Compiled by EDWARD M. DEEMS, A.M., PH.D.
CHRISTMAS is a Christian festival celebrated in memory of the birth
of Jesus
Christ. Originally we find the feast was celebrated by the Eastern
as Epiphania, January 6, and by the Western Church as atalis,
December 25.
While December 25 was in all probability not the actual date of Christ s
its selection by the Western Church was by no means arbitrary.
Precisely at this season of the year occurred a series of Pagan festivals,
connected with the civil and social life of the Romans,, and from the
nature of
their observance, easily capable of being spiritualized and made
symbolic. This
series culminated in the festival of the winter solstice, the birthday of
the new
sun about to return once more toward the earth. In this feast the
transition to
the Christian point of view easily presented itself, and hence it came
about that
in the Christian cycle of holidays December 25 was set to celebrate the
of Jesus, the Sun of the spiritual world for the purpose of drawing away
people from heathen festivities, and of purifying eventually these
heathen customs
and ideas.
In the fourth century, through the influence of Chrysostom, it is
believed, the
Eastern Church transferred its celebration to the same date, and the
day being
thus uniformly accepted, Christmas became one of the three great
annual festivals
of the Church.
curved ranks of white-clad warriors, women
and children facing the altar, the hoary High
Priest and kneeling child the victim doomed
to die by the blow of the hammer, a sacrifice
to Thor, the Hammerer.
Then the coming of Boniface, the blow
from the Hammer turned aside by the Cross,
the rescue of the boy, the fall of the oak be
fore the mighty blows of the apostle, the
story of Jesus simply told and how sin, not
human life, is the sacrifice He asks.
" And here, said the apostle, as his eyes
fell on a young fir tree, standing straight and
green with its top pointing toward the stars,
amid the divided ruins of the fallen oak,
here is the living tree, with no stain of
blood upon -it, that shall be the sign of your
new worship. See how it points to the sky.
Let us call it the tree of the Christ-child.
Take it up and carry it to the Chieftain s
hall, for this is the birth-night of the White
Christ. You shall go no more into the
shadows of the forest to keep your feasts
with secret rites of shame. You shall keep
them at home with laughter and song and
rites of love. "
Thus did " the hour of darkness, the power
of winter, of sacrifice, and mighty fear "
vanish before the glad radiance of redeem
ing love, and the Pagan oak, whose roots
were fed with blood, fall before the fir tree
which " points to the stars." P. Tid.
For several centuries after the birth of
Jesus Christ, Christmas : our happiest season,
was to His followers one of heroic ordeal.
His birthday was first celebrated in the
second century, it i? said, by order of Teles-
phorus, seventh Bishop of Rome, who shortly
after suffered martyrdom, the observance of
the anniversary of Christ s nativity being one
of his offenses. But tho the initiator of the
observance died, the observance lived lived
through flame and sword. After two hun
dred years, in the reign of Diocletian we
read of a vast multitude of Christians as
sembled, of windows and doors barred by
the Pagan emperor s order of torches ap
plied to the crowded building, and the burn
ing alive of hundreds of worshipers as
sembled to celebrate the birthday of Christ.
Six hundred years after the martyrdom of
the man who is reported to have instituted
the Christmas observance, the man to whom
tradition assigns the ideas of the Christmas
tree suffered a like fate at the hands of the
Pagan tribes of Germany.
The legend of St. Boniface and the first
Christmas tree has been beautifully told. The
scene lives before us : the wintry night, the
swelling hillock crowned with the great oak
tree the " Thunder Oak," sacred to the Pa
gan god, Thor, the tongues of ruddy flame,
the fountains of ruby sparks from the great
fire kindled near the altar at its foot, the
I remember sitting on one of the old marble
pillars lying now, for who knows how many
centuries, on the open ground beside the
Church of the ativity at Beth-
The Hori- lehem, and letting my thoughts
zon near wander back till the haze of mil-
Bethlehem lenniums sent them home to me
again, like oah s dove, wearied
with vain attempts to find anything, in those
dim regions, on which to alight. The horizon
must have been very much the same ever
since the age when the soft white chalky
limestone which once covered all Palestine,
from Lebanon to the southern desert, fell in
a snow-like shower of microscopic particles,
through the waters of the then superincum
bent ocean, and in the course of untold
thousands of years heaped up the strata
which gave Lebanon its name, the White
Mountains, and sealed all Palestine besides
under the same pure winding-sheet.
Since then the chalky sandstone of the
coast plain has been deposited, and the curi
ous " nummulite " limestone which runs be
hind it, sweeping on round what
The remains of the earlier soft lime-
Lime- stone of Lebanon, to the edge of
stone the plateau of the Sinai mountains,
and off into Egvpt. to yield, long
eons after, the stone made up of coin-like
fossils, which built the Pyramids, and gave
the stone itself its name " minimus," mean
ing " money." But all these beds are washed
away from Central Palestine, excepting at a
spot round Kadesh, where Moses encamped
so long, about fifty miles south of Hebron.
To-day, Bethlehem sits high up. on the flat
top of a narrow ridge of this soft limestone,
white as milk, when fresh cut. as one sees in
the walls of the nicely built, flat-roofed, one-
story houses of the village.
When we first hear of this old place, the
landscape must have shown the same table
land, sawn into valleys by the winter storms
of millions of years ; the hills thus
The left rounded atop by long weather-
Land- ing ; the valleys small but fertile :
scape the prospect everywhere one of
height beyond height, all running
up. however, to nearly the same level, except
to the east, where the country sinks in great
steps, from ancient volcanic disturbance, to
wards the Dead Sea ; here, white ; there,
brown with thin herbage and shrubs ; and
yonder, light yellow. Fifteen miles off. east
ward, and more than four thousand feet be
low Bethlehem, the deep blue waters of the
Dead Sea have met the eye ever since man
existed, to look down on them, while to the
southeast the utterly barren hills of the wil
derness of Judea, thickly seamed with fis
sures and narrow gorges and ravines, have
been desolate and uninviting for as long.
We first meet with Bethlehem in human
story to find ourselves beside the tents of
Jacob, as he bears out, amidst loud wailing,
the loved form of Rachel, the joy
The of his life, to lay her in the grave
Tomb which one still sees marked by a
of square, rough-stone, low, domed
Rachel building, at the side of the road,
even then the same as now, just
before it turns to the left in a white, scarped
bend, to go into Bethlehem. Jesus must often
have passed it, never, we may be sure, with
out a tender thought for her who lay sleep
ing there, amidst her children, so many cen
The next picture of this old-world place
we have is when aomi, with her husband
and two sons, is forced to leave it, the failure
of the rains having made living
aomi in it beyond their means, in spite
and Buth of its "name Bethlehem, " The
House of Bread." In Moab,
across the Jordan, and behind the Dead Sea,
a long journey for the famished villagers,
they were to find the humble maintenance
which their, own mountain home could not,
for the time, yield. Then comes the story
of the return of aomi and Ruth, leaving
the dear forms of husband and sons in the
graves of their temporary land of refuge..
But the cloud lifts after they have reached
the loved hamlet, with its sweet little valleys
on both north and south, and the breezy air
of its height, nearly three thousand feet above
the sea ; which, however, lies beyond their
horizon about forty miles to the west. The
episode of Ruth s courtship of Boaz. their
marriage, and her connection, in consequence,
with the noblest annals of Juclah, as ances
tress of David, keeps Bethlehem still in our
view. Then we see the town fathers the
elders in terror at the sudden appearance
of the judge. Samuel ; but he appeases their
fears without telling them his real errand,
and leaves, after having anointed David as
successor to Saul, whose sons were thus
superseded and whose dynasty was forever
set aside.
There is, and could have been, at any time,
only one long winding row of houses in
Bethlehem, tho a second short street, or
rather line of isolated buildings,
The modest enough, runs parallel
Country with this for a little way. side
of David openings leading from the one
to the other. The ridge is too
narrow for any change in the limits of the
village. We may fancy young David grow
ing up in this sequestered spot ; wandering
as a boy into the valleys on each side ; away,
east, along that on the north side of it, to the
upward slope, to be called, ages after, the
Hill of Shepherds, as famous for the vision
of angels on the Christmas that saw the birth
of the Savior. Or he may have strayed up
the sides of the hills, towards the then
Jebusite town of Jerusalem, or, on the south,
down the long-drawn glen that leads to
wards Hebron, the flowers, the birds, and the
butterflies pleasing the child as well then as
they do his successors of similar age to-day.
To see these little Bethlehemites at play be
fore the Church of the ativity carried back
my thoughts to the time when the boys of
Jesse were happy on the same spot, with the
same childish light-heartedness, amidst the
same landscape ; they so long vanished ; it
the same as when they were busy with their
boyish games !
But the time was to come when a greater
than David, tho sprung from his " root," was
to make Bethlehem sacred forever by His
birth, within its humble bounds.
The Date The exact time of the nativity of
of Christ s Christ can never be known, for
Birth it has been disputed from the
earliest ages of the Church. The
twenty-fifth day of December, which was at
last accepted as the date on which it should
be celebrated, has little in its favor beyond
the fact that it was the day on which, in
antiquity, the return of the sun from its win
ter absence was kept, such a festivity, as it
well appeared, suiting the feast of the nativ
ity of Him who was to be the Light of the
World, the victorious Sun of righteousness,
rising on a world long sunk in darkness to
restore spiritual day to mankind. It could
hardly have l;een at that season, however, for
such a time would surely not have been
chosen by the authorities for a public enrol
ment, which necessitated the population s
traveling from all parts to their natal dis
tricts, storms and rain making journeys both
unsafe and unpleasant in winter, except in
specially favorable years. Snow is not at all
uncommon at Jerusalem in the winter
months, and I have even known it so deep
that people lost their way outside the gates,
and Bethlehem lies even higher than the
Holy City. Then there is no provision for
heating houses in Palestine, and the suffering
from cold is, in proportion, great, especially
to a population accustomed to great heat for
most of the year. One knows how wretched
even Rome is in winter, and Palestine is
much worse during hard weather. or is it
likely that shepherds would lie out through
the night, except during unseasonably fine
But it matters little on what precise day
the Savior deigned to take our nature upon
Him ; the great thing is to commemorate the
amazing event on some day accepted by
Christians at large.
Mary s journey from azareth was a long
one, and must have been made easier, we may
suppose, as such family journeys are still, by
the services of an ass, the general riding-
beast of Palestine since the earliest times.
Simple food, of bread, with figs, and perhaps
the soft cheese of the country, would be
enough; water sufficing for drink, except
where hospitality offered a cup of the wine
then made by nearly all households.
We must not, moreover, think of Joseph
seeking out an inn at Bethlehem., for inns
were unknown among the Jews, and indeed
useless, where the only accom-
The modation usually required was
Events leave to sleep on the floor, or on
Following one s own mat brought with him
the Birth as in the khans we still find
over the East. It was a sacred
obligation on every Jew to give shelter to his
countryman when on a journey, and hence,
instead of " an inn," the real sense of the
gospel is that there was no room in any house
for the weary azarene " to loosen " the girth
of the ass and make his stay there.
A Hebrew house in those days would be
like a peasant s house now : a living-room of
four walls and a bare floor, which served for
sleeping on at night and for eat-
A Hebrew ing on by day. o one sits in
House the house except in bad weather,
so that the open air serves for r
gossiping-place, the ground being the usual
seat of a cross-legged Oriental to this day
Behind the living part of the house there is
a somewhat lower floor, also of mud, this
part of the establishment being given over to
the household ass, a goat or two, or perhaps
a sheep, and to the poultry of the house
In a place built, like Bethlehem, in many
cases, against the soft limestone rock, it often
happens that the existence of a cave, where
the house was to be, was a great
Where attraction, since it offered a
Christ ready-made, dry, above-ground
Was Born cellar, as well as a specially
suitable spot for the household
animals and for a storeroom. It would seem
that Joseph was at last able to get room in
some such back portion of a house, and there,
we are told, Mary bore her divine Son. A
cave, below the high altar of the Church of
the .ativity, is now shown as the very place
where this august event transpired ; a little
recess, shaped like a clam-shell, its floor of
marble wrought into a star in the center,
bearing in Latin the words, " Here Jesus
Christ was born of the Virgin Mary." A
row of lamps hangs round the outer edge,
the right to attend to them being a jealously
watched matter, each of the ancient churches,
the Greek, the Latin, the Armenian, and, I
think, the Coptic, having one or more of
these under their care. ,
The evidence for this site is so strong that
I, for one, accept it as sufficient, reaching up,
as it does, to within living memory of the
days of the apostles. But even if this be an
illusion, the fact remains that in this petty
village the Savior of the world was made
man for our redemption. o wonder that
we read of the anthem of the angels, for
surely nothing could draw forth the in
terest of the heavenly population like the
exceeding grace God was showing to sinful
The scene of the visit to the shepherds is
pointed out as on a rough slope, facing the
village, at some distance to the east, Bethle
hem lying, far above, on its
The mountain-seat. One can follow
Journey the shepherds in their journey to
of the see the unspeakable wonder.
Shepherds They would go along the rich
valley of Boaz, and then up the
terraced hill, by a path still in use; nor is it
uninstructive to reflect that, while simple
shepherds were led by angels to the manger,
the High-Priests and the great of Jerusalem,
so near, slept through that most illustrious
night of all history, quite unconscious of
what had happened. But we know of it ;
and may God grant that if we cannot go with
the shepherds to Bethlehem, we may, one
day, go to the right hand of God, and wor
ship Him there, who that night lay, a little
child, in ^Mary s arms !
There are more kinds of Christmases bril
liantly kept in the great Osmanli Capital than
in any city of which we have any knowledge.
It is a day to which even the
The Moslems are lenient, because,
Moslems altho hostile to Christians, they
and honor Jesus ; and Mohammedan
Christ theology maintained the sinless
birth of Mary, the mother of
Jesus, centuries before it was adopted in the
Romish Church. The message of the afngel
to Mary, as given in the third Sura of the
Koran, is, " O Mary, verily God sendeth
thee good tidings, that thou shalt bear the
Word, proceeding from Himself. His name
shall be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, hon
orable in this world and in the world to come,
and one of those who approach near to the
presence of God." There is no other Chris
tian festival to which the Moslems look with
the same regard as to that which celebrates
the birth of " Christ Jesus, the son of Mary."
I will sketch, as briefly as possible, the four
chief Christmases of the Capital, and they
will stand for the observances throughout
the Empire.
First comes the Roman Catholic faith, with
its numerous large, magnificent churches.
The Christmas adorning of these churches
can hardly be excelled in any
The part of the world. The supply
Christmas of flowers of every hue and
of the vines of every leaf is inex-
Boman haustible. The open gardens
Catholics still yield a rich variety, and
the conservatories of the rich
refuse none of their treasures. The large
numbers of the clergy, the Brothers of St.
Paul, the Sisters of Charity, and crowds of
volunteers, soon transform the churches with
the most gorgeous array of flowers and vines.
The splendid procession of boys and of maid
ens from the schools and nunneries, the vari
ous religious associations with their banners
and badges, make the scene a gorgeous one.
It is more magnificent than any mere floral
exhibition can be ; for you see at every step
that it is religious. You meet everywhere
the Virgin and the Child, in statues, statu
ettes, and paintings. They are embowered in
floral chapels, or in side chapels of the
churches. Before them are clouds of in
cense and crowds of prostrate suppliants.
Theatrical display, religious fervor, and the
jovialities of youth are all commingled. But
above all this is the music. The Roman
Church is never wanting in the attraction of
glorious music. The hymns, being in Latin,
cannot be enjoyed by a Protestant without
the book, and with the book he is astounded
at the worship offered to the Virgin.
After church service, which occupies the
morning hours, come the Christmas social
ities. They are like our Thanksgiving so
cialities, with the added excite-
Christmas merit of gifts to all the children.
Pleasures or are the poor by any means
neglected. The evening is de
voted to balls, to the theater, and to carous-
ings which often have an unpleasant ending.
As the Greek Church retains the " Old
Style." her Christmas comes twelve day >
later. It is quite different from
The Christ- the Christmas of the Latin
mas of the Church. The clergy of the Lat-
Greek in Church are chiefly Italians
Church and French, educated at Rome.
They control the fashions and
forms of their Church.
The Greek Church is purely Oriental ; and,
altho it is making great progress in general
cultivation, its Christmas is very different, or
at least was, some twenty years ago ; I have
not entered a Greek Church in the midst of its
joyous Christmas festivities at a later date. Its
devotion to the worship of the Virgin, how
ever, is quite equal to that of the Latin Church.
There is a large, wealthy, and hig .ily cul
tivated Greek society in Constantinople, and
also an immense population of the common
people. It is the multitude that governs
Christmas. If their churches are less elabo
rately adorned, it is a matter of necessity.
For the crowd is compact, and fills every part.
The " congregation joins " in the Christmas
hymn. An immense volume of round is
poured forth ; but how much artistic music
there is, I am not prepared to judge.
Every man and every woman holds a
lighted wax taper. You are expected to buy
one on entering ; and, with this in your hand,
your orthodoxy will not be questioned. The
smoke and dripping of the candles make the
atmosphere nearly suffocating ; but everybody
is joyous and happy, without a thought of
For boys it is, to all intents and purposes,
our Fourth of July. They begin soon after
midnight to fire off crackers and pistols, but
not in the Turkish quarter. They also play
shy of the police, except within the courts of
the churches, which, being surrounded by
high walls, give a free space for " scaring
away the devil ! This is the declared pur
pose of the firing. To interdict it wholly
would be religious persecution ! The boys
evidently " go in " for making a noise. It is
their " Fourth," and they improve it.
I once entered the great Greek Church of
Galata, in the very height of the celebration,
to find a physician. A short cannon was be
ing fired, every few minutes, in the court ;
and the concussion, under the high walls, was
anything but pleasant. Fiery serpents some
times went hissing among the crowd, to their
no small annoyance. As every Greek knew
the doctor whom I wanted. I worked through
the mass of people, asking for him. At
length I found him with a tall candle in his
hand, singing as lustily as any of them. I
was glad to escape with only a moderate drip
of tallow and wax.
After church the social interchanges are
very pleasant. Presents of fruit, cake, and
flowers are sent from house to
Christmas house; and the poor are not
Pleasures left without a good dinner.
