Luke 2:10
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:
Sermons
All Creatures Interested in the Incarnation of ChristBishop Hacker.Luke 2:10
BeholdBishop Hacker.Luke 2:10
Christian JoyfulnessW. H. Murray.Luke 2:10
Christianity a Cheerful ReligionT. Dale, M. A.Luke 2:10
Christmas Day the Turning PointH. W. Beecher.Luke 2:10
Christmas-Day LessonsDean Stanley.Luke 2:10
Christ's NativityTheological Sketch-bookLuke 2:10
Fear NotBishop Hacket., Bishop Hacket., Bishop Hacket., Bishop Hacket., Bishop Hacket., Bishop Hacket.Luke 2:10
Glad NewsW. H. Murray.Luke 2:10
Glad NewsW. H. Aitken.Luke 2:10
God Incarnate, the End of FearC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 2:10
Good News to All PeopleBishop Hacker.Luke 2:10
Good TidingsG. Brooks.Luke 2:10
Good Tidings of Great JoyBishop Hacket.Luke 2:10
Good Tidings of Great JoyS. D. Hillman, B. A.Luke 2:10
Gospel Joy ContinuousBishop Hacket.Luke 2:10
Great Joy is OftenVan Doren.Luke 2:10
Heathen Religions and ChristianityH. W. Beecher.Luke 2:10
Joy At the Birth of JesusM. Faber.Luke 2:10
Joy Born At BethlehemC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 2:10
Joy Follows SorrowBp. E. Steere.Luke 2:10
Religious JoyJ. H. Newman, D. D.Luke 2:10
The Angel's Message to the ShepherdsH. Venn, M. A.Luke 2:10
The Birth of JesusJabez Burns, D. D.Luke 2:10
The Christmas Festival Festival for the Whole WorldJ. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.Luke 2:10
The Duty of Christian JoyJ. Vaughan.Luke 2:10
The First ChristmasDr. Talmage.Luke 2:10
The First Christmas MorningD. W. Lusk.Luke 2:10
The Gospel to be Presented as Great JoyJ. Vaughan.Luke 2:10
The Great BirthdayC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 2:10
The Joy of ChristmasAnon.Luke 2:10
The Joyful Tidings of ChristmasC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 2:10
The Joy-Producing Power of ChristianityH. W. Beecher.Luke 2:10
The Message to the ShepherdsW. S. Bruce, M. A.Luke 2:10
The Nativity of Our Lord, Tidings of Great JoyJ. Barrow, D. D.Luke 2:10
The Savior's Birth and Type Angel's SermonR.M. Edgar Luke 2:1-20
Welcome News from HeavenW. Clarkson Luke 2:8-11
It is surely not without significance that this most gracious manifestation and announcement was made to these humble Hebrew shepherds "keeping watch over their flock by night." It suggests two truths which are of frequent and perpetual illustration.

1. That God chooses for his instruments the humble rather than the high. Our human notions would have pointed to the most illustrious in the ]and for such a communication as this. But God chose the lowly shepherd, the man of no account in the estimate of the world. So did he act in the beginning of the gospel (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-29). And so has he acted ever since, choosing often for the agents of his power and grace those whom man would have passed by as unworthy of his choice.

2. That God grants his Divine favor to those who are conscientiously serving him in their own proper sphere. Not to the idle dreamer, not to the man who will do nothing because he cannot do everything of which he thinks himself capable, but to him who does his best in the position in which God's providence has placed him, will God come in gracious manifestation; and it is he whom he will select to render important service in his cause. But the main thoughts of this passage are these -

I. WELCOME TIDINGS FROM THE SPIRITUAL WORLD. "They were sore afraid." "Fear not... I bring you good tidings." Why have men always been so sore afraid in the presence of the supernatural? Why have they feared to receive communications from heaven? Something much more than a popular belief (see Judges 13:22)is required to account for so universal a sentiment. It is surely that sinful men are profoundly conscious of ill desert, and fear that any message that comes from God, the Holy One, will be a message of condemnation and punishment. What would be the expectation with which a camp of rebellious subjects, who had taken up arms against their sovereign, would receive a messenger from the court of the king? Had that guilty age known that God was about to announce "a new departure" in his government of the world, what ample, what overwhelming reason would it have had to apprehend a message of Divine wrath and retribution! How welcome, then, the words, "Fear not... I bring you good tidings"! Of what depth of Divine patience, of what boundless breadths of Divine compassion, do these simple words assure us!

II. TIDINGS OF SURPASSING VALUE. Tidings "of great joy." The birth of the Babe in Bethlehem "that day" - what did it mean? It meant:

1. Deliverance from a deadly evil. To these shepherds, if they were patriotic children of Abraham, the promise of a Savior would mean deliverance from the national degradation into which Israel had sunk - a spiritual as well as a political demoralization. To them, if they were earnest religious inquirers, it meant deliverance from the bondage and penalty of sin. This is the significance which the word has to us: in that day was born into the world a Savior, a Divine Redeemer, One who should save the souls of men from that which is the one curse of our humanity - sin.

2. The fulfillment of a great hope. To those who then learnt that "the Christ" was born, it meant that the long-cherished hope of their nation was fulfilled, and that whatever the Messiah was to bring about was at length to be accomplished. A great national expectation has passed, with us, into a glorious hope for the human race - the hope that under Christ this poor sin-stricken world will rise from its ignorance, its superstition, its godlessness, its vice, and its crime, and walk in newness of life, in the love and the likeness of its heavenly Father.

3. Restoration to our true position. That Savior is "Christ the Lord." We who have sought to rule ourselves and to be the masters of our own lives, and who have suffered so much in so many ways by this guilty dethronement and usurpation, are now to find our true rest and joy by submitting ourselves to him who is "the Lord" of all hearts and lives; in his service is abiding peace and "great joy."

III. TIDINGS OF GENERAL AND OF PARTICULAR APPLICATION. These glad tidings are for "all the people," and they were for those startled and wondering shepherds. "To you is born." As we hear the angel's words, we know that they are for all the wide world, and, whoever we may be, for us. - C.







I bring you good tidings of great Joy.
1. The whole thought and idea of all that is told us about Christmas Day suggests the consoling, the cheering thought, that however gloomy our lot, however distressed our portion, God, the Almighty God, has not forsaken us.

2. There is the truth which the heathen, and we must also add, which Christians have often been very slow to acknowledge, that the Divine is only another word for the perfectly good, that God is goodness, and that goodness is God.

3. Let me take one special mark of the life of Christ which extends through the whole of it, by which His career from the cradle to the grave is distinguished from that of any of the other founders of religions. Let me sum it up in one expression which admits of many forms: He was the Mediator between the Divine and human, because He was the Mediator, the middle point, between the conflicting parts of human nature.

(Dean Stanley.)

1. What is Christianity itself, that is said to have this power of producing joy? It is that system of influence, which was designed of God, and which is destined to educate the whole human race to perfect manhood.

2. When we say that Christianity tends to produce joy, we are instantly pointed to the wretched condition of things which exists. Men say, "Christianity produce joy! Have there ever been such bloody wars as it has produced? such quarrelling and dissensions? Where is your joy? Besides, these flighty angels may have said something about joy, but what did the Master Himself say! Did He not say 'Take up your cross' &c.?" I do not say, however, that Christianity instantly produces joy. I do not say that it produces joy always. While man is being educated into, I concede that there is much suffering. But it is not suffering for the sake of the suffering — not aimless void and useless suffering.

3. But while this grand education is evolving we must not think that joy is absent wholly, and we must not pass too summarily by what has actually been gained by Christianity in the production of joy in the world. The earliest period of Christian life I suppose to have been transcendently joyful. The apostles had nothing that men usually call elements of happiness. Yet I will defy you to find in literature, ancient or modern, so high a tone of cheerfulness as you will find in their history. And since the days of the apostles how many Christian men have there not been who have been lifted up into that sphere where joy abode with them. There is yet to be a revelation of what Christianity has done for the internal man. The whole range of joy throughout the world has been augmented and elevated. The civilized world in ancient times was never so happy as it is now. The world is better off to-day than it was at any five hundred years previous. Agassiz says that the growth of a plant is in three stages: first, by the root, which is invisible, and is the slowest and longest; second, by the stem, which is perhaps not half as long; third, by maturation or ripening, which is the quickest of all. So it is in history. The past has been largely occupied with root-growth in moral things. The present may be considered the period of growth by the stem. And I think we are standing on the eve of a period of growth by maturation and ripening. It is for me, therefore, a very joyful thought, not only that we have a religion which is joy-producing in its ultimate fruits, but that, looked upon comprehensively, it has already produced vast cycles of joy, and is going forward, not having expended half its force yet, to an era in which joy producing shall be more apparent, and upon a vaster scale, and with more exquisite fruit, and in infinite variety.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Christianity is glad news.

