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God upon you, and what is required of you by your own generation. Consider yourself as hastening on to judgment and eternity, and ask accordingly. gives you full leave to look at yourself, in all your wickedness and weakness; to consider your ignorance and insufficiency; and then to come with boldness to a throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
The prayer of Solomon was based on humility, he acknowledged his own insufficiency. It breathed of confidence, he called to mind what God had done ; recollected who he was, and cherished a firm conviction of his power and willingness. It displayed heavenly wisdom. Its tendency was to glorify God and benefit others. He sought such a Divine illumination as should enable him to act aright. “Give thy servant a wise and understanding heart, that I may discern between good and bad.” Though you have not to govern a kingdom as Solomon had, yet you have to govern yourself, and to steer your way through a world full of snares and dangers. Seek wisdom from God to discern between good and bad principles, customs, maxims, companions, and guides. Then, having discerned between evil and good, seek grace to decide for that which is good. Pray that your will may ever follow the dictates of an enlightened judgment, and then that the affections may cleave to the object of your choice, that you may delight in that which you have decided to chvose. This is the way to be preserved from fatal and serious mistakes.
Such a line of conduct is well pleasing to God. “ The speech pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing." He gave him his desire, and he gave him many blessings beside. Thus will he deal with you. If your eye be single to his glory, your heart shall be satisfied with his blessings, God will take pleasure both in your graces and in your prosperity, and you shall find true pleasure in his service.
THE BIRTHDAY OF THE FRIEND OF
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise." —Matt. i. 18.
THERE is one birthday which alone can make other birthdays happy. The birth of Jesus Christ is a fountain of holiness, and thus a fountain of happiness. By it the great Jehovah comes into connection with our nature, and all who trust the Saviour are made one with God in the most tender and endearing relationship. Here then is a birthday theme. Here is the subject matter for birthday rejoicing. God himself bids us “rejoice in the Lord alway." If the Son of
God had never been born into our world, it must have been said of all the sons of men, that they had better never have been born; but in consequence of this great event our immortality may become a blessing indeed. He can separate sin from our nature, and lift up that nature to the most sublime pleasures, and honourable employments. Then let the Saviour's incarnation be a theme of never-ceasing praise, let the song which angels sung over our fallen world be still prolonged by the redeemed dwellers thereon, until he shall come again in majesty who once came in lowliness :
“O day of days, shall hearts set free,
No minstrel rapture find for thee!
How various are the circumstances under which the children of men enter upon their earthly pilgrimage. Some are tenderly received into the soft lap of plenty, and others rudely clasped by the rough hands of poverty. On some every face beams with smiles, and, if a tear falls, it is the tear of deep rapture and maternal tenderness; while others are born not only to weep, but to be wept over. But, though there are many points of dissimilarity in outward circumstances, in a moral point of view, all are alike conceived in sin, brought forth in pain, possessed of a sinful nature; all infants are alike the seed of evil-doers, and heirs of shame, however dignified by name, or favoured by outward circumstances. There is one glorious exception to this universal rule. Let us draw near and see this great sight!
Hark! a voice sounds in our ears, “ Put thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place where thou standest is holy ground.” “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifested in the flesh.” This great event was a fulfilment of a series of prophecies and promises, extending over a period of several thousands of years. The nation and family whence the Saviour should come, the place where he should be born, were minutely foretold, and all was fulfilled to the very letter, by a combination of events most wonderful.
In this birth, the divine and human natures were inseparably joined together in one person. “The Lord himself shall give you a sign, Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, God with us,” Isa. vii. 14. God with us! amazing thought! Here, indeed, is a sign both in the height and in the depth. What will not God do, now he hath done this! “God with us !” God not only in our world, by his omniscience; or in our immortal spirits, by his gracious presence; but one with us, taking our nature into personal union with himself. “For as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” Yea, “God sent forth his Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, made of a woman made under the law.”
All this was done in order to make a full, clear, and glorious revelation of God to man, and was intended to be a foundation, upon which to build a beauteous superstructure of grace and glory. Salvation through Christ, union to Christ, fellowship with Christ, and the fruition of God in Christ-all grow out of this great event. He took our nature, that he might in that nature conquer our enemies, bear our sins, sympathise with us in our sorrows, bring God down to us, and attract us up to God. Oh most wondrous birth! The birth of mercy into a world of sin ; of joy, into a world of sorrow; of life, into a world of death; of hope, into a world of despair; of resurrection, into a world of graves !
The preparations for this birth, in type and prophecy, in angelic ministration, and divine operation, are mysterious and awe-inspiring. The circumstances attending it are deeply interesting and grand. The angel's message to Mary, the shepherds' rapture as they heard the heavenly song, and their still deeper emotion, as they gazed upon the wondrous child, the star-directed journey of the wise men, the testimony of Zechariah, the song of Simeon, are all full of heavenly beauty. Faith does not stumble at the mean stable and humble