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light to do thy will”—lay the iniquities of the world upon me, and by my stripes let them be healed. Such love, pity, compassion, and condescension, were actually displayed at the moment when Christ consented to the covenant of redemption, and accepted the office of Mediator. He then, in the form of God, voluntarily engaged to take the form of man, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And he tells us the pleasure he felt in acting such a lovely part towards the most unlovely creatures. “ The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set
from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. " Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men." How lovely must that person appear, who could look forward millions of ages, and behold a world created to fall, and to rise again by his own sufferings and death!
“ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." But greater love Christ felt and manifested, when he cheerfully undertook to lay down his life for his enemies.
2. Christ is lovely in taking upon him human nature. This was the first step he took to accomplish the work of redemption. After angels were created, and man was formed, the Mediator remained unrevealed. Neither angels nor man knew anything of that great and astonishing design which had laid in his mighty mind for millions of ages. But as soon as man had fallen, and plunged himself and posterity in hopeless ruin, then the glorious and amiable Mediator is brought into view, and his purposes of grace, in a measure, unfolded. When neither men nor angels could find a ransom, then exhibited his own Son as the appointed ransom for sinners. But still he lay in the bosom of the Father four thousand years, until the dreadful effects of the fall had been clearly seen, and sensibly felt; and till the necessity of an atonement had been fully proved, and all things were ready for its accomplishment. Then the Lord of glory condescended to be born, and to veil his divinity with our humanity. This was a most amiable act of condescension and grace. It appeared so to the angels of light, who accompanied him in his descent from heaven to earth, and who appeared to the shepherds, and celebrated his incarnation with songs of praise. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And
suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest. and on earth peace, good-will toward men." For a man to be willing to become a worm, is nothing in comparison with the condescension of Christ, in being willing to become a man. Accordingly, the apostle represents this act of humiliation in the most striking language. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” What is more lovely than for greatness to stoop to littleness, and the Creator to his creatures, and assume their nature ?
3. Christ is amiable in his private life. He lived about thirty years in obscurity and retirement. But from his childhood to that period of life, he displayed a lovely assemblage of divine and human excellencies. As he grew in stature, he increased in wisdom, and in favor with God and man. His filial obedience ; his fervent devotion; his instructive conversation ; his unspotted purity; his universal and perfect benevolence, commanded the love of some, the astonishment of others, and the esteem of all. He lived as never a child lived, as never a man lived before him. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” He was
He was “altogether lovely."
4. Christ was lovely in his public character. As he began to be about thirty years of age, he was baptized of John in Jordan, when the Spirit of God descended upon him in the form of a dove, a proper emblem of his loveliness. From that period, he went about doing good. He healed the sick, cured the lame, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and life to the dead. The view of distress always drew forth the compassion of his heart. His conversation was entertaining, in. structive, and saving. When he preached, the multitudes flocked together to hear him, and were astonished at the gracious words which proceeded out of his lips. Everything which he did and said, among the joyful, among the mournful, among the rich, and among the poor, was altogether lovely.
5. Christ appears lovely in his preparation for death. He knew the time when, the place where, and all the circumstances under which he must die. His hour being come, he made peculiar preparations for dying. Having directed his disciples where to prepare the passover, he sits down with them, and celebrates that sacred ordinance with peculiar marks of condescension and grace. He allows them all to sit around
him, and one to lean on his breast. After this service was finished, he instituted and celebrated the memorials of his own death. Next he takes a towel and girds himself, and washes and wipes his disciples' feet, to teach them humility, condescension, and benevolence. After this, he enters into a free and familiar conversation with them. He exhorts them to love one another. He tells them that he is going to leave them, in order to prepare a place for them; and that when he has prepared a place for them, he will come again, and receive them to himself. He forewarns them of the hatred of the world, and the scenes of trouble, affliction, and distress before them. But at the same time, promises to send them the Comforter, who should instruct, strengthen, and support them. He more fully brings into view his own tremendous sufferings, and the great trial which they would experience, while the shepherd should be smitten, and the flock scattered. And he shuts up this tender, and lovely, and affecting scene, by that pathetic prayer which is recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John. Could any person behave in a more amiable, lovely manner, than Christ behaved on this solemn and important occasion ? Every word and action speaks condescension, tenderness, and love. With the cross in his eye, and the whole human race in his heart, he moves and speaks with inexpressible calmness, serenity, and tenderness, which at once displays superlative greatness and loveliness.
