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gative of his pardoning grace and mercy, without shedding the blood of Christ.

And do you think, that in heaven, we should ever have complained for want of love in God to us, though he had brought us thither at a cheaper rate than now he doth? But this, though it might have been sufficient for our salvation, yet was it not sufficient for God's design, in the manifestation of the riches and glory of his great love to us : and, therefore, God will not go the most saving way to work, in compassing our salvation; but that way, which shall be most for the enhancing of his love to us.

Is it not greater love in God towards us to part with Christ out of heaven, to break and bruise him, to make his soul an offering for sin and his blood a ransom for sinners; than if he had only, without any further circumstances, beckoned us up to heaven? This, therefore, must be the method, which Divine Wisdom will take, because Divine Love dictates it to be the most advantageous to commend his love to sinners. Oh, the supererogating mercy of God, that is not only contented to do what is barely sufficient for our salvation; but, over and above, adds what may be most expressive of his own love and affections to us! John iii. 16. God so loved the world, &c. God so loved the world: how? what, so as to save it only? no; but he so loved it, as he gave his only-begotten Son to save it. What, thy Son, Lord, thine Only Son! Why, the destruction of the whole world is not a thing so considerable, as one sigh, one groan, one tear, or one drop of blood from that Only Son of thine, whom thou gavest to save the world! But, however, God is resolved notwithstanding, that not only a sigh, groan, or tear; but the life of his Son also shall go, rather as a manifestation of his love to sinners, than for any absolute antecedent necessity of such a sacrifice. And that is one thing, wherein this love and good will of God to men appears, in that he gave them his Only Son, out of his own bosom, for their salvation.

2. Consider the manner and circumstances of Christ's coming into the world; and then also it will appear further, that there is in God an infinite love and good-will towards men. And, here, I shall treat of these two things :

That Christ was sent, as from the Father, freely,

And, as to Himself, ignominiously. And both these do contribute much to the exalting of the Infinite Love of God towards fallen man.

(1) God's love is exalted, in that he sent his Only Son freely,

it;

If men and devils had joined their forces, and made an assault upon heaven; yet they could never have plucked the Son of God's love from his eternal embraces : that world, which he had given to Christ, which afterwards had power to assault, kill, and crucify him; yet, before he was given, had no power to bring him into the world. But God thinks it not enough, that this great gift comes from him freely and without compulsion : but he puts it a strain higher; and he gives Christ freely to us :

[1] Freely, in opposition to all Desert; not only without, but against all merit and desert in us.

Certainly, man could no more merit Christ out of heaven, than he could have merited heaven without Christ : when God, out of his infinite wisdom, foresaw that we would despise and reject his Son, first spill his blood and then trample upon did he so hate his Son, as to account this demeanour of ours meritorious of him? since we cannot merit the least good, how then could we merit so great a gift as Christ ? Nay, which is more to the glory of God's free good-will, he bestowed Christ upon us, not only without any merit of ours, but without any merit of his also: it is free

grace

that endows us with any spiritual, with any eternal blessing : free grace doth sanctify our hearts and save our souls: yet all this Christ hath purchased for us, by the price of his own death: he is the merit of eternal salvation for us; yet it is free grace in bestowing it upon us : God will have a price paid him down for all other things of less value, that he may thereby set forth his own bounty, in parting with the greatest gift, his Own Son, without price: Christ mérited all other things for us; but the greatest of all he never merited for us, that is, himself: God hath put heaven, and glory, and the everlasting enjoyment of himself upon sale, as it were; that so this great gift of his Son may appear truly estimable, and his bounty absolute and infinite: but though he gives all things besides Christ, upon the account of Christ's merits; yet he gives Christ freely, without any intervening merit.

[2] God's love is free in the gift of Christ, in that he prevents not only our deserts, but our Desires.

Begging of alms takes not off from the charity and bounty of the donor; yet God is not willing to have his bounty so much forestalled, as our requesting of it. As for the good things of grace and glory, the most iinportunate suiters are usually the best speeders: Ask, and ye shall receive : seek, and ye shall find : knock, and it shall be opened. But in the giving of Christ to the

world, he was found of them that sought him not. And, in all this, was the design of love laid in the heart of God, from all eternity, before ever there were either prayers or tongues to utter them. This was a design of infinite contrivance, the possibility of which it could never enter into our hearts, or the hearts of angels to conceive; and what we could not conceive in our thoughts and hearts, we eould not beg with our mouths: but God, out of his own good-will to us, prevents both our works and our words, both the merit of our hands and the requests of our mouths; and freely bestows his Own Son to be our Saviour, without either our deserving or desiring of him,

(2) As Christ was given freely, in respect of God; so very ignominiously, in respect of himself.

And this enhanceth the exceeding greatness of the love of God towards us : he was degraded in his birth, persecuted in his life, and accursed in his death. And, that he should thus deal with the Son of his Love, that he should abase and afflict him only to shew his love to us, seems, at the first blush, to intimate, that God preferred such worms as we are, before the Son of his Bosom.

