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Very dissonant from this is the petition of our collect, which may be thus paraphrased: "Lord, "finish in my soul thy work of sanctification, "make me meet for thyself; and when thou "hast fulfilled in me all the good pleasure of thy goodness, then take me to thyself, that I may be for ever in thy presence, where are "fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.
The meritorious basis on which we build our hope of success in the petition that we present, is the satisfaction of the Son of God;" who, in his "death upon the cross for our redemp"tion," hath "made (by his one oblation of "Himself once offered) a full, perfect, and suf"ficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for "the sins of the whole world." For such was the dignity of our Surety's person, and so great the value of his blood, that Divine justice is fully satisfied by the sufferings of Christ, and is enabled, consistently with its own honour, "to justify the ungodly that believeth in "Jesus."
Some modern writers, who are on the whole orthodox, seem afraid of the doctrine of a proper satisfaction for sin, and speak very warily concerning it. They explain and guard the sentiment, till the truth is nearly concealed from view. They refine, till all the sweetness of this fundamental tenet of our religion is evaporated in their alembic. But not so the church; for she asserts in direct terms, that the ransom paid was a compensation for human crime. We are in great danger, from the temper of the age in which we live, of sliding gradually and insensibly into the morass of Socinianism. A desire of complying so far as possible with fashionable
views of theology, and a fear lest illegitimate inferences should be drawn from an open avowal of Scripture truth, seem to have produced a spirit of nicety in many well-intentioned and learned persons, which threatens very material injury to religion among us. "From all false "doctrine, heresy and schism, Good Lord, de"liver us !"
The satisfaction of Christ is the ground of our hope in an application for sanctifying grace, as it hath removed the obstacles to its communication. The rebel must be pardoned, before he is admitted into the king's presence, or can be elevated to any post of honour. It pleased the Father, that all grace should flow through Christ as its channel; and he is therefore declared to be our sanctification as well as our righteousHis sacrifice, while it ransomed our souls from everlasting destruction, procured for them all that was needful to prepare them for everlasting life and glory. The satisfaction of the Son of God affords therefore to every penitent suppliant a solid foundation for the hope of success, while he earnestly implores succour and deliverance in his spiritual warfare.
We conclude the collect with a doxology, or ascription of sempiternal praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Should it be asked, Is not this act of worship premature?—should it not be postponed till the prayer is answered, and the church militant is converted into a church triumphant? Certainly not: for to rejoice in God is a duty belonging to this present time. Phil. iv. 4. Thanksgiving is required to be joined with every act of prayer and supplication by the epistle for the day. And as "all
"the promises of God are in Christ Yea, and in "him Amen to the glory of God," the reason of this requisition is plain. What God has bestowed on us in the gift of his Son, is a pledge and earnest of what he is engaged to do. For "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered "him up for us all, how shall he not with him "also freely give us all things?"
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD, OR THE BIRTH-DAY OF CHRIST, COMMONLY CALLED CHRISTMAS-DAY.
Almighty God, who hast given us thy only begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we, being regenerate and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit, through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
T this season of the year we are directed by the practice of the catholic church, and the institutions of our own, to commemorate "the nativity of our Lord, or the birth-day of "CHRIST, commonly called Christmas-day." This event is the pin on which all the golden vessels of the sanctuary must be hung. Therein every human being is interested; for it is the only foundation of human hope. In the object this day proposed to our view, the Deity incarnate, there is that which is calculated to excite the strongest emotions of wonder, love and praise, in every bosom. But "Great is the <s mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the "flesh." The subject is inaccessible to a finite understanding; it is enveloped with awful obscurity. Let the rationalist therefore, who cannot implicitly submit to the authority of Divine
revelation; the conceited theologue, who supposes that he can fathom every depth of infinity by his own scanty line;-let each keep at a distance; let him depart from the consecrated stable; for he will meet with nothing here but what is calculated to mortify his pride, to puz. zle his reason, or to cause him to blaspheme. But let the humble believer draw near; let him come and look into the privileged manger, where an object will meet his eyes that is justly styled "The chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely ;" an object that will seize on his affections, and lead captive every thought of his breast in silken chains of admiration, gratitude, and adoration. Here let him, with the Divinely instructed Magi, present his offerings at the feet of the infant-Saviour. Let him join the heavenly host in singing, "Glory to God "in the highest, and on earth peace, good "will towards men."
The celebration of Christmas is a custom of immemorial antiquity in the church of Christ. * But the collect now in use was composed in 1549. It contains a statement of the marvellous event which we commemorate, and a prayer for grace to make a due improvement of it.
The birth of Christ, in connection with its attendant circumstances, is the most important event which the pen of history has recorded. For the world itself was built, and all its affairs have been ordered, with an immediate reference thereunto. The universe was erected for the purpose of becoming a theatre, on which the glory of God might shine in the person of Jesus Christ; and notwithstanding any appearance of
*See Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian Church. Book' xx. ch. iv.