ON THE FAITH AND OFFERINGS OF THE WISE MEN
Consider first, the strong and lively faith of the wise men. They set out with expectation of finding an infant king, attended with that state and pomp which was suitable to the dignity of one that was born to be monarch of the universe; and behold, instead of this, they meet with nothing but poverty and humility; a babe wrapt in swaddling cloths, and laid in a manger; attended only by a poor maid, and an humble tradesman, an ox, and an ass. But their faith, by this time, was more fully instructed in the qualities of him whom they had been seeking with so much labour: and therefore they were not shocked by those mean appearances, nor looked upon them with a worldly eye; but, under this poor and humble equipage, believed and adored their King, their God, and their Saviour. O how happy are those souls whose faith takes no scandal either at the crib or at the cross of Christ, but rather knits them so much the more closely to him, by how much the more he has debased himself for the love of them.
Consider 2ndly, how the wise men, having found our Lord, immediately fell down prostrate before him, and worshipped him; professing, by this humble and submissive posture of the body, the profound reverence an adoration of their souls. Do we imitate them by the like humility, reverence, and adoration, when we appear before the same Lord in prayer? After this homage they opened their stores and made him their offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh – to signify, by the quality of these their gifts, their faith in him to whom they gave them. They presented him with their Gold, as a tribute due to him, as their king; they offered him their Frankincense (which was used in the divine worship), as to their God; and they gave him their Myrrh (which was used in the burial of the dead), as to a mortal man who came to redeem all mankind by his death. O let us, by their example, daily offer him our best homage in all these qualities; as our King, as our God, and as our Redeemer.
Consider 3rdly, that the wise men, having found Christ, were admonished from heaven not to return any more to Herod, and so went back another way to their own country, to teach us, that, after finding Christ, we must return no more to his and our enemies, Satan and sin, but must make the best of our way to our true country, by quite a different road from that by which we came away from it. Our true country is Paradise: we came away from this our country, by pride, by disobedience, by the love of these visible things, and by gratifying our sensual appetite with the forbidden fruit. We must take quite another road if we hope to return thither again: it must be by penitential tears, by humility, by despising these visible things; by restraining our sensual appetite, by wholesome mortifications of the flesh and other self-denials, and by a constant obedience, that we are to find the way back to our true home.
Conclude to quit the broad road of gratifying thy passions and sensual pleasures, and to pass over to the narrow way of penance and self-denial; and thou shalt be brought safely back to thy true country, and to thy Father’s house.