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The John Newton Project

Messiah No. 9
 

No 9 col

Isaiah 9:6

[For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace
.]
 
Such was the triumphant exultation of the church of old. Their noblest hopes were founded upon the promise of the Messiah, their sublimest songs were derived from the promise of his advent. By faith which is the substance of things hoped for, they considered what the faithful God had promised, as already done; especially as believers under the Old Testament already felt the influence of that redemption which the Messiah was to accomplish in the fullness of time. This it was, which gave life, significancy and acceptance to all the institutions of the Mosaic law, which otherwise, though of divine appointment, would have been indeed a heavy and burdensome yoke. Isaiah therefore puts this joyful song into the mouth of the true servants of God in his day, and though it was a day of trial and rebuke, they were provided with a sufficient compensation for all their sufferings, in being enabled to say Unto us, etc.
ancient song001
This ancient song is still new. It has been and will be taken up from age to age by the New Testament church with superior advantage. Many of you, I trust understand it well. Men naturally look for something wherein to rejoice and glory. Let the wise glory in their wisdom, the strong in their strength, the rich in their wealth. [1] But may this be our glory, that Unto us, etc.

When a poor sinner is enlightened by the Holy Spirit to understand the character and offices of the Messiah, his ability and willingness to save those who are ready to perish, and the happiness of all who are brought into subjection to his gracious government; and begins to feel the cheering effects of faith in his name, then this song becomes his own, and exactly suits the emotions and gratitude of his heart.

But many will despise and pity him as a weak enthusiast. Yet they do not disdain the rapture of Archimedes, who it is said, when he discovered the solution of a problem while he was bathing, was so transported with joy, that he forgot his situation, sprang instantly from the bath, and ran through the city, crying, 'I have found it, I have found it.' He is not usually charged with madness on this account, though his joy was certainly over-proportioned to the cause.

Thy world will allow of vehemence and transport on any occasion but on that which above all others will justify and require it. A person will be thought destitute of taste, if unaffected with the music to which this passage is set. How strange that it should be deemed the mark of a weak mind to be affected with the sense of the words. But oh that we could enter more into the spirit of them, and have a more lively sense of our interest in them, then surely we should say with Simeon, Lord now let thy servant depart in peace, etc. [2]
 
Many discourses might be made from this text, but as my plan admits but one upon a single passage, I can only touch upon the particulars in the order they lie:
1.
His incarnation
child born
A child born in our nature, born of a woman. A son, not merely a man-child, but a son emphatically: the Son of God. The child born, the Son given – this was the most precious gift of God, the highest proof and testimony of his love. We have already considered the distinction and union of these wide and distant natures, which constitute the person of Christ, the God-man, the Mediator. Thus the Lord of all humbled himself to appear in the form of a servant.
2. His exaltation
In the same nature he now reigns. Having finished redemption – he resumed his glory and authority – and now we can say, He who governs in heaven and in earth, whom all things obey, is the child born, the Son given for us. What an honour, what a comfort this to his believing people. They are honoured in some respect above angels, and their best friend is upon the throne of glory. What may they not expect when he who has so loved them, and has promised to do them good, has all power in heaven and in earth, Philippians 2:9-11. [3]
3. His name or characters, expressive of what he is in himself and to his people:
  3.1
Wonderful
wonderful
In his person, obedience, sufferings, in his glory, administration and condescension. We may, we must, believe, admire and love, but we cannot comprehend a thousandth part of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
  3.2
Counsellor
counsellor
As such he is our Advocate. He pleads and manages. And to him we must look for wisdom and direction. In all our wants, difficulties, dangers and cares we must apply to him. This is to be wise unto salvation. His secret is with them that consult him, and they know, things which are hidden from those who are wise and prudent in their known eyes.
  3.3
The mighty God
mighty God
Though in the office of Mediator he acts as a servant – his perfections and powers are truly divine. Only the Mighty God could make a provision capable of answering the demands of the holy law against sinners. Only the Mighty God could be a suitable Shepherd to lead millions of weak and helpless creatures to glory through the many difficulties and enemies which withstand their passage. The honour, dependence and obedience likewise which the Saviour and Shepherd claims from his sheep, are absolute and supreme, and they would be guilty of idolatry if they did not know that he is the Mighty God.
  3.4
Everlasting Father
everlasting Father
They are his children, born into his family by the efficacy of his own word and spirit. And he is thus to them all. They appear in a long succession but he is the Father of the everlasting age – the same yesterday, today and forever. All generations shall call him blessed.
  3.5
The Prince of Peace
Prince of Peace
He has made peace by the blood of his Cross for all that come to God by him. He gives them peace. When their minds are like the sea in a storm distressed with guilt, fears and temptations, when he reveals his name to their hearts, and says, Peace, be still, there is a great calm. [4] He gives them peace likewise in a changing, troublesome world, by inviting and enabling them to cast all cares upon him. And he teaches them to seek and maintain peace among men. His love subdues the power of self, and forms them to [a] spirit of benevolence, which has often such an effect that even they who dislike them, and would willingly speak evil of them, are ashamed and put to silence by their perseverance in well-doing.
such Messiah
Such is the Messiah. This is the God whom we adore, our unchangeable, almighty Friend. [5] His greatness and goodness, his glory and his grace, when once known, fix the heart, and fill it with admiration, gratitude and desire. From hence spring cheerful, unreserved obedience to his commands, and submission to his will. His people serve him not by constraint, at best it is only the constraint of love, which makes their duty their delight, and their chief burden and grief is, that they can serve him no better.
 
May we be all thus minded. I dare not hope it is so with us all at present; but this is the day of his grace; and for this cause he came into the world, that he might draw many hearts to himself which were once afar off. Still he says, Look unto me and be ye saved. [6] Come unto me, and I will give you rest. [7]
9 found
Oh – to be found among his faithful followers, in the great day when he shall come to judge the world – is the one thing which above all others, deserves our solicitude that we may then be found of him in peace. Amen.
     


Endnotes:
 
[1] Jeremiah 9:23,24 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
[2] Luke 2:29,30 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.
[3] Philippians 2:9-11 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
[4] Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
[5] A Newton favourite by Joseph Hart:
How good is the God we adore,
Our faithful unchangeable Friend!
His love is as great as His power,
And knows neither measure nor end!
[6] Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
[7] Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.


Acknowledgements:
Cowper & Newton Museum, John Newton's Messiah notebook
 

Marylynn Rouse, 07/01/2015


Article printed from johnnewton.org at 10:35 on 12 December 2019