a state of alienation from the blessed God. But infinite wisdom and mercy have provided and propounded a method by which the honour of the divine perfections and government is secured, and pardon and peace vouchsafed to rebels. " God was in Christ re
conciling the world unto himself.” The knowledge of this mercy, when revealed to the sinner's heart, subdues his enmity, constrains him to throw down his arms, and to make an unreserved submission and surrender of himself; forms bim to a temper of love and confidence, and disposes him to habitual and cheerful obedience. Now “mercy and truth are met together,
righteousness and peace have kissed each other* ;" and God is glorified in the highest, for peace proclaimed upon the earth.
The expression of "good-will toward men,” seems to rise upon the former. Not only peace, but acceptance and adoption in the Beloved. Sinners who believe in the Son of God, are not merely delivered from the condemnation they deserved, but are united to their Saviour; considered as one with him, his children, the members of his body, and made partakers of his life and his glory. God is their portion, and heaven is their home. The Lord's satisfaction in this, as the greatest of all his works, is expressed by the prophet in such astonishing terms of condescension, as surpass our utmost conceptions; and we can only say, Lord, “ what is man, that thou art thus mindful of him!” We believe, admire, and adore. “ The Lord thy God in “ the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will “ rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, “ he will rejoice over thee with singing*.”
* Psal. Ixxxv. 10.
Assuredly this song of the heavenly host is not the language of our hearts by nature.
We once sought our pleasure and happiness in a very different way. We were indifferent to the glory of God, and strangers to his peace. And some of us are still blind to the excellencies of the Gospel, and deaf to its gracious invitations. But we must not expect to sing with the great company of the redeemed hereafter, before the throne of glory, unless we learn and love their song while we are heret. They who attain to the inheritance of the saints in light, are first made meet for it in the present life, and in this way. They believe the testimony of the Scripture respecting their own guilt, unworthiness, and helplessness; then they receive the record which God has given of his Son. They renounce “all confi“ dence in the flesht;" they rejoice in Christ Jesus, and from his fulness they derive grace to worship God in the spirit. A sense of their obligations to the Sa. viour, disposes them to praise him now as they can ; and they rejoice in hope of seeing him ere long as he is, and that then they shall praise him as they ought. For heaven itself, as described in the word of God, could not be a state of happiness to us, unless we are likeminded with the apostle, to “account all things loss " and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of " Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Zeph. iii. 17.
+ Rev. xiv. 3.
| Phil. iii. 3.
MESSIAH'S ENTRANCE INTO JERUSALEM.
Zech. ix. 9, 10.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ; shout, o daughter of
Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee : he is just, and having salvation ; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and apon a colt the foal of an ass. And he shall speak peace unto the heathen.
The narrowness and littleness of the mind of fallen man, are sufficiently conspicuous in the idea he forms of magnificence and grandeur. The pageantry and parade of a Roman triumph, or of an eastern monarch, as described in history, exhibit him to us in what he himself accounts his best estate. If you suppose him seated in an imperial carriage, arrayed in splendid apparel, wearing a crown or tiara ornamented with jewels, preceded and followed by a long train of guards and attendants, surrounded by the unmeaning acclamations of ignorant multitudes, you see the poor worm at the summit of his happiness. He has no conception of any thing greater than this. And the spectators are generally of the same mind. They admire, they envy, his lot; and there is hardly a person in the crowds around him, but would be very glad to take his place, were it practicable. Yet . this
great little creature would surely be mortified, if, in the height of his self-complacence, he could consider, that he had the very same regard for a pre-eminence in finery, the same desire to be admired and envied, and
felt the same kind of satisfaction in distinction above his fellows, when he was a child of ten years old. He is, in effect, a child still, only he has changed his playthings, and now acts upon a larger scale, but with the same trifling and contracted views.
How different was MESSIAH's entry into Jerusalem foretold in this prophecy, the accomplishment of which we read in the evangelists! And how differently was he affected by the objects around him! He poured contempt upon the phantom of human glory. This “ King of • kings and Lord of lords, was meek and lowly, riding
upon an ass's colt*.” And though a secret divine infuence constrained the multitude to acknowledge his character, and, with some accommodation to the customs of the times, “to strew their garments in the way,” as they proclaimed the King who came in the name of Jehovah; yet he appeared unmoved by their applause. Had the history of Jesus, like those which we have of Socrates or Cyrus, been merely the work of a human writer, ambitious to adorn a favourite character with the most splendid qualities of a philosopher or a hero, we should never have known how his mind was engaged in this situation. The Saviour must be divine, his historian must be inspired, the fact must be true; for man could not have invented such a circumstance, that this meek and lowly Saviour took no notice of the zeal and homage of his friends, because his heart was filled with compassion for his enemies, who were thirsting for his blood. For it was then, amidst the acclamation of his disciples, that he beheld the city and wept over it, while he foretold the evils which the rejection of him would
Luke xix. 35-38,
bring upon it. « Oh that thou hadst known, even thou, “ at least in this thy day, the things belonging to thy
peace !' But now they are hidden from thine eyes."
An angel proclaimed his birth to the shepherds; and wise men from the east paid such attention to the newborn Saviour, that the jealousy of Herod was excited, and attempts made to destroy him. But this wonderful infant was brought up in a state of obscurity, in a place of no repute, and known by no higher description than that of “The carpenter's son.” In the course of his ministry he appeared and was treated as a poor man, he had no certain dwelling-place, he submitted to receive supplies, for his support, from the contributions of a few of his followers, for the most of them were poor like himself. And though he wrought many wonderful works for the relief of the necessitous and miserable, he admitted no alteration in his own external state, but was content to be poor and despised, for our sakes, to the end of his life. I think the only occasion on which he permitted a public acknowledgment of his person and character, was when he fulfilled this prophecy. And still he was the same meek and lowly Saviour. As his kingdom was not of this world, neither were there any marks of human grandeur in his procession. He approached Jerusalem, attended, indeed, by a concourse of people, but riding upon an ass, and weeping for his enemies. The passage
of the Messiah which follows the chorus of the heavenly host, is taken from these verses. It does not include the whole of them. In one clause there is a small alteration in the expression, but it does not affect the sense. Instead of, “ He is just having salvation,” it is, “ He is a righteous Saviour.” We may notice, Vol. IV.