There is perfect abandon in the
Greek multitude and perfect good nature.
In the evening the wine-shops are crowded,
and there is much drinking and jollity, with,
of course, the results which always, in every
land, follow excessive drinking.
The Armenian Church has its own Christ
mas. In general dogma and worship it is
the same with the Greek; but
The it holds to its own language,
Christmas national customs, and nation-
of the ality. Its Christmas is more
Armenian sober. As a race, the Armen-
and ians are less given to extrava-
Bulgarian gances. As a social and jolly
Churches time, it is equally pleasant with
the Greek Christmas.
And now the Bulgarians, having their own
churches and their own language the Slavic
have their own Christmas as separate as
possible from all others. Thus we have four
Christmases the Latin, the Greek, the Arme
nian, and the Bulgarian as entirely separate
as though a thousand miles intervened. In
all these the Virgin Mary is worshiped.
There is one more Christmas, which, in
time, accords with the Latin. It is the Prot
estant Christmas.
Many years ago, outside the Episcopal
Church, we paid very little attention to
Christmas. But we have changed all that.
We now enter into the joy of
The the Christian world, and in a
Protestant much more reasonable way. In
Christmas the East, I think, we all keep
Christmas, and keep it joyfully.
I will describe it as kept in our missionary
families. Others English, German. French
keep it in the same general way.
Dr. Schauffler s house was the central
Christmas house for all who could unite their
families with his. As a German, he entered
into it with all the love and memories of the
Fatherland. In preparation one room would
be closed and locked some days before Christ
mas. o child could enter or pry into it.
When the children were all away or in bed
the mysterious preparations were made.
The Christmas tree stood in the center,
reaching the ceiling, its branches adorned
with festoons of tinsel, multitudinous tapers,
and gifts for every child. The bigger chil
dren all became children then also had
many choice presents for one another. There
were little side shows to please the children ; a
grotto ; a castle among the hills, with a lake
let in which white swans were floating. These
would remain for days after the tree was
taken away, to be the delight of all visitors.
The evening comes. The children, old and
young, assemble. First, they repeat Christ
mas passages which they have learned from
the Old and ew Testament, also hymns.
Christmas songs are sung. Dr. Schauffier
talks in his inimitable way to the children,
and offers a prayer of thanksgiving. Then
the door is opened, and the eager children,
almost awe-struck, enter. Exclamations of de
light burst from their lips. The scenic won
ders are admired, and then the distribution
begins, amid shouts of merriment and ex
pressions of gratitude. At length the work
is done, and calm succeeds. Perhaps the
oldest one present tells a pleasant story of his
boyhood. The Doxology is sung, and the
happy crowd disperses.
Such Christmases leave memories for all
the remainder of this earthly life. C. U.
There is always something fascinating
about the folklore of the seasons ; and when
such legends are based upon
Quaint pleasant conceits, they become
Ideas in of double interest. Despite the
England whirligig of time, the good old
and traditions linger with us.
Scotland A quaint belief, peculiar to
England, holds that any person
turning a mattress on Christmas Day will
die within a year ; but it is praiseworthy to
bake bread on Christmas Eve, and loaves
baked then will never go moldy.
The Scotch hold it to be very unlucky for
any but a dark-haired person to first cross
the threshold on Christmas Day, the reason
assigned being that Judas had red hair ! In
parts of Lancashire, and in Worcestershire
and Gloucestershire, no one would dream of
giving matches, fire, or light out of a house
on Christmas Day ; but what trouble is to
ensue if the rule be violated is not very
Of course bees are not exempt from special
observance. They must be wished the com
pliments of the season in the same way that
they are told of births and deaths ; and a
sprig of holly must adorn the hive, just as
white ribbon or crape does duty upon other
occasions. Devonshire folk say that the bees
sing all night through on Christmas Eye ;
but as bees are seldom quiet, there is nothing
remarkable about that.
All over England and Wales some grace
ful tradition prevails, not the least touching
being the pretty general belief amongst coun
try folk that persons who die upon Christmas
Eve are certain of immediate and eternal
In Germany, on Christmas Eve, the whole
household prepares for church, where a sim
ple but impressive service is always held.
The worshipers are always armed
In. with lighted candles, and the
Germany first comer will find the Church
in darkness. He places his
lighted candle before him ; and, as one after
another appears, fresh candles flash out, till
the building resembles a large parterre of
single flames. The service over, the season
is supposed to have fairly begun, and Christ
mas greetings are heard on every side.
In Sweden and orway the " Julafred," or
peace of Christmas, is publicly proclaimed.
Quite early in the day the children hasten to
the churches, which are appro-
In or- priately decorated, and later the
way and adults attend. The time out-of-
Sweden mind custom of telling stories
and legends around a blazing
hearth is still most popular, and a really good
raconteur is ever welcome. Both orwegians
and Swedes are noted for their hospitality,
which extends not only to domestic pets but
to wild birds :
" From gable, barn, and stable
Protrudes the birdie s table
Spread with a sheaf of corn."
A like custom of feeding the birds prevails
also in Switzerland, Montenegro, and other
At Lyons, in France, it has long been the
rule for the first infant received at the Found
ling Hospital on Christmas Day to be wel
comed with special honor. A
In France handsome cradle is in readiness,
softest clothing is provided, and
the kindest solicitude is evinced. The object
of the ceremony is to mark the contrast be
tween the lot of the Savior and one of the
most helpless and forlorn of His creatures on
the anniversary of the beginning of the great
renunciation. It is a lesson in charity that
is not lightly forgotten.
A very singular custom prevails in Servia
and Bulgaria amongst the orthodox. If it
can possibly be avoided, no one crosses a
strange threshold on the morn-
In Servia ing of Christmas Day.
and An early ceremony has to be
Bulgaria performed by the head of each
household. Before breakfast is
thought of, corn is placed in a stocking, and
the chief of the family sprinkles a little be
fore the house door, saying, " Christ is
bcrn ; " to which one of the inmates replies,
" He is born indeed. Then the house-father
has to " wish," and, advancing to the hearth,
where logs are burning in readiness, strikes
them till sparks fly out, with a good wish for
the horses, another for the cows, another for
the goats, and so on through the whole farm
ing stock, winding up with an extra blow for
a plenteous harvest. Then the ashes are col
lected, a coin is placed amongst them, and
the whole is hidden, or. in some districts,
burned. As for the Yule logs, they are not
permitted to smolder quite away, but are
Cc-refully garnered, and the burnt ends placed
in clefts of the fruit-trees, so as to ensure a
bountiful crop. G. R.
Among the Christmas observances that
grew up by degrees all over Europe, many
of them grotesque and absurd, and some with
profuse and unseemly accompaniments, were
also not a few of a more pleasing and human
izing kind, and among the rural population
the brute creation was included as interested
parties. Shakespeare tells how
" Some say that ever, gainst that season
Wherein our Savior s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night
Among the fancies of this kind that long
est survived in Europe, and even became
naturalized in our own prosaic land, was one
that the cattle, at one o clock on Christmas
morning, whenever they were free to do so,
would turn their heads to the eastward, and
get down upon their knees to worship the
King that was born in a stable ; and still
another, which continued to comparatively re
cent times, that during the Christmas season
the barnyard cocks were accustomed to crow
with more than usual force and frequency,
bcth by day and by night.
The early inhabitants of the great Scan
dinavian peninsula were accustomed to cele
brate, at this season, the great festival of
their gods. When the people of the peninsula
become Christians, altho no less zealous for
their Christmas observances, they retained
some of the old practices, and are to this day
careful to associate with themselves in its
festivities every living thing about them.
SU tells us, in his account of a Christmas
in orway :
" The Christmas feeding of the birds is
prevalent in many of the provinces of or
way and Sweden. Bunches of oats are placed
on the roofs of houses, on trees and fences,
for them to feed upon. Two or three days
before, cartloads of sheaves are brought into
the towns for this purpose, and both rich and
poor buy and place them everywhere. Every
poor man and every head of a family had
saved a penny or two, or even one farthing,
to buy a bunch of oats for the birds to have
their Christmas. On this day, on many
farms, the dear old horse, the young colt,
the cattle, the sheep, the goats, and even the
pig receive double their usual amount of food.
It is a beautiful custom, and speaks well for
the natural goodness of heart of the Scan
But our matter-of-fact times and modes of
thinking are rapidly driving away all of these
pleasant illusions, until nations as well as in
dividuals have reason sometimes to sigh to
be children again. S. C.
The night is set with stars. All the eve
ning the Place de la Madeleine has been
thronged with merry Christmas folk, eager
to assist at the gorgeous ceremony of the
Midnight Mass.
The place which surrounds this temple
modeled after the Greek Parthenon is
bounded by the grand boulevards, and is the
center-piece of modern Paris. On almost any
day, standing here, you may see men and
women from every civilized clime ; but to
night, under the canopy of the stars, and
amid the blaze of electric burners, there is
gathered a host that comes but once a year.
It is nearing the solemn hour of mid
night, and the people await the opening of
the portals. Ah ! there is the signal light
from within, and, pressing forward, the mul
titude ascend the marble stairs. There is
neither noise nor confusion, and the large
concourse is seated without apparent aid or
Precisely as the great clock on the boule
vard rings on the crisp air its twelve notes,
announcing the midnight hour, the lights of
the temple flash upon our vision, and, simul
taneously, the grand organ thunders trium
phant welcome.
The interior of the Madeleine is a work of
high art. In form it is a vast parallelogram,
without nave or transept. The walls are po
etic frescoes. The ceiling, too lofty to be
studied from the main floor, reveals its glories
of brush and coloring to the few who have
received cards for the narrow side galleries,
that are opened only on the occasion of high
festivals. The altar is studded with burn
ing candles and generous flowers that mingle
their perfumes with the holy incense. One
hundred surpliced boys chant the measured
music that precedes the celebration. The
priests, clad in richest vestments, approach
the shrine of their devotions. Away to the
left of the altar a sound comes floating to
ward the people. Is it voice of man or spirit
that fills the mighty space with a melody
that rises and falls in sweetest cadence? We
catch a single word, " BETHLEHEM." It is
not spoken. It is a cry, an exultant cry. A
chorus of trained singers now breaks forth
in that matchless refrain :
" Venite adoremus, venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus, Dominum."
Again the solo is carried with harp and
flute from what seems to be the very altar ;
and, again, responsive from organ-loft, comes
the swell of the grand chorus. It is the
hymn, " Adeste Fideles," sung for centuries
on Christmas morning. It is one of those
grand old hymns that is married to one
melody ; we know it everywhere as the Por
tuguese. And now the gospel recitation of
" Peace on earth and good will to men " is
harmoniously chanted by the priests. It is
the story of " Jesus and His love." How the
shepherds watched by night, how the miracu
lous Star " stood over the place where the
young child lay," how the wise men brought
gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and
how in a manger cradle is fulfilled that glori
ous prophecy, " Unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given."
Brilliant and subdued is the great congre
gation. We are in Judea. The soul is hushed
in adoration. We have found a common
shrine, Jesus, unto whom " every knee shall
bow." And now the silence opens and the
Bcnedictus is sung, standing. Slowly the
massive doors swing backward. A refresh
ing breeze tells us that there is an outer
world. But we are in no haste to depart.
Memories, thick as flowers, cluster around
the service, while at every step, some mosaic
or a fresco of surpassing beauty challenges
the eye. And so, as we come to the very
portal we discover that the army of wor
shipers has departed, and we stand gazing
out into the clear-cut atmosphere, beholding
a scene down the Rue Royale and out upon
the boulevards that can only be witnessed in
the early morn of Christmas in the streets of
the City of Paris. I.
" For unto us a Child is born, unto us a
Son is given, and the government shall be
upon his shoulders ; and his name shall be
called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty
God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of
" Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty night ! . . .
Ring out, wild bells ! "
Long ago seven hundred years before
the first Christmas it was the darkest hour
of the night stars fading; people groping
like the blind, stumbling, falling ; lights out
in the sanctuary ; no open vision ; silence : a
prophet standing with his face toward the
east, shading his eyes.
Hark ! The clear note of a bell ; again and
again ; five times it strikes the air. In fhe
distance it is answered by the song of an
gels. And now the shadows flee before the
sun ! Welcome the day !
" Joy to the world, the Lord has come !
Let earth receive her King ! "
First bell: " His name shall be called Won
derful ! " Here is mystery at the threshold of
life; as it is written, "Great is the mystery
of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.
In Lerolle s " ativity " a group of rustics
stand peering in at the stable door, overawed,
agape. So stand we all before this marvel :
" The angels desire to look into it." or
dees the wonder cease as the Christ-child
grows in wisdom and stature. His life is as
unique as His person ; His doctrine bewil
ders ; His death is strangest of all. Daniel
Webster, on being asked whether he under
stood Christ, answered: " o, how should I?
I could not believe in Him if I understood
Him." It is easier for the infinite to be bound
with swaddling bands than to come within
the compass of a finite mind. Can a man
hold the ocean in his palm ? God is always
wonderful, whether He dwells in glory un
approachable or in a carpenter s shop;
whether He thunders from Sinai or sleeps
upon His mother s breast.
Second bell: " His name shall be called
Counselor ! " Many a =oul bewildered at
life s crossroads gives grateful heed to the
sweet reverberation of this bell. The world
needs guidance. " We are floating on a raft
upon an open sea," said Plato ; " whence we
came or whither we go we know not." We
dream dreams and see visions ; we face great
problems and entertain glorious, hopes ; but,
What is truth? There is a path which no
fowl knoweth and which the vulture s eye
hath not seen. Where shall wisdom be
found? A voice from Heaven answers:
" This is my beloved Son. Hear ye him."
He teacheth not as the scribes, but with au
thority. Here is no if or perhaps, but
" verily, verily." ever man spake like this
Man. Blessed Counselor ! Is sin the bur
den? He lifts it. Are our eyes blinded with
sorrow ? He gives the garment of praise for
the spirit of heaviness. Are we troubled by
" a certain fearful looking for of judgment? "
Hear Him : " Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid." Blessed Counselor,
Thou givest liberally and upbraidest not !
Third bell: A deep, majestic note " He
shall be called the mighty God ! " If ever
the polemic argument for Christ s divinity
is in order it is surely not here nor now.
There is a better way at Christmas tide. The
air is laden with the truth, " Emmanuel, God
with us." A bright morning asks no explana
tion, calls for no analysis of light. It is
enough that the shadows flee away, that birds
awake, that flowers glisten with the dew,
that the sun flames in the forehead of the
sky." What means this gathering at the
family board, this laughter of children, this
sweet content, this glorious freedom, if not
that the Sun of Righteousness the mighty
God hath risen upon us with healing in His
beams ?
Fourth bell: " He shall be called the ever
lasting Father ! " The heart longs for a
glimpse of the ineffable One ; but no man
hath ever seen God. He makes Himself
visible, however, in the person of His Son.
Jesus said :
" If ye had known me, ye should have
known my Father also. Philip saith unto
him : Lord, show us the Father and it sufn-
ceth us. Jesus saith : Have I been so long
time with you and yet hast thou not known
me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen
the Father. Believest thou not that I am in
the Father and the Father in me? "
It was observed by Madame de Stael that
" if the Founder of Christianity had done
no more than to say Our Father which art
in Heaven. He would have conferred an in
estimable boon upon the children of men."
Fifth bell: " He shall be called the Prince
of Peace ! " Here is the sweetest note.
" ames name Him not," yet Shiloh is best
of all. The burden of unrest is upon us.
The Ma=ter stretches forth His pierced
hands over our passions and heartaches, say
ing " Peace, be still."
" God rest ye, merrie gentlemen,
Upon this Christmas morn ;
The God of all good Christians
Was of a woman born."
His name is Shiloh, His blessing is Salaam,
His bequest is shalom, and His home in the
heavens is Salem, the City of Peace. Peace
alway. " My peace I give unto you." Open
no more, ye gates of Janus; for swords shall
be beaten into plowshares and spears into
pruning hooks. Be loosed of thy terrors, O
Judgment, for Christ has sprung an arch over
the " great gulf fixed." You that were alien
ated, now hath He reconciled. Midway be
twixt earth and Heaven the red-cross banner
meets a flag of truce. Peace, peace forever !
And a merry, merry Christmas! In the
message of the chimes let us rejoice and be
glad. The joy of salvation is ours. The
waste places of our life below blossom as the
rose ; each morning brings a new promise of
life, and at every sunset the crimson gates
of Heaven roll back.
" Ring and swing,
Bells of joy! On morning s wing
Send the song of praise abroad !
Tell the nations that He reigns
Who alone is God ! "
I. He was in the genealogies. God framed
the history of the world in view of the com
ing of Jesus Christ. In the very beginning
He chose a family whose line of descent
should run directly from Eden to t Bethle
hem. This family God took into covenant
with Himself, and the promise of the cove
nant was that of its seed Christ should be
born in the fulness of time. This covenant-
line runs through the whole of the Old
Testament as the golden thread runs through
the beautiful fabric. Everything centers in
this covenant-line. It unifies the Old Testa
ment. It is the cord upon which the pearls
of history are strung. Keep this in mind, and
it will explain a thousand mysteries and per
plexities in reading the Old Testament.
Let me illustrate ! Dark pages, which we
would not read in public, are in the Holy
Book. They chronicle the worst fins of
humanity the sin of Lot; the lust of Judah
and Thamar. Why are these pages here?
Ingenuity answers : " To show the truthful
ness and impartiality of the sacred writers.
Without these shadows, their portrait-narra
tives would be eulogies and not histories."
It is answered: "These dark incidents are
recorded to reveal the wonderful mercy of
God, and thus create hope for despairing
sinners of every age." These answers have
their value, but they are not sufficient. The
real reason these dark things are in the Book
is this : The Bible is a Messianic record, and
these things pertain to the ancestors of Christ.
The fruit of Lot s sin was Moab. In the line
of Moab, Ruth, the grandmother of David,
was born. Christ is called the Son of David.
As the human ancestry of Christ ran through
the sin of Lot, in like manner also it ran
through the sin of Judah and Thamar. The
fruit of that sin was Phares. When we
come to make up the genealogy of Christ,
we need the name of Phares, else the line
will be broken and the claims of Christ fail
of establishment. Do you not see the reason
for these dark pages in the old Book? They
are necessary to the fulness of the history
of Jesus Christ. They are steps in the march
of events toward Bethlehem. Christ is in
them, and nothing pertaining to Christ can
be omitted from the Bible.
