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in the likeness of sinful flesh;” and was “in all points like unto us, sin only excepted.”
But there was yet a lower state of degradation to which our blessed Lord submitted for our sakes, which also is mentioned in the text, and which was the very end of his incarnation; “ being found in fashion as a man, he became obedient unto death."
When our Lord vouchsafed to take our nature into an immediate union with himself, he became from that moment subject to the law, even as we are.
More especially, having substituted himself in the place of sinners, he was bound to fulfil the precepts which we had broken, and to endure the penalties which we had incurred. He was to be the servant of God in executing his Father's will; and the servant of man, in performing every duty, whether of obedience to his earthly parents, or of subjection to the civil magistrate. He knew from the beginning how arduous a course he had to run: he beheld at one view all that he must do, and all that he must suffer, in order to accomplish the purposes of his mission; and yet he freely undertook our cause, saying, “ I come, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” And with the same readiness did he persevere even unto death.” When the extremity of his sufferings were coming upon him, he implored indeed the removal of the bitter cup, provided it could be removed consistently with his Father's glory and man's salvation. But this he did, to shew that he was really man; and to instruct his followers how to bemean themselves in seasons of deep affliction. By this we see, that it is our privilege to make our requests known to God, and to implore such a mitigation of our troubles as shall render them more supportable, or such an increase of strength as may enable us to endure them. Cheerfully however did he resign himself to the will of his heavenly Father; and though twelve legions of angels were at his command to deliver him, yet did he continue fixed in his purpose to give his own life a ransom for us. Notwithstanding the death of the cross was the most painful and ignominious of any, yet to that did he submit for us; nor did he cease from filling up the measure of his sufferings, till he could say, “It is finished."
This then is the fact affirmed by the the Apostle; a fact, which we should have considered as absolutely incredible, if God himself had not plainly declared it, and confirmed his testimony by the most indubitable evidence. We are now therefore warranted to affirm, that “it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.” And though the frequency with which it is mentioned, causes it in too many instances to be heard without any enotion, sure we are, that the more it is contemplated, the more it will fill us with wonder and amazement. If we would but consider that the God of Heaven and earth assumed our sinful nature, and died the accursed death of the cross, in order to redeem us from death and hell; if we would but suffer this thought fully to occupy our minds, methinks we should become like those in heaven, who cease not day and night to make it the grand subject of their united praises.
Secondly. The more immediate view with which the Apostle introduced the subject of our Lord's humiliation, to which we also wish at this time to draw your attention, was, that he might set it before the Philippians as a pattern to be imitated.
It is not possible for us in all respects to imitate this bright original, since we have no glory which we can lay aside; nor is it optional with us whether we will become subject to the law or not. But, though we cannot perform the same act that Christ did, we may “have the same mind which was in him:” and beyond all doubt we ought to resemble him in these two particulars; in feeling a tender regard for the welfare of men's souls; and in being ready to do or suffer any thing for their good.
1. We should feel a tender regard for the welfare of men's souls. When, in consequence of the fall of man, there remained no possibility of his restoration to God's favour and image, by any thing which he could either devise or execute, this blessed and adorable Saviour looked upon us with pity: his bowels yearned over us; and though he had not interested himself on behalf of the angels that sinned, yet, he determined to interpose for us, and by a marvellous effort of his grace to save our souls alive. Let me ask then, what is now the state of the heathen world? Is it not that very state to which the
whole race of man was reduced by the transgression of Adam, and by their own personal iniquities? They are under a sentence of death and condemnation. They know of no way of reconciliation with God. Being without Christ, they are altogether without hope. And though we will not presume to say that none of them are saved; yet we must affirm that their condition is most pitiable, and that the notions which obtain in the world respecting the extension of God's mercy to them, are awfully erro.
