“The Seed of Abraham who existed before Abraham” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Hence, since the Virgin conceived and brought forth a Son, because of His manifest nature of servant, we read: ‘A child is born to us’ (Isaiah 9:6); but, because the Word of God, which remains forever, became flesh so that He might dwell with us, on account of His real, though hidden nature of God, we, using the words of the Angel Gabriel, call ‘his name Emmanuel.’ (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)

Remaining God, He has become Man so that the Son of Man may rightly be called ‘God with us’ and so that in Him God is not one person and man another.

Let the world rejoice in those who believe, for whose salvation He came, by whom the world was made, the Creator of Mary born of Mary, the Son of David yet Lord of David, the Seed of Abraham who existed before Abraham, the Fashioner of this earth fashioned on this earth, the Creator of heaven created as Man under the light of heaven.

This is the day which the Lord has made and the Lord Himself is the bright Day of our heart.

Let us walk in His light; let us exult and be glad in Him.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 187: On the Birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 16-17.

“Your God has become man” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“That day is called the birthday of the Lord on which the Wisdom of God manifested Himself as a speechless Child and the Word of God wordlessly uttered the sound of a human voice.

His divinity, although hidden, was revealed by heavenly witness to the Magi and was announced to the shepherds by angelic voices.

With yearly ceremony, therefore, we celebrate this day which saw the fulfillment of the prophecy: ‘Truth is sprung out of the earth: and justice hath looked down from heaven.’ (Psalm 84:12)

Truth, eternally existing in the bosom of the Father, has sprung from the earth so that He might exist also in the bosom of a mother.

Truth, holding the world in place, has sprung from the earth so that He might be carried in the hands of a woman.

Truth, incorruptibly nourishing the happiness of the angels, has sprung from the earth in order to be fed by human milk.

Truth, whom the heavens cannot contain, has sprung from the earth so that He might be placed in a manger.

For whose benefit did such unparalleled greatness come in such lowliness? Certainly for no personal advantage, but definitely for our great good, if only we believe.

Arouse yourself, O man; for your God has become man. ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from among the dead, and Christ will enlighten thee.’ (Eph. 5:14)

For you, I repeat, God has become man.

If He had not thus been born in time, you would have been dead for all eternity.

Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, if He had not taken upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh.

Everlasting misery would have engulfed you, if He had not taken this merciful form.

You would not have been restored to life, had He not submitted to your death; you would have fallen, had He not succored you; you would have perished, had He not come.

Let us joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festal day on which the great and timeless One came from the great and timeless day to this brief span of our day.

He ‘has become for us righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:30-31)'”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 185: On the Birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 6-7.

“There is nothing in Him to keep you back” by Charles Spurgeon

“O sinners, will you not come to Christ? There is nothing in Him to keep you back.

You need not say, like Esther did of old, ‘I will go in unto the king, if I perish I perish.’

Come, and welcome! Come, and welcome! Christ is more ready to receive you than you are to come to Him.

Come to the King! ‘What is thy petition, and what is thy request? It shall be done unto thee.’

If thou stayest away, it is not because He shuts the door, it is because thou wilt not come.

Come, filthy, naked, ragged, poor, lost, ruined, come, just as thou art. Here He stands, like a fountain freely opened for all comers.

‘Whosoever will, let him come and take of the waters of life freely.'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Meek and Lowly One,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 5 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1859), 324.

“The gentleness and condescension of Christ” by J.C. Ryle

“Let us mark, lastly, in this passage, our Lord Jesus Christ’s readiness to receive all who come to Him.

We are told, that when the multitude followed Him into the desert, whither He had retired, ‘He received them, and spoke unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.’ (Luke 9:11)

Unmannerly and uninvited as this intrusion on His privacy seems to have been, it met with no rebuff from our Lord. He was always more ready to give instruction than people were to ask it, and more willing to teach than people were to be taught.

But the incident, trifling as it may seem, exactly tallies with all that we read in the Gospels of the gentleness and condescension of Christ.

We never see Him dealing with people according to their deserts.

We never find Him scrutinizing the motives of His hearers, or refusing to allow them to learn of Him, because their hearts were not right in the sight of God.

His ear was always ready to hear, and His hand was always ready to work, and His tongue was always ready to preach.

None that came to Him were ever cast out. Whatever they might think of His doctrine, they could never say that Jesus of Nazareth was “an austere man.”