It is an interesting study to trace the differ
ent streams of humanity which run into the
human ancestry of the Christ. Here the sin
ful life of Thamar flows into it; there the
life of Rahab the harlot ; yonder the life of
Bathsheba. Different elements from Gentile
quarters as well as from Jewish quarters
enter His humanity, so that He is not the
son of any one tribe, but the son of all tribes.
He is not exclusively the son of the Jew, He
is the son of the Gentile as well. He had
Gentile mothers and brothers and sisters as
well as Jewish mothers and brothers and
sisters. He was a man of the human race,
" the Son of Man."
But what is the use of all this? I answer.
The true humanity of Christ is established ;
the grand work which Christ can do for our
human nature is made known. He dwelt in
a human nature representing the human race,
and He exalted that nature to the highest
heavens. Standing in the persence of the
work which Christ did for His own human
nature, we say to ourselves : " What if our
nature has been derived from sinning ances
tors, what if we have downward hereditary
tendencies ; the Son of God can do for hu
man nature what He did for His own ; He
can incarnate Himself in us, and dwell in
us, and make us holy, and at last lift us into
the glory of Heaven."
The genealogies of the Holy Book help us
to understand Christ; hence it is that His
biographers gather and write the genealogies
on the first page of His history. This is what
Matthew and Luke do. The fact that these
genealogies are here should be enough to
teach us that they serve an important use, for
God is a severe economist in writing His
Book. In the past, Chri.-t was, in the geneal
ogies, stepping Bethlehemward. Every time
a new descendant in the covenant-line was
born, the voice of prophecy shouted : " Christ
is coming!" As ancestor was added to an
cestor, the voice waxed louder and louder.
Thus the shout was repeated and repeated
until at last the angels and the magi and the
shepherds and the watchers in the Temple
answered back that shout with the gladder
and louder shout. " CHRIST HAS COME ! "
That is the Christmas shout which to-day
Church of God throws to Church of God all
through Christendom.
II. He was in the ideal manhood which the
Old Testament lifted before the world. We
know the power of an ideal manhood, for we
see it in the Christ who walks in history,
the Emperor of the ages. Humanity is shot
through and through with the influence of
His beautiful and perfect life. To His
earthly life is traceable all that is best in our
nineteenth century civilization. My point is
this : This life of the ew Testament page,
which is the transfiguring power in society
to-day, was the transfiguring power in society
in the Old Testament day. Does the ew
Testament produce it, the Old Testament
forecasts it. It vivifies both pages. On the
one page it is history, on the other page it
is prophecy. In the ew Testament, Christ
is an actuality; in the Old Testament. Christ
is an ideal. Contemplate Him as an ideal
seen in the Old Testament ! He was the
highest conception in all the literature and
thought of the Hebrew people. His predicted
career stood for all that was grand and sub
lime in the moral and spiritual world. Hence
out of the Old Testament economy came
lives which for nobility and grandeur and
sacrifice and power it is hard to match in our
age. What produced these characters?
The power of the coming Christ. The real
essential Christ was in the Old Book. Every
attribute of His grand character was there.
He was the most intense reality in the king
dom of the Jews. They of the olden times
talked of the deeds He would do, and of the
sacrifices He would make, and of the burdens
He would bear, and of the spirit He would
breathe, and of the character He would build
up, and of the life He would live. As they
talked of these sublime things, they said the
one to the other : " Let us incorporate these
sublimities into our lives, that we may be
Messianic men when the Messiah comes."
And this they did. He made Moses. The
life of the Hebrew lawgiver was the result
of the inspiration of the predicted Messiah.
Under this inspiration he " esteemed the re
proach of Christ greater riches than all the
treasures of Egypt." The face of Christ
looked out at the men of old from every
holy commandment, and from every spiritual
song, and from every sacred type and symbol.
By anticipation He was a real, present and
practical power in the commonwealth of God.
By anticipation His human life was an edu
cational, a molding, a spiritualizing and an
uplifting force hundreds of years before it
was lived.
III. He was in the Godhead. John gives us
light here. He says : " In the beginning was
the Word, and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God ! " According to these
words Christ was coeternal with the Father.
He antedated time and creation. He made
the world, and prior to His advent He was
busy building up the providences. He was
the active person of the Godhead in dealing
with mankind. All revelations from God
came through Him. He was the Word.
He did not always maintain invisibility ;
He fellowshiped with man. It was He who
walked with Adam in the garden, and com
muned with him in the cool of the day. Just
as in ew Testament times He had special
friends, Peter and James and John ; so in
Old Testament times He had special friends,
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. With Abraham
He talked face to face as a friend talks with
his friend. He was as tender and as kind to
Abraham before His incarnation as He was
tender and kind to John after His incarna
tion. He visited his tent and ate of the kid
which he dressed and of the cakes which his
wife Sarah baked. He dealt with Jacob much
as He dealt with Peter. He bore long with
his faults and patiently trained him.
There is a correspondence between the Son
of God in the Old Testament and the Son of
God in the ew Testament. He is the same
Son of God in both Testaments. In both
Testaments He does similar acts. In Exodus
He executes the plagues ; in Revelation He
pours out the vials ; in the Pentateuch He
watches over the Old Testament saints ; in
the Book of the Acts He watches over the
ew Testament Church. In the days of His
flesh He mingles with men ; in the days
before His incarnation He frequently puts
on the form of a man and makes visits to
His own; or else He wraps Himself up in
the Pillar of Cloud and Fire, and from it talks
with men and communicates to them the will
of God. " As a Guest, as a nameless pres
ence, as a wrestling angel, as an eye in the
wheel of the chariot of Israel, He was among
men." On one occasion He was seen" by
seventy elders ; upon two occasions by a
man and his wife ; then by Joshua, then by
Gideon, then by Ezekiel, and then by Daniel.
Christians, stand at Bethlehem and open
every door and window of your being Christ-
ward. Look backward. Look forward. Mag
nify Bethlehem. Recount to your souls the
things for which it stands. It stands for the
" fulness of time." It stands for the fulfil
ment of glorious predictions. It stands for
the realization of those burning hopes which
made the heroic men of the past. It stands
for the coming of the Son of God Himself
into our nature. It stands for the glorious
past and for the more glorious future. As
the dawn carries in it the full day, it carries
in it the salvation of man, and the triumph
of the right over the wrong, and the coming
millennial glory of the kingdom of Jesus
When we comprehend the backward and
forward reach of Bethlehem, we do not won
der that all that is grand crowds around
the Cradle-Manger. It is worthy of all. Let
the Star shine. Let the Magi give gifts. Let
the Shepherds worship. Let the angel-faces
flash out from the great dome overhead. Let
the church-bells chime. Let the sacred harps
and organs respond to the masterhand that
sweeps their strings and flies over their keys,
and let them turn the common air into praise.
Let Christmas carols roll over this wide earth,
and echo among the stars. Let the great uni
verse of God jubilate. Let everything in
Heaven and earth shout, " Hosanna to the
Son of David ; blessed is he that cometh in
the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the High
est." While all this takes place, see to it, O
my soul, that thou carriest thyself to Bethle-
htm, to receive, and to love, and to trust, and
to worship. Be thou certainly there ; and
while there recognize Christ, honor Christ,
reincarnate Christ, and call Christ God. I.
When God would give the world a great
man a man of rare spirit and transcendent
power, a man with a lofty mission He first
prepares a woman to be his mother. When
ever in history we come upon such a man, we
instinctively begin to ask about the character
of her on whose bosom he nestled in infancy
and at whose knee he learned his life s first
lessons. We are sure of finding here the se
cret of the man s greatness. When the time
drew nigh for the incarnation of the Son of
God, we may be sure that into the soul of
the woman who should be His mother, who
should impart her own life to Him, who
should teach Him His first lessons and pre
pare Him for His holy mission, God put the
loveliest and the best qualities that ever
were lodged in any woman s life.
We need not accept the teaching that exalts
the mother of Jesus to a place beside or above
her divine Son. We need have no sympathy
whatever with the dogma that ascribes wor
ship to the Virgin Mary, and teaches that the
Son on His throne must be approached by
mortals through His more merciful, more
gentle-hearted mother. But we need not let
these errors concerning Mary obscure the
real blessedness of her character. We re
member the angel s greeting, " Blessed art
thou among women." Hers surely was the
highest honor ever conferred upon any
" Say of me as the heavenly said, Thou art
The blessedest of women ! blessedest,
ot holiest, not noblest, no high name,
Whose height misplaced may pierce me like
a shame,
When I sit meek in heaven ! "
We know how other men, men of genius,
rarely ever have failed to give to their moth
ers the honor of whatever of greatness or
worth they had attained. But somehow we
shrink from saying that Jesus was influ
enced by His mother as other good men have
been ; that He got from her much of the
beauty and the power of His life. We are
apt to fancy that His mother was not to Him
what mothers ordinarily are to their chil
dren ; that He did not need mothering as
other children do ; that by reason of His
deity indwelling, His character unfolded
from within, without the aid of home teach
ing and training, and the other educational
influences which do so much in shading the
character of children in common homes.
But there is no Scriptural ground for this
feeling. The humanity of Jesus was just
like our humanity. He came into the world
just as feeble and as untaught, as any other
child that ever was born. o mother was
ever more to her infant than Mary was to
Jesus. She taught Him all His first lessons.
She gave Him His first thoughts about God,
and from her lips He learned the first lisp-
ings of prayer. Jewish mothers cared very
tenderly for their children. They taught them
with unwearying patience the words of God.
One of the rabbis said, " God could not be
everywhere, and therefore He made moth
ers. F.
To-day the whole Christian world pros
trates itself in adoration around the crib of
Bethlehem and rehearses in accents of love
a history which precedes all time and will
endure throughout eternity. As if by an
instinct of our higher, sniritual nature, there
well up from the depths of our hearts, emo
tions which challenge the power of human
expression. We seem to be lifted out of the
sphere of natural endeavor to put on a new
life and to stretch forward in desire to a
blessedness which, tho not palpable, is emi
nently real.
If asked to explain the rapturous influence
which controls us, we have no other words
than the evangel of joy which the angel gave
unto earth : " For this day is born unto you
a Savior who is Christ the Lord." We re
joice in anticipation of a new outpouring of
God s blessed life, for the scope of the Di
vine Infant s mission is " to enlighten them
who sit in darkness and in the shadow of
death ; to direct our feet into the way of
peace." He is in our midst to flood the
world with the light of God s truth ; to re
store to us our lost birthright of joy; to set
the discordant wail of humanity to new har
monies ; to attune to the music of heavenly
hope hearts which for ages had been swept
by the wild notes of despair.
The message of Christmas morning is as
universal as it is personal and present. It
is addressed to each man; it is addressed to
all men. It is destined to shape private con
duct and to impress and mould the life of
society. Divine in its content, it has an
earthly relation and significance. Whilst
holding out a promise of the greater things
which shall be revealed in us hereafter, it is
not without action in time and influence
upon the world around us.
Indeed we live and move and have our
being in the midst of a civilization which is
the legitimate offspring of the religion of
The blessings resulting from our Christian
civilization are poured out so regularly and
so abundantly on the intellectual, moral, and
social world, like the sunlight and the air
of heaven and the fruits of the earth, that
they have ceased to excite any surprise, ex
cept to those who visit lands where the re
ligion of Christ is little known. In order
to realize adequately our favored situation,
we should transport ourselves in spirit to
ante-Christian times and contrast the condi
tion of the Pagan world with our own.
Before the advent of Christ the whole
world, with the exception of the secluded
Roman province of Palestine, was buried in
idolatry. Every striking object in nature
had its tutelary divinities. Men worshiped
the sun and moon and stars of heaven. They
worshiped their very passions. They wor
shiped everything except God only, to whom
alone divine homage is due. In the words of
the Apostle of the Gentiles : " They changed
the glory of the incorruptible God into the
likeness of the image of a corruptible man,
and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and
of creeping things. . . . They worshiped
and served the creature rather than the Crea
tor, who is blessed forever."
Christ, the Light of the world, proclaimed
unto all men in its fulness the truth which
had hitherto been hidden in Judea. He
taught mankind to know the one true God,
a God existing from eternity unto eternity, a
God who created all things by His power,
who governs all things by His wisdom, and
whose superintending providence watches
over the affairs of nations as well as of men,
" without whom not even a bird falls to the
ground." He proclaimed a God infinitely
holy, just, and merciful. The idea of the
Deity, so consonant to our rational concep
tions, was in striking contrast with the low,
sensual notions which the Pagan world had
formed of its divinities.
The religion of Christ imparts to us not
only a sublime conception of God, but also
a rational idea of man and of his relations
to his Creator. Before the coming of Christ,
man was a riddle and a mystery to himself.
He knew not whence he came nor whither
he was going. He was groping in the
dark. All he knew for certain was that he
was passing through a brief phase of exist
The past and the future were enveloped in
a mist which the light of philosophy was
unable to penetrate. Our Redeemer has dis
pelled the cloud and enlightened us regard
ing our origin and destiny and the means of
attaining it. He has rescued man from the
frightful labyrinth of error in which Pagan
ism had involved him.
The Gospel of Christ, first heralded by an
gels, has brought not only light to the in
tellect, but also comfort to the heart. It
has given us " that peace of God which sur-
passeth all understanding;" the peace which
springs from the conscious possession of the
truth. It has taught us how to enjoy that
triple peace which constitutes true happiness
as far as it is attainable in this life peace
with God by the observance of His Com
mandments ; peace with our neighbor by the
exercise of justice and charity toward him,
and peace with ourselves by repressing our
inordinate appetites and by keeping our pas
sions subject to the law of reason and our
reason illumined and controlled by the law
of God.
The message of Christmas Day is intended
for all men, for all times, for all conditions
of existence. Christ alone of all religious
founders has the courage to say to His dis
ciples : " Go, teach all nations." " Preach the
Gospel to every creature." " You shall be
witnesses to me in Judea and Samaria and
even to the uttermost bounds of the earth."
Be not restrained in your mission by national
or state lines. Let My Gospel be as free and
universal as the air of heaven. " The earth
is the Lord s and the fulness thereof." All
mankind are the children of My Father and
My brethren. I embrace all in My charity.
Let the whole human race be your au
dience and the world be the theater of
your labors.
These then are in broad outline, some of
the grand truths and consoling experiences
which " the glad tidings of great joy " re
veal in their unfolding. Only by stern ad
hesion to the principles therein contained
can individuals and nations hope to share
in that peace which has been promised
to men of good will. To violate them is
to reverse the order established by God,
and disorder is the synonym for sin and
On the other hand, as beauty is the splen
dor of order, so peace is the tranquillity of
order or joy in repose.
Whilst, therefore, we rejoice in our Chris
tian privileges, we should ever remember that
by the grace of God our Savior hath ap
peared to all men, instructing us that, deny
ing ungodliness and worldly desires, we
should live soberly and justly and godly in
this world, looking for the blessed hope and
coming of the glory of the great God and
our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Him
self that He might redeem us from iniquity
and might cleanse us to Himself a people
acceptable and pursuers of good works.
. Y. W.
herds abiding in the field, keeping watch over
their flocks by night." Very different is the
shepherd s life in the East from the prosaic
task of the sheep-farmer of western lands.
Bethlehem stands on the shoulder of a hill
which descends abruptly into a rich, un-
fenced, corn plain, stretching eastward. In
that plain each villager has his plot, indi
cated by the well-known stones, placed here
and there the neighbor s landmark. Be
yond this tillage land, where Boaz had his
reapers, and where Ruth, the Moabitess
gleaned, a walk of two miles brings us to
the picture land, on the hilly fringe of the
wilderness of Judea, where David valiantly
watched his father s sheep, and where a
thousand vears later, the shepherds of Beth
lehem received the angelic news of the Mes
siah s birth. The wide, flat valley soon breaks
out into white, stony slopes on either side.
After the corn-fields end, the whole is treated
as common land, where the flocks of the vil
lagers pasture together. But they need the
shepherd s constant care. The labyrinth of
rocky valleys, or wadies, on all sides, form a
convenient lurking-place for the wolf, the
jackal, and the thief, tho the lion and the
bear of David s time are extinct. It is im
possible to trust the flock in the open at
night ; they are led to some of the many
shallow caves with which the hillsides are
studded, with a rude, dry stone wall, and a
narrow entrance in front. The shepherds
themselves, in parties of from three to six or
eight, sleep outside. They arrange an ob
long circle of stones, which remains from
year to year, and place inside a thick layer
of brushwood, on which they spread straw
for their bed, and lie surrounded by their dogs.
WATCHIG BY IGHT. These watchful
guardians are ever on the alert, and wake
the echoes of night as they detect the prowl
ing wolf, or hear the howling of the jackals,
on their search for some hapless stray sheep.
It was in front of such a cave that the shep
herds were keeping watch when the heavenly
host accosted them, and routed them to leave
their charge for a time, that they might be
the first to do homage to the infant Savior.
The habits of the shepherds of Bethlehem
are still unchanged, a steady, resolute set of
men ; and we may see to-day their humble
douars, and the stone circles, in front of
many a hillside cave.
" LYIG I A MAGER/ The monks of
Bethlehem show a grotto beneath the great
Christian Church, lined with marble, which
they claim to be the stable where the infant
Christ was laid. I believe that this tradition
is better grounded than those of most holy
places. The caravanserai, or inn, would
naturally be where this is, just outside of the
little town. It was founded by Chimham, son
of Barzillai. in the days of David, and was
scarcely likely to be changed up to the time
of Roman rule, when the early Christians
tonsecrated it as a Church. There are many
natural grottoes on the slope of the hill ; and
we frequently see in other places that the
caves near a caravanserai have been enlarged
and used as stables. The stable is very un
like ours. At the end farthest from the door
is always an elevated dais or platform, usu
ally made by enlarging the cavern, but leav
ing the floor of the platform about three or
four feet higher than the area. In front of
it a long trough is hollowed out, reaching
from end to end the manger. The forage
is stored on this platform, out of reach of the
cattle, and is pushed into the long manger as
required. Here the camel-drivers usually
sleep, close to their animals. ow the inn
being full, Joseph and Mary would be com
pelled to avail themselves of this shelter,
and to sojourn on the platform. aturally,
when the child was born, the manger would
suggest itself as the only cradle available
where His mother could tend Him lying by
His side and wrapped, as is still the uni
versal Eastern custom, in a series of band
ages from head to foot, like a mummy, till
the babe looks like some limb newly set and
| bandaged with surgical skill. P. T.
