Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology
Lancelot Andrewes Works, Sermons, Volume One
SERMONS OF THE NATIVITY.
PREACHED UPON CHRISTMAS-DAY, 1610.
Preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Tuesday, the Twenty-fifth of December, A.D. MDCX.
Transcribed by Dr Marianne Dorman
St. Luke ii:10-11
And the angel saith unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, Which is Christ the Lord.
Et dixit illis angelus: Nolite timere: ecce enim evangelizo vobis gaudium magnum, quod erit omni populo.
There is a word in this text, and it is hodie, by virtue whereof this day may seem to challenge a special property in this text, and this text in this day. Christ was born, is true any day; but this day Christ was born, never but to-day only. For of no day in the year can it be said hodie natus but of this. By which word the Holy Ghost may seem to have marked it out, and made it the peculiar text of the day.
Then it will not be amiss, donce cognominatur hodie, as the Apostle speaketh, ‘while it is called to-day,’ to hear it. To-morrow, the word hodie will be lost; this day and not any day else it is in season. Let us then hear it this day which we can hear no day besides.
It is then the first report, the very first news that came, as this day, of that which maketh this day so high a feast; the birth of Christ. [64/65]
It came by an Angel then; no man was meet to be the messenger of it. And look, how it came then so it should come still, and none but an Angel bring it, as more fit for the tongues of Angels than of men. Yet since God hath allowed sinful men to be the reporters of it as the second hand, and the news never the worse; for that good news is good news and welcome by any, though the person be but even a foul leper that brings it: yet, that the meanness of the messenger offend us not, ever we are to remember this; be the party who he will that brings it, the news of Christ's birth is a message for an Angel.
This had been news for the best prince in the earth. That these illis here, these parties were shepherds, that this message came to them, needs not seem strange. It found none else at the time to come to; the Angel was glad to find any to tell it to, even to tell it the first he could meet withal; none were then awake, none in case to receive it but a sort of poor shepherds, and to them he told it.
Yet it fell not out amiss that shepherds they were; the news fitted them well. It well agreed to tell shepherds of the yeaning 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,’ mitte Agnum Dominatori terrĺ—Esay's Lamb. Or, if ye will, to tell shepherds of the birth of a Shepherd, Ezekiel's Shepherd; Ecce suscitabo vobis Pastorem, ‘Behold, I will raise you a Shepherd;’ ‘the Chief Shepherd,’ ‘the great Shepherd;’ and ‘the Good Shepherd that gave His life for His flock.’ And so it was not unfit news for the persons to whom it came.
For the manner; the Angel delivereth it evangelizando, ‘church-wise,’ and that was a sign this place should ever be the exchange for this news. Church-wise, I say, for he doth it by a sermon, here at this verse; and then by hymn or anthem after, at the 14th verse. A sermon: the Angel himself calls it so, evangelizo vobis, ‘I come to evangelize, to preach you a gospel;’ that first. And presently after he had done his sermon, there is the hymn, Gloria in excelsis, taken up by the choir of Heaven. An Angel makes the one; a multitude of Angels sing the other. The whole service of this day, the sermon, the anthem, by Angels, all. [65/66]
Now the end of both sermon and anthem, and of the Angels in publishing it, and of the shepherds and us in hearing it is gaudium, ‘joy,’ for the benefit and honour; gaudium magnum, ‘great joy,’ for the great benefit and great honour vouchsafed our nature and us this day. ‘Joy’ is in the text, and if joy be in the time, it is no harm. We keep the text, if we hold the time with joy, for so the angel doth warrant us to hold it.
Of this angelical or evangelical message, or, as not I but the Angel calleth it sermon, these two verses I have read are: I. are part. Whereof the former is but an ecce, exciting them to hear it by magnifying the message as well worth their hearing. ‘Be not afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of II. great joy, which shall be to all people.’ The latter is very message itself, ‘that there is born unto you this day a Saviour, Which is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.’
I. In the former are these points; 1. ‘Fear not,’ it is no ill news I bring you. 2. Nay, it is ‘good news.’ 3. Good, for it is ‘news of joy.’ 4. Joy, and that no ordinary but ‘great joy.’ 5. Not to some few, but ‘to the whole people.’ 6. And not toti populo, ‘to all one people,’ but omni populo, ‘to all people whatsoever.’ 7. And then, not for the present, but quod erit omni populo, ‘that is and so shall be to all, as long as there shall be any people upon earth.’ And by virtue of this quod erit, to us here this day. Ecce, ‘behold,’ such is the news I bring.
II. In the latter, the message itself, The sum whereof is the birth of a Child, a Child is born. Three things are proposed of Him. 1. This Child is ‘a Saviour,’ 2. ‘A Saviour, Which is Christ.’ 3. ‘Christ the Lord,’ Christus Dominus. For every saviour is not Christ, nor every Christ Christus Dominus, ‘Christ the Lord, or the Lord Christ.’ He is all three.
