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among us, entered the world in the form of an infant, to work out for us a great salvation; to be our Prophet, Priest, and King. In the character of a prophet, our Immanuel taught his disciples, and warned them of things to come. In the character of a priest, he made an offering for them. As a king, he reigned over them.
Christ rules and reigns in the hearts of his beloved people. He tells them truly, “ The kingdom of God is within you.” Luke xvii. 21. Where Christ is, his kingdom must be. We who by nature were far from him, are brought nigh.
“ God was in Christ reconciling the world avto himself.” 2 Cor. v. 19. God manifest in the flesh is quite beyond our finite comprehension. We must meekly receive, and rejoice in the whole unfathomable truth, summed up by the apostle: “ Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 1 Tim. iii. 16.
If he were less than God, or lower than God, we ought not to worship him as God. To bow down to an inferior being is idolatry; but of Jesus it is written, “ 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.” Isaiah ix. 6.
Nothing can be more sure, more full, and plain than this word of prophecy, spoken seven hundred and forty years before its fulfilment.
Our Lord's own testimony corroborates the prophecy, “ I and my Father are one." John x. 30.
“ Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father? Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very work's sake." John xiv. 8-11.
The testimony of St. Paul corroborates it. “ Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers; to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts xx. 28.
Jesus did such works as no other man ever did ; and yet the world is like Philip, unbelieving.
6. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” John i. 10.
As a weak and helpless babe he was born into that world which his own hands created; and even while still a babe he was worshipped as God over all. Take notice, the wise men paid no adoration to the virgin mother, but to the child only; they fell down and worshipped Him. Matt. ii. 11.
“ He is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
“ It pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell.” Col. i. 19-22, 23.
“ All the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
“ But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption : that, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” 1 Cor. i. 30, 31.
“And you that were some time alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and anreprovable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled.”.
God prepared for himself a body, and became the human sacrifice which was necessary for the expiation of sin.
In the double nature of God and man, Jesus fulfilled his mission upon earth. His miracles evinced the power of God; his sufferings the infirmities of the flesh. “A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” “ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”
Sweet is that scripture to every mourner in Zion, which assures us that in all our afflictions he was afflicted. Isaiah lxiii. 9.
His resurrection from the dead, his ascension in his incorruptible human form, prove that God did indeed dwell among us, and is now, according to his promise, at the right hand of God, interceding for us, pleading his right to us, whom he has purchased with his own blood. Very God and very man,' still subsisting without confusion of natures or persons. The divinity and humanity concentrated in the same Almighty eternal Being.
God's only, well-beloyed Son, being thus born into a guilty world, devoted to such suffering and such expiation, must fill every reflecting mind with won: der, love, and praise.
The day which commemorates this amazing event should be kept with holy joy. Believing that all is fulfilled for us, and that our salvation is no matter of contingency, being already wrought out and made sure, we may eat our meat with gladness, but not to
excess. If we “ walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Gal. v. 16.
This day we are reminded of the glad tidings of great joy, of peace, and goodwill to man. Let us not celebrate it in the common way. Instead of loading our own tables and those of our domestics with superfluities, let us spread a table for the poor and needy, and let us tell them of Him who is the bread of life.
It is an unchristian-like practice to celebrate the great nativity by feasting and gluttony. Yet how prevalent! How many in this guilty land render it an occasion of sin! How much money is lavishly squandered in Christmas-boxes to tradesmen, which tempts them to the ale-house and gin-palace, where one excess brings on another, and a whole train of evil consequences ensue!
Were the same means which thus contribute to guilty excesses employed in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, in supplying the wants of the fatherless, and causing the bereaved widow's heart to sing for joy, we should be serving God instead of Satan—we should listen to and obey the voice of God instead of the voice of Satan.
If we were really renewed in the spirit of our mind, consistency would appear in all our practice; but the fear of singularity, the dread of giving offence and being evil spoken of, often causes even God's children to act as if they were not his children. They say they must do even as others, forgetting that they are not to follow the multitude in doing evil, and being unmindful of the admonition, “ Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what DECEMBER, 1839.
is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Rom. xii. 1, 2.
Is it right to enter into sinful compliances, in order to please that world which is at enmity with God? If we belong to the family of God, we may not hope to fare better than he did. We are taught not to expect it.
“ Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."
“ If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John xv. 18, 19.
The hatred of the world, and the love of the brethren, are proofs by which we may try ourselves.
“ We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."
If we feel in our hearts no love for the brethren, how can we be persuaded that we belong to the same family? If we be all one in Christ Jesus, the bond of unity cannot be broken. The love of Christ in us will constrain us to love one another. When this love is the spring and motive of our actions, and the edification of our fellow-creatures is our object, then we may become all things to all men, so as that we may gain some.
God admits not of a mere profession of love; be requires it in deed and in truth.
“Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”,
Hence we are moved to pity and love the brethren, to relieve their wants, and to comfort them in their sorrows with the same comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted of the Lord.