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wholly spiritual, and so a more lively representation of God than man could be, whose noble soul is immersed in matter, and enclosed in flesh and blood. Yet Christ chooseth this inferior order of creatures, and passeth by the angelic nature; "He took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham." Heb. 2:16.
3. Moreover, Jesus Christ did not only assume the human nature; but he also assumed its nature, after sin had blotted its original glory, and withered its beauty and excellency. For he came not in our nature before the fall, whilst as yet its glory was fresh in it; but he came, as the apostle speaks, "in the likeness of sinful flesh," Rom. 8: 3, that is, in flesh that had the marks, and miserable effects, and consequents of sin upon it. I say not that Christ assumed sinful flesh, or flesh really defiled by sin. That which was born of the virgin was holy. By the power of the Highest it was so sanctified that no taint of original pollution remained in it. But yet, though it had not intrinsic native uncleanness in it, it had the effects of sin upon it; yea, it was attended with the whole troop of human infirmities that sin at first brought into our common nature, such as hunger, thirst, weariness, pain, mortality, and these natural weaknesses and evils that clog our miserable natures, and under which they groan from day to day.
Though he was not a sinner, yet he appeared like a sinful man, and they that saw and conversed with him took him for a sinner, seeing all these effects of sin upon him. In these things he came as near to sin as his holiness could admit. O what a stoop was this! To be made in the likeness of flesh, though the innocent flesh of Adam, had been much; but to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh, the flesh of sinners, rebels; Oh what is this! and who can declare it! And indeed, if he were to be a Mediator of reconciliation, it was necessary it should be so. It behoved him to assume the
same nature that sinned: to make satisfaction in it. Yea, these sinless infirmities were necessary to be assumed with the nature, as his bearing them was a part of his humiliation, and went to make up satisfaction for us. Moreover, by them our High Priest was qualified from his own experience, and filled with tender compassion to us. Oh the admirable condescension of a Saviour, to take such a nature! to put on such a garment when so very mean and ragged! Did this become such a Saviour? Oh grace unsearchable!
4. And yet more, by this his incarnation he was greatly humbled, inasmuch as this so vailed, clouded, and disguised him, that during the time he lived here he looked not like himself as God. Hereby "he made himself of no reputation." Phil. 2: 7. By reason hereof he lost all esteem and honor from those that saw him, "Is not this the carpenter's son ?" Matt. 13:55. To see a poor man traveling up and down the country, in hunger, thirst, weariness, attended with a company of poor men; one of his company bearing the bag, and that which was put therein, John, 13: 29; who that saw him, would ever have thought this had been the Creator of the world, the Prince of the kings of the earth? "He was despised, and we esteemed him not." Who of you would not rather endure much misery as a man, than be degraded into a contemptible worm? Yet Christ stooped to an infinitely deeper degradation.
And think with yourselves now, was not this astonishing self-denial? It was a black cloud that for so many years darkened and shut up his glory, that it could not shine out to the world; only some weak rays of the Godhead shone to some few eyes, through the chinks of his humanity; as the clouded sun sometimes breaks forth a little, and casts some faint beams, and is hid again. "We saw his glory," says the beloved apostle, as of the only begotten Son," John, 1: 14; but the world
knew him not. If a prince walk up and down in disguise, he must expect no more honor than a mean subject. This was the case of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Again, Christ was greatly humbled by his incarnation, inasmuch as thereby he was put at a distance from the Father, and that ineffable joy and pleasure he eternally had with him. Think not, reader, but the Lord Jesus had high and inimitable communion with God while he walked here in the flesh; but yet to live by faith, as Christ here did, is one thing; and to be in the bosom of God, as he was before, is another. To cry, and God not hear, as he complains, Ps. 32: 3, nay, to be reduced to such distress as to be forced to cry out so bitterly as he did, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Ps. 22:1; this was a thing Christ was utterly unacquainted with till he was found in fashion as a man.
