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SE R M ON I.
The Nativity of our Lord, Tidings of great
LUKE ii. 10.
And the Angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I
bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
HE proper business of a festival is fpiritual s E R M.
joy, conceived in our hearts, by reflection on some notable blessing conferred on us; accompanied with a grateful senle and expression, answerable to the special bounty and mercy of God, in due proportion to the nature and degree of that blessing.
Such joy is a duty, or a part of religious devotion, 1 Theff. v. required by God, and very acceptable to him: for 16. as God would have his servants perpetually content, 12. well satisfied, and cheerful in all states, and upon all Phil. iv. 4. occurrences; so he doth especially demand from us, that we should entertain his favours with delight and complacence; it being proper, it being seemly, it being just, so to do : for since joy is a natural result of our obtaining whatever we do apprehend
• Ιδε γαρ ευαγγελίζομαι υμϊν χαράν μεγάλην, ήτις έσαι παντί τω λαώ. VOL. II.
S E R M. good, or esteem and affect ; the conception of it is a
plain argument, that we do well understand, do rightly prize, do cordially like, do thankfully embrace God's favours; as, on the contrary, a defect of it doth imply, that we do not mind thein, or take them to be little worth, that we do not sensibly relish them, or accept them kindly. And if ever we are obliged, if ever we are concerned fo to rejoice, then surely it is now; when the fairest occasion and highest cause of joy that ever was is presented to us; when certain news from heaven, and the best that ever came from thence, of the most admirable, the most glorious, the most beneficial event, that ever happened in the world, is in a manner suitably rare conveyed to us; for, Behold, faith the Angel, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Upon which words (each whereof is emphatical, and pregnant with matter observable) we shall first make a brief descant or paraphrafe, supplying the room of a curious analysis ; then we shall urge the main duty couched in them.
Pidg, Bebold: This is a word denoting admiration, exciting attention, intimating assurance : Bebold, and admire; it is no mean, no ordinary matter, that I ycport, but a most reinarkable, a very marvellous event: Behold, and attend; it is a business not to be passed over with small regard, but most worthy your consideration, of high moment and concernment to you. Behold, and fee; it is no uncertain, no obfcure thing ; but that whereof you may be fully alfured, as if it were most evident to your sense, and which by conspicuous proofs Mall be demonstrated; in the mean while you have no flight authority for it : For
Evæyseni šope.cs, I bring good tidings; I, an angel, a special messenger of God purposely sent on this errand, that by the strangeness of my apparition I may, excite you to regard it, by the weight of my
testimony I may incline you to believe it, by the s ER M. dignity of my nature I may declare the importance of it; 1, a faithful servant of God, and a kind friend to men, very willing at his command to perform good offices to them, do bring a message well becoming an angel's mouth, worth my descent from heaven, and putting on this visible shape : for I bring
Ευαγίελίζομαι χαραν μεγάλην, good tidings of great joy: 1 bring tidings, that may gratify the curiosity of any man, the mind of man naturally being greedy of news: good tidings; those are welcome to all men, and apt to yield more pleasure than any knowledge
we had before : tidings of joy; such as may not . only minister a dry satisfaction to your reason, but sensibly touch your affections, by the comfortable nature and beneficial tendency of them : tidings of great joy; as not touching any indifferent or petty business, but affairs of nearest concernment and highest consequence to you : (such, indeed, as you shall understand, which do concern not the poor interests of this world, not the sorry pleasures of sense, not any fender advantage of your present life and temporal state; but your spiritual welfare, your everlasting condition, the future joy and happiness of your souls ;) tidings, indeed, the most gladrome that ever founded upon earth, that ever entered into mortal ear : these I bring
Tueño, to you : to you shepherds; persons of mean condition, and simple capacity, leading this innocent and humble sort of life, employed in your honest vocation, undergoing toilfome labour and sore hardship; witness the open field, witness the cold season, witness the dark night, in which I find you watching, Luke ii. 8. and guarding your sheep; to you, who could expect no very welcome tidings; who are little concerned in any great transactions, and can have small
Pauperibus atque vigilantibus, &c. Bern. de Nat. Serm. 5.
