Today's contemplation by Bishop Challoner

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On the benefits which the Son of God brings to us
by his Incarnation

Consider, first, that man in his first creation was highly favoured by his maker, and elevated by him to a supernatural end; he was enriched with the treasures of original grace, justice, and sanctity; and destined to an eternal life with the living God. In the meantime he was placed in the earthly paradise, as in a shadow of that happy life, where if he had kept the law of his great creator, he might have fed upon the tree of life, and so have passed to a better paradise of a true and everlasting life, without going through the gate of death. But alas! by falling from his God by sin, he forfeited all these treasures, and all these advantages: he was stript at once of all the goods of grace; he was strangely wounded in all the powers and faculties of his soul; his understanding was overclouded with ignorance, and deluded with a variety of errors; his memory and imagination was distracted with empty toys and vanities, and hurried away from the remembrance of his God; his will was perverted with malice; his inferior appetite disordered with rebellious passions; and his whole soul became weak beyond expression to everything of good, and strongly bent upon all evil. Thus had unhappy man, by his apostasy from God, lost both his God, and all his good; and had incurred all kind of evils, both of soul and body, for time and for eternity: thus in losing his God he had fallen into the hands of four merciless enemies, sin and Satan, death and hell. Now the Son of God, by his incarnation, came down amongst us in order to deliver us from all these evils which we had incurred by sin; to reconcile us to our God, and to restore us, with infinite advantage, to all that good for which we were first created. What reasons then have we, my soul to rejoice in this incarnation of the Son of God, the sovereign means of all our good, and the source of all mercy, grace, and salvation to us! O what praise and thanksgiving, what perpetual love and service do we owe to this our great deliverer!

Consider 2ndly,
how the Son of God coming amongst us, by his incarnation, has brought us from heaven most sovereign and effectual remedies for all our evils. He brought light to us, who were sitting before in darkness, and in the shadow of death; coming in quality of our teacher, (both by word and example) of the great prophet sent to us from God; of our lawgiver, and our apostle; and declaring to us the whole will of God. He brought with him also our ransom, to redeem us from our slavery to Satan and sin, and to make us free indeed: 'He was sent to preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to preach the acceptable year of our Lord,' even the great jubilee, of a general remission of all our debts, and a general loosing of all our bands, Luke iv. 19. He came as our physician, to heal our maladies with medicines, made up with his own most sacred blood. 'We were wandering in a wilderness, in a place without water,' Ps.cvi. 'We could find no way to a city for our habitation (our true and everlasting home); we were hungry, and thirsty, (destitute of all proper food for our souls,) and were bound in want, and in irons: we were brought low with labours, and weakened; and there was none to help us.' And he came to deliver us in all these our distresses; to lead us to the right way, to conduct us to our true country; to feed our hungry souls with good things; to break our bonds asunder; to bring us refreshment, comfort, and rest from our labours; to satisfy all our wants; to redress all our miseries; to cure our weakness with his strength; and to raise us up form death to life. All this and much more has the Son of God effected in our favour, by coming down from heaven to be our Emmanuel, that is, to be 'God with us'. And shall we not then, my soul, join with the palmist, in frequently repeating, in admiration at all the wonders of the divine goodness, that sacred hymn: 'Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him: and his wonderful work to the children of men. Let them exalt him in the church of the people, and praise him in the hair of the ancients: Let them sacrifice to him a sacrifice of praise, and declare his works with joy. O give glory to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever. Let them say so that have been redeemed by the Lord; whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of all countries.' (Ps. cvi.) Yea, let them say so, and sing forth the mercies of the Lord for all eternity! Amen. Amen.

Consider 3rdly, that however great and inexpressible all these graces and benefits are which the Son of God has brought with him by his incarnation, in order to deliver us from all our evils, and to communicate to us all his goods; yet none of them all, nor all of them together, will effectually save us, without our consent and concurrence, and a due correspondence on our part with his mercy and grace, by our yielding ourselves up entirely to him by faith and obedience. For what will it avail us to have the light come down from heaven to shine upon us if we shut our eyes against it, and love the darkness more than light? Or what shall we be the better for the ransom which our redeemer brings with him, and lays down for us, if we prefer our slavery and our chains before the liberty of the children of God, and rather choose to stay with our old master, Satan and sin, amongst the husks of swine, than to go along with our deliverer, who desires to carry us home with him to his Father's house? Alas! so far from being the better for all these graces and benefits brought us by our redeemer, we should indeed be much the worse if we received them all in vain, and, by our ingratitude an obstinacy in sin, pervert them to our greater condemnation. For what greater perversity can there be than that we should know that the way, the truth, and the life is come down from heaven in our favour, and should still choose to go astray from the way, and to follow the father of lies into the regions of death.

Conclude to embrace in such manner your great deliverer, who comes by his incarnation to be your Emmanuel, (God with us,) by a faithful and diligent correspondence with all his mercies and graces, as that he may be always with you, and you may be always with him, and that nothing in life or death may ever separate you from him any more.

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On the glory the Son of God gave His Father in His Mother's Womb

Consider first, that as the soul of Christ from the first instant of his conception, by being assumed to the divine person of the Word, was full of all light and knowledge, and consequently enjoyed from the beginning the perfect use of reason and understanding, so the inward powers and faculties of his soul from the first instant of his conception were always employed - they were never idle. Now as the great design of God in the incarnation of his Son was his own glory and the redemption of man, so the continual occupation of the Son of God-made-man was the procuring of his Father's glory and man's salvation: from the very first moment that his soul received a being by creation this was his perpetual employment. It was from the beginning the indispensable duty both of angels and men in their first creation to turn themselves immediately to God by adoration, oblation, and love, and to dedicate themselves eternally to him and to his glory. The omission of this at first was the cause of the condemnation of Lucifer and his companions; and the like omission is to this day the cause of the condemnation of millions of men, who unhappily turn themselves away from God for the sake of the creature. But the soul of Christ, our great deliverer and our most perfect model and pattern, has taught us better things by his nine months' occupation in the Virgin's womb; where, silent as he is, he preaches to us admirable lessons with regard to the glory we ought at all times to give to God.