I. BECAUSE IT REVELED GOD TO MAN. Consider the state of the world before Christianity was born. Here and there an old sage had groped his way to a knowledge of the alphabet of truth. Here and there the Divine Spirit had communicated to a tribe or nation so much of the Divine wisdom that they lived faithful to their marriage vows, knew the blessings of home, acknowledged the rights of property and life to such an extent that they would not steal nor kill. But of God they knew little — of the life beyond the grave nothing. But when Christianity was born, a sun arose into the darkness of the world. Men saw what they had felt must be, but what they had never before seen. And chiefest among all sights revealed, stood God. The heavens were no longer a vacuum, Christianity told them that God is their Father.

II. BECAUSE IT REVEALED MAN TO HIMSELF. Never till Jesus was born — never till he had lived and passed away — did man know the nobility of his species. Never until God dwelt in the flesh could any man know what flesh might become. Never until the fulness of God was in man bodily, might the race get even a hint of that Divine receptiveness that, above all else perhaps, most nobly characterises human nature.

III. BECAUSE IT REVEALS GOD IN MAN. The proclamation of the angels is confirmed in our experience and corroborated by our knowledge that the birth of Christianity was indeed "glad news" to men, because it brought God out of distance and darkness into light, and made Him nigh, as He is nigh who shares our burdens, consoles our sorrows, and in every pinch and stress of disastrous fortune rescues us from peril and saves us from loss.

(W. H. Murray.)

Have you no song in you to-day? Have you received no mercy that can make you tuneful? Do you not know that birds sing when they get wings? And shall God wing you with powers and yet you remain silent? Look abroad over the world and see how it is being lifted towards Christ; how the old barbarisms are melting away; how the dungeons of old oppressions are crumbling into ruins; how the tyrannies that trampled on men are being shorn of their power. See the torch and the sword drop from the hand of persecution, now nerveless, but once potent to strike and to light the martyr's fire! Hear the chains of slavery snap! The ring and clash of the fetters falling from wrist and ankle sound round the world. What is doing it! Jesus is doing it. The Galilean has triumphed! Old things are passing away; behold, all things are becoming new! Is there no joy in our hearts at the sight of all this? Shall we sit stolid and unmoved while before our eyes the influence of the Birth is moving to its triumph, Should we do so, Religion would disown us as unworthy of her favours, and piety itself rebuke us as incapable of gratitude.

(W. H. Murray.)

In our text we have before us the sermon of the first evangelist under the gospel dispensation. The preacher was an angel, and it was meet it should be so, for the grandest and last of all evangels will be proclaimed by an angel when he shall sound the trumpet of the resurrection, and the children of the regeneration shall rise into the fulness of their joy. The key-note of this angelic gospel is joy — "I bring unto you good tidings of great joy." Nature fears in the presence of God — the shepherds were sore afraid. The law itself served to deepen this natural feeling of dismay; seeing men were sinful, and the law came into the world to reveal sin, its tendency was to make men fear and tremble under any and every Divine revelation. But the first word of the gospel ended all this, for the angelic evangelist said, "Fear not, behold I bring you good tidings." Henceforth, it is to be no dreadful thing for man to approach his Maker; redeemed man is not to fear when God unveils the splendour of His majesty, since He appears no more a judge upon His throne of terror, but a Father unbending in sacred familiarity before His own beloved children. The joy which this first gospel preacher spoke of was no mean one, for he said, "I bring you good tidings" — that alone were joy: and not good tidings of joy only, but "good tidings of great joy." Man is like a harp unstrung, and the music of his soul's living strings is discordant, his whole nature wails with sorrow; but the son of David, that mighty harper, has come to restore the harmony of humanity, and where His gracious fingers move among the strings, the touch of the fingers of an incarnate God brings forth music sweet as that of the spheres, and melody rich as a seraph's canticle.

I. THE JOY mentioned in the text — whence comes it, and what is it?

1. A great joy.

2. A lasting joy.

3. A pure and holy joy. But why is it that the coming of Christ into the world is the occasion of joy? The answer is as follows:(1) Because it is evermore a joyous fact that God should be in alliance with man, especially when the alliance is so near that God should in very deed take our manhood into union with His Godhead; so that God and man should constitute one Divine, mysterious person. From henceforth, when God looks upon man, He will remember that His own Son is a man. As in the case of war, the feud is ended when the opposing parties intermarry, so there is no more war between God and man, because God has taken man into intimate union with Himself. Herein, then, there was cause for joy.(2) But there was more than that, for the shepherds were aware that there had been promises made of old which had been the hope and comfort of believers in all ages, and these were now to be fulfilled.(3) But the angel's song had in it yet fuller reason for joy; for our Lord who was born in Bethlehem came as a Saviour. "Unto you is born this day a Saviour." God had come to earth before, but not as a Saviour. The Lord might have come with thunderbolts in both His hands, He might have come like Elias to call fire from heaven; but no, His hands are full of gifts of love, and His presence is the guarantee of grace.

4. This Saviour was the Christ. "Anointed" of God, i.e., duly authorized and ordained for this particular work.(5) One more note, and this the loudest, let us sound it well and hear it well. "which is Christ the Lord." Now the word Lord, or Kurios, here used is tantamount to Jehovah. Our Saviour is Christ, God, Jehovah. No testimony to His divinity could be plainer; it is indisputable. And what joy there is in this; for suppose an angel had been our Saviour, he would not have been able to bear the load of my sin or yours; or if anything less than God had been set up as the ground of our salvation, it might have been found too frail a foundation.

II. Follow Me while I briefly speak of THE PEOPLE. to whom this joy comes.

1. Observe how the angel begins, "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born this day." So, then, the joy began with the first who heard it, the shepherds. "To you," saith he; "for unto you is born." Beloved hearer, shall the joy begin with you to-day? — for it little avails you that Christ was born, or that Christ died, unless unto you a Child is born, and for you Jesus bled. A personal interest is the main point.

2. After the angel had said "to you," he went on to say, "it shall be to all people." But our translation is not accurate, the Greek is, "it shall be to all the people." This refers most assuredly to the Jewish nation; there can be no question about that; if any one looks at the original, he will not find so large and wide an expression as that given by our translators. It should be rendered "to all the people." And here let us speak a word for the Jews. How long and how sinfully has the Christian Church despised the most honourable amongst the nations! How barbarously has Israel been handled by the so-called Church! Jesus the Saviour is the joy of all nations, but let not the chosen race be denied their peculiar share of whatever promise Holy Writ has recorded with a special view to them. The woes which their sins brought upon them have fallen thick and heavily; and even so let the richest blessings distil upon them.

3. Although our translation is not literally correct, it, nevertheless, expresses a great truth, taught plainly in the context; and, therefore, we will advance another step. The coming of Christ is a joy to all people. "Goodwill towards" — not Jews, but "men "mall men. There is joy to all mankind where Christ comes. The religion of Jesus makes men think, and to make men think is always dangerous to a despot's power. It is joy to all nations that Christ is born, the Prince of Peace, the King who rules in righteousness.

III. THE SIGN. The shepherds did not ask for a sign, but one was graciously given. Wilful unbelief shall have no sign, but weak faith shall have compassionate aid. Every circumstance is therefore instructive. The Babe was found "wrapped in swaddling clothes.

1. There is not the remotest appearance of temporal power here.

2. No pomp to dazzle you.

3. Neither was there wealth to be seen at Bethlehem.

4. Here too, I see no superstition.

5. Nor does the joy of the world lie in philosophy. God's work was sublimely simple. Mysterious, yet the greatest simplicity that was ever spoken to human ears, and seen by mortal eyes. In a simple Christ, and in a simple faith in that Christ, there is a deep and lasting peace, an unspeakable bliss and joy.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. As to THE FEAR of the text, it may be well to discriminate. There is a kind of fear towards God from which we must not wish to be free. There is that lawful, necessary, admirable, excellent fear which is always due from the creature to the Creator, from the subject to the king, ay, and from the child toward the parent. To have a holy awe of our most holy, just, righteous, and tender parent is a privilege, not a bondage. Godly fear is not the "fear which hath torment;" perfect love doth not east out, but dwells with it in joyful harmony. The fear which is to be avoided is slaving fear — that trembling which keeps us at a distance from God, which makes us think of Him as a Spirit with whom we can have no communion, as a Being who has no care for us except to punish us, and for whom consequently we have no care except to escape if possible from His terrible presence.