Born in the first century, Christ belongs
more to the full development of the nine
teenth century than He does to the imper
fections of the first.
This, then, is the principle of which the
event of Christmas Day is the most striking
example ; external circumstances are some
thing, but they are not everything. The in
ward life is the essential thing; but for its
successful growth it needs external circum
stance. The main element in the foundation
the main pledge for the future progress of
Christianity was the character, the per
sonal character, of its Founder. Had Christ
been other than He was, had He been a mere
specter or phantasm, however Divine, such
as He is represented in some well-known
systems, without human affection, or per
suasive words, or energetic actions, or con
straining will, the course of the empire would
have rolled on its way, and His place in his
tory and in the hearts of men would have
been unknown.
But being what He was the impersonation
of goodness and truth, containing within
Himself all those elements of character which
win, convince, stimulate mankind His re
ligion, so far as it was derived from Himself,
became all-pervading and all-embracing. S.
B., vol. vii., p. 23.
Seek and ye shall find. Matt, vii: 7
Run ye to and fro, and see now if there be any that seeketh the truth.
Jer. v: I
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will
have all men to comt
unto the knowledge of the truth. / Tim. ii: 3, 4
Jesus saith, I am the truth. John xiv: 6
ow when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod
the king, behold
there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he
that is born king
of the Jen. s? for we have seen his star in the east and are come to
worship him. Matt.
ii: i, 2
The king of Judea was troubled. It was
rumored that about this time, in fulfilment
of prophecy, a Prince was to be born, who
would assume the Jewish throne. Tacitus
declares that the opinion was prevalent in the
East that the Messiah of Israel was about to
appear. Vergil had written his fourth EC-*
log. in which he announced the near ap
proach of the golden age. A feeling of ex
pectancy was prevalent everywhere. Herod
was an old man, but still tenacious of his 1
ill-gotten power. He was an apostate Jew,
who long ago had forsaken the religion of
his fathers to enter the service of the Roman
government. His career had been a brilliant
one ; a protege of Antony, he had at a very
early age, been made governor of Galilee and
afterward tetrarch of Judea. He was a man
of vast ambition ; shrewd, cunning, and of
violent passions ; not above the trick of a
demagog, he was nevertheless possessed of
much cleverness and a vast executive ability.
To please his royal master, he built the
splendid city of Cses area. To conciliate the
Jews, whom he hated, he rebuilt their temple
and splendidly adorned it.
In the porch of this temple the old king
was walking on a February morning nearly
nineteen hundred years ago. His purple
robes sparkled with gems and precious
stones ; a glorious ruby blazed in his turban :
but his restless eyes betrayed a troubled
heart. Off yonder, beyond the Kedron. a
group of venerable strangers drew near,
their long garments covered with dust. They
would have attracted attention anywhere.
Entering at the eastern or Shushan gate, they
climbed the marble stairway of the temple,
entered Solomon s porch, and would have
passed on into the inner courts but for the
admonition of a Levite, who pointed to an
inscription on the middle wall of partition,
" Let no Gentile or unclean person enter here
under penalty of death." Arrested by this
rebuff, they said. " We have come from the
far East, seeking Him who is born King of
the Jews. Tell us where we may find Him."
A moment later they were engaged in con
versation with Herod. " Whence come ye? "
"From the East." "And your errand?"
" To find the promised King of the Jews."
"It s a fool s errand; I alone am king of
the Jews." " ay, we cannot be mistaken,
for we have come under Divine guidance."
And thereupon they told their story how
as they were watching the stars according
to their custom, and meditating on the great
promise of the coming Deliverer, a new
luminary wheeled into view and seemed to
beckon to them. Was this a harbinger of
that event for which they looked? While
they wondered, it moved on toward the West
and they arose and followed it. Their hope
had been that the Jewish Prince would be
found in the Holy City, and they were
amazed to find that nothing was here known
of Him. The wise men were detained while
at Herod s order the members of the San-
hedrin came together to consult as to the
rumored birth of this Prince. They agreed
as to the prophecy ; the event was to occur
in Bethlehem : " And thou Bethlehem, in the
land of Judah, are not the least among the
princes of Judah, for out of thee shall come
a governor that shall rule my people Israel."
The wise men were then permitted to re
sume their journey, with a parting injunc
tion that they should return and report as
to the success of their singular quest. As
they resumed their journey, lo, yonder in the
heavens a star moved along before them,
and they followed with great joy.
We may find profit in the contemplation of
the deed of these pilgrims on this Christ
mas Sunday. From time immemorial they
have been regarded as kings :
" We three kings of orient are,
Bearing gifts, we journey afar;
O er field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star."
In the cathedral at Cologne there is a
golden reliquary in which are preserved, in
the odor of sanctity, the relics of these men.
I said to the venerable monk in attendance,
Do you really believe that these are the
relics of the wise men?" "Oh. yes," he
replied. " There is no question whatever as
to their genuineness ; we know their names-
Caspar. Melchior, and Balthazar. The ven
erable Bede tells all about them." There is,
however, considerable doubt to put it mildly
as to the trustworthiness of the legends
which have gathered about these Magi. We
have no reason to suppose they were kings,
but we know they were truth-seekers ; and,
as Cromwell said to his daughter, " To be a
truth-seeker is to be one of the best sect
next to a truth-finder."
I. THE QUEST. Wisdom is the principal
thing, and there is nothing better than to get
understanding. All truth is worth having.
We blame our children for being inquisitive.
But why? John Locke said, " The way to
get knowledge is to ask questions." A wiser
still has said, " Seek, and ye shall find." The
cure for doubt is not a hoodwink, but a tele
scope. All truth is worth the having, and.
therefore, worth the seeking. "Eureka!"
cried Archimedes over a certain mathemati
cal discovery. In all the world there is no
pursuit so ennobling, so inspiring, and so
gladdening as the pursuit of truth. This
holds in all the provinces, but especially in
the province of spiritual things.
It is related of Edmund of Canterbury,
who was deeply interested in secular re
searches, that one night as he was poring
over an ancient parchment, the spirit of his
dead mother came to him and made three
circles upon the palm of his hand, in token
of the Holy Trinity, saying as she vanished,
" Be this the purpose of thy life." Three
circles do indeed embrace all. The fear of the
Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the
end also. God is Alpha and Omega, the
beginning and the end. To know Him is
life eternal.
A man is in his noblest attitude when
confronting the great spiritual verities. In
this we are distinguished from the lower
orders of life. We are able to touch the
tremendous problems and measurably to solve
them; and herein is the sweetest of life s de
lights. Lord Bacon said : " It is a pleasure
to stand upon the shore and see ships tossing
far away upon the sea ; it is a pleasure to
stand in the castle window and look down
upon the battle and the adventures thereof ;
but no pleasure is comparable to the stand
ing upon the vantage-ground of truth and
beholding spiritual things."
II. THE HARBIGER. God helps every man
who earnestly desires to solve the problem
of destiny. To these wise men He gave the
guiding star. A vast amount of erudition
has been spent in the attempt to get rid of
the supernatural on these premises. It is
said that a remarkable conjunction of certain
planets occurred at about this time. In 1604
Kepler saw in the heavens a phenomenon
which occurs only once in nearly a thousand
years: Saturn and Jupiter were in conjunc
tion; presently Mars also wheeled into line,
thus 1 forming " a fierv Trygon in Pisces."
The constellation of Pisces, or the fish, was
regarded as symbolical of Judea. The fish
was also used by the early Christians as an
anagram of Christ. Thus the " fiery Try
gon " was; identified with the star of Bethle
hem. It is a fascinating hypothesis, but un
fortunately (i) it did not occur at the pre
cise time of the advent; and (2) being at
an altitude of fifty-seven degrees, it could not
have paused over a village or a particular
home. We are, therefore, led to regard the
star as a special messenger an angel vvith
a torch, as it were sent to direct these wise
men in their earnest quest. So God inter
poses in behalf of every sincere seeker for
truth. " Seek, and ye shall find. Seek,
good friend, and you shall find, God is on
your side. Be of good courage.
It was many years ago that a butcher s boy
went singing ribald songs about the streets
of ottingham. A taste for knowledge
brought him to Cambridge University, where
he distinguished himself not only for his
cleverness as a student but as a reviler of
Christ. By the unexpected death of a com
panion he was brought to think seriously of
eternal things ; his sins weighed heavily upon
him ; but at Calvary he found pardon. In the
early flush of his conversion he wrote his
gratitude in the familiar hymn :
" Once on the raging seas I rode ;
The storm was loud, the night was dark,
The ocean yawned, and rudely blowed
The wind that tossed my foundering bark.
Deep horror then my vitals froze;
Death-struck, I ceased the tide to stem,
When suddenly a star arose:
It was the Star of Bethlehem !
" It was my guide, my light, my all ;
It bade my dark forebodings cease.
And through the storm and danger s thrall
It led me to the port of peace.
ow safely moored, my perils o er,
I ll sing, first in night s diadem,
For ever and forevermore.
The Star, the Star of Bethlehem ! "
God never yet left a man in the lurch who
sincerely desired to solve the problem of
destiny. It is a true saying, " A seeking sin
ner finds a seeking Savior." Somewhere in
heaven the star is set that calls and beckons
to the fountain of life.
have reached their destination. All the di
vinely kindled stars lead to Bethlehem. Here
is the end of the great quest. The star that
guided the Magi rested over a humble cot
tage. They entered and found the Christ-
child a child upon its mother s breast ! Is
that all? Ay, all everything! In this child
all the streams of prophecy converge. From
this child radiate all the glowing lines of his
tory. On the walls of the palace at Ver
sailles, in a series of magnificent battle
scenes, are portrayed the glories of France.
In this humble home at Bethlehem all the
hopes of Abraham, the dreams of David, and
the visions of Isaiah are realized. This cot
tage is the center of the world.
Are you, friend, seeking the truth ? Fol
low your star. Hearken when God speaks.
" There are so many voices, and none of
them is without significance." It is easy to
quench all lights ; to hush all voices ; but
hearken and give heed. Bethlehem is not
far ahead. " Press on ! " as Cromwell, the
Lord Protector, said to his daughter, " press
on, dear heart, and thou shalt find the satisfy
ing portion. Let nothing cool thy ardor
until thou find it."
So here are the Magi opening their packs
before the Christ-child. The search is over ;
the problem of destiny is solved. Here is
gold for the King; here is myrrh for the
Victor; here is frankincense for very God of
very God. We are passing through the days
of giving. We are celebrating now the in
finite grace that lavished upon us the un
speakable gift, and what shall we render in
return? I beseech you, brethren, by His
great mercy, that ye present yourselves, a
living sacrifice; which is your reasonable
service. The best is none too good for God.
H. R.
But when the fulness of the time was come God sent forth his Son, made
of a woman, made
under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might
receive the adoption
of sons. Gal. iv: 4, 5
These words occur in connection with a
labored argument by which the apostle es
tablishes the proposition that they who are of
faith are the children of Abraham. The Gos
pel is thus a reproduction, only in fuller and
more intelligible terms, of the promise made
to the father of the faithful, and sinners now
are to be justified precisely as he was, not
by the works of law, but by the hearing of
faith. And if that be the case, what is the
use of the law? And to his inquiry, " Where
fore, then, serveth the law?" the answer is,
" It was added because of transgressions un
til the seed should come to whom the promise
was made." The law was thus not a contra
diction of the promise, but an addition to it,
designed for its protection until the time
came when it could be fully revealed.
Believers have been God s children always,
but under the law they were like children in
the nursery under the care of the pedagog,
who exercised restraint upon them and kept
watch over them. When Christ came, how
ever, the pedagog was discharged, and the
children, having now arrived at mature age,
were transferred from the nursery to the
parlor, and admitted to the status of that
full-grown sonship whose glorious liberty is
elsewhere by the apostle so ravishingly ex
patiated upon. God s trite people were al
ways heirs, according to the promise made
to Abraham ; but under the law of Moses
they were heirs in boyhood, and so subject
to tutors and governors. When, however,
at the time appointed by the Father, Christ
came into the world, He proclaimed the full
sonship in modern phrase, the majority, the
coming of age of the children of God, and
gave them their position in the home as that
of those who are grown up into spiritual
manhood. Thus Paul here views the advent
of Christ in its bearing upon those who had
been under the Jewish law. But, while we
keep his standpoint clearly in sight, we may
also make his words the germ of a few
thoughts appropriate to this interesting sea
We have here, then, brought before u~, in
the first place, the period at which Christ
appeared when the fulness of the time was
come. ow here the question at once pre
sents itself, Why did not the Redeemer ap
pear sooner upon the earth? and few ob
jections have been more persistently made to
the whole system of redemption which the
Gospel reveals than this : that it was un
worthy of God to let four thousand years of
the history of the race go by before He sent
His Son into the world to deliver men. To
the devout Christian it is enough that the
time selected was God s time, but one of two
statements may be made first, in opposition
to the position taken up by the objector, and,
second, in vindication of that which he as
It is pertinent to say, then, to one who
rejects the Savior on the ground which we
have heard, that to refuse to believe on
Jesus Christ as the Son of God for any such
reason is eminently unphilosophical. The
great principle of modern inductive philos
ophy is that we ought not to object to in
vestigate anything which claims to rest on a
basis of fact. o allegation of accident, im
probability, or even impossibility, is to keep
us from examining phenomena. ow the
Gospel sets before us what purports to be
a series of facts all tending to show that He
in whom they center is the Son of God and
the Savior of the world ; and what the in
quirer has to determine is, Are these al
leged facts true? Is Jesus of azareth the
Word made flesh? And if these questions
must, on full and candid investigation, be
answered in the affirmative, there is but one
course left viz. : to accept Him as the Re
deemer. See where the principle of the
objector would carry him in other depart
ments. To be consistent, he must reject the
whole system of the Copernican astronomy
and all the discoveries of modern science,
because of the late date in the history of the
world in which they were made. To be con
sistent, he must reject the relief that chloro
* Reported.
form or ether would give him in submitting
to a serious surgical operation, on the ground
that, if it were a real anesthetic, it would
have been, under the providence of God, dis
covered as soon as pain was felt. But, fur
ther, it ought to be borne in mind that no
mere man is in a position to form any ac
curate judgment on such a matter as this.
We know some little of the history of the
past, but we know little or nothing concern
ing that of the future. For anything that
we can tell, there may be hundreds of mil
lenniums yet in store for the human race,
and in comparison with these the past six
thousand years shall seem but as the morn
ing twilight to the day of which it is the
prelude. o idea of the contemplated build
ing can be formed by one who only sees the
foundations laid out for it; and when the
work of God shall be finished, we may rest
assured we shall see the wisdom of the
whole. Meanwhile, the proper attitude of
our souls in the contemplation of the question
I have suggested is that of Paul when he
cries : " O the depth of the riches both of
the wisdom and knowledge of God ! How
unsearchable are His judgments, and His
ways past finding out ! "
Still, while all this is most true, I think
I can see one or two good and sufficient
reasons why the coming of the Lord was
delayed until what Paul here calls the ful
ness of time. For one thing, some such de
lay would seem to have been needed for the
accumulation of prophetic evidence, so that
when the Messiah did come there should be
no doubt whatever of His identity. It will be
seen in a moment that, if the Son of God
was to come in human nature at all. there
was need for some special marks by which
He should be recognized. It will be ad
mitted, also, that the nature of these marks
was conditioned by the limitations of the
humanity in which He came. He might,
indeed, have enshrouded Himself in majesty,
as on Sinai but, then, that would have been
God in His glory; so that His appearance in
the flesh necessitated some other kind of
evidence, and, as miracles were wrought by
other divinely commissioned ones, there was
needed something else by which to distin
guish the Christ when He came. This some
thing else was prophecy : but prophecy from
its very nature requires time to give it
weight. The man who takes it upon himself
to say what shall be to-morrow, next week,
or next year, may very likely be right ; yet
no one thinks of attributing anything but
great human shrewdness to him. When,
however, things are described hundreds of
years before they come to pass, and a person
is minutely and graphically portrayed half a
millennium before he appears, the conclusion
is irresistible that God has drawn the por
trait, and that he who comes and fulfils the
conditions of the prediction is all that the
prophecy proclaims him to be. The fulfil
ment thus not only authenticates the mes
senger who utters the prophecy, but identi
fies him in whom the prophecy has been ful
ow, such being the case, the further the
date of the giving of the prophecy is from
that of its fulfilment, the more cogent and
convincing is the evidence it gives; just as
the wider the span of the arch, the greater
is the skill of the engineer who has con
structed it. And so it seems to me that one
reason for the delay of Christ s appearance
was to allow time for the accumulation of
such a body of predictions, all centering in
Him, as should make it clear beyond all pos
sibility of cavil that He is the sent of God.
Of course, every one sees that, after t/e
predictions had been given, they had to be
fulfilled; but my argument is now not, that
Christ came when He did in order to fulfil
prophecy. I am seeking to go behind the
prophecies themselves to the principle upon
which they are constructed, and, if I have
been correct in supposing that the further
the time the giving of a prediction is from
the date at which it was to be fulfilled, the
stronger is the evidence which it furnishes
of the divinity of its origin and the identity
of Him to whom it refers. You will see at
once how it came that a long lapse of years
was needed before the advent of the Christ.
But, when He did come, the key which He
brought fitted into every ward of the pro
phetic lock ; for it was when the stem of
Jesse was to human view a withered root that
the Christ sapling sprang out of it ; it was
when the scepter was fallen from Juda s hand
that Shiloh appeared; it was when Daniel s
seventieth week (?) was hastening to the
close that Messiah the Prince came, and came
in such a peculiar manner as to interpret as
well as to fulfil the primeval and paradisial
prophecy that the seed of the woman should
bruise the head of the serpent.
