Luke 20:19
When the scribes and chief priests realized that Jesus had spoken this parable against them, they sought to arrest Him that very hour. But they were afraid of the people.
Sermons
Christ's Collision with the SanhedrinR.M. Edgar Luke 20:1-19
Abused MercyJohn Trapp.Luke 20:9-19
Fruitfulness the Test of ValueSword and Trowel.Luke 20:9-19
God's Manifold MercyC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 20:9-19
LessonsJ. Foote, M. A.Luke 20:9-19
Parable of the Vineyard Let to HusbandmenJ. Thomson, D. D.Luke 20:9-19
The Herodians and Pharisees Combined Against JesusJ. Thomson, D. D.Luke 20:9-19
The Madness of Opposing ChristC. S. Robinson, D. D.Luke 20:9-19
The Rejected SonD. O. Mears.Luke 20:9-19
The Son RejectedCharles M. Southgate.Luke 20:9-19
The Wreck of InfidelityLuke 20:9-19
The Sacred and the SecularW. Clarkson Luke 20:19-26


There are three preliminary truths which may be gathered before considering the proper subject of the text.

1. The worthlessness of heartless praise. What value do we suppose Jesus Christ attached to the eulogium here pronounced (ver. 2)? How worthless to him now are the epithets which are uttered or the praises which are sung by lips that are not sincere?

2. The evil end of a false attitude toward Christ. The attitude of hostility which his enemies had definitely taken up led them to resort

(1) to shameful deceit (ver. 20), and

(2) to a malign conspiracy against the one Teacher who could and would have led them into the kingdom of God.

3. The final discomfiture of guilt. (Ver. 26.) It is silenced and ashamed. Respecting the principal subject before us, we should consider -

I. TWO NOTIONS THAT FIND NO COUNTENANCE IN OUR LORD'S REPLY,

1. When Jesus answered, "Render unto Caesar," etc., he did not mean to say that the spheres of the secular and the sacred lie so apart that we cannot serve God while we are serving the state. Let none say, "Politics are politics, and religion is religion." That is a thoroughly unchristian sentiment. If we ought to "eat and drink," if we ought to do everything to the glory of God, it is certain that we ought to vote at elections, to speak at meetings, to exercise our political privileges, and to discharge our civil duties, be they humble or high, to the glory of God, it is certain that we ought to vote at elections, to speak Christ as truly and as acceptably in the magistrates' court, or in the lobby of the House of Commons, as he can be in the school or the sanctuary.

2. Nor did Christ mean to say that these spheres are so apart that a man cannot be serving the state while he is engaged in the direct service of God; for, indeed, there is no way by which we render so true and great a service to the whole body politic as when we are engaged in planting Divine truth in the minds and hearts of men; then are we sowing the seeds of peace, of industry, of sobriety, of every national virtue, of a real and lasting prosperity.

3. Nor yet that there are no occasions whatever when we may act in opposition to the state. Our Lord encouraged his apostles in their refusal to obey an unrighteous mandate (Acts 5:28, 29).

II. THE LEADING TRUTH WHICH CHRIST'S WORDS CONTAIN, Viz. that our obligation to God does not conflict with our ordinary allegiance to the civil power. If the latter should enjoin apostasy, or blasphemy, or positive immorality, then disobedience would become a duty, and might rise into heroism, as it has often done. But ordinarily, we can serve God and be loyal citizens at the same time, and this none the less that the rulers whom we serve are Mohammedans or pagans. To be orderly and law-abiding under the rule of an infidel is as far as possible from being unchristian. On the contrary, it is decidedly Christian (see 1 Timothy 2:2; Romans 3:1-7). Indeed, service rendered to "the froward" has a virtue not possessed by service to "the good and gentle." and faithful citizenship "in a strange land" may be a more valuable and acceptable service than in a Christian country. Our duty, in the light of Christ's teaching, is not that of discovering conscientious objections to the support of the civil government; it is rather that of rendering a hearty obedience to the Divine will, and also of conforming in all loyalty to the requirements of human law. - C.







In the same country shepherds.
(with Matthew 2:1.-12).

I. THE SHEPHERD COMES FIRST TO THE CRADLE OF CHRIST, BUT THE SAGE COMES TOO; THE JEW FIRST, BUT ALSO THE GENTILE. Here we have —

1. A prophecy that, as in His cradle the Lord Jesus received "in a figure" the homage of the entire world, so at last, in happy, glorious fact, He will receive the adoration of all kindreds and tribes, drawing all men unto Himself by virtue of His cross.

