« PredošláPokračovať »
1. By the Administration of Angels; for as
certain Shepherds were keeping Watch over their Luke ii.g. Flocks by Night, the Angel of the Lord came upon
them, and the Glory of the Lord Mhone round about them; so that the Splendor of the Appearance confounded their Senses, and made them fore afraid: But
the Angel quickly dissipated the Terror that seized Luke ii. them, with the Tidings be brought of great Joy to all
People, in these comfortable Words, unto you is born this Day, in the City of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Q. How were the Shepherds directed to find this new-born King ?
A. Left they should expect a Prince accompanied with outward Pomp and Magnificence, the Angel describeth the Meanness and Obscurity of his Circumstances, as a Token to guide them in the Search of this new-born Prince, This shall be a Sign unto you, ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swada dling Clothes, and lying in a Manger. Upon this Notice, the Shepherds without Delay went to Bethlehem, and found the Narrative verified, and published to the World both what they had seen. and heard concerning the Holy Child Jesus.
Q. How was this joyful News received by the Angels and the Shepherds ?
A. The Multitude of the Heavenly Host praised God in that devout Hymn, Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth Peace, Good-will towards Men. And the Shepherds, when they had found the real Completion of what was told them by the Angel, returned, glorifying and praising God.
Q. Since ibis Angelical Hymn hath been retained in the Offices of the Church ever since ibe primitive Times of Christianity, what may we understand by it?
A. That the blessed Angels excited one another to give Glory and Praise to God for his wonderful, Works towards the Children of Men. That it is our
constant Duty to acknowledge his Majesty and
Heavenly Hoft in glorifying and praising God.
Q. What may we learn from the Circumstances of cur Saviour's Birth, and ibe Publication thereof?
A. It ought to reconcile us to a State of Poverty: For fincethe blessed Jefuschofe to be born in so mean and obfcurea Manner, and preferred it before the Splendor and Pomp of the Rich and Great, the Poor ought to bear a low Condition with Patience and Contentedness, and the Rich not to undervalue and contemn it. in publishing the News of his Birth, our Saviour passed by the Wife and the Luke ii. 8, Powerful, and revealed it to the poor Shepherds; he 17. manifesteth it to them by an Angel, and maketh them the Instruments of communicating the Knowlcdge of it to the Rich and Great. God in- Ch. iv. 18. carnate preacheth the Gospel ta the Poor; and mean illiterate Fishermen are employed to preach it to the Kings and Sovereigns of the Earth. And if ever the rich attain Happiness, they must be poor Matt, «. 3. in Spirit, and sit loose to what they enjoy.
Q. What Expectation was there in the World about the Time of the Messiah's appearing !
A. The Jews were in a general Expectation of him, as appears from the arcient and general Tradition received from the School of Elias ; that at the End of the second two thousand Years the Mellias
fould E 4
cue. And likewise from that particular CompuG:t, de tation of the Jewish Doctors, not long before our 14.1.5. Saviour's Coming; who upon a solemn Debate of
that Matter, did determine the Messias would come within fifty Years. And this is confirmed from the great Jealousy, which Herod had concerning a King
of the Jews, that was expected to be born about Lib. 7.C. that Time. And from the Testimony of Josephus,
who tells us, the Jeu's rebelled againsi the Romans, teing encouraged thereto by a celebrated Prophecy in their Scriptures that about that Time a famous Prince should be born among ibum, that should rule the World.
Q. Was ihe Gentile World in any Expectation of such an Appearance?
A. Yes, this is evident from the famous Testi
monies of two eminent Roman Historians, Suetonius Lib.8.c.4. and Tacitus. The former says, There was an ancient
and general Opinion famous throughout all the Eaftern Parts, that ibe Fates kad determined that there should come o!!t of Judea those that should govern the World.
Which Words seem to be a verbal Translation of Mic. v.9. that Prophecy in Micah, ibat out of Judah should
come the Ruler. Tacitus's Testimony is, That a great many were pofilled with a Persuasion, that it was contained in the ancient Broks of the Priests, that at that very Time the East flould prevail, and that they who should grvern the World, were to come out of Judea.
