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rences raised Matter for spiritual Thoughts; and conformed not only to divine Institutions, but to Johnx.22. human Appointments that tended to promote Religion. That we might learn Humility, this Prince Luke ii. 7. of Glory condefcended to the Poverty of a Stable; this Wisdom of the Father became dumb, and was reduced to the Simplicity of an Infant; he spent thirty Years of his Life in Retirement, unknown to the World, and was fubject to his Parents. That we might be ready to exercife univerfal Charity A&s x. 38. to the Bodies and Souls of Men, the whole Course of his Life was employed in doing Good. That we might fupprefs all ambitious Defires, he refufed Mat. iv. 8. the Offer of the Kingdoms of the World, and the Glory of them; and, when the People would have made him a King, he filently withdrew, and they John vi. knew not where to find him. That we might be Mat. xvii. obedient to Government, he paid Tribute, though he 24, 25was free from any fuch Obligation, and was forced to work a Miracle to perform it. That we might live above the World, he chofe to have no Part nor Share in the Poffeffions of it, the Son of Man not Mat. viii. baving where to lay his Head. And though he denied 20. himself in the lawful Pleafures and Satisfactions of Life, yet he was perfectly contented in his mean Condition. That in all our Sufferings we might be re- Mat. xxvi, Jigned to the Will of God, in his bitter Agony he re- 39nounced the strongest Inclination of Nature, and fubmitted to the Appointment of his Father. That a Regard to the Judgment of the World might not prevail upon us to tranfgrefs the Laws of God, he Phil. ii. 7made bimself of no Reputation; and, in order to do Good to Mankind, was contented to be esteemed one of the worst of Men; a Magician, an Impoftor, Luke xi. a Friend and Companion of Publicans and Sinners, Mat. xi. and a Seducer of the People. That we might re- 19. fift all Temptations to Anger, and preferve an Evennefs of Mind under all Provocations, he bore with
John x. 32.
the Dulness and Slownefs of his Difciples, both in their understanding and believing what he plainly taught, and anfwered the fharpeft Reproaches of his Enemies with calm Arguments, and modeft Silence. That we might practife that difficult Duty af loving our Enemies, he prayed most earnestly for his, even when he felt the most cruel Effects of their Malice, and imputed it to their Ignorance.
Q. What Encouragement bath our Saviour promifed, to excite us to the Performance of our Duty?
A. He offereth Pardon and Forgiveness of what is paft, and perfect Reconciliation to God by the Merits of his Death and Paffion, provided we return to him by fincere Repentance. He fupplieth us with Strength at present to enable us to do our Duty, by enlightening our dark Minds, by exciting our Wills to that which is good, and by raising our Courage under Difficulties and Dangers. He alarms our Fears by the Threatenings of eternal Punishment in the next Life, and encourages our Hopes by the Promites of everlasting Rewards to the whole Man, both Body and Soul; which are the most powerful Confiderations in the World to take Men off from Sin, and to bring them to Goodness.
Q. What Thoughts are proper to entertain our Minds upon this Festival?
A. Great Admiration of the ftupendous Love of God towards Mankind, in fending no lefs a Perfon than his own Son, and no lefs dear to him than his only-begotten Son, out of his mere Grace and Goodnefs, to accomplish our Salvation, who were Enemies to God by our evil Works. Great Thankfulnefs to the blessed Jefus, for his wonderful Humility and Condefcenfion, when he undertook the Work of our Redemption. He who lodged in the Bofom of bis Father, came into the World, and had not where to lay his Head. He who had Heaven for his Throne, was contented to be born in a Stable, to be laid in a
Manger, to be wrapped in fwaddling Clothes. Great Tranfports of Gratitude; that, for our Sakes, he would be pleased to be made miferable, that we might be made happy; to be poor, that we might be enriched; to die, that we might live for ever. Great Truft and Confidence in the Mercy of God, who hath fhewed fuch Tenderness and Compaffion towards us, and done fuch great Things for our Salvation.
