"He dwelt among us." The original verb, which is here translated " dwell," properly signifies, He tabernacled, or pitched his tabernacle; that is, he dwelt in human nature among us (p 32).
Now, from what has been said on the whole subject before us, we may see the high honour which is put up on human nature. The greatest and most wonderful work that ever God did was done in our nature. The work of redeeming a lost world was a greater work than the creation of millions of worlds; and yet this most wonderful work was performed in the human nature. If he hath honoured our nature so highly, ought not we to glorify him in our bodies and in our spirits, which are his? Shall we debase our nature, which has been thus highly honoured, by yielding to any motion of sin or temptation of Satan? Should not we employ all the faculties of our souls, and members of our bodies, in performing works of faith, and labours of love, and in maintaining good works?
2. Hence we see, that the law as a covenant of works is magnified and made honourable, in the highest degree possible. It has been honoured with the perfect obedience of a Divine Person in human nature. It is honoured and magnified more with the meritorious obedience of the Son of God, than ever it has been dishonoured by the disobedience of man. Whenever, therefore, the law as a covenant finds its way again into the believer's conscience, and charges him with the guilt of dishonouring it by acts of disobedience, let him present in the hand of faith to it, the consummate obedience and the complete atonement of God his Saviour; let him also, in reliance on promised grace, perform that sincere and evangelical obedience to it as a rule of duty by which he will honour it as the law of Christ. Since the Lord Jesus, believer, honoured the law at a covenant for your salvation, it is surely your duty to honour it as a rule for his glory, and the glory of God in him.
3. Hence learn this sovereign remedy for our having been conceived in sin, and our having brought a depraved nature into the world with us. Our Lord Jesus Christ brought a human nature perfectly holy into the world with him, and, as the Surety for sinners, presented to the law an holy human nature; which holiness of nature is imputed to believers as a fundamental part of their justifying righteousness. He at the same time purchased the saving influences of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of their nature. This is ground of comfort to you, to whom the sin that dwelleth in you is the most oppressive and grievous burden.
4. Did the Lord Jesus tabernacle among men, and thereby show that he was not to remain long an inhabitant of this world ? Then let believers study to be more and more conformed to him by living so as daily to confess that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Let them declare plainly, that they seek a better country, and that their conversation is in heaven.
5. Hence we may see what ground we have of thankfulness and praise to our gracious God and Father. Our nature is indissolubly united to the Divine nature in the person of his only-begotten Son. And what reason have we to thank and praise his dear Son for remembering us in our low estate, and for condescending to be made flesh and dwell among us; and so to unite our low nature to himself by a personal and indissolvable union, that he might lay a sure foundation for the spiritual union of our persons with his adorable Person!
We ought to thank God for Moses and the prophets, for evangelists and apostles; but, above all, for Jesus the incarnate Redeemer, the Messenger of the covenant, the Desire of all nations. But some disconsolate believer will say, "I ought indeed to be thankful that ever Christ united the human nature to the Divine in his person; but I find it very difficult to be heartily thankful for it. If I where satisfied that I was vitally united to Him as my Kinsman-Redeemer, I should find it easy to give thanks for that personal union; but my fear that this is not the case renders the sincere performance of such a duty very hard to me.
Indeed, if you be under prevailing doubts as to your union and communion with Christ, you cannot be cordially thankful for any thing connected with him. But is it true that you are not united to Christ? Then whence is it that you see indwelling sin so plainly, and feel it so sensibly, as to loathe it, and long for deliverance from it? This must be from the Spirit of Christ. False professors pretend that they see the corruption of their hearts; but that which they see never either discourages their presumptuous confidence, or makes them loathe themselves in their own sight before the Lord. How comes it that you complain bitterly of your want of love to Jesus Christ, and to God in him? Union of affection is a good evidence of vital union.
If you were entirely destitute of true love to Christ, you would not bewail your want of love to him. And whence is it that you complain to him of your want of conformity to him in holiness, and of the prevalence of iniquities against yon, by which you dishonour him? Is it not, that you delight in his law after the inward man, and long for perfect conformity to it? Credit the reports of sense [feelings] less, and of faith more. Be thankful for the signs of union with Christ which you have, and especially that, by the offers of the Gospel, you are warranted to come as a sinner in yourself, and to trust in him for all his salvation. Let it fill you with gratitude to the God of all grace, that he hath made this your present duty.
6. In conclusion: Let saints and sinners suffer the word of exhortation. As for you who have not only your nature, but your persons united to Jesus Christ, be persuaded, first, to meditate frequently on the transcendent glory of his person. It is the master-piece of the manifold wisdom of God. Devout meditation on this glorious object is attended with many advantages. It is a means of confirming faith, hope, love, admiration, and conformity to the Lord Jesus; 2 Cor. iii. 18.
2d, Take encouragement in the midst of all your conflicts with corruption and temptation, from that personal union: for so long as it continues, the union between your persons and the person of Christ shall not be dissolved. There is no condemnation to you, for you are in Christ Jesus; and, in union with him, sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law as a covenant, but under grace.
3d, Study to make a particular and daily application of Christ to yourselves, in virtue of the union of your nature with him; saying, "Spread the covering of thy spotless righteousness over me, for thou art a near Kinsman." What is the reason that little of love, desire, zeal, courage, joy, and holiness, is in many of the saints at this day? They do not, as they ought, appropriate to themselves the person of Christ, nor place the confidence of their hearts in him for all their salvation.
4th, Did the only-begotten of the Father obey the law as a covenant, and endure the execution of the curse of it in your nature? You are therefore bound to obey it as a rule of life in your persons. His design in assuming your nature was, that he might yield perfect obedience to the law as a covenant of works for your salvation; and his intention in obeying it under that form was, that he might merit the sanctification of the Spirit, to enable you to yield sincere obedience to it, as the rule of righteousness in his kingdom. He obeyed it as a covenant for your justification of life, that you might obey it as a rule for his glory, and the glory of God in him. Study, then, in reliance on his promised grace, to fall in with the gracious design of his incarnation and obedience unto death, in your nature. From principles of faith and love, advance daily in holy conformity to him. Glorify him in your body and in your spirit, which are his.
As for you, who are not by faith united to the incarnate Redeemer, and have no communion with him in his righteousness and salvation, be convinced of your sinfulness and misery. If the Son of God had not seen from eternity that you are lost, he would never have stooped so infinitely low as to be made flesh. Do not imagine, that because he assumed your nature, you are secured from perishing in your sins. Except your persons be vitally united to him by a living faith, you cannot inherit eternal life. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Oh be persuaded to embrace and trust in the compassionate Saviour, as he is freely offered to you in the Gospel. "Him that cometh to me, I will in nowise cast out."John Colquhoun. Sermons chiefly on doctrinal subjects. 1836; pp 32, 35-39