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me ? saith the Lord : I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts ; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he
“When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts ? Bring no more vain oblations ; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with : it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your newmoons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth : they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you ; yea,
make many prayers, I will not hear : your hands are full of blood." Wash you, make you clean ; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes : cease to do evil; learn to do well ; seek judgement; relieve the oppressed ; judge the fatherless, plead for the widow," &c.
Thus we see what God requireth, and what he allows. When we neglect those works by which our neighbour is served, he will neglect us : for whatsoever benefit we bestow upon our neighbour, that we bestow upon God, and Christ himself; as he shall pronounce in the last judgement : Mat. xxv. 40. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” When this is heard, ye will not glory in the temples which have been built by you, or masses which ye have founded. For then he will say, what have I to do with thy temples and masses ? what with thy altar and bells ? Thinkest thou that I am delighted with stones and wood, with bells and banners ? were not all things mine at first ? heaven is my seat, and earth my footstool.
Who commanded thee to build temples ? I have et living temples before thee; these are to be edi
fied, nourished, and relieved ; but thou hast been occupied with other trifles, which I have not commanded. Ye ought to have put your trust in me only: but whatsoever I have commanded, that of you hath been neglected; and that which I have detested and abhorred, that ye have done. The wise men did not abhor the miserable appearance of this infant and his parents ; neither should we detest the pitiful estate of our neighbours; but be persuaded that we find Christ in them, and that whatsoever is bestowed upon them, Christ will acknowledge as being bestowed upon himself.
His kingdom consisteth of the poor, despised, and abject; yea, we must bear the cross ; we must suffer contempt, persecution, affliction, and misery; as Paul saith out of the Psalm, xliv. 22. “For thy sake are we killed all the day long; weare counted as sheep for the slaughter.” In another place he saith, 2 Cor. iv. “We are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things." Christ said to his disciples, when he sent them to preach in Judea, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves;"> Mat. x. 16. The wise men found Christ, not in Herods court, not among the princes and priests, nor at the famous city of Jerusalem ; but at Bethlehem, in a stable.
We must now consider what these wise men signified by their gifts. They show by it that this child was a king; and not a king only, but also God and man. In offering gold, they acknowledge him king; as if they should say, we bring thee gold, not that we would thereby enrich thee; for gold and silver, and whatsoever is, was thine before ; but hereby we acknowledge thee to be a mighty king over all things ; so we offer gold to Christ, when we acknowledge him for our king and Lord; but in this is required a strong faith. If I ought to acknowledge him for my king and Lord my will ought also to be extinguished,
that Christ only might reign and rule in me ; and that all things which pleaseth him might be done concerning me. The leper said unto Christ, Mat. “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
My will must be utterly extinguished, if I will have Christ to reign in me.
Christ suffered not his own will to rule, but always submitted himself to the will of his Father; as he saith, John vi. “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Yea, he obeyed his Father even unto death, and submitted himself wholly to his will. We should imitate this example, which is written for our consolation, and rest our hope confidently on him, who brings all things to pass after the counsel of his own will; as it is said in Psalm xxxvii. “ Commit thy way unto the Lord ; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.”
Blessed is he that believeth those things from his heart : such a man, whether he be burned, or drowned, or cast into prison, or otherwise grievously dealt with, taketh it all in good part; for he knoweth that these things shall turn to his benefit. After this sort we offer gold with the wise men, when we suffer not our own will to rule, but suffer Christ to work in us according to his will and pleasure. Wherefore those are hypocrites, who know not how to suffer the will of God, but always complain of his dealings with them. If things go not according to their wishes, they are angry ; they do not patiently suffer persecution and contempt; they murmur and find fault. By resisting, they force the kingdom of Christ from themselves.
By frankincense the wise men represented divine honour, which we offer to Christ when we confess that whatsoever we have comes from God; and that we have it freely without any merit of our own. All things are to be ascribed to him as the true Lord; neither must we glory in the things received, but the
glory of God is to be sought in them : and if he take them from us again, we ought to suffer it with quiet minds, and to bless him with the beloved Job in these words : “ Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither : the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Chap. i. 21. We ought to suffer misfortune and adversity, as if God himself cast them upon us ; so that none may be able to offend us ; for not so much as a hair of our heads shall perish; as Christ saith to his disciples, Luke xxi.
Whatsoever shall molest us, whatsoever adversity shall come upon us, we ought never to seek any other God, neither should we seek help and comfort from any but Christ alone. This is he which is made unto us of God the Father, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. We offer unto Christ frankincense of Arabia, when we fly to him in calamity, affliction, and anguish. But those that seek comfort from other sources, as from sorcerers, witches, &c. they do not offer frankincense to Christ, but loathsome brimstone, wherein they shall be burned forever ; for they have not believed and trusted in Christ.
By myrrh they signified mortal man : for with myrrh dead bodies were anointed which preserved them from putrefaction. Myrrh is a strong and bitter juice, distilled from trees which grow in Arabia ; somewhat like the gum of the pine, or fir tree. We offer myrrh to Christ, when we firmly believe that he by his death hath overcome sin, satan, and hell. This is a special faith. If we believe from the heart that sin and death, the devil and hell, are swallowed up in and by the death of Christ, we shall not be afraid of them all: we shall be preserved from that rottenness which death bringeth, if we have this myrrh, this faith in the death of our Lord Christ in
our bodies and souls ; this will not suffer us to perish.
So strong and valiant a thing is faith, that by it all things are possible. Christ saith in Mark, we must learn daily with our Lord Christ to bring under our old Adam, and mortify the deeds of the body by the cross; not that cross which we choose, but that which Christ layeth upon w; let us bear it with a patient and willing mind, that our bodies may be subdued and made subject to the spirit; that being buried with Christ in baptism, we may be raised with him, and he alone may reign and live in us.
This baptism signifies no other thing than that the old Adam be mortified and buried; which we ought always to bear in mind, seeing that sin remains in us as long as we live in this world. Wherefore St. Paul treats in very good words, which ought to be diligently considered by us ; Rom. vi. “ Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death ; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection ; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin."
“Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him : knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once ; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God