Then have we besides three circumstances, of the 1. Persons, 2. Time, and 3. Place. 1. The persons for whom all this is, twice repeated; 1 evangelizo vobis in the first verse, 2. natus vobis in the second. But this I make some doubt of whether it be a circumstance or no; I rather hold it a principal part of the substance, as the word of conveyance whereby it passeth to us. And sure there is no joy either in evangelizo [66/67] ‘the message,’ or natus, ‘the birth’ without it, without vobis. But if the message and the birth itself both be ours, then it is gaudium magnum indeed. Specially, if we add 2. the time when, not many days hence, but even this very day. And 3. the place where, that it is in no remote region far hence, but ‘in the city of David,’ even here hard by.
And then lastly in a word; what our parts are to perform, to these parts, 1. this day's message, and 2. this day's birth of our ‘Saviour, Christ the Lord.’
‘Be not afraid.’ Here is a stop, that the message cannot proceed; for the sight of the messenger hath almost marred the hearing of the message. The parties to whom it comes be in such fear as they be not in case to receive it. ‘They were afraid,’ and that ‘sore afraid,’ as is said in the verse before, at the sight of the Angel that came with the news.
And this was not the case of these poor men only; others and other manner of people were so, as well as they. This Gospel of St. Luke is scarce begun, we are yet but a little way in the second chapter, and we have already three noli timeres in it; and all, as here, at the coming of an Angel. 1. ‘Fear not, Zachary.’ (chap. 1. 13.) So he was afraid. 2. ‘Fear not, Mary.’ (chap.1.30) So she was afraid. 3. And now, ‘Fear not’ these here, that it seems to be general to fear at an Angel's appearing.
What was it? It was not the fear of an evil conscience; they were about no harm. Zachary was at Church at his office; the blessed Virgin, I doubt not, blessedly employed; these here doing their duty, ‘watching over their flock by night;’ yet feared all. What should the matter be? It is a plain sign our nature is fallen from her original; Heaven and we are not in the terms we should be, not the best of us all.
Angels are the messengers of Heaven. Messengers ever come with tidings, but whether good or bad we cannot tell. Her come an Angel with news from Heaven; what news he brings we know not, and therefore we fear because we know not. Which shews all is not well between Heaven and us, that upon every coming of an Angel we promise ourselves no better news from thence, but still are afraid of the messages and messengers that come from that place. [67/68] That the message then may proceed, this fear must be removed. In a troubled water no face will well be seen, nor by a troubled mind no message received, till it be settled. To settle them then for it; no other way, no other word to begin with but noli timere, ‘fear not;’ and so he doth seven times in this Gospel.
But fear will not be cast out with a couple of words, till they see some reason to quiet them. And no better reason, than to shew they have no reason to fear. For fear is the expectation of evil, and there is no evil toward them; and so they have no reason to fear, quod trepidaverunt timore ubi non erat timor. As if he should say, Angels have come with weeping, as Judges 2. I. If I were such an one, if I came with sad tidings, ye had reason, ye might fear. But now your terror groweth out of error. You are mistaken in me, I am no such Angel; I am Angelus evangelizans, ‘an Angel with a Gospel,’ one that comes with no bad news. ‘Fear not’ then. There is no evil towards.
No evil; and that were enough for ‘fear not.’ But there is a farther matter; not only privative, ‘I bring no ill,' but positive, ‘I bring you good news.’ And good news is nolite timere and somewhat besides, that is, ‘fear not’ but be of good cheer. They be two degrees plainly, though one be inferred of the other. Fear no ill, there is none to fear; there is no ill, nay there is good towards. For good news is good, in that it represents the good itself to us before it come. It is but words. True—but such words made Jacob ‘revive again,’ when he was more than half dead, even the good news of Joseph's welfare. ‘If I might but hear good tidings,’ saith David, when his bones were broken, ‘it would make me well again;’ that Solomon said well, ‘A good messenger is a good medicine.’
Specially, this here which is so good as it carrieth away the name from the rest, to be called the Gospel or the glad tidings, as if none so glad, nay none glad at all without it. It is, saith the Apostle, odor suavitatis, ‘a comfortable sweet saviour.’ It is, saith the Wise Man, dulcedo animĺ, et sanitas ossium, ‘the sweetness of the soul, the very health of the bones.’ [68/69] It is such, saith the Prophet, ‘as the lips are precious, and the feet beautiful, of them that bring it,’ that a Saviour is born, as by Whom ‘things in Heaven and things in earth,’ men and Angels—which were in fear one of another Ý ‘are set at peace, and love;’ and ‘love casteth out fear,’ giveth the true noli timere.
Good news of joy; for of good news there are more sorts than one. Good news it had been, if it had been but evangelizo vobis spem, ‘news of good hope;’ that had been enough for nolite timere. This is more, it is of joy. I wot well there is a joy in hope, Spe gaudentes, saith the Apostle; but that joy is not full, ‘till the fulness of time come.’ Nor it is not perfect, for it is allayed somewhat with an unpleasing mixture, which is spes differtur, and that, as the Wise Man saith, affligit animam, ‘hope deferred afflicteth the soul.’ Gaudium spei is nothing to gaudium rei; the hope de futuro, of a thing to come hereafter, nothing to the actual fruition of a thing present.
