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Did the father delight in him? He delighted in those whom he was in a little to call his brethren. Was he the object of the infinite love of the Father as his essential image ? He was equally so, as the Surety of lost man. The Father loved him, because he was to lay down his life. Hence he declares; “ I was daily his delights, rejoicing al“ ways before him; rejoicing in the habitable
parts of his earth; and my delights were with " the fons of men.” All the infinite love of the Father to him as the Surety, he as it were transferred towards those for whom he had undertaken, in the actings of his love to them. What unspeakable reason have we, then, to " love him * who first loved us !"
The Miraculous Conception illustrated from the Hifory of Melchizedek ;-from various instances of Conception beyond the ordinary course of Nature ;-from the Laws given to Ifrael concerning Virginity.
God did not merely foretell, and in various ways anticipate, the Incarnation of the Word : the Church was also informed, that he should parVol. II.
a Prov. viii. 30, 31.
take of our nature in a way different from all mere men. Besides the prophecies concerning his being the seed of the woman, and being born of a virgin, there were various preludes of this wonderful event.
1. From an inspired writer we learn, that the history of Melchizedek had a particular reference to the character of the Mesliah. Being “without fa
ther, and without mother,” he was “ made like “ unto the Son of Gode.” This language has no respect to his natural birth ; for in this respect the king of Salem was undoubtedly like other men. But it refers to the silence of Scripture on this head. For it was the will of God there should be no account of his descent, that he might historically resemble Him, who is without father as man, and without mother as God. The Apostle, indeed, seems to have the official character of Christ especially in his eye; as he had no predecessor in his priestly office: and hence he proves its fuperiority to that in the family of Aaron. But even those who take the words in this view, admit that they also regard his personal character. This muft necef- . sarily be admitted. For had he not been “ with“ out father," as man, he would have wanted that perfection which was requisite according to the nature of the type. “ Beginning of days," after the common course of nature, would have proved an insuperable bar to his being “ a priest " after the power of an endless life.”
II. In e Heb. vii. 3.
11. In various instances, God manifested his power, in causing women to conceive beyond the ordinary course of nature. There were two great obftacles to the accomplishment of the promise made to Abraham, of his having issue by Sarah. She was constitutionally barren ; and when the promise was restricted to her posterity, she was past the time of life. Any of these was of itfelf a sufficient obstacle. Although she had not beef barren, no woman had ever proved a mother in her circumstances. Hence her fon Ifaac was an eminent figure of Christ; becaufe he was conceived, not properly by strength of nature, but by virtue of the promise. This wonderful conception, could not but greatly afsift faith, with respect to the promise of “the feed of the woman.” It she wed that there was no absurdity in believing that a virgin should conceive. The deadness of Abraham's body, and of Sarah's womb, made the one event naturally as impoflible as the other. Sarah could, no more than Mary, become a mother, but by a miracle. Ifaac was “ born after “ the Spirit,” in consequence of his miraculous operation ; and thus in a striking manner prefigured Him who was conceived by the power of the same divine agent. It is remarkable, that as Sarah and Mary both made fubftantially the same objection, the fame answer is given in both cases; as if the Spirit of inspiration would thus call our attention to the intimate connexion between the two histories. Sarah said, “ Shall I of a surety
& Gal. iv. 29.
“ bear a child, which am old ?" Mary made a similar objection ; ” How shall this be, seeing I “ know not a man ?" Both are founded on the apparent imposibility of the thing. The reply of the angel to Mary, “ With God nothing shall “ be impossible,” is materially the same with that given to Sarah, “ Is any thing too hard for the “ Lord?” This, as expressed in the version of the Old Testament, generally in use among the Jews when the New was written, is almost in the same words with those recorded by Luke : “ With “ God shall any thing be impossible g?"
In various respects was Samson a type of Chrift; and among others, in the circumstances of his conception. As an angel appeared to the Virgin, foretelling the conception of Him who should save his people from their fins; that of Samson, who was a typical Saviour, was foretold in the same manner. “ There was a certain man of Zorah, “ of the family of the Danites, whose name was “ Manoah, and his wife was barren, and bare not. “ And the Angel of the LORD appeared unto the
woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art " barren, and bearest not, but thou shalt conceive “ and bear a fon h."
As God had in ancient times given different displays of his power in this respect, to strengthen the faith, and excite the expectation of his people, as to the completion of the great promise; when the time was at hand, he would awaken their at
tention g Μη αδυνατησει παρα τω Θεω ρημα ; Gen. xviii. 14. Ονκ αδυνατεσ, #apa 5w Ofw rar prua. ' Luke i. 37,
h Judges xiii. 2, 3.
tention by a new display of the same kind. The wife of Zacharias appears as another Sarah. Nay, both Abraham and Sarah seem to be again brought on the stage. For he was an old man, and his wife not only barren, but“ well stricken in years." There were two mysteries conjoined in the birth of Christ; the incarnation of the Angel-JEHOVAH, and his conception in the womb of a virgin. As these things were so extraordinary, two figns are afforded, which might tend to conciliate the faith of that people to whom he was promised. For many ages, God had given no immediate revelation of his will. But on this oecasion, there was the vision of an angel, and the conception of an aged and barren woman.
Divine wisdom appeared in the choice of the parents, and in the character of the son, as well as in the concomitant circumstances and the season of this display of divine power. The parents had both been long of the highest repute for true religion. “ They were both righteous before God, “ walking in all the commandments and ordi“ nances of the Lord blameless." There could be no reasonable suspicion, that two such persons would combine in imposing a false story on the nation. Zacharias being a priest, what concerned him must have been far better known than if he had been in a private station. Elisabeth, being a near relation of Mary, the latter had the beft opportunity of knowing all that concerned this remarkable manifestation. He, whose birth was thus diftinguished, was no ordinary child,