But yet another reason for the delay of
Christ s appearance might be to make evi
dent the utter inability of men by themselves
to find their way back to God. This seems
to me to be more than hinted at by Paul in
those words written by him to the Corin
thians : " For after that in the wisdom of
God the world by wisdom knew not God, it
pleased God by the foolishness of preaching
to save them that believed. It was, there
fore, a part of the plan of God to show that
the tendency of sin is ever downward, and
that without His direct intervention there
was no possibility of salvation for mankind.
This same truth seems to me to be the
prominent feature of Daniel s vision of the
four empires, as described in the seventh
chapter of his book. These kingdoms, you
may remember, were symbolized to him by
beasts, to show that earthly power left to
itself always runs to brutality. The first was
like a lion, but still it had the feet of a man,
and a man s heart was given to it. The
second was like a bear devouring much flesh.
The third was like the fierce and blood
thirsty leopard, and the fourth was a strange
and terrible animal, having iron teeth and
stamping with its feet everything which it
did not destroy with its mouth. Men talk of
development theories ; that is. the development
of worldly power when left to itself and,
observe, it is the development of cruelty.
Each of these empires was worse than that
which went before it; and the deterioration
would have gone on and on, if it had not
been for Him like unto the Son of man, who
came with the clouds of Heaven, and who
received from the Ancient of days dominion
and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples,
nation?, and languages should serve Him.
What, I ask, could better describe the history
of the Babylonian, the Persian, the Grecian,
and the Roman empires? Altho there was
an apparent rise in merely intellectual cul
ture from the one to the other, there was at
the same time, parallel to that, a constantly
increasing immorality; and at the very era
of the Advent the cruelty of Rome was at
its height. Some there were, even in these
old days, that saw with eagerness the truth.
The philosophers of Greece, as mere intel
lectual giants, were among the greatest of
men ; but, tho they discarded for them
selves the polytheism of the vulgar, they
could not put anything better in its place.
The old faiths were losing their hold, even
upon the most thoughtful of heathen. In
the words of Milton in his hymn on the
ativity :
" The oracles are dumb,
o voice or hideous hum
Runs through the arched roof in words de
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leav
o mighty trance of breathed spell
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the pro
phetic cell."
Heathenism had proved unequal to the wants
of men ; and it was when the most thought
ful among the Pagans were turned away
from its hollow mockeries and misleading
altars that the anthem of the angels broke
clear and loud above the slopes of Bethle
hem : " Glory to God in the highest ! Peace
on earth and good will toward men ! "
Still again, the coming of the Lord may
have been delayed so long a time for the
preparation of the world for the diffusion of
the Gospel. Geologists tell us that long ages
must have elapsed while stratum was rising
above stratum on the crust of the earth ere
yet it was fit for the abode of man ; and much
in the same way centuries passed away while
each empire rose and fell and left its own
stratum of deposit until a fair platform was
erected for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Who
does not see that if the Lord had come in
the early days for example, of the kings of
Israel there would have been little oppor
tunity for the propagation of His message
of mercy to mankind? Petty states were
then continually striving for the mastery over
each other, and no one had arisen with re
sources sufficient to conquer and control the
rest. Then, when Babylon had gained the
mastery, Palestine became in a remarkable
way the battlefield of the world whereon
Persia, and afterward Greece, strove for the
supremacy, and there was no point at which
the Savior could have come with the oppor
tunity of reaching immediately the race as a
whole; but at length Rome built up her ter
ritory, and without thinking at all about
anything else than the holding of those far
away regions on which she had laid her iron
hand, she made such a system of roads that
from Parthia, in the east, to Britain, in the
west, the man who was privileged to call
himself a Roman citizen could go with
safety. ay, more, the language of Greece
had well-nigh vanquished the conquerors of
the Greeks, and he who was acquainted with
that could make himself understood wherever
he went. ever before had it been so easy
for the heralds of truth to pass from land
to land; never before had the world, as a
whole, been so accessible ; never before had
the confusion of tongues been so largely
counteracted. Who does not see in all this
the fore-arranged hand of God? And when
we add that at the moment of the Advent,
the Temple of Janus was shut because then,
for the first time in many years, peace did
reign o er all the earth, we are constrained
again to take refuge in the words of Mil
" o war, or battle s sound,
Was heard the world around,
The idle spear and shield were high uphung ;
The hooked chariot stood
Unstained with hostile blood,
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng:
And kings sat still with awful eye.
As if they surely knew their Sovereign Lord
was by."
But we must turn now, in the second place,
to consider the Person who came in the ful
ness of time. He was the Son of God.
These words describe His origin and in
herent dignity. They are not, as some, even
of those who believe in His Deity, would as
sert, a mere title belonging to His media
torial office. He did not become God s Son
by being sent into the world, but He was sent
into the world because He was the Son of
God. If anything were needed to convince
us that this is the correct account of the
matter, it is furnished by His own parable
of the vineyard, in which, when one deputa
tion of servants after another had been
shamefully illtreated by the husbandmen, the
lord of the vineyard is represented as last of
all sending his son, saying: "They will
reverence my son."
But, while we thus claim that the words
of the Son of God are descriptive of an
eternal and divine relationship, we must be
ware of robing the idea which they express
with all the material dress of a mere earthly
significance. It is not to be supposed that
everything which is true of a human son as
related to his father is true of the Son of
God in His filial position in the Godhead.
The son of a man derives his existence from
his father, and has an existence that began
subsequent to that of his parent; but when
we speak of the Deity, both of these ideas
must be eliminated from sonship. In using
the word " son " God has, if I may so ex
press it, accommodated Himself to the limi
tations of human speech. o earthly term
could give us an absolutely correct idea of
a divine relationship because no finite mind
could coin a word for an infinite idea. Hence
the phrase. " God sent forth his Son," does
not imply that the Son so sent was in every
respect to Him what a man s son is to his
father. Sonship on earth is that which comes
nearest to it ; but, from the very necessities
of the case, the ideas of derivation of being
and posteriority of existence must be ex
cluded from it, and when that is done there
remain identity of nature and intensity of
affection. The Son of God. therefore, is a
partaker of the Divine nature and essence,
and an object of the Divine love and com
placency ; for, when God introduced Him to
man, He said : " This is my beloved Son,
hear ye him ! "
If you ask me to distinguish or define any
further, I declare myself unable to proceed.
There is a distinction of some kind between
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Godhead.
They are three in one sense, but they are
not three in the same sen?e as that in which
God is one. And so, while there is mystery,
there is no contradiction ; and the difficulties
which men have found have all arisen, in
my judgment, not from the statement of the
fact as I now put it, but from the unwise at
tempts which have been made to explain the
mode of the fact. So soon as we step out of
the Word of God we find ourselves more
and more astray, and by our very efforts to
remove perplexity we only the more increase
the bewilderment of the inquirer. I content
myself, therefore, with the mere statement
of the truth as it has been revealed, and re
fuse to be drawn into any vain inquiry as to
those things which have not been made
known, probably for the very reason that
they could not be made known to our finite
intelligences. Sufficient for us it is to be
assured that He who came to earth as our
Redeemer is the Son of God. partaker with
the Father of the Divine essence, and the
object of the Father s love and complacency.
He brings the help we need. He is not a
man merely on a level with ourselves. He
is God, and so He is mighty to save. He
could have been no deliverer for us if He
had not been something different from us.
I know not, for my own part, while I have
great regard for the honesty and sincerity of
the Unitarians, how they can speak of Jesus
as a Savior who denied His Deity, for it is
His Deity which gives Him ability to save.
If He were only a man, then He is no more
to me than any other of the great men of
antiquity, and all this Christmas festivity in
honor of His birth is only an absurdity. If
He were only a man, then He was a deliverer
of a race simply as Washington was the fa
ther of his country; and churches and the
Lord s supper and missions are a huge mis
take If He were only a man, then the story
of other men might be supposed to be equally
helpful to the human race with His. But,
no ! no ! The instinct of humanity cannot
be thus deceived. In its passionate longing
for deliverance the soul cries, " O God ! my
God ! " for it recognizes that there can be
no help for it except in God. And in the
contemplation of Christ, it has ever ex
claimed, " My God ! " o candid man will
ever put the Jesus of the Gospel on the same
level as a philosopher. There is a difference,
not only in degree, hut in nature, between the
two, and in that difference known and recog
nized is the quality that fits Him to be the
That which / cling to for support must be
something different from myself, and
stronger than myself; otherwise, in the time
of my necessity I shall be no better than if
I were leaning on a broken reed. When in
the irresistible whirlwind the waves are break
ing over the vessel and sweeping the deck
from stem to stern, it will not do for the
sailor to stand alone ; neither will it do for
him to lay hold on his fellow, for they to
gether may be swept into the ocean. Far
wiser he who lays hold upon the iron bul
wark of the ship, making for the moment the
strength of the iron as his own, and is by
that upheld ; and so, amid the storms of life,
it will not do for me to stand alone ; it will
not do for me even to cling to a fellow-
man. I must have some one higher and
stronger than myself lest I be swept from my
foothold ; and I find that loftiness, that
might, that strength, in the Deity of Christ,
and it is because He is my God that He is
my Savior.
But, now, let us look at the manner in
which the Son of God came into the world :
He was made of a woman made under the
law. That is to say, He became a man and
a Jew. He took on Him human nature.
ow, what does that imply? ot, certainly,
that He ceased to be divine, but that, in ad
dition to what He had been before, He be
came a partaker of flesh and blood. He as
sumed humanity, that through His manhood
He might give to men a manifestation of
Deity. He took not only a human body
for that is only a part of manhood ; it is
only the tabernacle in which the better part
of man dwells but He took human nature
into union with His Deity. If you ask me
how that is possible, again I reply that I can
not tell any more than I can explain how the
soul, of which I am conscious, is united to
the body which I know to be not mind, but
only mine. But, while I cannot make the
mystery plain, I think I can see that this
union of Deity and humanity must have
conditioned both. It made it necessary, for
one thing, that His humanity should be pure :
and so that accounted for the peculiar man
ner of His birth, wherein for Him the en
tail of sin was broken, and His very body
was a holy thing. It made it necessary also
that His Deity should be manifested under
certain limitations. That is the very diffi
culty of the Incarnation, for it was to be
manifest through His manhood. That is
what Paul refers to when he said : " Tho
he was rich, for our sakes he became poor ; "
and in another connection, that " he made
himself of no reputation," or, as it is liter
ally, He emptied Himself. His Deity was in
some sort veiled by His humanity, and that
explains what is said in the Gospel about
the limitations of it, as when we are informed
that He increased in wisdom, and that He
knew neither the day nor the hour of a cer
tain event. The Incarnation to the eyes
of men was indeed a revelation of God, but
to the eyes of angels it was rather, for the
time being, the veiling of Deity the taber
nacle of the flesh curtaining, as it were, the
glory of the Godhead. Still through that
which to the eyes of angels was a curtain,
men saw more of God than they ever did be
fore. Indeed, but for the curtain they could
have seen nothing at all of Him.
If you want to look at the sun through a
telescope, you must be very careful to put a
smoke glass before that which you look
through ; for, if you do not, the light of the
sun through that of the mirror on which you
look will strike into your eye and make you
utterly blind. And so, in like manner, no
man can behold the unveiled God and live.
There would come from the unveiling an
excess of light that would blast him. But, if
we contemplate God as He has veiled Him
self in the humanity of Christ, we see Him
without being destroyed by it, and the sight
of Him imparts salvation to us. Or, as John
says : " The Word was made flesh and dwelt
among us, and we beheld his glory, the
glory as of the only begotten of the Fa
ther; " and lo ! it was a glory not full of de
struction, but rather " full of grace."
But the Savior was also made under the
law that is, He became a Jew. It behooved
Him to fulfil all righteousness : and so He
was circumcised. He lived under the re
strictions of the Mosaic Law, and in all
forms of conduct conformed to the discipline
under which the children of Abraham were
placed. The purpose of this was that He
might redeem them that were under the law.
He took the place of those whom He came
to deliver ; and the same principle that re
quired that He should become a man in
order to deliver men, made it needful that
He should become a Jew in order to redeem
the Jews.
The law that is satisfied by a redeemer
must be the law that was broken by those
whom he wishes to redeem. In the abstract,
indeed, law is always the same thing. Law
is always that which God requires of His
creatures ; but for different creatures the
law is different, being conformed to the na
ture which they possess. Thus, if I have
any right conception of the nature of angels,
I cannot conceive how they can conform, or
can be required to conform, to the precepts
of the Decalog. These commandments are
for creatures with a human nature; and so,
when these were broken, the obedience of an
.angel to the law by which angels were held
could not satisfy them. They could be
obeyed only by one who is himself human.
Hence, if it were needful for our Redeemer
to satisfy the law which we had broken, it
was needful for Him to become a man before
He could do it. But in the same way the
Jewish law was laid by God upon the de
scendants of Abraham for special reasons,
and it was different from that law under
which other men were held. Hence, if it
were needful for the Redeemer of the Jews
to satisfy the law which they had broken, it
was needful that He should become a Jew.
By His Jewish birth He became subject to
the Jewish law, under the curse of which the
laws were held ; and so through the honor
ing of the law, He has redeemed both Jew
and Gentile from the curse of the law, being
made a curse for us, as it is written : " Ac
cursed be every one that hangeth upon a
ow see the glorious result of this, in the
closing words of my text : " That we might
receive the adoption of sons." As I stated
in the outset, this " adoption " means, pri
marily, not the taking into the family of
those who formerly did not belong to it, but
the raising to the position of full-grown son-
ship of those who had formerly been under
tutors and governors. Still, as the Gentiles
were placed on a footing of equality with
Jews if in Christ, as Paul has told us in the
immediate neighborhood of my text, " there
is neither Jew nor Gentile " we may take
the words as signifying that the grand out
come of redemption for us is the making
of us sons of God by the power of the Holy
Ghost. And what does it mean, my brethren,
when we say of ourselves that we are sons
of God? It means that we have been born
again by the Holy Ghost, into God s family,
having His nature imparted to us ; so that,
whereas before we were prone to evil and
averse to good, we are now inclined to holi
ness, and turn away from sin. It means that
God is now the object of our filial affection
that we are the subjects of His fatherly
regard. It means that we hold ourselves
under His authority, and that He will pro
vide for us and protect us as His children.
It means that we have liberty of fellowship
with Him, and walk with Him in the enjoy
ment of that highest kind of intercourse
\yhich the world knows, viz. : the confiden
tial friendship which subsists between the
father and the son when the father becomes
the companion of the son, and the son grows
up to be the associate of the father. It
means that His house is our home, round
which our highest and holiest and fondest
associations cluster, and in which, at last, we
are to find our eternal abode.
Sons of God ! Sons of God ! What an
honor, what a passion, what a privilege it is
to be the outcome of the Savior s advent to
our world, that we might receive the adop
tion of sons ! He came to secure for us
God s forgiveness and blessing; and, by tak
ing us by the hand and leading us into the
very mercy-seat, to teach us to say, " Our
Father." He came to put new life into our
devotions, new joy into dur hearts new ho
liness into our lives, new significance into
our trials, and new attraction into our heaven.
This was the object He had in view when He
was born into our earth a little babe.
But, O my hearers ! it is not accomplished
in you until He is born into your hearts.
For, look what Paul says in the twenty-
sixth verse of the chapter preceding that
from which my text is taken : " Ye are all
the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
Through faith, then, Christ is born within
us, and we become the sons of God, enter
ing into His family.
And so, after the wide sweep we have
taken this morning, we now come again to
the old question : " Dost thou believe in the
Son of God ? " That is for me and thee
the question of this recurring anniversary.
When Christ was born in Bethlehem a new
era in the world s history was rung in, and
when, by faith, He shall be born again in
your heart a new era in your life shall be
begun. " As many as received him, to them
gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe in his name."
Wilt thou, my hearer, receive Him now?
O, let the joy-bells of thy heart ring out thy
soul s great Christmas peal ! It is a time of
giving of gifts. Ah, yes ! and here, my
beloved, is God s best gift to thee sonship,
through the birth of Christ within thee. Wilt
thou accept it at His hands? Put it not, I
beseech thee, away from thy heart, but make
room for Jesus there. Ah ! you remember
how it is written in the beautiful story, that
comes up year after year at this joyful sea
son : " And there was no room for him in
the inn. How many human hearts there are
to-day like that caravansary in the Bethlehem
of old ! Room for this and that of business,
and pleasure, and domestic joy room for
everything but Christ ! O, make room, make
room this morning, my hearers, for the Christ-
child in your heart, no matter what must be
dislodged to secure His entrance. Put every
intruder out, and let the Christ-child to-day
be born within thee. May God add His
blessing, and to His name be praise ! H. R.
/ shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall
come a Star out
of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel. um. xxiv: 17
Our lesson has reference to the wise men
who came from the East seeking Christ. Who
were these men, who had doubtless learned
to look through nature up to nature s God,
who were moved by apoearances in nature
to spiritual thoughts? They were not Jews.
The East, from which they came was be
yond the boundary of the Holy Land per
haps Arabia or Persia. The Magi were men
to whom were entrusted the sacred books.
They were the leaders of the people in re
ligion. They studied astronomy. It is not
strange that the appearance of a new star
attracted their attention, or that they should
have connected it with some new revelation
from Heaven. There was at this time an
expectation that a great deliverer would
come. This feeling was widespread among
the Eastern nations. ow, whence this ex
pectation? For an answer to this we must
look to the prophecy of the text.
Balaam was a soothsayer. He did not
scruple even to receive the rewards of his
divination. But he was more than a sooth
sayer. He was a prophet and a servant of
God. Several times it is declared that the
word of the Lord was in his mouth. He had
the gift of prophecy. He was constrained
to speak as the spirit moved him. This Ba
laam was of the land of Abram, a land in
which there was a knowledge of the true
God. Let us listen to this prophecy and its
import :
I. Of whom was it made? The words of
the text cannot refer to the covenants of
David or other kings of Israel. Their sol
emnity carry the conviction that they refer
to One beyond David. " I shall see him,
but not now; I shall behold him, but not
nigh." Who is that Him? How emphatic
and solemn the reference ! We cannot doubt
but that it refers to Him in whom all
prophecy converged, and to whom all the
ends of the world shall look for. salvation. Is
it not likely that the words of a prophet so
prominent as was Balaam in the East would
have been treasured carefully, and that the
star that was to arise out of Jacob would
have been anxiously awaited ? For cen
turies the Magi watched for that mystic
II. Who were to be blessed in the fulfil
ment of the prophecy? It was a promise of
salvation for the Gentiles. What a longing
do the words express ! " I shall see him,
but not now, I shall behold him, but not
nigh." How quickly these wise men arose
when the star appeared and entered the land
of Jacob !
