Puslapio vaizdai

Commands clash and interfere; for the ferving of one, will be a difobeying of the other: Ye cannot ferve God and Mammon. He that will be a Friend to the World, does thereby become an Enemy of God; for we cannot addict our Hearts to the one, without withdrawing them from the other. If we are at the beck of our Lufts, we difclaim the Authority of God; for he that does Sin, is a Servant of Sin; and of whom a Man is overcome, of him he is brought in bondage: which is inconfiftent with the Service we owe him as our Lord; for his Servants we are to whom we obey, whether of Sin unto Death, or of Obedience to Righteouf ness; Rom. 6. 16.

4. If Chrift be our Lord, then we muft not ftudy to please Men by any bafe and finful Compliances; for if I thus please Men (faith the Apostle) I were not the Servant of Chrift. And therefore the fame Apoftle wills us to do our Service to him with singleness of Heart, not with Eyefervice as Men-pleafers, but as the Servants of Christ, doing the Will of God from the Soul, and performing it as to the Lord, and not unto Men; knowing that of the Lord you Shall receive the Reward, for ye ferve the Lord Chrift: Col. 3. 23, 24.

And as we are to yield this chearful and ready Obedience to him, fo are we to take care that we do not inflave our Minds and Confciences to the imperious Dictates of falfe Teachers. 'Twas our Saviour's own Caution, Have not many Mafters, for one is your Master in Heaven: And to us there is but one Lord (faith the Apostle) and therefore be not ye the Servants of Men.

5. From Chrift's being our Lord, we may learn the great Leffons of Charity, Humility, and Patience; for the Dif ciple is not above his Lord, 'tis fufficient for him to be as bis Lord. We must be content with the fame Ufage from Men that he found in the World, and be fo far from affecting Rule and Authority over others, that, after his example, we fhould be to them as he that ferveth.

In a word, It is a great Comfort to the meaneft, and a high Honour to the greatest Perfons, to serve such a Lord, who is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; which fhould teach both to do nothing unworthy of fo high and noble a Relation: fo fhall we, who now do the Will, fhortly enter into the Joy of our Lord.

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MAT. i. 20. latter part.

That which is conceiv'd in her, is of the Holy Ghoft.



'Finish'd in my laft the Explication of the fecond Article of the Creed, in which the fecond Perfon in the Trinity is confider'd chiefly as to his Divine Nature; refpect whereof he is principally ftyl'd Jefus Chrift, the only Son of God, and our Lord. I proceed now to the

Third Article, which refpects only his human Nature, contain'd in thefe words, Who was conceiv'd by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary. Where we profefs to believe two things of him, as he is Man; viz. His Conception, and his Nativity: the one afcrib'd to the Holy Ghoit, and the other to the Virgin Mary. Of the first I am now to treat, from these words of the Evangelift; That which is conceiv'd in her, is of the Holy Ghost. Where we must observe,

First, The Perfon faid to be conceiv'd.

Secondly, The Act of Conception, both in the Prediction and Accomplishment.

Thirdly, The Author by whofe Influence it was perform'd. To which we must add fomething touching the Manner and the Ends of this great Action. For the

First, The Perfon here faid to be conceiv'd, it is, as appears by what went before, no other than the only Son of God. He that was begotten of the Father from all Eternity, and fo of the fame Subftance with him, was in the Fulnefs of Time made of a Woman, and conceiv'd of the Subftance of his Mother; by which means the Saviour and Redeemer of the World had a Production agreeable to our human Nature, and became truly and really a Man. This is the great Mystery of the Incarnation, which was perform'd in the Perfon of the Son only; whereby the


Word was made Flefh, and dwelt among us, bein fent in the likeness of finful Flesh: and tho he was in the Form of God, yet was found in fashion as a Man, and took upon him the Form of a Servant. This is to be believ'd against a fort of Hereticks, who, because the Divine Nature, which is common to the Father and the Son, was conjoin'd with the human, affirm'd the Father to be incarnate, as well as the Son : whereas we are here taught to believe, that he who was made Flesh was the Word; that the Incarnation was peculiar to the fecond Perfon; and that he who took upon him the Nature of Man, was not the Father, or the Holy Ghost, but the Son only. From whence I proceed to confider,

Secondly, The Act of Conception, whereby the Son of God was fafhion'd in the Womb: where as Children are Partakers of Flesh and Blood, he likewife took part of the fame; Heb. 2. 14. 'Twas indeed foretold of the Meffias, long before his Coming, that he should be conceiv'd in the Womb of a Virgin; Ifaiah 7. 14. Behold, a Virgin Shall conceive, and bear a Son, &c. A Body hast thou prepar'd for me, faid the Pfalmift in the Perfon of the Meffias: meaning that Body, that was after by this miraculous Conception form'd and fitted for him. When the time for the fulfilling of this Prophecy drew nigh, the Angel Gabriel was difpatch'd to the Virgin Mary, to let her know, that fhe was highly favour'd and blefs'd among Women, for the Lord was with her, and would be in her. When fhe caft in her Mind what kind of Salutation this was, the Angel deliver'd the Meffage, that fhe was fingled out among Women to be the Mother of our Lord ; for the fhould conceive in her Womb, and bring forth a Son, and call his Name Fefus; he shall be great, and shall be call'd the Son of the Highest, and the Lord fhall give unto him the Throne of his Father David: Luke 1. 31, 32. When the Virgin Mary began to doubt the Truth of the Meffage, and to ask how these things could be; fhe was bid not to fear, for with God nothing is impoffible, ver. 37. Which things fhe found after accomplish'd to a tittle, and thankfully own'd the Performance of thofe things that were told her from the Lord, ver. 45. This is to be believ'd against another fort of Hereticks who denied our Saviour to be really and truly Man, and affirm'd him to be only a Ghoft, Spectre, or Apparition; that he had no fubftantial, but only an aerial Body, in which he appear'd for a while, and then vanifh'd away. This