1. This fear sometimes arises in men's hearts from their thoughts dwelling exclusively upon the Divine greatness. Is it possible to peer long into the vast abyss of Infinity and not to fear? Can the mind yield itself up to the thought of the Eternal, Self-existent, Infinite One without being filled first with awe and then with dread? What am I? An aphis creeping upon a rosebud is a more considerable creature in relation to the universe of beings than I can be in comparison with God. We have had the impertinence to be disobedient to the will of this great One; and now the goodness and greatness of His nature are as a our. rent against which sinful humanity struggles in vain, for the irresistible torrent must run its course, and overwhelm every opponent. What does the great God seem to us out of Christ but a stupendous rock, threatening to crush us, or a fathomless sea, hastening to swallow us up? The contemplation of the Divine greatness may of itself fill man with horror, and cast him into unutterable misery!

2. Each one of the sterner attributes of God will cause the like fear. Think of His power by which He rolls the stars along, and lay thy hand upon thy mouth. Think of His wisdom by which He numbers the clouds, and settles the ordinances of heaven. Meditate upon any one of these attributes, but especially upon His justice, and upon that devouring fire which burns unceasingly against sin, and it is no wonder if the soul becomes full of fear. Meanwhile, let a sense of sin with its great whip of wire flagellate the conscience, and man will dread the bare idea of God.

3. Wherever there is a slavish dread of the Divine Being, it alienates man most thoroughly from his God. Those whom we slavishly dread we cannot love. Here is the masterpiece of Satan, that he will not let the understanding perceive the excellence of God's character, and then the heart cannot love that which the understanding does not perceive to be loveable.

4. Fear creates a prejudice against God's gospel of grace. People think that if they were religious they would be miserable. Oh, could they comprehend, could they but know how good God is, instead of imagining that His service would be slavery, they would understand that to be His friends is to occupy the highest and happiest position which created beings can occupy.

5. This fear in some men puts them out of all heart of ever being saved. Thinking God to be an ungenerous Being, they keep at a distance from Him.

6. This wicked dread of God frequently drives men to extremities of sin.

7. This fear dishonours God.

8. This fear hath torment. No more tormenting misery in the world than to think of God as being our implacable foe.

II. THE CURE FOR THIS FEAR. God with us: God made flesh — that is the remedy.

1. According to the text they were not to fear, because the angel had come to bring them good news. He who made the heavens slumbers in a manger. What then? Why, then God is not of necessity an enemy to man, because here is God actually taking manhood into alliance with Deity. Is there not comfort in that?

2. The second point that takes away fear is that this man who was also God was actually born. He is more man than Adam was, for Adam never was born; Adam never had to struggle through the risks and weaknesses of infancy; he knew not the littlenesses of childhood — he was full-grown at once; whereas Jesus is cradled with us in the manger, accompanies us in the pains and feebleness and infirmities of infancy, and continues with us even to the grave.

3. Christ's office is to deliver us from sin. Here is joy upon joy.

III. APPLY THE CURE TO VARIOUS CASES. Encouragement to the weak, the sinful, the lonely, the tempted. There is no cause for any to keep away from God, since Jesus has come to bring all to Him.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Now, if, when Christ came on this earth, God had sent some black creature down from heaven (if there be such creatures there) to tell us, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men," and if with a frowning brow and a stammering tongue he delivered his message, if I had been there and heard it, I should have scrupled to believe him, for I should have said, "You don't look like the messenger that God would send — stammering fellow as you are — with such glad news as this." But when the angels came there was no doubting the truth of what they said, because it was quite certain that the angels believed it; they told it as if they did, for they told it with singing, with joy and gladness. If some friend, having heard that a legacy was left you, should come to you with a solemn countenance, and a tongue like a funeral bell, saying, "Do you know so-and-so has left you £10,000?" Why, you would say, "Ah! I dare say," and laugh in his face. But if your brother should suddenly burst into your room, and exclaim, "I say, what do you think? You are a rich man. So-and-so has left you £10,000!" Why, you would say, "I think it is very likely to be true, for he looks so happy over it." Well, when these angels came from heaven, they told the news just as if they believed it; and though I have often wickedly doubted my Lord's good will, I think I never could have doubted it while I heard those angels singing. No, I should say, "The messengers themselves are proof of the truth, for it seems they have heard it from God's lips; they have no doubt about it, for see how joyously they tell the news." Now, poor soul. thou that art afraid lest God should destroy thee, and thou thinkest that God will never have mercy upon thee, look at the singing angels and doubt if thou darest. Do not go to the synagogue of long-faced hypocrites to hear the minister who preaches with a nasal twang, with misery in his face, whilst he tells you that God has goodwill towards men; I know you won't believe what he says, for he does not preach with joy in his countenance; he is telling you good news with a grunt, and you are not likely to receive it. But go straightway to the plain where Bethlehem shepherds sat by night, and when you hear the angels singing out the gospel, by the grace of God upon you, you cannot help believing that they manifestly feel the preciousness of telling. Blessed Christmas, that brings such creatures as angels to confirm our faith in God's goodwill to men!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The incarnation, such a great and manifold blessing to our race, must bring with it a feeling of joy; and not to our race alone, but also to other beings whose destinies are bound up with ours. The nativity brought joy —

1. In heaven, to the angel spirits. Their ruin was now repaired (Isaiah 51:3). Zion here represents those who are ever beholding the Father's face; who rejoice that the loss to their heavenly country is now made good, for the Lord will be able to lead all the faithful thither, where with the angels they will be in eternal joy.

2. In the unseen world, to the faithful departed, Joyful to the old fathers, it is their longed-for redemption. Adam's sin brought our race into captivity to the devil. Redemption began to-day.

3. In the world, among all people. Joy for the new manifestation. He who before was invisible was made visible to-day by opening the eyes of the human race. The light of wisdom has put to flight all the darkness of ignorance, and brought joy in the place of despair.

(Anon.)

To us men, more than to the angels or to any other created beings, is this day's joy. It is the great festival of humanity. He who was born to-day was —

I. A REDEEMER. Delivering us from the servitude of sin and Satan — a worse bondage than that of Egypt. Think what songs of praise (Exodus 15:1) are due to Jesus Christ to-day, who, by the baptism reddened by His blood, hath delivered us from the power of our spiritual foes.

II. A SURETY. Taking upon Himself all our debts and the condemnation of their punishment. A new, the greatest and unheard-of benefit (Colossians 2:14). He came to-day to remit that vast debt, of sin which God alone could pay; that the bond might be burnt in the fire of His love, or be affixed to the cross on Mount Calvary.

III. A HEAVENLY PHYSICIAN. Prepared and willing to heal all diseases, again and again, without fee or reward, without pain to the patient (Matthew 9:12; Luke 4:23).

IV. A SUN TO THE WORLD. Enlightening a darkness more dense than any natural or physical darkness (John 1:9; John 9:5). A light —

1. Eternal.

2. Cheering.

3. Glorifying.

V. A GUIDE TO THE TRUE AND BLESSED LIFE (Micah 2:13). Going before in difficulties, smoothing rough ways.

VI. A NOURISHER OF THE WORLD. Sustaining us in the way with "living bread."

VII. A PRINCE OF PEACE. Bringing peace —

1. With God.

2. To one's own conscience.

3. With each other. (Psalm 11:6-10.)

VIII. A SAVIOUR. Who will, after this life, bring us safely to the blessed and eternal country and being. Think on all these things and say (Psalm 117:1).

(M. Faber.)

It is the presence, or the memory, of something avoided, which gives point to our warmest rejoicings. In man grief is linked on to happiness, and suffering to joy. Just as a life without need of care is not a happy life, so if there were no fasts there could be no feasts You must have shadow to show the light. So if there had been no fall there could have been no rising again. If there had been no Adam, there could have been no Christ. It was not only for His own pleasure, and not at all for His own profit, but for us, that Christ was born. Not for Adam, nor the old patriarchs, nor for very wicked men, but because we are what we are — that is why God must needs deny His own nature, and be born. Thus the little Infant Child appeals to us, as from the cross the Saviour crucified. Shall we then be sad and sorrowful on such a day? It is not sadness to remember an escape from danger, nor sadness to see a harbour in a storm. Those to whom this Christmas-time is not all mere pleasure, but whose sad memories and present troubles are too heavy, may sympathize with the Child born to suffer, and rejoice in the Lord born to save. It is for you to whom the world is not too dear, that you may have a world where sorrows enter not, that Christ was born. And for those who have no weight of care and sorrow, let the memory of Christ make them generous and thoughtful and kindhearted; not hard and selfish in their enjoyment, but longing to make all as merry and lighthearted as themselves, remembering that the first Christmas gift was given by God to us, when the Son of God gave to mankind Himself.