And indeed, this day's news it was ever evangelium spei, ever in the future tense before. Even the very last before this to the blessed Virgin, Ecce concipies, ‘Thou shalt conceive’ Ý ‘Shalt.’ So it was yet to come. This is the first in the present tense; not, ‘is to be born,’ ‘is to be sent,’ ‘is to come,’ but natus est, missus est, venit, ‘is born,’ ‘is sent,’ ‘is to come.’ Hodie, even ‘to-day’ takes no time; ‘in the city David,’ not far hence, but even hard by. This evangelizo gaudium, ‘this is joy indeed.’
But even in joy there be divers degrees. All are not of one size. Some there are lesser; some, as this here, gaudium magnum. The fire is as the fuel is, and the joy is as the matter is. There is not like joy to a shepherd when his ewe brings him a lamb, as when his wife brings him a son; yet that of a lamb is a joy, such as it is. But then, if that son should prove to be princeps pastorum, ‘the chief shepherd in all the land,’ that were somewhat more. But then, if he should prove to be a Cyrus, or a David, a prince, then certainly it were another manner of joy, gaudium magnum indeed. As the matter is, so is the joy. And here the benefit is great, none greater; as much as the saving of us all, as [69/70] much as all our lives and souls are worth; therefore great. And the person great, none so great—it is the Lord Himself—therefore primĺ magnitudinis, ‘great even as He is.’ Indeed so great it is, that the Prophet bids us plainly ‘remember no more former things, nor regard matters of old.’ This passeth them all, the joy of it puts them all down; so that none of them shall once be mentioned with it. Therefore well said the Angel, Evangelizo gaudium magnum.
And great it may be intensive, in the parties themselves; yet not great extensive, nor extend itself to many, not be gaudium magnum populo. Yes, even that way also it is great; it is public joy, it is ‘joy to the people.’ And well fare that joy where it is merry with all. It is added purposely this, that they might not mistake when he said, Evangelizo vobis, ‘he brought them good news;’ that though he brought it them, yet not them only; it was not appropriate to them, it was common to others. They had their parts in it, but so should others have no less than they. And every good shepherd will like it the better for that, will be pro grege, and still prefer the joy of the whole flock.
In other joy it falls out as Esay tells, ‘multiply the nation, and ye shall not increase their joy;’ for that which one wins another loses: but this joy, the joy of Puer natus est nobis, in it ‘they shall all rejoice before Thee, as men make merry in harvest, and be joyful as men that divide the spoil.’ ‘In harvest;’ and a good harvest all the country is the better for. ‘At a spoil;’ wherein every one hath his share. That is gaudium populi, and such is this. Well figured in the place of His birth, an inn, which is domus populi, ‘open to all passengers’ that will take it up; juris publici, ‘wherein every one hath right.’ Yea, and the most common part of the inn. For though they sort themselves and have every one their several chambers, in the stable all have interest; that is common. And as the place public of His birth: Christmas joy right; all fare the better for this day. Salus populi is the best, and so is gaudium populi too; and every good mind will like it so much the better than all the people have their part in it.
And this were much, toti populo, ‘to the whole people,’ if it were but one; but it is omni populo, say Theophylact and [70/71] Beda, that is, ‘to all people,’ which is a larger extent by far. And if ye speak of great joy, this is great indeed, for it is universal, it is as great as the world is great; when not the Jew only but the Gentile, nor the Gentile but the Jew, not one people but all, keep a feast. And at this word olmni populo, nec vox hominem sonat, ‘it is not man that speaketh now,’ whose goodness commonly when it is at the greatest extendeth no farther but to one nation; but with God it is never great, till it come to omni populo. ‘It is but a small things (saith He by Esay) to raise the tribes of Jacob, or to restore the decays of Israel; I will give thee a light to the Gentiles, and a salvation to the end of the world.’
As we said of the inn even now the place of His birth, so say we here of the time of it. It is well set down by St. Luke to have been at the description of the whole world; for that was a meet time for the Saviour of the whole world to be born, ‘the dew of Whose birth is of the womb of the morning’—the Psalmist in passion of joy misplacing his words, the meaning is, ‘His birth from the womb is as the morning dew’ which watereth and refreseheth the face of the whole earth; not Gideon's fleece alone, but the whole earth; not one part, not Gideon's fleece alone, but the whole earth; not one part, not the Jews only, no partition now but utraque unum, ‘one or two;’ nay, one of all; all recapitulate in himself, and from Him as a centre lines of joy drawn to all, and every part of the circle.
And we may not pass by quod erit, ‘which shall be,’ which not only is but shall be. For by this word we hold; it is our best tenure. Not only to all that then were—then had we our best tenure. Not only to all that then were—then had we been out—but that were or ever should be to the world's end. Omni populo, ‘all people,’ is the latitude or extent; quod erit, ‘that shall be,’ is the longitude or continuance of the joy. Quod erit, that it shall be a feast of joy, so long as any people shall be to hold a feast of on the face of the earth. In a word that same evangelium ĺternum that St. John saw in the Angel's hand we now hear from the Angel's mouth, ‘to be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people’ that be, or shall be while the world endureth.
