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CHRISTMAS DAY.-PART II.
THE ANGELS ANNOUNCE HIS BIRTH.
S. Luke ii. 8—18.
AND there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. 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. And the angel said unto them, 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. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising GOD, and saying, Glory to GOD in the highest, and on earth
peace, good-will towards men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the LORD hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning the Child, and all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising GOD for all the things that they had heard and seen as it was told unto them.
That the visitation might be answerable to the homeliness of the place, who shall come to congratulate His Birth, but poor Shepherds! The kings of the earth rest at home, and have no summons to attend Him by Whom they reign. God hath chosen the weak things of the earth to confound the mighty. In an obscure time (the night) unto obscure men, (Shepherds) doth GOD manifest the light of His SON, by glorious angels. It is not our meanness, O GOD, that can exclude us from the best of Thy mercies! Yea, thus far dost Thou respect persons, that Thou hast put down the mighty, and exalted them of low degree. If these shepherds had been sleeping in their beds, they had no more seen angels, nor heard news of their Saviour, than their neighbours; their vigilance is honoured with this heavenly vision. No less than a whole choir of angels is worthy to sing the hymn of Glory to GOD," for the Incarnation of His SON. What joy is enough for us, whose nature He took, and whom He came to restore by His Incarnation? If we had the tongues of angels, we could not raise this note high enough for the praise of our Glorious Redeemer. No sooner do the Shepherds hear the news of a Saviour, than they run to Bethlehem to seek Him. Those who left their beds to tend their flocks, leave their flocks to inquire after their Saviour. No earthly thing is too dear to be forsaken for CHRIST. It is not possible that a faithful heart should hear where CHRIST is, and not labour to the sight and
fruition of Him. Where art Thou, O Saviour, but at home in Thine own house, in the assembly of Thy Saints? Where art Thou to be found but in Thy Word and Sacraments? Yea, there Thou seekest for us—if there we haste not to seek for Thee, we deserve to want Thee, deserve that our want of Thee here, should make us want the Presence of Thy Face for
This is He Whom Prophets foretold, Whom Angels announced, whom Shepherds visited with eager devotion. This is He Whom I seek, Whom I love, Whom I long to see. Why art thou so fearful, O my soul? Cry, entreat, knock, till the door is opened to you. Enter the place of this wondrous tabernacle, up to the very house of GOD. Advance boldly, and join thyself to the Infant newly born, with all thy heart; for He will not reject thee; He will not bid thee fly; but will receive thee, though in silence, and manifest to thee His grace. Shrink not from His Presence, as He cries in the manger; it is thy sins He is mourning, no hardship of His own. He is come to seek, not to destroy thee; He is come to save, not to condemn thee. He is come to loose, not to bind thee. He is come to suffer ills, not to impose them. He is come to liberate, not to imprison thee. He is GOD, you say; and in His hand is power and government. Even so. But He is come, not only to judge, but to absolve. He holds out pity and keeps back vengeance. He offers grace, and defers wrath. He displays love and forbids fear. He had much rather be loved than feared. Say then, Thou art my Saviour and my Re
deemer, O LORD my GOD; Thou art welcome to-day. O Thou desirable and passing lovely Child, show me Thy pity, who am not as yet fit to behold Thy glory! Extend me Thy hand, who have not strength to bear Thy righteousness! Of Thine infinite love, blot out all mine iniquity! I am weak and full of sores: O heal my soul! I am blind and naked: O illuminate my darkness, and adorn me with true virtues! I am withered and lame: O direct all my footsteps in Thy paths! To Thee my heart saith, My face seeketh Thee; Thy Face, LORD JESU, I long to behold; and with the Angels and Shepherds devoutly to visit Thee. For Thou art the Health of my countenance, and my GOD, verily to be loved by me above all things. None is fairer than Thou, none more amiable; none is nobler than Thou, none more holy. Thou art wise above all the wise; richer and mightier than all. The heavens are Thine, and the earth is Thine, the sea and all that therein is; the day is Thine, and the night is Thine; Thou hast formed summer and spring, and appointed all things for certain seasons. And yet Thou wert pleased to be born in the darkness of the night; and the cold of winter. O wonderful and ineffable love of God, and of my LORD JESUS CHRIST! He Whom Angels in heaven praise and adore is uttering in a manger the cries of infancy. O what great thanks am I bound to render to my most loving GOD, my Saviour and Redeemer, born for my salvation; Who lying in the stable with the brute beasts, disdains not an inn, faring like one of the poor. Verily, I have nothing worthy of praise; howbeit of a ready will freely I make offering to Thee, in token of affection and gratitude. And
this I desire to do to God's glory, and to humble myself in the eyes of His Majesty, Who did humble Himself even to the form of a little child.
Wonder, O heavens! and be amazed, O earth, and every creature, humbly bow down your heads. Bow, and adore this incomprehensible mystery, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.
But most of all, let us, the fallen children of Adam, bow down our faces to the dust; and prostrate, adore so unspeakable a mercy.
Behold, thus low our Saviour stooped to take us from the earth, and raise us to the felicities of His glorious kingdom. Thus low He stooped, to check the pride of our corrupted nature.
Lift thy voice with joy, O my soul! and sing hosannas to the new-born JESUS. Hosanna!
Call all the blessed angels to celebrate His birth, and repeat afresh that heavenly anthem-" Glory to GOD," &c.
Rejoice, all ye faithful nations of the earth, when you hear the sweet Name of your Redeemer. Rejoice, and with bended knees and humble hearts, adore the Blessed JESUS.
He is the Son of the Everlasting GOD; equally participating the glories of the FATHER. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
He is the Great Messias, Whom the Prophets fore