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S E R M. let the multitude of isles be glad thereof: hence Sing,
O thou barren, thou that didst not bear, break forth into
finging and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with Ifa. liv. r. child-The zwilderness and the solitary place Mall be
glad, the desart Mali rejoice and bloom as the roseSing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, said the Evangelical Prophet in regard to this dispensation : in fine, this Angel him
self did interpret his own words, when in concert Luke ii. 14. with the heavenly choir he sang that anthem, Glory
be to God in the highest ; on earth peace, and good will toward men : whence we may collect that a peace diffused over the earth, and a good will extended toward all men, were implied in these tidings of great joy to all people.
We then are all concerned in these tidings, and we may
look on them as hy this heavenly. Evangelist imparted to us; whence our duty must be to listen with reverent attention unto them, seriously to weigh the purport of them, diligently to contemplate the reasons of that great joy, which effe&tually Mould be produced in us by them, as their proper and due result; to further which practice, let us take some prospect of this Gospel, whereby it may appear pleafant, and apt to kindle a sprightly joy in our hearts. The matter of it is the nativity of our ever blesed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; for, To you, faith our Angel, is born this day a Saviour, who is Christ the. Lord; an occurrence fraught with all the greatest causes of joy imaginable ; as importing innumerable, inexpressibly and inconceivably vast advantages thence springing to us.
It doth minister occasion of rejoicing for all the blessings, which did flow from each of his falutary undertakings and performances ; for all the mercies purchased by the merits of his obedience, and by the price of his blood; for all the graces iffuing from his dispensation of the Holy Spirit ; for all the benefits confequent on his illustrious resurrection,
ascension, and glorification; as being a good entrance s ER M. to them, yea, a great progress in them, and a certain pledge of their full accomplishment : for all the work of our redemption was in a manner achieved, when our Saviour did appear; his incarnation was the great step toward it, as being an act of the humblest obedience, and of the highest merit, that could any wise be performed, for satisfying the justice of God, and winning his favour toward us. His taking up life may well feemn more meritorious than his laying it down, and the chief passion which he could ever undergo; his death was a passion, great as death could be ; his life also was a continual passion, or exercise of huge patience : but his birth feemeth to be the greatest and strangest passion of all; involving the lowest subinisfion and the deepest suffering What nobler facrifice could there be, than God's offering himself up to mortality, to infirmity, to lla
What obedience can be thought of comparable to that which he did express, when he said, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God: I came down, not Heb. x. 7. that I might do my own will, but the will of him that John vi. 38. jent me. For him to descend from heaven, the region of light and bliss, into this gloomy and fad world; for him in a manner to divest himself of celestial majesty, and to assume the form of a servant; for him to be inclosed in a womb, and to come out wailing thence, to suck at a breast for life, to be carried in arms, and laid in a manger, to enter on a stage of being so very low and homely; for him, I say, the Lord of glory, thus to empty and abase him
Phil. ii. 73 selfd; may not this reasonably be deemed more than, 8. after his becoming man, to sustain all the grievances incident to our nature and state? Whence the very alumption of flesh was (faith St. Athanasius) the redemption of all mankinde. He was at least thence en
4 Εαυτόν έχίνωσιν, εαυτόν εταπείνωσεν.
• Η πρόσληψις τ σαρκος ελευθέρωσις ήν πάσης και ανθρωπότητα, Ath. Or. 3. c. Arr. p. 385. vid. p. 618.
B В д.
5 E R M.gaged in the way of acting and suffering whatever
was needful for our recovery ; and having gone so far, assuredly he never would flinch or recoil, but would go through with all ; being come, he would Thew himself come to purpose, leaving no part unfinished of his grand design.
So that as they, who celebrate the birth of a prince, do mean thereby to express their joy for all the good, which they do hopefully presume to enjoy from his protection and conduct afterward in all his life; and as they, who welcome the sun rising, do imply their satisfaction in the conveniencies of his light through the whole ensuing day ;, so may the nativity of our Lord afford matter of rejoicing for all the train of mighty blessings, which do succeed it. We may therefore now well consider him born to instrućt us by his excellent doctrine, and to guide us by his perfect example ; born to merit God's mercy and favour toward us, by an entire submission to God's pleasure, in the whole conduct of his life, and in the final resignation of it ; born to renew and fanctify our nature, to support and strengthen us in obedience to God's commandınents, to succour us in temptations, to comfort us in distreiles by his grace; born to rear himself from the grave for confirming our faith, and ensuring our hopes of salvation ; born to ascend up above all the heavens to God's right hand, there effectually to intercede for us, thence liberally to dispense all heavenly blessings to us. Well may we now rejoice, as seeing him come to disclose the way of happiness, to establish the covenant of grace, to void all the obstruations, and fubdue all the enemies to our welfare : well may we celebrate this birth, as by its virtue blessing the Patriarchs, enlightening the Prophets, inspiring the Mar
Λύχνον ήψε την εαυτό σάρκα, &c. Greg. Nax. Οr. 39.
