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of those prime demonstrations, extraordinary by miracle and prophecy, if men were equally disposed.
7. When they were come to the doctors of the Jews, they asked confidently, and with great openness, under the ear and eye of a tyrant prince, bloody and timorous, jealous and ambitious,“ Where is he that is born King of the Jews ?” and so gave evidence of their faith, of their magnanimity, and fearless confidence and profession of it, and of their love of the mystery and object, in pursuance of which they had taken so troublesome and vexatious journies : and besides that they upbraided the tepidity and infidel baseness of the Jewish nation, who stood unmoved and unconcerned by all the circumstances of wonder, and stirred not one step to make inquiry after, or to visit the new-born King; they also teach us to be open and confident in our religion and faith, and not to consider our temporal, when they once come to contest against our religious interests.
8. The doctors of the Jews told the wise men, where Christ was to be born; the magi, they address themselves with haste to see him and to worship, and the doctors themselves stir not; God not only serving himself with truth, out of the mouths of impious persons, but magnifying the recesses of his counsel, and wisdom, and predestination; who uses the same doctrine to glorify himself and to confound his enemies, to save the scholars, and to condemn the tutors, to instruct one, and upbraid the other; making it an instrument of faith, and a conviction of infidelity: the sermons of the doctors, in such cases, being like the spoils of beavers, sheep, and silk-worms, designed to clothe others, and are made the occasions of their own nakedness, and the causes of their death. But as it is a demonstration of the Divine wisdom, so it is of human folly; there being no greater imprudence in the world, than to do others' advantage, and to neglect our ownf. If thou doest well unto thyself, men will speak good of thee: but if thou be like a channel in a garden, through which the water runs to cool and moisten the herbs, but nothing for its own use; thou buildest a fortune to them upon the ruins of thine own house, while," after thy preaching to others, thou thyself dost become a cast-away."
Piaga mortale che si non può guarire,
9. When the wise men departed from Jerusalem, the star again appeared, and they rejoiced with exceeding great joy: and, indeed, to new converts and persons in their first addresses to the worship of God, such spiritual and exterior comforts are often indulged ; because then God judges them to be most necessary, as being invitations to duty by the entertainments of our affections with such sweetnesses, which represent the glory of the reward, by the antepasts and refreshments dispensed even in the ruggedness of the way, and incommodities of the journey. All other delights are the pleasures of beasts, or the sports of children; these are the antepasts, and preventions of the full feasts and overa, flowings of eternity.
10. When they came to Bethlehem, and the star pointed them to a stable, they entered in ; and being enlightened with a Divine ray, proceeding from the face of the holy Child, and seeing through the cloud, and passing through the scandal of his mean lodging and poor condition, they bowed themselves to the earth ; first giving themselves an oblation to this great King, then they made offering of their gifts; for a man's person is first accepted, then his gift, God first regarded Abel, and then accepted his offering : which we are best taught to understand by the present instance; for it means no more, but that all outward services and oblations are made acceptable by the prior presentation of an inward sacrifice. If we have first presented ourselves, then our gift is pleasant, as coming but to express the truth of the first sacrifice; but if our persons be not first made a holocaust to God, the lesser oblations of outward presents are like sacrifices without salt and fire, nothing to make them pleasant or religious. For all other senses of this proposition charge upon God the distinguishing and acceptation of persons, against which he solemnly protests: God regards no man's person, but according to the doing of his duty; but then God is said first to accept the person, and then the gift, when the person is first sanctified and given to God by the vows and habits of a holy life; and then all the actions of his religion are homogeneal to their principle, and accepted by the acceptation of the man.
11. These magi presented to the holy Babe, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, protesting their faith of three articles by
the symbolical oblation: by gold, that he was a king ; by incense, that he was a God; by myrrh, that he was a man. And the presents also were representative of interior virtues : the myrrh signifying faith, mortification, chastity, compunction, and all the actions of the purgative way of spiritual life; the incense signifying hope, prayer, obedience, good intention, and all the actions and devotions of the illuminative; the giving the gold representing love to God and our neighbours, the contempt of riches, poverty of spirit, and all the eminences and spiritual riches of the unitive life. And these oblations if we present to the holy Jesus, both our persons and our gifts shall be accepted, our sins shall be purged, our understandings enlightened, and our wills united to this holy Child, and entitled to a communion of all his glories.
