« PreviousContinue »
the son of David, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” The wind and the waves obeyed his voice, and at his command the sick were restored to health, and the dead to life. When he expired, the earth was convulsed and shrouded in darkness, and the veil of the temple rent. These, and many other circumstances, amid his humble disguise, were at once evidences of bis essential dignity, and presages of " the glory that should follow.”
The promise in the text received a more ample accomplishment, when the Messiah having, by his death, expiated human guilt, rose from the grave and ascended unto glory. He was " declared to be the Son of God, with power, by the resurrection from the dead." “For the sufferings of death, he was crowned with glory and honour.” Because “ he humbled bimself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, God highly exalted him, and gave him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth ; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 66 When he raised him from the dead, he set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and put all things under his feet, and
gave him to be Head over all things to the Church, which is his Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”
In order to display the Messiah's pre-eminence as a Sovereign, I begin by observing, that the First-born is higher than the kings of the earth, as to the dignity and perfection of his nature.
However illustrious their descent, and magnificent their titles, the kings of the earth are but men, creatures of a day,
and heirs of mortality. But the First-born is of a nature nobler than the human. He is, indeed, a partaker of humanity, but he is spoken of as man, so as to intimate that he also pose sessed a sublimer nature. He was a man,” said Peter, • approved of God by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him”—“ a man,” said Paul, “ ordained by God to be the Judge of the world”- a man," said the woman of Samaria, “who told me all things that ever I did”"a man," said the officers sent to apprehend him, “who spake as never man spake"_"a man,” said his disciples 6 whom the wind and the sea obey" -- " a man,” said the Jews “who forgave sins," and "made himself God”_"a man,” said the Centurion, “truly the Son of God." Though made in the likeness of men, never was there such a man. “ Being made so much better than the angels, he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” The most august of kings are only men, but he is “God manifest in the flesh"_" the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth.” They are men by nature, He is man by assumption—"forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” They had no existence prior to their appearing on the stage of time, and soon must they yield to the power of death, and go down to the corruption and oblivion of the grave; but He was with the Father “ before the world was," and is the “king eternal and immortal,” “ alive for ever more," “ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.”
Deriving from their subjects the means of support and splendour, the grandeur of earthly kings is adventitious and external, and implies neither intellectual eminence nor moral worth. Their noblest distinctions have been, and may be possessed, by the weak, the insane, the worthless. The homage paid them is outward, the mere obeisance of the body. Their honours are evanescent; and when they shall appear in the presence of God, who “accepteth not the person of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor,” they shall stand on the same level with the meanest of human kind. On the other hand, the dignity of the First-born is underived, and his descent truly illustrious; for from eternity he has been, and still is, the Only-begotten of the Father. His name is above every name—a name at which every knee should bow, to which every tongue should confess; in which all that men do should be done, and by which the world may be saved. His titles, while most magnificent, no more than express what he really is—the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Lord of Glory, the King of kings, the Prince of the kings of the earth. The homage paid him is internal as well as external; not the mere outward respect we pay a monarch, but the humble reverence and holy adoration which are due to God. His honours shall survive all eartbly distinctions, and when this world, with all which it inherits, shall have passed away, saints and angels in the heavens shall ascribe to Him power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
The First-born is as much superior to the kings of the earth in perfection as in dignity. Though high in rank and station, they are often void of true greatness. They, indeed, belong to a class seldom distinguished by moral worth. The best of them are imperfect. If brave they are often ambitious; if powerful, tyrannical; if wise to devise, not mighty to accomplish; if mighty deficient in courage ; if just, apt to be severe; and if merciful, in danger of sacrificing the demands of justice to the dictates of pity. Some of them are so defective in character, that to imitate their examples would be the disgrace and ruin of any people. Generally selfish, they study more their own aggrandisement than their subjects good, and too often act upon the principle, that the people are for them, not they for the people. However solicitous for the welfare of their subjects, their resources are limited, and
their ability to bless may not equal their wishes. Many evils their power can neither remedy nor alleviate; many wans their riches cannot supply. Nor can they have perfect sync pathy with their subjects, amid the numerous ills to which they are incident, for their experience is circumscribed, and the circumstances in which, as kings, they are placed, raise them above many of the privations and sorrows which cheques the history of mortals. Receiving from their subjects ample supplies, they are often miserable in the midst of abundance In their gorgeous palaces, with their costly attire and sump tuous tables, they frequently enjoy far less happiness than the poor in their lowly cottages, with their mean apparel and humble fare. What a contrast to all this is the First-born of God! His are all the matchless perfections of Jehovah. A s incapable of fear as of ambition, he dreads no danger, and demands no homage but what is thrice his due, as Creatok, Preserver, and Saviour. He is wise to plan, and mighty to execute; just to punish the guilty, yet merciful to pardon the contrite. His power is directed by wisdom and goodness; his justice is tempered with love; his mercy is guided by rec. titude; his majesty is softened with grace. Adorned with every moral excellence, his perfect example is the object of his people's admiration, the theme of their praise, the pattern of their lives; and to walk in his steps is their honour and happiness. Influenced by no selfish motive, all the perfections of his nature are ever exercised, not to aggrandise himself, but to enrich and ennoble his subjects. Possessed of inexhaustible resources, his ability to bless is equal to his inclination. Having condescended to “be made like unto his brethren,” and to be “in all points tempted like as we are," he “ be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," and “ is able to succour them that are tempted.” Amid the temporary evils, which, for the sake of the moral training of his people, he declines to remove, he affords ample sympathy and support. Totally independent of his subjects, and
receiving from them nothing but the homage of grateful bearts, he supplies all their wants out of his fulness. Having power to accomplish every purpose, and resources to command every enjoyment, and being the object of his Father's intense affection, and of his people's profound reverence and ardent love, he is as happy as his nature is dignified, and his character perfect.
In the Second place, the First-born is higher than the kings of the earth, as to the origin of his kingdom, and the means of its establishment and support.
Ambitious of an ancient and illustrious origin, nations trace their commencement to the earliest ages of the world, and to the most celebrated characters of antiquity. Prompted by this feeling, some empires date their origin before the annals of time, and ascribe to their founders deeds of heroism and greatness too noble for mortals to achieve. Earthly kingdoms, however, have in reality no reason to boast, either of a remote antiquity or of an illustrious origin.
The most ancient of them are but of yesterday, and the most celebrated have been founded by the selfish and tyrannical. Originating in avarice, pride, and ambition, their establishment has given scope to the worst passions that degrade our nature. They have
sprung, not from a desire of good to mankind, but from motives of personal aggrandisement, and a wish to be immortalized in the recollection of posterity. Far otherwise is it in reference to the kingdom of the First-born. It virtually existed in the purpose of the Eternal, before the mountains were brought forth, ere ever the foundations of the earth were laid. The person of its King, the nature of its laws, the mode of its administration, the means of establishment and support, the character of its subjects, its immunities, extent, and duration, were all ordained before this world, the scene of its triumphs, was created. Its actual establishment may be dated from the ascension of Christ. It was founded