Creatoris ad creaturam descentio credentium eft ad æterna provectio. Leo 11. di Nat. Sirin. 5.
tyrs with faith and courage, endowing all the Saints, S ER M. that ever have been, with grace, and crowning them with glory ; so that in this day we have the passion, the pasch, the afcenfion, the pentecoft, the memorials of every saint suggested to us f; the joys of all our festivals do conspire or commence in this; which is the head and spring, which is the fruitful feed, which is the hopeful morning of them all. Πάντα ταύτα της παρέσης ημέρας χάρις εσιν αύτη γαρ ήρξη των εφεξής αγαθών. All these things (faith St. Gregory Nyflen) are the Greg. Nyrt. grace of this present day, for it began the goods which tom. ii. p. did in order succeed.
But waving the numberless benefits fo consequent on the nativity, we shall only touch foire of thofe which have a more formal and close relation thereto.
I pass over the contemplation of that sweet harmony between the old and the new world ; in which, to our comfortable fatisfaction, the sweetest attributes of God (his goodness, his wisdom, his fidelity and constancy) do illustrate themselves, by completion of the ancient promises, prefigurations, and predictions touching this event.
I forbear also to reflect on the happy alteration and amendment of the world, which our Lord's coming did induce, by comparing the state of things before it, with that which followed it ; the consideration of which case is very pleasant, and productive of joy. First then,
1. Let us consider, that the nativity doth import the completion of many ancient promises, predictions, and prefigurations concerning it; that whereas all former dispensations of favour and mercy were as preludes or preambles to this, the old Law did aim to represent it in its mysterious pomps; the chief of providential occurrences did intimate it ; the Prophets often in their mystical raptures did allude to
* Oικές και τα το Πάσχα καλα των περί την γένεσιν ευφημιών μέρG- έσ.. Greg. 12
16. Gen. xlix. 10.
11. xi. 1.
S ER M. it, and often in clear terms did express it"; the gra
cious designs of God, and the longing expectations of mankind being so variously implied in regard thereto; now all is come to be fulfilled, and per
fected in most clear, most effectual, moft substantial Gen. ii. 15. accomplishment : now is sprung up that feed of the Galli.8, woman, which, according to the first Gospel preached
to Abraham, thould bruise the serpent's head; now is
the mystical Isaac, the miraculous Son of promise, born; Deut
. xviii. now is that grant to Abraham, In thy feed Mall all Kas iii. 22. the nations of the earth be blessed, made good ; now is
biloh come, of whom Jacob foreboded, unto him the
gatherings of the people shall be ; now is that oracle of Pi. cxxxii. Moles inore than verified, A prophet Mall the Lord Luke i. 3 3. your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like to me;
him shall ge bear ; now the far is come out of Jacob, 6. lix: 20. the vision whereof dazzled Balaam, and stopped him Rom. xi. from curfing that people, in which it mould arise ; Jer. xxiii. now is that oath discharged to David, Of the fruit of 5. saxili. thy body will I set upon thy throne ; now those ilZech. iii. 8. lustrious predictions of Isaiah, There shall coine fortb
a Rod out of the stem of Jese-A Virgin shall conceive, xxxiv
. 23. and bear a fon; to us a child is born, to us a son is given; Darvin and the government shall be on his shoulders-There shall
come out of Sion the deliverer, and shall turn ungodliness Mait. ii.-6.from Jacob, are fully accomplished : now the righteous Hag. ii. 7Breinch (of which Jeremiah and Zechariah (pake) is
sprouted forth; and Ezekiel's One Shepherd, Daniel's Son of mari, coming with the clouds of heaven ; Micah's Ruler in Ifrael, whose going's forth have been from old ; Haggai's Defire of all nations ; Malachi's Angel of the Covenant, and Sun of Righteousness have all in truth appeared : now is that glorious King and Captain arrived, whom the holy Oracles do fo magnificently dc
vi. 12. Erek.
Nial. iii. I. iv. 2.
& Sapientia et benignitas Dei ac salutiferi operis mora capacio. res nus fuæ vocationis etierit, ut quod multis fignis, multis vocibus, multisque myfteriis per tot fuerat fecula pronunciatum, in his diebus Evangelii non eflet ambiguum, &c. Lco P. de Nat. Serm. 3.