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was begun by Simon Magus, and follow'd by the Gnofticks and others, who labour'd to destroy the Credit of this Article, by giving out that Chrift had only the outward Shape and Appearance, not the real Nature or Body of a


Against thefe we are taught in our Creed, from the Teftimony of Holy Scripture, to believe that he was conceiv'd of the very Subftance of the Bleffed Virgin, and of her receiv'd the fame human Nature that is vifible in other Men : He had a Body form'd in the Womb, and partaking of Flesh and Blood like other Children, in which he grew up by the fame degrees, and was fuftain'd by the fame Nourishment with other Men; he exerted the fame vital Actions, for he eat and drank with his Difciples, being hungry, weary, and fleepy as we are; he felt the fame Pains as we do, and that in a very high and dolorous manner: his facred Temples were pierc'd with Thorns, his Hands and Feet faften'd to the Crofs with Nails, his Side pierc'd with the Soldier's Spear all which fhew both the Tenderness of his Flesh, and the Reality of his Body. Befide which,

He had alfo a Soul endow'd with the fame Faculties as we have, with an Understanding capable of Improvement, for begrew up in Wisdom as well as Stature; Luke 2. 52. with a Will patient and fubmiffive; faying, Not my Will, but thane be done: Mat. 26. 39. with Affections and Paffions like ours, for his Soul was exceeding forrowful, even unto Death; being in all points tempted as we are, only without Sin; Heb. 4. 15.

In a word, as if our Saviour had foreseen this Objection, and defign'd for ever to filence it, he appeal'd to the very Senfes of his Difciples, bidding them to handle him and fee him, for a Spirit had not Flesh and Bones as they faw him have. Thus did the Eternal Son of God, who was God bleffed for ever, truly become Man like us, and by this Conception really partake of our Human Nature. As for the Manner how these two Natures were united and fubfift together, as it is above our finite Knowledge to comprehend, fo ought it to be above our Curiofity to enquire; 'tis fufficient that Truth itfelf hath reveal'd this to us, and it becomes us to believe it, tho we know not the Manner of it.

What the publick Reafon and Wisdom of the Church hath defin'd, to avoid the needlefs Difputes of Hereticks, viz. that these two Natures fubfift without any Confufion


or Mixture with each other, without any Converfion of one into the other, and without any Divifion or Separation from each other; we may fafely fubmit our Faith to, and ceafe any farther Search or Curiofity. From whence I proceed,

Thirdly, To confider the Influence and Operation of the Holy Ghost in this Conception. And this, the Scriptures tell us, was by a Divine overfhadowing Power: for fo the Angel told the Bleffed Virgin, faying, Behold the Holy Ghoft Shall come upon thee, and the Power of the most High Shall overfbadow thee; therefore alfo that Holy Thing that ball be born of thee, fhall be call'd the Son of God; Luke 1. 35. St. Matthew tells us, that tho he was efpous'd to Jofeph, yet before they came together, he was found with Child of the Holy Ghoft; Mat. 1. 18. And therefore the Angel, for his Satisfaction, bid him, not to fear to take unto him Mary his Wife, for that which was conceiv'd in her was of the Holy Ghoft. Where the afcribing this Action to the Holy Ghoft does,

1. Exclude all Concurrence of Man: This occafion'd the Difficulty of the Virgin's Faith in this matter, who could not conceive how this could be without the Knowledge of Man; Luke 1. 34. where fhe excludes the Concurrence of Man, or any carnal Act of Generation. Again,

2. This Supervention of the Holy Ghoft implies, that the Act by which fhe conceiv'd was perform'd by the miraculous Efficacy of God's Holy Spirit; which fhews this Divine Perfon, as to his Human Nature, to have no other Father but God for tho Fofeph be fometimes nam'd as his reputed Father, yet 'tis exprefly faid, before he knew his Wife, The was found with Child of the Holy Ghoft.


As for the Manner of that Operation by which this Conception was effected, 'twill behove us to be modeft, and content to be ignorant, without prying too far into what is not reveal'd.

Some indeed, have ventur'd upon fome Account of it, as that the Holy Ghoft did bring a Body with him from Heaven and convey'd it into the Bleffed Virgin; others that our Saviour's Flesh was form'd of a Divine Seed from the Subftance of God himself: but thefe have been condemn'd by the Fathers for bold and rafh Conjectures, who therefore fet bounds to our Curiofity, and will us not to be wife above that which is written; for who can declare bis Generation?

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