« ForrigeFortsæt »
brought tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.
Had the Jews been sensible of such a visitor, as they ought to have been from a knowledge of their own Scriptures; were we sensible of such a visitor, with both the Jewish Scriptures and our own before our eyes, how very different would have been their conduct, and how very different should be our own on the anniversary of this day of our Lord's nativity! It would not merely be a periodical blessing, but every day would cause a spiritual rejoicing for a new state of existence. "This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will be glad and rejoice in it1."
Considered in this light, we have a fulness of subject, suitable to the fulness of time: a subject which seems to burst beyond common bounds, and offers such a plenitude of thought, as ought, indeed, to fill our hearts with gladness, and our tongues with praise. I do not, however, call upon myself or others to desire an excitement beyond our natural powers. An enthusiastic elevation of mind is no proof of a sound and holy faith. The calmness of our belief is the criterion of our wisdom. "The wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy "." The subject indeed is high; and requires the highest attainment of spiritual
1 Ps. cxviii, 24.
2 James iii. 17.
understanding to reflect upon it with edification and improvement: but God has given us, on such occasions, not "the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind'." If our understanding be charged with righteousness, our Christian path will be as smooth, as if softened by the dew of the morning.
May my heart be prepared by divine grace for so holy a meditation! may it secure to me the calmness of piety; and then may I be allowed to open my eyes and exclaim with the servant of the prophet on the rapture of his master, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof 2 !"
II.-The Nativity of Christ.
THE day of Christ's nativity must not pass away like common days; neither must it be distinguished by that thoughtless and licentious hilarity, which custom has shed around it. The cheerfulness of true religion requires nothing austere or morose, much less any thing brutish or intemperate, to correct it. The domestic virtues are Christian virtues; they are graces emanating from the very spirit of Christianity, and diffusing such a love among family-society, as the angels of heaven may look upon with complacency * 2 Kings ii. 12.
1 2 Tim. i. 7.
Blessed is that season which is made holy by the pleasing and pious intercourse of prayer and praise! Blessed are those Christian friends who meet together to praise God and be thankful: thankful, not only for the comforts they enjoy as members of a Christian family, but as part of an holy brotherhood, of "the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven';" as one of those that "have obtained a good report through faith, and have received the promise "."
The meditation is awful and interesting to which we are directed on this blessed day of our Lord's nativity-it rests principally on the great doctrine of the day, salvation by Christ alone; "neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved"." No obscurity attends the doctrine; neither can salvation be explained away by any moral argument. The original revelation of our Lord's name and character to his reputed father, 'cannot be misunderstood; "Mary thy wife shall bring forth a son, conceived in her by the Holy Ghost, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." "The God of our fathers," says St. Peter, "raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree: him hath God exalted with his right hand to
1 Heb. xii. 23.
3 Acts iv. 12.
2 Ibid. xi. 39.
be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins 1." How was this accomplished? Hallowed be the exposition to every feeling member of the Church of Christ!" I delivered unto you, first of all," says St. Paul," that which I also received; how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures And the beloved apostle expressly declares, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world "."
To bring this home to the reflecting heart. We are, or ought to be well satisfied of the insufficiency of human merit; every man bears the evidence within his own breast; and I dare not think that any man can rest on his own merit. No man certainly, who does not greatly deceive himself. If he cannot rest on himself, he must look for help elsewhere. But where, in human life, can he find it? Poor human nature sinks beneath his grasp. No man may redeem his brother. But in the discovery made on this day of God, we have as much as God can send; as much as man can desire. "God sent forth his Son"-his great estimation of the person sent, is implied in the expression. Human feelings are those only by which we can arrive at any adequate conception of things divine. The name of Son needs no interpretation in
1 Acts v. 31.
2 1 Cor. xv. 2.
3 1 John ii. 1, 2.
a parent's breast. And if we can imagine, even in a low degree, the infinite pureness of the Almighty's love, then may we attempt to calculate the love of God, which passes all understanding. The Son, too, implies the human nature of Christ without which the object of his appearance would have been in vain. The world in which he appeared, and the character of that world, are consonant with the great purpose of his coming. "In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."-" He sent his Son to be the propitiation [or, propitiatory sacrifice] for our sins 1." That is, to free us from all the evil consequences of sin, and endow us with all possible good; adopt us as beloved children, and invest us with an heavenly inheritance.
Here then is disclosed, not only the fulness of time referred to in the birth of Christ, but the fulness of blessings attached to it. In consequence of the great event of this day, the circumstances of the world are changed. We were under the law, and subject to its penalties: we are under the Gospel, and expectants of its promises. Under the sentence of the law our very lives were jeopardied; under the benevolence of redemption we are not only rescued, but accepted. Our redemption is not restricted by cruel conditions, or by narrow bounds; the Son, thus given and received by faith in the pardoning mercy of God,
11 John iv. 9, 10.