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:.Q. What should the beginning of the New Year suggest to us? .
A. The great Value of Time, which God hath given us for working out our Salvation ; upon the spending whereof depends our Happiness or Misery to all Eternity; the Consideration whereof should put us upon all those Methods whereby we may employ it to the best Advantage. · Q. What makes Time so very valuable, and whyought we to have so great a Regard to the managing of it?
A. Because there is so little of it at our Disposal : what is past is slipt from us; the future is uncertain, the present is all we can call our own, which is yet continually fleeting. And though the Season of working is so very short and uncertain, yet we have an Affair of the greatest Consequence to secure, which requires the whole Force and Vigour of our Minds, the Labour and Industry of all our Days, not to be dispatched with any tolerable Comfort upon a sick Bed; nor in the Evening of our Lives, when our Strength and our Reason are departing from us. Besides, if we persist in an obstinate Neglect of all the repeated Tenders of God's Grace, the Things that belong to our Peace may be hid from our Eyes.
Q. How ought we to employ our Time, that it may be improved to the best Advantage. ai
A. We ought to redeem that which we have misspent, by lamenting the Follies which have consumed so precious a Treasure, and by admiring that great Patience and Goodness of God, which spared us when we deserved Punishment. What we can reserve from the Necessities of Nature, and our worldly Affairs, which those Necessities engage us in, ought to be applied to the noblest Purposes, the Glory of God, the Good and Salvation of Men. Nay, even the Affairs of this Life may be sanctified by considering ourselves as the Instruments of Providence, and by faithfully discharging the Duties of our Station with a Regard to another World more than this. And the best Method in order to this End is to live by Rule; to assign to all our Actions
their proper Season, and such a Portion of it only
ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son For true to be circumcised; and obedient to the Law for Mortifica
tion. Map; grant me the true Circumcision of the Spirit, that my Heart, and all my Members, being mortis fied from all worldly and carnal Lusts, I may in all Things obey thy blessed Will, through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen...
O BLESSED Jesus, who by the Purity of thy For DeliLife and the meritorious Sufferings of thy Death, verance
!' from the hast purchased for us an eternal Inheritance; deli-Power of ver me by the Power of thy Grace from the great_Sin. est Evil, my Sins; and reform and reduce my Heart to the Obediences of thy Laws. 1 Make me carefully ito avoid all those Occasions that have for Therly betrayed me to Folly, all those Practices that heighted my corrupt Inclinations and Passions, and alieriate my Mind from the Love of God. Give me alconstant Supply of Courage and Resolution to resist the Temptations of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil: that being rescued from the Dominion of my corrupt : Affections, by being turned from Darkness to Light, I may be assured thou wilt de
JÁ izvod ! H ari :
liver me from eternal Death and Hell-Torments, which are the Punishments due unto my Transgressions. Grant this through the Virtue of that sacred Name thou didst this Day receive; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all Honour and Glory, World without End, Amen.
III. For a Right ALMIGHTY God, I adore thy infinite Patience, Time which hath not cut me off in the Midst of my Fol
lies; I magnify thy wonderful Goodness which hath spared me thus long, and indulged me a larger Time of Repentance. Let me no longer abuse that precious Treasure, which thou hast allotted me as a proper Season to work out my own Salvation, and to secure that Happiness which is great in itself, and infinite in its Duration. Let me bid Adieu to all those vain Amusements, those trifling Entertainments, and cruel Diversions, which have robbed me of many valuable Hours, and endangered the Loss of my immortal Soul. Let me no longer waste my Time in Ease and Pleasure, in unprofitable Studies, and more unprofitable Conversation; but grant that by Diligence and Honesty in my Calling, by Constancy and Fervour in my Devotions, by Moderation and Temperance in my Enjoyments, by Justice and Charity in all my Words and Actions, and by keeping a Conscience void of Offence towards God and Man, I may be able to give a good Account of it in the Day of Judgment, and be accepted in and through the Merits of Jesus Christ, my only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
Word signifies in the Greek) of our Saviour Jesus
Q. To what Gentiles was our Saviour this Day manifested ?
A. To the Wise Men of the East, called Magi in Mat. ii. 1. the Greek, who were famous for all sorts of Learn- Máyo.
""Porphyr. ing, especially celebrated for their Knowledge and de Abs Skill in Astronomy; and in the East their Priests ...4. 9. 16,
Plat. apud and Men of the best Quality dedicated themselves Apul. to these Studies. Though some Authors are of Apolo
"p. 200. Opinion, that the Greek Word we translate Wise Lightfoot, Men, is in the Scripture always taken in the worst 4.3. Sense, for Men practising magical and unlawful Arts; and if it be so understood, it magnifieth the Power and Grace of Christ the more, that, among the Gentiles, Men of such a Profession should be the first Adorers of that blessed Jesus.
Q. What other Signification hath the Word Epiphany:
A. It signifieth Christ's Appearance in the World, the Nativity of our Saviour; which, among the Ancients, is commonly styled the Appearing simply, or the Appearing of God. And the Feast of the Na-Dr. Ham. tioity being celebrated twelve Days, of which the Mat. ii. first and the last, according to the Custom of the Jews in their Feasts, were high or chief Days of Solemnity, each of these might fitly be called Epiphany in that Sense, and not only referring to the Star, though not excluding but containing it also, as a special Circumstance belonging to the Nativity. Besides, the Word hath been farther made Use of to express the glorious Manifestation of our Sa- Mat. iii. viour's Baptism, and his miraculous Power at the 16, 17. Marriage in Cana, by turning Water into Wine.
Q. How did God manifest the Birth of our Sa- John ii. 11. viour to the wise Men?
A. By a luminous Appearance of a Star in the lower Region of the Air, observed by those wise Men to differ from the ordinary Stars of Heaven ; which, as a new prodigious Sight, seemed to them
to presage Something of great Moment and Consi Just. de deration. For new Stars ainong the Gentiles, were Mith. lib. sometimes looked upon as Omens, that Infants born, 37. c. 2. Lucan. i. 4. at the Time of their Appearance should arrive at Plin. Nat. great Power. The Appearance of the Star, and c. 25. the Journey of the Chaldæan wise Men, are menD. August. tioned by Chalcidius the Platonist. Grot. de
It seems not Ver. Relig. improbable, what some Authors have suggested,
• *- that this seeming Star, which appeared to the wise
Men in the East, might be that glorious Light which shone upon the Bethlehem Shepherds, when the Angel came to impart to them the Tidings of our Saviour's Birth: which at a Distance might appear like a Star, or, at least, after it had thus shone upon the Shepherds, might be lifted up on high, and then formed into the Likeness of a Star.
Q. How could the wise Men guess at the Birth of our Saviour from the Appearance of this Star?
A. Some think they might receive Light in this Numb. Matter from the Prophecy of Balaam, or from some v. 17. Other Prophecies in Daniel; but as one seems too
obscure for the determining any particular Time, so the others were probably not known to the Chaldæans. It is more likely they might be governed by that general Expectation the World was then in of an universal Monarch, and by the particular Expectation the Jews had of the Messias's coming in that Age, which might easily be promulged to the neighbouring Nations. Though
besides this, some Way of divine Revelation may Mat. ii. 2. be supposed by their calling him King of the Jews.
For when God gave an extraordinary Sign, we may well imagine he would take care to have it understood.
Q. How did they learn that our Saviour should be born in Bethlehem?
A. Upon their Arrival at Jerusalem they published the Cause and Design of their Journey, which
gave great Uneasiness to Herod, who was jealous Mat. ii. 7. of any Competitor: Upon which Herod enquired