An important question arises : Why the
seeming injustice of selecting a compara
tively insignificant people to be the deposi
taries of sacred truth ? Then, why the seem
ingly greater inconsistency: the rejection of
the chosen people for two thousand years,
and the keeping of the truth from all but a
small fragment of the human race? As the
Jews were made to understand that it was
because of their narrow misconception of the
nature of the religion revealed to them, and
their consequent self-complacency., that the
Gentiles were kept from a knowledge of the
religion God had revealed to them, so we to
day, by our narrow and selfish view of the
ends of grace, restrict its blessings. Revela
tion is a universal, not a partial gift. We are
not to understand that we are infallibly
guided or that the rest of the world is in
fallibly wrong. While the means of grace
are specially vouchsafed to the Church, yet
do they belong to all the world. There is
light given to all nations. This is no new
doctrine, forced by the inroads of modern
liberalism. Saint Clement of Alexandria
held, that God had revealed Himself in phi
losophy to the Greeks, and that He was a
Savior enlightening, in manifold ways, all the
Two thousand years passed after this
prophecy of Balaam before its fulfilment,
but the world was not neglected. An educat
ing and disciplining process was all the while
carried forward. So is the work of God car
ried forward to-day throughout the world.
The star still shines in the East. Let us
turn our eyes towards it, and welcome the
coming of the nations guided by its light.
H. R.
Matt, i: 23
One day, years ago, the people living near
iagara Falls were startled by the cry:
" Man in iagara ! Man in iagara ! "
So they all ran, thronging the suspension
bridge and crowding the cliffs hard by.
" Where is he? Where is he? " each asked
of each, because at first they could not see
him. Poor fellow," they said ; " he s
gone ! "
Then some one cried out : " See ; see, yon
der he is hanging on a rock ! " pointing as
he spoke to a low, waterwashed rock about
sixty yards below the great falls on the Am
erican side.
Then the question went through all the
murmuring crowd : " Can we save him ?
Can we save him ? "
They got a long rope ladder. They hoped
they might be able to let it down somewhere
in the poor man s neighborhood from one
of the overhanging cliffs. They threw the
ladder over, but there were some bushes
growing out of a crevice down part way in
the rocks, and as the rope ladder fell it got
tangled in the bushes, and they could not
loosen it.
Then they asked this other question :
" Who will go down and clear the rope
ladder and try to save that man ? " It was
a terrible question to ask, for it was a terrible
thing to do. The man who should dare do
it must do so at the greatest risk of his own
At last a brave young man stepped for
ward and said, " I ll go." Carefully he
climbed down the rope ladder to the bushes.
There he waited for some time seeking to
get the ladder clear. With difficulty, he got
it clear, and then the rope ladder fell down
near to where that imperiled man was cling
ing for his life to that wet, low rock.
Then this man who had descended from
the cliff began himself to go down farther.
It was a frightful thing to do. The rope
ladder swung and swayed, and below him
were the dashing, boiling waters. One loose
grasp, one misstep, and nothing in God s
world could save him. But he went slowly
and steadily down and down.
| At last he reached the rock where the
drenched, buffeted, weakening man was cling
ing, Holding with one hand firmly to the
swaying ladder and putting one foot as firmly
as he could upon the low rocks the waters
were dashing over, with the other hand he
took hold of the poor fellow, and, saying
words of courage to him, got him to take
hold of the rope ladder and try to climb up
it to the cliffs above.
This brave helper could not carry the poor
man up. To attempt that would be altogether
beyond his own strength. or could he tie
the poor fellow to the rope ladder, and let
him be dragged up, for so he would be dashed
to death against the projecting rocks above,
as the rope ladder would sway, now this way
and now that.
So this man who had somehow fallen into
the wild waters, with nearly all his strength
gone through his terrible clinging to that
low rock against the awful force of the in
vading water, took hold of the rope ladder
and began to climb. After he had gone up
perhaps a hundred feet, he had to stop to
rest. Those up there on the cliffs were in
great fear lest his small strength should
give way entirely and he fall again into
the raging waters. " Hold on ! " they
shouted to him. " Hold on ! " But their
voices could not be distinctly heard amid the
thunder of the mighty falls.
Then the man climbed up another hundred
feet, and stopped again to rest. Those on
the cliff grew more hopeful now. And the
brave helper at the bottom stood there, get
ting what foothold he might and steadying
the ladder.
Then, again, the man began to climb, pain
fully, laboriously, his strength, which had
been tasked so terribly, almost failing him.
Then, at last, he was in reach of the top,
and some strong arms, reaching over, seized
him and lifted him into safety, amid the
tears, and shouts, and eager joy of the mul
And the brave helper who had gone down
for him and at so great a risk climbed safely
I to the summit too.
I think the story is a good one for the
Christmas time, because it tells, tho in the
dimmest and in the poorest way, what our
Lord Jesus has done for every one of us.
He was the One who came down from
Heaven to us, amid all the storm and danger
and death of our sad sins.
HE CAME DOW TO us. He did not stand,
like the people on the cliffs, away off in the
far heavens shouting to us to climb up. He
was like the brave helper in the story : from
the far heavens He Himself came down to
us. and all our risk and pain and sorrow and
death He took upon Himself.
He is a great deal better to us, too, than
was this brave helper, good as he was to the
poor man clinging for his life to the wet,
treacherous rock. Our Lord Jesus does not
simply bring the ladder of escape to us, but
He gives us His own strength that we may
have strength to climb. ay, He does more
than that, for really we have no strength.
If we will only let Him, with a deep trust,
like the shepherd in the parable of the lost
sheep, He lays us on His own shoulders and
carries us up.
So our Lord Jesus is the one who comes
to us ; and if we will have it so. there is not
one of us who may not be saved because He
And the Christmas time is -the time when
we think of the fact and of the way of His
coming to us.
Consider, first, the reality of the Incar
nation. Jesus Christ is actually God with
us. As another has most truly and thought
fully said: " Everything of the Christian re
ligion depends on the truth of the story of
Bethlehem. If He who was there born was
not really God, then the religion He set up
is but human religion, and our hopes of a
manhood perfected in a God-man are
quenched. If He who was there born was
not really man, but only phantom flesh, the
religion He set up is a deceitful religion,
leaving to us, it may be, nothing but a phan
tom God. I say, then, that Christianity from
center to circumference is balanced on the
solitary pivot of the nativity. Revelation,
Mediation, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrec
tion, Ascension, Parousia, all revolve round
Bethlehem s manger."
Consider, second, how sacred a thing is
childhood. God entered into our human na
ture as a child ; and what higher work than
the training of this childhood } dignified thus
by the fact that our Lord and Savior was
once a little child ! Daniel Webster at one
time said : " If we work upon marble, it will
perish. If we work upon brass, time will
efface it. If we rear temples, they will crum
ble into dust. If we work upon immortal
minds, if we imbue them with principles,
with the just fear of God and love for our
fellow men, we engrave on these tablets
something which will brighten for eternity."
Consider, third, since God is thus with us,
how certain it is that our Lord Jesus can
enter into the most real and close sympathy
with every one of us.
Consider, fourth, how the Babe in the
manger, who is yet God with us, teaches us
that the true life is that of forgetfulness of
self. He, thinking not His equality with God
a thing to be grasped at, emptied Himself.
H. R.
But he could not be hid. Mark vii: 24
Testament contained one promise which like
a thread of gold ran through the whole ; a
promise which was oft repeated, which was
embraced by all believers, the blessings of
which were grandly unfolded as time rolled
on ; and which, in the fulness of time was
accomplished. It was the Messiah. The
Dayspring from on high has visited us. The
Sun of Righteousness has arisen with heal
ing in His wings, and therefore the Lord
Jesus is not hid. He is plainly seen by those
who have eyes to see, and plainly heard by
those who have ears to hear, altho He is in
the highest heavens.
Who shall declare how wicked is the at
tempt to hide the Lord Jesus, who said, " I
am the light of the world." Do any attempt
it? Yes. many have done so. The Scribes
and Pharisees saw clearly enough that He
was the Christ; yet they tried to hide Him
by saying that He wrought miracles by the
power of Beelzebub. This our Lord de
clared, but nothing else, is the unpardonable
sin. The Jews wished Christ to be hid, when
they quenched His costly life on Calvary ;
they wished His words to be hid when they
beat the apostles, and commanded them not
to speak in His ame. Christ ought not to
be hid.
prepare for the coronation of Christ. All
thing?, consciously or unconsciously, are be
ing attuned for the glory of Christ. This
is God s mighty purpose which all events are
unfolding. All things are for Christ and
Christ in all things. He cannot be hid. For
Christ the vast machinery of providence is
kept in beneficent action ; all persons, all
things, all events, are under His beneficent
rule. Over all men s conscience His purpose
must prevail. His cause roll on. " He must
reign." S. B., vol. vi., p. 253.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their
flocks by night. Luke ii: 8
In all ancient history, the shepherd is rep
resented as the embodiment of innocent
stupidity. But we think of these shepherds
near Bethlehem as ideal shepherds. This is
the trick poetry and art have played. In
the same way, Mary is taken out of ordinary
maidenhood, and has offered to her the in
cense that formerly was offered to Diana.
The fact is, God came down through all
the strata of society when He came to re
deem man. Ignorance must cease to be the
mother of devotion. It is possible so to
clothe Christ with the imagination, as to take
Him out of the reach of ordinary men. Let
us look upon these men as simple shepherds.
The record that is given of them will teach
us several lessons.
I. It is said they were sorely terrified.
Their idea of God was one clothed with
terror. When will it be possible for Chris
tians to face without fear the messenger of
God in the dark. We cultivate fear. The
air is electrical with the divine presence.
The heathen thought by smearing their faces
with filth to please their gods. Some such
idea still lurks in our minds. About this
time there were three angelic visitations,
(a) The shepherds were frightened out of
their wits, (b) Zacharias was troubled at
sight of the divine messenger, and became
dumb, (c) Mary was, doubtless, surprised,
but was not afraid. " Behold the handmaid
of the Lord ; be it unto me according to thy
word." Her nature had been so schooled as
to be able to stand, unterrified, on the verge
of the supernatural.
II. The shepherds went to find Christ. I
give it as my fancy that they found Him
when they put up their flocks in the sheep-
fold. Christ was first found in a shccpfold.
Since then the world has been too apt to seek
for Christ only in magnificent temples, etc.
The mystery of all mysteries in religion to
me is God Himself. He who must have mi
croscopic vision to see me at all, came down,
passing thrones of kings in ancient times
all kings were gods, etc. The wonder of
Christianity is its simplicity. I tell you, if
the Bible had been an imposition, it would
have fallen into this trap. The world has
been 1,800 years coming up to the idea of
democracy embodied in that wonderful effort
of human wisdom, the Declaration of In
dependence. The idea of democracy was in
this, coining to a stable to find Christ.
III. The occasion must have turned out as
one of joy to the shepherds, as it was to the
angels. We are too gloomy in our religion.
Four-fifths of Christendom still sing the
words of a half-crazy man, asking for the
joy he felt when he first knew the Lord. It
was once thought out of harmony to celebrate
the Lord s Supper on Christmas day. Re
ligion and joy should go hand in hand.
Let us remember
1. That there is no place so humble hut
that Christ may be successfully sought there.
o home can be inferior to a stable or sheep-
2. God is love, and should not occasion
3. Then, also, they who are in God, are in
love. They will love all.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas. H. R.
On earth peace. Luke Hi: 14
The whole air at the first Christmastide
was tremulous with joy. It was a time for
holy song, for inspired paean, for seraphic
song. Let joy come still to our homes and
hearts. Christ gives brightness and beauty,
gladness and glory, to the whole circle of
life and duty. Come, Lord Jesus, there shall
be room for Thee in our homes. Once there
was none in the inn, but only in the stable ;
now our best is Thine. Only honor us with
Thy beneficent presence !
I. Let us away with strife at this season ;
now is the time to speak kindly words. Let
us not carry into the new year the enmities
of the old ; let not the harsh notes of con
tention come into the heavenly song of peace.
II. Christ came to give peace, and from
Heaven s throne to-day He bends to give
peace to all who trust Him. He was the
only person ever born into the world who
had His choice as to how He should come.
He might have come man. as did the first
Adam ; He came a babe. He inserted Him
self into our race at its lowest and weakest
point. If He were to lift the race He must
get under it. He glorified the cradle ; He
beautified boyhood ; He sanctified mother
III. But Christ must be born in each heart
in order that we may have a true Christmas.
Are we rejoicing in the gifts of human love?
Shall we be unmindful of Him who is the
"unspeakable gift?" Turn not the Christ
of God away from the heart s inn ; banish
Him not to the manger. Heaven s gift is
now offered without money and without
price. Receive Him with glad welcome !
H. R.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,
praising God, and
saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will
toward men. Luke
ii: 13, 14
What an interest centered in that babe,
wrapped in swaddling-clothes, lying in a
manger at Bethlehem ! Prophets were inter
ested, angels were interested, the ages have
been most deeply interested since. The shep
herds had, perhaps, some premonition. The
seventy weeks of Daniel s prophecy were
about fulfilled. It may be, at that very time,
they were talking of the coming of Christ.
Suddenly their attention was arrested by a
strange sight in the heavens. It grew
brighter, and took the form of an angel, and
then they heard a voice announcing the birth
of Christ as glad tidings for all people, not
to the Jews only. Then suddenly the air was
filled with angels singing, as if they had
come right out from the air. We know not
their wonderful song, but part came to mor
tal ears, " Glory to God in the highest," etc.
I know not who those angels were, but I
fancy they were the redeemed. Adam was
there. Eve was there. Eve, who, in her ma
ternal earnestness, declared at the birth of her
first born, " I have gotten a man from the
Lord," hoping that that was he who should
bruise the serpent s head. ow, in the ful
ness of time, she had come to witness the
birth of the babe who was to be the Savior
of her race. David, Elijah, Moses, the patri
archs, I believe, were with that heavenly host.
I think, if I had lived before the birth of
Christ, and been in Heaven when Christ left
His throne to come to earth, I would have
asked permission to come down, etc.
This song reveals three things :
1. The glorification of God through the in
carnation. God has glory through His vast
work in nature, His providence building up
and casting down nations, etc.
In the incarnation there was special glory.
It was glory to God in the highest. Highest,
in that it was above all other glory, in that
it extended to all time, and in that it wrought
such wondrous good.
2. The great results to the earth. It would
result in peace. Strifes, thorns, and thistles
were abounding. The earth was torn and
bleeding by constant contention. With Christ
came peace. The result would be universal
3. The effect on the individual man.
"Good will toward men," from one another,
from God. Out of this good will would fi
nally spring peace on earth, and glory to God
in the highest.
These results are obtained by certain
From what a small beginning the work
started. It is illustrated by a mustard-seed,
a bit of leaven, a little stone cut from the
mountain side. When Christ came, the event
made little commotion. He came as a little
babe, in an obscure country, among a de
spised and conquered people, and of a poor
family. A star showed the interest of the
universe, the singing angels the interest of
Heaven, in the birth of that babe. On earth
there was but a brief commotion. A little
potentate was made jealous for a while.
Then all is quiet for thirty years. Kings and
governors changed. Most of those who re
membered anything of the shepherd s story,
and the massacre of the little ones at Bethle
hem, had died. At last an unknown man
came for baptism at the hands of John, and
a voice was heard from Heaven, and then the
marvelous work of Christ began. Opposed
on every side, crucified at last, and His few
disciples scattered, Christ s death gave the
triumphant illustration of this good will.
The world is no longer an orphan God is
the Father.
Another stage in reaching peace on earth,
and the glory to God in the highest, is in
this; if a man has good will, he begins
to act good will. Christ never showed ill-
will to an enemy, even. If Christ is in us,
we will love all. ow, I tell you from God
on the eve of the Christmas day, that he
who hates his brother is a murderer. o
matter where your name is written on earth,
in Church book, or class book, if you bear
ill-will to any one, it is not written in
Then the Holy Spirit is given, which works
in men universal good will.
ow, when this good will is perfect, you
have a basis for lasting peace. Permanent
peace can come in no other way. Recognize
every man as a brother, and war must cease.
Then every babbling tongue will sing, Glory
to God in the highest.
Let us learn to do good to all people.
H. R.
The Word dwelt among us. John i: 14; (with Rev. vii: 15 and xxi:
The word rendered " dwelt " in these three
passages is a peculiar one. It is only found
in the ew Testament in this Gospel, and
in the Book of the Revelation. The word
literally means " to dwell in a tent " or, if
we may use such a word, " to tabernacle ; "
and there is, no doubt a reference to the
Tabernacle in which the Divine Presence
abode in the wilderness and in the land of
Israel before the erection of the Temple. In
all three passages, then, we may see allusion
to that early symbolical dwelling of God
with man.
I. Think, first, of the Tabernacle for earth.
The Word was made flesh, and dwelt, as in
a tent, among us. St. John would have us
think that, in that lowly humanity, with its
curtains and its coverings of flesh, there lay
shrined in the inmost place the brightness of
the light of the manifest glory of God. The
manifestation of God in Christ is unique, as
becomes Him who partakes of the nature of
that God of whom He is the representative
and the revealer. Like the Tabernacle, Christ
is the dwelling-place of God, the place of
revelation, the place of sacrifice, and the meet
ing-place of God and man.
II. We have the Tabernacle for the heav
ens. He that sitteth on the throne shall
spread his Tabernacle above them," as the
word might be rendered. That is to say,
He Himself shall build and be the tent in
which they dwell ; He Himself shall dwell
with them in it ; He Himself, in closer union
than can be conceived of here, shall keep
them company during that feast.
