« PreviousContinue »
to Him from whom all good proceeds, present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is their reasonable service.Si Let them anew devote themselves to His service, at His footstool, that they may be strengthened and refreshed in their souls, to run with patience the race that is set before them.62 And may those who have believed through grace, while showing forth the Lord's death, and their reliance upon it for pardon and salvation, in obedience to the command of their Saviour, be animated to press forward in the narrow way to the kingdom of heaven, until they reach the goal, and obtain the prize of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
61 Rom. xii. 1.
62 Hebrews xii. I.
. THE EPIPHANY.
THE ADORATION AND OFFERING OF THE WISE MEN.
Matthew ii. 11.
AND WHEN THEY WERE COME INTO THE
HOUSE, THEY SAW THE YOUNG CHILD WITH MARY HIS MOTHER, AND FELL DOWN AND WORSHIPPED HIM: AND WHEN THEY HAD OPENED THEIR TREASURES, THEY PRESENTED UNTO HIM GIFTS; GOLD, AND FRANKINCENSE, AND MYRRH.
The superintending Providence of God was remarkably displayed in the means which were made use of to call the attention of mankind to our Lord Jesus Christ on His coming into our world. The intelligence of the birth of the promised Messiah being first communicated to the poor shepherds of Bethlehem, showed
the peculiar character of the Christian dispensation, as it is described by our Saviour Himself, when He said, To the poor the gospel is preached.63 The great majority of true believers in Christ has always been found among the poor. Of this class were the multitudes which followed our Lord Jesus Christ from place to place when He went about doing good. The common people heard Him gladly 16+ or according to the language of the Pharisees,65 the ignorant mob was cursed with the delusion, as they esteemed it, of believing on Him. In all ages the question of the Apostle James might be answered in the affirmative, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him ? 66 And it is a great blessing that this is the case. For by this means greater numbers are benefited than otherwise could be. What a blessing is it, that great abilities, or great learning are not required in order to understand the essential truths of the gospel. Though at the same time the mysteries of the kingdom of God afford full scope for the most extensive research of the most cultivated mind, and the most elevated genius; and will amply repay the labours of those who dig deep into these golden mines. As it is said in the first of our Homilies : “ The Scripture is
63 Lake vii. 22. 64 Mark xii. 37. 45 John vii. 49.68 James ii. 5. full, as well of low valleys, plain ways, and easy for every man to use and to walk in, as also of high hills and mountains, which few men can climb unto.” So it may also be affirmed of the things which relate to our Lord Jesus Christ. The religion of Christ is indeed especially designed for the poor, as they are always the most numerous portion of mankind; but it does not exclude the great or the learned. They are equally welcome to partake of its blessings if they are willing to receive them. We learn this from the circumstance that the coming of Christ into the world was announced to the wise men of the East, the Persian Magi, as well as to the poor shepherds. His first manifestation to the Gentiles, was to some of the great or the learned ones of the earth, by whom His advent was made known at the court of King Herod, and to the chief priests and rulers of the Jews. This subject is brought before us in the appointed Gospel for this day. Othat He who came to be a Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel, 67 may be pleased to enlighten our minds by His grace, that in His light we may see light! As the sun is visible only by its own radiance, so is Jesus Christ the Sun of righteousness. Till He shine into the heart, all is darkness. But when He
displays the beams of His grace, a light is introduced into the soul, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 68
The Evangelist begins his narrative of the wonderful event wbich we commemorate at this season, by saying, When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews ? for we have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him. The coming of these wise men from a far country to inquire for the Messiah, was the most likely means to excite the attention of the chiefs of the Jewish nation to their new-born King. If they had heard a rumour of the vision of the poor shepherds of Bethlehem, they probably treated it with contempt, as one of the marvellous tales which find credit among common people; and did not think it worth their while to examine into the truth of the story. But the inquiry of the Persian Magi, who were some of the most celebrated astronomers of antiquity, the learned and great men of their nation, led them to suppose that the event must have taken place, respecting which these men desired to be informed. They described Him by His true title, the King of the Jews ; a title which it ap
68 Proverbs iv. 18.