2. A consolation, viz., that even the poorest, the simplest, the least gifted and accomplished, find a welcome from Him, and may Lake rank among the very first in His kingdom.

3. A lesson — that whatever may be the distinctions which obtain among us elsewhere, we are all one in the service of Christ, and should use our several gifts for each other's good, — the shepherd singing his song to the sage, and the sage telling the story of his star to the wondering shepherd.

II. WE MAY LEARN FROM THE STORY THAT IT IS NOT SO MUCH IN THE NUMBER AND MAGNITUDE OF OUR GIFTS, AS IN THE USE WE MAKE OF THEM, THAT OUR TRUE WELFARE AND HAPPINESS CONSIST. The shepherds, ignorant men, condemned to a life of hard toil and scanty fare, tied and bound by the claims of their craft, with few opportunities for joining in the public worship of the Temple, or for listening to the instructions of the Rabbis. Yet, at the bidding of the angel, they leave their flocks, and hasten to Bethlehem to verify the good tidings. The wise men from the East had, in some sort, even fewer advantages and aids than the shepherds. No direct message from heaven was vouchsafed to them. They see a new sign in the sky. They believe that it foretells the advent of some great one upon the earth. How hard it must have been for them to leave the luxuries and honours, and, above all, the scientific pursuits of the Persian palace, in order to encounter the toils and perks of a long and hazardous journey, on the mere chance of finding their conclusion verified! What a noble faith in their scientific inductions, or in the inward leading of God, is implied in their encountering so great a risk or so slight a chance of being bettered by it!

III. If it be true that our place in Christ's service and regard depends on our fidelity in using our gifts rather than on the abundance of our gifts, IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT THE ONLY GENUINE FIDELITY IS THAT WHICH LEADS US FORWARD AND UPWARD. The sages and the shepherds were men who looked before as well as after, men who knew little and were aware of it, or men who knew much and yet accounted that much but little compared with what God had to teach. Let us be followers of them, ever looking for more truth while we walk by the truth we know. And, walking in the light we have, it will grow larger and purer; using the gifts we possess, more will be added unto us.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

1. The time, the place, the tidings, the listeners, are all in unison. The shepherds were on historic ground. On those same slopes, on those same hill-sides, David of old had fed his father's flocks, and it was from those same fields that he went forth at God's command to exchange his shepherd's crook for the royal sceptre, and his lowly dress for the purple of a king. It was on these fields, rich with precious memories, that the shepherds lay. It was night, and the sky was cloudless. Hill and dale slept under the beauty of the clear moon, and the quiet flocks were gathered to the shelter of the fold. To such a scene came the first tidings of the world's peace. Not to man's busy haunts, where even in the hush of night the cry of sorrow is heard, and the trouble in man's heart goes on, but to those peaceful folds, sleeping in the bosom of the voiceless hills. The home of peace is not in the world's great centres, but among the shaggy woods and grassy vales and solemn hills. And when the angels came with their messages of peace to earth they came to such a scene as that. They did not choose the Temple in Jerusalem, and from its lofty pinnacle flash their glory on a slumbering city — that would have been at variance with the character of their message, and discordant with the unostentatious spirit of their King.

2. And that humble shepherds were the first to receive the glad tidings is as instructive as it is strange. The event itself was unparalleled, and the simple announcement of it was destined, like a stone cast into the still lake, to extend its influence in ever-widening circles; yet it was to men lowly and obscure, without worldly place or power of any kind, that the first proclamation was made. In the world's view it would have been deemed an utter waste to brighten the sky with angels, and pour down from the steeps of glory cataracts of tumultuous song, for a few poor shepherds. But no consideration speaks more real comfort to our hearts than this. It shows us plainly that there is no respect of persons with God; that in His eye the loftiest and the lowliest are as one.

3. But not only was the message of the angels given to shepherds, it was given to them while they were pursuing their work. Idle men do not receive visions. It is not in the working up of spiritual ecstasy, but in the sober and honest discharge of life's duties, that we are most likely to find God and be found of Him.

4. The shepherds were "sore afraid." But their fear soon gave place to action. When the angels had gone away, they said one to another, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see" — not if the thing is come to pass, but — "this thing which is come to pass." They did not arise and go because they doubted, but because they believed. Ah! it was a grand journey of faith — this of the shepherds from the sheep-folds to the manger, worthy to be inserted in the eleventh of Hebrews. What is our attitude towards the Divine announcements?

