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and nature. So Jer. 4:4. Hence the rebellious and unmortified are called "stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart." Acts, 7:51. And as it served to convince of natural uncleanness, so it signified and sealed "the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh," as the apostle expresses it. Col. 2: 11.
II. Christ was humbled by persecution, and that in the very morning of his life; he was banished almost as soon as born. "Flee into Egypt," saith the angel to Joseph, "and be thou there until I bring thee word, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him." Matt. 2: 13. Ungrateful Herod! was this entertainment for a Saviour? What! raise a country against him, as if a destroyer, rather than a Saviour, had landed upon the coast? But herein Herod fulfilled the Scriptures whilst venting his own rage; for so it was foretold. Jer. 31:15. And this early persecution was not obscurely hinted in the title of the 22d Psalm, a Psalm which looks rather like a history of the New, than a prophecy of the Old Testament.
III. Our Lord Jesus Christ was yet more humbled in his life, by that poverty and outward meanness which all along attended his condition: he lived poor and low all his days; so speaks the apostle, "Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor," 2 Cor. 8:9; so poor, that he was never owner of a house to dwell in, but lived all his days in other men's houses, or lay in the open air. His outward condition was more neglected and destitute than that of the birds of the air, or beasts of the earth; so he told the scribe, who professed such readiness to follow him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Matt. 8:20. Sometimes he feeds upon barley-bread and broiled fish; and sometimes he was hungry, and had nothing to eat. Mark,
He" came not to be ministered unto, but to minister," Matt. 20:28; not to amass earthly treasures, but to bestow heavenly ones. His great and heavenly soul neglected and despised those things which too many of his followers too much admire and prosecute. He spent not a careful thought about those things that engross thousands and ten thousands of our thoughts. Indeed he came to be humbled, and to teach men by his example the vanity of this world, and pour contempt upon its insnaring glory; and therefore went before us in a chosen and voluntary poverty.
IV. Our Lord Jesus was yet further humbled in his life, by the horrid temptations wherewith Satan assaulted him, than which nothing could be more grievous to his holy heart. The evangelist gives us an account of this, Luke, 4:1-13, in which context you find how the bold and envious spirit meets the Captain of our salvation in the field, comes up with him in the wilderness when he was solitary, keeps him fasting forty days and forty nights, and assaults him with a very plausible temptation at first, and afterwards with a variety, trying several weapons upon him. When he had made a thrust at him with the first weapon, in which he especially trusted, "Command that these stones be made bread," and saw how Christ put it by, he changes his position, and assaults him with temptations to blasphemy, even to fall down and worship the devil. But when he saw he could fasten nothing on him, that he was as pure fountain-water in a crystal phial, which how much soever agitated and shaken, produces no dregs or sediment, but remains pure still; I say, seeing this, he makes a politic retreat, quits the field " for a season," yet leaves it with a resolution to return to him again. Thus was our blessed Lord Jesus humbled by the temptations of Satan: and what can you imagine more burdensome to him that was brought up from
eternity with God, delighting in the Holy Father, than to be now shut into a wilderness with the devil, there to be tempted so many days, and have his ears filled, though not defiled, with horrid blasphemy? How great a humiliation must this be to him who was truly God! To see a slave of his house setting upon himself the Lord! His jailer coming to take him prisoner, if he can! A base apostate spirit daring to attempt such things as these upon him! Surely this was a deep abasement to the Son of God.
V. Our blessed Lord Jesus was yet more humbled in his life than all this, and that by his own sympathy with others, under all the burdens that made him groan. For he, much more than Paul, could say, Who is afflicted, and I burn not? He lived all his time, as it were, in a hospital among the sick and wounded. And so tender was his heart, that every groan for sin, or under the effects of sin, pierced him so, that it was truly said, " himself bare our sicknesses, and took our infirmities." Matt. 8: 16, 17. This was spoken upon the occasion of some poor creatures that were possessed by the devil being brought to him to be dispossessed. It is said that when he saw Mary "weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled." John, 11:33. And "Jesus wept," v. 35. Yea, his heart flowed with pity for them that had not one drop of pity for themselves. Witness his tears wept over Jerusalem. Luke, 19:41, 42. He foresaw the misery that was coming, though they neither foresaw nor feared it. Oh how it pierced him to think of the calamities hanging over that great city! Yea, he mourned for them that mourned not for their own sins. Therefore it is said, "He was grieved for the hardness of their hearts." Mark, 3:5. So that the commendation of a good physician, that he doth as it were die with every patient, was most applicable to our tender-hearted Phy
sician. This was one of those things that made him a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." For the more holy any one is, the more he is grieved and afflicted by the sin of others; and the more tender any man is, the more he is pierced with beholding the miseries that lie upon others. Certainly there was never any heart more holy, or more sensible, tender, and compassionate than Christ's.
VI. That which yet helped to humble him lower, was the ungrateful and most base and unworthy reception given him. He was not received or treated like a Saviour, but as the vilest of men. One would think that when he came from heaven "to give his life a ransom for many," Matt. 20:28; when he was "not sent to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved," John, 3: 17; when he came to "destroy the works of the devil," 1 John, 3:8; "to open the prisondoors, and proclaim liberty to the captives," Isa. 61:1;
say, when such a Saviour arrived, Oh, with what acclamations of joy and demonstrations of thankfulness should he have been received! One would have thought they should even kiss the ground he trod upon: but instead of this, he was hated. John, 15: 18. He was despised by them. Matt. 13:55. So reproached, that he became "the reproach of men. ." Ps. 22:6. Accused of working his miracles by the power of the devil. Matt. 12:24. He was trod upon as a worm. Ps. 22: 6. They buffeted him, Matt. 26: 67; smote him on the head, Matt. 27:30; arrayed him as a fool, verses 28, 29; spat in his face, verse 30. One of his own followers sold him, another forswore him, and all forsook him in his greatest troubles. All this was a great atasement to the Son of God, who was not thus treated for a day or in one place, but all his days, and in all places. "He endured the contradiction of sinners against himself." In these particulars I have pointed out to you
something of the humble life Christ lived in the world. INFERENCE 1. From Christ's humiliation, in submitting to be circumcised, and thereby obliging himself to fulfill the whole law, it follows, that justice itself may set its hand and seal to the acquittance and discharge of believers. Christ hereby obliged himself to pay the utmost demand of the law; to bear that yoke of obedience that never any before him could bear. And as his circumcision obliged him to keep the whole law; so he was most precise and punctual in the observance of it: so exact that the sharp eye of Divine justice cannot espy the least flaw in it; but acknowledges full payment, and stands ready to give the believer a full acquittance; "that God may be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Rom. 3:26. Had not Christ been under this obligation, we had never been discharged. Had not his obedience been entire, complete, and perfect, our justification could not have been so. He that hath a precious treasure, will be loth to adventure it in a leaky vessel: wo to the holiest man on earth, if the safety of his precious soul were to be adventured on the ground of the best duty that ever he performed. But Christ's obedience and righteousness is firm and sound; a foundation on which we may safely adventure all.
2. From the early flight of Christ into Egypt, we infer that the greatest innocency and piety cannot exempt from persecution and injury. Who more innocent than Christ? and who more persecuted? The world is the world still. "I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them." John, 17: 14. The adversary lies in wait as a thief for them that carry this treasure; they who are empty of it may sing before him, he never, stops them: but persecution follows piety, as the shadow does the body. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution." 2 Tim. 3:12. Whosoever resolves to live holily, must never expect to live quietly.