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In this light it is considered by St. Paul, in that memorable passage, Phil. ï. 5, &c.
Let this mind be in
which also in Christ Jesus : who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.'
No subject presents to us so wonderful an example of condescension as the incarnation of Christ ; nor could any fact fill our minds with the same astonishment, were it not that we have been accustomed to hear it repeated from the cradle, and, like the state of the weather, rendered an object of perpetual familiarity; a thing almost of course, in the ordinary current of our thoughts, by unceasing inculcation.
From these causes we pass it without serious attention, and, even when we dwell upon it, scarcely realize its nature. The impressions which it makes on the mind resemble those made on the eye of such as have been long accustomed to them, by a delightful landscape, a stupendous cataract, or a mountain which loses its summit in the clouds. At the view of these a stranger is fixed in exquisite delight, and has all his thoughts engrossed and his emotions absorbed by the wonderful scene. No language will in his view serve to describe, and no picture to image, on the one hand the beauty, or on the other, the sublimity of these illustrious objects. To do them justice in his representations, and to spread fairly before others the views, formed of them by his own mind, he will labour in thought, select and refuse, alternately, the language which offers itself, and will at last sit down discouraged, without a hope of being able to render his conceptions visible to other eyes, or to do any thing like justice to what was so magnificent in the view of his own. Those, in the mean time, who have long lived in the neighbourhood of the same objects, will in many, though not indeed in all instances, survey them withour emotion, and even without attention; apparently as insensible to the beauty and grandeur as the horses which they ride, or the oxen which they drive.
Such seem but too commonly to be the views formed by most men concerning the incarnation of Christ, and such the insensibility with which it is but too generally regarded. Even Christians, like their predecessors mentioned in the Gospel,
are, in innumerable instances, fools' in this respect, and slow of heart to believe,' or even to realize.
But let us, for a moment at least, lay aside these obtuse views, these eyes' which are dull of seeing,' these · hearts'
` ' too ' gross to understand.' Let us shake off the torpor which benumbs our frame, and rouse ourselves to perception and feeling. Let us regard this wonderful subject with common justice, and common candour.
The glorious Person, who in the Scriptures is designated by the appellation, á Aoyos Te Ory, or the Word of God, “In the beginning created the heavens and the earth ;' and said, • Let there be light, and there was light ;' • Let there be a firmament, and there was a firmament.' His hand also lighted up the flame of the sun, and kindled the stars. He
upholds the universe by the word of his power;' and preserves order and regularity throughout all the parts of this amazing system.
In the heavens he shines with inexpressible splendour. On the earth he lives and works, provides and sustains, and satisfies the wants of every living thing. Throughout immensity he quickens into life, action, and enjoyment the innumerable multitudes of intelligent beings. The universe which he made, he also governs. The worlds of which it is composed, he rolls through the infinite expanse with an almighty and unwearied hand, and preserves them in their respective places and motions with unerring harmony. From the vast storehouse of his bounty he feeds and clothes the endless millions whom his hand has made, and from the riches of his own unchangeable mind informs the innumerable host of intelligent creatures with ever improving virtue, dignity, and glory. To all these he allots the respective parts which they are qualified to act in the boundless system of good which his wisdom contrived, and his power has begun to execute, furnishes them with the means of being useful in his eternal kingdom, and thus prepares them to be amiable and excellent in his sight, and instruments of perpetually increasing good to each other.
At the head of this great kingdom he' sits upon a throne high and lifted up,' • far exalted above all heavens ;' surveys, with an intuitive view and with divine complacency the amazing work which his voice has called into being, and beholds it increasing without intermission in happiness, wisdom, and
virtue, and advancing, with a regular progress, towards consummate glory and perfection.
Although he is not worshipped, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth unto all life, and breath and all things;' yet before him angels bow and veil their faces. The four living ones rest not day nor night, crying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who wast, and who art, and who art to come. And the whole multitude of the heavenly host, • the number of whom is ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, unite in the everlasting song, ' Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.'