(Bp. E. Steere.)

The gospel may be called "good tidings." —

1. Because it is so beneficial.

2. Because it is so appropriate.

3. Because it is so personal,

4. Because it is so unexpected.

5. Because it is so subservient to the illustration of all the other dispensations of God toward us.

(G. Brooks.)

We are incapable of omniscience in the region alike of enjoyment and of suffering. God has so made the eye of this body that it discerns not the animalcules swallowed in water, nor the tiny reptiles that are crushed by each tread of the foot. This limitation of the natural vision is a type to us of a principle which is the very condition of being. We are not to scrutinize sufferings which we cannot alleviate. We are not to allow pain to annihilate pleasure. We are not to set God's dispensation of sorrow at variance with God's other dispensation of joy. Where there is the remotest chance of alleviating, there we are to be keen-sighted in investigation. The eye is to be open — but let it be the natural eye, not the microscope. We are not intended so to realize the woe which cannot be mitigated, as to foster a general depression of tone, or a practical insensibility to the blessings which are largely mingled (none can deny it) in the cup of human being. It is needful, too, that we should none of us so enjoy as to forget the suffering which is for another and which shall be for us. On this ground, with this view, to this extent, we are bound to remember, and to take into our reckoning, the hardships, the calamities, and the miseries, which abound in the world. But it is not by refusing to rejoice that we shall really either learn to feel or learn to bear.

(J. Vaughan.)

It is the bounden duty of each one of us, in his own place and sphere, to present the gospel to the world as good tidings — of great joy — to all people. If we once lose this view of it, we have parted with its chief power over one large section at least of mankind. To the young, to the strong, to the busy, to the happy, it is idle to offer a consolation which they need not, or a gloom which they repudiate. Tell them that the gospel is a great joy — that it heightens all other joys, that it makes that everlasting which else must be temporal, that it makes the strong man stronger, and the young man younger, and the wise man wiser, and the delightful man more delightful, and thus completes and perfects every part and every kind of human vigour and of human usefulness and of human hope — you make Christ then what prophecy writes Him, the Desire of Nations; and you make the gospel what the angel calls it, great joy, and to all people. Nor do you, in so painting it, detract from any one of its charms for the struggling and the sorrow-laden. "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."

(J. Vaughan.)

Do you remember that Christmas Day is the first day in the year in which the days begin to lengthen? On the 21st, the 22nd, the 23rd, and the 24th of December they are substantially at a standstill; but on the 25th of December the hand of the poetic year cuts one lock from the head of darkness, and hangs it like a star on the forehead of the day; and to-day is a minute longer than yesterday. And the sun will not go back now. It has set its face toward the summer; and though there are going to be great storms in January, though vast shrouds of snow will cover the ground, yet you know and I know that the sun has gone to its farthest limit, and has begun to turn back; and that just as sure as nature is constant in her career, that sun is retracing his steps with summer in his bosom, and that there are fruits, and there are flowers, and there is a whole realm of joy coming. You have no doubt of this in the natural world. And I say that though the days of the world's winter are not over, yet I believe that the Sun of righteousness has gone as far away as He ever will, and has turned, and is coming back; and that there is to be a future summer of joy and rejoicing in things spiritual as well as in things temporal.

(H. W. Beecher.)

There have been many religions which have made men much more joyful than Christianity has; but they played upon the nature just as it was, and never sought to change it. The religion of the Greeks was a gay and festive religion. They wreathed themselves with flowers; they anointed themselves with sweet perfumes; they surrounded their temples with every attraction; they invoked every pleasure that they could think of; they sought to make the hour of their worship a beautiful and charming hour. They sought joy without seeking manhood. Theirs was a religion which took men just where they were, and left them where they were, and wrung out of them all the joy that there was in them at that point of development — and that was all. But Christianity takes men, and says, "Ye are capable of mightier things than these," and so begins to open up the nature, to accord the nature, to discipline the nature, and make manhood vaster with the volume of joy by-and-by wrung out of their faculties — so vast that it shall transcend immeasurably that which was possible in the beginning or at the earlier stages. It is a great comfort to me, that have looked with so much sympathy upon the whole long requiem of time past, and upon the groaning and travailing in pain until now that is in the world, to believe, as I do heartily believe, that the future of Christianity is to be far brighter, and that the day of struggle is comparatively past.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Men did share in Him in His own sex and person; women in the womb that bare Him; poor men in the shepherds, great ones in the sages of the East; the beasts by the stable whereto He was born; the earth in the gold that was offered; the trees in the myrrh and frankincense; and to reckon up no more, the heavens in the star that blazed. All the works of God, even they which by natural obedience bless Him and magnify Him for ever, did claim some office to make one in the solemnity when their Creator was born. Why surely some room was left for the angels. It was fit they should be in the train at the inauguration of this mighty Prince, and their place, according to their dignity, was very honourable; they were God's ambassadors, and as if they had a patent to use their office frequently, they had many errands from heaven — to Mary, to Joseph.

(Bishop Hacker.)

Of which word standing in this place I note three things — admiration, demonstration, and attention.

1. Ecce, see and admire this is the greatest wonder that ever was. If you love to cast your eyes upon that which is miraculous, look this way, and see the greatest miracle that ever was brought to light.

2. To cry out unto the shepherds, behold, is an adverb of demonstration. Things hard by make us look towards them more than those that are farther off; we sit still and muse upon that which we hope will come to pass, but when we hear the bridegroom coming, then we bustle and look out. And though the senses of our body do not fix themselves upon Him, yet faith will perceive Him strongly and certainly that He is truly present; faith will assure itself how He stands at the door and knocks, and how it hears His voice. Furthermore let this demonstrative direction put you in mind to live so justly and inoffensively as if you did always behold God in the flesh. But —

3. Ecce, behold, it cloth not beg, but command, attention. When the Lord sends a messenger, is it not fit to note him diligently, and to ponder his sayings in your mind?

(Bishop Hacker.)

— A good harvest is not welcome to one village, but it is gladsome to the whole country round about; and when spoils are divided after the vanquishing of an enemy, every soldier is enriched, and hath his share. Such a communicative blessing is our Saviour's incarnation — every man fills his bosom with the sheaves of the harvest; every Christian soldier that fights a good warfare plucks somewhat from the spoils of the enemy.

(Bishop Hacker.)

I. THE MESSENGER EMPLOYED. One of the dignified sons of light. An ambassador from heaven to earth, from God to man. A service of unrivalled glory and benevolence, calculated to excite wonder and abundant praise. By the redemption which is in Christ angels become our brethren, our friends, and our companions for ever. It is Probable their joys and honours are greatly enhanced by the work of the Messiah.

II. THE PERSONS ADDRESSED. Jewish shepherds. What a contrast between the ambassador and those to whom he appeared. How different, too, to the doings of men and to human expectations. It would have been supposed the tidings should have been given to kings, or philosophers, or assuredly to the priests. But God's ways are not our ways. In all the work and life of Christ God poured contempt upon worldly glory and distinctions.

III. THE MESSAGE COMMUNICATED.

1. The angel describes the person of Him who is born.

(1)Saviour.

(2)Christ.

(3)The Lord.

2. He announces His birth. The end of prophecy. The fulfilment of types. The fulness of the times.

3. He affirms this to be an event of good tidings. Tidings of Divine grace and salvation — all others are insignificant in comparison. Life, light, happiness, eternal glory.

4. He notices the universal application of these good tidings.

(1)To the Jew first. "You."

(2)"All people." None shut out. How comprehensive. Wherever we find even a horde of wandering savages, Christ is born for them.Application:

1. Is the end of Christ's birth answered in you?

2. If so, rejoice.

3. Caution against the temptations of the season. Let your joy be "in the Lord."

(Jabez Burns, D. D.)

1. The time. Not in the meridian splendour of the sun, when his unnumbered glories might have added to the lustre of the scene, and charmed and gratified senses and imagination. Silence of night is more favourable to devotion than bustle of day. The errand of the heavenly messengers was of a religious nature, therefore they arrive in the darkness and stillness of night. Long before this silent hour the sun had set in the western sky. The stars appeared, and the moon could not certainly withhold her light and her attendance upon such an occasion; everything conspired to direct the pious mind to solemn contemplation.

2. The persons. Not to rulers or great men was the message sent, but to humble shepherds. Why, then, say the poor, that religion is not for them, that they are neglected and forgotten? It was to poor men that this wondrous announcement was made.