For if they can be saved without Christ, why could not we? And then why did Christ ever come into the world? If it be said, that Christ has purchased mercy for them though they know him not, then we ask, Why did the Apostles go forth to preach to the Gentile world? Why did they submit to such numberless hardships and labours at the peril of their lives, to bring the heathen into the fold of Christ, if they thought that they could attain salvation in their present state,' or that any considerable number of them would be saved? The Apostles knew little of that which we falsely term, charity. They believed that “ there was no other name given among men whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ:” and therefore they felt towards the heathen world as they would have done towards a crew of mariners perishing in the ocean: they went forth at the peril of their own lives, willing to endure any thing themselves, if they might but succeed in saving some of their fellow-creatures. Ought not we then in like manner to compassionate the heathen world? Should not " our head be waters, and our eyes a . fountain of tears, to run down day and night” for their perishing condition? What infidelity must there be in our minds, or what obduracy in our hearts, if we can look upon their state without the tenderest emotions of pity
2. But to our compassion we must add also a willingness to do and suffer any thing for their good. When our blessed Lord beheld our misery, he flew from heaven on the wings of love to succour and relieve us. And though in order to effect his purpose he must disrobe himself of his majesty, and become like one of us, a poor, weak, necessitous creature, yea, and in our nature must submit to death, even the accursed death of the cross; he accounted
nothing too valuable to forego, nothing too painful to suffer, in order to rescue us from destruction. He under. took even to be “ made a curse for us,” in order “ to redeem us from the curse of the law.” Thus should we, not rest in listless wishes for the good of the heathen, but exert ourselves to the utmost to save their souls. What if we cannot all go forth like the Apostles; cannot some of us give liberally of our substance in order to provide them the means of instruction cannot others afford their time and attention in order to concert measures for the establishing and conducting missions? Cannot others testify their readiness to devote themselves to this great work, saying, like the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I; send me?" But in the disposition to fulfil this last, this most essential and urgent; duty, there is amongst us a general, a la. mentable deficiency. After enquiries made in every part of England, none have as yet been found by us, endued with that union of talents and of zeal which is requisite for the work. Many, who in some respects appear fit for the office of missionaries or catechists, are so fond of their ease and worldly comforts, so fearful of encountering difficulties and dangers, so ready, like Moses, to plead their want of fitness, when their backwardness, it is to be feared, arises rather from cowardise or sloth; that there is danger lest the ardour of those who are zealous to promote the object of missions should be damped, through a want of opportunity to exert itself with effect. It is true, (and blessed be God it is so!) that of late years several societies have arisen to promote this glorious work: and fears have been entertained, lest one should interfere with another. But what are the efforts of all of them com. bined, when compared with the demand there is for such exertions? If the millions of heathens who are yet in darkness be considered, the endeavours used for their instruction, are scarely more than as a drop to the ocean.
It may be said perhaps, Why are we to waste our strength upon the heathen? Is there not scope for the labours of all at home? I answer, It is well for us that the Apostles did not argue thus: for if they had not turned to the Gentiles till there remained no unconverted Jews for them to instruct, the very name of Christ would probably long since have been forgotten among men, We confess
there are great multitudes in our own land as ignorant as the heathen: but yet they have the Bible in their bands; and they are in every part of the kingdom, some who are both able and desirous to instruct them. However ignorant therefore, or abandoned, thousands are amongst us, there is hope respecting them, that sooner or later their feet may be guided into the way of peace. But as for the heathen, what hope can there be respecting them? for “ How can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how can they hear without a preacher?" Be. sides, the more our love abounds towards the heathen, the more will “ the zeal of others be provoked” for the salvation of our neighbours; and the more confidently may we hope for the blessing of God upon their pious endeavours.
Let then all such excuses be put away; and let all exert themselves at least in prayer to the great “ Lord of the harvest,” and intreai him day and night " to send forth labourers into his harvest."
To enforce what has been said, we would call your attention to some additional considerations.
Consider then first, what would have been the state of the whole world, if the same mind had been in Christ that is in us? Had he been as indisposed to effect the salvation of mankind as we are to promote that of the heathen, would he have left his glory for them, would he have relinquished all the blessedness which he enjoyed in the bosom of his Father? would he have debased himself to such a degree as to take upon himself their fallen nature? would he have substituted himself in their place, and borne all their iniquities in his own person, and have become a curse for them? for them who, he knew before. hand, would murder him as soon as they should have it in their power? No—Then where would Adam, and all the generations that have passed in succession to the present hour, have been at this moment? They would all, without one single exception, have been wailing and gnasbing their teeth in hell: and all future generations to the end of time would have lived only to fill up the measure of their iniquities, and to receive at last their tremendous doom. Bui, adored be his name! he “ looked not on his own things so much as an the things of others:” and, in consequence of his self-denying exertions, millions are