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angel of heaven to the shepherds, and conducted them to the cradle of the Saviour of the world. (1)
the whole he gathers that all viii. 1, 2.---the apostles were the apostles rule in christian of the lowest rank, 1 Cor. ii. churches, and that the most 26. born in an obfcure
proexcellent of all these rulers is vince, Acts ii. 7. John vii. S. Paul. Sunt inter nos a. 41. exercising mean occupapoftoli Christi, et inter illos tions, and keeping low comeximius Paulus : Paulus præ pany, Acts x. 6. xviii. 3.cæteris ecclesiam suis scriptis There were, indeed, some ex. ditavit et instruxit. This ceptions, there was Nicodeis the Couceian method of mus, Joseph of Arimathea, expounding scripture, of the treasurer of the which this excellent divine Ethiopia, Cornelius, Apollos, was too fond. Vitringa 06- Sergius Paulus the proconsul, ferv. Sacr. lib. iii. cap. 3. De Dionysius the Areopagite, a Benjamine parvo.
prophet, who had been (1) God takes most pleasure in brought up with Herod, and beflowing his favours on the there were saints in Cæsar's most abject. The common Fa- houshold.--All the apostles, ther of all, infinitely superior except S. Paul, were illiterate, to all human motives, strictly as well as poor : nor did their speaking, cannot be said to inspiration endow them with take more pleasure in a poor human erudition. In proof of than in a rich convert; all his this last article, three things works are infinitely wise in are to be observed.
1. The their plan, and good in their Lord, according to his proexecution, and his felicity is mise, inspired them with the necessarily invariable: but knowledge of all the truths, our author means to inform that were necessary for the us, that the Gospel, by con- edification of his church, and ferring its higheit favours on the propagation of the gofsuperior piety, and not on fu- pel : but this promise did not perior rank, has removed the extend to the doctrines of hyleeming disgrace of poverty, droitatics, Auxions, philoloand peculiarly displays the gy, &c.—2. Their writings goodness of God by invigo- afford proof of the want of rating the poor, whom all human erudition and eloother systems of knowledge, quence, particularly those of and all expensive religions de- . John, and their historian press.
allows Peter and John to have “ The primitive christians been aypaypalus after the day were poor in the bulk, 2 Cor. of Pentecost, Acts iv. 13.
3. In this meeting of the angels and shepherds you see a perpetual character of the æconomy of Je. sus Christ, wherein the highest and most sublime things are joined with the meanest and lowest. In his person the eternal word is united to a creature, the divine nature to the human, infinity to infirmity, in one word, the Lord of Glory to mean felh and blood. In his baptism he is plunged in the water, and the Father speaks to him from heaven; he is under the hand of John the Baptist and the Holy Ghost descends upon him. In his temptation he hungers, yet miraculously supports a fast of forty days: the devil tempts him, and angels obey him. On his cross naked, crowned with thorns, and exposed to sorrows, yet at the same time shaking the earth and eclipfing the fun. Here in like manner angels are familiar with shepherds : angels to mark his majesty, shepherds his humility : angels because he is creator and master of all things, shepherds because he made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant.
4. This mission of angels to shepherds relates to the end, for which the son of God came into
All this does not imply that the empire of the passionsthey were not good, true, to elevate men to the study of fafé, clear authors, and fine heavenly things---to eftablisk natural orators.-3. The gift a kingdom not of this world. of tongues, which enabled God in all is maximus in minithem to render themselves in- mis." Moft of these are the telligible to people of diffe- remarks of a learned professor rent nations, did not lead of divinity at Florence, and them into the erudition and in many of them he agrees oratory of each nation. All with our first apologists, Orithis economy was most excel- gen, Arnobius, Minucius Fe. lently adapted to the general lix, &c. Joan. Lami de Erudiplan of redemption, the de- tione Apoftolorum. cap. z. Vi lign of which was to destroy xv. xiv.
the world, for he came to establish a communion between God and men, and to make peace between men and angels. To this must be referred what S. Paul says, It pleased the Father by bim to reconcile all things to himself. (2)
(2) Reconcile all things. serve the latter in this life, Col. i. 20. Reconciliaret om and the latter dwell with the nia, i. e. recolligeret, sub former in the next: but this, unum caput reduceret, et in fays our reformer, does not anum corpus conjungeret. agree with S. Paul's words;
Tum qua in terra, tum que he says, God reconciled heain cælis. In confeffo apud venly beings to bimself by Jeinterpretes eft, homines hic fus Chrift. He understands dici, et angelos ; nec obftat it therefore of redeeming grace quod marta hic fit neutrius to men, and confirming grace generis, quia neutrum sæpe to elect angels. Calvin in loc. pro masculino ponitur, ut Gal. A young minister, who iii. 22. Conjunctio este dif- preaches from such texts as junctiva, non hic feperandi, this, would do well, methinks, sed diftinguendi tantum, imo to waive entering on the diffiet conjungendi vim habet. culties, and to take the geneGrot.
