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rance, helplessness, simplicity, they are not only the bodies which we see, and the souls which we believe, but spirits also from the FATHER of spirits, which are to be presented one day before the Presence of His glory; and woe be to us, if through our fault they are not "presented blameless."
O Almighty GoD, Who out of the mouths, &c.Coll. for Innocents' Day.
O GOD, Who by the death of the Holy Innocents, hast taught Thy Church that no age nor occasion of suffering for our Saviour is exempt from reward; grant, we beseech Thee, that our celebration of this festival may make us adore the gracious dispensations of Thy providence, that our hearts may be confirmed in an entire resignation to Thy will, and assured that all our sufferings shall conduce to our eternal advantage.
Make us, we beseech Thee, (and the children of this family,) to be as becomes CHRIST's little ones, children in humility and teachableness, in cheerfulness, in obedience, and in reverence, in gratitude for Thy bounty, and in all dependence on Thee, that so at least Thou mayest embrace us in the arms of Thy mercy, and invite us to the everlasting habitations of Thy FATHER's house. Amen.
THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST.
S. Luke ii. 15.
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 this 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. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His Name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Our Blessed Saviour, commencing in humility, which is the root and guardian of all virtues, receives on the eighth day the seal of Circumcision, and thus early shed His precious Blood for us, that He might
show Himself to be that true Saviour, Who had been promised to the Fathers, and made like unto His brethren in all things, excepting sin and ignorance.
On this day two great mysteries were done :First, the Name of JESUS was made manifest; Secondly, He began to shed His Blood, and suffer for our redemption.
First, The Name of JESUS, that Holy Name, in which alone is salvation, was this day made manifest to the world. That Name which He took to Himself from all eternity, and which was named of the Angel before He was conceived in the womb. This Name of JESUS is sweet and glorious, bringing pardon to the penitent, and peace to the troubled heart; and it is most worthy of all adoration and honour, for it is A Name which is above every name, that at the Name of JESUS every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, to the Glory of GOD the FATHER. Philip. ii. 9—11. This Name was consecrated from everlasting-given of GOD-desired of Patriarchs-foretold by Prophetsaccomplished in this time of grace-magnified by Apostles-witnessed to by Martyrs, and acknowledged and honoured by all believers to the end of the world.
Before the saving Name of JESUS, who can remain hardhearted, lukewarm, or slothful? Whose heart is not kindled with feelings of penitence and love? Nothing so restrains the violence of anger, so stills the swellings of pride, heals the wounds of envy, extinguishes the fire of lust, quenches the thirst of avarice,
and puts to flight the temptation to every impure affection, as when I set JESUs before me, as a Man, meek and lowly in heart, kind, temperate, chaste, pitiful, and conspicuous for all purity and holiness, and at the same time Himself the Almighty GoD, Who, while He heals us by His example, strengthens us by His aid. Therefore, whatsoever we do, let us do all things in the Name of the LORD JESUS. In His Name begin, by His help prosecute, and to His praise conclude all our words and works. He Himself says, 66 Whatsoever ye shall ask the FATHER in My Name, He will give it you." S. John xvi. 23. We ought, therefore, to use this Name in all our prayers, and frame our petitions thereon. It is for this reason all the prayers
of the Church end in the Name of the LORD JESUS.
The second mystery is, that to-day our LORD JESUS began to suffer for our Redemption, and, in His Circumcision, to shed His most precious Blood for us. Thus early did He begin to suffer for us, and although He knew no sin, yet did He undertake to bear the pain for our sins.
JESUS was circumcised as if He had been subject to the Law. First, that He might show Himself to be of the seed of Abraham, who received the covenant of Circumcision, and to whom the promise was made concerning CHRIST. Secondly, that He might satisfy the Jews of His likeness to the Fathers, and remove all excuse for their not believing in Him. Thirdly, that He might make good the old law, and the Circumcision instituted by GoD, and show it to have been holy, just and good. Fourthly, that He might by His Example, commend to us the virtue of obedience and humility,
by Himself observing a precept of the Law to which He was not subject. Fifthly, that He might Himself fulfil the law which He gave to others. Sixthly, that by bearing the burden of the law in Himself, He might free those from the burden who were not able to bear it. See Gal. iv. Lastly, that He might show us the reality of His Humanity, and teach us the necessity of spiritual circumcision.
This day Circumcision ceases, and we have Baptism in its place a rite more full of grace. For the supervening grace of Baptism destroys the Circumcision of the flesh, just as the flowers fall off and decay on the appearance of the fruit.
Carnal circumcision represents the circumcision of the spirit, by which the soul is freed from corruption. We ought therefore to practise spiritual circumcision in all our members; for CHRIST was circumcised to teach us to cut off all sins and vicious habits. Our hearts and minds should be circumcised from all evil and worldly affections, from false and rash judgments, from wicked desires or intentions, that we may not cherish before GOD in the secret of our hearts anything which we should be ashamed to say or do openly before men; for the thoughts are to GOD what words and acts are to men. We should likewise circumcise our tongues from all words of scandal, detraction, falsehood, or bitterness, since we shall have to give account for every idle word, before the judgment-seat of God. We ought also to cut off all unlawful, forbidden, voluptuous pleasures, and all superfluities, and to withdraw ourselves not only from sin, but also from all occasion thereof.