Consider 2ndly, that these lessons which the Son of God teaches us by his great example in his mother's womb are contained in the different acts of virtue in which he there spent his time. He began, as we learn from the psalmist, (Ps. xxxix. 7,8,9,) by offering himself to the father without reserve to do all his will; he embraced this will in the midst of his heart; he substituted himself in the place of all the ancient sacrifices, to be the great burnt-offering and sin-offering that should be immolated for God's glory and for the expiation of the sins of the world; he presented his body, just then formed by the Holy Ghost, with his ears pierced, (as it was prescribed by the law with relation to such as yield themselves up to be servants for ever,) Deut. xv. 17, to be entirely at the disposal of his Father, a perpetual servant, obedient unto death, even unto the death of the cross. O let us hear from himself these dispositions! 'Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire, but thou hast pierced ears for me. Burnt-offerings and sin-offerings thou didst not require: then, said I, Behold, I come. In the head of the book it is written of me that I should do thy will. O my God, I have desired it;, and thy law in the midst of my heart.' O my soul, how happy shall we be if we labour in good earnest to imitate these dispositions of our dear Jesus, by embracing, like him, the will of God and his holy law in the midst of our hearts, and offering ourselves without reserve to be at all times his devoted servants.

Consider 3rdly, that the infinite glory which our Lord gave to his Father all the time he was in his mother's womb: First by the acts of adoration and homage which, a man, he continually paid to God; perfectly annihilating himself to his sight, and continually bowing down all the powers of his soul to offer him a most acceptable worship, worthy of his divine majesty; 2ndly, by acts of praise and thanksgiving which he offered up both for himself and for the whole creation; 3rdly, by acts of oblation and eternal dedication of himself to his Father; to be ever his, both in life and death; both in time and eternity; with a total consecration of his whole soul and body; of his whole will, memory, and understanding, of all his senses and faculties, and of all his thoughts, words, and deeds, to his divine sacrifice; 4thly, by acts of a most pure and most perfect love, zeal, and desire of ever promoting, in all things, and above all things, the sanctification of the name of God, the propagation of his kingdom, and the doing of his will upon earth as it is in heaven. Such acts as these, joined with acts of charity and prayer, for us poor sinners, were the perpetual occupation of Christ our Lord, in his mother's womb. A happy employment indeed, and most worthy of our imitation at all times!

Conclude to embrace, and to follow in the practice of thy life, these heavenly lessons which the Son of God teaches thee by his divine example from his mothers womb: no other exercises can be either more agreeable to him, or to his Father; or more advantageous to thyself.

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On the Charity of the Son of God for us in His Mother's Womb

Consider first, that as the soul of the Son of God from the first instant of his conception in his mother's womb, was ever employed in the love of his heavenly Father, and in a perpetual adoration and oblation of himself to his most holy will; so for the love of his Father, and in consequence of his holy will, he was also employed from the beginning in the love of us, and in the perpetual exercises of an unbounded charity in our regard. His soul in the instant it received a being, was assumed to the divine person of the word; and in the light of this eternal work clearly saw, readily submitted to, lovingly embraced, with an Ecce venio, Behold, I come that most sacred and adorable decree of the whole blessed Trinity, by which it was ordained that the Son of God should become man for the reparation of the honour and glory of God, infinitely injured and outraged by an and that he should be the Saviour and redeemer of all mankind; that he should take upon him all their sins, to be cancelled with his blood; that by his death he should rescue them form the tyranny of Satan and sin, and a second and everlasting death; and should open in their favour the gates of mercy, grace, and salvation; in a word, that he should be the great mediator of God and man - their high priest and victim. In consequence of, and in obedience to, this heavenly decree, he immediately began, from the first instant of his conception, to exercise himself in all such acts of charity for us, as were agreeable to this his office of our Saviour and mediator, which he ever joined with a perpetual attention to his Father's glory. This was his continual employment in his mother's womb, this was his continual employment in all the time of his life. O let all heaven and earth eternally acknowledge, praise, and bless this his infinite charity!

Consider 2ndly, what these acts of charity were, which the Son of God continually exercised in our regard, from the first instant of his conception. 1. He had us always before his eyes, and in the midst of his heart - he was not one moment without thinking of us. 2. He was perpetually praying for us, that we might be delivered from all our evils, and brought through him to all good. 3. He had a most tender compassion for all our miseries, considering us all as his brethren; and he continually bewailed our sins. 4. He offered himself, without ceasing, to the justice of his Father, to suffer all that he pleased for the expiation of our sins: he had even a longing desire (such was the excess of his love) for the accomplishment of the baptism with which he was to be one day baptized in his blood; because thereby he was to redeem us from our sins. See, my soul, how very early our dear Jesus began to show himself a Jesus, that is a Saviour to us. See how affectionately and effectually too he has loved us, even from his first conception in his mother's womb. And have we hitherto been sensible of these wonders of his love for us? Have we ever yet given to him a proper place in our heart, who has been so much beforehand with us, as to admit us, from the beginning, into the centre of him? O let us detest our past ingratitude in this regard; and henceforward at least, yield ourselves up without reserve captives to his love!

Consider 3rdly, in particular, the sentiments which the soul of our blessed Saviour had, with regard to our sins, and in what manner he was affected by them, even from his conception. He had even then a clear sight, and a most lively sense of all the sins of the whole world, from the first to the last. He saw them all, in the light of God, with all their aggravations, and all their deformity, and infinite malice, from their opposition to the infinite goodness of God. He saw the outrages they all offered to the divine majesty, and how odious they were all in his eyes. And he saw at the same time all the havoc they made in the souls of men, made after God's own image and likeness, and all their dreadful consequences, both for time and eternity. But O what tongue can express, or heart conceive, how strangely his soul was affected with this sight! His love for his heavenly Father, on the one hand, and his zeal for his glory, gave him an inexpressible hatred and horror of all these enemies of God, these high treasons against the divine majesty. and again, his love for us, and concern for our salvation, on the other hand, filled him with more than mortal grief and anguish, for the general corruption with which he saw the whole world infected. and the loss of so many millions of souls. His horror and hatred for our sins was equal to the love he bore to his Father: and the grief and anguish which he continually endured for them, was equal to his love for us; even that love which made him give himself up to the worst of deaths to cancel our sins with his own blood. Thus between the love of his Father, and the love of us, the Son of God lived in a state of continual suffering, even in his mother's womb; and of such bitter sufferings, as nothing but his love could have endured. O Christians, learn here from your dear redeemer, in what manner you ought to be affected with the thoughts of your sins. Learn to hate and detest them above all things, as enemies of your God; learn to hate and detest them as your mortal enemies, and to bewail them all your lifetime.

Conclude to embrace the divine charity of the Son of God, with all the affections of your soul, which has thus exerted itself, even from his mother's womb, in favour of you. But remember that he expects of you a continual return of love, and this, with your whole heart; and that nothing less will content him.