ral idea, as the ground of a The Father proposed to re
sermon. The general idea of concile all ebingsin heaven, and this passage is this, Christiaall in cartb, unto himself by nity is a conciliating plan. He Jesus Christ. Calvin rightly might, not improperly, comcalls this magnificum Chrifti pose a sermon from this parelogium, Some suppose, S. age on the agreement of chris Paul includes all intelligent tianity and civil polity. I say, creatures, even the devils not improperly, for perhaps themselves, in this reconcilia- S. Paul's terms earth, beaven, tion : but this sense destroys body, may be put figuratively the doctrine of future punish- for the church, the populace, ments. Most expofitors un- and civil governors. The derstand the apoftie to include 16th verse seems to favour boly angels : but how they, this notion. The manner of who never finned, can be said discussing this subject properly to be reconciled, is difficult to will appear by the following answer. The mediation of example. Jesus Chrift, indeed, has Christianity harmonizes opened a communion between with civil polity-not chrisa angels, and men; the former tianity debaled by the corrup
After this you may make a proper reflection on the time mentioned by S. Luke, who says, The Shepherds were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. You may briefly make the ordinary observation, which is, that, according to all appearances, Jesus Christ was not born on the 25th of December, as is the common opinion of the Latin church ; for that is an improper time to keep flocks in the fields, and to watch them by night: but this need not be insisted on; for it is of no great importance, nor would it be to our edification, to
tions of men, on the contra. it is in christianity. 4. A ry, they are human inven- ftate flourishes, when the peotions, added to christianity, ple yield a ready obedience to which have produced all the their governors, and venerate mischiefs in christian states the dignity of office ; chrisbut christianity as Jesus Chrift tianity teaches its professors and his apostles taught it. to do so. 5. Temperance, Here explication is necessary. industry, content, and other Did Jesus Christ ordain fan- moral 'virtues, render a state guinary canons ? Did he teach tranquil, and happy; chrisinexplicable mysteries, and ap- tianity forcibly inculcates point penalties for not believ- these. 6. A state is happy ing them ? Did he arm priests when discords do not prevail, with secular power? Did he and when kind offices to each excite princes to hate, persecute, other abound among citizens; banish, and destroy their fub- christianity curbs all the pafjects for matters of conscience fions, that produce discords, Chriftianity in fcripture is a and enforces the practice of conciliating plan. Here also kind offices, &c. &c. I have found civil polity may be ex taken the liberty to put these plained.
articles sermon-wise, and to To demonstrate that chrif- prefix a text to them, to extianity agrees with found po- plain my meaning. I took lity-observe 1. The same the most of them from an acaGod is author of both. 2. Je- demical exercise excellent in sus Christ and his apotles ne- its kind, and not foreign from ver attempted to subvert civil theology. Puffendorfii Differgovernment. 3. The well- tat. Acad. Selex. de concordia being of the whole is the fu- ver. pol. cum rel. Cbrift. preme law in civil polity, so
know precisely when the Saviour of the world was born : the time is very indifferent to christians. (3) It is more to the purpose to remark,
(3) “ The time of the birth of entrance of the sun into all Cbrift is very indifferent to the signs in the Julian calenchristians. The times of the dar they placed the days of birth and pasion of Christ, other saints ; as the converwith such like niceties, being fion of Paul on Jan. 25th, not material to religion, were when the fun entered Aqualittle regarded by christians of rius ; S. Matthias on Feb. the first age. They who be- 25th, when he entered Pisces; gan first to celebrate them, S. Mark on April 25th, when placed them in the cardinal he entered Taurus ; Corpus periods of the year; as the Christi on May 26th,when he annunciation of the Virgin entered Gemini; S. James Mary on the 25th of March, on July 25th, when he entered which,when Julius Cæsar cor- Cancer ; S. Bartholomew on rected the calendar, was the Aug. 24th, when he entered vernal equinox : the feast of Virgo; Simon and Jude on John the Baptist on the 24th o&. 28th, when he entered of June, which was the sum- Scorpio; and if there were mer solstice: the feast of any other remarkable days in St. Michael on Sept. 29th, the Julian calendar, they which was the autumnal equi- placed the saints upon them, nox: and the birth of Christ as S. Barnabas on June 11th, on the winter solstice Dec. where Ovid seems to place 25th : with the feasts of S. the feast of Vesta and FortuStephen, S. John, and the na, and the goddess Matuta; Innocents, as near it as they and S. Philip and James on could place them. And be the first of May, a day dedicause the solstice in time re cated both to the Bona Dea, moved from the 25th of De or Magna Mater, and to the cember to the 24th, the 23d, goddess Flora, and still celethe 22d, and so on back- brated with her rites. AIL wards, hence some in the fol- which thews that these days lowing centuries placed the were fixed in the first christian birth of Christ on December calendars by mathematicians at 23d, and at length on Dec. pleasure, without any ground 20th: and for the same rea in tradition ; and that the son they seem to have set the christians afterwards took up feast of S. Thomas on Dec, with what they found in the zift, and that of S. Matthew calendars, on Sept. 2ift. So also at the