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humility, and faith, shall you know assuredly that I am your Saviour, Christ the Lord.

Be it then the Church's mission, each Christian's mission, to spread abroad, by every holy agency, the good tidings of great joy, that God has become man, a Saviour for all people, and that all shall find Him in every sign of true humility. charity, and deliverance from sin. It is a mission worth living and dying for, it is the only one which can perpetuate the angels' song in its primeval melody, Alter the angel's salutation a single note, and you cannot sound aright the angels' song, they will not sing it with you, and you have lost its keynote wholly.

This incarnation, this humiliation, by which the God of Heaven's worship, condescended to be born of woman, was not for you or me alone: was not for Patriarch, Jew or Christian only: was not for Christian or heathen only :

:but as the Omniscient Son stood upon the circle of the Heavens, ere He came down to His humiliation, His eye embraced the countless myriads, that were, or are, or shall be; and in the fulness of Divine compassion He entered on this work, which 'God's angel has here told us was—“Good tidings of great joy to all people."

Oh, what a grand, stupendous, and most glorious thought is thisthe doctrine of the Word and Church of God. To know, that between us all and each, there is a connection, direct and uninterrupted, which binds us to that Saviour whose humble birth we are now commemorating. The bond of our sharing in that Saviour's universal compassion, seeing that He became incarnate and took upon Him our flesh and blood, and, if we will only accept the free gift, made it possible for to dwell with Him in Heaven. To this Saviour, in all the fulness of His nature, and His work, are we pointed in this holy festival of the Church.

Let us open our hearts wide then, this day, and all days, to that truth which blesses us, and our children, and the world. “ Fear not, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people—this day is born a Saviour.” And we shall sing with heart and voice our Gloria in Excelsis, that majestic laud of the Church militant and triumphant,“ Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.”


The Man Christ Jesus.

St. MATTHEW i. 23. “ And they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The form of the sentence is prophetic. The Evangelist expressly quotes it from the Book of prophecy where it originally stood. Isaiah,—sometimes called the evangelist among the prophets, because his mind was so deeply acquainted with the spirit of Christ,-wrote it as a promise to the world.

1. Humanity needed a Saviour. Blind and lost humanity had gone wrong, groping and stumbling down the slope of four thousand evil years. Had it been only man that was offended, then some better man, large of brain and large of heart, might have been the mediator. But the Prophet saw deeper than that. With the Psalmist, he knew that the human heart must cry out, “Against

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Thee, Thee only,” O my God,“ have I sinned,” Some mightier Saviour must

Even the Heaven of heavens is moving itself in mercy. “Ask thee a sign of the Lord Thy God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above. The Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son." “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the world,--that world which was made by Him,--and the world knew Him not.” “ In Him was life”; original, abolute, eternal, uncreated life. So, virgin-born, God came in great humility as man,-Emmanuel,—and we, with undiscerning eyes, beheld His glory, the glory as of one only begotton of the Father full of grace and truth. How have we beheld Him ? Has it been with a joy like John's ? Has it been with a faith like Mary's? Have we knelt, bringing our offerings to Him with the sages, or worshipped Him in simplicity of heart, with the shepherds ?

The Mediator was to come in the purity and the power of sinless human character. Here, again, notice how simple and natural the prophet's language is. The child to be born“ shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good.”' Heavenly knowledge ! “ To depart from evil, that is understanding." This Christ to come shall be the perfect Man. In Him all virtues, all graces, shall meet. They shall not only meet but harmonise in Him, blending together into one matchless manhood. It shall not be as in all other men, the grandest specimens of virtue, where some disproportion spoils the symmetry; excess or defect, one-sidedness or limitation, clinging to the highest minds. But every• thing in Him, shall be tempered faultlessly together : energy with patience, dignity with tenderness, for bearance toward the guilty with indignation at wrong, command with obedience, courage with humility, the fortitude of heroes and martyrs with the sensibility of woman, and the ripe experience of saints with the artlessness of a child. It was “that holy thing ” of which the angel spoke so mysteriously and awfully to Mary, which should be born of her," as “the Son of God.” He would be the man with men. He would be humanity's one, consummate, immaculate example. He would be the world's one stainless human soul.

