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SERMON BY THE REV. A. REED.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1833.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. A. REED,
AT WYCLIFFE CHAPEL, STEPNEY, SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 1, 1833.
Luke, ii. 34.-" Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel."
THE saints of the former economy | assured, by reference to the general had their whole attention directed to effect of his coming on the professing one grand event; and that event was, church and on the children of men, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the words of our text, that it should as it was promised to them under that be "for the fall and rising again of dispensation. Every thing present to many in Israel." Simeon expresses them pointed to this, every thing pre- himself in these words with perfect sent to them prepared them for this, confidence; and he does so while his and every thing in that dispensation heart is still filled with rejoicing at was entirely subservient to this. The the very fact of the Redeemer's apwhole of that economy, therefore, is pearance. He makes this declarasaid to have been only a shadow of tion emphatically in reference to good things to come: it had in it no Israel; but he makes it prophetically substance, it had in it no perpetuity, in reference to the Gentile world, and it had in it no excellence; its excel- to the multitudes which to the end of lence was derived from its reference time shall come under the sound of to something beyond itself. It was the Gospel. It is therefore true in the shadow of a substance which our time, as it was true in his day, had not yet made its appearance; that this child Jesus is revealed from and it was the promise of things which heaven for the falling and for the were not yet actually bestowed. rising of many in Israel: in other terms, and without any figure of speech, that Christ is revealed as the salvation and as the condemnation of men; that Christ is come, and in him is accomplished both the acceptable year of the Lord, as it is the year of his grace and redemption-and the
The great circumstance of the promise of the coming of Jesus Christ, as connected with that dispensation, and as terminating that dispensation, would lead us anxiously to inquire what is the effect of his appearance since he has actually come.
day of his vengeance, when he will no longer pass by offences, but will take cognizance of sin, and will punish sin with a just, holy, and eternal severity. The words, therefore, have a standing use to the church so long as the church shall be composed of professed and of real worshippersso long as there shall be tares mingled with the wheat-so long as those who are devoted to Christ in reality, and those who are only devoted in appearance, shall mix together in one service and profess to acknowledge one Lord.
Let us, then, seriously give heed to the passage; and let us attempt, in the first place, to illustrate the subject; and in the second place, to derive from it practical and important improvement. "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel:" Behold, this child, who was appointed to be a Saviour to the end of the world, shall nevertheless in fact administer punishment to the ungodly to the uttermost, and bestow to the uttermost life and salvation to those who trust in the shadow of his wings.
ILLUSTRATE THIS REPRESENTATION of
In the first place, we propose to Do we not know his family? Have we not expected that when Messiah should come, he should come as a temporal prince, and restore us from a state of vassalage and bondage, to a state of liberty and enjoyment and national dignity?" And because Messiah did not so appear, they were prepared at once to reject Him for whom they were, professedly, anxiously and continuously looking.
And so the appearance of Christ in the world is a stumbling block to the present day. There are multitudes who enquire in reference to him, and in reference to his name, whether the Pharisees and the rulers have be lieved on him. They are disposed to take the customs of the world, and the belief of the world, as the ruling prin
OUR SAVIOUR'S MISSION. Illustrations may be borrowed from almost every circumstance in his work, and from every perfection in his personal ministration.
to something brighter and better which was yet to be unfolded. Not a single Jew, believing in that dispensation, had it been inquired of him whether he was earnestly desiring the coming of the Messiah, but would declare at once it was the chief and predominant desire of his heart. Nevertheless the Jews generally were expecting the Messiah to appear in a manner greatly different from his proper character and office. Their carnal mind had led them to carnal conceptions of his person, of the establishment of his kingdom, and the benefits they were to derive from his hands. They were therefore full of temporal expectations, full of temporal anxieties, and full of desire to be delivered from the Roman bondage, that they might become again an independent people, and enjoy their civil and political privileges. But when Christ came, and his appearance was so contrary to all their expectations had led them to look for, they were prepared, not to receive him, but positively to reject and dishonour him. They exclaimed, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not this the son of Mary?
