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ment in the society of beloved relatives and friends, and the bitterness of grief, in enduring the contradiction of sinners against himself. He could "weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice." There was nothing in the character of his mind to prevent his experiencing the deepest distress: on the contrary, there were times when his mental sufferings were inexpressibly great, when his "soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."
And as his bodily powers were limited, so also were those of his mind; otherwise his soul could not have been that of a real man. Some Trinitarians, it is possible, may have shown a backwardness to admit this, and have been led to speak of Christ's soul, as though it were not so truly human as his body, and as though it were almost unlimited in its natural powers,-forgetting the true and divine source of that superhuman intelligence, which beamed forth in the revelations which he made known unto men. His mind was in itself a human, and not a divine, mind: it was not even an angelic mind-it was the mind of a man. Unaided by the fulness of the Godhead, which dwelt within him bodily, his human soul was, necessarily, finite in its operations. But the Spirit, we are told, was given to him by God, without limit; and hence the radiance of that light which every where diffused itself around him.
To enter fully into this subject, would require far wider limits than the present occasion affords. But this much I have said, in order to avoid being misunderstood, and to "cut off occasion from them, who might desire occasion," to cavil and object. It is not the name only of man, but the reality of manhood, that we attach unto Christ. It is not necessary to the consistency of our creed to represent his soul, any more than his body, as of a different nature from our own on the contrary, such a representation would
lead us into inextricable difficulties; and we should justly stand rebuked as those who suffer their abhorrence of one error, to drive them into another, and an opposite error.
But though our Lord Jesus Christ was thus really and and properly a man, he was no ordinary man. Though there was nothing in his corporeal or mental powers essentially different from those of other men, yet were there certain peculiarities connected with his perfect manhood, which it is of momentous consequence, that we should know, and believe.
In the first place, He possessed moral perfection. He was innocent and holy-perfectly innocent, and perfectly holy. He was absolutely spotless and pure. Of this we have abundant testimonies in the Word of God. When his future birth was announced by the angel to his mother Mary, he was described as the "holy thing" which she should bring forth.* When he spake of himself as obedient to his father, he did not scruple to affirm that he did "always those things which pleased him.”† And on another occasion, when alluding to his approaching end, and the last grand effort of Satan to tempt his constancy, he declares;-"The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." By St. Peter he is termed "The Holy One and the Just," || who "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." §
And the Apostle Paul, when speaking of him as the High Priest of our profession, who ever liveth to make intercession for us, adds;-"For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." To these satisfactory testimonies may be added that of the Apostle John:-" And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sin; and in him is no sin.”**
Luke i. 35.
† John viii. 29. 1 Peter ii. 22.
Heb. vii. 26.
John xiv. 30.
* 1 John iii. 5.
I would fain hope, brethren, that no one in this assembly would either deny, or wish to explain away the force, of such unequivocal declarations as these. And yet, I grieve to say, some of the greatest champions of Unitarianism have not scrupled to withhold their assent to this doctrine. Dr. Priestley, it is well known, was chargeable with this fault-daring to call in question the absolute moral perfection of Christ. And the reason which he gives for questioning it, is remarkable, and serves to illustrate very forcibly the perverse workings of the human mind, when searching, not for truth, but for arguments to uphold a favourite error. "If," says he, after contending against the absolute perfection of Christ,— "If he was so perfect, it is impossible not to conclude, that, notwithstanding his appearance, 'in the fashion of a man,' he was, in reality, something more than a man."*
A far more offensive passage, to the same effect, occurs in the writings of Mr. Belsham. After admitting that, during the whole of Christ's public ministry, as recorded by the Evangelists, his conduct was unimpeachable, and distinguished by uniform wisdom, propriety, and rectitude, he daringly ventures upon the following qualification:— Whether," he observes," this perfection of character in pub life, combined with the general declarations of his freedom from sin, establish, or were intended to establish the fact, that Jesus, through the whole course of his private life, was completely exempt from all the errors and failings of human nature, is a question of no great intrinsic moment, and concerning which, we have no sufficient data to lead to a satisfactory conclusion."+
Daring, indeed, is such language as this, and fearful the consequence of thus trifling with the immaculate cha
* Theological Repository, vol. iv. p. 449. See Dr. P. Smith's Scrip. Tes. + Calm Inquiry, p. 190.
racter of Him "who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,"-who "was the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person,"-and who is appointed to be "the Judge of quick and dead," in that day when, for every idle, sceptical, or blasphemous word which men shall speak, they shall give an account. Oh, let us hope, that such a sentiment was not impenitently persisted in, by him who gave it utterance! And let every one of us, brethren, as we value the everlasting favour of Him, who shall assign us our portion of weal or woe in another world, be admonished to shun a system, which fosters such reckless speculations-to "stand in awe, and sin not”—to "kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and so we perish from the right way, when his wrath is kindled, yea, but a little."
A second peculiarity connected with our Lord's humanity, by which he is distinguished from all other men, is his miraculous conception. He was emphatically "the seed of the woman," having no earthly father (save by reputation), but born of a pure "Virgin." Isaiah, when he swept his prophetic lyre, seven hundred years before the event, predicted its accomplishment, in plain and striking terms:-"Behold! a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." And when the time drew near for the accomplishment of the promise, the angel Gabriel was sent from God, to a virgin, of Nazareth, whose name was Mary, to apprize her of what she was to expect; viz. that the Holy Ghost should come upon her, and the power of the Highest overshadow her, and that the Holy Offspring, to which she was to give birth, was to be called "the Son of God."*
A similar communication was made, at the same time, to Joseph, to whom she had been espoused. "Fear not," said the angel unto him, "to take unto thee Mary, thy
Luke i. 35,
wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."
But this fact has been disputed by some who feel a strong repugnance to every thing supernatural. Even the genuineness and authenticity of those portions of the Gospels, in which it lies recorded, have been called in question, and impugned. But the proofs which accompany the record, are solid and impregnable. A summary of the evidence was ably laid before you in a former lecture—a circumstance which renders it wholly unnecessary for me to enter upon the discussion.
That the event itself was most extraordinary, we readily admit; but not more extraordinary, than became the entrance into the world of One, who was to be made "higher than the heavens," and exalted, in his human nature, to the right hand of the Majesty on High. We may rest assured, that Jehovah had grand, and important reasons, for adopting this supernatural mode, of giving birth to the Saviour. No one, indeed, can fail to see the close connexion between such an event, and that unsullied purity and moral perfection of our Lord, of which we have just been speaking, and how it harmonizes with all our loftiest conceptions of him, who describes himself as "the Son of God!"
Great stress seems to be laid, by the Inspired Writers, upon this distinguishing peculiarity in his birth. "When the fulness of time was come," observes St. Paul, "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman." As the seed of the woman, he was a partaker of her humanity, with all its innocent infirmities: but no taint of moral corruption accompanied the inheritance. That Holy and Omnipotent Spirit, whose province it is to sanctify and cleanse, overshadowing the Virgin with his mysterious power, caused the fruit of her womb to come forth, spotless and "undefiled."