And, here, let us,
[1] Consider Christ, in his Birth.

And, here, what was it to be born of the royal line and stock of David ? that family was now fallen to decay, when the heira apparent of that royal family, was Joseph, who was forced for the sustaining of his life to turn mechanic: yet this family he chooseth to be a member of, not when it was victorious and triumphant, but when it was sunk low, and did expire. He also chooseth out a mean, poor virgin, to become his mother: she is thought but a fit match for a carpenter; and. when she is grown big with him too, that is not without some suspicion; and when she was in travail, none did so much regard the entreaties of Joseph, nor the groans and pangs of Mary, as to afford her a better room than a stable; where she herself was both mother and nurse, and, instead of a cradle, rocked Christ in a manger; and, though her heart yearned, yet she had no softer pillow to lay under him, than straw or hay. Nor,

[2] Doth his Life repair the meanness of his birth.

No; he is a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, from first to last. He becomes subject to his parents : he puts himself under the dominion of his own creatures : he follows his father's pccupation; Mark vi. 3. Is not this the carpenter as in scora

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they said : He, that formed the heavens and the earth, learns himself to make houses! There was nothing of outward pomp or grandeur in his life: Isa. liii. 2. He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him, saith the Prophet. He was maintained by the alms of a few poor, well-disposed women; tempted by the Devil, persecuted by the Jews, betrayed by his own followers. This was the course of his life. And,

[3] If you consider his Death, that was shameful, bloody, and accursed.

We see him on the cross, hanging on the soreness of his hands and feet: we see him pierced to the heart by a ruffian soldier: we see him crowned with thorns; and the precious blood trickling from the head, to meet those other rivers that were running from his side and feet: we see him forsaken of his disciples; and, what is more, we hear him complaining of being forsaken of God too. O Blessed Saviour! what eyes can refrain from weeping ? what heart from bleeding? Is this the entertainment. that the world gives to thee, the dearest pledge that God hath or can send ? Is this thy welcome to it? Is this thy departure, out of it? Shall we mock and scourge, crucify, pierce, and murder thee? And wilt thou by all these outrages committed against, thyself, accomplish our salvation? O victorious love! that can pardon when abused, and exalt us by being abased, and glorify us by being despised! Yet God will have it so, that his goodwill may be commended by the affronts and by the indignities, which peevish mankind puts upon it.

3. The infinite good-will of God, in sending Jesus Christ into the world, appears to be glorious and great, if you consider the Persons to whom he was sent.

The fallen angels stood in as much need of a Saviour, as we; and Christ was as well able to save them, as to save us; and they would have served God with more enlarged capacities, than we can possibly do: but, as soon as those glorious spirits sinned, God threw them down to hell; where they are shackled up in chains of massy darkness for ever, never to have any release. O most dreadful severity towards them! O unspeakable love towards us! God passeth by the angels; and recovereth vile mankind, and raiseth them up out of the dust, that they might fill up those void places of the angels, that left their first station. This is that, which makes the Devil rage; and this is that, which makes that Old Serpent to gnaw his tongue with

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anguish: that he should be cast down from heaven like lightning, and such vile worms as men are advanced to his place and honour., Truly, nothing puts a greater accent upon love, than when it is laid out upon those who are most unworthy, with a purpose thereby to make them worthy,

Thus is the love of God, in sending Christ, expressed : he comes and finds us unworthy; and he comes, that he might make us worthy. Now, here,

(1) Consider : This love is pitched upon Loathsome and Deformed Creatures, that so it might make them comely and beautiful. And this advanceth the free love of God, in sending Christ into the world.

You may see an elegant comparison of man in the state of nature, Ezek. xvi. 5, 6., where the Prophet compares him to a poor forsaken infant, swathed in his own blood, cast into the open field, helpless for its weakness, and loathsome for its deformity. This is the very emblem of that condition, in which we ourselves are, in our natural and unregenerate state : we are cast out to the loathing of our persons; and impotent, that we cannot help ourselves. Whose bowels would not yearn to read this description, which the Prophet makes, and which I have briefly opened to you? Now is there any thing of amiableness or loveliness in such an object as this, that God should part with his Son out of his own bosom? yet, saith God, in the eighth verse, Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love ; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: And then washed I thee with water : yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee. Nay, further; our condition was such as the Prophet Isaiah describes it to be, Isa. i. 6. From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores : sores, that deformed us; sores, that would have destroyed us : now that God should send his Blessed and Well-beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to bind up and cure the sores of such deformed creatures as we are, doth not this speak, his infinite love to us?

(2) This love is not only pitched upon deformed creatures, but also upon Froward, Peevish, and Rebellious Creatures.

Of all things in the world, nothing sooner provokes God's wrath, than a slighting and contempt of love. Now God foresaw how men would slight his Son : yet, notwithstanding, he sends him: He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

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