« PoprzedniaDalej »
Q. But is it not fuperftitious to obferve this Festival upon the Twenty-fifth of December, when we cannot be certain that our Saviour was born upon that Day?
A. There is little Reafon to doubt but that this, which we now obferve, is the very Day; Chryfoft. the Teftimony of St. Chryfoftom is clear for the Tom. 5. Tradition of it. Though if the Day were mifP. 467. taken, the Matter of the Mistake, being of no
greater Moment than the falfe Calculation of a Day, will certainly be very pardonable in those who think they are not mistaken. And as long as thofe, who are fuppofed to be in this Error, do perform the Bufinefs of the Day with as much. Piety and Devotion on a mistaken Day, as they could do on a true one, if they certainly knew it; the Excufe of blameless Ignorance will wash away greater Errors than this of the Day, fuppofing it were an Error.
Q. What are we to believe concerning the Birth of our Saviour Jefus Chrift.
A. That the Virgin Mary, efpoused unto Jofeph of Nazareth, who, before and after her Efpoufals, was a pure and unfpotted Virgin, being and continuing in the fame Virginity, did, by the immediate Operation of the Holy Ghoft, conceive, within her Womb, the only-begotten Son of God; and, after the natural Time of other Women, brought him forth. Whereby the Saviour of the World was born of a Woman, made under the Law, without the leaft Pretence of any original Corruption; that he might deliver us from the Guilt of Sin. And he was born of a Virgin, of the House and Lineage of David, that he might fit upon his Throne, and rule for evermore.
Q. Was the promised Meffias to be born after a miraculous manner ?
A. Yes, the Prophecies of the Old Teftament foretold as much. Jeremiab fays, The Lord Jer. 31. bath created a new Thing upon the Earth, a Woman fhall compass a Man. The new Creation of a Man is therefore new, and therefore a Creation, because wrought in a Woman only, Ifa. 7. 14. without a Man. Ifaiah, Behold a Virgin fhall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his Name Immanuel. The original Word was tranflated a Virgin, by fuch Interpreters as were Jews themselves, fome hundred Years before our Saviour's Birth; and did not the Signification of the Word, and the frequent Ufe thereof in Scripture import it, the Wonder of the Sign given by the Lord himself would evince as much. As for that Conceit of the Jews, that all fhould be fulfilled in Hezekiah, it is fo manifeftly false, that nothing can make more for the Confirmation of our Faith. This Sign was Cyril Hie. given, and this Promife made fome Time in rof.Cates. the Reign of Ahaz. Now Ahaz reigned but 4. § 10. fifteen Years in Jerufalem; and his Son Hezekiah 2 Kin. 16. who fucceeded him, was twenty five Years old 2. ch. 19. when he began to reign; and therefore born feve- 2. ral Years before Abaz was King, and coniequently not now to be conceived when this Sign was given.
Q. How doth it appear that thefe Prophecies were fulfilled in Jefus Chrift?
4. His Mother that bore him was a pure Luke 1. Virgin, as appeareth both from her own Ac- 34. count, and that of Jofeph her reputed Huf- Mat. 1. band; both Perfons of known Integrity and 25. unquestionable Credit. When Jofeph doubted
of her Chastity, an Angel was dispatched to clear her Honour, and to affure him that what was conceived in her, was not any human Production, but of the Holy Ghoft. When fhe objected the Impoffibility of her being a Mother, the Angel explains it to her himself, by the Holy Luke 1. Ghost coming upon her, and the Power of the Highest over-fhadowing her. All which was fo unquestionable, and plainly made out to the Apoftles and primitive Chriftians, that they univerfally and firmly believed it, and thought it a Point of fo great Moment, as to deferve a Place in that Summary of the Chriftian Faith called the Apostles Creed.
Q. What were the Circumstances of our Saviour's Birth.
A. He was born at Bethlehem, according to Mic. 5. 2. the Prediction of the Prophet Micah; whither Luke 2.4. Jofeph and Mary went in Obedience to the Decree of Auguftus, to be taxed, being of the Houfe and Lineage of David; the Providence of God making Ufe of this Conjuncture, by verifying a Prophecy, to fignify and publifh the Birth of the true Meffias. The Concourfe of People to Bethlebem was fo great, that they could find no Accommodation but a Stable; where the bleffed Virgin brought forth her first born Son, and wrapped him in fwadling Clothes, and laid him in a Manger; doing herself the Offices of a pious and tender Parent whilft all the Angels of God Heb.1.6. worshipped him.
Q. How was the Birth of our Saviour published to the World?
A. By the Administration of Angels; for as certain Shepherds were keeping Watch over Lak. 2. 9. their Flocks by Night, the Angel of the Lord
came upon them, and the Glory of the Lord fhone round about them; fo that the Splendor of the Appearance confounded their Senfes, and made them fore afraid: but the Angel quickly diffipated the Terror that feized them, with the Tidings be brought of great Joy to all People, Luke 2. in these comfortable Words, unto you is born this 10, 11. Day, in the City of David, a Saviour which is Chrift the Lord.
Q. How were the Shepherds directed to find this new-born King?
A. Left they fhould expect a Prince accompanied with outward Pomp and Magnificence, the Angel defcribeth the Meannefs and Obfcurity of his Circumftances, as a Token to guide them in the Search of this new-born Prince, This ver. 12. fhall be a Sign unto you, ye shall find the Babe wrapped in fwadling Clothes, and lying in a Manger. Upon this Notice, the Shepherds without Delay went to Bethlehem, and found the Narrative verified, and published to the World both what they had feen and heard concerning the Holy Child Jefus.
Q. How was this joyful News received by the Angels and the Shepherds?
A. The Multitude of the Heavenly Hoft praifed God in that devout Hymn, Glory to ver. 14. God in the highest, and on Earth Peace, Good-will towards Men. And the Shepherds, when they had found the real Completion of what was told them by the Angel, returned glorifying and praifing God.
Q. Since this Angelical Hymn bath been retained in the Offices of the Church ever fince the primitive Times of Christianity, what may we understand by it?
A. That the bleffed Angels excited one another to give Glory and Praise to God for his wonderful Works towards the Children of Men. That it is our conftant Duty to acknowledge his Majesty and Greatness, thofe peerless Prerogatives of Power, Wisdom, and Goodness, which appeared with the greatest Luftre in the ftupendous Incarnation of the Son of God. That Christ hath taken away the Enmity between Heaven and Earth, and reconciled Man to God; for God's Good-will to favour Men is the Peace the Angels congratulate; hence the Gospel is called the Gospel of Peace, and God fo often in the New Teftament the God of Peace. Rom. 15. And fince the Children of Men alone partake in thefe Wonders of Love, they ought continually to join with the Heavenly Hoft in gloryfying and praifing God.
Q. What may we learn from the Circumstances of our Saviour's Birth, and the Publication thereof?
A. It ought to reconcile us to a State of Poverty: For fince the bleed Jefus chofe to be born in fo mean and obscure a Manner, and preferred it before the Splendor and Pomp of the Rich and Great, the Poor ought to bear a low Condition with Patience and Contentedness, and the Rich not to undervalue and contemn it. In publishing the News of his Birth, our Saviour paffed by the Wife and the Powerful, and revealed it to the poor Shepherds; he maniLuke 2.8, festeth it to them by an Angel, and maketh them the Inftruments of communicating the Knowledge of it to the Rich and Great. God incarnate preacheth the Gospel to the Poor; and Ch.4.18. mean illiterate Fishermen are employed to