Which Phrase, that the East Mould prevail, refers Zech. ii, 8. to that Title given the Mejias by the Prophet Ze
chariah; where he is called the Man whole Name is the Easi; for though we translate it Branch, yet the Hebrew Word iignifieth both ; and may be rendered the one as well as the other.
Q. What was the great Advantage of our Saviour's appearing in the World?
A. The scattering and dispelling that Cloud of Idolatry, and that Correption of Manners, which had. fatally overspread it. For the most contemptible
Objects were thought worthy of divine Honours, the Jews themselves having at one Time as many Jer,ii
. 28. Gods as Cities; and the most brutish and scandalous Vices prevailed, not only amongst the most polished Part of Mankind, but even in the solemn Acts of the Gentile Worship. Upon which Account our Saviour became a Light to lighten the Gentiles, as he was the Glory of his People Ifrael. So that under the Conduct of such a Guide, we cannot fail of acquiring the knowledge of God's Will in this World, and the comfortable Expectation of Life everlasting in the World to come.
Q. Wherein did our Saviour exceed all those that had before him made known the Will of God to Mankind?
A. In the Dignity and Excellency of his Person, whereby he knew the best and furent Ways of attaining Happiness. In the Clearness and Perfektion of his Precepts. In the Brightness of his own Example, and in the Encouragements of gracious Amstances, and glorious Rewards, which he hath promised to all those that engage and persevere in his Service.
Q. How was our Saviour qualitied by the Dignity - of bis Person to reveal to us the Will of God?
A. He who lay in the Bofom of the Father, and John 1.18. had the Spirit cominunicated to him zeilbort Measure, Ö. 34: in whom dwelt the Fulness of the Godhead bodily,could not want a perfect Knowledge of what was most agrecable to the divine Will; and consequently we have abundant Reason to put our Trust and Confidence in that Method of attaining Salvation he hath discovered, because it was the Contrivance of infinite Wisdom, and cannot fail of Success, if we are not wanting to ourselves in heartily embracing it.
Q. Wherein confifteth the Perfection of his Doctrine?
A. In that it directs us to the true Object of Worfoip, and gives us rational and worthy Notions of that Being we are obliged to adore ; and is most fitly adapted to raise our Natures to the greatest Im
provement they are capable of. To prevent our falling into sinful Actions, our Saviour layeth a
Restraint upon our Thoughts, which lead to them, Mat. v.28. and obligeth us to govern our Looks, which give
Birth to our Thoughts. To obviate all those Evils, which proceed froman inordinate Desire of Riches, he hath discovered to us that admirable Temper of Mind distinguished in his Gospel by Poverty of Spirit, which maketh us even sit loose to the good Things we possess. To keep us at a Distance from the
Temptations of Lying and Detraction, he hath forMat . xii. bid all idle Words, that the Care to avoid them
might secure us from falling into those greater Faults. To hinder the fatal Effects of Angerand
Revenge, he hath nipped these Passions in the Bud, Mat. v. 44. by commanding us to love our Enemies, and to do
Good to them that do Evil to us. To facilitate the Virtue of Patience, so necessary in this Vale of Tears, he hath manifested to us the Treasures that are hid in Adversity, and the Advantage of being persecuted for his Sake: that what the World calls Misfortune and Calamity,often proveth the blessed
Occasion of making us happy both in this Life Verg, 10. and the next. Blessed are they that mourn, Blessed are
they that are perfecuted. And to make us quiet and easy in ourselves, and gentle to others, he requireth us to have a quick Sense of our own Weaknesses and Defects, and readily to condescend to the lowest Offices for the Good of our Neighbours.
Q. Wherein appears the Brightness of our Sa. viour's Example?
A. In that he hath fet us a perfect Pattern of all those folid and needful Virtues which he requireth from us, and in his own Person hath recommended
to us the most hard and difficult, as well as those Mat. xiv. that are inost useful and beneficial. To teach us
Piety and Devotion, he frequently retired, and spent whole Nights in Prayer; and from worldly Occur
Mat. xi. 29.
3. Luke vi.