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aright, does not now congratulate the yet bleeding countries of Europe, especially those who have derived spiritual benefit from their afflictions, and look with pity on the fallen oppressor, laden as he must be with an intolerable load of conscious guilt, and the curses and execrations of half the human race? We may
have been stumbled for awhile, just as David was, at the sight of prosperous wickedness; but, if with him we enter into the sanctuary, and contemplate the end of these men, or if we look at their end as exemplified in our fallen adversary, we shall know how to judge of such mysterious dispensations m. In like manner we may learn how to judge of every thing, whether prosperous or adverse, in our own affairs. Let us look to the final issue. What will prosperity benefit us, if it draws us from God, and leads us, like the rich fool, to fix our happiness on things below? On the other hand, what reason can we have to complain of afflictions, if they be sanctified to our spiritual and eternal good? Has the stone reason to complain that it receives many strokes, when it is thereby fitted for a conspicuous place in the Temple of the Lord ? or the vine, even granting it to be fruitful, that it is "pruned, when it is made thereby to bring forth more fruit?" or the vessel, that it is put into the furnace, when it is thereby rendered meet for the Master's use? Be not then so much concerned to get rid of present trials, as to have them made subservient to the good of your souls. Only beg of God, that “his whole work may be performed upon you," and leave the means of accomplishing that work to Him, who ordereth every thing with unerring wisdom and unbounded love. You will then see, ere long, that "he hath abounded towards you with all wisdom and prudence;" and in all future trials you will say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”]
m Ps. lxxiii. 3—14, 16—20.
DCCCLXXV. CHRIST'S QUALIFICATIONS FOR HIS OFFICE. Isai. xi. 2, 3. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.
THE richest promises which God has given to the Church, are generally introduced after some awful threatening denounced against his enemies. The prophet has been predicting the utter ruin of the Assyrians, as of a tree cut down to the very stump. He then contrasts the state of the Church, to which the Messiah should come, springing like a tender sucker from the root of Jesse, after that his family should have been reduced to the lowest state of degradation. He then, in reference perhaps to what he had before spoken respecting “the anointing,” shews who this anointed person should be, and what was that unction with which he should be consecrated to his office.
From the words of the text, which beyond all doubt refer to Christ, the Son of David, we shall be led to consider, I. His qualifications for his office
The same Spirit that formed Christ's body in the virgin's womb", endowed also his soul with all the faculties requisite for the discharge of his high office
[Jesus Christ, as a man, needed to have his mind enlightened, and his heart sanctified, even as other men :
nor could he have been qualified for his mediatorial work, if he had not been anointed in a superabundant measure, by the Holy Ghost". God therefore anointed him, and caused the Spirit to rest upon himo, not merely for a time, and for a limited purpose, as he had done to others', but in an immeasurable fulness, and for every end for which he could possibly need ith.
The Spirit came upon him as a Spirit of wisdom and understanding.” He gave to Jesus a full and comprehensive view of all the mysteries which from eternity had been hid in the bosom of the Fatherk; and enabled him also to discern the most secret recesses of men's hearts?: so that nothing, either in heaven or in earth, was concealed from himm.
The Spirit, as "a spirit of counsel and might," instructed him how to conduct himself in all those situations of difficulty and danger into which he was continually brought; and endued him with such undaunted courage, unwearied activity, and
a Isai. x. 27. b Matt. i. 18, 20. c Ps. xlv. 7. d Acts x. 38. e John i. 32.
f Numb. xi. 25, 26. & John iii. 34. h Luke iv. 18, 19.
i Vitringa thinks that the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit are here enumerated. See Rev. i. 4. and v. 6. but we rather suppose that each couplet (not each expression) is to be taken separately, as declaring, in a comprehensive manner, the operations of the Holy Spirit. k John viii. 28.
| Matt. ix. 4. m John xxi. 17.
invincible patience, that through the whole course of his ministry he never yielded to discouragement, or erred by inadvertencen.
The Spirit further enriched his soul with “ the knowledge (or rather, with the love") and fear of God.” Through his incessant operations, he was enabled to maintain a continual sense of the divine presence P, and to act in all things with a view to his Father's glory! Under the influence of this divine principle He was carried on in one steady course, like the sun in its orbit, causing its light to shine with unclouded splendour through the whole period of his sojourning on earth'.)
By these means Jesus attained the most consummate holiness
[The terms whereby the prophet expresses the quickness of Christ's spiritual perceptions, are taken from that power of smelling, which some animals possess, and which admirably represents the exquisite sensibility which our Lord with respect to every thing that was right and fitting to be said or done. His enemies of every description, Herodians, Pharisees, and Sadducees, endeavoured to ensnare him. Sometimes they tempted him with questions, which, in whatever way they should be answered, would give them occasion against him: but he invariably replied with such consummate wisdom as defeated their purposes, and filled them with admiration®. Sometimes they sought opportunity to entrap him by means of his actions : but still he was proof against their malice, and always turned their efforts to their own confusion. He knew on all occasions how to vary his conduct, so as ultimately to answer best the
of his mission. And so nice was his discernment, so unsearchable his skill, that, whether he denounced judgments or proclaimed mercy, whether he maintained silence or “ witnessed a good confession,” he invariably combined majesty with meekness, and fidelity with love.
