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he came from God. He was sent into this
world with a view to plant the principles of
virtue, and religious wisdom in the hearts of
men; and to raise them from the sensible and
temporary enjoyments of this life, to the pur-
fuit of those enjoyments which are of a fpi-
ritual, religious and immortal nature. But
the principal obstruction which Jesus had to
encounter in the execution of this design, was
that strong attachment to the interests and di- .
stinctions of this world, which is deeply root-
ed in the heart of man. It behoved him there-
fore when he came into this world, to set the
infignificance of all its interests and enjoy-
ments in a proper light. This he did in a
strong and striking manner by the doctrines
which he taught; and still more strongly by
the destitute and low state of life in which he

chose to make his progress through this will world. Jesus hereby taught his friends of how

· Imall account the enjoyments and distinctions of this world were in his esteem; and from his own example shewed them, “That the life of 'man confisteth not in the abundance of the 'things which he poffefseth.' To this it may be added, that the distinctions of this world are of too little importance in the sight of God to be chosen by him as the proper marks of his regard, or the means by which he would attest the honour of his Son. The worthleffeft

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of men have oftentimes the greatest share of
them, and the worthiest of men have them
least in their esteem. God, we may believe,
foes nothing great or excellent among man:
kind, if it is not the immortal virtues and im.
provements of the soul, and the immortal
and immutable distinctions which proceed
froin these.

But although Jesus Chrift poffeffed none of
the external honours and advantages of human
life, he was nevertheless remarkably honoured
and distinguished by his father in a different
way; and we meet with such extraordinary ex-
preffions of regard from the providence of
God, in the history of his life, as must give us
a very high idea of the dignity and merit of
his character. These I proceed to mention.

On this part of the subject it inay be of use to divide the hiftory of Jesus into the follow, ing periods.

ift, The period of his infancy and child. hood, when he made his first appearance in this world.

2d, The period of his public miniftry.

3d, The period of his last sufferings and death. And,

4th, That period which succeeded to his death till he finally departed from this world.

ift, Let us take a view of the infancy and childhood of the Lord Jesus Chrift, and ob

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serve by what extraordinary appearances he was then distinguished by divine Providence, and declared to be the Son of God. A patient and candid reader will not be surprised, if the manner in which he was conceived and brought into the world is mentioned in the first place ;* and the rather that this extraordinary circumstance is so well connected with the sequel of the history, and so admirably suited to the dignity of him who was declared to be the Son of God. “In the beginning he had been

with God;' and when he came into this world, he was to be distinguished from the whole human race, by being ? Holy, undefil.

ed, and separate from finners. There could not therefore be a more proper introduction to the life of such an extraordinary man, nor could any circumstance either more strongly indicate the honour which in the beginning he had with God, or presage his future innocence and purity, than this extraordinary event; and it may deserve our particular observation, that if it did not happen as recorded by the writers of the gospel, it is imposible to conceive how they came to think of it, or to devise a circumstance so admirably suited to the dignity of the person whose history they

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• Luke i. 26.

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have wrote. If it was only a contrivance of
their own, to dignify the subject of their story,
they must have had a degree of ingenuity and
art, of which no reasonable man can believe
they were pofseffed.
. After Jesus had been brought into the
world in this manner, his first appearance up-
on earth was distinguished by some fingular
interpofitions from the providence of God,
* An unusual star, was seen by some eastern
Magi, by which they understood that the
king of the Jews, who was expected about'
that time by the whole Jewish nation, agree-
ably to the prophecies preserved in their facred'
records, was born in Judea; and by this mar-
vellous' appearance in the heavens, they were
conducted to the place of his nativity.

+ Much about the same time, some simple thepherds waiting on their flocks in the adjacent fields, were astonished at the appearance of an extraordinary light which shone from heaven, and of one of the glorious ministers of God, who informed them that the Saviour of the world was then born at Bethlehem; directed them where, and how they should discover him, and foretold that this ea vent should be the source of joy to all the na

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tions of the world: after which they heard a multitude of the heavenly host praising God on account of this event.

To these marvellous events, are to be joined the description of his character and office, which was given by the angel to the Virgin Mary t, the prophecy of Zacharias concerning Jefus t, the anthems that were sung by Mary and Elizabeth on the promise of the angel ý, the revelation that was made to Anna and Simon in the temple, and the transport with which that holy man received the infant Saviour into his arms, and discoursed of him to those who were worshipping in the temple.**

By these events the nativity of Jesus Christ, and the first appearance which he made among mankind, were distinguished with peculiar marks of honour from the providence of God. In other respects the circumstances of his birth were but mean, and such as tended rather to create contempt. His parents were obscure and indigent; they were not able to procure for their infant child any better accommodation than is given to the cattle of the field; and were, soon after he was born, obliged to fly with him into a foreign country in order to preserve his life. But a

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Luke i. 32. ** Luke ii. 25.

| Luke i. 67.

§ Luke i, 39.

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