3. The tidings revealed. Were they not "good tidings'? Would not the poor afflicted and oppressed debtor, who was just about to be dragged by a merciless creditor from his home and family, to be shut up in prison, esteem it glad tidings if he should be in that hour informed that one, completely able, had sent an express messenger to the hard-hearted creditor, saying, "Place all this man's debt to my account; set him at liberty to go home to his afflicted wife and famishing children"? And was it not good tidings to the children of Israel in Egypt when Moses was sent by God to be their deliverer, and to lead them to the promised land? But what is here announced far exceeds the joy of such occasions as these, for they refer to temporal concerns, this to eternal.

(H. Venn, M. A.)

1. Secret.

2. Silent.

3. Childlike.

4. Modest.

5. Elevated. Christ is the only source of rational joy among fallen men.

(Van Doren.)

1. This it is designed to be.

2. This it can be.

3. This it must be.

4. This it will be.

(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)

I. HOW SURE IS GOD'S WORD. Ages had rolled by since the promise was first made. Saints had waited; types had prefigured; prophets had foretold: at last, when all preparation is complete, the Divine decree is accomplished.

II. HOW WONDERFUL ARE GOD'S WAYS.

III. HOW GLORIOUS IS GOD'S SALVATION. God, and yet man; a babe, and yet Lord of all. How great the Father's love; how wonderful the Son's condescension!

(W. S. Bruce, M. A.)

It is necessary for some people to remember that cheerfulness, good spirits, light-heartedness, merriment, are not unchristian nor unsaintly. We do not please God more by eating bitter aloes than by eating honey. A cloudy, foggy, rainy day is not more heavenly than a day of sunshine. A funeral march is not so much like the music of angels as the song of birds on a May morning. There is no more religion in the gaunt naked forest in winter than in the laughing blossoms of the spring, and the rich ripe fruits of autumn. It was not the pleasant things in the world that came from the devil, and the dreary things from God; it was sin brought death into the world and all our woe; as the sin vanishes, the woe will vanish too. God Himself is the ever-blessed God. He dwells in the light of joy as well as of purity, and instead of becoming more like Him as we become more miserable, and as all the brightness and glory of life are extinguished, we become more like God as our blessedness becomes more complete. The great Christian graces are radiant with happiness. Faith, hope, charity — there is no sadness in them; and if penitence makes the heart sad, penitence belongs to the sinner, not to the saint. As we become more saintly, we have less sin to sorrow over. No; the religion of Christ is not a religion of sorrow. It consoles wretchedness, and brightens with a Divine glory the lustre of every inferior joy. It attracts to itself the broken-hearted, the lonely, the weary, the despairing; but it is to give them rest, comfort, and peace. It rekindles hope; it inspires strength, courage, and joy. It checks the merriment of the thoughtless who have never considered the graver and more awful realities of man's life and destiny; but it is to lead them through transient sorrow to deeper and more perfect blessedness, even in this world, than they had ever felt before the sorrow came.

(T. Dale, M. A.)

I. THE BIRTH OF CHRIST SHOULD BE THE SUBJECT OF SUPREME JOY. We have the angelic warrant for rejoicing because Christ is born. It is a truth so full of joy that it caused the angel who came to announce it to be filled with gladness. He had little to do with the fact, for Christ took not up angels, but He took up the seed of Abraham; but I suppose that the very thought that the Creator should be linked with the creature, that the great Invisible and Omnipotent should come into alliance with that which He Himself had made, caused the angel as a creature to feel that all creatureship was elevated, and this made him glad. Besides, there was a sweet benevolence of spirit in the angel's bosom which made him happy because he had such gladsome tidings to bring to the fallen sons of men.

1. The birth of Christ was the incarnation of God. This is a wondrous mystery, to be believed in rather than to be defined. Mankind is not outlawed or abandoned to destruction, for, lo! the Lord has married into the race, and the Son of God has become Son of Man. This proves that God loves man, and means man's good; that He feels for man and pities him; that He intends to deliver man and to bless him.

2. He who was born is unto us a Saviour. Those who will be most glad of this will be those who are most conscious of their sinnership. If you would draw music out of that ten-stringed harp, the word "Saviour," pass it over to a sinner. "Saviour" is the harp, but "sinner" is the finger that must touch the strings and bring forth the melody.

3. This Saviour is Christ the Lord, and there is much gladness in this fact. We have not a nominal Saviour, but a Saviour fully equipped; one who, in all points, is like ourselves, for He is Man, but in all points fit to help the feebleness which He has espoused, for He is the Anointed Man. The godlike in dominion is joined with the human in birth.

4. The angel called for joy, and I ask for it too, on this ground, that the birth of this child was to bring glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill toward men. The birth of Christ has given such glory to God as I know not that He could ever have had here by any other means. We must always speak in accents soft and low when we talk of God's glory; in itself it must always be infinite and not to be conceived by us, and yet may we not venture to say that all the works of God's hands do not glorify Him so much as the gift of His dear Son, that all creation and all providence do not so well display the heart of Deity as when He gives His Only-Begotten, and sends Him into the world that men may live through Him? What wisdom is manifested in the plan of redemption of which the incarnate God is the centre! What love is there revealed! What power is that which brought the Divine One down from glory to the manger; only Omnipotence could have worked so great a marvel! What faithfulness to ancient promises! What truthfulness in keeping covenant! What grace, and yet what justice!

II. Let us consider TO WHOM THIS JOY BELONGS.

1. It belongs to those who tell it.

2. It belongs to those who hear it.

3. It belongs to those who believe it.

III. How THAT JOY SHOULD BE MANIFESTED.

1. Proclaim the Saviour.

2. Sing God's praises.

3. Spread the news — as the shepherds did.

4. Ponder this miracle of love — as Mary did.

5. Go and do good to others.Come and worship God manifest in the flesh, and be filled with His light and sweetness by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Theological Sketch-book.
1. Observe the interest which the angels felt on the occasion. While men's minds are intent on the decree of the emperor, theirs are centred on Christ.

2. Not only did an angel appear to the shepherds, but the glory of the Lord shone round about them. Evidence of a message immediately from God.

3. The effect it had upon the shepherds. Sore afraid, but afterwards cheered.

4. The object proclaimed is the "Saviour." Not themselves, but Christ.

5. The good news was common to all people, not to one nation only.

6. The good news, though common to all people, was more immediately addressed to the shepherds, who like many others were waiting for the consolation of Israel. The gospel is addressed to individuals, as if they only were the objects of it. Salvation is directly offered to every soul.

7. In this heavenly message particular attention is paid to time, place, and other circumstances, to show their agreement with ancient prophecy. Not even an angel may speak anything contrary to the Scriptures (Galatians 1:8).

I. CONSIDER THE SUBJECT OF THE ANGELIC MESSAGE, AND SEE WHAT GOOD TIDINGS ARE CONTAINED IN IT.

1. The birth of Jesus Christ was itself good news. The great object of prophecy from the beginning of the world, and the hope of the Church in all ages.

2. The gracious design of His incarnation imparted good tidings to a guilty and ruined world.

3. The way of salvation, which was effected by the coming of Christ, forms an essential part of the good tidings brought to us by the angel. Repentance and remission of sins preached among all nations.

II. THESE TIDINGS ARE MATTERS OF JOY, OF GREAT JOY TO ALL PEOPLE. The word used is strong, and only used for such great occasions as the joy of harvest or an important victory; but is fully applicable to this subject.

1. The coming of Christ was the joy of the Old Testament Church, while they lived only in hope of this great event (Isaiah 25:9; John 8:56). How much more when it is fully realized.

2. All the joy of believers during the lifetime of our Saviour centred entirely in Him.

3. All the joy in the times of the apostles had an immediate reference to Christ and His salvation. The apostles triumphed in every place, but it was because the savour of His name was spread abroad.

4. Christ and His salvation made all their troubles and sorrows light and momentary; yea, they counted not their lives dear for His sake. The history of the primitive Church is a history of sufferings in the cause of Christ, and of joy and rejoicing in His holy name. This also is the way for us to bear up under all the sorrows, trials, and afflictions of this life.

III. INQUIRE WHAT IS NECESSARY TO RENDER THESE GOOD TIDINGS A MATTER OF REAL JOY TO US. It is an undoubted fact that they do not produce joy in all: they did not then, and they do not now. Many think the tidings of the gospel not worth hearing. Many who hear, neglect them, or feel no interest in them. Some who seem to rejoice for a time become indifferent, and afterwards wither away.

1. To become the subject of real joy, these tidings require to be believed as true, and to be received with the utmost cordiality.

2. It requires a deep conviction of our guilty, lost, and ruined state, which is presupposed by the gospel, and which must be felt and realized before it can convey to us tidings of great joy.

3. A cordial reception of the gospel itself, as revealing the only way of salvation; obeying it from the heart, and receiving the truth in love.

