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of those who had greatest Skill in the ancient Prophecies, what Place was assigned for the Birth of the expected Messias ; when he understood that Bethlehen was marked out for that Honour, he communicated to the wise Men the Determination of the Chief Priests and Scribes, with a Design to destroy this young Prince if they discovered him; strictly charging them to bring him Word, pretending that he would go and worship him; which Trouble and Jealousy of Herod confirms the Expectation the Jews had of a King to be born about that Time.
Q. How did the wise Men find the young Child Jesus ?
A. By the Help of the same Star which appear-Mat. ii. 9. ed to them in their own Country; which was now visible to them again, and conducted them in their Search of our Saviour, by going before them, and standing still, where the young child was; which was Matter of great Joy and Satisfaction to them.
Q. How did the wise Men behave themselves upon their finding our Saviour?
A. They fell down and worshipped him, and opened their Treasures, and presented unto him Gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh; the most va-Ver. 11. luable Product of their own Country. Thereby also acknowledging his Majesty, according to the Custom all over the East, where they were wont to approach Kings with Presents. And by the Quality , of their Gifts they seemed to describe the Object Iren, lib. of their Adoration; for they offered Myrrh as to 3. c. 10. a Man that was to be delivered to Death and the Grave for our Salvation; Gold, as to a King, whose Kingdom shall have no End; Incense, as to a God, who was made known to them that sought him not.
Q. Why did God manifest his Son to the Gentiles?
A. That his Grace might appear to all Men. For as the Jews had Notice of our Saviour's Birth by the Appearance of Angels to the Shepherds, so the Gentiles received it now by the Appearance of a
Star; thereby shewing that the Time was come wherein the Wall of Partition should be broken down, and that all Nations should be one Sheepfold under one Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. Wherein appears the Zeal and Courage of these wise Men ?
A. That upon the Appearance of an extraordinary Star, they undertook so long and tedionis a Journey; neither regarding the Discourses of the World, which might charge them with Folly and Rashness, nor considering the Dangers of going to proclaim a new-born King at the Court of a jealous Prince.
Q. What may we learn from the Observation of this Festival ?
A. That true Wisdom doth not so much consist in a great Understanding, furnished with a large Stock of universal Learning, as in the Use of such Advantages to the noblest Purposes of serving God and doing Good. That no Man is too great to be religious, because Piety and Virtue are the only Qualities that ennoble the Mind, without which Birth and Title will never give a Man a solid and lasting Character. Readily to obey all divine Inspirations; for though God prevents us with his Grace, yet he expects we should make a right Use of it. Not to be discouraged with any Difficulty that lieth in the Way of our Duty; and notwithstanding the Censures of the World, which will be apt to condemn us, when we depart from the common Road of its loose Maxims, yet cheerfully to obey when Obligations call. To quit our Country, and all the Advantages of Life, when Obedience to God's Command makes it necessary. To take care to testify the Sincerity of our Faith by not being barren or unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To make the outward Acts of our Adoration, and the doing Homage to the Deity, real Expressions of the Sense of our Minds and in
ward Affections. To offer to him the Treasure of our Hearts, which is the chief Sacrifice he requires.
Q. What Virtues do the Offerings of the wise Men represent unto us as an acceptable Sacrifice to our blessed Saviour ? .
A. Gold, which is the common Standard of those good Things we enjoy, and wherewith we may relieve the Wants of the Poor, is a fit Emblem för Charity and Works of Mercy, an Odour of a sweet Phil. iv. Smell, a Sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God. And 18. David's desiring his Prayer might be set before God Ps. cxli. 2. as Incense, and the Prayers of the Saints ascending . after the same Manner in the Revelations, shews us Rev. viii. 4. how fitly our Addresses to Heaven are represented by Frankincense. And the chief Use of Myrrh being to preserve dead Bodies from Putrefaction, is a lively Image of Mortification, that we should present our Bodies a living Sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. So Rom. xiii. 1. that the Offerings of a true Christian should be out of a pure Heart, Charity, Prayer, and Mortification
Q. How may we make our Riches an acceptable Sacrifice to our blessed Saviour ?
A. By making Use of them to those Ends and Purposes for which they were bestowed in supplying the Exigencies of our Families, and in making such decent Provision for our Children, as becomes the Station we are placed in: By satisfying all our just Debts, and not oppressing our poor Neighbours by delaying the Payment of them; and particularly by taking Care that the Necessitous, and those that want Relief, always have their due Proportion, which Justice, as well as Charity, giveth them a Right to.
