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ON THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.
Glory to God in the highest: Peace on earth, Good will to men!
It was with this heavenly exclamation of joy that the multitude of the celestial host incited the shepherds to a devout celebration of this festival. O how animated and active were these blessed spirits in glorifying God! How willing were they to minister to us children of men, and to publish to us salvation ! How they rejoiced at the great joy, which was brought to us as on this day! O that we might in some degree partake of their animation ! Would to God, that their song of praise and joyful acclamation might awaken our slothful hearts from all their drowsiness ; recall our thoughts and senses from all their wanderings, and awaken us to sacred devotion, and to consider what God has done for us children of men !
Seeing, therefore, that wherever the birth of Christ is preached at this season, with power, there Christ himself is present, and his holy angels with him : let us present ourselves before him, as in the presence of the divine child Jesus, who humbled himself for our
sakes, but is now supremely glorified; and most humbly beseech his divine assistance and blessing upon our intended meditation.
O most holy, and most blessed Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, let all that is within us humbly bow and worship before thee ! Let all our hearts inwardly praise, love, and give thanks unto thee, that thou, O Father, hast loved us, and given us thy Son; and that thou, O Son of God, for our sakes, wast born a poor child, in the manger at Bethlehem; that thou hast vouchsafed to grant joy unto us, poor wretched inhabitants of this lower world, and hast deigned to be born, here on earth, in order that thou mightest help, redeem, and conduct us up to heaven, O Lord Jesus Christ, let this manifestation of thy wondrous love be ever deeply impressed upon our hearts ! Thanks be unto thee, O Immanuel! for having so interfered on our behalf as to be born in a manger ! Thanks be to thee, for having caused the precious gospel, the glad tidings of thine incomprehensible love to man, to be published unto us, who were dwelling in the midst of the heathen nations ! But, О dearest Immanuel ! let us also become partakers of the fruit and power of thy birth in our hearts. We thank thee for having granted us another Christmas-day, in which we may again adoringly call to mind thy gracious love to man, for our mutual edification and encouragement.
O Lord Jesus I what will such seasons, as the present, avail us, unless we essentially become partakers of thee, and of the power of thy birth in our hearts ! O how many such like days have we spent, alas ! fruitlessly, undevotionally, and even perhaps in sin! Yet do thou not, on that account, withdraw thy favour and kindness from us. Bless this opportunity, which thou art granting to us, to the end that we may be incited and inflamed by thy love, and may adore this amazing manifestation of it.
Lord Jesus ! who didst come upon earth, and hast granted to the inhabitants of this world thy clear light, O meet with us, at this time, that we may, by faith, behold thee present, by faith adore, and by faith powerfully experience thee in our hearts ! O dearest Immanuel ! Lord Jesus Christ! we must be mute when we reflect upon thy wondrous love as manifested in thy, birth; when we contemplate the mystery, into which angels desire to look, and yet are unable to penetrate through, or to fathom what is implied in the Word being made flesh, and God in human nature dwelling upon earth. O let our dark understandings therefore be enlightened by that divine glory, by which thou didst shine upon the shepherds, in the plains of Bethlehem; and didst grant them such a joy as filled their hearts and all their powers ! O let our hearts be also thus irradi. ated, and give us to look, as through a cleft, into thy wondrous love, that we may all be incited by the consideration of thy love, to love thee in return, and to resign ourselves to thee in reality!
O thou divine child, who didst lie in a manger, humble our proud and lofty hearts by thy humiliation, that they may also apply unto thee, and seek grace,
while grace is to be found ! O dearest Immanuel, who didst condescend thus low, invite all those that desire after thee, even such as are timid and fearful, that they may, on this occasion, be powerfully encouraged to venture, to turn unto thee, to pay homage to thee anew, and salute thee, to receive thee as their one and their all, and devote themselves to thee. Hear now and answer us, Lord Jesus Christ, and let not thy gracious presence be turned away from us, on account of our unfitness and unworthiness; but may thy name be glorified by us, and in the hearts of each of us ! Amen.
We will select, as the subject of our meditation and edification, the words, which you will find in Isaiah ix.6, where the prophetic spirit thus speaks :
“ Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given : and the government shall be upon his shoulder ; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
The words which the patriarch Lamech spoke, concerning his first-born son, Noah, may be applied, my beloved friends, with greater propriety, to the birth of our Saviour: 6. This same shall comfort us,
concerning our work, and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." (Gen. v. 29.)
Since the fall, there is nothing on earth but toil and labour, or labour and sorrow, as it is more properly expressed. Not to mention the toil and labour which a fallen child of Adam has in the work and business of his outward vocation, in order to support himself and those dependent upon him, and to provide for his vile body ; not to mention the toil and labour, the pains, vexations, and misfortunes, which are constantly succeeding each other in this wearisome life ; not to mention all the misery we have to expect from without, seeing that we are exposed to all the inconveniences of the elements, to cold, heat, lightning, hail, and all kinds of tempestuous weather, war, and pestilence; not to mention all the toil, and labour, and pain, which every one has to endure in his body, by illness, by calamities, either personal or relative, by the fear of death, and all that which may come upon him ; nor even to mention all the toil and travail, labour and pain, which his own inordi. nate passions occasion a fallen child of Adam, by wrath, by self-will, by self-seeking, by hatred, by envy, and by a thousand other such like vexations: I say,
without taking notice of these, we will at present consider chiefly the cause of all this, which is come upon us by the curse; I mean, a restless and dissatisfied heart, and an evil conscience, which every one carries about with him, who is not reconciled unto God in Christ.