So, if we read quod erit with omni populo. But some read gaudium with quod erit (gaudium quod erit,) and make a note of that; the joy quod erit, ‘that is and shall be.’ For [71/72] commonly all our earthly joy is gaudium quod est, et non erit, ‘that is for the present, but continueth not;’ is, but shall not be, like the blaze of a brush faggot, all of flame and out again suddenly in a moment. Gaudium quod erit, ‘the joy that so is as it shall be still,’ is grounded upon the joy of this day—Christ and His Birth. Without which our joy is as the joy of men in prison, merry for a while, but within a while sentence of death to pass upon them. Without which extrema gaudii luctus occupat, ‘the end of all our mirth will be but mourning.’ All joy else is, but shall not be within a while; at leastwise, erit quando non erit, a time shall be when it shall not be. Sed gaudium Meum nemo tollet a vobis; ‘but My joy’—Mine, grounded on Me Ý ‘none shall ever take from you;’ not sickness, not death itself. Other it shall, this it shall not; but now ye shall this day, and evermore ye shall rejoice in the holy comfort of it.
And this is the magnifying of the message. 1. No evil news, ‘fear not.’ 2. Nay ‘good,’ be of good cheer. 3. ‘Good news of joy.’4. ‘Of great joy.’ 5. ‘Public joy,’ toti populo. 6. ‘Universal joy,’ omni populo. 7. ‘Joy to all’ that are or shall be; and again, ‘joy which now is, and shall be so for ever.’
Now upon all these He setteth an ecce, and well He may; and that is never set by the Holy Ghost but super res magnĺ entitatis, ‘upon matters of great moment.’ But upon this hill, upon the top of it that hath so many ascents, a beacon would do well. For look, how many ecces in the Scriptures, so many beacons; and between them, as between these, ye shall observe a good correspondence still. This ecce here. To the last, Ecce concipies of the blessed Virgin; that to Esay's Ecce concipet Virgo; that to David's Ecce de fructu ventris tui; that, to Abraham's Ecce in semine tuo; and so up, till ye come to semen mulieris. There they first begin, and take light one from another, till they come to the Ecce natus est hodie, the ecce of all ecces, the last and highest of them all. And as a beacon serveth to call up and stir up men to have regard, so is this here to excite them, and in them us all, with god tidings. And indeed, who is not excited with it? whose eye is not turned to behold this ecce? whose ear standeth not attent to hear this [72/73] evangelizo? whose heart doth not muse, ‘what manner of message this should be?’
This it is then, quod natus est. The birth of a Child, ‘that there is One born this day’ the cause of all this joy.
There is joy at every birth. ‘Sorrow in the travail,’ saith our Saviour, ‘but after the delivery the anguish is no more remembered, for joy that a man is born into the world.’
But the greater he is who is born, and the more beneficial his birth, the greater ado is made. And among men, because there are none greater than princes, and great things are looked for at their hands, their births are ever used to be kept with great triumph. Pharaoh's in the Old, Herod's in the New; both their natus ests day of feasting.
Now of Him who is born here it may truly be said, Ecce major hic, ‘Behold a greater is born here.’ One, whose birth is good news even from the poorest shepherd to the richest prince upon the earth.
Who is it? Three things are said of this Child by the Angel. 1. He is a ‘Saviour.’ 2. ‘Which is Christ.’ 3. ‘Christ the Lord.’ Three of His titles, well and orderly inferred one of another by good consequence. We cannot miss one of them; they be necessary all. Our method on earth is to begin with great; in Heaven they begin with good first.
But we are not so much to regard the ecce how great it is, as gaudium what joy is in it; that is the point we are to speak to. And for that, men may talk what they will, but sure there is no joy in the world to the joy of a man saved; no joy so great, no news so welcome, as to one ready to perish, in case of a lost man, to hear of one who will save him. In danger of perishing by sickness, to hear of one will make him well again; by sentence of the law, of one with a pardon to save his life; by enemies, of one that will rescue and set him in safety. Tell any of these, assure them but of a Saviour, it best news he ever heard in his life. There is joy in [73/74] the name of a Saviour. And even this way, this Child is a Saviour too. Potest hoc facere, sed hoc non est opus Ejus, ‘This He can do, but this is not His work;’ a farther matter there is, a greater salvation He came for. And it may be we need not any of these; we are not presently sick, in no fear of the law, in no danger of enemies. And it may be, if we were, we fancy to ourselves to be relieved some other way. But that which He came for, that saving we need all; and none but He can help us to it. We have therefore all cause to be glad for the birth of this Saviour.
I know not how, but when we hear of saving or mention of a Saviour, presently our mind is carried to the saving of our skin, of our temporal state, of our bodily life, and farther saving we think not of. But there is another life not to be forgotten, and greater the dangers, and the destruction there more to be feared than of this here, and it would be well sometimes we were remembered of it. Besides our skin and flesh, a soul we have, and it is our better part by far, that also has need of a Saviour; that hath her destruction out of which, that hath her destroyer from which she would be saved, and those would be thought on. Indeed our chief thought and care would be for that; how to escape the wrath, how to be saved from the destruction to come, whither our sins will certainly bring us.
Sin it is will destroy us all. And to speak of a Saviour, there is no person on earth hath so much need of a Saviour as hath a sinner. Nothing so dangerous, so deadly unto us, as is the sin in our bosom; nothing from which we have so much need to be saved, whatsoever account we make of it. From it cometh upon us all the evil of this life, and from it all the evil of the life to come; in comparison whereof these here are not worth the speaking of. Above all then we need a Saviour for our souls, and from our sins; and from the everlasting destruction which sin will bring upon us in the other life, not far from us, not from him of us that thinketh it farthest off.
