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through him, is all-sufficient; he is a common Saviour, and his gratuity "a common salvation '." "In him shall all nations be blessed';" but not as all nations, or all sinners, but as redeemed, purchased by the blood of the Redeemer. It was a matter of purchase and delivery" He gave his life a ransom for many 3, for the many, the world. To make this redemption effectual it must be accepted in the beloved, the beloved Son of God, for "he that made Christ the Son of man, regenerates men to be the sons of God."
As practical feeling is the proper result of sound faith, it becomes us to let no moment of reflection pass by without improvement in the contemplation of Divine truth. The fulness of time has brought before us a complete view of man's salvation, let us inquire, whether our hearts have freely responded to such happy tidings? If they have, the convinced Christian will have great cause for rejoicing. No partial view of his religion will have produced a partial judgment of his condition, not relying on any personal call, he will still consider himself personally interested in an assurance of hope, resting on the firm basis of an assurance of faith.
As we rise by degrees through almost every situation of human life, so by degrees we rise from the humbling necessities of mortality to the triumphant
1 Jude 3.
2 Gen. xviii. 18.
Bp. Andrews, Serm. IV.
3 Matt. xx. 28.
glories of a better world. The progress, which at first is pleasant, at last is delightful. How exquisite the gradations of a Christian mind advancing daily in spiritual strength, daily rising from one eminence to another, and experiencing those sweet consolations, the happy consequences of an increase in religious knowledge! The Christian is springing upwards. At the first step he finds the fulness of comfort, that enviable state of mind, which may be felt, but cannot be described. After a hard day of conflict and of sorrow, he finds himself resting at ease on the bosom of a friend. But why represent in figure, what is best known in substance? The Spirit of God, which has guarded his footsteps in every movement of his variegated life, sheds a benignant glow around his heart, which thrills in every vein. Peace I leave with you-is the glad voice he hears-MY peace I give unto you'. From hence he springs forward again, in the fulness of duty, to perfect his day of holiness. This is the second step of advance in his growth of Christian grace. Here he calls to mind the wonderful arrangement of the Almighty, in the accomplishment of this day of salvation. The fulness of God's mercy is manifested in the inscrutable, but sufficient dispensation of his Son. If we have received of his bounty, let us return of our fulness. But fulness of comfort, and even fulness of duty, however valuable in their separate stations, will both be incomplete, without that
1 John xiv. 27.
fulness of thanksgiving and joy, which is the third gradation of piety on this day of the Lord.
If this be a time of seasonable joyfulness, let it be on the best principles of spiritual enjoyment; connecting the passing scenes of a transitory life with the reversion of a goodly heritage, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
The meditating Christian will suffer no reflection to pass by him without improvement. Is this the day of Christ's nativity? So is every day that rises upon the Christian's soul. So is every day that finds him on his knees before this shrine. Such convictions are ever new-they spring daily like the tender grass, fragrant as the field which the Lord hath blessed.
Help us then, blessed Lord, so to live through this day of God, that we may indeed rejoice when the day-spring from on high shall visit us!
III.—A double nativity; of our own, and of Christ. "UNTO us a child is born, unto us a son is given" the prophet Isaiah was as confident that the child whose high character he describes, (Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,) would appear in a due season, as if he then stood before his presence. The angels, in a vision, announce the coming of this child on the very
1 Isaiah ix. 6.
day of his nativity, to a company of unpretending shepherds, with an appropriation which cannot be mistaken. The prophet said, "Unto us a child is born;" the angel, "unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord1." The connection is extraordinary and important. The language of the angel is the interpreter of the voice of prophecy. He not only points out the child, but the end and design of that child's appearance in the world. It is specifically declared that the nativity of Christ was intended to fulfil a peculiar purpose, and that the beneficial influence of it should extend to the remotest regions, and the most distant people. Unto you, he says, is born a Saviour; but lest the shepherds should suppose the revelation to be confined to themselves, he dispels their personal fears with this reviving and general promise:-" I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people;" that is, according to the best Scripture interpretation, to all who shall beneficially to themselves lay hold on the good tidings o salvation through the means of faith.
The history of Christianity takes this direction from the first: Children of the stock of Abraham," said St. Paul, and whosoever among you feareth God, unto you is the word of this salvation sent "." But soon does he make the fatal distinction, "Seeing ye put the word of God from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, Lo! we turn to the Gentiles."
1 Luke ii. 10, 11.
2 Acts xiii. 26. 46.
The Gentiles happily received the rejected doctrine of the cross but "now," says the same Apostle to the Ephesians, "in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ'."
From these considerations, it is clear that this salvation is personal, and therefore interesting: for the Lord Christ came not for his own sake into this miserable world, but that he might succour and save us. Let us then diligently endeavour to believe the angel, that we may enjoy the benefit of his coming. This is the language of Scripture in every part: believe and ye shall be saved; so believe as to make the nativity of Christ your own; and so live as to show that your whole conversation flows from your pure and lively faith for the Scripture says, "The just shall live by faith"." This is the very ground of Christianity in its purest interpretation; and the end of all Christian knowledge is this.
The object of our present contemplation is that of a double nativity, that of our own, and of Christ; and that, in connection with each other 3.
The birth of our Lord, however it was received on earth, was the cause of great rejoicing in heaven. This joy is so great in this celestial region, that it cannot be contained, but bursts forth in splendour and in glory, that it may be communicated to the
1 Eph. ii. 13.
2 Hab. ii. 4.
3 See the first Sermon of Martin Luther for the substance of what follows in this, and partly in the next number.