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places, and some companies are attended with danger, if you know yourselves to be weak and easily led into temptation, your safety will be to keep away from such peril. It were better not to go into any company, not to share in any festivity at Christmas, than by so doing to be made a transgressor.
And sure I am that no rejoicing, either now or at any time, can be good, which, when it is over, leaves us not the better, but the worse for it; not strengthened and refreshed, but weakened and saddened ; neither at ease in our own hearts, nor at peace with God through Jesus Christ.
And now, having considered the rejoicing which is not good for us, let me try and set before you the opposite, let me declare in what true Christmas rejoicing will consist.
And for this I must go back to the text, Rejoice in the Lord-We should never lose sight of this throughout the Christmas season. Our joy should connect itself at every turn with the thought of Jesus Christ.
But for Him we should have no Christmas at all. If He had not come down from heaven and been born as at this time of a pure Virgin, there would have been no occasion for us to rejoice. Our plight would still have been that of the heathen. We had remained, as they do at this day, ignorant of God, ignorant of a Saviour, full of gloomy fears and cruel superstitions. But it is not so now.
Christ the Sun of Righteousness has dispersed the gloom. By faith in Him we have the victory over death, and every other enemy to our souls.
There is now no condemnation for us, as many as are in Christ Jesus. Pardon of sin, renewal of the heart, the blessed hope of an everlasting life, all are ours; all are brought to us by Him.
Well, then is it, right, fit, and our bounden duty-to keep the day of His Nativity with universal gladness : well that we should testify in every possible way our joy at the birth of our Redeemer.
But the question again comes back-What is the proper way of shewing our joy ?
One way will be to meet together in the church, to take part in the religious services particularly appointed for the Lord's Nativity ; and not only to come to church, but also to partake of the Sacrament, for which we know there is an especial preface on Christmas Day.
I trust we shall many of us feel it our duty,—nay, our best privilege and comfort to do this. I cannot think our Christmas joy will be complete unless we do. I cannot call it Christmas joy if this, which ought to be the crown of our rejoicing, the Holy Communion, is omitted.
I know, indeed, that some of you object to coming to the Sacrament on Christmas Day, who do communicate at other times, on the plea that so serious, so solemn a thing is out of place with the festivities you are looking to share in afterwards. But surely there is an easy answer to this objection-If one or other must be given up on Christmas day, which ought it rather to be the feast at home or the feast in church?
If the pleasure you promise yourselves in the afternoon be sinful-be such as leads to excess—will staying away from the Lord's Supper in the morning make it a
whit less wrong? If, however, your festivity at home be such as your conscience can approve, why should a partaking of the Holy Communion hinder you from enjoying it?
And indeed, brethren, you do that “heavenly banquet" wrong,—you do its Great Author wrong—by thus putting it in opposition to your feast at home. There need be no conflict between them. Christ is not an enemy to reasonable mirth. The first miracle that He wrought, He did it to increase the joy of a wedding dinner. He shewed by His presence there, at Cana in Galilee, that He can rejoice with us in our rejoicings, as surely as He can sympathise with us in our sorrows. He gave there a clear hint that He was interested in all that interests
And we do Him, as I have said, injustice, when we seek to withdraw any part of our life from fellowship with Him.
Do not, then, brethren, be absent next Saturday from the Sacrament. However you purpose to spend the remainder of the day, whatever recreations you promise yourselves at home, you will enjoy them, so that they be innocent, all the more, and with a clearer conscience, when you have first been your Lord's guests at His table, and partaken of the food, the most heavenly food which He has provided for you, and to which you have all been invited.
There is but one further word I would say to you this morning on the right way of shewing our joy at Christmas.
Let us not be selfish in our gladness—in the midst of our own happiness, let us think of our needy, our suffering, our afflicted brethren.
I am bound to acknowledge that the claims of this class are not generally neglected amongst us. Were it not for the ready help of their richer neighbours, the poor of this parish could not have the same advantages they now have for securing a supply of clothes and fuel against the winter. No doubt too, much charity finds its way to their houses, of which none but the giver and receiver, with their common Lord, are cognizant.
And so far well. Still, for all this, there must be many who can spare nothing out of their ordinary means for rejoicing at Christmas. Many who, if not helped now by some friendly hand, must fare on that day, as they do on all other days, hardly enough.
But I need not plead on their behalf. The season itself pleads for them. The season itself prompts us all, who have it in our power, to consider the poor.
He, too, prompts us, in whose honour the season is observed : His voice is, I believe, even now sounding in your hearts, and stirring you up to a generous rivalry in the service of His and your brethren-I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you.
When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: for they cannot recompence thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
THE ANGEL'S TIDINGS.
ST. LUKE ii. 10, 11.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not : for behold I bring you tidings
of great joy; which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
To-Day, brethren, our Church sounds her most joyful note. To-day she calls us to be of good cheer; to put off corroding cares and anxious thoughts, and to come before our God with a song of most exulting praise, to join with “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven in singing glory to our new born King.”
Nor, as far as outward joy goes, are we backward in responding to the Church's call. To-day is to most of us a day of gladness. It is the one holiday, excepting Sunday, which the poor man has in the year. And we keep it as a holiday. There is better fare in our homes, a more cheerful spirit in our hearts, a sunnier look on our faces on this day than perhaps on any oth The very salutation with which we greet one another bears witness to our minds on this subject, shows what we think about Christmas.