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made much more public than it otherwise could have been ; as the wonderful circumstances which attended it must have been known to all who were there at the time, who would naturally relate them in the different parts of the country on their return home. So great indeed was the multitude
gathered together upon this occasion at Bethlehem, that the blessed Virgin could procure no better accommodation than a stable, nor the divine babe than a manger. This is one among
very many instances we constantly meet with in the history of our Saviour, that whatever was conducive to the salvation of mankind, was by him preferred to any of the comforts and conveniencies of this world.
And here, let us not overlook the striking lesson given us of condescension and humility : when we see the Son of God, the creator of the world, not disdaining to take
up his residence in a stable, how absurd must it make all the
grandeur of this world appear! and shall
weak man, after this be proud of the accidental advantages of riches and show. If he must be proud, let it be at the care and attention with which the Almighty ftill regards his fallen and finful race, making every different situation in life fubfervient to our everlasting happiness, if we do not counteract his goodness by our own obstinacy.
“8. And there were, in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock, by night. “ 9. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them; and the glory of the “ Lord shone round about them : and
they were sore afraid.”
Though our blessed Saviour had a manger for his cradle, yet nothing could be more grand than the manner in which his birth was made known: the heavenly hosts were sent to proclaim it. They were not sent to kings, princes, or to the rulers of the earth, but to simple shepherds. Their
narration could not be suspected of art,
10. And the angel said unto them, " fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.
11. For unto you is born this day, in " the city of David, a Saviour, which is
“ Christ the Lord.
" 12. And this shall be a sign unto you:
ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.
13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
14. Glory to God in the highest ; and, on earth, peace; good will towards “men.”
The nativity of our blessed Saviour was first published by one angel, but a multitude of the heavenly host joined in the celebration of it: they declared that this blessing was to be universal; not confined to any nation or people, but was intended for all people, and for every different tion upon earth. Well, therefore, may “ all the dear-bought nations sing, rejoice “ and give thanks."
The shepherds immediately set out, tho' it was night, to see their new-born king and saviour. They found him in the humble situation which the angels had described; and they, rejoicing, proclaimed his birth.
In the following verses, we are told that their relation of these transactions excited wonder in all who heard them ; but that Mary preserved the remembrance of them and pondered them in her heart ; and that the shepherds returned home, praising and glorifying God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Any occurrence out of the common course of nature will produce wonder: but to make our admiration useful to ourfelves, we must, like the shepherds, believe and be thankful; and, like Mary, ponder in our hearts on what we believe; since we are all equally concerned in this mysterious transaction.
Would we derive from the holy Scriptures all the benefit they are meant to convey to us, we should consider every good or praise-worthy action which is recorded in them, as an example to ourselves, and to all future ages. In this light I regard the conduct of the shepherds; who, highly honored as they had