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held forth but the sad prospect of misery, contempt, and death. The Jews expressed a wonder at the wisdom of our Saviour, but that wonder was not strong enough to overcome their unaccountable prejudices, “ How knoweth this man letters, having “ never learned ?»* was an important observation, but what inference did they draw from it? “Howbeit, said they, or however, " we know this man whence he is; but " when Christ cometh, no man knoweth “ whence he is.” How unlike the candid inference of the Gentiles, who, when they heard the Apostles, though all of them Galileans, "Speak in their own tongues in which 66 they were born, (that is in the language 56 of each man's different country) the won66 derful works of God, gladly received “ their words, were converted and baptized s to the number of three thousand souls 66 in one day."* Next, let us shew, that the Gentiles sought to this ensign or standard,
* John vii. 15.
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First, several circumstances strongly conduced to prepare the Gentile world for the coming of the Messiah. About four hundred years before that event, that great patron of learning, and learned men, Ptolemy Philadelphus, by causing the Scriptures of the Old Testament to be translated into the Greek language, had called forth the attention of many nations, to the prophecies concerning Christ; and enabled them to peruse them in a modern, and indeed vernacular tongue. This copy of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint, because it was committed to seventy the most learned men that could be found, however it may, at this juncture, differ from the original Hebrew, and bear strong marks of corruption, interpolation, and omission, was ncvertheless at the first, and during * Acts il. 6.
a great number of years, well received, and much esteemed, by the Jews, and it is quoted by our Saviour and his Apostles. Secondly, many, both of the Grecian and Roman philosophers, as I have before observed, were enabled, from the light of nature, to discover the error of Polytheism, to despise the vicious actions ascribed to the Pagan deities, and to turn their view to the one holy and true God. They plainly perceived, that these fables of the different divinities, were the poetical allegories of a rude and uncultivated people, which had, insensibly as it were, grown upon them, and had been handed down to their posterity by oral tradition, or in the elegant fictions of their favourite bards. It is true that the dread of popular fury, and rooted prejudice, prevented many of these enlightened men from openly declaring their opinions, but such we learn from history they had
impiety to reject Christianity, and to want further confirmation and conviction; but they by no means deserve such indulgence.
Lastly, with respect to the glorious rest of Christ. The Jews were promised, at their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, a rest in the land of Canaan. This was nevertheless understood' by the Jews themselves, to prefigure, and signify before hand, the rest of Christ in Heaven. But all the promises of God to the Jews, were conditional, and his offended Majesty had declared, “That they « were a people who erred in their hearts, and 6 therefore should not enter into his rest. 99* The rest that Christ shall establish will be glorious, not only everlasting peace and happiness in his heavenly kingdom, to those who have been his faithful servants in this mortal state, but unspeakable joy and glory in the presence of God, and in the company of wise, exalted, and pure spirits.
* Heb. iii. 11.
In conclusion. As almost all ranks of people in this country, celebrate with joy this high festival, let it be done with becoming mirth, sober conviviality, and rational liberality, not with drunkenness, riot, or profusion. Shall the birth-day of the most refined moralist be defiled by debauchery and immorality ? Shall the poor be forgotten on that day, when he was born, who lived to comfort and support the poor, who taught the ignorant, and fed the fainting multitude? Finally, Shall the nativity of that Redeemer, who came down from Heaven to banish sin and wickedness from the world, be made a pretext and a cloak, for the commission of the most disorderly practices ? Let us not forget his example, his injunction, nor his intent; for “ For this cause did Christ come “ down from Heaven, that he might purify 66 unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of 66 good works.?"*
* Titus ii. 14,