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SERM ON XVIII.
ISAIAH liii. 3.
He is defpifed and rejected of men, a man of forrows, and acquainted with grief.
YOU all know that these words are a part of a most remarkable and precife prediction of the character of our Saviour, whose death many among you defign to commemorate this day, by partaking of that facrament which he instituted for that very purpose.
I need not tell you that you ought to be inflamed with the highest love and gratitude to your Master, and affected with the deepest forrow for your fins, on fo folemn an occafion. Not to raise in you thefe difpofitions, for I am perfuaded you feel them already, but to cherish, to improve, and to exalt them, I fhall at this time relate fome of the chief fufferings our Saviour endured,
which plainly point him out as a man of forrows, and acquainted with grief. And, O bleffed Jefus, I humbly implore thy affiftance to enable me to fpeak on this affecting fubject with that fervour which is becoming thy votary, and that divine energy which may touch the hearts of thy difciples.
Before we introduce the fufferings of our Saviour, let us juft take notice of the primeval, and fallen ftate of the human race.
Man came out of the hands of his powerful and beneficent Creator, an innocent and upright being, feeling no difquiets within, and exposed to no tempefts without; enjoying full means of immediately gratifying every defire, and entirely happy in the fenfible friendship of the univerfal Parent of Heaven and earth. With the most unbounded scope to fatisfy every want, and liberty to range in a paradife of delights, there was impofed but one fingle prohibition, as the mark of his dependence, and the teft of his obedience. This prohibition, however, man disregarded, and defiring to be equal to God, fell below the true dignity of a man, loft the favour of his Maker, his inward peace and tranquillity, and introduced into
the world fin, and difeafes, and pain, and death. The race, indeed, increased; but ignorance, violence, oppreffion, and every kind of iniquity increased with them; and the calamities which were at firft confined to two, extended to millions, and involved the numberless pofterity of the apoftate pair.To this deplorable condition, confisting in the lofs of innocence, the confcioufnefs of guilt, the dread of mifery, and the train of tormenting thoughts, which must accompany thefe, was man funk.
A human eye might have pitied his fellow mortals: but no human hand could have helped them. This talk was even too arduous for any of thofe exalted orders of beings which continually furround the throne of God, and fing his praises. But it was referved for one who was fully able to execute it: and while angels faw and compaffionated fallen man, in the affembly of Heaven, the Son of God declares his merciful intention of fubjecting himself to their state, in order to be the author of their falvation. His Father approves, and to preparing the way for his appearance, the ministry of angels, and the schemes of man are made fubfervient.
At length the appointed period for that wonderful event which prophets foretold, and for which martyrs bled, arrives. The eternal Son of God, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person, by whom the Heavens and the earth were made, condefcended to appear among mankind. He put off the effulgence of divine glory, and was cloathed with the robe of humanity. Where fhall I look for this divine perfon? Is he born in a palace? Or does he make his appearance with the pomp and splendour which the misjudging world reckon the companions of greatnefs? Behold he comes, the Saviour comes: but it is in a mean and humble condition. He left the joys of Heaven, the bofom of his Father, that feat of ferene and unmixed happiness, the veneration of angels, and for thee, O man, he enters into the ftate of wretchednefs. A ftable is his birth-place, and a manger is his cradle. How extraordinary was this change? From living with cherubs and with feraphs, yea, from being their fuperior, he becomes an inhabitant of the fame manfion, with the beafts of the field. O Jefus, in this humble condition, when tender and innocent
innocent upon the knees of thy mother, fhe beheld thee with divine complacence, who could difcern the Son of the Almighty, and the Saviour of the world? None but Heavendirected minds. And they difcern him. Lo, angels acknowledge thee, and at thy birth proclaim, Peace on earth, and good-will to mena. Some of the wife and worthy confefs thee as the falvation of the Lord, the glory and the king of Ifrael .
But this very confeffion becomes to Jefus a fource of forrow, and draws upon him the hatred and refentment of a powerful tyrant. To escape the fatal effects of these, it is neceffary to convey him into a foreign land, and in those tender years which feldom raise envy, my Redeemer is forced into exile, and exposed to all the hardships that attend it. He is again brought into his own country, lives in fubjection to his parents, enduring hard labour, and all the inconveniencies of a mean condition.
But now the scene opens. He prepares to execute the work for which he appeared The world confiders him as among men.