5. Having seen the Infant Saviour, they immediately made known their story, first to Mary, who kept all these things and pondered them in her heart, and then to the busy crowd of travellers bustling about the inn. No sooner had they found Christ for themselves, than they made it known abroad that they had found Him.

6. But we do not part company with them here. We are told in the twentieth verse that they "returned" — returned to their ordinary work, to their flocks and folds, to those vales and hills from which they had come, now for ever bright to them with something of the angels' glory, and there, in their own quiet life, they "fought the good fight, and kept the faith." God does not call every man to be an apostle. He wants preachers in private as well as in public. He wants the glad tidings to be told in sheep-folds, and in markets, and in shops, as much as in places set apart for the proclamation. And if for you the world has been transfigured, and common things have received the impress of heaven by the vision of God's salvation, then in the place where your daily lot is cast, in the sphere of your common duties and labours, stand forth a witness for righteousness and for God, preach the gospel of peace and salvation to the sin-stricken, sorrow-laden men and women all around you.

(H. Wonnacott.)

He is a type of what gospel-preaching should be.

1. His message is good news. The gospel not a threat nor a law, but news of salvation.

2. To all the people — not merely to an elect few. To all classes — not merely to the intelligent and refined.

3. The cause of this joy proclaimed is the advent of Christ, i.e., the Messiah, the Anointed One, the great High Priest who makes atonement for the past sins of His people; a Saviour because He saves His people from their sins themselves.

4. The attestation of His Divinity (ver. 12). The evidence of His Divinity is His love — the fact that He is placed under all the limitations of humanity (see Philippians 2:5-8).

5. Notice also the first approach of the Divine message always produces fear in the heart (ver. 9), and the message of the gospel to the affrighted heart is ever the same, "Fear not."

6. The convert becomes at once a preacher to others (ver. 17).

7. The shepherds publish. Mary ponders. Both the active and the meditative temperament have a place in the Church of Christ.

(Lyman Abbott, D. D.)

The shepherds were chosen on account of their obscurity and lowliness to be the first to hear of the Lord's nativity, a secret which none of the princes of this world knew. And what a contrast is presented to us when we take into the account who were the messengers to them. The angels who excel in strength, these did God's bidding towards the shepherds. Here the highest and lowest of God's rational creatures are brought together. The angel honoured a humble lot by his very appearing to the shepherds; next he taught it to be joyful by his message.

(J. H. Newman.)

The wise woman of Medina went long pilgrimages to find the Lord, but in vain; and, despairing, she returned to her daily duties, and when there engaged she found the Lord she had elsewhere sought in vain.

(See Trench's Poems.)

Moses received his credentials as the legate of the Almighty and the lawgiver of a new nation while keeping the flocks of Jethro. Gideon threshed wheat by the wine-press when the angel brought him his commission, and the enemies of Israel fled before "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon." Saul going to seek his father's asses found a kingdom for himself; and Samuel waited to anoint David while they fetched him. from "those few sheep in the wilderness." Elisha was ploughing when "Elijah passed by" and cast the mantle of prophecy upon him, and Amos among the herdmen of Tekoa saw God's judgments upon Philistia and Tyre. It was while Zacharias "executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course" that the angel Gabriel brought him "joy and gladness," and all mankind the earnest of a new and glorious dispensation — and the first mortals that ever heard "the sons of God shouting for joy" were a band of shepherds watching their flocks on the Judean hills.

(Amelia S. Barr.)