24. X. 6.
SER M. ambition or hope of bettering your condition by any
changes here ; even to you (not in the first place to the mighty princes, to the crafty statesmen, to the sage philosophers, or learned rabbies, to the wealthy merchants, or fine citizens, who now are warm in their houses, enjoying their ease and pleasure ; reposing on their beds, or fitting by their fires, or revelling at their banquets and sports ; but to you) poor, harmless, filly, industrious souls; who well may represent the greater and better part of mankind, in this surprising and absolute free way, the gracious Lord of heaven by me his special minister doth vouchsafe to send from thence tidings of great joy: which shall be
llarti vw ascev, to all people ; or rather to all the peoRom. ix. 4. ple; that is to God's ancient and peculiar people, in Luke xxiv. regard to which it is said, I was not sent but to the lost Acts xiii. sheep of the house of Israel ; to that people, I say, espe
cially, primarily, and more immediately this joy did Zech. ix. 9. appertain; it, by a closer relation to God, and speRom. ix. 4.cial interest in his promises, having plainest title
thereto; it, from anticipations of knowledge, faith, and hope, being more capable to admit such an overture ; it indeed being the representative of all the spiritual Israel, or faithful feed of Abraham, for whom the benefits which these tidings import were designed; to it first indeed, but mediately and consequentially to all people dispersed on the face of the carth. The expression seemeth adapted to the prefent conceits of that nation, which apprehended nothing about God's favourable intentions to the community of men: but in effect it is to be understood extensively in reference to all people: for the Saviour, the Christ, the Lord, of whom this good news did report, was not only to be the Redeeiner and Governor of that small people, but of the world, of every nation, of all mankind : here indeed we have
TIUNTI IL 7.87, 10 all the people ; but in the nunc dimitLuke ii. 31. tis of old Simeon, we have távtar Tür ncūv, of all the
Isa. xlix. 6.
peoples : Mine eyes, said he, have seen thy salvation, S E R M. which thou hast prepared before the face of the peoples : As he was the glory of his people Ifrael; as in him God did visit and redeem that his people ; fo he was made Luke i. 68. a light to lighten the Gentiles, and 10 be for salvation 10 Acts xiii. the uttermost ends of the earth : he was the expectation 4 of Israel; but he was likewise the desire of all nations : xlii. 6. he was destined to rule in Sion; but the Heathen also Luke ii. 38. were given for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of Plal. ii. 8. the earth for bis podėllion : he was the root of Helle, Nici 20. which should stand for an ensign of the people, to which the Gentiles should seek; he was that royal Perfon, of whom the Psalmiit did fing, men shall be blessed in him, Pfal, Ixxii. all nations shall call him blefid.
He was to be born by nation a few, but a man by nature ; the Son of man, was a style which he commonly did own and affect, no less than the Son of Abraham, or of David; he was born indeed under the Gal. iv. 4. law, but of a woman ; and therefore brother to us all, as partaker of the same flesh and blood: hence was I leb. ii. 14.. he endued with an human compassion, and with a fraternal affection toward all men; hence was he dirposed to extend the benefit of his charitable and gracious performances unto them all.
Judeatherefore must not engross this angelical Gospel ; it is of importance most universal and unlimited, reaching through all successions of time, and all extensions of place ; filling all ages and regions of the world with matter and with obligation of joy: hence even by Moses anciently (according to St. Paul's interpretation) were all nations upon this ac- Rom. xv. count invited to a common joy; Rejoice, said he, 10,
Deut.xxxii. O ye nations with his people. Hence, in foresight of 43. this event, the holy Plalmist (as the Fathers expound Pfal. xcvii. him) did sing, The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, 1. xcvi. s.
• Την προτέραν το σωτήρος επιφάνειαν προλέγει.
Totum ad Chriftum revocemus, fi volumus iter rectæ intelligen. tiæ tenere, Aug. in Pf, xcvi. 7.