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till it came and stood over where 10. the young child was. When they (a) saw the star, they rejoiced 11. with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts (b); gold, and frankincense, 12. and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
give presents: the kings of Arabia "and Saba shall bring gifts. He shall
live, and unto him shall be given of "the gold of Arabia."
(e) St. Paul had been shewing that the Gentiles might receive all the benefits of Christ's coming, without submitting to any of the Jewish ceremonies; that the Jews would also be admitted to them, if they embraced the belief of Christianity, and practised the duties it enjoins; but that without such practice there could be no salvation in Christ either to Jew or Gentile and he therefore presses them, as they are no longer required to make the sacrifices the Mosaic law required, to
First Sunday after the Epiphany.
O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle. Rom. xii. 1. (c) I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present (d) your bodies a living (e) sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your (f) reasonable service. And be not con- 2. formed to this world: but be ye transformed by the (g) renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. For I say, 3.
make the only sacrifice Christianity demands, a sacrifice of those propensities which are against the purity and disposi tion of mind which the Gospel enjoins. We are to remember, too, that God requires this sacrifice of us.
(d) "Your bodies," in opposition to v. I. those of animals.
(e) Living sacrifice," not a sacrifice v. 1. which was to be slain; but by suppressing their evil desires, &c. to make a sacrifice of their own bodies, without subjecting them to death: not as before, by killing the body of an animal, and bringing that into a state of purity, but by killing their lusts, &c. to bring their own bodies into a state of purity, and yet keeping them alive,
(f)"Reasonable," much more reason- v. I. able than to seek for pardon by killing of bulls, &c.
(g) Renewing of your mind," i. e. v. z. bringing your mind into a new state; forming it anew. So Eph. iv. 23, 24. St. Paul exhorts them to "be renewed in the spirit
through (b) the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly (i) than he ought to think; but to think soberly, (k) according as God hath dealt to every man the 4. measure of faith. For as we have many (1) members in one body, and all members have not the 5. same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
The Gospel. Luke ii. 41. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the 42. passover. And when he was
twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the 43. feast. And when they had ful
filled the days, as they returned,
the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But 4 they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they 4 found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after 4 three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And 4 all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they 4 were amazed and his mother said unto him, "Son, why hast "thou thus dealt with us? behold,
fit to intrust to his care. The same idea is thus expressed, Eph. iv. 7. "unto every 66 one of us is given grace (i. e. talents) "according to the measure of the gift " of Christ."
()" Many members," &c. This idea is very much enlarged upon, 1 Cor. xii, and Eph. iv. 3. to 16. The substance of the argument is this: no one ought too much to value himself because the spiritual gifts with which he is endowed are of the highest kind, nor should any one be undervalued because the gifts intrusted to him are of a lower degree: the highest and the lowest must all be exercised; they are all conferred; and the object of conferring them is not to aggrandize the individual, or advance his glory, but to forward the general interests of Christianity, and advance the glory of God. All of them, however they may differ, proceed from the same high original, and have all the same high object. Each man has what is intrusted to him, not for his own sake, not from his own merit, not for his own honour, but for the sake of the Church in general, and to extend its influence. The passage in 1 Cor. xii. will be found, 10th Sunday after Trinity, and part of the passage in Ephes. iv. post..
thy father and I have sought thee "sorrowing." And he said unto them, "How is it that ye sought "me? wist ye not that I must be "about (m) my Father's business?" 30. And they understood not the say- || ing which he spake unto them. ¡1. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52. And Jesus increased in wisdom. and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Second Sunday after the Epiphany.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(m) "My Father's," i. e. God's. Or the translation might be, "in my Father's "house."
(n)" Gifts," i. e. spiritual gifts. The extraordinary powers conferred upon the first members of Christianity, to enable them to accomplish its propagation. v. 6. (9) "According to the grace that is given. us," that is, according to what God has thought fit of his mere grace to bestow; it is his gift, not our acquisition.
(p)" Proportion of faith." Faith is here used to signify not the act of man's mind in believing, but the act of God in confiding; and the meaning is, according to the extent of the trust reposed in us, or delegated to us.
. 8. (9) Simplicity," i.e. probably, with-
The Epistle. Rom. xii. 6. HAVING then (2) gifts differing according (0) to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion (p) of faith; or ministry, 7. let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or 8. he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with (9) simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. love (r) be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly 10. affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; 11. serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing 'instant in prayer; dis- 13. tributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless () 14.
(7) "Let Love, &c." So in 1 Cor. v. 9. after an argument much more at large to prevent their priding themselves upon the spiritual gifts they received, he passes to that fine panegyric upon charity or Christian benevolence, 1 Cor. xiii. which constitutes the Epistle for Quinquagesima.