His very appearance in the first instance illustrated forcibly, and in some cases painfully, the truth of this declaration, that, on his entrance into our world, and on his revealing himself by the ministry of his word, he should have been for the falling and for the rising again of many in Israel. When he came, indeed, all Israel were professedly waiting for his appearance, and longing for that appearance; all were professing to look off from the existing economy
ciple of their conversation and of | tering to the poor, regarding the cir their profession. If these were to cumstances of the poor, and proacknowledge Christ, if these were to claiming the gospel of life and hope walk in his ways, and to choose his to the poor. And, thus ministering service, then they also would adopt to them, they received his testimony, the same course: but because the they heard him gladly, they rejoiced great, and the mighty, and the learned, in his name, they believed him to be and the wise among men are not pre- the Son of GOD with power, and they pared to recognise the humble ap- trusted in him, that they should repearance of the Saviour, and to walk ceive, not a temporal kingdom, but a in obedience to his humble precepts, spiritual and everlasting inheritance and to depend wholly on his sacrifice in the world which fadeth not away, and name for their salvation-there- He was for the falling of many, and fore the multitude are not prepared he was for the rising of many. The to receive a Redeemer in these repre- lowly were exalted in him--the proud sentations of his character. were abased: he was a stumblingblock to the one-he was a rock of safety and of protection to the other.
It is evident that in such cases there is a lamentable accomplishment of the declaration of Simeon in the text, that "this child is set for the fall of many in Israel." They behold his outward poverty; they behold | We are all prepared to admit that in
We receive a second illustration of the truth of this declaration from the mystery of the Redeemer's person.
the outward poverty of his followers; they behold the rich and the great not walking in his train, not acknowledging his authority, and not submitting to his grace; and therefore they refuse to accept of the testimony concerning him, and commit themselves to worldly practices, and to worldly idolatry with greater
the person of Christ, as Mediator, there are two natures; that he is GOD, and that he is man. It is not therefore necessary, in a congregation professedly Christian, that I endeavour to support these points. We agree that they are the testimony of Scripture; we agree that these natures unite to compose the person of the Mediator, that he is perfect GOD, that he is perfect man, and that he is indivisibly GOD and man-accomplishing in this capacity the great plan of our salvation.
It is for this reason that such apparently different accounts are given to us in Scripture of the mediatorial
On the other hand, in reference to the appearance of Christ, he is set for the rising again of many in Israel. This was true of his temporal appearance among the people of Israel. While the princes and the rulers of that period passed him by with scorn, and refused to listen to his divine in-character of Jesus. At one time, as struction, it is beautifully said that "the common people heard him gladly." There was something in the very humility of his circumstances, in the poverty of his life, in the lowliness of his outward walk and conversation, which brought him near to them, and them near to him. He ministered to them in affection; and was the first great teacher thus minis
in our text, he is a child, the child of infancy and of days; and at another time is the Everlasting Father and the Ancient of days. At one time he is the Lamb slain for sin; and at another time he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. At one time he possesses the keys of the heavenly Paradise: and at another time he possesses the keys of hell, and of the invisible world. At
one time he is represented as all weak- | with his deep humiliation and sufferness-at another time as Almighty; ings. They are not prepared to adat one time as deep in humility-at mit a sentiment in doctrine which another time as exalted above every they cannot entirely comprehend. name, and every power that is named; The pride of their reason must be at one time as exquisite in suffering gratified, their carnal prejudices must --at another time as exquisite in en- be indulged; they will only receive joyment, seeing of the travail of his those views of the Saviour's office soul, and being abundantly satisfied. and character, which they can entirely comprehend and thus the Redeemer in the glory of his person, the Redeemer in the dignity of his godhead, the Redeemer in the mysterious offices of his mediation, becomes a stone of offence, a rock of injury, an increased means of condemnation to their spirits.