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On the other benefits of Our Saviour to mankind by His Incarnation

Consider first, that the Son of God, by his incarnation, came amongst us to be the Father and the head of all mankind, according to the Spirit and according to grace, as Adam was according to the flesh and according to nature. He came as the second Adam to undo all that evil which the first Adam had done and brought upon us all, and to impart to us all that good which our first father had deprived us of. That as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death, and so both sin and death passed upon all men, justice and grace should in like manner enter into this world by one man, in order to our eternal life. Hence, in quality of our Father, he imparts to us a new generation, a second birth, by which we who, by our natural birth, (by which we descend from the first Adam,) are children of wrath, corrupted by sin, and condemned to hell, are born again by grace, cleansed from sin by his blood, incorporated in him, made children of God, and heirs of everlasting life. In quality of our head, he communicated to us all manner of graces, which in virtue of his merits, are derived from him upon all the members of his mystical body who, by faith and obedience, adhere to him, St. John xv. 4, 5.

Consider 2ndly, the other near relations, marked down in the word of God, which our Lord has been pleased we should have with him by means of his incarnation; such as that of our being now his brethren, (as he has been pleased to call us, Ps. xxii., 'I will declare his name to my brethren,') by his taking our flesh and blood. A relation which gives us an honour not granted to the angels, of being near akin, even by consanguinity, to the Son of God himself; for he never took upon him the nature of the angels, but took our nature, that he might be like to us in all things excepting sin; for so it behoved him that was to be our high priest to make a reconciliation for our sins, Heb ii. 16, 17. He is our eldest brother in the order of God's election, 'the firstborn among many brethren,' Rom. viii. 29, in whom and for whose sake we also are elected, to be conformable to his image here by grace, and hereafter in glory, through him. In this quality of our eldest brother he is also our priest, (as under the law of nature, before the written law, the firstborn were priests) to officiate for us in all things that appertain to God, Heb v. 1; as also our prince, our leader and captain in our warfare, our tutor and governor, our truest friend to promote all our interests, to manage all our causes, to defend us from all our enemies, and to bring us on in our pilgrimage, till he presents us to his Father and our Father in his eternal kingdom. O how happy are we in such a brother.

Consider 3rdly, that by means of the incarnation of the Son of God, we are related to him, not only as children to our father, as members to our head, and as brothers to our eldest brother, but also as a holy building to our foundation, in which he is the cornerstone, in whom all the building framed together groweth up into a holy temple in the Lord - a habitation of God in the spirit, Eph. ii. 20, 21, 22; and as branches to the stock into which we are engrafted, and planted by baptism. Hence our Lord tells us, John xv. 4, 5, 'Abide in me, and I in you. as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.' But of all the relations we have to the Son of God in consequence of his incarnation, there is none more endearing than that of our being made his spouse - the church being the bride, the wife of the Lamb, brought out of his side as eve was from the side of Adam, cast into the deep sleep of death upon the cross; and espoused to him by an everlasting and inviolable contract, of which Christian matrimony is the sacred and mysterious sign - and every particular soul that is in the state of grace, partaking in the dignity and happiness of this near and dear relation of spouses to the Lamb of God. Christians, are you sensible how great this dignity and happiness is, for your souls to be espoused to the Son of God? In consequence of which you should be one spirit with Christ, as Adam and Eve were one flesh. O take care to be ever faithful and true to this divine Spouse, who has loved you and delivered himself up for you, that he might sanctify and cleanse you for himself, with his own most precious blood.

Conclude
to behave in your whole life and conversation agreeable in all respects to these sacred relations which you now have with the Son of God; and never to degenerate from such a Father, such a head, such a brother, and such spouse, by any actions unworthy of either the dignity or sanctity of a Christian.

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Consider first, that the year is now come to a conclusion: it is just upon the point of expiring: all these twelve months that are now past, have flown away into the gulf of eternity; they are now no more; they shall return to us no more. all our years pass in this manner, they all hasten away one after another and hurry us along with them, till they bring us also into an endless and unchangeable eternity. Our years will all be soon over; we shall find ourselves at the end of our lives much sooner than we imagine. O let us not then set our hearts upon any of these transitory things. Let us despise all that pass away with this short life, and learn to adhere to God alone, who never passes away, because he is eternal. Let us always be prepared for our departure hence.

Consider 2ndly, that as the year is now past and gone, so are all the pleasures of it: all our diversions, all our amusements, in which we have spent our time this year, are now no more: the remembrance of them is but like that of a dream. O, such is the condition of all things that pass with time! Why then do we set our esteem or affection upon any of them? Why are we not practically and feelingly convinced of the emptiness and vanity of them all; and that nothing deserves our love or attention but God and eternity? And as the pleasures of the year are all past, so are all the displeasures and uneasinesses, pains and mortifications of it: they are also now no more than like a dream: and so will all temporal evils appear to us a little while hence when we shall see ourselves upon the brink of eternity. Let us learn, then, only to fear those evils which will have no end, and the evil of sin, which leads to these never-ending evils.

Consider 3rdly, how you have spent your time this year. It was all given you by your creator, in order to bring you forward to him, and to a happy eternity. O how many favours and blessings have you received from him every day of the year! How many graces and invitations to good! And what use have you made of these favours? What virtue have you acquired this year? What vice have you rooted out? What passions have you overcome? Have you made any improvement at all in virtue, since the beginning of the year? Instead of going forward to God, have you not rather gone backward? Alas! what an account will you have to give one day for all this precious time, and for all these graces and blessings, spiritual or corporal, which you have so ungratefully abused and perverted during the course of this year. Then as to your sins, whether of omission or commission against God, your neighbours, or yourselves - which you have been guilty of this year, either by thought, word, or deed - what a dreadful scene will open itself to your eyes upon a little examination! And little have you done during the course of this year to cancel them by penance. O, how melancholy would your case be, if your eternal lot were to be determined by your performances of the past year!

Conclude
by giving thanks to God for all his blessings of this year; and especially for his patience and forbearance with you in your sins. Return now at least to him with your whole heart; begging mercy and pardon of all the sins of the year, and for all the sins of your life. And resolve, with God's grace, if he is pleased to give you another year, to spend it in such a manner as to secure to your souls the never-ending year of a happy eternity.

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On the Gospel of girding the loins, &c., Luke xii. 35, &c
Consider first, those words of our Lord to his disciples, and in them, to all Christians; 'let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands; and be you like to men who wait for their Lord, when he shall return from the wedding: that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.' This girding of our loins, and having lamps burning in our hands, are to be taken in a spiritual sense, as containing great and necessary lessons for every part of our lives. As we know not the hour when our Lord will come to us, and knock at our door by death, we must keep ourselves always awake, and in a proper posture and readiness to open to him without delay, and to welcome him. Now, this proper posture and readiness to welcome our Lord whensoever he shall come and knock, chiefly consists in those two things, in having our loins always girt by a constant restraint of our irregular inclinations and lusts; and having lamps always burning in our hand, by the constant exercise of Christian virtues; which may shine forth to the glory of God and the edification of our neighbours. And those servants are happy indeed, who are always waiting for the coming of their Lord, with their loins girt in this manner, and holding such lamps as these always burning in their hands.