Learn in the first place from this that a scene that may open in darkness and fright may end in the greatest prosperity and advantage. These shepherds were alarmed and startled; but how soon their consternation ended in exultation and jubilee. Those shepherds may in their time have had many a fierce combat with wolves, and seen many strange appearances of eclipse, or aurora, or star-shooting. But those shepherds never saw so exciting a night as that night when the angel came. And so it often is that a scene of trouble and darkness ends in angelic tones of mercy and of blessing. That commercial disaster that you thought would ruin you for ever, made for you a fortune. Jacob's loss of Joseph opened for him the granaries of Egypt for his famine-struck family. Saul, by being unhorsed, becomes the trumpet-tongued apostle to the Gentiles. The ship splitting in the breakers of Melita sends up with every fragment on which the two hundred and seventy-six passengers escape to the beach the annunciation that God will deliver His ambassadors. The British tax on tea was the first chapter in the Declaration of American Independence. Famine in Ireland roused that nation to the culture of other kinds of product. Out of pestilence and plague the hand of medical science produced miracles of healing. It was through bereavement you were led to Christ. The Hebrew children cast into the furnace were only closeted with the Son of God walking beside them, the flames only lighting up the splendour of His countenance. And at midnight, while you were watching your flocks of cares, and sorrows, and disappointments, the angel of God's deliverance flashed upon your soul, crying, "Fear not. Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." If I should go through this audience to-day, I would find that it was through great dark-hess that you came to light, through defeat that you came to victory, through falling down that you rose up, and that your greatest misfortunes, and trials, and disasters have been your grandest illumination.

(Dr. Talmage.)

Hunters and warriors make a great figure in the world; but he that feeds the sheep is more honourably employed than he who pursues the lion. The attendance of man upon these innocent creatures, which God hath ordained for his use, is an employment which succeeded to the life of Paradise. The holy patriarchs and servants of God were taught to prefer the occupation of shepherds. Their riches consisted in flocks and herds; and it was their pleasure, as well as their labour, to wait upon them in tents, amidst the various and beautiful scenery of the mountains, the groves, the fields, and streams of water O happy state of health, innocence, plenty and pleasure — plenty without luxury, and pleasure without corruption! How far preferable to that artificial state of life; into which we have been brought by over-strained refinement in civilization, and commerce too much extended; when corruption of manners, unnatural, and consequently unhealthy, modes of living, perplexity of law, consumption of property, and other kindred evils, conspire to render life so vain and unsatisfactory, that many throw it away in despair, as not worth having. A false glare of tinselled happiness is found amongst the rich and great, with such distressing want and misery amongst the poor, as nature knows nothing of, and which can arise only from the false principles and selfish views and expedients of a weak and degenerate policy.

(Wm. Jones.)Several of the most gracious Divine manifestations, and most interesting discoveries, concerning the Messiah, were made under the Old Testament, to men who followed this occupation, as, e.g., to Abraham, Moses, David. In like manner, a singular honour was now preparing for the shepherds of Bethlehem, who, from the reception they gave the heavenly message, and the part they afterwards acted, appear to have been believing and holy men, whom Divine grace had taught and prepared to welcome a coming Saviour.

(James Foote, M. A.)

It is only in the cool months that sheep feed through the day. In the greater part of the year they are led out to pasture only towards sunset, returning home in the morning, or if they be led out in the morning they lie during the hot hours in the shade of some tree or rock, or in the rude shelter of bushes prepared for them (Song of Solomon 1:7). They are taken into the warmth of caves or under other cover during the coldest part of winter; the lambs are born between January and the beginning of March, and need to be kept with the ewes in the field, that the mothers may get nutriment enough to support the poor weak creatures, which cannot be taken to and from the pasturage, but must remain on it. That many of them die is inevitable, in spite of the shepherd's utmost care, for snow and frost on the uplands, and heavy rain on the plains, are very fatal to them. Nor is their guardian less to be pitied. He cannot leave them day or night, and often has no shelter. At times, when on his weary watch, he may be able to gather branches enough to make a comparatively dry spot on which to stand in the wild weather, but this is not always the case. I have heard of the skin peeling completely from a poor man's feet from continued exposure. By night, as we have seen, he has often, in outlying places, to sleep on whatever brush he may gather; his sheepskin coat, or an old rug or coverlet, his only protection Perhaps it fared thus with the shepherds of Bethlehem, eighteen hundred years ago, when they were "abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night."

(C. Geikie, D. D.)

