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Christian that, in proportion to his faithful efforts and prayers, a new man is gradually formed within him, which brings his old nature into ever increasing subjection, and which will hereafter completely transform him. To this hope he looks forward amidst the decay of his natural frame. 'If our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.' The Saviour's supernatural birth, no less than His resurrection, is a pledge to him of this possibility; and thus he is taught by the Church to pray: Almighty God, who hast given us Thy only begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure Virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made Thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by Thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ.'




"Thou shalt call His name JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins."-Matt. i. 21.

THESE words seem to embody the very substance of the work and office of our Lord, as it appeared to the eye of the inhabitants of heaven. Angels were His heralds when He came into the world, and on each occasion when these voices from heaven were heard, they were directed to this one point. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he said, 'Thou shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus.' When the angel appeared to Joseph, he announced the same name, and gave the assurance of the text; and after our Lord's birth, when the angels appeared to the shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, the celestial proclamation was, 'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.' To the wondering gaze of heaven, the one grand fact

to be realized, in the event they were announcing and celebrating, was that a Saviour had come into the world, one so called because He should save His people from their sins. This thought overpowers all others, and sums up in itself the whole glorious announcement which Heaven desired to proclaim to earth.

We may therefore meditate upon this text as one which conveys the whole message of the Gospel. We have in our Bibles the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the Gospel according to St. Mark, the Gospel according to St. Luke, and the Gospel according to St. John; that is to say, we have the one Gospel of Jesus Christ, expressed in the four various forms in which those Evangelists delivered it. Similarly, the message of the text may be regarded as the Gospel, and the whole Gospel, according to those angelic messengers who were commissioned to announce it to earth. We may be sure, therefore, that these short and simple words express the cardinal truth of the Christian dispensation, and that we ought to make them the centre of our whole view of life, and of the revelation vouchsafed to us in the Gospel. At a time like the present, when the busy and anxious speculations of the day are discussing the problems of life and of Christianity from such varying points of view, and when such ever-shifting solutions of those problems

are offered to us, it is more than ever desirable that we should concentrate our thoughts on the truth thus unmistakably pointed out to us as the key to the whole mystery. Heaven surveys with clear and serene vision this confused and struggling scene, and its voice strikes home, in a single sentence, to the heart of the great drama of life. If we are to appreciate the moral probability and verisimilitude of the records in the four Gospels, it is necessary for us to realize the facts of human nature as they are presented by the sacred writers; and a due apprehension of the significance of the name of Jesus' is thus essential to any argument in defence or elucidation of the Gospels.

Consider, then, in the first place, what was the one great fact in the actual condition of mankind on which the eye of Heaven was fixed. It was that men need salvation, and that that from which they need to be saved is from their sins. The whole sum and substance of human needs, all that men crave to be delivered from, is thus represented to us as involved in the one word, sin. All else is passed over. Even the consequences of sin are not specifically mentioned, as though the consideration of them were subordinate to our apprehension of the main purpose of the Divine salvation which is announced. Sin, and sin alone, is what men need to be delivered from.

Let us ask ourselves how far our minds are

in harmony with this conception of our condition. It is a conception which it proved impossible to bring home to the mass of men at the time of our Lord; and among ourselves, even when it is nominally admitted, there is reason to fear it is still most imperfectly apprehended. Men in our own day look around the world as the Jews did, and are sensible of the sufferings, the oppressions, the injustices, the confusions, which meet their view, and they crave and yearn, as they have ever done, for some salvation for themselves and their fellows. Just as the Jews were craving for some Messiah to arise, and deliver them from the hand of their enemies, by some sudden stroke of force or policy, so if we cast our eye over the Christian world at this time, we behold a very similar spectacle. We see men's attention occupied and distracted by conflicting social, political, and philosophical schemesone philosophy after another, one political dream after another, absorbing their interests, and holding out to them, as they fondly believe, the promise of a better future. Some of these philosophical and social schemes may have their place and function in the development of thought and of society; and so far as they can be kept in their place, they are not to be disparaged. But they are all imperfect, when considered from the point of view on which the text

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