Consider 2ndly,
what follows in the same gospel, with regard to the immense reward of these faithful servants. 'Amen, I say to you, that their Lord will gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and passing will minister to them.' Christians, what an honour, what a happiness is here promised us, if our Lord, at his coming, shall find us watching! He will gird himself to be ready to wait upon us; and he will make us sit down to table; and he will pass and minister to us. O, what incomprehensible joys are here signified by our Lord's ministering to us, by us making himself, as it were, over to us, to be perpetually enjoyed by us! O, what a table is this, at which we shall be invited to sit down, to be eternally entertained by him with all the delights of heaven,; with the sweet fruits of the tree of life, and the delicious waters of the fountain of life! And lest we should be discouraged by the apprehension of our being excluded from this eternal banquet, because we have already passed a good part of our lives without being in that readiness which our Lord expects of us at the time of his coming, he adds for our comfort, that 'if he shall come in the second watch; or if he shall come in the third watch, and shall then find us watching,' we shall still be happy. 'Blessed', said he, 'are those servants.' So that, if we have hitherto been careless; if we have let the first, or even the second watch pass, without being upon our guard, and he has been so good as not to come and surprise us; let us now at least awake, let us gird our loins now, and have our lamps, for the future, burning in our hands, and we may still be blessed.

Consider 3rdly, the remaining words of this gospel: 'But this know ye,' saith our Lord, 'that if the householder did know at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Be ye also ready; for at what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come.' This is that great lesson of always watching, which our Saviour perpetually inculcates as our only security against the dreadful evil of an unprovided death; and all those endless evils, which are the unhappy consequence of an unprovided death. O let us lay up this lesson in our hearts; let us meditate daily upon it; let us conform ourselves to it in the practice of our lives. O, let us always watch! Our Lord, who has borne with us all this year, has in the meantime knocked at the door of thousands of others, who this day twelvemonth were as likely to live as ourselves. Their bodies are now corrupting in their graves; but O! where are their souls? And where shall our bodies, where shall be our souls be, a twelvemonth hence? Let us then be always ready; because we know not the day, nor the hour, when our Lord shall come.

Conclude to observe well these evangelical prescriptions, of girding your loins, of having your lamps ever burning in your hands, and of being always ready to open the door to him; and you shall not fail of being of the number of those happy servants that shall enter into the eternal joy of their Lord.

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January 1st on New Year's day
Consider first, that on this day we keep the Octave of the birth of Christ, together with the festivity of his circumcision. when being yet but eight days old, he began to shed his sacred blood in obedience to his Father's will; subjecting himself to that most painful and most humbling ceremony, and bearing therein the resemblance of a criminal, as if he, like the rest had stood in need of the circumcising knife for the expiation of sin. Christians, learn here, from your infant Saviour, the lessons he desires to teach you in his circumcision; his unparalleled humility, his perfect obedience and conformity to his Father's will; his patience in suffering, and his ardent love and charity for us. He came to discharge the immense debt we owed by our sins to his Father's justice, by shedding the last drop of his blood in expiation of them; and behold he has here given us an earnest of this payment, by submitting himself this day to the knife of circumcision.

Consider 2ndly, and set before your eyes this divine infant, this innocent lamb of God, this beloved of your souls, beautiful beyond the children of men, all embrued in his own most sacred blood; and suffering in that tender age the cruel smart of a most sensible wound. O how sensible indeed to him! O how sensible to the loving heart of his blessed Virgin Mother! See with what affection she embraces him: se with what anguish of heart she bewails his sufferings: see with what tender compassion she strives to afford him all the comfort she is able. Learn of her the like affections of love and compassion for your suffering Lord.

O my soul, embrace, with her, thy infant Saviour, bleeding for thee. 'A bloody spouse thou are to me,' said Sephora to Moses, Exod. iv. 25: when to deliver him from the hand of the angel that threatened him with death, she touched his feet with the blood of her child whom she had just then circumcised. O how truly is our dear Redeemer a sponsus sanguinum, a bloody spouse to our souls, for whom he gives now this first fruit, and for whom he will one day give all his blood, to rescue us from the hand of the destroying angel! O blessed be his divine charity for ever!

Consider 3rdly, that it is the duty of all Christians to imitate our Lord's circumcision, by a spiritual circumcision of the heart, which God so often calls for in the Scriptures, and always preferred before the carnal circumcision. This spiritual circumcision requires of us a cutting off, or retrenching, all disorderly affections to the world and its pomps; to the mammon of iniquity, and to the flesh, and its lusts; and a serious application of our souls to a daily mortification of our passions and corrupt inclinations. My soul, let us heartily embrace, and daily put in practice, this circumcision of the heart.

Conclude to make a return of thy heart to thy infant Saviour, who began on this day to shed his blood for thee; but see it be a heart purified, by a spiritual circumcision, from all such affections as are disagreeable to him.

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January 2nd

On the beginning of a new life with a new year

Consider first, how many years of your life are now past and gone; how long it is since you first came to the knowledge of good and evil; and in what manner you have spent all this precious time, given you for no other end but that you might employ it in the love and service of your God, and in securing the salvation of your immortal soul. Alas! have any of these past years been spent in such a manner as to answer this great end? Is not that one and only business for which you came into the world, still to be begun? Have not all these years, which one after another have flowed away into the gulf of eternity, been utterly lost to your souls? It is well if they have not; considering how soon the greatest part of Christians, after their coming to the use of reason, fall from the grace of their baptism; how quickly they gave themselves up to follow the bent of their corrupt inclinations and passions; and in what a forgetfulness of God they generally pass their days. Ah! my soul, what a sad thought it would be, if during all these years thou hast hitherto lived, instead of storing up provisions for a happy eternity, thou hast been only 'treasuring up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath!'

Consider 2ndly, the present state and condition of your conscience. What is your life at present? How stand accounts between your soul and God? What would you think, if this day you were to be called to the bar of divine justice? Would you not earnestly desire a delay? alas! how few live in the manner in which they would be glad to be found, when death shall overtake them! and yet they are not ignorant, that death generally comes when least expected, and that, generally speaking, as men live, so they die. Ah! my soul, deceive not thyself, not suffer thyself to be imposed upon by the enemy. Thy time, to all appearance, will be much shorter than thou art willing to think; this very year perhaps may be thy last; it will certainly be so to many thousands, who expect it as little as thyself. Set, then, thy house in order now; begin this very day to rectify the whole state of thy interior, and live henceforward as thou desirest to die. There cannot be so great a security where eternity is at stake.
Consider 3rdly, that the mercy of God has borne with you for so many years past, and, notwithstanding all the provocations of your repeated crimes and perpetual ingratitude, has brought you now to the beginning of this New Year, out of a sincere desire, that now at least you might begin a new life, and such a life as might secure to your soul that true life which never ends. You have been, alas! like the barren 'fig-tree, planted in his vineyard,' which hitherto is willing to try once more, in hopes of our doing better for the future. But, O take care to disappoint him no more, by refusing him the fruits he expects of a thorough amendment of life, lest he pass an irrevocable sentence, for the barren tree to be cut down, and cast into the fire.