(Theological Sketch-book.)

I. THAT A SCENE OF FRIGHT OFTEN BECOMES A SCENE OF EXALTATION. Joseph's way to authority led through the pit, slavery, and prison. How many through affliction have found spiritual triumph.

II. WE SEE WHY CHRIST FINDS SO POOR A RECEPTION UPON EARTH. ROOM for outward pomps, but none for the lowly Son of God. In yonder store there is room for trade, for money, but no room for Christ. There is no war between prosperity and Christ.

III. THAT WHILE VIRTUE IS OFTEN FORCED TO PLAIN LODGINGS, WICKEDNESS IS PROVIDED WITH FINE QUARTERS. Guilt on the throne, innocence in the cabin; Nero in the palace, Paul a prisoner; Nebuchadnezzar walking in the hanging gardens, Shadrach in the fire. Remember the order: first the manger; second, the cross; third, the crown.

IV. THAT JOY IS A DOMINANT ELEMENT IN RELIGION.

(Dr. Talmage.)

I. THE ADVENT OF CHRIST WAS GOOD TIDINGS TO THE SLAVE. When He came, a large part of the race were held in abject servitude. Slavery prevailed extensively in cultivated Greece, in imperial Rome, and even in Palestine — in the very shadow of the temple of the Most High. Some Roman masters held from ten to twenty thousand slaves, and the condition of the slave was hard in the extreme. He was treated and held simply as a "thing"; bought and sold as men deal in sheep and horses, he was absolutely the property of his master; he had no rights as a man — no place under the law; could be beaten, scourged, and put to death at the will of the master. Such was the condition of half the world when the angel choir sang their Gloria in Excelsis. But that song was the death-knell to human bondage. The Infant that lay in the manger hard by was to be the great Deliverer. Glorious emancipation! Glorious harbinger of that spiritual liberty which Christ is yet to achieve!

II. THE ADVENT OF CHRIST WAS GOOD TIDINGS TO THE LABOURER. The mass of men belong to the labouring class — are forced to earn their bread in the sweat of their brows. The honour, the dignity, of labour was not at all understood before Christ's advent. Philosophers taught that all forms of manual labour were degrading. In Rome only three kinds of occupation were considered respectable, viz.: medicine, commerce, and architecture. Free men had to work side by side with slaves. But Christ taught a new doctrine. He consecrated and made honourable all honest labour, both by the precepts He taught and by His own example. And just as the spirit and teachings of the great Master prevail, the labouring classes will be elevated and prosperous, and human society will approximate the heavenly world.

III. THE ADVENT OF CHRIST REVEALED TO EARTH THE TRUE IDEA OF HUMANITY. The ancients had no just conception of man as man. At best, he was considered of no account, except as related to the State or the crown.

IV. THE ADVENT OF CHRIST WAS GOOD TIDINGS TO THE FAMILY. The ancients had very imperfect ideas about it. Marriage was simply the means the State had to produce citizens. But, oh, the power, the blessedness, of the religion of Jesus on the family !V. THE ADVENT OF CHRIST WAS GLAD TIDINGS BECAUSE IT GAVE THE WORLD A NEW HOPE, The song of the angels on that eventful Christmas morning was the song of hope to a despairing world.

(D. W. Lusk.)

The sweet air of the gospel hath some harsh tidings, to take up the cross, and endure unto blood, and death, but these were tidings of joy.

1. Joys are of several sizes, this is a great one, nay, none so great.

2. Joys and great ones are quickly done, this is joy that shall be and continue.

3. A man may be a conduit-pipe to transmit joy to others, and have no benefit himself; this is joy to you, to every ear that hears Mark 2:4. A good nature would not engross a blessing, but desires to have it diffused, and so was this joy to all people. The angel said unto them, "Fear not." What should they not fear: first, non a splendore divine, let not their hearts be troubled because the glory of the Lord shone round about them, Sore eyes are distempered at much light, and it is a sign there is some darkness within us all, which loves not to be discovered; that the best of us all are much perplexed if any extraordinary brightness flash upon us.

(Bishop Hacket.)

So if there be not a mixture of fear with our love, it falleth asleep, it waxeth secure, and loseth her Beloved. If the comfort of our joy be not allayed with some fear, 'tis madness and presumption. Again, if our fear be not intermixed with the comfort of some joy, 'tis sullenness and desperation. As the earth cannot be without summer and winter to make it fruitful, the pleasure of the one and the austerity of the other make up the revolution of a good year, so faith is the parent both of a cloudy fear, and a smiling hope: faith begets fear in us in regard of our own weakness, and hope in regard of the goodness of God; hope ariseth out of the faith of the gospel, and fear out of the faith of the law. These cannot be parted.

(Bishop Hacket.)That bondage which makes us liable to judgment is naught; but the fear which issues from a conscientiousness of that bondage flying to God that it may fly from judgment is holy and good. Briefly, let them thus be compared together; a filial fear, which loves God for His own goodness, is like a bright day which hath not a cloud to disfigure it; a servile fear, that dreads God because it dreads the wrath to come, is like a day that is overcast with clouds, but it is clearer than the fairest moonshine night. It is good to have the spirit of adoption, but it is better to have the spirit of bondage than the spirit of slumber; it is good to be in Canaan, but it is better to be in the wilderness than in Egypt; it is good to be a child, but it is better to be a servant than a stranger to the Lord.

(Bishop Hacket.)This, then, is another fear which belongs to our allowance, but there is a fear which hath a nolite set before it, an immoderate horror of heart, a symptom of desperation, or at least of infidelity and diffidence; this is that quivering with which God strikes His enemies, as a tree is shaken by the wind to unfasten it from the root.

(Bishop Hacket.)Nothing, you see, is comfortable to them that have not the true comforter, the Holy Spirit in their soul.

(Bishop Hacket.)Satan feels some horror that gnaws and torments him, but he feels not the blessing of that fear which should discipline him from sin, and amend him.

(Bishop Hacket.)Then it were good, methinks, that discretion and consideration of Christ's merciful gospel did mitigate their zeal, who think they are bound to thunder nothing so much to the people as fears, and terrors, like the writer of Iambiques that spoke anger and poison to put Archilochus into desperation. Let vices be threatened, but let the hope that accompanies true repentance go together. Let judgment be put home to the obdurate conscience, but let mercy be an advocate for the broken in heart. Let the strictness of law and the curse thereof fetch a tear from our eyes; but let the ransom of our sins be set before us, and that Christ will wipe all tears from our eyes. St. Paul wished himself at Corinth, not to affright them, but to rejoice with the brethren; as it was said of the mild nature of the Emperor Vespasian, he never sent any man from him discontent, but gave him some comfort and satisfaction. So the gospel is such a sweet demulcing lesson, that if it be truly preached it must always revive the heart, it cannot leave a sting behind it. You see the angel delights not to scare, but to comfort the shepherds, "Fear not."

(Bishop Hacket.)

This spiritual gladness and festivity is the principal assistance to vanquish Satan, and all desperate doubts with which he would perplex our conscience: it is a royal joy which comforts us that we shall be heirs of a glorious kingdom; it is a sanctified joy which gives us promise that we shall not only be kings but priests for ever, to offer up the sweet odours of our prayers to God; it is a superlative joy which cries down all other petty delights, and makes them appear as nothing; it is endless joy of durance and lasting for ever and ever; for my text says it is "joy that shall be unto you." Times of feasting have a period, every man is glutted at last; he that hath his fill of sport is weary by the late of night, and glad to take his rest. But the joy that you have in Christ is with you all the year, in all your sorrow, in all your adversities; it sleeps with you, it grows old with you, it will change this life with you, and follow you into a better: "And My joy shall no man take from you," says our Saviour (John 16:22). Christmas joy was not only for the first twelve days when the Son of God was born, but for all the twelve months of twelve hundred years, and many hundreds after them unto the world's end. So St. Peter cloth solace us with black sails of sorrow; as if he had never made a saving voyage. All their laughter is like the joy of Herod's birthday.; dancing, and revels, and offering of great gifts last for a while, but before evening you shall see an alteration; and when their surfeited tables are removed away, the last service in the platter is the head of John the Baptist. But the mirth which we have in the Mediator of our salvation is a song which hath no rest in it, nor ever shall have a close. We begin the first part here, that we may sing the other part in psalms and hallelujahs with the saints for ever. As Christmas is celebrated part of the new year, and part of the old, so it is joy that is in this life, and shall be in the life to come.

(Bishop Hacket.)

