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world. In contemplating this revelation we are ready to say, "Had I been one of the shepherds, with what devotion would I have received this holy child! With how much diligence would I have served him! But this presumption is soon checked by the selfinquiry, do I duly serve him now? Is my devotion as ardent, and my love as pure, as I imagine it would have been then?"-We see Christ now walking before us in the person of the poor and miserable. Do we now relieve him? We see his glory spreading over all the world, and the Gospel of his kingdom taking possession of the heart, and yet we are neither affected by the magnificence, nor the interest of the sight; neither do we turn our eyes on our own wants, and on that spiritual part which we are called upon to bear in it.
Again, we see our Lord in the manger, and in as lowly a mansion as ever received any of the human Had I been there this should not have been the case. But, alas! like the three disciples on the mount of transfiguration, we wist not what we say. Let us turn aside from all such vain inquiries, and busy ourselves in those only which will make us wise unto salvation.
Our Lord in his cradle was like a treasure hidden in the earth. Search for it, and find it; open it, and possess it; and then it becomes profitable and precious. Such is this nativity. Use it as the pleasure of the Lord designed it; reflect upon it with all its conse
comfort and ad
For if we know
quences; otherwise it will be no vantage—it will be no nativity to us. no more than the bare history of our and the circumstances which occurred at it-that he was born poor and needy-that he was visited in a stable as a forlorn and helpless infant, and lay reposing in a manger, we might have sympathized with him as a fellow-sufferer, but we could not have profited from this more than from any other history. If we looked upon him as no more than one of ourselves, one born in the ordinary course of human life, and returning again to the dust like other men, what rejoicing could we have had on this day of his nativity? No-look further:-"God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." And if he was so at his crucifixion, he was not less so on the day of his nativity. Look at the host of heaven announcing the event; hear the song of glad tidings harmoniously descending from the clouds; and, then, if the Gospel be true, not all the arguments of the most insidious sceptic can wrest this overwhelming truth from the record of the Almighty.
How, then, it becomes us to inquire, should we use the day of his nativity, whom we acknowledge as the Saviour, the Messiah, "Him that should come, and that we look not for another?" even as I have already said, that if we believe that he was born for us, according to the declaration of the angel that his nativity
IV.-A double Nativity; of our own, and of Christ.
Adam's sin, and man's
To complete our meditation, we must bring it home to ourselves, by reflecting deeply on the nature of our own nativity. And here we must refer to the same records which have so clearly delineated the purity of our Saviour's birth, and his celestial origin, before we can duly appreciate our own. degeneracy are too well known to make us strangers to the depravity of our nature. Death was the mark of punishment assigned to the commission of the original sin of man: and the continuance of death in the world, affords decisive evidence both of the sin and the recompense. But though temporal death is unavoidable by the sons of men, as partakers of the fallen nature of their parents, a restoration to spiritual life is graciously permitted to all those who are capable of receiving such a blessing, by means of the merits and mediation of him, who, mercifully and specifically appeared as the promised Saviour of the world. "As
in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive 1."
The best men under the first covenant, as well as under the second, have confessed, with heavy hearts, the original corruption of the nature of man. "In sin has my mother conceived me," is a weight about
1 1 Cor. xv. 22.
the neck of every man born into the world; and the longer he lives, the stronger is the evidence. Our nativity, therefore, has but a melancholy presage : and "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us1;" the Gospel truth, as well as the truth of our declaration. This will admit of self-evident proof. It is not because a man may say, "I am possessed of rational faculties, and an understanding heart, therefore I will not sin." Experience is against him. God "destroys the wisdom of the wise, and brings to nothing the understanding of the prudent "," that no flesh should glory in his presence. Men of all learning and of all knowledge have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, as well as those who have had few opportunities of adding to their original stock of attainments. Here then we are all equal, and all bowing before the equitable throne of God. And here should we all have perished, if the wisdom of God had not been wiser than men, and found out for us a nativity not our own. "Christ was made sin, or a sin-offering for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him "." To deliver us from the effects of our natural nativity, God sent another nativity, which behoves us to be without spot or blemish, that it might make this unclean and sinful nativity pure.
This is that holy nativity, both of our own and of
1 1 John i. 5.
2 1 Cor. i. 19.
3 2 Cor. v. 21.
Christ, which we are called upon to celebrate on the anniversary of our Saviour's birth. Happy is the man that can celebrate his spiritual birth on the same occasion. "If ye shall keep these," says Luther, "then both the holy nativity of Christ shall be a help and comfort unto you, and also, ye shall be spiritual children of his mother, as Christ Jesus is her child according to the flesh." In this discussion we have faith in its purest light, and we have love, the effects of faith, in its most brilliant colours.
This is then that most excellent provision which the 'Lord hath provided for us; but of which none can experience the benefit, but those who accept it through faith. No man can easily believe this, but he that feeleth what his own nativity is; for he that feeleth not his own misery, can have no feeling for the nativity of Christ. If we are truly sensible of the original taint of sin, of our actual guilt and incessant propensity to evil, we shall then see the necessity of a restoration through the grace of God to that image of the Almighty in which man was first created.
This is an enviable situation for any Christian to attain: and the reverse of it, as we value the safety of our souls, carefully to be avoided. For if we feel not the weight of our sins, neither as yet feel the bitterness of them, the history of our Lord's birth slides coldly to the heart-we may hear it, indeed, but it makes no impression; it never enters into our understanding, nor excites that warm feeling of danger which