III. Look at that final vision which we
have in these texts, which we may call the
Tabernacle for the renewed earth. " Behold,
the Tabernacle of God is with men, and he
will tabernacle with them." The climax and
the goal of all the Divine working, and the
long processes of God s love for, and discip
line of. the world are to be this, that He and
men shall abide together in unity and con
cord. That is God s wish from the begin
ning. And at the close of all things, when
the vision of this final chapter shall be ful
filled, God will say, settling Himself in the
midst of a redeemed humanity, " Lo ! here
will I dwell ; for I have desired it. This is
my rest for ever." He will tabernacle with
men, and they with Him. S. B., vol. vii., p.
John i: 14
I. " The word was made flesh and dwelt
among us." This is St. John s declaration.
He does not invent a great many arguments
to prove it ; he simply says " so it was." This
poor fisherman, who was once upon a time
sitting in his father s ship on the Lake of
Galilee, mending his nets ; this man who was
infinitely humbler and less self-conceited now
than he was then, says out boldly and with
out hesitation, " This everlasting Word, in
whom was life and whose life was the light
of men this Word, who was with God and
was God was made flesh and dwelt among
us." And he adds, " We beheld his glory
the glory as of the only-begotten of the
Father." We are sure that in this poor
man, thus entering into our feelings and
circumstances, we beheld the living God.
ot some unseen power, some angel or Di
vine creature who might have been sent
down on a message of mercy to one little
corner of the earth, or to us poor fisher
men of Galilee ; it is not such a being whom
we saw hidden under this human form ; we
declare that we saw the glory of the Fa
ther, of Him who made Heaven and Dearth
and the sea, of Him who has been and is and
is to be.
II. That a meek humble man, who believed
that nothing was so horrible as to trifle with
God s ame, should have spoken such words
as these, so boldly and yet so calmly, with
such a certainty that they were true, and that
he could live and act upon them, this is
wonderful. But yet, this might have been,
and the world might have gone on as if no
such sounds had ever been proclaimed in it.
What is the case actually? These incredible
words have been believed. The question was.
Who is the Ruler of the world? The apos
tle said, " This Jesus of azareth is its
Ruler." Their word prevailed. The masters
of the earth confessed that they were right.
Here in England, at the other end of the
world, the news was heard and received.
Then the day which said, " The Word has
been made flesh, and has dwelt among us,"
became the Queen Day of the year. All the
joy of the year was felt to be stored up in it.
Every man, woman, and child has a right to
be merry upon it. This is the festival which
make us know, indeed, that we are members
of one body: it binds together the life of
Christ on earth with His life in Heaven ; it
assures us that Christmas Day belongs not
to time but to eternity. S. B., vol. vii., p. 364.
ADVET, Lessons of the, i. Christ
comes by the gateway of birth, appealing to
childhood and motherhood. 2. His humble
birth shows the humblest and poorest that
poverty need be no curse. 3. His unnoticed
arrival shows that " the kingdom of God
cometh not with observation. 4. The visit
of the Magi shows the affinity of Christianity
for disciplined minds. 5. All the manner of
His coming shows the unbounded wisdom
and love of God, who gives us the Christ we
need, poor or rich, children or mature.
6. Christ s coming was the greatest event in
the world. 7. His star is shining for you.
REV. S. M. JOHSO. (H. R.)
AGELS CHORUS, The. The one an
gel voice has barely time to tell its message,
when, as if unable longer to be silent, sud
denly " the " multitude of the heavenly host
pours out its praise." I adhere to the old
reading which divides the angel chorus into
three clauses, of which the first and second
may be regarded as the double result of that
birth, while the third describes its deepest
nature. The incarnation and work of Christ
are the highest revelation of God. The won
drous birth brings harmony to earth. ALEX
BETHLEHEM. Bethlehem is a little,
lowly hamlet, and Christ was born in a com
mon, lowly stable. The literal story of the
ativity is, or ought to be, engraven deeply
on our hearts. Do we pause to consider the
symbolism of lowly Bethlehem and the lowly
manger ? We are disposed to reckon large
sacrifices, large acts of beneficence, large
deeds of heroism, as the means of grace in
the building of a Christlike character. We
appreciate the fact that a worker in the slums
is more of a hero than the hussar who rode
forty miles with a saber cut to carry an im
portant message and yet .
Yes the hussar s deed was more interest
ing, but not more glorious, in the best sense
of the word, than the tending by night and
by day of a man suffering with a loathsome
disease. Again, a millionaire banker may
heavily endow a cripples home, and a mother
at home may wear the same pair of shoes for
eight months that her bov may be taught the
best by the best. A thoughtful comparison
brings out the more noble deed with the
clearness of a cameo ; and yet, what heed
does the world pay to the widow s sacrifice?
Let us remember that the greatest love of
all was born in a lowly manger. O. C. W.
During this month all Christians will be
celebrating the advent of our Lord to this
world. There was some ground for rational
doubts as to whether the promise of His
first coming would be literally fulfilled.
Would the One who deserved the title of
Emmanuel God with us stoop to be born
of a woman? Would He consent to be de
spised and rejected of men? Would the
One who created all, sustained all, and filled
and bounded all, stoop to the limitations of
a man whose days are as grass and whose
greatness is that of the worm? Would He
humiliate Himself to be sold by a traitor,
to be classed with transgressors and to be
come a curse because wounded for our trans
gressions and bruised for our iniquities?
And yet, altho it seemed so irrational, so
improbable and even impossible, not one
word of God s promises have failed of fulfil
ment. ineteen hundred years ago Jesus was
born of a Virgin Mother, the Word who was
God became flesh God was manifested in
the flesh, and His glory was seen, " full of
grace and truth." He was full of grace to
forgive and to save, and full of truth to en
lighten, to purify, and to guide. He has ap
peared on earth. P. J.
CHRIST, Birthday of. I have always
thought of Christmas time, when it has come
round apart from the veneration due to its
sacred name and origin, if anything belong
ing to it can be apart from that as a good
time ; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant
time. CHARLES DICKES. Christmas Carol;
Stave I.
CHRIST, Birth of. The death of Christ
is a great mystery ; but His birth is even a
greater. That He should live a human life
at all, is stranger than that, so living, He
should die a human death. I can scarce get
past His cradle in my wondering, to wonder
at His cross. The infant Jesus is, in some
views, a greater marvel than Jesus with the
purple robe and the crown of thorns.
CHRISTMAS. The chief charm of
Christmas is its simplicity. It is a festival
that appeals to every one, because every one
can understand it. ... A genuine fel
lowship pervades our common life a fellow
ship whose source is our common share in
the gift of the world s greatest Life which
was given to the whole world. ARTHUR
Last Christmas Day, in ew York City,
a millionaire was driving down Fifth Avenue
in his sleigh, when his high-spirited horse
ran away. The sleigh was overturned and
the rich man and his coachman rolled in the
snow together. As they struggled to their
feet and turned to follow the runaway horse,
they saw the sleigh strike a poor peddler
and knock him into a heap, both runners
passing over his body. The millionaire ut
tered a cry of dismay when he saw the ragged
peddler fall in the street, and leaving his
valuable trotter to vanish in the distance,
he cast himself on his knees by the injured
man, and lifted his blood-stained head ten
derly in his arms. He got help as soon as
possible, and himself assisted in carrying the
poor fellow into a fashionable hotel near by,
and sent for the doctor. Later he got him
a comfortable room in a hospital and ordered
that every possible attention should be given
him. When the peddler was seen by the
reporter at the hospital and told that the
man whose horse had run over him was a
millionaire, he replied : " A millionaire, is
he? Well, all I can say is that he s the
whitest man I ever seen in me life, an I ll
never say another word agin millionaires. I
tell yer wot, that man is a wonder. Why,
he he he went down on his marrow-bones
in the snow alongside me an took my head
on his knee, same as if I was his brother
an it all bleedin , too." O brotherhood,
how great is thy power ! There is no quack
way of bridging the so-called gulf between
the rich and poor, but with the brotherhood
of Jesus Christ, exemplified as in this case,
there is no gulf. H. P.
very important events are connected with the
Christmas of 1786, and it is also remarkable
that they both relate to missions. It was
on that day that William Carey, the great
Baptist missionary, and Charles Grant, one
of the founders of the Church Missionary
Society, first formally set forth their views
on the subject of missions, and it was on
that day also that Dr. Coke and his three
companions landed at Antigua, in the West
Indies, for the purpose of prosecuting mis
sionary operations there. Surely Dr. Coke
and his friends must have regarded it as
almost significant that they, the messengers
of the gospel of peace and goodwill to men
should have reached the scene of their fu
ture labors on the day which commemorates
the birth of the Prince of Peace. REV. W. S.
On that Christmas night God honored
motherhood. The angels on their wings
might have brought an infant Savior to Beth
lehem without Mary s being there at all.
But, no; motherhood for all time was to be
consecrated, and one of the tenderest rela
tions was to be the maternal relation, and
one of the sweetest words, " mother." In
all ages God has honored good motherhood.
In a great audience, most of whom were
Christians, I asked that all those who had
been blessed with Christian mothers arise,
and almost the entire assembly stood up.
Don t you see how important it is that all
motherhood be consecrated? TALMAGE.
There are many pretty customs which are
observed at Christmas time in different coun
tries. One of the prettiest of these customs
is thus described for us by a traveler in
Sweden. He writes :
" One wintry afternoon at Christmastide I
had been skating on a pretty lake three miles
from Gothenburg. On my way home I no
ticed that at every farmer s house there was
erected, in the middle of the dooryard, a
pole, to the top of which was bound a large,
full sheaf of grain.
Why is this? I asked my companion.
Oh, that s for the birds, he answered,
for the little wild birds. They must have a
merry Christmas, too, you know.
"Yes, so it is; not a peasant in Sweden
will sit down with his children to a Christ
mas dinner, indoors, till he has first raised
aloft a Christmas dinner for the little birds
that live in the cold and snow without."
A. G.
emptied Himself." This is a truer transla
tion of the first words. Creation involves
the incarnation. It implies a love which en
ables God to cast aside whatever was incom
patible with a real humanity.
II. His assumption of humanity meant the
assumption of servanthood, for man is de
III. His was no phantom life. All that is
essential to humanity, He took upon Him.
He knew no sin but sin was no element in
man s original constitution.
IV. His obedience to death was real, be
cause He laid down His life. He was obedi
ent to the law, and took death as part of the
experience of life.
V. He took the death of the cross, because
He meant death to have no untasted bitter
ness ; all its shame and hate were parts of that
burden He came to bear. Even God s wrath
against sin He would know, that He might
stand in the sinner s place. REV. SAMUEL
McCoMB, A.M. (H. R.)
CHRISTMAS JOY. The universal joy of
Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring
the bells when princes are born, or toll a
mournful dirge when great men pass away.
ations have their red-letter days, their car
nivals and festivals, but once in the year
and only once, the whole world stands still
to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus
of azareth claims this world-wide, undying
remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas
out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of
the world. Anon.
of Love. John iii:i6; xiii : i ; xiv:23;
xv : 9 ; Gal. ii : 20 ; Eph. ii : 4, 5 ; 2 Thess. ii :
16,17; Tit. iii:4; i John iv : 8-1 1 ; xvi:ip;
Rev. i : 5. 6.
A Message of Life. John 1:4; iii : 14-16;
vi:35; viii:i2; x: 10; xi:25; xiv:6;
xvii : 2, 3 ; xx:3i; Col. iii -.4; 2 Tim. i:io;
i John ii : 25 ; v : 20 ; Rev. xxi : 6.
A Message of Peace. Luke i : 79 ; xix :
41, 42 ; John xiv : 27 ; xvi : 33 ; Rom. v : i ;
xvi: 20; Eph. ii:i7, 18; Col. i : 19, 20; 2
Thess. iii : 16.
A Message of Salvation. Isa. xliv : 22 ;
Luke i : 68, 69, 77: xixrio; John iii 136;
Acts iv : 12 ; xvi : 31 ; Heb. ii : 3 ; vii : 25 ; I
John v: ii, 12.
A Message for all Men. Luke iii : 6; John
i : 9, 29 ; Acts x : 43 ; Rom. v : 6, 8 ; I Tim.
i:iS; ii : 3, 4; Tit. ii:n; 2 Pet. iii : 9. A
Bible-Study by Miss L. A. WALLIGFORD.
CHRISTMAS, Real Lessons of. There
can be no love for God which is unattended
with love for man. The final test of a Chris
tian life is not the worship of God, but al
ways the love of man for man. If the mes
sage of Him whose birth we celebrate at
Christmas teaches us one thing above all
others, it is not that we shall try to do for
Him as a person, but that we shall seek to
do for one another. That is knowing Jesus
and clearly understanding Him.
And wherever this true conception of His
life and teaching is reached, there we find
men and women thrilled with the passion for
giving. The little child wakes oh Christmas
morning with its heart full to overflowing
with gladness, and by every gift in stocking,
or beside cradle or bed, is taught anew the
old, old lesson of love. Husband and wife,
brother and sister, lover and sweetheart,
friend and friend, as they receive their gifts
are reminded once more that love is not a
dream, but a reality and a reality which
grows more vital, more precious and more
enduring with years.
The sick, in chair or in bed, as they open
their Christmas package? are almost recon
ciled to loneliness and pain. The friendless,
the poor, the outcast, the waifs on the
streets ; those who have sinned and seem
shut out from God and from man. all begin
to feel strange thrills of hope and renewed
aspiration as they are taken up and enfolded
in the richness and fulness of the Divine
love as it comes to them through human love
or attention on Christmas Day. That is
knowing Christmas in its highest and no
blest sense ; in its truest conception ; knowing
it in that spirit from which we derive the
surest happiness. EDWARD BOK.
URE, Let. Let Christmas stand for pleas
ure, and for the reason that it is especially
the Christian day. Then Christianity drops
her weeds, and smiles. Then the whole world
takes up the refrain
Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less.
And even Dr. Doddridge comes singing in,
I live in pleasure when I live to Thee.
The doctor must not fly his own logic. ot
to live in pleasure is not to live to Thee.
Pure pleasure it must be, no doubt, but that
is the pleasure embodied in Christmas.
If we were to fancy a wholly Christianized
world, it would be a world inspired by the
spirit of Christmas a bright, friendly, benefi
cent, generous, sympathetic, mutually help
ful world. A man who is habitually mean,
selfish, narrow, is a man without Christmas
in his soul. Let us cling to Christmas all the
more as a day of the spirit which in every
age some souls have believed to be the pos
sible spirit of human society. The earnest
faith and untiring endeavor which see in
Christmas a forecast are more truly Chris
tian, surely, than the pleasant cynicism of
Atheists, etc., which smiles upon it as the
festival of a futile hope. Meanwhile we may
reflect that from good natured hopelessness
to a Christmas world may not be farther than
from star dust to a solar system. GEORGE
CHRISTMAS, The Twelve Days of.
The ew England custom during those early
years of the present century was to observe
Christmas from December 25 to January 5,
the twelve days being generally given up to
receiving and returning family visits. Con
temporary with this custom was the belief,
inculcated in the minds of the children, that
if they would visit the cow stables at mid
night of Christmas eve, they would see the
cattle kneel before the mangers.
A poem of the twelve days shows the gift
for the first day of Christmas to be a parrot
on a juniper tree instead of a " partridge on
a pear tree." The verse for the twelfth day,
which embodied the entire list of days and
"gifts," was as follows:
The twelfth day of Christmas my true love
gave to me twelve guns shooting, eleven
bears chasing, ten men hunting, nine fiddlers
playing, eight ladies dancing, seven swans
swimming, six chests of linen, five gold rings,
four coffee bowls, three French hens, two
turtle doves and a parrot on a juniper tree.
CHRIST S ATIVITY. The earth won
dered at Christ s nativity, to see a new star
in Heaven ; but Heaven might rather wonder
to see a new sun on earth (Ps. Ixix: 35; Isa.
xliv : 23 ; Matt, ii :io). DR. RICHARD CLARKE.
DAY, The Sun of a Better. What im
ages do I associate with the Christmas music
as I see these images set forth on the Christ
mas tree? Known before all others, keeping
far apart from all the others. . . . An an
gel, speaking to a group of shepherds in a
field ; some travelers, with eyes uplifted, fol
lowing a star ; a baby in a manger ; a child
in a spacious temple, talking with grave men ;
a solemn figure, with a mild and beautiful
face, raising a dead girl by the hand ; again,
near a city gate, calling back the son of a
widow, on his bier, to life; a crowd of people
looking through the opened roof of a cham
ber where He sits, and letting down a sick
person on a bed, with ropes ; the same, in a
tempest, walking on the water to a ship;
again, on a seashore, teaching a great multi
tude ; again, with a child upon His knee, and
other children around ; again, restoring sight
to the blind, speech to the dumb, hearing to
the deaf, health to the sick, strength to the
lame, knowledge to the ignorant ; again, dy
ing upon a cross, watched by armed soldiers,
a thick darkness coming on, the earth begin
ning to shake, and only one voice heard :
" Forgive them, for they know not what they
do." CHARLES DICKES. Christmas Stories.
DWELT AMOG US." And the Word
became flesh and dwelt among us; " literally
"pitched his tent," (t<5Krfvoo6Ev). Three
sorts of men are described in the Bible as
living in tents: shepherds, sojourners, and
soldiers. The phrase here used has refer
ence to the calling of all these three, and it
points to Christ s life on earth as being that
of a shepherd, a traveler, and a soldier."
GIFT, The Divine Christmas. For unto
us a child is born, unto us a son is given,
etc. Isa. ix: 6.
I. The gift of Christ as a child, a son, (a)
a gift of love, (b) of supreme beauty and
joy, (c) of universal fitness to our wants,
(d) of eternal enrichment, forever increasing
in value, (e) ensures all other gifts needful.
" How shall he not with him also freely give
us all things? "
II. The fitness of Christ s infancy to the
world, beauty and pathos of His being com
mitted, a babe, to a human bosom. Our child
relation intimates the fruit of the race s soul
travail. Christ born in every family where
faith is, and in every heart where love wel
comes. Marvels of His nature and errand.
III. Gift how received. Many make merry
on Christmas while shutting Christ out in the
cold. " o place in the inn."
Happy those who welcome Him. Christ
formed in us the hope of glory. H. R.
indeed be more blessed to give than to re
ceive, but when the former luxury is not
within one s honest reach, it is blessed too
to receive from those one thoroughly loves.
