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it is our wisdom to attempt nothing without him; it is no lost time that is spent in prayer, wherein we ask his direction, and beg his presence with us: and, rely upon it, that which is not prefaced with prayer will be followed with trouble. How easily can Jesus Christ dash all your designs, and frustrate, in a moment, all the pur poses of your hearts! The Turks will pray five times a day, how urgent soever their business be. Blush, you that enterprise your affairs without God.
5. Lastly, Eye Christ in all the events of providence ; see his hand in all that befalls you, whether it be evil or good. "The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." Psa. 111 : 2. How much good might we get by observation of the good or evil that befalls us throughout our course!
(1.) In all the troubles and afflictions that befall you, eye Jesus Christ and set your hearts to the study of these four things in affliction:
Study his sovereignty and dominion; these afflictions rise not out of the dust, nor do they befall you casually; but he raises them up, and gives them their commission; "Behold, I create evil, and devise a device against you." Jer. 18 11. He selects the instrument of your trouble; he makes the rod as afflictive as he pleaseth; he orders the continuance and end of your troubles; and they will not cease to be afflictive to you, till Christ say, Leave off, it is enough. The centurion wisely considered this, when he argued, "I have soldiers under me, and I say to one, Go, and he goeth; to another, Come, and he cometh," Luke, 7: 8; meaning, that as his soldiers were at his command, so diseases were at Christ's, to come and go as he ordered them.
Study the wisdom of Christ in the contrivance of your troubles. His wisdom shines out many ways in them. It is evident in choosing such kinds of trouble for you as are best adapted to purge out the corruption that pre
dominates in you: in the degree of your troubles, suffering them to work to such a height as to reach their end; but no higher, lest they overwhelm you.
Study the tenderness and compassion of Christ over his afflicted people. Oh think, If the devil had the mixing of my cup, how much more bitter would he make it! There would not be one drop of mercy in it: but here is much mercy mixed with my troubles. There is mercy in this, that it is no worse. Am I afflicted? "It is of the Lord's mercy I am not consumed," Lam. 3: 22; it might have been hell instead of this chastisement. There is mercy in his supports under it; I might have been left, as others have been, to sink and perish under my burdens. Mercy, in deliverance out of it; this might have been everlasting darkness, that should never have had a morning. Oh the tenderness of Christ to his afflicted!
Study the love of Christ to thy soul in affliction. "Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten." Rev. 3: 19. This is the device of love, to recover thee to thy God, and prevent thy ruin. Oh what an advantage would it be thus to study Christ in all the evils that befall you! (2.) Eye and study Christ in all the good you receive from the hand of providence. View your mercies in all their lovely circumstances.
Eye them in their suitableness: how conveniently providence hath ordered all things for thee. Thou hast a narrow heart, and a small estate suitable to it: hadst thou more of the world, it would be like a large sail to a little boat, which would quickly pull thee under water: thou hast that which is most suitable to thee. Eye the seasonableness of thy mercies, how they are fitted to thy wants. Providence brings forth all its fruits in due season. Eye the peculiar nature of thy mercies. Others have common, thou special ones; others have but a single, thou a double sweetness in thy enjoyments, one natural from the matter of it, another spiritual from the
way in which, and end for which it comes. Observe the order in which Providence sends your mercies. See how one is linked strangely to another, and is a door to let in many. Sometimes one mercy is introductive to a thousand. And lastly, observe the constancy of them, "they are new every morning." Lam. 3: 23. How assiduously doth God visit thy soul and body! Think with thyself, if there were but a suspension of the care of Christ for one hour, that hour would be thy ruin.
Could we thus study the providence of Christ in all the good and evil that befalls us in the world, we should be in every state content. Phil. 4: 11. Then we should never be stopped, but furthered in our way by all that occurs; then would our experience swell to great volumes, which we might carry to heaven with us; and then should we answer all Christ's ends in every state he brings us into. Do this, and say, Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.
CHRIST'S HUMILIATION-IN HIS INCARNATION.
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross." Phil. 2:8.
You have seen how Christ was invested with the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, for effecting the blessed design of our redemption; the execution of these offices necessarily required that he should be both deeply abased and highly exalted. He cannot, as our Priest, offer up himself a sacrifice to God for us, except he be humbled, and humbled to death. He cannot, as a King,
powerfully apply the virtue of that his sacrifice, except he be exalted, yea, highly exalted. Had he not stooped to the low estate of a man, he had not, as a Priest, had a sacrifice of his own to offer; he had not been fit, as a Prophet, to teach us the will of God, so as that we should be able to bear it; he had not been, as a King, a suitable head to the church: and, had he not been highly exalted, that sacrifice had not been carried within the vail before the Lord. Those discoveries of God could not have been universal, effectual, and abiding. The government of Christ could not have secured, protected, and defended the subjects of his kingdom.
The infinite wisdom foreseeing all this, ordered that Christ should first be deeply humbled, then highly exalted: both which states are presented to us by the apostle in the context.
He that intends to build high, lays the foundation deep and low. Christ must have a glory in heaven, infinitely transcending that of angels and men. And, as he must be exalted infinitely above them, so he must first, in order thereunto, be humbled and abased as much below them: "His form was marred more than any man's; and his visage more than the sons of men." The ground colors are dark, but the picture is filled with all the splendor and glory of heaven.
Method requires that we first speak of his state of humiliation; and
The scripture I have now selected presents you the sun almost under a total eclipse. He that was beautiful and glorious, Isa. 4: 2, yea, glorious as the only begotten of the Father, John 1: 14, yea, the glory, James 2: 1, yea, the splendor and "brightness of the Father's glory," Heb. 1:3, was so veiled, clouded, and debased, that he looked not like himself, a God; no, nor scarcely as a man; for, with reference to this humbled state, it is said, "I am a worm, and no man," Psa. 22:6; I am become
an abject among men, as the language, Isa. 53:3, signifies. This humiliation of Christ we have here expressed in the nature, degrees, and duration of it.
1. The nature of it, "he humbled himself." The word imports both a real and voluntary abasement. It is not said, he was humbled, but, he humbled himself; he was willing to stoop to this low and abject state for us. And, indeed, the voluntariness of his humiliation made it most acceptable to God, and singularly commends the love of Christ to us: that he would choose to stoop to all this ignominy, suffering, and abasement for us.
2. The degrees of his humiliation : it was not only so low as to become a man, a man under law; but he humbled himself to become "obedient to death, even the death of the cross." "Here you see the depth of Christ's humiliation, it was unto death, even the death of the cross, the death of a malefactor.
3. The duration, or continuance of his humiliation : it continued from the first moment of his incarnation to the moment of his resurrection from the grave; so long his humiliation lasted. Hence we derive this proposition: The state of Christ, from his conception to his resurrection,
was a state of deep abasement and humiliation.
We are now entering upon Christ's humbled state, which I shall describe under three general heads, namely, his humiliation in his incarnation, in his life, and in his death. We now consider his humiliation in his incarnation, implied in the words, "Being found in fashion as a man." By which you are to understand, not that he merely assumed a body, to appear transiently to us in it, and so lay it down again; but his true and real assumption of our nature, which was a special part of his humiliation; as will appear by the following particulars:
1. The incarnation of Christ was a most wonderful humiliation, inasmuch as thereby he, who is "over all, God blessed for ever," is brought into the rank and order of