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of his only begotten Son: Which is a Work of fuch a myfterious Nature, as raifes the Curiofity a of Angels to pry into it; and allows not the most enlarged of human Capacities fully to understand it. Though we put our intellectual Faculties upon the utmost Stretch, we fhall ftill behold this Mystery as through à Glafs, darkly; all our Knowledge of it will be but in Part: And to think that we can by fearching find it out to Perfection, is Vanity of Vanities, and nothing but Vanity.
Alas! the corruptible body presseth down the Soul, and the earthly Tabernacle weigbeth down the Mind that mufeth upon many things; fo that imperfect and uncertain is our Acquaintance even with the things that are of the Earth: How much more doubtful and imperfect must our Learning then be, in the things which are from Heaven? We are very much in the dark as to the Union of our Souls and Bodies: We cannot give a fure and fatisfactory Account, how two fuch different Beings as Spirit and Matter influence one another in their feveral Motions, as Experience certifies they do: What abfurd Arrogance then muft it be, to pretend to
a Pet. i. 12.
conceive the nature of the Hypoftatick Union of God and Man? Or clearly to apprehend the Manner in which the Divine and Human Natures are joined together in one Perfon, and yet remain two compleat and diftinct Natures, fo that the fame Perfon is at the fame time truly God, and truly Man?
Thefe things are far beyond our reach; and therefore when we commemorate them, we ought humbly to admire the Proceedings of Divine Wisdom, without attempting to measure them by the scanty Line of finite Understanding. When we celebrate the coming of CHRIST into the World, it behoveth us readily to embrace this Doctrine which is worthy of all acception, without puzling ourselves with unneceffary Inquiries concerning it. We fhould not boldly examine into that which God hath kept fecret, but content ourfelves with knowing and believing that which he hath revealed, in the Simplicity wherewith he hath revealed it.
If we follow thefe Rules, our Faith will be preferved pure and undefiled; whereas by endeavouring to comprehend Things incomprehenfible, and to explain Things inexplicable; 'tis very probable that we В 2
fhall become Hereticks; 'tis very certain we cannot become more Orthodox.
Wherefore instead of amufing ourselves with fuch dangerous and empty Speculations, let us contemplate thofe glorious Attributes of God which were most nearly concerned in the Accomplishment of our Redemption. Revere we his Justice which would not forgive Sin, without inAlicting the Punishment it deserved. Admire we his Wifdom which found out a Way to inflict that Punishment without deftroying the Sinner. Stand we in Awe of his Power which fo wonderfully brought to pass his Design. But above all, Praise we and Adore his infinite LOVE which inclined him, to exercise the fore-mentioned Attributes in fuch a gracious Manner. 'Twas his LOVE which put his Wifdom upon contriving a Propitiation for our Sins. 'Twas his Love which moved his Power to effect that which his Wifdom contriv'd. 'Twas his LOVE which abated the Rigour of his Juftice, render'd it willing to accept the vicarious Suffering of an innocent Perfon, and concur with the Efforts of his Wisdom and Power. In this then the LOVE of God feems principally to be manifefted, because that God lent his only-begotten Son into the World
that we might live through him. Herein is LOVE, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and fent his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins. Beloved, if God Jo loved us, we ought also to love one ano ther. Which Words naturally lead us to reflect upon thefe Things:
First, The Dignity of the Perfon who, as at this time, was fent into the World; together with the Humiliation and Abafement which he condefcended to fubmit
unto: God fent his only-begotten Son into
Secondly, The End for which he was fent into the World, and fubmitted to that Humiliation and Abafement! God fent his only-begotten Son into the World, that we might live through him, or to be the Propitiation for our sins.
Thirdly, The exceedingly great Love of God to Mankind evidenc'd by this Action. In THIS was manifefted the Love of God towards us, because that God Jent bis only begotten Son into the World, that we might live through him. HEREIN is Love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and fent his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins.
• Freached on Christmass-day.
Laftly, The Inference which the Apoftle draws from this Love of God towards us Beloved, if God fo loved us, we ought alfo to love one another.
First, Then we are to reflect upon the Dignity of the Perfon who, as at this time, was fent into the World, together with the Humiliation and Abasement which he condefcended to fubmit unto. As to the Dignity of his Perfon, our Opinions of That be very difproportionate and unworthy, if with the Arians we believe him to be a Creature, though of never fo excellent or angelical an Order. Neither will our Efteem be any more just or fuitable to his Worth, if, with the Socinians, we look upon him only as a great Propher, commiffioned by God in a most extraordinary manner. For notwithstanding that Beings in this Order and Relation, are vaftly fuperior to others in Dignity; yet their Dignity is infinitely below the Dignity of CHRIST JESUS, who juftly thought it no Robbery to be equal with God; and whom therefore we fhall rob of his Honour by denying that Equality: Inafmuch as all the fullness of the Godhead dwelleth in him; he being as St. John
d Se Bishop Burnet's Expofition on xxxix Articles, Art. II. • Ibidem.