Then if it be good tidings to hear of a Saviour, where it is but a matter of the loss of earth, or of this life here; how then, when it cometh to the loss of Heaven, to the danger of hell, when our soul is at the stake, and the well-doing or undoing of it for ever? He that could save our souls from that destroyer Ý [74/75] were not the birth of such an one good new trow? Is not such a Saviour worth the hearkening after? Is He not? It is then because we have not that sense of our souls and the dangers of them, that we have of our bodies; nor that fear of our ghostly enemies, nor that lively apprehension of the eternal torments of that place, and how near we are to it, nothing being betwixt us and It but this poor puff of breath which is in our nostrils. Our carnal part is quick and sensible, our spiritual is dead and dull. We have not the feeling of our sins that we have of our sickness; if we had, we would hear this news with greater cheerfulness, and hold this day of the birth of such a Saviour with joy indeed. We cannot conceive it yet, this destruction is not near enough to affect us. But in novissimo intelligetis plane, ‘in the end,’ when the destroyer shall come and we shall find the want of a Saviour, ‘we shall plainly understand this,’ and value this benefit and the joy of it as we ought, and find there is no joy in the earth to the joy of a Saviour.
‘There is born a Saviour,’ is the first. The Angel addeth farther, ‘A Saviour Which is Christ.’ For, many saviours had been born, many had God sent them that at divers times had set them free from divers dangers of their enemies; Moses, from the Egyptians; Joshua, from the Canaanites; Gideon, from the Midianites; Jephtha, from the Ammonites; Sampson, from the Philistines. And indeed, the whole story of the Bible is nothing else but a calendar of saviours that God from time to time still stirred them up.
But these all were but petty saviours, there was One yet behind that was worth them all. One, that ‘should save His people from their sins;’ save not their bodies for a time, but their souls for ever, which none of those saviours could do. One therefore must spoken of, wished for, and waited for, a Saviour Which was Christ. When He came they looked for great matters, as said the woman at the well’s side, for He was the most famous and greatest Saviour of all. And this is He, ‘a Saviour Which is Christ.’ He, of Whom all the promises made mention, and He the performance of them all; of Whom all the types under the Law were shadows, and He the substance of them all; of Whom all the prophecies ran, and He the fulfilling of them all; He, of Whom all those inferior [75/76] saviours were the figures and forerunners, and He the acomplishment of all in them was wanting. This is He; Jacob's ‘Shiloh,’ Esay's ‘Immanuel,’ Jeremy's ‘Branch,’ Daniel's ‘Messias,’ Zachary's oriens ab alto, Aggei's desideratus cunctis gentibus, ‘the desire of all the nations’ then, and now the joy of all nations, a Saviour Which is Christ.
And what is meant by this term Christ? A Saviour anointed; or, as in another place it is said more agreeable to our phrase of speaking, a Saviour ‘sealed’—a Saviour under God's Great Seal. That is, not as those other were, saviours raised up of a sudden upon some occasion, to serve the turn for the present, and never heard of till they came; but a Saviour in God's fore-counsel resolved on, and given forth from the beginning; promised and foretold, and now signed and sent with absolute commission and fullness of power to be the perfect and complete Saviour of all.
And to be it, ex officio; His office, His very profession, to be one, that all may have right to repair unto Him, and find it at His hands. Not as Saviour incidentally, as it fell out; but one, ex professo, anointed to that end, and by virtue of His anointing appointed, set forth, and sent into the world to exercise this function of a Saviour; not for a time, but for ever; not to the Jews, as did the rest, but even to all the ends of the earth. So runs His bill, Venite ad Me omnes, ‘come all;’ and, qui ad Me venerit non ejiciam foras, ‘of them that come to Me, I will cast none out.’ Servator omnium hominum, ‘the Saviour of all men,’ and as the Samaritans said of Him, Servator mundi, ‘the Saviour of the world,’ of Samaritans, Jews, Gentiles; of kings, of shepherds, and all.
And there is yet more particularity in this word Christ: three offices did God from the beginning erect to save His people by, and that, by three acts—the very heathen took notice of them—1. Purgare, 2. Illuminare, 3. Perficere. 1. Priests, to purge or expiate; 2. Prophets, to illuminate or direct them; 3. Kings, to set all right, and to keep all right in that perfection which this world admitteth. And all these three had their several anointings. Aaron the Priest, Elisha the Prophet, Saul the King. In the Saviour Which is Christ, His will was all should meet, that nothing in Him might want to the perfecting of this work. That He might be a [76/77] perfect Saviour of all, He was all. ‘A Priest after the order of Melchizedek;’ a Prophet to be heard when Moses should show his peace; a King to save His people, ‘Whose name should be Jehova Justitia nostra.’ David's Priest, Moses' Prophet, Jeremy's King.
