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SERM. FOR the removing therefore of This Prejudice, and to clear more fully the Meaning and Intent of my Text, I fhall endeavour distinctly to make out the three following Particulars.
1. THAT this History of our Lord's miraculous Birth, evidently in fact was not, and in the nature of Things could not poffibly be, intended by the Evangelist in this place, as any Proof, for the Conviction of Unbelievers, either of the Dignity of Chrift's Perfon, or of the Truth of his Doctrine, or of the Reality of his Divine Commiffion.
2. THAT yet nevertheless, in the Nature of the Thing, when a Person of such Dignity as our Lord profeffed himself to be, and with fuch a Divine Commiffion, was to come into the World; this one particular Distinction, the miraculous manner of his Birth, was in itself a very reaSonable, proper, and not incredible Circum
3. THAT confequently the Sacred Writer of the Life of our Saviour, had just reason, when affured of the Truth of the Fact from things which followed, to infert
fert this miraculous Circumstance into the SER M. I. Beginning of his Hiftory; and, in That Manner and to That Purpose for which he relates it, had a juft Right, and good and fufficient Grounds, to apply the Prophecy here cited, as a Prediction of it.
1. I fay, This Hiftory of our Lord's miraculous Birth, evidently in fact was not, and in the Nature of Things could not poffibly be, intended by the Evangelist in this place, as any Proof, for the conviction of Unbelievers, either of the Dignity of Chrift's Perfon, or of the Truth of his Doctrine, or of the Reality of his Divine Commiffion. That it could not poffibly be alledged in way of Proof of any of these things to Unbelievers, is most evident for This Plain Reafon; because in the Nature of Things the Fact was itself incapable of being proved, till the Truth of Chrift's Miffion and the Veracity of his Followers had first been established. And that in fact it was never by the Evangelift intended as fuch, appears no lefs evidently from hence; that though both by St Matthew and St Luke it be laid down as the Beginning and Foundation of
SER M. their Account of the Life of Chrift, yet in the Account they give us of his Preaching, it is never once mentioned by Either of These very Evangelifts, or by Either of the Two Other Evangelifts, as ever alledged by Chrift in proof of his being the true Meffiah. Nor in the Book of the Acts, is it ever mentioned as urged by the Apostles, in Their Preaching at any time either to Jews or Gentiles. Nor in any of the Epiftles of Paul, or of any other of the Apostles, is it ever referred to under That View. It would have been abfurd to alledge, in preaching to Unbelievers, a Fact which itself presupposed the Truth of Chrift's Miffion; and which could not have been proved, without first taking for granted the Truth of That very Doctrine, in Proof of which This Fact was to have been alledged. But the Beginning of the Hiftory of the Life of Christ, is a very different thing from the Hiftory of his beginning to Preach the Gofpel. What happened First in Time, could not but of neceffity be Laft in Proof: The Credibility of the Invifible Miracle of his Birth, depending entirely
on the Visible miraculous Proofs, by which SER M, our Lord afterwards gave Evidence of his own Commiffion, and by which his Apofiles afcertained Their own Veracity, and the Truth of the Accounts they gave concerning Him.
2. THOUGH it could not indeed be al
ledged properly, in Proof of the Truth of his Doctrine to Unbelievers; yet nevertheless, in the nature of the Thing, when a Person of fuch Dignity as our Lord profeffed himself to be, and with fuch a Divine Commiffion, was to come into the World; this one particular Diftinction, the miraculous manner of his Birth, was in itself a very reasonable, proper, and not incredible Circumftance. We are taught in Scripture, that as the firft man and his 1 Cor. xv. Pofterity, were of the Earth, Earthy; the 47. Second man was the Lord from Heaven. And our Lord himself frequently declared to his Difciples, that he came down from Joh iii.13. Heaven; that he came forth from the xvi. 28. Father, and came into the World. The Meaning of these Expreffions is explained to us in Other places; where it is declared that he was in the Beginning The Word
SERM. Word of God, the original Revealer of the I. Will of the Almighty to his Creatures,
Mal. iii, 1.
long before he was made Flesh and dwelt among Us, even from the Creation of the World: Having been (as St Paul exPhil. ii. 6. preffes it) in the Form of God, that is, in the Prophetick Language, the Angel or Meflenger of the Covenant, before he took upon him the Form of a Servant, and was made in the Likeness of Men, and found in fashion as a Man; Phil. ii. 8. Now This being the Cafe; The most obvious manner in which it might naturally be expected that fo extraordinary a Perfon, a Person of fuch Dignity as to have had Joh. xvii. glory with God before the World was; I fay, the manner in which it was most natural to have expected that fuch a Perfon fhould come into the World, was in a way different from the Sons of Men. It was the Appointment of Divine Wifdom, for Reafons of Government in the infinite and eternal Kingdom of God over the Universe, that his Mercy and Compaffion towards Penitent Sinners should be difpenfed in a particular Method through the Atonement made by the