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showed his glory and power in a miracle; where he turned water into wine at a marriage; by which he would procure reverence and estimation to matrimony; which now in a shameful manner is contemned and rejected by the pope and his adherents, as a miserable and wretched state.
The wise men, who undoubtedly were the governours of the country, when they had seen the star in the East, without delay made haste to Jerusalem, diligently seeking for the new born king of the Jews. They could neither seek nor find out this king, the Lord Christ, but by the star going before them, which led them to the place where he was to be found. So it is with us, we cannot find Christ without the gospel: that must show him to us, and bring us where we may find him. This only is done when we receive the gospel by faith: otherwise, although we may have it, hear it, and know it, it profiteth ua nothing; we shall be as the scribes, who had the scriptures, and showed the way to others, not coming into it themselves, for the subject did not touch their hearts.
It is not enough that we have the gospel, or that we hear it: but we must believe it, and lay it up in the secrets of our hearts, or we shall not find Christ. God respecteth not the person; it matters not whether one be learned or unlearned; instructed in many places of scripture, or in few; unto whom God giveth grace, he it is that enjoys Christ. After the wise men had found the child Christ, at Bethlehem, together with Joseph and Mary, by the help of the scripture and guiding of the star, they were not offended at the low condition of him, but being taught by the word, acknowledged him to be the Mesiah, the king of the Jews; for whom they had looked so many years: they then opened their treasures, and offered him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The wise men do not disdain him because he is without pomp and splendour, neither do they turn back because they find him and his parents in poverty and misery; but undoubtedly acknowledge him as king, as they had learned concerning him out of the scripture. Moreover they give him the honour due to a king ; they offer him most precious gifts, which they had brought out of their own country.
Now the world would have done none of these things ; but according to the custom thereof, would have looked for garments of purple, and a retinue of servants and hand-maidens: Thus it bestows its gifts where there was great plenty and abundance before; yea, it deprives the poor and afflicted of those things they need, and takes bread from the mouth of the hungry. If we will honour Christ with those wise men, we must shut our eyes, and turn them from all which seems fair and goodly to the world. If any thing seem contemptible and ridiculous to the world, let us not be offended, or abhor it; but let this suffice us, that we know it pleaseth God who is in heaven. Let us take heed to ourselves concerning these things; that we may help the needy, comfort the afflicted, and count the calamity of our neighbour as our own.
Whatsoever God hath commanded concerning these things, should be observed ; as to do good to our neighbour, to bear a friendly and willing mind toward him, and assist him in adversity. Christ saith, Mat. v. "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way ; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Here we plainly see that God will not be served, unless we first become reconciled to our neighbour. For the same cause also God rejecteth the sacrifices of the Jews; as it is said in the prophecy of Isaiah, chap. i. "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me 1 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 hegoats."
"When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts 1 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, when ye 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 1 what with thy altar and bells 1 Thinkest thou that I am delighted with stones and wood, with bells and banners 1 were not all things mine at first? heaven is my seat, T. and earth my footstool.
Who commanded thee to build temples 1 I have et living temples before thee ; these are to be edified, 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 ahject; 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; we are 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 Herod's 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 itto 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