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me, O Lord, through the fame Jefus Chrift, to whom, with thee, and the Holy Ghoft, be all Honour and Glory now and for evermore. Amen.
Lmighty and everlafting God, give unto me For Faith the Increase of Faith, Hope, and Charity; and Obe and that I may obtain that which thou doft promife, make me heartily to believe what thou haft revealed, and to love that which thou doft command, through Jefus Christ our Lord. Amen.
ORD of all Power and Might, who art the For reAuthor and Giver of all good Things; affift moving me by thy Grace, that I may mortify all the inor- ftacles of dinate and corrupt inclinations of my Heart, which believing. oppose the Belief of thy holy and heavenly Truths. Enable me to conquer my evil Habits, and govern my unruly Paffions, that they may not indifpofe my Mind in embracing that Evidence, which fo plentifully accompanieth thy divine Revelations to the Sons of Men. Let not the fcandalous Divifions amongst Christians, nor the ill Lives of thofe that profefs thy holy Religion, ever ftagger or weaken my Belief of it, fince Love and Peace, and Unity, are Marks of thy true Difciples, and that thy Wrath is revealed from Heaven against all thofe that obey not the Gofpel of thy Son. Keep my Mind free from all Prejudice, which puts fo falfe a Bias upon the Underftanding, even in Matters of the greatest Importance, and which may prove fo fatal and deftructive to my eternal Welfare; that feeing the Reasonableness of thofe Things thou haft required to be believed, the Perfection of those Duties thou haft enjoined to be practised, and the Power and Force of thofe Motives upon which both are founded, I may be stedfast and unmoveE
able and at laft receive the End of my Faith, even the Salvation of my Soul, through Jefus Christ our Lord. Amen.
and Eternal God, who haft
condefcended to establish with Chriftians a Covenant of Faith and Obedience, with the Promifes of a prefent Supply of Grace and Affiftance, and of a future Reward to crown all those that perfevere in thy Service; O let me for ever dwell upon this Rock, that, while I am furrounded with fenfible Things, I may not be shaken by the Power of them. That no Charms of present finful Pleafures, may make me forget that Place of Torment to which they confign me. That the Cares of this Life, and the Deceitfulness of Riches, may never make me neglect a Treasure that faileth not, an Inheritance with the Saints in Light. Work in me all thofe godly Affections that may make my Faith effectual to my Salvation. Let the Belief of thy paternal Care over me produce Love, Honour, and dutiful Obedience; the Belief of thy Almighty Power, Reverence and godly Fear; the Belief of thy Righteousness, Holiness in all Manner of Converfation; that Faith being the governing Principle of my Life, it may compofe my Mind under all Events, by a firm Truft and Confidence in thy wife Providence; and that it may difpel all Solicitude for worldly Supplies, by a fet-, tled Perfuafion, that thou wilt with-hold no good Thing from them that walk uprightly; and that thou art ready to beftow good Things, if we perfevere in Prayer and Devotion; that ordering all my Actions with a Regard to another World, I may fo pass through Things temporal, that I finally lose not the Things eternal, through Jefus Chrift our Lord. Amen.
For an effectual Faith.
The Nativity of our Lord, or the Birth-Day of CHRIST, commonly called Chriftmas Day, December 25.
2. WHAT Festival doth the Church celebrate this Day?
A. The Great Festival of the Nativity of our Saviour Jefus Chrift; or the Appearance of God in the Flesh.
Q. What authority have we for the Obfervation of this Festival?
A. The Practice of the Primitive Church; for though we have no certain Evidence of the exact Time when it was firft obferved, yet it appeareth plainly, that it was very early received all over the Weft. And the immemorial Obfervation of it is an Argument of its primitive Inftitution.
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 Reason to doubt but that this, which we now observe, is the very Day; the Teftimony of St. Chryfoftom is clear for the Tradition Chryfoft of it. Though if the Day were mistaken, the Tom. 5. Matter of the Miftake being of no greater Mo- P 467. ment 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, efpoufed 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
A. Yes, the Prophecies of the Old Testament Jer. xxxi. foretold as much, Jeremiah says, The Lord hath created a new Thing upon the Earth, a Woman shall compass a Man. The new Creation of a Man is therefore new, and therefore a Creation, because wrought in If. vii. 14. a Woman only, 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 themfelves, 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 himfelf would evince as much. As for that Conceit of the
Fers, that all fhould be fulfilled in Hezekiah, it is fo manifeftly falfe, that nothing can make more for Cyril He- the Confirmation of our Faith. This fign was rof. Calec, given, and this Promife made fome Time in the 2 Kings Reign of Abaz. Now Ahaz reigned but fixteen xvi. 2. ch. Tears in Jerufalem; and his Son Hezekiah, who fucceeded him, was twenty-five Years old when he began to reign; and therefore born feveral Years
before Abaz was King, and confequently not now to be conceived when this Sign was given.
Q. How doth it appear that thefe Prophecies were fulfilled in Jefus Chrift?
Mat. 1. 25.
A. His Mother that bore him was a pure Virgin, Lukei. 34. as appeareth both from her own Account, and that of Jeepb her reputed Hufband; both Perfons of known Integrity, and unquestionable Credit. When Flepo doubted of her Chastity, an Angel was difpatched to clear her Honour; and to affure him that what was conceived in her, was not any human Production, but of the Holy Ghost. When the objected the Impoffibility of her being a Mother, the Angel explains it to her himfelf, by the Holy Luke i.35. Ghoft coming upon her, and the Power of the Highest vershadowing her. All which was fo unqueftionable, and plainly made out to the Apostles and primitive Chriflians, that they univerfally and firmnly believed it, and thought it a Point of fo great Moment, as to deferve a Place in that Summary of the Chriflian Faith called the Apostles' Creed.
Q. What were the Circumflances of our Saviour's Birth?
Luke ii. 4.
A. He was born at Bethlehem, according to the Prediction of the Prophet Micah; whither Jofeph Mic. v. 2. 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 publish the Birth of the true Meffras. The Concourfe of People to Bethlehem 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 fwaddling Ver. 7. Clothes, and laid him in a Manger; doing herfelf the Offices of a pious and tender Parent, whilst all the Angels of God worshipped him.
Q. How was the Birth of our Saviour published 13 the World?
Heb. i. 6.