Sunday School Times.
The business of these shepherds that night was staying out of doors to watch their sheep. It was while they were attending to their business that they had a visit from the angels. If they had been at home, or out at a party, or even in a prayer-meeting, when they ought to have been in that sheep-field on the Bethlehem hillside, they would have missed a sight of the angel of the Lord. If they had been playing on harps at a sacred concert, or ornamenting pottery for a synagogue fair, or even carrying an offering up to the temple at Jerusalem, when sheep-watching was their duty, they would not have heard that song of the angels, or seen the glory of the Lord round about them, or received first of all the good tidings for a lost race. The best place in all the world to be is at the post of duty. Nowhere else can such blessings, temporal or spiritual, be fairly looked for. If the Lord has a good gift or a glad message to one of His children, He sends it to the place where the child ought to be found. If the child is not there, he fails of getting what he might have had to rejoice over. Day or not — night and day, be where you belong. If your duty calls you to stay at home, stay there, and never suppose that you can have a bigger blessing anywhere else. If your duty calls you to be on a steamer, or a railway car, out in the streets or the fields, at a party or a prayer-meeting, in a store or a factory, at a concert or a church-service, in the home of a friend to give counsel or cheer, or in a dwelling of poverty to administer relief, be there, at whatever cost or risk is demanded, and understand that it is safest and best for you to be there only.

(Sunday School Times.)

The news of Christ's birth is a message for an angel to deliver, and it had been news for the best prince on earth to receive. Yet it fell not out amiss that they to whom it first came were shepherds; the news fitted them well. It well agreed to tell shepherds of the yearning of a strange Lamb, such a Lamb as should "take away the sins of the world;" such a Lamb as they might "send to the Ruler of the world for a present" — Isaiah's Lamb. Or, if ye will, to tell shepherds of the birth of a Shepherd. Ezekiel's Shepherd: "Behold, I will raise you a Shepherd," "the Chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:4); "the Great Shepherd" (Hebrews 13:20); "the Good Shepherd. that gave His life for His flock" (John 10:11). And so it was not unfit news for the persons to whom it came.

(Bp. Lancelot Andrewes.)

Who the angel was, we are not told. Quite probably it was the same angel who had already made annunciation to Zacharias in the temple, to Mary at Nazareth, to Joseph in his slumber — even the same Gabriel, Strength of God, who, five centuries before, had made annunciation to the exile by the Ulai. The glory of the Lord which shone round about these shepherds was doubtless that same miraculous effulgence in which Deity had been wont in the earlier ages to enshrine Himself, and which the rabbins called the Shechinah. Diversified as well as extraordinary were the appearances of that Shechinah in ancient days. It had gleamed as a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life; it had flickered as a lambent flame in the brier-bush of Horeb; it had hung as a stupendous canopy over the mountain of the law; it had hovered as a glittering cloud above the cherubim overshadowing the mercy-seat; it had marshalled the hosts of Israel for forty years, towering like a pillar of cloud by day and like a pillar of fire by night; it had filled the temple of Solomon, flooding it with a brightness so intense that the priests could not enter to minister; it was to be the radiant cloud which should enfold out of sight the ascending Lord; it will be the great white throne on which that ascended Lord will descend when He returns in the pomp of His second advent. But never had it served a purpose so august and blissful as on this most memorable of nights when, after centuries of eclipse, it suddenly reappeared and shone around the astonished shepherds. Well might the effulgent cloud now return, as though in glad homage to the Incarnation; for on this night is born He who is to be His own Church's true pillar of fire-cloud, to marshal her through sea and wilderness into the true promised land. Oh, since the day was as the night when Jesus Christ died, let us be grateful that the night was as the day when Jesus Christ was born. But where shall we find this mighty Deliverer? How shall we know Him when we see Him? The sign is twofold. The first sign is this: "Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes." The Christ of God might have descended an archangel, glittering with celestial emblazonry. And it is a sign as powerful as simple. Had He descended otherwise, we might not have believed so easily in the reality of the Incarnation. We might have said that He was an angel. But when we behold Him a helpless little Babe, we feel that the Incarnation was no acting — no phantom. We feel that Deity has in very truth come down within our sphere, linking His fortunes with ours, taking our life, like ourselves, at its germ as well as at its fruit, sharing with us the cradle as well as the grave, the swaddling clothes of Mary of Bethlehem as well as the burial linen of Joseph of Arimathea. But the angel gives a second sign: "Lying in a manger." Not, then, in choice apartments of an inn, not in sumptuous nurseries of the opulent, not in palaces of royalty, was the King of kings and Lord of lords to be cradled; but in a crib, amid the beasts of the stall. And this was to be one of the secrets of his kinghood. In fact, all society is built up from below. "The roof is most, dependent upon the foundation than the foundation upon the roof. Nearly all, if not quite all, the movements which have changed the thinking and determined the new courses of the world have been upward, not downward. The great revolutionists have generally been cradled in mangers, and gone through rough discipline in early life. Civilization is debtor to lowly cradles, and unknown mothers hold a heavy account against the world." — "Ecce Deus," by Joseph Parker, D.D.

