ON THE EPIPHANY
Ante luciferum genitus, et ante saecula, Dominus Salvator noster hodie mundo apparuit.
Consider first, that this day is kept by the Church of God with great solemnity, as one of the principal festivals of the year; and is called the Epiphany, that is to say, the apparition or manifestation of our Lord, because on this day he was first made known to the Gentiles, viz., to the wise men of the east, who were conducted to him by the apparition of an extraordinary star, and inspired to pay their early homage and worship to him. O how just It is that we should all celebrate with a grateful devotion this day of our first calling to the knowledge and faith of Christ – this Christmas-day of the Gentiles! O my soul! how great is this benefit of thy vocation to the true Christian faith! What would all other favours or advantages, either of nature or of grace, have availed thee if this had been wanting? How miserable must thou have been, both for time and eternity, if, like millions of others, thou hadst been left to ‘sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!’ O bless him, then, both now and for ever, who without any desert on thy part, has brought thee to this admirable light!
Consider 2ndly, the wonderful ways of Divine Providence, as well in preparing beforehand both the Jews and Gentiles to expect about that time the coming of the great Messiah, as in giving an early notice of his birth both to the Jews and the Gentiles – to the Jews, by an Angel sent to the shepherds – to the Gentiles, by a star that appeared to the wise men of the east. But alas! how few, either of the one or the other, duly corresponded with this great call! And is not this the case of millions to this day, who though many ways called and invited by, and to, that ‘light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world,’ John i., Choose rather to remain in the darkness of infidelity, error, or vice, than to follow the conduct of that star that would bring them to the true light? O how clearly shall we see one day that there was nothing wanting on the part of Divine Providence to bring us all to himself, but that we have been generally so unhappy as to be wanting in our correspondence with his lights and calls.
Consider 3rdly, that this star, which gave notice of the birth of our Saviour, was seen by all the nations of the east; but that they generally contented themselves with gazing upon it, without taking any pains to seek him whom that star preached unto them: whilst the wise men, following this divine call, set out without delay, in quest of this new-born king: in consequence of which, these were happily brought to Christ, and to his admirable light; whilst those others remained in darkness, and died in their infidelity. See, my soul, the difference between a ready compliance with the inspirations and graces of God, and the neglect of these heavenly calls; a difference which, as it produces here the distinction of the saint and the sinner, so will terminate hereafter in a happy eternity, for such as follows God and his calls; and a miserable eternity, for such as neglect them. Ah! sinners, dread the consequences of neglecting the calls of heaven. God will not be mocked.
Conclude to be ever attentive to all those gracious lights and inspirations by which you are invited to leave the ways of iniquity, and to come and to follow Christ. Alas! how many of these stars have you hitherto neglected? Arise now at least, and set out by the guidance of this divine light, that you may make the best of your way home from those husks of swine to your Father’s house. It is not yet too late.