And these formerly had met double, two of them in some other; Melchizedek, King and Priest; Samuel, Priest and Prophet; David, Prophet and King. Never all three but in Him alone; and so, no perfect Christ but He; but He all, and so perfect. By His Priesthood to purge, expiate, and ‘save us from our sins, being a propitiation to God for them;’ by His prophecy to illuminate and save us from the by- paths of error, ‘guiding our feet in the way of peace;’ by His kingdom protecting and conducting us through the miseries of this life, till He perfect us eternally by Himself in the joys of His Heavenly Kingdom. Rightly then, ‘a Saviour Which is Christ.’
Now, as in the name Saviour there was, so is there likewise joy in this name Christ; and that, many ways: 1. First, that we shall hang no more in expectation, we shall be no longer, Vincti spei, ‘Hope's prisoners.’ He that should come is come. The promised Saviour, the Saviour Which is Christ is now born, and when spes becomes res then our joy is full. 2. That now there is a saving office erected, One anointed to that end, a professed Saviour to Whom all may resort. We shall not be to seek, ‘there is a name given under Heaven’ whereby we may be sure of salvation, the name of Christ. 3. That to this our saving we have the joint consent and good-will of all parties, in this name Christ. Christ, that is, the Anointed, what Person is He? The Son, the second Person. Anointed by whom? By the Father (Quem unxisti) the first Person. Anointed with what? With the Holy Ghost, the third Person. So a concurrence of all Persons in this Name, all willing and well-pleased with the work of our salvation. 4. If we would be saved, we would be saved unctione, ‘by oil,’ not by vinegar. Et unguentum effusum Momen ejus; ‘and His name is Christ, one that saveth by anointing.’ 5. And if by oil—there be hot oils—with a gentle lenitive oil. And the oil which He useth, wherewith He is anointed, is the oil of gladness. Gladness therefore must needs go with this [77/78] Name. Which oil of gladness is not for Himself but for us, not for His use but for ours. So He saith Himself in His first sermon at Nazareth, upon His text out of Esay. The anointing, this oil of gladness, was upon Him to bestow it upon us, and of us; upon them especially that through a wounded conscience were troubled with the spirit of heaviness, to turn their heaviness into joy. Glad then that He is come that by His office is to save, and come with the good liking of all; to save us by oil, and that the oil of gladness.
And yet to make our joy more full the Angel addeth the third. ‘A Saviour Who is Christ, Christ the Lord,’ For neither is this all. He is not Christ only. We must not stay there. For the name Christ will agree, hath been, and may be imparted to others besides. Many a king in Scripture hath had the honour to carry the name of Christ, but with a difference. The king, christus Domini, ‘the Lord's christ;’ He Christus Dominus, ‘the Lord Christ,’ or ‘Christ the Lord.’ Consider then, how great this Child is, Whose anointed kings themselves are. For if they be christi Domini, ‘the Lord's anointed;’ His they are, for He is the Lord. The Lord absolute, without any addition; ye may put it to what ye will—Lord of men and angels, Lord of heaven and earth, and all the hosts of them, Dominus Christorum, and Dominus Dominorum, ‘Lord paramount over all.’
But why the Lord? Because this name of Christ will sort with men. Nay, as He is Christ, that is, anointed, He is man only. It is His name as Man, for God cannot be anointed. But He who should save us would be more than Man; and so, more than Christ. Indeed, Christ cannot save us. He who must save us must be the Lord. For ‘such a Saviour it behoveth us to have,’ as might not begin the work of our salvation and leave it in the midst, but go through with it and make and end too, which the former saviours could not do. Formerly, ever their complaint was, that their saviours, their christs died still, and left them to seek; their kings, and priests, and prophets, dropped away still, for ‘they were not suffered to endure by reason of death.’ But this Saviour, this Christ, because He is the Lord, ‘endureth for ever, has an everlasting Priesthood,’ Kingdom and Prophecy and so ‘is able perfectly to save them who come to God by Him.’ [78/79] This is one reason, why hither we must come at the last to Christ the Lord, and till we be at it we be not where we should. Else, our saviours will die and leave us destitute.
But the main reason is set down by Esay, Ego sum, Ego sum, saith God Himself, et prĺter Me non est Servator; ‘It is I, I that am the Saviour, I am, and besides Me there is no Saviour,’ none indeed, no true Saviour but the Lord. All other are short, Vana salus hominis, saith the Psalm, ‘Man's salvation is vain,’ any salvation is vain if it be not the Lord's.
1. Those christs that were not the Lord, could save but the body, and not one of them quicken his own soul; Christ that is the Lord can save souls and bodies, His own and others both. Those christs that were not the Lord, could save but from carnal enemies, with arms of flesh; He, from our ghostly enemies, even ‘spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places,’ from Abaddon the great destroyer of the bottomless pit. 3. They that were not the Lord could save but from worldly calamities, could but prune and take off the twigs, as it were; He, from sin itself, and so plucketh it up by the roots.