3. We, as a part of the human world must join in this longing of human hearts for a Christ. Give us, O Giver of all good gifts, one Leader like ourselves; one glorious human Person that we can love immeasurably and for ever, and the more we love Him be the more exalted; one King that our loyalty can cling to, without abatement or misgiving, till we die, and then not die eternally. Let Him be one of us, that we may be one in Him. Let Him be no strange, distant demigod, belonging neither to heaven or earth, too unearthly for our affections, and yet too mortal for our worship. But let Him be born here,-on this familiar, sinful earth, which feels human to our human feet; in some Bethlehem village, where men and women work and weep, and children play in the streets; and if it be in a stable-manger, so much the better for the encouragement of our faith that He really means to minister to us, and to take the form of a servant, and to put pride altogether away !-though He was rich with the wealth of heaven and earth before, to become poor for our sake. Let him grow up in a carpenter's family, that he may make all our common labour sacred, and have a place in every humble house on the globe. Though He is to be the conquerer of all nations and all ages, let us see Him first as a filial boy at home, subject to the order of the house, obedient to His mother, growing into His lordship over the race through these steps of pious subordination. Above all, let Him, for our poor sinful nature's sake,-et Him be tempted, like as we are, that He may know how to succour, and pity, and love us who are tempted. Complete, and spotless, and triumphant in His holiness, let us nevertheless find Him facing our adversary,-.in actual struggles,-in the wilderness, hungry for earthly bread; on the temple-top. with the pride of personal display before Him; at the moment, beholding the kingdoms of worldly dominion lying helpless within the grasp of His ambition, yet refusing them. Alone, out among the hills, when the world of men has misunderstood, worried, rejected Him, with the night wind on His heated face, let us catch the words of peaceful prayer from His lips. Though He is to overcome death, passing through it, and rising from it, yet, since we all dread it, let us hear Him retreat, under its agony, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." Let us meet Him weeping sometimes at the grave of His friend, and by all this thorough and utter humanity in Him, let Him be to us a brother, while He is a Saviour ; Mary's child, while He reigns over the kingdom of David,—the Son of Man, as He is the Son of God,-God himself, in His wondrous way, with us. Emmanuel !

4. When this yearning of mankind was taken up into the guidance and inspiration of God, it became prophecy. The voice became articulate. A "more sure word,” as the Apostle says, “ holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” One of the most expressive titles of our Lord condenses and conveys all this that I have been trying to say. He was the “ Desire of all nations,” and accordingly, the Evangelist, in the passage of the text, while he records the blessed nativity at Bethlehem, adds to the narrative. “ Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet.” Some puzzled students, looking not much below the literal sense lying on the surface, have wondered at this language, and disputed about it. “ Is it credible,” they have asked, “ that God in heaven should order such grand transactions as to make up the Messiah's ministry, merely for the purpose of fulfilling certain old predictions, written by men ages before ?" But there is a profounder view of the unity between prophets and evangelists than this. And where do we find it, but in the very significance and strength of those desires we have just seen in the whole mind and heart of the nations of men, seeing them there just because we feel them first in ourselves :—desires for a Divine proposition, for a perfect Master, Leader, Lord, to love and trust, and follow; to love more than life, to follow through all hurt and peril with joy, to trust for everlasting salvation ? In order that these longings of the human heart,fed on prophecy, divinely instructed, made preparations for Christ, gathered up and clothed in miraculous authority in great illuminated seers like Isaiah and Zechariah,--might be fulfilled, He was born, and died. Herein was love. Nothing here is beneath the dignity of the covenants and revelations of Heaven. It is the answer of God's eternal purpose to the cry of His penitent family, in the gift of the Emmanuel, our Saviour.

5. These things are a declaration of the one fact which lies central and life-giving, at the heart of all our Christian thoughts and hopes. The name that the creeds and standards of the Church have always given it is the incarnation,-or the doctrine of God in Christ, made flesh, and dwelling with us. Ready as Christians have been, however, to give that blessed truth this place in words, there is too much reason to fear it does not possess the soul of Christendom as the joyful conviction it ought to be, lightening all our darkness, scattering all our fear, sanctifying all our life. We cover it up with strange and gloomy draperies of unreal phraseology, techinal traditions, or sectarian disputes. It is not blessed truth at all then, but is robbed of its blessedness. Let it stand out in its own simple, fresh, and glorious splendour, and what loveliness of moral beauty, what majesty of disinterested sacrifice, what gladness of relief and consolation, what beam of hope is there, that does not meet and mingle in its mercy? In the whole world of realities there is nothing so real, or so comforting to us, as this. Emmanuel.

6. We come short of the full grandeur of the Gospel when we take the clause, God with us," as signifying only one among us,-a Deity moving among individuals, outside of them all, and, however friendly and gracious, still an external Person, saving them only by a work wrought all above them. Christ's atonement is no mechanical device in the Divine counsels, brought in at an unexpected emergency in the world's fortunes, paying the price of men's sins i a mercantile equivalent adjusted by contract, after which the Redeemer retires to contemplate His ransomed beneficiaries from afar off. Oh, friends in Christ, friends in Christ, we have a dearer, warmer, holier faith. When it is said that, in Emmanuel, God is with us, it is meant that His very nature is wrought into our nature, if in faith and baptism we receive Him, and ours into His. In the true Incarnation all humanity is, in a certain sense, taken up into the embrace of God. Henceforth all the world is saved, and no soul born of woman,-no man, no child,-needs to be an alien or outcast from the Father's House. It only needs that the energetic command be heeded, —"Repent and be baptized; come in faith; accept your heritage; be born of water and of the Spirit; awake to the spiritual privileges and holy living of the family order and affection around you.” Then new beauty will robe the earth; new joy will encompass it like an atmosphere! Now we have a meaning for the angels' song,—"Glad tidings of great joy to all people”; “Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace; good will to men.” Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.

