ON CHRISTMAS DAY
Parvulus filius hodie natus est nobis, et vocabitur Deus, fortis, alleluia, alleluia.
Consider first, that the devotion of this holy time, and of this day in particular, calls us to the crib of Bethlehem, there to contemplate our infant Saviour, and to entertain our souls with him. O what a large field have we here opened to us for our meditations! Christians, place yourselves in spirit near the manger of our Lord, and fix the eyes of your soul upon him. Reflect who this is whom you see here lying before you, as a helpless infant, in this open stall; suffering and weeping, poor and humble, wrapt up in these mean swaddling clothes, and laid in this crib, between an ox and an ass. O! your faith will inform you that under all these mean appearances lies concealed the Lord of glory! This infant, not yet one day old, is the eternal Son of the eternal God; this weak helpless babe is he, who by his almighty power made both heaven and earth; he who is here wrapt up so straitly, and confined to this narrow crib, fills heaven and earth with his incomprehensible immensity; this speechless child is God’s own Word, who called all things out of nothing, and whom all things obey. O wonderful mystery which has thus joined together the highest and the lowest; all that is great in heaven, with all that is little and contemptible upon earth, in the person of this infant God! But what is the meaning of all this? What has brought this great God down to this stable, to this crib? Why has he thus debased and perfectly annihilated himself? O my soul, it is for thy sake; it is for the love of thee; it is to redeem thee, and deliver thee from sin and hell; it is to give an example of all virtue; it is to draw thy heart to himself, and to engage thee to love him.
Consider 2ndly, and study well the great lessons which the Son of God desires to teach thee from the crib. Learn to be humble, by the contemplation of his unparalleled humiliations, which he here so joyfully embraces for thy sake; learn to be poor in spirit, by the consideration of his voluntary poverty; learn mortification and self-denial, by the view of his sufferings, which are all of his own choice. Learn of him here to despise this cheating world and all its empty show, its painted toys, its childish amusements, and all the allurements of its sensual pleasures, which he, who is the wisdom of God, despises and condemns in his birth. But especially apply thyself to study well, and to learn from the contemplation of the Son of God in the crib, the infinite charity of God, his infinite love for thee, and the infinite enormity of sin, by which we continually rebel against this infinite charity. O my soul, if thou couldst but penetrate, with thy inward eyes, into the heart of this thy infant God, what heavenly flames wouldst thou there discover of a more than seraphic love for thee! Thou wouldst here meet thyself, in the midst of the heart of thy Saviour, where he has so long ago given thee a place. O there thou wouldst effectually learn both to hate thy sins and to love thy God.
Consider 3rdly, the affections with which thou oughtest to accompany thy meditations in the stable of Bethlehem, if thou desirest to entertain here in a proper manner thy new-born king and Saviour. Here thou must exercise thyself in acts of all the three divine or theological virtues; of a lively faith in This thy infant God and all his sacred truths – which lie here concealed in this mystery of his incarnation and birth – and all the wonders of his almighty power, wisdom, and goodness, which he has here wrought for the love of us; and of all the treasures of heaven, which he here brings with him to communicate to our souls; of a most firm hope and confidence in his infinite power, mercy, and goodness, which he discovers to thee in this mystery; of a most ardent love for him in return for all that love which he here shows thee. Then pour forth thy soul in his presence, in acts of adoration, praise, and glory; in acts of thanksgiving for all he has done for thee and for the whole world; in acts of oblation of thy whole being, and of all the powers of thy soul, to his love and service: and make at his feet (who is come to be the great high priest of God and man) an humble confession of all thy sins, with a most hearty sorrow and contrition for having ever offended so good a God; craving mercy, pardon, and absolution of him, and through him, and firmly resolving upon a new life for the future.
Conclude to let this be thy daily exercise during this holy time of Christmas, and not to suffer worldly entertainments or diversions to keep thee out of the company of thy Saviour, at least so far as to hinder thee from waiting often on him, and spending a competent part of thy time with him, in proper meditations and affections. If thou art at a loss to know how thou oughtest to entertain thyself with him, beg of him to teach thee, for he comes to be thy teacher. And if thou art sensible of the meanness of thy own performances, in point of adoration, praise, glory, thanksgiving, &c., offer up to the eternal Father the adoration, praise, glory, and thanksgiving of this thy new-born Saviour, to supply thy defects.