From this stupendous height of greatness and enjoyment, this divine Person, passing all the bounds between God and man, between the infinite mind, and lifeless matter, united himself to 'man, who is but a worm ;' assumed to himself a human soul and a human body, and in a manner incomprehensible by us, and not improbably by all other creatures, became thenceforth God-man, inseparably united in one most wonderful and mysterious Person.
Of this singular act the end was not less glorious, than the act itself was amazing. It was to save a race of rebellious creatures, whom he needed not, from misery and ruin ; of creatures, whom with a word he could have returned to their original nothing, and whose places with another word he could have filled with equal or greater numbers, at his pleasure; all obedient, faithful, and happy. I shall not, however, dwell on this subject at the present time. Occasions still more appropriate will hereafter bring it up to view. The single point on which I would now insist, is the infinite condescension of Christ.
This glorious person humbles himself to behold the things which are done under the sun.' How much more when he came from his high and holy place' to dwell beneath that sun, and take up his residence on his footstool! All this, however, he was pleased to do. He emptied himself, took
• upon himself the form of a servant, and was born in the likeness of men.'
What were the views which angels formed of this new and astonishing event? Easily may we imagine that all heaven
was lost in wonder, and buried in silence, to behold this transition from infinite glory to supreme humiliation, from the throne of the universe to a tenement of clay.
clay. How instinctively ought we, uniting with angels in the same views and the same emotions, to behold, wonder, and adore !
2. What a pattern of condescension is here set before us for our imitation. St. Paul makes this practical use of the doctrine under consideration. • Let the same mind be in you, ' says he to the Philippians,' which was also in Christ.'
Condescension is here enforced ou the race of man with an authority and example literally imfinite. The divine wisdom dictated the condescension of Christ, and the divine goodness carried it into execution. In it we see the manner in which the infinite mind is pleased to act, and which boundless excellence approves and loves. This, then, is a character and conduct to which we are urged by the highest of all considerations, the approbation and example of God. Would we, then, be like God; would we be perfect as he is perfect;' would we obtain his approbation ; would we inherit the blessings which he confers on those who are approved by him ; would we become really excellent and lovely; we shall · give all diligence, that' the same mind may be in us which was also in Christ. We shall condescend to men of low degree;' be' meek and lowly of heart;' be satisfied with humble stations, offices, and employments; and feel that no human interest is beneath our notice, and no human business unfit for us to perform, when we are called to perform it, and when others by the performance can be relieved, disposed to virtue, or made happy.
But how different is the usual conduct and the prevailing character of man! All men sigh to be rich, and none are contented with humble circumstances. All men pant to be great, and none are satisfied with a lowly condition. The rich despise the poor, the great trample on the small. When we become rich, we sigh for additional riches. When we become great, we toil, and watch, and weary ourselves through life, to become greater. All beneath us in these mere accidents, we overlook, contemn, insult, and style the dirt and scum of the earth,
Christ, on the contrary, became, voluntarily, not only ?
man, but a poor man, a lowly man, the son of a carpenter, humble in his station, without place, or power, or wealth, and perfectly satisfied to be without them all. His friends, his disciples, his apostles, were selected from the poor and lowly; and he alleged it is one unanswerable proof of his Messiahship, that by him ' the poor had the Gospel preached unto them.' This was the character of him whom angels worship, and whom the universe obeys.
Christ descended to these lowly men, and to these humble circumstances, from the throne of the heavens. Shall not we, then, be willing to let ourselves down from the side, or even the summit of our mole-bill, to visit our fellow-emmets at the bottom? How small the descent at the utmost? How silly, how base, how contradictory to common sense, the pride which refuses to make it !
Often, very often, the men whom we despise as greatly beneath us, are better, wiser, and more excellent in the sight of God than ourselves. Always we are odious to him, and contemptible in the eye of reason, for this very pride. Let every proud man then feel, that for this very character which he so fondly cherishes, he is hateful in the sight of God, and justly contemptible in that of men; that the character which he despises is the very character in which Christ chose to appear, and that the men whom he treats with abuse and insolence, are of that very class out of which Christ selected his friends and apostles.