4. They that were no the Lord put if off but for a time, and after it came again—temporal only. He for ever, once for all; and is become ‘Author of eternal salvation’ to all who depend on Him. And mark that word ‘eternal,’ for none but the Lord can work eternal salvation. 5. They all had need of a Saviour themselves, and of this Saviour; He needs none, receives of none, imparts to all, as being not a Saviour only but Salus ipsa in abstracta, ‘Salvation itelf,’ as Simeon calleth Him ‘of Whose fulness we all receive.’ To save may agree to man; to be salvation can agree to none but to Christ the Lord. To begin and to end; to save soul and body from bodily and ghostly enemies; from sin the root, and misery the branches; for a time and for ever; to be a Saviour and to be salvation itself; Christ the Lord is all this, and can do all this. Now then we are right, and never till now. ‘A Saviour Which is Christ the Lord.’
But the name ‘Lord’ goeth yet further, not only to save us and set us free from danger, to deliver us from evil; but to state us in as good and better condition than we forfeited by our fall, or else though we were saved we should not save by the match. To make us then savers, and not savers only, [79/80] but gainers and that great gainers by our salvation, He doth further impart also the estate annexed of this last title, even whatsoever He is Lord of Himself. And He is ‘Lord of life,’ saith St. Peter, life then He imparts. And He is ‘Lord of glory,’ saith St. Paul, glory then He imparts. And He is Lord of joy, intra in gaudium Domini, ‘enter into the joy of the Lord;’ joy then He imparts. Life and glory and joy; and makes us lords of them, and of whatsoever is within the name and title of Lord. For having thereto a double right, 1. by inheritance as the Son, 2. and by purchase as a Redeemer, (for ‘therefore He died and rose again, that He might be Lord of all;’) contenting Himself with the former. He is well pleased to set over the latter to us, and admit us with Himself into His estate of joint-purchase of Heaven, or whatsoever He is the owner of; that in right of it we may enter into the life, glory, and joy of our Lord, and so be saved and be savers, and more than savers every way. This also is in the word ‘Lord,’ this benefit farther we have by it.
And now, if we will put together natus and Servator, Servator and Christus, Christus and Dominus, Dominus and natus; ‘born and Saviour, Saviour and Christ, Christ and the Lord, the Lord and born;’ take them which way you will in combination, any of the four, then have we His two natures in one Person. In Servator, His Godhead; none but God is a Saviour. In Christus, His Manhood; God cannot be anointed, man may. In Dominus, His Divine again, ‘the Lord from Heaven.’ In natus, His human nature directly, born of a woman; both ever carefully joined, and to be joined together. When St. Matthew had begun his Gospel thus, ‘The Book of the generation of Jesus Christ the Son of David,’ one nature, His humanity; St. Mark was careful to begin his thus, ‘The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God,’—the other nature, His divinity. But St. John he joins them, Verbum caro factum est, ‘the Word became flesh.’ Verbum, ‘the Word,’ there is Dominus; and caro, ‘the flesh,’ that is natus.
And even this very conjunction is a new joy. For that such an one, that the Lord would condescend to be born, besides the benefit there is also matter of honour. Even that He, so [80/81] great a Person, would become such as we are, would so esteem our nature as to take it upon Him—this certainly is a great dignity and exaltation of our nature, and it is matter of new joy that He would so highly value it as to assume, associate, and unite it into one Person with the Son of God. By this we see why ‘a Saviour,’ why ‘Christ,’ why ‘the Lord.’ ‘A Saviour,’ His name of benefit whereby He is to deliver us; ‘Christ,’ His name of office whereby He is bound to undertake it; ‘the Lord,’ His name of power whereby He is able to effect it. We see also why Man, and why God. First, so it should be, for of right none was to make satisfaction for man but man; and in very deed none was able to give satisfaction to God but God. So that being to satisfy God for man, He was to be God and man. Secondly, so we would wish it ourselves: if we would be saved, we would be saved by one of our nature, not by any stranger. He is born, and so one of our own nature. Again, if we would be saved, we would be saved by no inferior, but by the best; He is the Lord, and so the very best of all. And so, our desire is satisfied every way.
This blessed birth of this ‘Saviour Which is Christ the Lord’ thus furnished in every point to save us throughly, body and soul, from sin the destruction, and Satan the destroyer of both, and that both here, and for ever—this blessed and thrice blessed birth is the substance of this day's solemnity of the Angel's message, and of our joy.
And now to the circumstances; and first of the persons, vobis; ‘I bring you good tidings, that to you is born,’ &c.
We find not any word through all but there is joy in it, and yet all is suspended till we come to this one word, nobis; this make up all. This word therefore we shall do well ever to look for, and when we find it to make much of it. Nothing passeth without it; it is the word of application. But for it, all the rest are loose; this girds it on, this fastens it to us, and makes it ours. But for it, we but in their case, Quid nobis et Tibi, ‘What have we to do with Thee?’ This ‘Saviour Christ the Lord,’ in this good time and fit place, quid ad nos? ‘what are we better?’ Omni populo, is something what too general, and the hundredeth part of them shall not be benefited by Him. We would hear it in more particularity. [81/82] Why vobis, ‘for you it is,’ born for you. Yea, now ye say somewhat.
And twice it is repeated for failing, in either verse once. Evangelizo vobis and natus vobis, that ye may know the message is yours, and the birth is yours; therefore the message is sent to you, because the birth concerneth you. But yours they be, both.