Q. How ought we to exprefs our Thankfulness for the Incarnation of our bleffed Saviour?
A. We ought to join with the heavenly Hoft, and the pious believing Shepherds in Hymns of Praise and Thanksgiving. To comply with the great Design of this wonderful Love, by denying all Tüt, š. 12. Ungodliness and worldly Lufts, and by living foberly, righteously, and godly, in this prefent World. To propound this Pattern of Love for our own Imitation, and becaufe God hath fo loved us, to love one 1 John iv another; and to ftoop to the loweft Offices of Cha-1 rity for the Relief of our Neighbour. Never to despise the Poor for the Meannefs of their Circumftances, fince it is what our Saviour chofe for our Sakes; but to cherish and affift them as his lively Reprefentatives here upon Earth, efpecially becaufe all the Kindnefs we fhew to them he reckoneth as done to himself.
Q. How ought we to express our Love to the bleffed Jefus for this wonderful Condefcenfion.
A. By earnestly labouring to please him to the John xiv. utmost of our Power, in a constant Care to keep his 15. Commandments, and endeavouring to prevail upon others to do the fame. By making a daily Progrefs in Piety and Virtue, that we may be conformed to the Likeness of that beloved Object. By fetting a great Value upon all Ways and Opportunities of converfing with him; in praying and meditating, in hearing his Word, and receiv
ing the bleffed Tokens of his Love, which he hath left us in the holy Sacrament. By being more concerned to hear his holy Name blafphemed, than Tit. ii. 13. for any Reproach that can be caft upon ourselves. By longing for his glorious Appearing, that we may enjoy him without Interruption to all Eternity.
Q. How is the Obfervation of this Festival abufed? A. When, instead of making it an Instrument of Religion, we chiefly employ this holy Season in Vanity and Folly; when our Joy evaporates in Extravagance, and degenerates into Sin and Senfuality; when we exprefs it by Luxury and Interperance, to the great Scandal of our Saviour and his holy Religion; it being the impropereft Season (if there can be any one more fo than another) for Impiety and Wickedness, and a most notorious Aggravation of it; because contrary to the Defign of our Saviour's Coming into the World, who was 1 John iii. made manifeft that he might deftroy the Works of the
God, who haft us thy
begotten Son, to take our Nature upon him, and as at this Time to be born of a pure Virgin; grant that I, being regenerate and made thy Child by Adoption and Grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit, through the fame our Lord Jefus Chrift, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the fame Spirit, ever one God, World without End. Amen.
For Conformity to the Defign
God, whofe bleffed Son was manifefted that he might destroy the Works of the Devil, of Chrift's and make us the Sons of God, and Heirs of eternal Life; grant, I beseech thee, that having this Hope, I may purify myself, even as he is pure;
coming intothe World.
that when he fhall appear again with Power and great Glory, I may be made like unto him in his glorious Kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghoft, he liveth and reigneth one God, World without End. Amen.
T is very meet, right, and my bounden Duty, Thankf that I fhould at all Times, and in all Places, the Birth giving for give Thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Al- of our Samighty Everlasting God, because thou didst give Jefus Chrift thy only Son to be born as at this Time for us; who by the Operation of the Holy Ghost was made very Man of the Subftance of the Virgin Mary his Mother, and that without Spot of Sin, to make us clean from all Sin: Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the Company of Heaven, I laud and magnify thy glorious Name, evermore praifing thee, and faying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hofts, Heaven and Earth are full of thy Glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most High. Amen. IV.
LORY be to God on High, and in Earth Praife to Peace, Good-will towards Men. I praife the Incarthee, I blefs thee, I worship thee, I glorify thee, nation. I give Thanks unto thee for thy great Glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty. O Lord, the only-begotten Son Jefus Chrift, O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, who wert made Man to take away the Sins of the World, have Mercy upon me, by turning me from my Iniquities: Thou who wait manifefted to deftroy the Works of the Devil, have Mercy upon me, by enabling me to renounce and forfake them: Thou who art the great Advocate with the Father for penitent Sinners, receive my Prayer. For thou only art holy, thou only art the Lord, thou only, O Chrift, with the