Now, on the other hand, this very
cited such bitter hatred to the Lord Jesus Christ, as his announcing himself to be the Son of God, and claiming equality with the Father. It was on this very ground that they persecuted him through life; and it is very remarkable that on this very ground they at last put him to death on the
This representation of our Saviour's character was in his own time, has been in every succeeding age, and is in our time, the occasion of the falling and the rising again of many. There were many in his day who made it a stumbling stone and a rock of offence. There was nothing in the history of the Jewish people which gave them such sore offence, and ex-representation of our Saviour's person is life from the dead to those who believe in his name. They see, in this discovery of his excellence, the only means prepared for them as a safe ground of hope and consolation. Were He not perfectly human they could not conceive of his paying our debt by the shedding of his bloodof his making perfect atonement and satisfaction to GOD, by offering up the humanity in our stead: and were he not perfect GOD, they could not entrust to his hands the everlasting keeping and safety of their immortal souls. But because they contemplate him as truly GOD, because they contemplate him as truly man, and because they regard him as concerned in both these respects for their salvation, they see in him everlasting life, they commit their souls to his care, they know in whom they have believed, and are persuaded that he is able to keep all that they have entrusted to his care. It is, therefore, the rising again of many. They lay hold of his strength: they rejoice in his majesty; they put their trust under the shadow of his wings. They know they are committing their spirits into the hand of no creature, of no
It is also to be observed, that, soon after his disappearance in the flesh, there were many who were quite ready to admit the reality of his humanity; they admitted that he was GOD, they admitted his perfect Godhead but they questioned whether he had really participated of our nature, and dwelt in the flesh. Here then, the person of our Saviour, mysterious as it is, became a rock of offence to multitudes in that day. The Jews rejected him because he laid just pretensions to his divinity; and many afterwards rejected him and his perfect humanity as incongenial with his dignity, his godhead, and his grandeur.
In our own time, too, this testimony has been made an occasion of offence. Many are not prepared to admit the divinity of the Saviour as connected
finite being; but that they are committing their spirits into the hand of their GOD and Saviour, who, though he was arrayed in flesh, rules in heaven, and regulates all things for their salvation.
The ministry of Jesus Christ is also another method of illustrating the truth of this declaration: "This child is set for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel." Our Lord's ministry on earth was remarkable for the effect it had on those to whom it was directed. The Jewish people who attended his ministry and listened to his voice, gave awful proof of their disposition to reject the message of mercy and of life. When he found that they were not prepared to give heed to his testimony, that they were prepared to malign his credentials, to turn against him, in the expression of their rancour, and of their hatred, and the very things which related to their peace; then he shook off the dust of the place from his feet, and turned to the Gentiles. The word of his ministry was to them death. He came to his own, and his own received him not: he preached to them, and they met all his testimony with hatred, with unbelief, and with persecution to the last; and in the exercise of his mercy and of his judgment, he pronounced vengeance on the unbelievers, and sent forth the glad tidings of peace to the Gentiles.
What was the falling away of the Jews in this instance was the gathering in of the Gentiles. He qualified his apostles by pouring on them his Holy Spirit; he sent them forth to the ends of the earth; he gave divine effect to their ministrations, and brought in multitudes speedily to the acknowledgment of the truth, to supply the place of the Jews who disbelieved his word. We read, therefore, of three thousand persons acknowledging Christ, as the effect of one sermon.
We are told that speedily there were five thousand persons in the communion of the saints, acknowledging Jesus, and rejoicing in his commands. We are told, also, that this gospel was shortly preached over all the civilized parts of the three great quarters of the world. We are told, that thirty years after the ascension of Christ, so pre-eminent was this testimony, that the gospel had been preached as to every creature under heaven: and as soon as America itself was known, so soon the glad tidings of joy reached her shores; and she also is rejoicing and triumphing in the manifestation of the same grace. The casting away of the Jew, therefore, by reason of his unbelief and hardness of heart, is the gathering in of the Gentiles. He fell through sin--the Gentiles are raised through grace. The mercy of the covenant is made more extensively known; and even to the distant islands of the sea, our own islands, these glad tidings of redemption are come.
This declaration is still further illustrated if we consider the death which Jesus died. There is nothing more fully illustrates the character of Christ, or the effect of his ministration and services among the children of men, than his awful death. By that death he manifested to us his holiness and his mercy-his readiness to forgive sin, and his determination to punish sin. The majesty of GoD, and the condescension of GOD, are thus revealed, as they were not revealed before but especially in his death is realized that declaration that it is for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel. The sin of the Jew was never so aggravated and critical, as when he crucified the Lord of Life and Glory: that was the filling up of the measure of his national iniquity, and that was the means of bringing down on him the severest