Conclude to begin, from this very hour, to turn away from sin; and to dedicate yourselves henceforward in good earnest to the love and service of your God. Alas! how few Christians seem to be truly in earnest in this greatest of all concerns, where their all is at stake for eternity.

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Admin

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1601

January 3rd

On the Rule of new life
Consider first, that in the epistle which is read on New Year's Day, Titus ii. 11-15, the Apostle has in a few words declared to us the rules we are to follow in our lives, in consequence of the Son of God coming amongst us: viz., what are we to renounce; what we are to practise; what we are to look for; and what we are to attend to. 'The Grace of God our Saviour,' saith he, 'hath appeared to all men; instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world; looking for that blessed hope, and the coming of the glory of that great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works.' O how many great lessons are here contained in a few words! Let us reflect on them one after another.

Consider therefore, 2ndly, the end for which our God and Saviour came down amongst us by the mystery of his incarnation - to enlighten us by his Gospel and by his life; and at length offer to himself in sacrifice for us, by his death upon the cross. 'He gave himself for us,' saith the Apostle, 'that he might redeem us from all iniquity:' by setting us at liberty from being slaves to Satan, sin, and hell: by breaking asunder all the chains of our vices and passions: and by purchasing all mercy, grace, and salvation for us: to the end that, by the virtue of his precious blood, 'he might cleanse us for himself, and make us an acceptable people (a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation,' 1 Pet. ii. 9), a zealous 'pursuer of all good works.' See, Christians, what kind of men we ought to be, in consequence of what the Son of God has done for us, in coming down from heaven for us, and laying down his life for us. O let us never more degenerate, by leading lives unworthy of him! Let us never more return to our former slavery!

Consider 3rdly, that being purchased by the Son of God with so great a price, we are to consider ourselves henceforward as his property; and therefore we must not pretend to dispose of ourselves any otherwise than according to his will and pleasure. This ought to be our rule in all we do: this we ought to consult in all our deliberations: this holy will of him that has bought us with his own blood should be in every thing a law to us, so as ever to renounce all that we know to be displeasing to him; and ever to pursue with all our strength what we know to be agreeable to him. 'You are not your own; you are bought with a great price,' says the Apostle, 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. 'Glorify, and bear God in your body.'

Conclude to take in practice for the rule of your life this holy will of our Redeemer, and according to the whole extent of the Apostle's exposition and declaration of the Christian's rule, Titus ii. 11, &c., and you will be religious men indeed, of that excellent order which Jesus Christ came from heaven to institute, and you will be with him for ever.

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Admin

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1603

January 4th

On what we are to renounce by the Christian's Rule

Consider first, that in consequence of our redemption through Jesus Christ, we are bound, by the tenour of our rule above rehearsed, to deny, that is, to renounce, all 'ungodliness and worldly desires,' and to be 'clean from all iniquity;' we are to run away from all evil, but more especially from the evils here named, the first of which is 'ungodliness,' which is usually the first crime we commit, and the source of all the rest. For by ungodliness we understand, either the giving away from God what belongs to him, or the refusing him the service and love which we owe him. Now here the sinner usually begins to revolt. He is indispensably obliged to dedicate himself to God from his first coming to the use of reason; instead of which, like the apostate angels, he turns himself away from him, he refuses him his heart, which he so justly claims, and gives it away to empty toys and lying follies. This is 'ungodliness;' this in a kind of idolatry, in preferring the creature before the Creator; this is the source of innumerable evils; this is the very bane of the world. O let us renounce it and detest it!

Consider 2ndly, what those baits are which Satan usually employs to draw us away from God; for no man ever chooses to serve the devil for his own sake, or for any love he has for him: but the tempter sets before us the deceitful appearances of some worldly honour, profit, or pleasure, and with these he allures deluded mortals to his service; these are the gilded pills with which he poisons the soul; with which he draws millions into hell. Therefore the Christian's rules require that, together with 'ungodliness,' he should also 'deny' all 'worldly desires,'that is, all affections to these worldly toys and cheating vanities, as the most effectual means of disarming all of us. For when we despise all that he can offer, and even fly and abhor his choicest allurements, he stands confounded, and can do no more.

Consider 3rdly, that these worldly lusts and desires which the Christian must renounce, are, in particular, those of which the beloved disciple writes, 1 John ii. 15, 16. 'Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father(the love of God) is not in him; for all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.' It is on account of this 'triple concupiscence,' which reigns in all places, that the 'whole world,' as the same apostle tells us (ch. v. 19)'is seated in wickedness:' so that if we desire to belong to Christ in good earnest, and to profess ourselves religious under this rule, we must declare a perpetual war against this triple concupiscence, and its abettors, vis., the world and our corrupt nature; and then we may despise all the devils in hell. Yes, Christians, renounce but these three capital enemies of your souls, viz., the love of sensual pleasures, the love of gratifying the covetous eye with worldly toys, and the love of worldly honour, and you shall be 'cleansed from all iniquity.'

Conclude to be ever zealous observers of your rule, by 'denying ungodliness and worldly desires;' and turn your heart, to seek your happiness in other kinds of honours, riches, and pleasures such as the world cannot give, and which may stay with you for ever.

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Admin

Administrator
1609


On the lives we are to lead by the Christian's Rule

Consider first, that by our rule above rehearsed, we are not only to decline from all evil, in consequence of our God and Saviour coming amongst us, but are also to do good. We are not only to 'deny ungodliness and worldly desires,' but also to 'live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world,' that we may walk worthy of him who has 'given himself for us,' not only that he 'might redeem us from all iniquity,' but also that he might 'cleanse us for himself,' and make us 'an acceptable people, a pursuer of good works.' The Christian's duty, by this rule of life, has three branches - one of them relates to the regulating of himself; another regards his neighbours; but the third, and chiefest of all, relates to God. All these we comply with, if we 'live soberly, and justly, and godly,' because by living soberly we keep ourselves in perfect order; by living 'justly,' we behave ourselves to 'our neighbours' in all things, as we ought; and by living godly, we dedicate our whole lives to God.