May we then be bold to change the person, and utter it in the first which he doth in the second, and say nobis! We may be sure—Puer natus est nobis; Esay hath said it before us. And thereby lieth a mystery. The Angels they say, vobis: the Prophets were men; men say, nobis. Bid the Angel say, nobis, he cannot—neither sing nor say it; Angelis he cannot, ‘to Angels,’ (Nusquam Angelos;) but hominibus ‘unto men,’ he can and doth. And this is a special high prerogative; that which the Angels can neither sing nor say, we can do both.
If then He be born to us, it is to some end. Esay tells us what it is, when he expoundeth natus by datus, ‘born to us’ ‘by given us.’ Born to be bestowed upon us. And if given us, bestowed upon us, then He is ours. Ours His benefit, His office, His power. His benefit to save us, His office to undertake us, His power to assure us. Ours, His salvation as Jesus, His anointing as Christ, His dominion as the Lord. And if He be ours, then all His are ours; Omnia Ejus nostra sunt; His birth ours, and if His birth, all that follow His birth, ours too.
Now then, seeing He and they be ours, will it not be well done to make our entry, to take seisin of Him and them, and dispose them to our best benefit? And how can we do that better than as God has offered Him to us this day that He was born for us, so we reciprocally this day that He is born offer Him again to God as the best pleasing oblation that we can offer Him. To-day, as in the Temple alive for our morning oblation; and when the time cometh of His death, offer Him as on the Cross slain for our evening sacrifice. So shall we, as Bernard wisheth us, uti Nostro in utilatem nostrum, et de Salvatore salutem operari, ‘employ, or make use of Him for our best behoof; draw His proper extract from Him, and work salvation out of this our Saviour.’
Now a word only, what is to be done on our parts and [82/83] that respectively to these two points, what we are to return to them; what to this message, and what to this birth.
To the message, Evangelizo vobis, this we are to return; this is due to a message—to hear it. And that we do, and that is all; we come to the Sermon, we hear it, and little we do besides. But we hear it but heavily, with a faint affection. God knoweth; we hear it not as an ecce, as matter of high admiration; we hear it not as gaudium magnum, with that alacrity and cheerfulness we should. We hear it not as nobis, as if it nearly touched us, but as a matter that little concerned us, it skilled not much whether we heard it or no. Many meaner things affect us more, but this should be the joyfullest hearing that we ever heard.
And shall we not likewise perform some duty to natus est? Yes, even to that also. And not hear of Him, and let Him alone; hear His tidings, and let Himself go.
He was ‘born for us and given us,’ natus nobis and donatus nobis—both go together in the Prophet. To a gift the duty that belongeth properly, is to receive it. If He be natus nobis and donatus nobis, I trust we will take order He be acceptus a nobis. If ‘born for us, and given us,’ it is our part then, we can do no less than receive Him. We evacuate the gift, disgrace both the Giver and it, we vouchsafe not to accept of it.
How is that? how shall we receive Him? who shall give Him us? That shall One That will say unto us within a while, Accipite, ‘Take this is my Body,’ ‘by the offering whereof you are sanctified.’ ‘Take, this is my Blood,’ by the shedding whereof you are saved. Both in the holy mysteries ordained by God as pledges to assure us, and as conduit pipes to convey into us this and all other the benefits that come by this our Saviour.
Verily upon His memorable days, of which this is the first, we are bound to do something in memory, or remembrance of Him. What is that? Will ye know what is it? Hoc facite, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’
Something would be thought on ‘to return Him for all His benefits,’ and this day for this first, the fountain of all the rest—His birth. Some thanks would be rendered Him for it. And how can we do that better than as we are taught by him [83/84] that studied the point of Quid retribuam, and resolved it thus; no way so well as by acciptum Calicem, ‘I will take the Cup of salvation.’ And so do it: so, with it taken into our hands, ‘give thanks to the name of the Lord.’ And what better than to-day, hodie as we are here directed? What better day than on this day, the very day He was bestowed on us. To defer Him no longer than He did us. He deferred not us at all, but as soon as He was born sent us word the same instant; and shall we defer Him to hear of us another time, and not be as ready on our part to receive Him instantly as He was on His to bestow Himself; even presently, as soon as He was born? Sure, somewhat would be done more than ordinary this day of His birth; the day itself is more than ordinary.
And let this move us. It ever there be day of salvation, ecce hic est dies salutis, behold this is it when a Saviour is born unto us. If ever an accepted time, ecce tempus acceptum, behold, now it is, this is that time. The birth-day hath ever been a time accepted. Then, one king forgave the trespass of his servant and received him to grace. Another, being pleased, was ready in his bounty to have given away the one half of his kingdom. Our Saviour Christ, our Lord, on His birth-day will be no worse than they. His bounty then no less than theirs.
Let us then make this so accepted a time in itself twice acceptable by our accepting, which He will acceptably take at our hands. Let us honour this day with our receiving, which He has honoured by His first giving; yielding Him evermore (but this day, the day of it, chiefly,) our unfeigned hearty thanksgiving for this so good news, for this so great a gift, both of them this day [given to] us; in Him and for Him, Who was Himself the gift, our ‘Saviour, Christ the Lord.’ To Whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, three Persons, one immortal, ever-living, invisible, only wise God; be all honour, glory, blessing, praise, and thanksgiving, this day and for ever.