HEAET, The Message to the Blind in.
One Christmas eve a lady was walking in the
beautiful city of Berlin, enjoying the pretty
sights. She stopped to look at the large win
dow where was laid out the lowly stable in
Bethlehem. Before the window stood two
little girls, their faces beaming with pleasure,
while they talked to another little girl be
tween them, and around whom they had their
arms. This dear child was quite blind, and
to her poor sightless eyes the pretty window
told no story. But the loving little friends
told the blind child of the rude stable, the hay,
the cows and the sheep, the sweet mother
beside the manger in which the Christ-child
was sleeping, the open door through which
the wandering shepherds were coming and
the bright star above which shed a soft sil
very light over all and the wise men with
rich gifts for the little sleeping babe, who
was the Son of God our Savior. The little
blind girl listened till her face grew happy
and she clasped her hands together, saying
again and again, " Ah ! that is beautiful."
There are those who have blind hearts, in
stead of blind eyes, because they do not know
the blessed story. S. E. BULL.
ICARATE WORD, The. When the
eye gazes on the sun, it is more tormented
with the brightness than pleased with the
beauty of it ; but when the beams are trans
mitted through a colored medium, they are
more temperate, and sweetened to the sight.
The Eternal Word, shining in His full glory,
the more bright, the less visible is He to mor
tal eyes ; but the Incarnate Word is eclipsed
and allayed by a veil of flesh (Heb. x:2o),
and so made accessible to us. God, out of a
tender respect to our frailty and fears, prom
ised to raise up a Prophet, clothed in our
nature (Ex. xx: 18, 19; Deut. xviii: 15-19),
that we might comfortably and quietly re
ceive His instructions (Job xxiii : 6, 7 ; Luke
iv: 20-22; John i:i8). A. P. L.
ICARATIO, Mystery of. For the
sun to fall from its sphere, and be degraded
into a wandering atom ; for an angel to be
turned out from heaven, and be converted
into a fly or a worm, had not been such
abasement ; for they were but creatures be
fore, and so they would abide still, tho in an
inferior rank. But for the infinite glorious
Creator of all things to become a creature,
is a mystery exceeding all human under
standing. JOH FLAVEL.
Bells, Christmas
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men !
H. W. LOGFELLOW Flower de Luce.
Christmas Bells.
Dear Bethlehem, the proud repose
Of conscious worthiness is thine.
Rest on ! The Arab comes and goes,
But farthest Saxon holds thy shrine
More sacred in his stouter Christian hold
Than England s heaped-up iron house of gold.
Bethlehem Exalted
Hill with the olives and the little town!
If rivers from their crystal founts flow down,
If twas the dawn which did day s gold unbar,
Ye were beginnings of the best we are,
The most we see, the highest that we know,
The lifting heavenward of man s life below.
Child is Born, Unto us a
To us, who look with anxious gaze
On coming lonely, burdened days
To us, who cower deep in shame,
Unable e en to speak His name
To us, the tempted, who within
Still feel the throb of inbred sin
To us, sore laden and distressed,
He comes, our comfort, joy and rest.
To all earth s weary, struggling men,
The world s sole Hope seems horn again
When breaks the light of Christmas morn.
Lo, " Unto us a Child is born."
Christ Came, How
ot sheltered by a gleaming palace-roof,
Or hedged about with glittering thorns of
Or shadowed by a jewel-blazoned court,
Was Jesus born ! no babe could humbler lie
Within the precincts of a hovel-home.
Yet wise men came afar to worship Him,
Their guide a star whose wealth outmatched
the world.
Thus did He clasp all man in His embrace !
Christmas Comes but Once a Year
At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.
THOMAS TUSSER 1515-1580.
Christmas, Eternal
In the pure soul, altho it sing or pray,
The Christ is born anew from day to day;
The life that knoweth Him shall bide apart
And keep eternal Christmas in the heart.
Christmas Joys
We ring the bells and we raise the strain,
We hang up garlands everywhere
And bid the tapers twinkle fair,
And feast and frolic and then we go
Back to the same old lives again.
Christmas Tree, The World
The whole world is a Christmas-tree,
And stars its many candles be.
Oh! sing a carol joyfully
The year s great feast in keeping.
S. .
Courage, Take
Take courage, soul, in grief cast down,
Forget the bitter dealing;
A Child is born in David s town,
To touch all souls with healing.
Then let us go and seek the Child,
Children like Him, meek, undented.
Day Dawn of the Heart
Tis not enough that Christ was born
Beneath the star that shone,
And earth was set that morn
Within a golden zone.
He must be born within the heart
Before He finds His throne,
And brings the day of love and good,
The reign of Christ-like brotherhood.
Glory to the King
Hark ! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King:
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
God, Glory to
Like Him be true, like Him be pure,
Like Him be full of love;
Seek not thine own, and so secure
Thine own that is above.
And still, as Christmas-tide draws nigh,
Sing then of Jesus birth ;
Glory be to God on high,
And peace to men on earth. Selected.
God, Glory to
Like circles widening round
Upon a clear blue river,
Orb after orb, the wondrous sound
Is echoed on forever :
Glory to God on high, on earth be peace,
And love towards men of love salvation and
KEBLE. Christmas Day.
God Best You
God rest you, merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Savior
Was born upon this day,
To save us all from Satan s power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
For Jesus Christ our Savior was
Born on Christmas day.
Old English Carol.
Man Divine, The
But lead me, Man divine,
Where er Thou will st; only that I may find
At the long journey s end Thy image there,
And grow more like to it. For art not Thou
The human shadow of the infinite Love
That made and fills the endless universe?
The very Word of Him, the unseen, un
Eternal Good that rules the summer flower
And all the worlds that people starry space?
Mistletoe, The
The mistletoe hung in the castle hall,
The holly branch shone on the old oak wall.
BAYLY. The Mistletoe Bough.
Month, The
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven s eternal King,
Of wedded maid, and virgin mother born.
Our great redemption from above did bring,
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That He our deadly forfeit should release,
And with His Father work us a perpetual
MILTO. On the Morning of Christ s
ativity. St. i.
Prince of Peace, The
And they who do their souls no wrong,
But keep, at eve, the faith of morn,
Shall daily hear the angel-song,
" To-day the Prince of Peace is born."
Salvation Tidings
All hailed with uncontrolled delight,
And gentle voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of Salvation down.
Savior, The Presence of the
O Savior ! Whom this holy morn
Gave to our world below;
To mortal want and labor born,
And more than mortal wo !
If gaily clothed and proudly fed,
In dangerous wealth we dwell,
Remind us of Thy manger bed
And lowly cottage cell.
If pressed by poverty severe,
In envious want we pine,
Oh may Thy Spirit whisper near,
How poor a lot was Thine.
Season, The Full
ow that the time is come wherein
Our Savior Christ was born,
The larders full of beef and pork,
The garners filled with corn ;
As God hath plenty to thee sent,
Take comfort of thy labors,
And let it never thee repent
To feast thy needy neighbors.
Season, The Joyous
This happy day, whose risen sun
Shall set not through eternity,
This holy day when Christ the Lord,
Took on Him our humanity,
For little children everywhere
A joyous season still we make,
We bring our precious gifts to them,
Even for the dear Child Jesus sake.
Shepherds Singing
Shepherds at the grange,
Where the Babe was born,
Sang with many a change,
Christmas carols until mom.
H. W. LOGFELLOW. By the Fireside.
A Christmas Carol.
Sin, The Price of
What comfort by Him do we win,
Who made Himself the price of sin,
To make us heirs of glory?
To see this babe all innocence;
A martyr born in our defense;
Can man forget the story?
Sleep, Holy Babe
Upon Thy mother s breast;
Great Lord of earth and sea and sky,
How sweet it is to see Thee lie
In such a place of rest.
Sleep, Holy Babe,
O take Thy brief repose-
Too quickly will Thy slumbers break,
And Thou to lengthened pains awake
That death alone can close.
Songs Raise on High
Sound over all waters, reach from all lands,
The chorus of voices, the clasping of hands ;
Sing hymns that were sung by the stars of
the morn,
Sing songs of the angel when Jesus was
born !
With glad jubilations
Bring hope to the nations !
The dark night is ending and dawn has
begun ;
Rise, hope of the ages, arise like the sun,
All speech flow to music, all hearts beat as
Blow bugles of battle, the marches of peace;
East, west, north and south, let the quarrels
all cease,
Sing the song of great joy that the angels
Sing of glory to God, and of good will to
man !
Hark, joining the chorus
The heavens bend o er us.
Spheres, The Crystal
Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
(If ye have power to touch our senses so:)
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time,
And let the bass of Heaven s deep organ
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to the angelic sym
MILTO. On the Morning of
Christ s ativity. St. 13.
O Little Town of Bethlehem!
O little town of Bethlehem!
How still we see thee lie ;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.
Yet, in thy dark street shineth
The everlasting Light ;
The hopes and fears of all the years,
Are met in thee, to-night.
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given !
So God imparts to human hearts,
The blessings of His Heaven.
o ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
When meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem !
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad-tidings tell ;
Oh come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.
A Christmas Carol
God rest ye, merry gentlemen ; let nothing
you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Savior, was born on
Christmas Day.
The dawn rose red o er Bethlehem, the stars
shone through the gray,
For Jesus Christ our Savior, was born on
Christmas Day.
God rest ye, little children ; let nothing you
For Jesus Christ, your Savior, was born this
happy night ;
Along the hills of Galilee the white flocks
sleeping lay
When Christ, the Child of azareth, was
born on Christmas Day.
God rest ye, all good Christians ; upon this
blessed morn
The Lord of all good Christians was of a
woman born ;
ow all your sorrows He doth heal, your sins
He takes away ;
For Jesus Christ our Savior, was born on
Christmas Day. I.
Christmas Carol
The earth has grown old with its burden of
But at Christmas it always is young.
The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and
And its soul full of music breaks forth on the
When the song of the angels is sung.
It is coming, old earth, it is coming to-night !
On the snowflakes that covered thy sod
The feet of the Christ-child fall gentle and
And the voice of the Christ-child tells out
That mankind are the children of God.
On the sad and the lonely, the wretched and
The voice of the Christ-child shall fall ;
And to every blind wanderer open the door
Of a hope that he dared not to dream of
With a sunshine of welcome for all.
The feet of the humblest may walk in the field
Where the feet of the holiest have trod,
This, this is the marvel to mortals revealed
When the silvery trumpets of Christmas have
That mankind are the children of God.
Blessed Christmas Day
O blessed day which giv st the eternal lie
To self, and sense, and all the brute within;
O come to us amid this war of life ;
To hall and hovel come ! to all who toil
In senate, shop, or study ! and, to those
Ill-warned and sorely tempted
Come to them, blest and blessing, Christmas
Tell them once more the tale of Bethlehem,
The kneeling shepherds, and the Babe Divine ;
And keep them men, indeed, fair Christmas
The Little Christ is Coming Down!
The little Christ is coming down
Across the fields of snow ;
The pine trees greet Him where they stand
The willows bend to kiss His hand,
The mountain laurel is ablush
In hidden nooks, the wind, ahush
And tiptoe, lest the violets wake
Before their time for His sweet sake
The stars, down dropping, form a crown
Upon the waiting hills below,
The little Christ is coming down
Across the fields of snow.
The little Christ is coming down
Across the city street ;
The wind blows coldly from the north,
His dimpled hands are stretching forth,
And no one knows, and no one cares.
The priests are busy with their prayers,
The jostling crowd hastes on apace,
And no one sees the pleading face,
one hears the cry as through the town
He wanders with His small cold feet,
The little Christ is coming down
Across the city street. I.
The Christmas Peal
Swinging across the helfry tower
The bells rang backward all the hour;
They rang, they reeled, they rushed, they
roared :
Their tongues tumultuous music poured.
The old walls rocked, the peals outswept,
Far up the steep their echoes leapt,
Soaring and sparkling till they burst
Like bubbles round the topmost horn
That reddens to the hint of morn
That halts some trembling star the first.
And all the realms of ice and frost
From field to field those joy bells tossed,
They answered from their airy height;
They thrilled ; they loosed their bands for
flight ;
They knew that it was Christmas ight !
Where awful absence-" of sound
The gorge in death s dumb rigor bound,
Below, and deep within the wood,
Windless and weird the black pines stood,
The iron boughs slow-swaying rose
And fell and shoo!; their sifted snows,
And stirred in every ; tern and branch
To the wild music in the air
From far lone upper regions where
Loose plunged the silver avalanche.
All up and down the valley-side
These iron boughs swayed far and wide ;
They heard the cry along the height ;
They pulsed in time with that glad flight :
They knew that it was Christmas ight !
You who with quickening throbs shall mark
Such swells and falls swim on the dark,
As crisp as if the clustered rout
In starry depths sprang chiming out,
As if the Pleiades should sing,
Lyra should touch her tendered string,
Aldebaran his spear-heads clang,
Great Betelgeuse and Sirius blow
Their mighty horns, and Fomalhaut
With wild sweet breath suspended hang
Know tis your heart-beats, with those bells,
Loosen the snow-clouds vibrant cells,
Stir the vast forest on the height,
Your heart-beats answering to the light
Flashed earthward the first Christmas ight !
Christinas Hoses
BY R. J. O.
Pale Winter roses, the white ghosts
Of our June roses,
Last beauty that the old year boasts-,
Ere his reign closes !
I gather you, as farewell gift
From parting lover,
For ere you fade, his moments swift
Will all be over.
Kind ghosts ye are, that trouble not,
or fright, nor sadden,
But wake fond memories half forgot,
And thoughts that gladden.
O changeless past ! I would the year
Left of lost hours
o ghosts that brought more shame or fear,
Than these white flowers ! Sp.
A Christmas Song
Oh, Christmas is a jolly time
When forests hang with snow,
And other forests bend with toys,
And lordly Yule-logs glow.
And Christmas is a solemn time
Because, beneath the star,
The first great Christmas Gift was given
To all men near and far.
But not alone at Christmas time
Comes holiday and cheer,
For one who loves a little child
Hath Christmas all the year.
The Christmas Spectrum
Seven points hath the Christmas star;
One is the love that shines afar
From God to man ; and one is the love
That leaps from the world to the Lord above ;
And one is good will on the happy earth;
And one is purity, one is peace,
And two are the joys that never cease,
God s joy,
Man s joy,
Aflame in the star of the wonderful Birth.
And the light of God s love is a golden light,
And man s love to man is crimson bright,
And man s love to God is an azure ray,
Alas, when it flickers and dies away !
And the seven rays through the worshiping
Like the flash of all jewels, exult and play,
God s joy,
Man s joy,
Yet they shine as one, and the star is white.
Following the Star
It was the eve of Christmas, the snow lay
deep and white ;
I sat beside my window and looked into the
night ;
I heard the church-bells ringing, I saw the
bright stars shine,
And childhood came again to me, with all its
dreams divine.
Then, as I listened to the bells and watched
the skies afar,
Out of the East majestic there rose one radi
ant star:
And ev ry other star grew pale before that
heav nly glow,
It seemed to bid me follow, and I could not
choose but go.
From street to street it led me, by many a
mansion fair,
It shone through dingy casement on many a
garret bare ;
From highway on to highway, through alleys
dark and cold,
And where it shone the darkness was flooded
all with gold.
Sad hearts forgot their sorrow, rough hearts
grew soft and mild,
And weary little children turned in their sleep
and smiled;
While many a homeless wanderer uplifted
patient eyes,
Seeming to see a home at last beyond those
starry skies.
And then methought earth faded ; I rose as
borne on wings
Beyond the waste of ruined lives, the press
of human things ;
Above the toil and shadow, above the want
and wo:
My old self and its diarkness seemed left on
earth below.
And onward, upward shone the star, until it
seemed to me
It flashed upon the golden gates and o er the
crystal sea.
And then the gates rolled backward, I stood
where angels trod ;
It was the Star of Bethlehem had led me up
to God!
The Holy Month
Shout now ! The Months, with loud acclaim,
Take up the cry and send it forth :
May, breathing sweet, her spring perfumes,
ovember, thundering from the orth ;
With hands upraised, as with one voice,
They join their notes, in grand accord;
" Hail to December ! " say they all,
" It gave to Earth our Christ the Lord ! "
Down from the spheres a peal rang forth ;
Angels and men their incense poured ;
" Hail to the month ! Hail to the day !
Which gave all worlds our Christ the Lord."
Mary in the Cave
Little Child, Little Child, Thy silken head
Between my breasts,
Thou art the Promise to the broken reed of
My body cradled Thee, my heart sung o er
Under the solemn witness stars alone I bore
Oh, what is this that I should be the nursing
Of my God !
Little Son, Little Son, I hear the cold winds
Around a tree,
And Thou and I, we twain carry a gruesome
Shut Thy sad eyes, Thy mother s kisses falling
Shall hush to Thee the piteous dead voices
Oh, what is this that I shall pluck the nails
from these sweet hands
And baby feet !
Little Child, Little Child, the milk dries on
Thy lips ;
All in my bosom
Thy naked limbs lie warm upon my heart.
Breath to breath we sleep, the clamoring
world afar,
Thou and I, we twain under the keeping star
Oh, what is this that Thou art Son and
My little Child!
The Star in the East
The hearts of all mankind are turned
Toward lowly Bethlehem ;
For in the East the wondrous star,
In days of old
Still beckons them.
Back o er the centuries,
Storm swept and bare
It moves, until, behold !
It stands above the manger where
The young child lies.
While stars of Christmas shine,
Lighting the skies,
Let only loving looks
Beam from your eyes.
While bells of Christmas ring,
Joyous and clear,
Speak only hr.ppy words
All mirth and cheer.
Give only loving gifts,
And in love take ;
Gladden the poor and sad,
For love s dear sake.
S. .
The Watchers That Tear
Over the snow-covered hills hear ye the bells
of the morn,
Speeding the shade of the past, hailing the
Babe that is born.
Who for the old and the lost droppeth a sor
rowful tear?
Who, with a shiver and sigh, welcomes the
birth of the year?
Glad is the singer whose song praiseth the
tried and the true :
Sweet is the soul that with smiles lighteth
the way of the new.
White are the pathways of earth, white for
thy coming, O Year !
Angels and holy ones, pray, pray for the
watchers that fear ! C. G.

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