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told, and all the ancients so long expected. Alleluia ! Alleluia! Alleluia!
To-day for us our LORD was born; come, let us adore Him. O joyful tidings, worthy of an angel's mouth! Behold to us was born this day a Saviour, which is CHRIST the LORD. Alleluia!
Wonderful signs, to seek the new-born King of heaven and earth, you shall find him wrapt in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, Alleluia! O blessed harmony of the celestial chorus! Glory be to GOD on high, on earth peace, goodwill towards men. Alleluia ! Alleluia! Alleluia!
All praise, honour, and glory be to Thee, O LORD JESUS, Who didst send Thine Angels to announce Thy birth to the Shepherds, with hymns of joy, that they might seek, and worship Thee. Grant me grace to praise Thee with a joyful spirit, and to persevere unweariedly in Thy service, with a pure, stedfast, serene and tranquil mind; that I may find my only joy and delight in Thee. Amen.
THE INNOCENTS' DAY.
Rev. xiv. 1.
I LOOKED, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His FATHER'S Name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders; and no man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins: these are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth: these were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto GOD,
S. Matt. ii. 13. The Angel of the LORD appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young Child, and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him. When he arose, he took the young Child and His Mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod ; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth; and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had dili
and to the LAMB. And in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before the throne of GOD.
gently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Where shall we find more sweet and pure representatives of CHRIST's flock, than in these little ones? Where shall we find such praise as is given of those who thus died? "These are they which were not defiled," &c. They are the very types and first-fruits of those who shall enter into the kingdom. These blessed spirits throng, as it were, around the Infant Child, the cradle of the Virgin-born; martyrs, if not in will, yet in deed; martyrs most meet to attend His Throne, they minister unto Him their King, not in life, but by dying. These blossoms are taken to bloom in heaven, before they are blighted by the world; they lie upon the threshold of the everlasting morn.
This history is that of one madly seeking to destroy Him, through Whom alone he could live. One jealous for his petty sovereignty over a tributary people, fearing lest that everlasting kingdom, which was to embrace the whole earth, and gather into one all the kingdoms of the world, should interfere with his brief, narrow rule. It is a man fighting against GOD—and,
as so fighting, baffled; making all every way sure, and missing the one object which he would thereby attain; destroying all, not of the age only of Him he sought, but much above it; not of the place only where He was born, but all the coasts thereof; and by all this accumulated bloodshedding, staining himself with the blood of every child, except that One, Whom He sought in all and Whom GOD guarded.
The shepherds "returned glorifying and praising GOD, to make known the saying which had been told them concerning this Child." The kings of the east worshipped, offered their gifts, and departed home on the way GOD appointed them; but these (Innocents) lingered not here; they were at once perfected; they were the heralds of His mercy, not to those on earth, but to the heavenly Hosts. Scarcely had our LORD appeared on earth, but, so large were the overflowings of His goodness, that they could not be restrained. His new-born mercies reached to all-all fell under the shadow of His Cross; all tasted it for one moment of bitterness; and then all, through its imparted virtue, were lifted at once, bedewed with His holy Blood, from earth to Paradise, speechless witnesses to the blessedness of His Cross, the privilege of being nigh to Him, the unspeakable greatness of being involved in His sufferings.
Are we, then, to look upon this as so entirely an insulated case, that we must gaze on it, and wonder, and gain no comfort? Rather is it not a pledge of His mercy to all our infants, whom He allows to be brought near unto Him? If these poor mangled forms of speechless clay were, indeed, the first chosen
witnesses of His mercy, His Martyrs, why should it seem a strange thing to say (which the Church has ever believed) that all our baptized infants should thereby become His Members? And since they are such, henceforth we may readily trust GOD with every thing of theirs besides, their sickness or their health, their ease or their sufferings, their lives or their death, since how should He not have "freely given all things" to those whom He has made members of His SON?
This, then, is one great lesson of the festival, the great dignity of children. We meet to celebrate how little ones, like our own, were called upon to glorify GOD by their deaths; and in the dignity so conferred upon them, we should see the great worth and value of those entrusted to us. In them our LORD ennobled the whole age of childhood, as He sanctified it by Himself taking it upon Him. We dare not, then, look upon them as what they seem; we may not dare to make them (as the blind world often makes them) playthings in their first years, playmates in the next. Infancy and childhood are sacred things. They are born candidates for life everlasting; when re-born in Baptism they are members of Him, Who filleth heaven and earth. This we should impress upon ourselves in all our treatment of them; they have been re-born to live for ever; we may not treat them lightly; not deceive them though it seem to us for their good: not indulge them foolishly, though it cost us trouble; but must bear in mind-as we would avoid His woe on those "who cause any of these little ones to offend”in all we do in their presence, towards them, with regard to them, that amidst all their weakness igno