Consider 2ndly, the great extent of these three branches of the Christian's duty, and how much this sobriety, this justice, and this godliness require of us. Christian sobriety does not only exclude intemperance in eating and drinking, but also all other excesses and disorders, that may any ways carry us out of the bounds of strict regularity: so that to be truly sober, we must restrain pride by humility, anger by meekness, lust by purity, and all the irregular motions of our passions and disorderly inclinations, by such a general temperance and moderation, as may maintain the whole man in due decorum, both as to soul and body. And this Christian sobriety keeps us, as to ourselves, in perfect order, harmony, and peace. Christian justice regulates our whole conduct as to our neighbours, by that golden rule of 'doing as we would be done by:' and in consequence of this, excludes every thought, every judgment or censure, every word or discourse, every action or dealing, that may any ways tend to his prejudice or disadvantage: and by this means, as much as lies in us, we maintain due order, harmony, and peace with all our neighbours. And lastly, true godliness makes us seek God in all things, and above all things, and consecrates all our powers and faculties to his love and continual prayer; and we maintain a perpetual peace with God. So that the complying with these three branches of our duty makes us truly wise, and truly perfect, and establishes the peace of God in our souls.

Consider 3rdly, that according to the words of the Apostle, in the place above quoted, whilst we labour to comply with the excellent rule of Christ our Lord by 'living soberly, justly, and godly in this world,' we must not confine our views to the narrow limits of this short life here below; but we must be ever looking forward towards the great object of the Christian's hope, viz., the blessed and glorious coming of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, when he shall come to accomplish the great work he has begun in us, and to take us home with him, both in soul and body, to our true country, and there make us his eternal kingdom. O how happy are those souls that are always aspiring after this coming of their Lord, and bewailing, in the mean time, the long continuance of their banishment here, and their great distance from him, in this foreign land!

Conclude to begin with this new year to enter upon the true paths of life, by a general sobriety, justice, and godliness; and to strive to advance daily, by large steps, in this happy way, which leads to that life which never ends.

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Admin

Administrator
January 6th
1613

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.

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Admin

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January 7th


1616



On the wise men's journey to Bethlehem

Consider first, that the wise men were no sooner informed, by the apparition of this extraordinary star, of the birth of the great King that was to rule the world, but they set out to seek him in Judea, where they understood, by an ancient tradition and by the prophecy of Balaam, Numb. xxiv. 17, that he that was denoted by that star should be born. And as it was natural for them to expect to hear news of him in Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea, they went thither to inquire after him. 'Where is he,' say they, (Matt. ii. 2,) 'that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him' But as 'his kingdom was not of this world,' but was to be established upon other kinds of foundations than any mortal empire - in the immortal souls of his people, and upon the ruins of worldly pride, and of all the pomps of Satan; he chose for his birth the humble stable of Bethlehem, before any of the stately palaces of Jerusalem, as being more agreeable to his kingdom, the kingdom of humility and truth. O how happy are those souls whose eyes are always open to this heavenly truth, and shut to worldly vanity and lies! How happy they who, by conforming in practice to these maxims of this great king, become themselves his kingdom; even that kingdom in which he shall reign for ever!

Consider 2ndly, how King Herod was troubled at hearing of the birth of this new king, and so was all Jerusalem with him; in which they were a figure of all such souls as are so wedded to this cheating world and its lusts, as to be more afraid of parting with them than of losing an eternal kingdom; and therefore they are troubled and disturbed when they are summoned by the messenger of heaven to arise, and leave these toys, to go and seek after Christ; and they even strive to stifle the heavenly infant that those lights and graces that offer to conduct them to him. O how much more happy were the dispositions of the wise men, who were willing at any rate to find Christ; and who gladly sought and embraced the directions of those that by their office were qualified to point him out to them? But alas! how miserable were those priest and scribes, who whilst they directed the wise men to our Saviour, took no pains to seek him themselves. See, my soul, this never be thy case.

Consider 3rdly, how the wise men, in their way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, were again favoured with the sight of the star, which both conducted them to Bethlehem, and pointed out to them the place where our Saviour was. This heavenly light filled their hearts with exceeding great joy; and going in, they found him whom their souls desired, and they paid their homage to him. O how precious, how lovely, how desirable is that light that conducts the soul to Christ! O what joy, what delight it is to the soul to see herself draw near to her God, her sovereign good! But then this heavenly manna is not usually given but to them that fight, and that conquer all the labours, difficulties, and oppositions that they meet with in the way to Christ, and who, like the wise men, are quite in earnest in seeking him. Happy they that follow this great example! Happy they that taste and see how sweet the Lord is to them that seek and find him!

Conclude to imitate the wise men, firstly, in their ready compliance with the divine call; secondly, in their diligence in inquiring after Christ; and thirdly, in their perseverance; and then you may confidently expect, like them, to find your Lord, and to rejoice in him.

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Admin

Administrator
1621


8th January
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.

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Admin

Administrator
9th Jan
1624



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.

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Admin

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10th Jan.

1625



On the Gospel of the Sunday within the Octave of the Ephany

Consider first, how Jesus, Mary, and Joseph went every year up to Jerusalem, to the temple of God, upon the festivals, notwithstanding their poverty, and their living at the distance of three days' journey from Jerusalem; and there they employed the weeks appointed for the feast in assisting at the public worship, praises, and sacrifices which, at those times, were offered to God in the temple. Christians, learn from this great example, the diligence with which you ought to assist at the public worship of God upon festivals. Learn not to suffer every trifling difficulty to hinder your attendance in God's temple on those days, when neither the length nor the charges, either of the journey, or of the stay they were to make in Jerusalem, could keep this holy family from a constant observance of these times dedicated to God. But O! who can conceive the dispositions of soul with which they entered upon these journeys; their recollection on the road, their heavenly conversation in Jerusalem, their profound adoration, their inflamed love, their fervent prayer and devotion in the temple! Let us strive to imitate them.

Consider 2ndly, how when Jesus was twelve years old, and they had gone up, according to their custom, to keep the solemn feast of the Pasch in Jerusalem, after the days of the solemnity were fulfilled - when they returned, our Saviour withdrew himself from them and staid behind them in the city. They, innocently thinking him to be in the company, went one day's journey homewards without him, and then not finding him, were struck with unspeakable grief and concern for their loss: the more, because they apprehended, lest by some fault of theirs, they might have driven him away from them. Ah! what anguish must it be to a soul, that is sensible of the treasure she possesses when she has Jesus with her, to find that he has withdrawn himself from her; to find that she has lost her treasure. But how much more must this blessed couple have regretted the loss of their Jesus; their love for him being much greater than can be expressed or imagined! For in proportion to their love, their sorrow also must have been great beyond expression. Learn from hence, my soul, what value thou oughtest to set upon the happiness of having Jesus with thee; and how much thou oughtest to regret the loss of him.

