For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comeliness…
I. Show against unbelievers, that THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PROPHECIES WHICH CONCERNED THE MESSIAH ARE A CONVINCING ARGUMENT OF THE TRUTH OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. It is agreed on all hands that there can be no human or natural reason assigned for such future and remote events as have no visible or natural cause to produce them; but are of a contingent nature, and many times depend on the free choice and will of man; and therefore the prediction of such events must be supposed to proceed from some supernatural revelation. It is the argument whereby God proves Himself to be the Lord, and that there is no other Saviour beside (Isaiah 43:11, 12). By the same reason, he proves the gods of the nations to be idols, and no gods (Isaiah 41:21, 22, 29). The prophecies of Scripture, which referred to the Messiah, were of things at such a distance, and of such a nature, that there could not be any probable reason assigned, or tolerable conjecture made of them. And yet there was not one tittle of all the prophecies which relate to the manner or design of Christ's appearance in the world that fell to the ground.
II. Show against the Jews, that THE MEAN APPEARANCE OF CHRIST IN THE WORLD IS NO GOOD ARGUMENT AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, OR OF ANY FORCE TO PROVE THAT JESUS OF NAZARETH WAS NOT THE CHRIST; and that upon the two following accounts —
1. As the grounds upon which the Jews expected a temporal Messiah, were false and impracticable; false with respect to the spirituality of His kingdom; impracticable with respect to the extent and universality of its blessings and privileges.
2. As the state and condition of life which our Saviour chose in the world was most agreeable to the great ends and design of His coming into it.
(1) It gave a strong confirmation to the truth of that holy religion which He came to plant in the world. Had our Saviour been a victorious prince, that had given laws to the world, and backed the authority of them with the sword, the atheist might then have pretended, that the Christian, as well as other religions in the world, was the daughter of force, and a mere politic invention, contrived by its Author the better to settle and confirm His government to Him, if He should find a favourable juncture to possess Himself of it. But now the effects of the Christian religion on the minds of men, and the methods of propagating it, cannot be ascribed to any human power or authority. Instead of employing the secular arm to compel men to come into the Church, God put a sceptre of righteousness into the hands of Christ: He authorized Him to give such a body of holy and righteous laws to His Church as might be proper to work upon their minds by the gentle methods of reason and persuasion. He made choice of such for His companions and disciples as were men of mean occupations and law fortunes; men as to their natural capacities no ways qualified for so difficult and high an undertaking as the establishing a new religion against the settled laws and powers, the prejudices and passions, the vanities and vices of a corrupt world. The design of the holy Jesus in all this was to show that the excellency of the power which attended Himself and His apostles, in preaching the doctrine of salvation, might not be ascribed unto men, but unto God. He would make way for the reception and establishment of the Gospel in the world by no other means but by the evidence of its truth, the excellency of its morals, the number of the miracles wrought to confirm it, and the simplicity of those who were the first preachers and promoters of it. And, indeed, that the Christian religion, by such mean and unlikely instruments, should in so short a time extend itself so wide, and that they should reap such a harvest of triumphs over so many enemies, seems to have been the greatest miracle of all.
(2) The state and condition of life which our Saviour chose in the world was also a wise and excellent method to recommend the practice of religion to it. The holy Jesus did not think it enough to reveal the will of God to mankind; this He might have done, as God delivered the law in the Mount, by speaking to some extraordinary prophet, and committing what He spoke to a standing writing, without rendering Himself visible. But God gave Him a body, that men might from His own mouth hear the words of eternal life.
(3) The circumstances wherein our Saviour made His appearance in the world were most agreeable to His design of becoming a sacrifice and propitiation for the sins of the world: for though our redemption is attributed more especially to His sufferings and death upon the Cross, as His sacrifice was there finished, yet we ought to look upon it as begun as soon as he was born into the world.
III. PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT.
1. If the accomplishment of the prophecies concerning our Saviour be an evident proof of His being the great Prophet that was to come into the world, then whatever doctrines He taught are, certainly true and Divinely revealed.
2. From the circumstances of our Saviour s appearance in the world let us learn the duties of patience, charity and humility.
3. In order to humble the pride of our hearts, when we are tempted to bear ourselves high upon any worldly advantages, which give us a superiority above our brethren, let us consider how Jesus Christ, the best and wisest, judged of these things.
Parallel VersesKJV: For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
WEB: For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form nor comeliness. When we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.