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EDITED BY THE REV. W. HOPE DAVISON.
The Bible and Modern Distovern.
Egypt: its Treasures of Ancient Art and Literature. 7. L. Porter, D.D. ...
Christmas! Wedding!! & Birthday Presents !!
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The Angel's Salutation.
ST. LUKE II. IO-14. “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 toward men."
With the salutation and the song of angels when they kept the first Christmas Day, I greet you on this great feast and welcome you with all my heart to its genial, and inspiriting solemnities. There are none too old, none too young, none too poor or too ignorant, too degraded or too afflicted, to share in the good news of this festival.
To-day the great God spreads forth His hands, and gives His Evangelical benediction to the world, and says far and near, to every one, “ Fear not: behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” Let all people then keep this Christmas Day. And let our Christmas solemnities be celebrated with deeper and holier earnestness as year by year passes.
Let each Christmas be happier and merrier than the last ; let the child and the parent alike be taught to hail every fresh approach of the feast with heartier joy, making the whole earth ring again with the Gloria in Excelsis, and sending back into the heavens the majestic antiphon which first came down from the heavens, until
"Like circles widening round
Upon a clear blue river,
Is echoed op for ever."
Let us go down to the foundation of our Christmas celebration, and ask, What is it that we are commemorating ? What is the fact on which our hearts are dwelling on this high festival ?
We commemorate to-day the most stupendous, mysterious, and yet most real, of all the facts which can enter into the religious faith of a man. It is the basis of the Christian religion, the ground truth on which rests the possibility of our original creation and daily preservation in our new creation, with its spiritual and eternal hopes; for, to use Lord Bacon's expression in his Confession of Faith—" Neither angel, man, nor world, could stand, or can stand, one moment in His eyes, without beholding the same in the fact of a Mediator.
We commemorate to-day the manifestation of the plan by which God's original purposes of love to the human race were to be fulfilled.
The fact that in the Son of Mary unite the Deity and humanity, demonstrates the at-one-ment (or atonement) of the Creator and His creatures, and lays the basis for all true religion, those holy acts of worship by which man is bound back again, in the bond of loving obedience, to His Father in Heaven.
To-day was born the hope of the world ;-He who is the Shiloh, that Prophet, the son and Lord of David, Emmanuel, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Father of the Everlasting Ages, the Prince of Peace. In Him, the central object of laud and worship on this festival, are fulfilled, that is, filled up to the full, those outlines of truth, which holy men of old, in their persons, or by their writings, sketched upon the broad canvas of the world's history. And He fulfilled all types, all prophecies, all promises, which intimated a Deliverer for the race, a Saviour from sin and its consequences.
In Eden, discord, dissensions, and death were introduced into the once united living stream of our humanity; and like that river in Eden, which parted and became four streams, the stream of our fallen humanity divided, and man was separated from his brother man, and all from God. But in Bethlehem of Judea, and in the birth of the Son of Mary, our humanity finds unity with God and itself, and therefore, up to this new Eden run all the streams of our divided humanity; and in the re-appearance of the Word of God-in His Incarnation-we find the love which makes us one with God, and with each other.
This is the good tidings of great joy which is for all people, that brought the angel down from Heaven to the shepherds of Judea, and which, when it was first announced filled Heaven and earth with angelic harmony,
“ Fear not, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." multitude of the heavenly host burst forth in these words, “ Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.”
The angel's salutation, and the angels' song are realities. God help you and me to take them up into our hearts; and make them so for each one of us, that we may use them as the true utterance of our hearts. Oh, how far from realities have they been to many, who have heard them Christmas aster Christmas for a life-time; to many who have used them with their lips, but denied them in their lives!
Bring all systems, which man's brain has devised to obscure the simple Gospel of Christ, into the harmonies which float around Bethlehem of Judea on this day of Christ's Nativity. Let all trembling souls that have been awed, or repelled, by the teachings of modern times, put themselves within the sound of
the angel's salutation. See, the heavens open, and the noblest angel of the white-robed host is approaching earth. Swifter than lightning the angel with the good news descends : hear him, you who make, and you who tremble before, systems of theology that limit God's love ! “ Fear not, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” This is God's salutation to man, mark, not to a man, not to any one man, not to civilized, religious, Christian men, but this is God's salutation to all men. 6. Fear not I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you a child is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Truly this is good tidings of great joy to our world, to all people asking for a knowledge of Him who was their Deliverer and Leader, to Whom every sacrifice, act of worship, conviction of conscience, and earthly deliverance pointed. “Unto us is born this day a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord;” One who can be bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and yet is Jehovah, uncreated, Eternal, Almighty.
And this for all people! Oh, blessed day! oh, Gospel of good tidings of great joy, well might such a salutation stir the very angels, and make the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy! What angel is not honoured, what man is not honoured above expression, in being permitted in his own way, forcible, or feeble, to perpetuate this Gospel—the good news which came down from Heaven, on the first Christmas Day? The only Gospel which God has authorized any man to preach is, “ Fear not, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
Wherever the good tidings of great joy enter into any man's heart, telling it that a Saviour is come, that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is He, God-man, Emmanuel ; whenever these good tidings enter into the hearts of any congregation, or nation, or church, there will you see sin renounced and avoided. There will you see patience, and forbearance, and sympathy, and pity, and charity, taking the place of wrath, and envy, and malice, and all uncharitableness. There will burning zeal for the souls and bodies of men flame forth in deeds of self-denial, and honest effort for their santification, and meet preparation for God, when He cometh again for judgment.
Be sure that where there is sin, open or secret, sin in the flesh, or in the spirit; where there is not humbleness of mind, purity, and a child's heart, there is no real reception of the angel's salutation : for it is true now, it will be true ever, that this is the sign of Christ's presence, “ Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Yes, where Christ and the Gospel are, there is the child-like spirit. The adorable Son of Mary, the Christ, the Saviour, is found not in the palace of a king, not in the mansions of the rich, not even in the hovel of the poor, but lower still in the scale of humiliation, and self-denial, in the stable amidst the beasts of the stall.
Well may we shrink back from the idea ; but it is true, as irrevocably true as that any Christ at all is born; for thus spake the angel, “ And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” There is no Christ, no Lord, no Jesus, no Emmanuel, if there be no babe lying in a manger. When God became man, it was for all that He humbled Himself and He went down into the depths of our poor suffering humanity, below that which any son of man had penetrated, that He might be in sympathy with all ; and that He might say to all, By this sign of your