1. Let us consider that the nativity doth import the completion of many ancient promises, predictions, and prefigurations concerning it; that whereas all former dispensations of favour and mercy were as preludes or preambles to this; the old law did aim to represent it in its mysterious pomps; the chief of providential occurrences did intimate it; the prophets often in their mystical raptures did allude to it, and often in clear terms did express it; the gracious designs of God, and the longing expectations of mankind being so variously implied in regard thereto; now all is come to be fulfilled, and perfected in most clear, most effectual, most substantial accomplishment. Now what can be more delightful, or satisfactory to our mind, than to reflect on this sweet harmony of things, this goodly correspondence between the old and new world; wherein so pregnant evidences of God's chief attributes (of His goodness, of His wisdom, of His fidelity and constancy), all conspiring to our benefit, do shine? Is it not pleasant to contemplate how provident God hath ever been for our welfare? what trains from the world's beginning, or ever since our unhappy fall, He hath been laying to repair and restore us? how wisely He hath ordered all dispensations with a convenient reference and tendency to this masterpiece of grace? how steady He hath been in prosecuting His designs, and how faithful in accomplishing His promises concerning it? If the "holy patriarchs did see this day, and were glad"; if a glimpse thereof did cause their hearts to leap within them; if its very dawn had on the spirits of the prophets so vigorous an influence, what comfort and complacence should we feel in this its real presence, and bright aspect on us!

2. Let us consider what alteration our Lord's coming did induce, by comparing the state of things before it with that which followed it. The old world then consisting of two parts, severed by a strong wall of partition, made up of difference in opinion, in practice, in affection, together with a strict prohibition to one of holding intercourse with the other. Such was the state of the world in its parts; and jointly of the whole it may be said that it was "shut up under sin" and guilt, under darkness and weakness, under death and corruption, under sorrow and woe: that no full declaration of God's pleasure, no clear overture of mercy, no express grant of spiritual aid, no certain redemption from the filth or the force of sin, from the stroke of death, from due punishment hereafter; no encouragements suitable to high devotion, or strict virtue, were anywise in a solemn way exhibited or dispensed before our Lord's appearance: so that well might all men be then represented as Cimmerians, "sitting in darkness, in the region and shadow of death." Now the Spirit of God (the Spirit of direction, of succour, of comfort spiritual) is poured on all flesh. "Now the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men." Now Jew and Gentile are reunited and compacted in one body; walking in the same light, and under obligation to the same laws. But farther, that we may yet more nearly touch the point —

3. Let us consider that the nativity of our Lord is a grand instance, a pregnant evidence, a rich earnest of Almighty God's very great affection and benignity toward mankind; for, "In this," saith St. John, "the love of God was manifested, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world:" and, "Through the tender mercies of our God," sang old Zachariah, "the Day-spring from on high did visit us:" this indeed is the peculiar experiment, wherein that most Divine attribute did show and signalize itself. And what greater reason of joy can there be, than such an assurance of His love, on whose love all our good dependeth, in whose love all our felicity consisteth? What can be more delightful than to view the face of our Almighty Lord so graciously smiling on us? Should we not be extremely glad, should we not be proud, if our earthly prince by any signal mark would express himself kindly affected to us? How much more should we resent such a testimony of God's favour t how worthily may our souls be transported with a sense of such affection!

4. We may consider our Lord's nativity, as not only expressing simple good-will, but implying a perfect reconciliation, a firm peace, a steady friendship established between God and us or that it did not only proceed from love, but did also produce love to us. Now, then, what can be more worthy of joy than such a blessed turn of affairs? How can we otherwise than with exceeding gladness solemnize such a peace?

5. Our Lord's nativity doth infer a great honour, and a high preferment to us: nowise indeed could mankind be so dignified, or our nature so advanced as hereby: no wisdom can devise a way beyond this, whereby God should honour His most special favourites, or promote them to a nearness unto Himself. This is a peculiar honour, to which the highest angels cannot pretend; "for He took not the nature of angels, but He took the seed of Abraham." And is it not good matter of joy to be thus highly graced? When are men better pleased than when they are preferred; than especially, when "from the meanest state, from the dunghill, or from the dust, they are raised to be set among princes, and made to inherit the throne of glory"?

6. Finally, if we survey all principal causes of joy and special exultation, we shall find them all concurring in this event. Is a messenger of good news embraced with joy? Behold the great Evangelist is come, with His mouth full of news, most admirable, most acceptable: He, who doth acquaint us that God is well pleased, that man is restored, that "the adversary is cast down," that paradise is set open, and immortality retrieved; that truth and righteousness, peace and joy, salvation and happiness are descended, and come to dwell on earth. Is the birth of a prince by honest subjects to be commemorated with joyous festivity? Behold a Prince born to all the world! a Prince undertaking to rule mankind with sweetest clemency and exact justice. May victory worthily beget exultation? See the invincible warrior doth issue forth into the field, "conquering and to conquer": He that shall baffle and rifle the strong one, our formidable adversary; that shall rout all the forces of hell, and triumph over the powers of darkness. Is a proclamation of peace, after rueful wars, to be solemnized with alacrity? Behold then everlasting peace between heaven and earth, a general peace among men. Is satisfaction of desire and hope very pleasant? Behold the "desire of all nations, the expectation of Israel," He for whom the whole creation groaned, is come. Is recovery of liberty delectable to poor slaves and captives? Behold the "Redeemer is come out of Sion"; the precious ransom, sufficient to purchase the freedom of many worlds, is laid down. Is an overture of health acceptable to sick and languishing persons? Behold the great Physician, endued with admirable skill, and furnished with infallible remedies, is come, to cure us of our maladies, and ease us of our pains. Is mirth seasonable on the day of marriage? Behold the greatest wedding that ever was is this day solemnised; heaven and earth are contracted; divinity is espoused to humanity; a sacred, an indissoluble knot is tied between God and man. Is the access of a good friend to be received with cheerful gratulation? Behold the dearest and best Friend of all mankind. Is opportune relief grateful to persons in a forlorn condition, pinched with extreme want, or plunged in any hard distress? Behold a merciful, a bountiful, a mighty Saviour and succourer. Is the sun-rising comfortable after a tedious, darksome, and cold night? See, "the Sun of Righteousness is risen with healing in His wings," dispensing all about His pleasant rays and kindly influences.

(J. Barrow, D. D.)

Let us consider this more at length, as contained in the gracious narrative of which the text is part.

1. What do we read just before the text? that there were certain shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night, and angels appeared to them. Why should the heavenly hosts appear to these shepherds? What was it in them which attracted the attention of the angels and the Lord of angels? Were these shepherds learned, distinguished, or powerful? Were they especially known for piety and gifts? Nothing is said to make us think so. Almighty God looks with a sort of especial love, or (as we may term it) affection, upon the lowly. Perhaps it is that man, a fallen, dependent, and destitute creature, is more in his proper place when he is m lowly circumstances, and that power and riches, though unavoidable in the case of some, are unnatural appendages to man, as such. And what a contrast is presented to us when we take into account who were our Lord's messengers to them! The angels who excel in strength, these did His bidding towards the shepherds. Here the highest and the lowest of God's rational creatures are brought together. A set of poor men, engaged in a life of hardship, exposed at that very time to the cold and darkness of the night, watching their flocks, with the view of scaring away beasts of prey or robbers. We know the contracted range of thought, the minute and ordinary objects, or rather the one or two objects, to and fro again and again without variety, which engage the minds of men exposed to such a life of heat, cold, and wet, hunger and nakedness, hardship and servitude. They cease to care much for anything, but go on in a sort of mechanical way, without heart, and still more without reflection. To men so circumstanced the angel appeared, to open their minds, and to teach them not to be downcast and in bondage because they were low in the world. He appeared as if to show them that God had chosen the poor in this world to be heirs of His kingdom, and so to do honour to their lot.

2. And now comes a second lesson, which I have said may be gained from the festival. The angel honoured a humble lot by his very appearing to the shepherds;, next he taught it to be joyful by his message. The angel said, "Fear not," when he saw the alarm which his presence caused among the shepherds. Even a lesser wonder would have reasonably startled them. Therefore the angel said, "Fear not." We are naturally afraid of any messenger from the other world, for we have an uneasy conscience when left to ourselves, and think that his coming forebodes evil. Besides, we so little realize the unseen world, that were angel or spirit to present himself before us we should be startled by reason of our unbelief, a truth being brought home to our minds which we never apprehended before. A little religion makes us afraid; when a little light is poured in upon the conscience, there is a darkness visible; nothing but sights of woe and terror; the glory of God alarms while it shines around. His holiness, the range and difficulties of His commandments, the greatness of His power, the faithfulness of His word, frighten the sinner, and men seeing him afraid, think religion has made him so, whereas he is not religious at all. But religion itself, far from inculcating alarm and terror, says, in the words of the angel, "Fear not;" for such is His mercy, while Almighty God has poured about us His glory, yet it is a consolatory glory, for it is the light of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). If all these things be so, surely the lesson of joy which the incarnation gives us is as impressive as the lesson of humility. St. Paul gives us the one lesson in his Epistle to the Philippians: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men."