Nor (to carry on the metaphor) was he less earnest in following, than he was acute in discerning, the path of duty. If he had spent the night in prayer, he still prosecuted by day his labours of love, till he was exhausted with fatigue, and his friends declared that his zeal transported him beyond the bounds of reason": so fully was that prophecy accomplished in him, “ The zeal of thine house hath even consumed mer."]
n Isai. xlii. 2, 4, 6. and l. 4, 7. • See Vitringa in loc. p John viii. 29.
q John vii. 18. and viïi. 50. r John viii. 46. and xvii. 4. • Matt. xxii. 16–21, 23-33, 34–40. t John viï. 3–9. Luke vi. 6-11. u Mark üi. 21. x John ii. 17.
Such being his qualifications, let us consider, II. Our interest in them,
This is by no means a speculative subject, since it serves to shew us, 1. Christ's sufficiency for his work—
[The work which Christ had to do for us, was exceeding arduous. He was to obey the law without deviating from it in the smallest point, in thought, word, or deed. If therefore he had been turned aside by any obstacle, or had erred through any inadvertence, or fallen short through any weakness, or exceeded through any temptation, he would have been a violator of the law; and, instead of being a Saviour to us, would have needed a saviour for himself. But by these rich endowments which were communicated to him by the Holy Ghost he was enabled to maintain an unspotted purity even to the last: and, having fulfilled the law in its utmost extent, he has “ brought in an everlasting righteousness," which “ shall be unto all and upon all them that believe."
Besides this, he has a work to do in us. He is exalted to be“ head over all things to the churchy," in order that he may instruct his people in divine knowledge, and counsel them in their difficulties, and strengthen them in their trials, and maintain in them a superlative regard for God. And how should he effect all this, if he himself did not possess an inexhaustible treasure, out of which he might impart to every needy suppliant? But we need not fear, since we are assured, that in him all fulness dwells”, and that out of his fulness we may all receive, even grace for grace. We may therefore safely glory in him as made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and complete redemption']
2. The blessings we expect at his handsThat holy oil which was poured upon the head of our great High-priest, was to descend to the skirts of his clothing, and to the very meanest of his members. Nor are his people called Christians merely as being followers of him, but also as being partakers of the same divine unction a. As soon as he was seated on his throne of glory he poured out his Spirit upon his waiting disciples for the very ends and purposes for which he himself had received it. Instantly they were filled with a “wisdom and understanding," which exceeded that of the greatest philosophers. They were endued with such “counsel and might," that none could withstand their words, or shake y Eph. i. 22, 23
Col. i. 19.
a John i. 16. b 1 Cor. i. 30.
c Ps. cxxxiii. 2. di John ii. 20, 27. e Acts ii. 33. Gal. v. 22.
their resolution. And to such a degree were their hearts filled with the “love and fear of God," that all sublunary things were divested both of charms and terrors, and the service of God became, as it were, the very element in which they breathed.
Thus may the most ignorant amongst us have “ the eyes of his understanding enlightened” by him: to every one of us will he approve himself a “wonderful counsellors:” he will “strengthen us with might in our inward man:” he will fill us with a most affectionate and reverential regard for God: he will give us both an exquisite discernment of what is right, and a supreme delight in ite : and, in a word, he will “transform us into his own image in righteousness and true holinessh.' However different these gifts may appear, and however unequal the capacities of those who are to receive them, they shall be imparted to all according to their measure of faith*; and the Spirit that Jesus will bestow, shall work them all, and in all.] APPLICATION
[It has been seen that Christ “ascended up on high on purpose that he might fill all things m." moreover he has assured us that, if we ask for the gift of his Spirit, we shall not ask in vain". Now we cannot but acknowledge that we need the influences of the Holy Spirit in all the preceding particulars. In consequence of our not habitually weighing all
existing circumstances with due care and impartiality, we are extremely apt to err, and, by injudicious conduct, to give offence'. But it is both our duty and our privilege to "walk wisely before God in a perfect way.” The Holy Spirit is promised to us for this very end. Let all then direct their eyes unto him. Let the ignorant, the doubting, the weak, and all who desire to have the divine life carried on and perfected in their souls, apply to him. Nor let any rest satisfied with low attainments, since Christ is both able and willing to enlarge our faculties, and to increase our sanctity, and to bring us to the measure of his own perfect stature.P.]
f Isai. ix. 6. & Col. i. 9-11. h Eph. iv. 24. i Matt. xi. 25. Isai. xxxv. 8. k Eph. iv. 7. Matt. ix. 29. 1 1 Cor. xii. 4, 11. Eph. iv. 10. n Luke xi. 13. • I wish religious professors to pay particular attention to this hint. p Eph. iv. 13.
THE CHANGE TO BE WROUGHT BY THE GOSPEL IN THE
Isai. xi. 6—9. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and
the leopard shall lie down with the kid ; and the calf and the