(G. D. Boardman.)

Wherefore at night this Babe of Glory was born that He might turn the night into day.

(Bishop Hacker.)

The heathen make much ado, and relate it not without admiration, by what mean and almost despised persons the deep knowledge of philosophy was first found out and brought to light. As Protagoras earning his living by bearing burdens of wood; and Cleanthes no better than a Gibeonite, fain to draw water for his liberty. Chrysippus and Epictetus mere vassals to great men for their maintenance, yet these had the honour to find out the riches of knowledge for the recompense of their poverty; but the day shall come that these philosophers will wonder that they found out no more than they did, and be astonished that silly shepherds were first deputed to find out one thing more needful than all the world beside, even Jesus Christ. Tiberius propounded his mind to the Senate of Rome, that Christ, the great Prophet in Jewry, should be had in the same honour with the other gods which they worshipped.

(Bishop Hacker.)The Good Shepherd that giveth His life for His sheep, would first be manifested to those good shepherds that watched over their sheep.

(Bishop Hacker.)Surely these shepherds had heavenly meditations in their minds, and were most religiously prepared, when His ambassador of heaven did approach unto them. And you, my beloved, I speak to one with another, if that innocency and harmlessness were in you that was in them, you would think many a time that a Divine beam did shine upon your soul, and that you had your conversation with angels.

(Bishop Hacker.)

There are two sorts of persons noted for finding out Christ more eminently than others, the shepherds before all others after He was born, and Mary Magdalen the first of all men and women, as far as we read, after His resurrection. The shepherds were vouchsafed their blessing, because they watched by night, a hard task if you consider the time of the year; and Mary was so prosperous because she rose very early in the morning to seek her Lord. It is hard to say whether ever she slept one wink for care and grief, since the Passion of our Saviour; and God knows who shall be the first that finds Him at His second coming in Glory, when He shall come also like a thief in the night; but whosoever he be, this I am sure of, he must be none of them that sleep in gluttony(that are heavy with surfeiting and drunkenness, with chambering and wantonness, he must watch or be fit to waken to find the Lord.

(Bishop Hacker.)

Suffer not your eyelids to shut, but sift and shake your own heart; examine yourself, remember what a blessing it is to be a watchful shepherd, that an angel of comfort may come and sing salvation unto you.

(Bishop Hacker.)

To include you all, every man and woman in the application, suppose you are nobody's keeper but your own; why be watchful and prudent over the safety of your own soul; and when I have spoke that word, your soul, I perceive instantly that you have a whole flock to look to, and it is all your own, the affections and passions Of your mind, them I mean; it you bridle their lust and wantonness, if they do you reasonable service, you have a rich flock, sheep that shall stand upon the right hand of God: if they usurp and fill you full of uncleanness, they are a flock of goats, that shall be condemned unto the left. What says Cato of our affections? They are to be governed like a flock of sheep, you may rule them altogether so long as they follow and keep good order, but single one out alone, and it will be unruly and offend you; as who should say all our affections must be sanctified to God, the whole flock; let one passion have leave to straggle and all will follow it to destruction. Let the watchfulness of the heart especially be fixed upon this flock, the desires, the passions over all that issues out of the soul

(Bishop Hacker.)

1. The Lord did put on this glorious apparel, even a robe of light to express the Majesty of His Son, who was born to save the world.

2. This lightsome apparition about the shepherds, a type of the light and perspicuousness which is genuine and proper to the gospel.

3. The dark night was brightened with a shining cloud at our Saviour's nativity, to signify that He should be a light of consolation to them that sate in the dark night of persecution and misery. The most obscure things shall be made manifest unto His light, and the thoughts of all hearts shall be revealed unto Him.

4. No sooner was the world blest with the birth of this holy Child, God and Man, but the angels put on white apparel, the air grows clear and bright, darkness is dispelled; therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and walk as children of the light; the earth Should be more innocently walked on to and fro, because Christ hath trod upon it; our bodies kept clean in chastity, because He hath assumed our nature and blessed it.

5. A glimpse of some celestial light did sparkle at His birth to set our teeth on edge to enjoy Him who is Light of lights, very God of very God, and to dwell with Him in that city which hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it, for the Glory of God did enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. I conclude with St. Paul (Colossians 1:12).

(Bishop Hacker.)

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