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SERMON XXI.

CHRIST A CONQUEROR.

COLOSSIANS ii. 15.

SHOW

HAVING SPOILED PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS, HE MADE A

OF THEM OPENLY, TRIUMPHING OVER THEM IN IT.

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AMONG the many descriptive characters under which the Messiah is shadowed out in the prophecies of the Old Testament, and to which allusion is continually made in the New, there is none more magnificent and illustrious, more sublime and imposing, than that of a conqueror. Not only is the style in which it is drawn exceeding lofty, but the character itself is highly calculated to attract the notice of mankind. It was this character which inflamed the minds of the Jewish nation in all their conceptions of the exalted personage they desired, and which led them to reject the lowly Jesus as a man beneath their regard. Pomp and show are delightful to the natural feelings of the human heart, and the best among us is not free from the operation of their influence. In describing the Messiah under such a cha

* In himself.-Marginal reading.

racter, the Prophets “who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” had respect to the genius of the people for whom they more particularly wrote, as well as to the real dignity and great achievements of him who was the object of their writings. To an Eastern people, fond of imagery, this rich and lofty strain was peculiarly delightful; and the person of whom they wrote, and his career of conquests, could not otherwise be faithfully described, than by strong and figurative expressions. He was of highborn descent, drawing his proper extraction from the essence of God.

His actions, like himself, were of a spiritual nature, and bore no relation to the works and interests of the flesh. The enemies, whom he came to combat, were spiritual, namely, Satan and the powers of darkness, who now triumphed in the world, and held mankind in subjection. The end which he had in view, our redemption from sin and death, and our translation into his kingdom of righteousness and peace, making us friends and sons of God instead of enemies and outcasts of his family, was entirely spiritual, and belonged, in its proper sense, to an invisible world. It would not have been possible, therefore, to have described such a character and such objects in plain and simple terms, especially in the then state of the intellectual world and of the Jewish nation in particular; from the want of proportion between the language employed and the things to be represented, to say nothing of the disadvantage which would have arisen from divesting the Scriptures of their most attractive dress. For how could a contest between invisible beings, in which visible ones had the entire interest, have been propounded in such a manner, as to have met the imaginations of men without difficulty or restraint? Or how could men have entertained the expectation of a spiritual prince, and been ready, on his coming, to join `his ranks, if he had not been announced to them in a temporal character, and clothed with temporal honours? The allegorical style of Scripture, therefore, though it deceived the Jews, and led them to reject the lowly Son of the carpenter of Nazareth, was a style suitable to their natural habits, consistent with the real dignity and spiritual achievements of the promised Deliverer, calculated to exalt the mind, and fit it, in a state of conversion, for rightly appreciating the word of truth; and, above all other things, tended to give true and consistent impressions of the divine and glorious character of the Son of God.

In considering the subject before us, I

propose to point out two most remarkable prophecies of the Old Testament which describe the Messiah as a Conqueror, and to compare the figures there employed with the language of the New.

I. The First is that very striking one in the forty-fifth Psalm, which Psalm is appointed to be always read on the day of our blessed Lord's nativity. “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, 0 most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee."

Now, the Psalmist evidently alludes in this passage to the triumph of the Church's Maker and Husband over all God's enemies. The whole Psalm is a beautiful personification of Christ, and of his Spouse, the Church ; "in behalf of which he puts on his armour, and for the safety of which he rides on prosperously and triumphs. In the Book of Revelation the same august personage is described as “sitting on a white horse, and going forth conquering, and to conquer.” If, then, we turn our eyes to the history of our blessed Lord, and consider both what he said and what he did, we shall see at once the spiritual struggle of this mighty Chief in his conflict with and triumph over the powers of darkness. At his very first entrance on his public life, and before he began his course of ministry, he was led by the Spirit, (which had just descended in a visible manner upon him,) into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. For forty days and forty nights he withstood that subtle adversary, and at the close of this long period, during which, (as if triumphing over the instincts of nature in himself before he triumphed over his antagonist,) he abstained from all food, he came in more immediate contact with him, and withstood him face to face. In this awful struggle,-awful as it concerns mankind,

we

awful as it regards the parties opposed to each other, and the mighty stake depending on the issue of it,—the tempter fled, and the Son of the Most High remained master of the field. It was a struggle of that nature that the welfare of our race hung upon it; SO severe that even angels came down at its conclusion and ministered unto him ;a struggle of which we have no adequate conception, because we have been shielded, by the interposition of the Conqueror, from the malicious influence of the great destroyer of our peace.

But when we look at the deliverance wrought out for us by that merciful being who stood up in our defence, and see its blessed result in our altered hopes and improved circumstances, cannot but give great praise to him, who “raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” What would have become of man had no such deliverance been obtained for him ? He was himself wholly inadequate to such a struggle. Bent under the destroyer's yoke, and a slave to sin; corrupt in his nature, depraved in his appetites, irregular in his will and inclination, subject to decay and death, how was it possible for him to escape destruction? With what weapons could he come forth to war with that old dragon which had deceived him, and secured him in his toils ? Incapable of energy, he sank beneath temptation. Untutored by obedience, he could neither govern himself nor brook any discipline. The tempter held him fast and defied his efforts, and his very nature was infected with evil past all self

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