6. And lastly, It was a great stoop and condescension of Christ if he would become a man, to take his nature from such obscure parents, and choose such a low and contemptible state in this world as he did. He is born, not of the blood of nobles, but of a poor woman in Israel, espoused to a carpenter: yea, and that, too, under all the disadvantages imaginable; not in his mother's house; but an inn; yea, a stable. He suited all to that abased state he was designed for; and came among us under all the humbling circumstances imaginable: "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor." 2 Cor. 89. Thus I have shown you some few particulars of Christ's humiliation in his incarnation.
INFERENCE 1. Hence we gather the fulness and completeness of Christ's satisfaction, as the sweet first-fruits of his incarnation. Did man offend and violate the law of God? Behold, God himself is become man to repair that breach, and satisfy for the wrong done. The highest honor that ever the law of God received, was to
have such a person as the man Christ Jesus stand before its bar and make reparation to it. This is more than if it had poured out all our blood, and built up its honor upon the ruins of the whole creation.
It is not so much to see all the stars in heaven overcast, as to see one sun eclipsed. The greater Christ was, the greater was his humiliation; and the greater his humiliation was, the more full and complete was his satisfaction; and the more complete his satisfaction, the more perfect and steady is the believer's consolation. If he had not stooped so low, our joy and comfort could not be exalted so high. The depth of the foundation is the strength of the superstructure.
2. Did Christ for our sakes stoop from his majesty, glory, and dignity in heaven, to the mean and contemptible state of a man? What a pattern of self-denial is here presented to christians! What objection or excuses against this duty can remain, after such an example as is here given? Brethren, let me tell you, the pagan world was never acquainted with such an argument as this to press them to self-denial. Did Christ stoop, and cannot you stoop? did Christ stoop so much, and cannot you stoop the least? Was he willing to become any thing, a worm, a reproach, a curse; and cannot you bear any abasement? Does the least slight and neglect poison your heart with discontent, malice, and revenge? Oh, how unlike Christ are you! Hear, and blush in hearing, what your Lord saith in John, 13: 14. "If I then, your Lord and Master, wash your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet." "The example does not oblige us (as a learned man well observes) to the same individual act, but it obliges us to follow the reason of the example;" that is, after Christ's example, we must be ready to perform the humblest offices of love and service to one another. And indeed to this it obliges most forcibly; for it is as if a master, seeing a proud
servant, that despises his work, as if it were too mean and base, should come and take it out of his hand; and when he has done it should say, Doth your lord and master think it not beneath him to do it, and is it beneath you?
"What more detestable," says Bernard, "what more unworthy, or what deserves severer punishment, than for a poor man to magnify himself, after he hath seen the great and high God so humbled as to become a little child? It is intolerable impudence for a worm to swell with pride, after it hath seen majesty emptying itself; seen one so infinitely above us, stoop so far beneath us." Ah, how opposite should pride and haughtiness be to the spirit of a christian! I am sure nothing is more so to the spirit of Christ. Your Saviour was lowly, meek, self-denying, and of a most condescending spirit; he looked not at his own things, but yours. Phil. 2:4. And does it become you to be proud and selfish? Jerome, in his epistle to Pamachius, a godly young nobleman, advised him to be eyes to the blind, feet to the lame; yea, saith he, if need be, I would not have you refuse to cut wood and draw water for the saints; and what is this to buffeting and spitting, being crowned with thorns, scourging and dying! Yet Christ underwent all this, and that for the ungodly.
3. Did Christ stoop so low as to become a man to save us? Then those that perish under the Gospel, must perish without excuse. What would you have Christ do more? Lo, he hath laid aside the robes of majesty and glory, put on your own garments of flesh, come down from his throne, and brought salvation home to your own doors. Surely, the lower Christ stooped to save us, the lower those shall sink under wrath that neglect so great salvation. The Lord Jesus is brought low, but the unbeliever would lay him yet lower; he will tread under foot the Son of God. Heb. 10: 29. For such (as