Consider 3rdly, that although the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph had lost their Jesus, as to the sensible presence, yet they had not lost him, as to the presence of his grace and love; they had him still very near to them, because they had him in their hearts. A lesson for Christians of good-will, not to be discouraged, not to give themselves up to excessive anguish, if sometimes they experience the like subtraction of the sensible presence of our Lord, by a dryness in their devotions, and a spiritual desolation: let them but take care to keep their heart and will with him, and they may be assured he is not far from them. He has often dealt thus with the greatest Saints - and to their advantage too - to keep them more humble and distrustful of themselves; and to teach them not to seek their own satisfaction in the milk of spiritual consolations, but to be content to feed their souls with the more solid diet of conformity to the will of God, and to the cross of Christ.

Conclude to take care not to drive away Jesus by wilful sin: and be assured that nothing else can ever separate him from thee.

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Admin

Administrator
11th Jan.
1626


On seeking Jesus, when he has been lost to us by our sin

Consider first, how great an evil it is to lose Jesus by wilful sin. Ah! 'tis a far greater loss than if we should lose our all. This loss is the greatest misery that can befall any soul on this side of eternity - it wants nothing but eternity to make it hell. And yet how common is this loss? How often is Jesus lost in this manner, even in our most solemn festivals, by the abuse of these holy times? And how is it possible that a Christian soul should admit of any manner of comfort, joy, or pleasure, under so great a loss? What then must they do, that have reason to apprehend they have thus lost their Jesus; that he is now no longer theirs, and they no longer his? They must learn from the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, how they are to seek him, and find him again: for though this blessed couple had not lost him in that wretched way, yet the manner in which they sought him may be an instruction to all others, to teach them by what means Jesus may be found again when he is lost.

Consider therefore, 2ndly, that the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph were no sooner sensible that they had lost Jesus, but they began to seek him without the least delay; and they gave themselves no rest, till they had found him: to teach us, that there ought to be no manner of delay in seeking him, as soon as ever we perceive we have lost him; and how much we ought to regret so dismal a loss. They made no stay in the place where they were, but hastened back to Jerusalem, to find him there; not enduring to remain for ever so short a time at a distance from him: to teach us to spare no pains, either night or day, in seeking him, and in using all means in our power to come to him. They sought him, sorrowing, that is, with their souls full of grief and anguish, through the sense they had of the loss of their beloved; to teach us that the true way of finding Jesus when lost, must be by a sorrow influenced with love; that is, by a contrite and humble heart. They sought him with perseverance, and did not give over their search, till they had effectually found him: to teach us not to desist, upon meeting with difficulties and oppositions, in our search after Jesus, but to go on with diligence till we recover his gracious company.

Consider 3rdly, that Jesus was not found by the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph amongst their kindred and acquaintance. Alas! he is too often lost in the company and conversation of our worldly friends; but is very seldom to be found there. The common conversation of the world is at the best but empty, worldly, and distracting; and 'tis out of fashion to speak or think of Jesus in the company of worldlings. Therefore the soul that would effectually find him, must withdraw as much as may be from worldly company, and must enter into a kind of spiritual retreat; she must make the best of her way by spiritual reading, meditation, and prayer, to the temple of God in Jerusalem; or rather she must make a temple for her Jesus within her own self, and seek him there by inward recollection. 'Tis the surest place to find him. O sinners, return to your own hearts, and you will quickly find your God. When you went astray from him, you went astray also from your own hearts, and from your inward house; you forgot at the same time both God and yourselves. Return home to your interior, and you shall recover them both again.

Conclude, if at any time you have reason to apprehend that you have lost Jesus, to withdraw immediately from the crowd, to seek him in his temple in your own interior, and to give yourselves no rest till you have found him there. There he will hear you; and there he will teach you.

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Admin

Administrator
12th Jan.
1629



On the lessons Our Lord Jesus gives us in his private life.

Consider first, those words spoken by our Lord Jesus to his parents when they found him in the temple, in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions, Luke ii., 'Did you not know,' said he, 'that I must be about my Father's business? I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me,' John iv. 38. This was his daily food during his mortal life. 'My meat,' said he, 'is to do the will of him that sent me,' John iv. 34. This then was the exercise of his private life which he spent in obscurity and retirement, under a poor carpenter's roof. He was all the while about the business of his Father. He was ever doing the will of his Father. All his thoughts, words, and actions were directed to his Father's glory. And this is the great lesson we are to learn from him in his private life. We all of us, like him, came into this world for nothing else but to do the will of God: we all of us ought to be ever about the business of our heavenly Father: all our thoughts, words, and actions ought to be directed to him. O let us study well this great lesson, which the Son of God employed so many years in teaching.

Consider 2ndly, how 'he went down with Joseph and Mary to Nazareth, and was subject to them,' Luke ii. 51. O stand astonished, my soul, to see the Lord and Maker of heaven and earth submitting himself to his creatures, and obedient to them! O see how he serves them even in the meanest offices; how he works with his reputed father, at his mechanical trade. But with what modesty and silence, with what recollection and application of his soul to his heavenly Father by continual adoration, thanksgiving, oblation, and love, and by continual prayer and intercession for us! Christians, learn from this great example, to be ever humble, meek, and obedient. Learn to sanctify your ordinary employments, and even your common actions, by recollection and mental prayer. Learn that even the highest perfection may be found in the exercise of the lowest and meanest offices, if in these the soul does but take care to keep close to her God, and to embrace him by love.

Consider 3rdly, what is written of our Lord with relation to this private part of his life: that 'Jesus increased in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men,' Luke ii. 52. Our Lord, who from the first moment of his conception was full of all heavenly wisdom and divine grace, was pleased in proportion to his advancing in age, to show forth every day more and more, in his words and actions, the admirable treasures of wisdom and grace that were hidden in the soul, to teach us to make a continual progress in the way to God; and to advance every day by large steps, from virtue to virtue, till we come 'unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ,' Eph. iv. 13. Christians, do we seriously apply ourselves to learn this excellent lesson? What progress have we hitherto made, after so many years pretending to walk after Jesus Christ in the way of virtue? have we not for the most part rather gone backward than forward? O let us now at least, begin to be in earnest.

Conclude to learn of our Saviour all those lessons which he desires to teach us in his private life, particularly these three: 1, To be ever about the business of our Father; 1, To be ever submissive and obedient to his vicegerents; and 3, To be ever making the best of our way to him.

