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SERMON XVII.

John i. 14. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the onlybegotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

THE incarnation of our blessed Saviour is that main article of the Christian faith, on which the whole system of our redemption depends; and on every point relating to this most important subject St. John's testimony may be deemed of peculiar value.

St. John survived all the other Apostles, and lived to so advanced an age as to witness the rise and

progress of several pernicious His Gospel was written many years after those of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and his design in writing it appears to have been, not only to supply certain facts which it came not within their purpose to record, and to detail more largely than they had done some of our Lord's most remarkable discourses, but also to select those narratives and discourses with special reference to the heretical opinions which had already begun to infest the Church. In one of his Epistles he observes, that "

errors.

many deceivers were entered into the “ world, who confessed not that Jesus Christ “ was come in the flesh.” Some, it

appears, denied his divinity; some, his human nature; others, that he was the Creator of the world. Each of these erroneous persuasions the Apostle seems to have had in view in the very opening of his Gospel, which he commences in these remarkable terms: " 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 with“ out him was not any thing made that was “ made. In him was life; and the life was “ the light of men. And the light shineth “ in darkness; and the darkness compre* hended it not.”—“ He was in the world, “ and the world was made by him, and the 66 world knew him not. He came unto his

own, and his own received him not.” Every part of this description tends to the refutation of one or other of the before-mentioned errors. The Apostle then sums up his statement in the comprehensive position

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contained in the words of the text; “The 6 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 66 and truth.”

Four distinct points are here presented to our consideration; first, our Lord's divinity; secondly, his human nature; thirdly, his glory, thus manifested both as God and man; lastly, the gracious purpose of this wonderful dispensation.

1. With respect to the first point, our Lord's divinity, it is evident, that the term

Logos,” or “ Word,” is here to be understood of a person so denominated. It cannot denote a mere attribute of the Deity ; since the Word is said not only to be “with God,” but to be “God” himself, and the personal pronoun is used throughout the context. “ The same was in the beginning with God.” “ All things were made by him; and with“ out him was not any thing made that was “ made." Still more emphatically does the text declare, that “the Word was made flesh, “ and dwelt among us.” These expressions it seems impossible to interpret, but of a person assuming human nature. However highly figurative the style of Scripture may some

C χωρίς αυτού. .

a outos.

.

b δι' αυτού.

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times be, and however intelligible, under certain circumstances, may be the personification of an abstract quality or attribute; yet to speak of an abstract idea as “becoming

flesh,” and “dwelling among us” in that character, is a mode of speech, perhaps, without example, and certainly not warranted by any thing analogous to it in the sacred writings.

Passages of equivalent force and meaning, with reference to the same subject, are also found in other writers of the New Testament. St. Paul states it to be the “great mystery" of the Christian faith, that God was “mani“ fest in the fleshd.” He speaks of Christ as " the express imagee” of the Father, the

image of the invisible God," who is “be“ fore all things 5," " by whom all things con“ sist",” and “ in whom dwelt all the fulness “ of the Godhead bodily';" expressions, than which none can more perfectly coincide with St. John's declarations. Nor is it less remarkable, that on almost every occasion when the Apostles or Evangelists advert to our Lord's coming into the world, some phrase is used denoting his being of a nature superior to ours.

Even the simple phrase, “coming in

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d1 Tim. iii. 15. 8 Col. i. 17.

e Heb. i. 3.

f Col. i. 15. h Ibid.

i Col. ü. 9.

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“ the flesh,” is an instance of this, although the Socinians would fain allege it in proof that he was nothing more than man. A distinguished writer of that persuasion confidently refers to it, as if it meant the same as

coming of the flesh.” But, as his great antagonist acutely remarks, the expressions are quite distinct, and even dissimilar, in signification. To come

To come of the flesh, is to be born exclusively of human parents, and to partake of their nature only; it precludes any preexistent state of being, any nature antecedent or superior to that derived from the parent stock. To come in the flesh, conveys quite another meaning. It implies that the person of whom it is predicated might have come either in that nature or in some other; that nature not being originally inherent to him, but subsequently assumed for some special purpose. Accordingly, St. John expressly notes it as a mark of antichrist and a deceiver, to deny that Jesus Christ " came in the flesh;" clearly meaning the denial of his incarnation in the proper sense of the wordk; and not a denial that such a person as Jesus Christ had actually appeared among men; a fact which perhaps no one at that time pretended to dispute.

k 1 John iv. 2, 3. also 2 John 7.

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