12. And thus, in one view and two instances, God hath drawn all the world to himself by his son Jesus, in the instance of the shepherds and the Arabian magi, Jews and Gentiles, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, noble and ignoble; that in him all nations, and all conditions, and all families, and all persons, might be blesseds; having called all by one star or other, by natural reason, or by the secrets of philosophy; by the revelations of the Gospel, or by the ministry of angels; by the illuminations of the Spirit, or by the sermons and dictates of spiritual fathers; and hath consigned this lesson to us, that we must never appear before the Lord empty, offering gifts to him, by the expenses or by the affections of charity; either the worshipping or the oblations of religion, either the riches of the world or the love of the soul : for if we cannot bring gold with the rich Arabians, we may, with the poor shepherds, come and“ kiss the Son, lest he be angry;" and in all cases come and him with fear and reverence," and spiritual rejoicings.
8 Nam simul terris animisque duri,
Et suà Bessi nive duriores,
Pacis in aulam.
Vixit in antris.
S. Paulinus in Reditu Nicetæ.
Most holy Jesu, thou art the glory of thy people Israel, and a
light to the Gentiles, and wert pleased to call the Gentiles to the adoration and knowledge of thy sacred person and laws, communicating the inestimable riches of thy holy discipline to all, with an universal undistinguishing love; give unto us spirits docible, pious, prudent, and ductile, that no motion or invitation of grace be ineffectual, but may produce excellent effects upon us, and the secret whispers of thy spirit may prevail upon our affections, in order to piety and obedience, as certainly as the loudest and most clamorous sermons of the Gospel. Create in us such excellences, as are fit to be presented to thy glorious Majesty; accept of the oblation of myself, and my entire services : but be thou pleased to verify my offering, and secure the possession to thyself, that the enemy may not pollute the sacrifice, or divide the gift, or question the title ; but that I may be wholly thine, and for ever, clarify my understanding, sanctify my will, replenish my memory with arguments of piety; then shall I present to thee an oblation rich and precious, as the treble gift of the Levantine princes. Lord, I am thine, reject me not from thy favour, exclude me not from thy presence; then shall I serve thee all the days of my life, and partake of the glories of thy kingdom, in which thou reignest gloriously and eternally. Amen.
Of the Circumcision of Jesus, and his Presentation in the
1. And now the blessed Saviour of the world began to do the work of his mission and our redemption : and because man had prevaricated all the Divine commandments, to which all human nature respectively to the persons of several capacities was obliged, and therefore the whole nature was
obnoxious to the just rewards of its demerits ; first, Christ was to put that nature he had assumed, into a savable condition, by fulfilling his Father's preceptive will, and then to reconcile it actually, by suffering the just deservings of its prevarications. He therefore addresses himself to all the parts of an active obedience ; " and when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child,” he exposed his tender body to the sharpness of the circumcising stone, and shed his blood in drops, giving an earnest of those rivers, which he did afterwards pour out for the cleansing all human nature, and extinguishing the wrath of God.
2. He that had no sin, nor was conceived by natural generation, could have no adherences to his soul or body, which needed to be pared away by a rite, and cleansed by a mystery ; neither, indeed, do we find it expressed, that eircumcisiona was ordained for abolition or pardon of original sin, (it is indeed presumed so ;) but it was instituted to be a seal of a covenant between God and Abraham, and Abraham's posterity, “a seal of the righteousness of faith," and therefore was not improper for him to suffer, who was the child of Abraham, and who was the Prince of the covenant, and “the Author and Finisher of that faith,” which was consigned to Abraham in circumcision. But so mysterious were all the actions of Jesus, that this one served many ends. For, 1. It gave demonstration of the verity of human nature. 2. So he began to fulfil the law. 3. And took from himself the scandal of uncircumcision, which would eternally have prejudiced the Jews against his entertainment and communion. 4. And then he took upon him that name, which declared him to be the Saviour of the world ; which, as it was consummate in the blood of the cross, so was it inaugurated in the blood of circumcision : for “ when the eight days were accomplished for circumcising of the Child, his name was called Jesus."
3. But this holy family, who had laid up their joys in the eyes and heart of God, longed, till they might be permitted an address to the temple, that there they might present the holy Babe unto his Father; and indeed that he, who had no
a “ος ποθ' έής πάτρης εξήγαγε δίον Αβραάμ, Αυτός απ' ουρανόθεν κέλετ' ανέρα παντί συν οίκω Σάρκ’ αποσυλήσαι πόσθης άπο' και β' ετέλεσσεν.
Euseb. I. ix. C. 22. Præpur. Erangel..