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Admin

Administrator
13th Jan

1633



On our Saviour's being baptized by St. John the Baptist

Consider first, how St. John the Baptist, being sent as a forerunner of our Lord, to prepare the people for him, by preaching to them penance, and a thorough conversion from their sins; when a multitude of publicans and other sinners resorted to him, and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins, and receiving from him the rules of a new life; our Lord Jesus also came among them, as if he had been one of their number and stood in need of that baptism of penance for the remission of sins; and desired to be baptized by him. Admire the humility of this 'Lamb of God,' who came 'to take away the sins of the world,' and yet here associates himself with sinners and is willing to pass for one of them. The Baptist was astonished at it and refused to baptize him, saying, 'I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me?' But Jesus insisted upon his doing it; 'for so it becometh us,' said he, 'to fulfil all justice,' Matt iii. 14, 15; that is to exercise and to give examples of all virtues; amongst which humility is the foundation, which sustains all the rest. O give us thy grace, dear Lord, that we also may 'fulfil all justice,' by the imitation of thy humility.

Consider 2ndly, how our Lord Jesus having thus humbled himself to 'fulfil all justice,' was presently 'exalted' by his heavenly Father; when 'being baptized and praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, as a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son, and in thee I am well pleased,' Luke iii. 21, 22. Learn from hence, my soul, that humility opens heaven and conducts us to God, and to all good. But see also, how upon this occasion of the baptism of Christ, the chief mysteries of religion are displayed: see how the whole blessed Trinity manifests itself: the Father, by his voice from heaven; the Son, in his human nature, assumed for us; and the Holy Ghost, by descending in the shape of a dove. See how the mission and the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ is here solemnly authorized, with a formal declaration of the dignity of his person, and of his unction and consecration, by the Spirit of God: see how the Son of God, descending into the waters sanctifies them, in order to those great effects of regeneration and renovation of the soul in the laver of baptism: see how he buries, as it were, the old Adam here under the waters, and brings him forth a new man; opening heaven in his favour, and imparting to him both his Holy Spirit, and the title and dignity of Son of God. O let us venerate these heavenly mysteries! Let us here embrace our humble Saviour, the source of all our good.

Consider 3rdly, how our Lord began the functions of his mission, and the preaching of his gospel, from this time of his being baptized, and his being here solemnly recommended to the world, not only by the voice of his heavenly Father, and by the visible descent of the Holy Ghost. But first, for our instruction, he was pleased, by way of preparation, to withdraw himself from the conversation of men, into days in fasting and prayer; at the end of which time he suffered three different assaults of temptation from Satan; and after overcoming this wicked enemy, was visited and served by Angels. Christians, let us learn from this great example, in all our spiritual undertakings to seek first the assistance and blessing of heaven, by retirement, fasting, and prayer; let us learn that these same are also the best arms against all the temptations of the enemy; that we are not to expect, how much soever we are retired from the world, to live without temptation, since Christ himself was tempted; but that we must, by his example, fight and overcome; and that this is the way to heavenly comforts here, and to an immortal crown hereafter.

Conclude to keep as close as thou canst to the Lord Jesus, in every step he takes, and to have thy eyes always upon him, that thou mayest copy out his virtues in thy life.

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Admin

Administrator
14th Jan

1636



On the Sacred Name of Jesus for the First Sunday after the Octave of the Epiphany

Consider first, these words of the apostle, Phil. ii, spoken of the eternal Son of God, incarnate for us: 'He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and in hell; and that every tongue shall confess, that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.' Christians, let us then venerate this sacred name, and all the mysteries and heavenly truths it contains - which are so many and so great, that no tongue can sufficiently express them, nor heart conceive them. The name of Jesus came from heaven; it signifies a Saviour; but such a Saviour as should deliver his people from their sins; reconcile lost man to God; purchase for him mercy, grace, and salvation, and of a slave of Satan, and a child of hell, make him a son of God, and heir of heaven. O what has not our Lord Jesus done, what has he not suffered, that he might be such a Jesus to us? None but he could ever fulfil the import of this heavenly name; none but a God-man, an Emmanuel, that is, a God with us, could be a Jesus to save his people from their sins, and be to them a never-failing source in all true good; even to that degree as to make them in a manner partners in his divinity.

cthat the name of Jesus is a name of virtue and of power. In this name the churches of God were planted throughout the earth. In this name the Apostles wrought all kinds of miracles, and even raised the dead to life. By this name millions of martyrs have overcome death in all its shapes. This name has peopled the deserts with holy solitaries, and every nation of the Christian world, in every age, with innumerable saints, who 'looking upon Jesus the author and finisher of their faith,' have, through his name overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, and are now set down with Jesus in his throne, according to the promise he has made to them that conquer in his name, Rev. iii.21. To this sacred name so many mighty monarchs have yielded themselves captives, submitting both themselves and their kingdoms to the great conqueror, and oftentimes leaving even their crown and sceptre for the love of this divine name. O kingdoms of Jesus, kingdom of mercy and grace, when wilt thou extend thy conquest over all the universe, and bring all kings and people all nations and all hearts, to bow down, to embrace, and to give all praise and glory to this adorable name?

Consider 3rdly, that the name of Jesus carries with it an unspeakable majesty, tempered with humility, meekness, sweetness, and love; inasmuch as it expresses to us a God made man - even a poor, meek, and humble man - out of a pure love for us. It shows forth to us all the divine attributes, stooping, as I may say, to the work of our redemption, in order to raise us up from the dung-hill, and to bring us to a heavenly kingdom. Jesus is a name of mercy, a name of comfort, a name of grace and of salvation: it promises pardon and forgiveness to all penitent sinners; it preaches to them deliverance from their slavery and from their bonds; the discharge of all their debts; the healing of all their maladies; and the rescuing them from all their enemies, and from the wrath to come. It supports the Christian pilgrim under all his labours; it comforts him in all his afflictions; it is his refuge in all dangers; it sets before him the source of all his good; it encourages him to pray with an assurance that there is nothing but what he may obtain, if he prays in the name of his Saviour. It puts to flight all the powers of hell; they cannot bear that sacred name. It conquers the world and the flesh; in fine, opens heaven to all its true lovers and followers. O sacred name, mayest thou be always in our hearts, and on our lips! It was so with the blessed apostle St. Paul: O may we, like him, find all things in Jesus!

Conclude ever to venerate the divine name of Jesus, as presenting to your souls the principal object of the Christian's faith, the strongest grounds of his hope, and the chiefest motive, and most powerful attraction, to engage his love, viz., a God incarnate, and crucified for us. Thus you may exercise, as often as you hear his sacred name, all the thee theological virtues of faith, hope, and love of God.

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