6. Christ appears lovely in his sufferings. When he had done conversing and praying with his disciples, they all went into the garden, where he took Peter, James, and John, and began to be exceeding sorrowful. He went forward a little way, and prayed, saying, “ Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." This he repeated three times. And this was the highest possible expression of the tenderness and submission of his heart. Though he sweat as it were great drops of blood ; though his whole frame was thrown into agonies by a view of his tremendous sufferings, yet, with unreserved submission to his Father's will, he was ready to endure them. It is not strange, that he who wept at the grave of Lazarus; at the approaching destruction of Jerusalem; and who was grieved at the sinner's hardness of heart, should most sensibly feel his own excruciating sufferings. And the submission which he expressed, was great in proportion to the pain and anguish he felt in the view of the trying scenes before him. Such submission under such circumstances appears extremely lovely, and sheds à superior glory upon his subsequent conduct. For after he had given vent to his grief, he resumes all his fortitude and seren
ity, and cheerfully resigns himself into the hands of his enemies, though he could have sent them into eternity as easily as he recalled Lazarus from the grave. While he is in their cruel hands, he is as patient as a lamb; and as a sheep is dumb before the shearer, he opens not his mouth. When reviled, he reviles not again. When he is falsely accused, inhumanly insulted, shamefully reproached, and cruelly abused, he threateneth not, but commits himself to him that judgeth righteously. With astonishing kindness, and with no less astonishing firmness, he asserts his divine nature, and his divine authority ; while, with more than human patience, he submits to the sentence of the ignominious death of the cross. For more than twelve hours, without intermission, he endures the indignity of judges, the reproach of priests, the violence of soldiers, and the insults of an enraged rabble. How beautiful is virtue in distress! How lovely does the meek and lowly Jesus appear in this dreadful scene of sufferings!
7. Christ is amiable in his death. It is a great thing to die an easy and common death, but still greater to die in such a cruel and extraordinary manner as Christ died. All the art and malice of man was exerted to render his death dreadful and distressing. And God in his providence seemed to gratify the wishes of his crucifiers, in adding unknown horrors to the tragical scene. But all these only served to display the superlative loveliness of Christ in his death. Behold the lovely man bending under the weight of his own cross! Behold him walking in silent submission, amidst the cruel reproaches of insulting murderers! Behold him arrived at the fatal place, where his cross is erected, and he, in the midst of two vile malefactors, is extended upon it, in the keenest agonies of distress! Now the heavens are involved in darkness, and a solemn pause en
This is the time for the suffering Saviour to display his supreme loveliness. Forsaken of his friends, reproached by the ungodly world, and reviled by his fellow-sufferers, he gives the most signal tokens of his infinite tenderness and compassion. After the darkened heavens and trembling earth had stilled the noise and clamor of the multitudes, and their minds were prepared to hear the voice of the dying Saviour, he lifts up the voice of prayer and supplication for them, and cries, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” This act of compassion is soon followed by a more surprising act of pardoning mercy. One of the malefactors is struck with conviction, and brought to repentance, and upon the brink of destruction prays to the Lord of glory for salvation. The bleeding and atoning Saviour hears his prayer, and admits him to heaven.
Next he ap
“ To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” In the exercise of such astonishing kindness and mercy, the dear Immanuel closes the scene of life, and gives up the ghost. This renders him altogether lovely in his death.
8. Christ is lovely in all his conduct after his resurrection. He soon burst the bands of death, and triumphed over the grave. On the morning of his own day, he appears first to Mary, and accosts her with ineffable tenderness. pears to the two disciples going to Emmaus; and converses with them in such a tender, instructive, and endearing manner, as filled their hearts with the warmest emotions of pleasure and joy. After this, he appears to the twelve, and in condescension to their blindness and weakness, gives them the strongest testimonials of his resurrection, by showing them his hands and his feet, which had been nailed to the cross. And from this time he took up his residence among his disciples, “ being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” How lovely was it in Christ, after he had finished the great work of the atonement, and suffered every indignity from an ungrateful and malignant world, to prolong his residence upon the earth, for the sake of enlightening and comforting his few friends and followers. Then they knew he was the Lord of glory, and had all power in heaven and earth lodged in his hands. Then they knew, that all he had said, and done, and suffered, was the effect of his infinite condescension and grace, in becoming the Saviour of sinners. With what astonishment and pleasure did they converse with him about the spread, and prosperity, and glory of his spiritual kingdom! And how infinitely lovely does he appear, in the midst of this lovely circle of tried friends, who were waiting to become heralds of the glad tidings of salvation to a stupid and perishing world.
9. Christ is lovely in his ascension. After he had worn out a short and painful life in the service of God, and for the good of man; after he had conquered death and the grave, and brought life and immortality to light; and after he had settled all the affairs of his kingdom, he prepares to leave this dreadful world, and return to the world of light, and take his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, amidst the praises of saints and angels. As his entrance into the world was attended with an escort of angels, so his departure is honored by the presence of those superior beings. He calls his disciples to meet him at Mount Olivet, on the day of his ascension. They all come; and after he had given them all the information they desired, and after he had authorized them to preach his ever