ON THE OFFERINGS WE ARE TO MAKE, BY THE EXAMPLE OF THE WISE MEN
Consider, first, that the ‘gold, frankincense, and myrrh,’ offered by the wise men to our new-born Saviour, mystically denote other offerings, which we, also, ought daily to make to him. In the first place, we must offer him the tribute of our gold, as to our true king; that is, we must daily present him with our souls, stampt with his own image, and burnished with divine love. This is the gold, this is the tribute our Sovereign expects from us. When the Jews asked him concerning their giving tribute to Caesar, he called for their coin, on which they had the image of Caesar, and inferred from thence, that they were ‘to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar’s,’ Matt. xxii.; that is, to give him what was stampt with his image. Our souls are stampt with God’s own image, to this very end, that we should give them in tribute to him, by perfect love: ‘render then to God, the things that are God’s,’ by daily offering your whole souls to him by fervent acts of love, and you shall have given him your gold.
Consider 2ndly, that we must also offer our ‘frankincense’ to our Saviour as to our God. ‘Incense’ in scripture is considered as an emblem of prayer, and expresses the worship we pay to our Lord, by sending up to him the odoriferous vapours of our devotions, as from the censer of a heart burning with the love of God. Prayer, then is the frankincense which we must, in imitation of the wise men, present to our Saviour, as to our God. This we must daily offer to him at the hours of incense, as a morning and evening sacrifice in the temple of God, which is within our souls; with this we ought also to endeavour to perfume in some measure all our other daily actions and employments, in order to make them agreeable to him.
Consider 3rdly, that with these offerings of the gold of divine love, and of the frankincense of fervent prayer, we must also join that of the myrrh of self-denial and mortification, which our Lord no less expects, and requires at our hands, than the other two; since he has expressly declared, that except we ‘deny ourselves’ and ‘hate ourselves’ in this world, we cannot be his disciples. ‘Myrrh’ has a bitter taste, but it is a wholesome bitter; and it has an excellent property to keep bodies from corruption. Thus it is an emblem of the mortification of our passions and sensual inclinations; which is somewhat bitter and disagreeable indeed, to the taste of our nature, but is sovereignly wholesome, and necessary to keep the soul from the corruption of sin. so that this offering of myrrh, like the other two, should be the daily exercise of a Christian; and should, as it were, season all his thoughts, words, and deeds, to restrain them from evil.
Conclude, O my soul, not to let a day pass without frequently offering to thy Lord, the gold of love and charity, the frankincense of prayer, and the myrrh of self-denial; and he will certainly accept of both thy offerings and thyself, and in exchange will give thee himself.