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True Way of Keeping Christmas

The celebration of the birth of Christ hath been esteemed a duty by most who profess Christianity. When we consider the condescension and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, in submitting to be born of a virgin, a poor sinful creature; and especially as he knew how he was to be treated in this world; that he was to be despised, scoffed at, and at last to die a painful, shameful, and ignominious death; that he should be treated as though he was the off-scouring of all mankind; used, not like the son of man, and, therefore, not at all like the Son of God; the consideration of these things should make us to admire the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was so willing to offer himself as a ransom for the sins of the people, that when the fullness of time was come, Christ came, made of a woman, made under the law: he came according to the eternal counsel of the Father; he came, not in glory or in splendor, not like him who brought all salvation with him: no, he was born in a stable, and laid in a manger; oxen were his companions. O amazing condescension of the Lord Jesus Christ, to stoop to such low and poor things for our sake.

Therefore, if we do but consider into what state, and at how great a distance from God we are fallen; how vile our natures were; what a depravity, and how incapable to restore that image of God to our souls, which we lost in our first parents: when I consider these things, my brethren, and that the Lord Jesus Christ came to restore us to that favor with God which we had lost, and that Christ not only came down with an intent to do it, but actually accomplished all that was in his heart towards us; that he raised and brought us into favor with God, that we might find kindness and mercy in his sight; surely this calls for some return of thanks on our part to our dear Redeemer, for this love and kindness to our souls. How just would it have been of him, to have left us in that deplorable state wherein we, by our guilt, had involved ourselves? For God could not, nor can receive any additional good by our salvation; but it was love, mere love; it was free love that brought the Lord Jesus Christ into our world … What, shall we not remember the birth of our Jesus? Shall we yearly celebrate the birth of our temporal king, and shall that of the King of kings be quite forgotten? Shall that only, which ought to be had chiefly in remembrance, be quite forgotten? God forbid! No, my dear brethren, let us celebrate and keep this festival of our church, with joy in our hearts: let the birth of a Redeemer, which redeemed us from sin, from wrath, from death, from hell, be always remembered; may this Savior’s love never be forgotten!

I entreat that your time may be thus spent; and if you are in company, let your time be spent in that conversation which profiteth: let it not be about your dressing, your plays, your profits, or your worldly concerns, but let it be the wonders of redeeming love: O tell, tell to each other, what great things the Lord has done for your souls; declare unto one another, how you were delivered from the hands of your common enemy, Satan, and how the Lord has brought your feet from the clay, and has set them upon the rock of ages, the Lord Jesus Christ; there, my brethren, is no slipping; other conversation, by often repeating, you become fully acquainted with, but of Christ there is always something new to raise your thoughts; you can never want matter when the love of the Lord Jesus Chris is the subject: then let Jesus be the subject, my brethren, of all your conversation.

Let your time be spent on him: O this, this is an employ, which if you belong to Jesus, will last you to all eternity.

George Whitefield
Selected Sermons of George Whitefield, Sermon 16.

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Advent

Advent signifies, the act of approaching, or of coming. The members of Christ’s mystic body, the church, however they may differ in external and non-essential points; yet, are they all firmly united in this faith, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and, consequently, very God, of very God:—that he came to visit us, in great humility:—that he will come again, in the last day, to judge both the quick and the dead:—and that life immortal is obtained for us, and shall be enjoyed by us, through him only.

—Augustus M. Toplady
The Works of Augustus M. Toplady, (London: Richard Baynes, 1825), 3:436.

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Emmanuel—”God with us”

In addition to explaining the Name of Jesus, and recording its God-given origin, the Holy Spirit, by the evangelist Matthew, has been pleased to refer us to the synonym of it, and so to give us still more of its meaning. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” If, when our Lord was born, and named “Jesus,” the old prophecy which said that He should be called Emmanuel was fulfilled, it follows that the name “Jesus” bears a signification tantamount to that of “Emmanuel,” and that its virtual meaning is “God with us.” And, indeed, He is Jesus, the Saviour, because He is Emmanuel, God with us; and as soon as He was born, and so became Emmanuel, the incarnate God, He became by that very fact Jesus, the Saviour. By coming down from Heaven to this earth, and taking upon Himself our nature, He bridged the otherwise bridgeless gulf between God and man; by suffering in that human nature, and imparting, through His Divine nature, an infinite efficacy to His suffering, He removed that which would have destroyed us, and brought us everlasting life and salvation. O Jesus, dearest of all names in earth or in Heaven, I love thy music all the better because it is in such sweet harmony with another Name which rings melodiously in mine ears,—Emmanuel, God with us!

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Christ’s Incarnation (Passmore and Alabaster, 1901), 39.

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Mercy First

Christ is come, but first to save, then to judge: to adjudge to punishment those who would not be saved; to bring them to life who, by believing, did not reject salvation. Accordingly, the first dispensation of our Lord Jesus Christ is medicinal, not judicial; for if He had come to judge first, He would have found none on whom He might bestow the rewards of righteousness. Because, therefore, He saw that all were sinners, and that none was exempt from the death of sin, His mercy had first to be craved, and afterwards His judgment must be executed; for of Him the psalm had sung, “Mercy and judgment will I sing to Thee, O Lord” (Psalm 101:1).

Now, He says “not judgment and mercy,” for if judgment had been first, there would be no mercy; but it is mercy first, then judgment. What is the mercy first?

The Creator of man deigned to become man; was made what He had made, that the creature He had made might not perish. What can be added to this mercy? And yet He has added thereto. It was not enough for Him to be made man, He added to this that He was rejected of men; it was not enough to be rejected, He was dishonored; it was not enough to be dishonored, He was put to death; but even this was not enough, it was by the death of the cross.

For when the apostle was commending to us His obedience even unto death, it was not enough for him to say, “He became obedient unto death;” for it was not unto death of any kind whatever: but he added, “even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Among all kinds of death, there was nothing worse than that death.

—Augustine
NPNF, 7:209.

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Personal Joy of Christmas

To the shepherds the angel said, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people;” and, truly, the angelic message is still the source of joy to all who hear it aright: “Unto you is born . . . a Saviour.” Rejoice, then, ye who feel that ye are lost; for Christ Jesus the Saviour comes to seek and to save you. Be of good cheer, ye who are in the prison-house of sin, for He comes to set you free. Ye who are famished and ready to die, rejoice that Christ Jesus the Lord has consecrated for you a better Bethlehem, a true “house of bread,” and that He has Himself come to be the bread of life to your souls. Rejoice, O sinners, everywhere, for the Restorer of the castaways, the Saviour of the fallen, is born!

Join in the joy, ye saints, for He is also the Preserver of the saved ones, delivering them from innumerable perils, and He is the sure Perfecter of all whom He preserves. Jesus is no partial Saviour, beginning a work, and never completing it; but, saving and cleansing, restoring and upholding, He also perfects and presents the Saved ones, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, before His Father’s face. Rejoice, then, all ye people; let your hills and valleys ring with joy, for a Saviour, who is mighty to save, is born among you.

This joy began with the shepherds, for the angel said to them, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Reader, shall the joy begin with you to-day? It avails you little that Christ is born, or that Christ died, unless unto you a Child is born, and for you Jesus bled. A personal interest in the birth, life, and death of Christ is the main point for each one of us.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Christ’s Incarnation (Passmore and Alabaster, 1901).