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satisfied by witnessing the fulfilment of that which had been made known to them by the angel of the Lord, they returned home, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. How highly favoured had they been to hear the heavenly message, and the song of the celestial hosts, and to see the accomplishment of all that had been announced to them! It so affected them that they glorified and praised God. They took up the song of the angels, Glory to God in the highest; for the good will which He had manifested toward men in sending into our world a Saviour to bring peace on earth, to make peace between offending man and his highly offended Creator. They hailed the newborn infant as their Saviour, the Messiah, Christ the Lord. And they made known abroad to others what they had heard and seen, that all around them might become acquainted with Him also to the joy of their souls.
This is recorded not merely as a matter of history, but for our admonition. We have heard the heavenly message which was delivered to the shepherds of Bethlehem. It has been proclaimed to us as a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.50 What effect has this
50 1 Tim. i. 15.
heavenly message produced upon us? Have we, like Mary, pondered in our hearts the word of the truth of the gospel which has come unto us? Have we seen our need of the salvation of Christ; that unless we are interested in it by faith, or by believing it with all our hearts, by receiving the truth in the love of it, we must perish everlastingly? This is a solemn truth which we should lay to heart: for as sinners against God, we are in danger of eternal perdition. But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.51 Oh! that the mercy of God in Christ Jesus may not be set before us in vain, but that we may believe the record of God to the salvation of our souls; and by faith in Christ be delivered from the wrath to come.
The effect produced upon the minds of the shepherds, by their belief of the good tidings of great joy that were brought to them by the angel of God, was, that they glorified and praised God. And if it be given to us to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, if the great mystery of godliness that God was manifest in the flesh to be the Saviour of lost sinners, be brought home with power to our hearts, so that we truly embrace the great salvation of the Son of God,
51 John iii. 16. 52 Matthew xiii. 11. 53 1 Timothy iii. 16.
we shall also glorify and praise His holy name. We shall bless the Lord at all times, His praise will continually be in our mouth; our souls will make their boast in the Lord, and the humble will hear thereof and be glad. And we shall not only with our lips, but in our lives also show forth His praise. We shall glorify God in our body and in our spirit, which are God's.55 While we make known the blessedness of His salvation from day to day to all around us, we shall seek to exemplify its blessings, to manifest in our own life and conduct before men, that blessed is the people who have the Lord for their God.
The shepherds praised God because a Divine Saviour had been revealed to them, who was in such circumstances, that even they, humble as their condition in life was, might approach Him without dread. Had our Saviour been born in a palace, and surrounded from His infancy with the great and the noble, the rich and the learned, the poor would naturally have thought that He would not regard them, and that they could have no part in His salvation. But the poorest of the poor may now be encouraged to apply to Him for the blessings which He came upon earth to bestow upon mankind. mankind. Since He appeared in such a low and mean condition in this world, they may be confident that He will not cast
54 Psalm xxxiv. 1, 2.
55 1 Cor. vi. 20.
out their prayer on account of the low station which they occupy in society, or because they are destitute of this world's goods. If they are also poor in spirit, humble in mind as well as in outward circumstances, our Saviour Himself pronounced them blessed. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.56 To this man will I look, saith the Lord, even to Him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at My word.57 For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of an humble and contrite spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. This character which is pronounced blessed, our Saviour Himself exemplified in the days of His flesh. He said, I am meek and lowly in heart.59 What a pattern of humility did He exhibit. Such as was never seen on any other occasion whatever. What a picture also of love to man, love disinterested, love unparalleled. Oh! that our hearts were so deeply affected by it, that it might constrain us to love Him in return, and to give up ourselves to His service, to live to His glory. Then we should find continual cause to glorify and praise Him more and more.
Through the goodness of God we have en
56 Mat. v. 3. 57 Isaiah lxvi. 2. 58 Isaiah lvii. 15. 59 Mat. xi. 29.
When we look back
tered upon another year. upon that which is past, we must surely be sensible that we have need to implore pardon for our multiplied offences, our ingratitude for mercies received, and our repeated forgetfulness of the hand which has supplied all our wants. How good has God been to us! How far have we been from rendering to Him according to His benefits! Let us take shame to ourselves for our past misconduct, and implore earnestly His grace for the time to come. Let us anew surrender ourselves to Him, that we may be His in soul and body, in time and in eternity. An opportunity is afforded us, by the administration of the Lord's supper, on this occasion of our first presenting ourselves before the Lord in His house of prayer, on His holy day, at our entrance upon this new year. Let those who are thankful for Redeeming love embrace it; and glorify and praise His holy name, who came to seek and to save that which was lost.60 Let the humble in mind, the contrite in heart embrace it; and rejoice in Him, who was meek and lowly in heart, and invited the weary and heavy laden to come to Him that they might find rest to their souls. Let those who are sensible that the mercies of God of which they have been partakers, demand gratitude of heart
60 Luke xix. 10.