Q. When may our Prayers be said to ascend before God as Incense?
A. When they are offered with such Constancy and Fertour, as shew we are earnestly solicitous of those Things we ask. And yet with such Modesty and Humility as loudly proclaim our own Unworthiness, and magnify that wonderful Condescension whereby we are admitted to approach God's Presence. When
our Minds are abstracted from the World, and the Concerns of this Life do, as little as may be, mingle with our Requests to God. Above all, when our Betitions are offered with Faith, nothing wavering. And then we may be said to believe we shall receive the good Things we ask, when we perform those Conditions upon which God hath promised to bestow them.
Q. When is our Mortification an acceptable Sacrifice?
A. When we not only abstain from the outward Acts of Sin, which feed our Disease and strengthen our ill Habits; but when we deny our bad Inclinations the Consent of our Wills; and deprive them of all those Occasions and Liberties, which, though lawful in themselves, are yet dangerous to us; because they set us upon the Brink of a Precipice: And when this contradicting our allowed Pleasure is designed in order to get the better of all sinful Desires, so that we may not be governed nor led by them.
Q. How ought we to commemorate the Manifes. tation of our Saviour to the Gentiles ?
A. With great Thankfulness of Mind; because upon this enlarging the Way of Salvation, we became acquainted with the Knowledge of Jesus Christ : And with a compassionate Sense of the Miseries of those that still sit in Darkness, and want the Light of the glorious Gospel.
.: I. For the O GOD. who by the leading of a Star didst maniEnjoyment c of God.“ fest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; merci.
fully grant that I, who know thee now by Faith, may after this Life have the Fruition of thy glorious Godhead, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
II. For the
O LORD, from whom all good Things do come, God's Holy
of for as much as without thee. I am not able to Spirit. please thee; mercifully grant that thy blessed Spirit
may in all Things rule and direct my Heart; that by his holy Inspiration I may think those Things that be good, and by his gracious guiding may perform the same, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
' III. M ost Gracious God, who through thy infinite for the Goodness hast been pleased to offer Salvation to all Propaga
**tion of Mankind, and to receive all humble Supplicants as Christian Objects of thy Mercy; thou didst communicate Knowthe glad Tidings of our Saviour's appearing in the World to the People of Israel by the Ministration of Angels; and thou didst vouchsafe, as on this Day, to reveal the joyful News to the Gentiles, by ordering a bright Star to point at the Rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his Wings. Blessed be thy holy Name for that glorious Lighi, which dispersed itself through the dark Regions of this World, which dispelled the thick Clouds of Ignorance and Idolatry, of Folly and Vanity; which directed Mankind to the true and most worthy Object of their Worship, and raised their Nature to its utmost Improvement. Adored be thy infinite Mercy, which brought the joyful Sound to this Land of my Nativity, and hast permitted it to partake of the gracious and benign Influences of thy distinguishing Providence. O may we always value such an inestimable Benefit, by walking as Children of the Light, and by compassionating the Miseries of those that still sit in Darkness! To this End, I humbly beseech thee to prosper the Undertakings of that Society which is established among us for propagating the Gospel in foreign Parts; make the Members thereof zealous and diligent in that good Work: give them Wisdom to discern the best and most proper Means of promoting it, Courage and Resolution to pursue it; and by Ünity and Affection in their Consultations, and by thy Blessing upon their Endeavours, the Happiness to effect it; through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.