7. It is a remark of the historian Guizot, and it doubtless contains a sound philosophy, for all history confirms it, that “there never can be a great moral revolution without its being concentrated in some great personage.” Doubtless, loyalty, everywhere, must have a leader. But the practical assurance which this Feast of the Nativity repeats to us reaches far beyond that, and comes home to the heart's experience of those that are themselves sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before them. Christ not merely takes His place in history; but all history takes its place in Him. He is large enough, comprehensive enough, compassionate enough, to take in all the experiences, the souls, the lives, the burdens, the sorrows, of all nations and all ages. See at once what a higher and holier character this truth puts on the much-abused dogma of the dignity of human nature. Human nature without the incarnation is the least dignified of all things : it is weak, inconstant, vulgar, guilty, lost. As for anything it is in itself, only conceit and vanity could call it noble, and hence it is that the doctrine of the dignity of human nature, held without the Churchtruth of Christ's divinity and incarnation, has proved but a thin and feeble force to convert mankind, to raise society, or to send out missions to the heathen. Its fatal infirmity, in the lack of this fundamental and vitalizing fact of the Gospels, has emptied even its honest and eloquent advocates of spiritual power. But let it be seen that human nature is uplifted and ennobled in the Divine humanity of Christ, Son of Man and Son of God, and forthwith it wears a grandeur as if the majestic bearing and outlines of the Divine Man were visibly reflected upon it. Education is a new thing now: it is a sacred training in a sacred school. Social reform is a new thing: for it is no visionary scheme of an indefinite “progress,” all whose forces are secular, and whose civilization is unconsecrated, never on its knees, and never at sacrament; but it is a restoration of this Divine image in man. Philanthropy is a new thing : no longer bitter, headstrong, factious; but reverential, genial, generous, and orderly. Christ's human nature is the nature of all classes and conditions of men,—the slave's nature, the poor man's nature, the pagan's nature ; and when He died, with the crucifixion and anguish of that nature, on the Cross, it was that all these might be lifted to the glory of spiritual liberty and light, and their sins be blotted out. Here centre and here rest all solid hopes of a bright and happy future for mankind; not in economic schemes, or bills of rights, or civil constitutions, or policies of a godless self-elevation and self-reliance. They rest in the reverent spirit of the Church of God, with her hopeful and all-animating certainty of an incarnate Lord, a God with us, who is the Son of Man: Emmanuel.

8. Then, too, it will begin to appear what Christ's own people may be, acknowledging their membership, confirmed and alive in His body. Take the Holy Scriptures and see how often Christ is there spoken of as an indwelling Christ, present now, formed within, living in the believer and the believer in Him, the very Life of life. Take our service of the Holy Communion of His body and blood; study its sublime scriptural language; and you find how intimate and inward is the membership of the disciple and communicant with his Lord by faith. Light even breaks in on that almost inexplicable and incredible saying of St. Peter, that by the “ exceeding great and precious promises” of the Word made flesh, men may be “partakers of the Divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust." Reason, blind and anxious, may still have its difficulties, and toil and grind in its prisonhouse, “bound in affliction and iron;" but Faith marches right over them as if they were not; nay, she takes wings and leaves them out of her sight. What we want, that our Gospel gives. While reason is puzzling herself about the mystery, Faith is turning it into her daily bread, and feeding on it thankfully in her heart of hearts. While reason is applying the tests of her earthly chemistry, threatening to dissolve the very Cross of Calvary in her crucibles, Faith has quietly set the holy doctrine to the music of her joy, and is singing it as her hymn of Benedictus, or Magnificat, in unquestioning peace. The doctrine may crucify the proud, but it crowns the meek with salvation.

9. We cannot separate, then, the two main grounds of our Christian rejoicing this day. If reconciliation is by the Lord's sacrifice, so is daily righteousness and sanctification by His life. There could be no Mediator without both; and by both we are saved. If, “ being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” so in the blessed remembrance of the Divine humanity of that unseen Friend we shall find a power to raise us, day by day, above the weakness, the suffering, and the sinfulness of the mortal flesh. Perhaps some of us will find there what will even comfort us more than the bare thought of an escape from the wrath to come,” viz., a power to help us

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