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)

The days of life are not lived on one level range. There are days that are lifted, and days that are depressed; days which stand out radiant with opportunity, as summits of mountains stand forth to the eye when the sun shines upon them. Now and then you come to a day so auspicious, so prophetic of good, that it sings through all its hours, and is as a hymn and a psalm. Not only do men come to such days, not only do individuals find themselves lifted by God's mercy to such summits of feeling and expression, but nations and cities, governments and institutions, come to the same happy fortune. There are days in national life linked with such victorious memories, full with such present triumphs, that at the rising of the sun every patriotic citizen flings out to the morning air the national banner. Institutions, too, have their glorious days. Popular movements that represent great causes and grand effects roll up like waves to their cresting, and the power of the forces which moved them on culminates in popular gladness. Religion shares in the action of this law. And it is because Christianity helps men that it is properly named "glad news"; and it may be well for us who are in worship assembled to ask ourselves and to consider wherein Christianity is glad news, and why, being accepted, it brings joy to the human heart. In the first place, it is glad news because it is a revelation of God — both as to what He is in Himself, and what His feelings are toward man. The highest conception the human mind can form is that of Deity. It is too great in itself to go on without conceiving of a greater. The human constitution is of so noble a sort, is so majestic in its vision, so profound in its necessities, that it must have a God. The greatness of man is seen in the fact that in him is an actual graving to bow down to some one or to something that symbolises some one. Look, then, at and consider the state of the world before Christianity was born. Here and there an old sage, by sixty years of studentship, had groped his way up until his fingers had felt out a knowledge of the alphabet of truth which taught him the rudiments of righteousness. But of God they knew little. Of the life beyond the grave they knew nothing. The consolation which comes from knowledge they had not amid their trials. They died blindly submissive; they died wretchedly patient; they died stoically indifferent. And those that were left to mourn above their graves mourned without hope. But when Christianity was born, a sun rose into the darkness of the world. Men saw what they had felt must be, but what they bad never before seen. And chiefest among all sights revealed stood God. It told them of His affection, of His patience, of His mercy. It told them that He was mindful of them, that His ears were open to their cries, and His eyes noted the falling of their tears. What a revelation was this! How satisfactory in its nature! How sublime in its significance! How far-reaching in its influence! How could piety ever become intelligent? How could devotion ever be ardent and sincere until, in the person of God, the source and pattern of all purity, of all justice, of all affection, should be revealed unto man? Let it be known, then, and profoundly felt by us all here to-day, that Christianity was "glad news" unto man, first and foremost, because it revealed God. We do not realize, so familiar are we with the thought, what a gap would be made in our lives if from our minds the knowledge we have of God were stricken. Such a removal would be like taking one's heart from his bosom. As in the one case physically we could not survive, so in the other case spiritually we could not survive. And the second great and emphatic reason is, as it seems to me, because it revealed man to himself. Never till Jesus was born — never till He had lived and passed away — did man know the nobility of his species. Never until God dwelt in the flesh could any man know what flesh might become. For natures are measured, not by what they can impart primarily, but by what they can receive. The ox can receive but little. The sweetness of the grass, the pungency of the budding shrubbery he crops, the coolness of the water that he drinks when athirst — these measure his being. They minister to his structure, and its wants being supplied his life is satisfied. The dog can receive yet more. He craves food, but he also craves affection. A life higher than his own is needed for his happiness. He looks at the hand of his master as the inferior looks at the superior when itself is great-enough to discover greatness. The dog finds deity in his master. From him he learns law and love both. From him he receives joy so intense that even his master marvels at it, and wonders that so slight a motion of his hand, so brief an utterance from his lips, can make any being so happy. It is because the dog can receive so much that thought ranks him so high. And the capacity of receptiveness gives accurate measurement and gradation to animals and to men. I say to men; for the same law holds good in the human species. There are some who receive little. On the other hand, there are those who are as a house when its windows are all open, and the sun and the wind play through its chambers. There is no form of beauty; there is no shade of loveliness; there is no odour or perfume, nor any melodious sound, that appeals to them in vain. And when we view them on the higher levels of receptiveness — the levels of mind and soul — we find that their intellect and their spirits alike are as pools that stand waiting for the streams to flow into them. From history and poetry, from science and art, from past and present, they are ministered unto ceaselessly. Nor is there anything religious, anything sacred and devout, anything spiritual and Divine, which does not find ready entrance into their natures. So freely do they receive of these, that by them at last they are possessed. Renewed in mind, transformed in spirit, sanctified in soul, they become like Him of whom they have received. So that their walk and conversation is with God. Never, as we have said, until Christ came was the greatness of this capacity to receive demonstrated. Christ showed what man might be, and thereby fixed his value. Heaven paid such a price for man that man himself was astonished. God's acts are based on knowledge. The second reason, then, why Christianity is glad news is seen in the fact that beyond any mere religion, beyond all philosophies, it tells me what man is. We who are here can rise up and say, "We know what man is!" The world, from east to west, from north to south, can say, speaking through all her myriad mouths, "We know what man is!" The great continents, the islands of the sea, the far shores and the far climes, through all their industries, through all their commerce, through their intelligence, through the glory of their bloom and the pendent wealth of their harvests, can say, "We know what man is!" Ay, and the spirits of the redeemed in heaven and the great angels that wait before God, mighty in their power and intelligence, can bow down before Him who made the revelation in His Son, and murmur, in the hush of holy awe, "We know what man is!" We have said that the first reason why Christianity was glad news was found in the fact that it revealed God; and the second great reason that it was glad news was found in the fact that it revealed man; and now we say, lastly, that the third great reason why Christianity is glad news is found in the fact that it reveals God in man. Theodore Parker, of pleasant memory to many, to whom this city owes much, and to whom humanity owes more, had a splendid conception of God. No nobler Deity was ever preached than he proclaimed. Many who deride him, but have never read him, would be richer spiritually than they are if in their minds and souls they had his conception of Divinity. In addition to his splendid conception of God, he had the noblest possible conception of man — of his nature, of his possibilities, of his rights, and of his destiny. But of God in man he seems to have had little, if any, conception. On his right hand stood God, like a hewn pillar, massive and polished to the finest gleam; on the left stood man, a companion pillar, of which in way of description it is enough to say that it was the reflection of the other. But God in man, or the God-man — that white arch that should connect and span the space between the two — he did not discern. And that the object of this incarnation of Deity was the salvation of men from their sins we know. The mighty and benevolent uses of incarnation are patent. Only so could God be revealed, in such a way that the human mind might apprehend Him clearly, and the human soul in Him find courage. Only by such an incarnation could the requisite authority be given to human utterance, and the requisite wisdom be imparted to human understanding. Only by such an incarnation could the holy example, whose presence was needed, be given unto the world, and the adequate inspiration be imparted to humanity. And only by such an incarnation, only through the lips of His own Son, could the Divine Fatherhood be properly declared, the Divine life properly lived, and the victorious sacrifice, required both for the justice of heaven and the moral necessities of men, be made. We rejoice, therefore, in the incarnation of God in Christ as those who apprehend the high spiritual uses it subserves, the profound spiritual necessities it meets, and the otherwise incomprehensible truths that it makes familiar unto us.

(W. H. Aitken.)

The message was one bearing "good tidings of great joy." "Good tidings" in view of the light which was to be shed, the deliverance which was to be wrought, and the union of the whole race which was contemplated, and shall in due course be effected.

I. "Good tidings of great joy" in view of THE LIGHT WHICH WAS TO BE SHED. Christ in His coming has shed light upon the Divine tenderness and grace. Christ, in His coining, has shed light upon the moral obligations of men. "The law was given by Moses." And Christ in His coming has shed light upon human destiny.

II. "Good tidings of great joy" in view of THE DELIVERANCE WHICH WAS TO BE WROUGHT. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." The deliverance Christ came to effect for all who should trust to Him is both a present and an eternal deliverance. He secures deliverance from the burden of unforgiven sin. He sets free from the defilement of sin. He preserves from remorse. And He saves from despondency and distrust. But He came to effect our eternal deliverance.

III. "Good tidings of great joy," in view of the union of THE WHOLE RACE WHICH WAS CONTEMPLATED, AND WHICH SHALL, IN DUE COURSE, BE ACCOMPLISHED. "Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." Judaism was marked by its exclusiveness.

(S. D. Hillman, B. A.)

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