It is peculiar to the systems of morality in the Old and New Testament, that they inculcate every virtue which has a tendency to advance the happiness of man, and no other, and that they prohibit whatever has a contrary tendency. This is considered as affording strong internal evidence to confirm our belief that they had their origin from God. Let any one review his past conduct, and compare it with the rules of conduct prescribed in the Bible, and then fairly ask himself whether much of the uneasiness, &c. he has suffered is not referable to a deviation from these rules?
(s) "Bless, &c." Is there any other v. 14. system which contains such a precept as this? and yet is not the acting up to it likely to diminish the evils of persecu
them which persecute you : bless, || purifying of the Jews, containing 15. and curse not. Rejoice with them
that do rejoice, and weep with 16. them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.
The Gospel. John ii. 1. AND the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2. and both Jesus was called and his 3. disciples (t) to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, "They have no wine." Jesus saith unto her, (u) "Woman, what have "I to do with thee? mine hour is -5. not yet come." His mother saith unto the servants, "Whatsoever 6. " he saith unto you, do it." And there were set there six water-pots of stone, after the manner of the
tion? It has an obvious tendency to lessen the virulence of the persecutors, and it better enables the sufferers to bear up against their afflictions, by knowing that they are undeserved, that they have given no occasion for what they endure, and by the consequent conviction that they must ultimately receive their reward from God.
Our Saviour inculcates the same doctrine, Matt. v. 43, 44. "Ye "have heard that it hath been said, "thou shalt love thy neighbour, and "hate thine enemy: but I say unto
you, love your enemies, bless them "that curse you, do good to them that "hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you." And St. Stephen confirmed this doctrine at his death, for when he was stoned, his last act was to "kneel "down and cry wi h a loud voice, Lord "lay not this sin to their charge." See 57. note (a). So when our Saviour was upon the cross, he said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke xxiii. 34.
(t)" His disciples." St. John, therefore, who was one of those disciples, had
two or three firkins apiece. Jesus 7. saith unto them, "Fill the water"pots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. And he 8. saith unto them, "Draw out now, "and bear unto the governor of "the feast." And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants which drew the water knew), the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, "Every, man 10. "at the beginning doth set forth
good wine; and when men "have well drunk, then that "which is worse: but thou hast "kept the good wine until now." This beginning of miracles did 11. Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
strong evidence of this miracle, for he was probably in the house when it was performed; but many of our Saviour's miracles were done in the sight of St. Matthew and St. John, and as to them therefore they could not be deceived. The power our Saviour and his disciples had of working miracles is a strong proof of the truth of Christianity. It is the attestation of God himself. They could not have been per formed but under his sanction, and can it be believed that he would have given that sanction to an impostor?
(u)" Woman." This was not a word .4 of disrespect; our Saviour applies it to his mother when he was on the cross, John xix. 26. "When Jesus therefore saw "his mother, and the disciple standing "by, whom he loved, he saith unto his "mother, Woman, behold thy Son; then "saith he to the disciple, Behold thy "mother." It has been supposed that he purposely used this term, that the making her an object of religious adoration, which he foresaw would be done, might not be justified by any peculiar mark of respect from him to her.
(x)" Recompence," &c. Solomon gives the same advice, Prov. xx. 22. "Say "not thou, I will evil: but recompence "wait on the Lord, and he shall save "thee." So St. Paul exhorts, 1 Thess. v. 15. "See that none render evil for "evil unto any man: but ever fol"low that which is good both among "yourselves, and to all men." St. Peter also directs, 1 Pet. iii. 9. "not to ren"der evil for evil, or railing for rail"ing, but contrary-wise blessing;" and reminds us, Pet. ii. 23. of the example of our Saviour, "who when he "was reviled, reviled not again; when "he suffered, he threatened not, but "committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously."
(x) "Written." The passage is .19. Deut. xxxii. 35. "To me (saith the Lord) "belongeth vengeance, and recompence." And accordingly, Ps. xciv. 1. he is appealed to as Him to whom vengeance belongeth: "O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth, O God, to whom
vengeance belongeth, shew thy"self."
(a) "Heap," &c. This probably alludes v. 20. to the method of melting metals in a crucible as by heaping coals of fire on the head of a crucible the hardest metals are melted, so by heaping acts of kindness on the head of an enemy, we should endeavour to melt him into goodwill towards us; and so according to what follows, to overcome his evil by our good acts, his animosity by our forbearance. The is taken from Prov. xxv. 21. passage "If thine enemy be hungry, give him "bread to eat, and if he be thirsty, give "him water to drink, for thou shalt heap "coals of fire on his head, and the Lord "shall reward thee." It has been supposed that the heaping coals of fire upon the head of an enemy may mean still further, that if he is not touched by our acts of kindness towards him, those acts will bring upon him heavier punishment from God: but is it consistent with the spirit of Christianity, that we should act from such a motive? Can he be a Christian who would wish, in any event, to bring down God's judgment upon a fellow
(b) "Mountain," the place where he had been delivering that admirable dis course called his Sermon on the Mount, contained in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of St. Matthew.