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perform. To save his people from their sins is mentioned as the purpose of his great undertaking, and of his long expected coming.
It is assumed, then, that this was what the world most wanted, and ought to be most grateful for. And we know it was so: Scripture acquaints us, that “in Adam all died ;" by that “one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin;" and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. v. 12. &c.) Since, therefore, "judgment had come upon all men to condemnation,” what the world required was a DELIVERER from that judgment. Jesus came to be such a DELIVERER :-not in the sense in which Moses or Joshua were deliverers : but in a sense as different as his birth was different from theirs: he came "to give his life a ransom for many;" to “suffer once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Pet. ii. 18.)
But the world required something more ;-required to be delivered not only from the fatal consequences of sin, but from sin itself. This too is a part of the salvation brought by Jesus. It was for this salvation that St. Paul gave thanks to God:After lamenting the natural state of man,—that “in him (that is, in his flesh) dwelleth no good thing : for the good that he would he does not, but the evil which he would not, that he does”-he “thanks God," who has delivered him “from the body of this death through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. vii. 18-25.) To this power he trusted, saying, “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.” (Phil. iv. 13.) For he had been as
sured, and believed the promise, • My grace is sufficient for thee.” (2 Cor. xii. 9.)
Such is the fulfilment of that gracious purpose announced in the name of Jesus : he saves his people from their sins : he saves them from the guilt of sin by his blood; and by the power of his Holy Spirit he saves them from the dominion of sin.
The miraculous birth here related, which makes Jesus, emphatically, the Son of God, had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
22. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23. Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is God with us.
24. Then Joseph being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife;
25. And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.
The purpose for which God thus vouchsafed to be “ with us,” to dwell among men, to live and die in our nature, must have been no light purpose. And it was no light purpose to save his people from their sins. For “the wages of sin is death ;” “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish;" “the blackness of darkness for ever.”
Is he such a DELIVERER to us? He must be, if we belong to the number of his people : and if we do not belong to the number of his people, he is “dead in vain ; we are yet in our sins.” And we have the means at hand of answering the important question, whether, or not, we do belong to the number of his people. This same sentence which declares to us the office which Christ was designed to perform, enables us to perceive our own condition in respect to him. Has he delivered
from sin itself? If so, he has delivered you from its penalty
But you will say,—no man is altogether freed from sin: for “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Certainly this is what Scripture declares and our own hearts bear witness to. But though the corruption of nature adheres to the sincerest Christian, still he is not under the power of sin as others are ; he does not yield to it, but strives against it; he does not indulge it, but mortifies it ; he does not love it, but abhors it; he does not desire it, but aspires after more and more holiness, and a more complete renewal of his heart in the image of God. As St. Paul has expressed it, “sin has no more dominion over you."
If then this is your case ; if you have so believed your Saviour, as to be convinced that sin, unless you forsake it, must destroy you ; and if in reliance
upon his Spirit, you have renounced it, and are resolved to give it no place in your hearts, and are daily contending against it: then he has fulfilled that promise for you, of which his name is the pledge ;-he was called Jesus, for he should save his people from their sins.
Observe, on the other hand, that the same title which brings comfort to the disciples of Christ, speaks the sentence of condemnation to the unrepenting transgressor. He shall save his people from their sins. Let the transgressor reflect. He has not saved me from sin; therefore I cannot be one of his people. From sin he is ready to save; even He cannot save those who "continue in sin.” He has himself declared that at the last day he will reply to all such,—“ I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
May God give us grace to know our real state, and deliver us alike from thoughtless security, from vain presumption, and from perplexing fears.
THE WISE MEN WORSHIP CHRIST.
Luke ii. 1--20.
Matt. ii. 1-12.
1. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem' of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2. Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews ? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
These wise men were so called, because they observed the appearances of nature and the heavenly bodies : subjects much studied in the eastern countries to which they belonged. The sight of some unusual meteor in the sky attracted their attention: and, perhaps, the general expectation which pre
This town lay six miles to the south of Jerusalem.
vailed, of some mighty king or deliverer, in consequence of the Hebrew prophecies, led them to suppose that this star was connected with his coming. God, however, must have communicated to them, by his Spirit, some surer intimation. So we are told afterwards (v. 12.) that he revealed his will to them in a dream.
3. When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Herod was troubled, expecting some rival to his power: and Jerusalem, knowing his character, and fearing some new cruelty ; not without too good reason, as soon appeared.
4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea : for thus it is written by the prophet ;
6. And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Sudah; for out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel.
The sense of this prophecy (Micah. v. 2) seems to have been well understood by the Jews. We find them arguing, (John vii. 42,) “Hath not the Scripture said, that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was ?" They did not, however, understand the nature of his kingdom, or the object of his government.
Had they known that he was to be a spiritual and not a temporal ruler, Herod would not have been troubled, and all Jerusalem with