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And here I would gladly expostulate with those to whom these things of the Spirit I have been talking of appear foolishness, and in whom the god of this world hath so far blinded their minds, that they see no beauty in this Saviour for which they should desire him. O that the hour might now come, in which every dead soul in this assembly should “hear the voice of the Son of God, and live.” May be who at first commanded the light to shine out of darkness, while we speak in his name, shine into their hearts, to give them the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, that in this glass, beholding the glory of the Lord, as the God of love, their darkness may be dispelled, their enmity subdued, and they be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by his all-conquering Spirit.
But my chief concern at present is with the living members of Christ: For you a table is once more covered in the wilderness, for strengthening you to proceed in your journey to the Canaan that is above. This is one of the channels which your living head bath appointed for conveying his life to the members of his body. The ordinance itself affords you the strongest ground of hope: it is a representation of that sacrifice which Christ offered upon the cross : and he who loved you so well as to give his life for you, is certainly willing to impart life to you. “ If while ye were enemies, ye were reconciled to God by the death of bis Son; much more, being reconciled, you shall be saved by his life.” Let not the sense of your unworthiness discourage you :You come not here to give, but to take what is given. Nay, let me tell you, that the sense of your own emptiness is the very measure of your capacity for receiving his fulness: “ He filleth the hungry with good things, but the rich," those who account themselves rich, “he
sendeth empty away.” Come therefore with longing desires, and enlarged hopes, to bim who is full of grace and of truth, that out of his fulness you may this day receive grace for grace, to the glory of the giver, and to your own present and everlasting joy. Amen.
2 CORIN. viii. 9.
Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,
that ye through his poverty might be rich.
THESE words contain an accurate description of the grace, or free favour, of our Lord Jesus Christ, which all true believers are here said to know; i. e. they have not only heard the report of this grace, assented to the truth of the report, and are able to give some account of it to others; but they know it experimentally, having tasted its sweetness, and felt the power of it in their own hearts.
Several particulars are mentioned by the Apostle in proof and commendation of the grace he celebrates, which I propose to illustrate in the following discourse.
I. The first in order is the state of the Redeemer previous to his becoming poor. He was rich, but how rich no language can express, nor any mind but his own conceive. “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was
in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made;" John i. 1, 2, 3. It is expressly said of him, (Coloss. i. 16, 17.) “ that by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are in eartb, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers : all things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” The same representation is given of him by the Apostle to the Hebrews, who styles bim “ the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person; whom he hath appointed heir of all things; by whom also he made the world; and who upholdeth all things by the word of his power.
» We esteem a man rich, who, besides what is necessa
for the supply of his own wants, hath wherewithal to relieve the necessities of others; but how rich must be be, who hath no wants to be supplied, and is at the same time possessed of such infinite treasures, that they can never be exhausted, nor in the least degree diminished, by being imparted to others! Nay, besides wbom nothing exists, but what derived its being from him, and is necessarily dependant upon him, for all that it hath, or hopes to enjoy! Yet thus rich was he of whom the Apostle speaks in my text.
II. The second thing to be considered, is the poverty to which he voluntarily submitted. The apostle John having introduced the history of our Saviour with that lofty description of his original and essential glory which I formerly quoted, makes a sudden transition, (verse 14.) and informs us, how he who was rich became poor, viz. by uniting himself to the human nature, and appearing in the likeness of sinful flesh. “ The Word," says he, that same Word which in the beginning was with God, and was God, by whom all things were made; this 6 Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."
Nothing can be more descriptive of the most abject poverty than the simple account we have of his birth, (Luke ii.) at the beginning; where, after being told, that, in consequence of a decree from the Roman emperor, Joseph went up from Nazareth unto Bethlehem, to be taxed with Mary, bis espoused wife, who was great with child, the sacred historian thus proceeds, (ver. 6, 7.) “ And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Nor did his after-life wear a different complexion from his birth: The same poverty, with respect to outward accommodation, which clouded his entrance into the world, accompanied him through every stage of his laborious journey, till at Calvary he finished his course upon the cross; insomuch that he could say, at the very time when his public ministry was most frequented and applauded, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” But this was not the only, nor even the worst kind of poverty, to which he voluntarily submitted. “ He made himself,” that is, he consented to be made, “ of no reputation." For though multitudes occasionally admired and applauded him, yet these were generally persons in the lowest ranks of life. The rich, the learned, and the powerful, among the Jews, were statedly combined to distress bim on every side. They practised every art to defame his character, and to render both his person and his ministry the objects of popular contempt and hatred; till at length they were permitted to prevail so far, as to get him condemned by a sentence of the supreme court of their own nation, and then adjudged by the Roman governor to the death of a slave ; which was executed with every circumstance of indignity and torture that the most inventive malice and cruelty could devise. Thus poor did our Lord become; not by constraint, or the hand of violence, for that was impossible; but of his own free choice; as it is written, (Pbilip. ii. 6,7,8.)“ He who was in the form of God and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the
III. But for whose sake did he thus become poor? This is the third particular mentioned in the text; which manifests and commends the riches of his grace. It was for us the children of men, creatures but of yesterday, whose foundation is in the dust. We are indeed
in every sense of the expression. Our life is the gift of another, and wholly dependant upon His sovereign pleasure. All the materials for supporting it lie without ourselves; we must go abroad in quest of them; and the same hand that provides them, can either withdraw them, or put them beyond our reach, or withhold that blessing which alone can render them effectual for the sustenance of that precarious life we possess : “ If he hideth his face, we are troubled ; if he taketh away our breath, we die."
Thus poor we all are, and necessarily must be, as creatures : but when I add that we are sinners, poverty is too feeble a word to convey the faintest idea of our forlorn condition. A person may be poor, and yet owe