Let us remember this in all our dealings with Christ about our own souls. We may draw near to Him with boldness, and open our hearts to Him with confidence.

He is a Saviour of infinite compassion and lovingkindness. He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. (Isaiah 42:3)

The secrets of our spiritual life may be such as we would not have our dearest friends know. The wounds of our consciences may be deep and sore, and require most delicate handling.

But we need not fear anything, if we commit all to Jesus, the Son of God.

We shall find that His kindness is unbounded. His own words shall be found abundantly true: ‘I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls.’ (Matthew 11:29)

Let us remember this, finally, in our dealing with other people, if we are called upon to give them help about their souls.

Let us strive to walk in the steps of Christ’s example, and, like Him, to be kind, and patient, and always willing to aid.

The ignorance of young beginners in religion is sometimes very provoking. We are apt to be wearied of their instability, and fickleness, and halting between two opinions.

But let us remember Jesus, and not be weary. He received all, spoke to all, and did good to all.

Let us go and do likewise. As Christ deals with us, so let us deal one with another.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 227-228. Ryle is commenting on Luke 9:7-11.

“The sum of the blessings Christ sought” by Jonathan Edwards

“The sum of the blessings Christ sought, by what He did and suffered in the work of redemption, was the Holy Spirit. So is the affair of our redemption constituted.

The Father provides and gives the Redeemer, and the price of redemption is offered to Him, and He grants the benefit purchased.

The Son is the Redeemer that gives the price, and also is the price offered.

And the Holy Spirit is the grand blessing, obtained by the price offered, and bestowed on the redeemed.

The Holy Spirit, in His indwelling, His influences and fruits, is the sum of all grace, holiness, comfort and joy, or in one word, of all the spiritual good Christ purchased for men in this world: and is also the sum of all perfection, glory and eternal joy, that He purchased for them in another world.

The Holy Spirit is that great benefit, that is the subject matter of the promises, both of the eternal covenant of redemption, and also of the covenant of grace; the grand subject of the promises of the Old Testament, in the prophecies of the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom; and the chief subject of the promises of the New Testament; and particularly of the covenant of grace delivered by Jesus Christ to His disciples, as His last will and testament, in John 14-16; the grand legacy, that He bequeathed to them in that His last and dying discourse with them.

Therefore the Holy Spirit is so often called “the Spirit of promise,” and emphatically “the promise, the promise of the Father,” etc. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4 and 2:33, 39; Gal. 3:14; Eph. 1:13 and 3:6).

This being the great blessing Christ purchased by His labors and sufferings on earth, it was the blessing He received of the Father, when He ascended into heaven, and entered into the Holy of Holies with His own blood, to communicate to those that He had redeemed.

John 16:7, “It is expedient for you, that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

Acts 2:33, “Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.”

This is the sum of those gifts, which Christ received for men, even for the rebellious, at His ascension.

This is the sum of the benefits Christ obtains for men by His intercession (John 14:16–17): “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth.”

Herein consists Christ’s communicative fullness, even in His being full of the Spirit, and so “full of grace and truth” [John 1:14], that we might of “this fullness receive, and grace for grace” [John 1:16].

He is “anointed with the Holy Ghost” [Acts 10:38]; and this is the ointment that goes down from the head to the members. “God gives the Spirit not by measure unto him” [John 3:34], that everyone that is His “might receive according to the measure of the gift of Christ” [Eph. 4:7].

This therefore was the great blessing He prayed for in that wonderful prayer, that he uttered for his disciples and all his future church, the evening before he died (John 17): the blessing He prayed for to the Father, in behalf of His disciples, was the same He had insisted on in His preceding discourse with them: and this doubtless was the blessing that He prayed for, when as our high priest, He “offered up strong crying and tears,” with his blood (Heb. 5:6–7).

The same that He shed His blood for, He also shed tears for, and poured out prayers for.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Apocalyptic Writings: “Notes on the Apocalypse” An Humble Attempt, ed. John E. Smith and Stephen J. Stein, vol. 5, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1977), 5: 341–342.

“Every atom in the universe” by Jonathan Edwards

“By virtue of the believer’s union with Christ, he does really possess all things (1 Cor. 3:21-23). But it may be asked, how does he possess all things? What is he the better for it? How is a true Christian so much richer than other men?

To answer this, I’ll tell you what I mean by “possessing all things.”

I mean that God three in one, all that He is, and all that He has, and all that He does, all that He has made or done— the whole universe, bodies and spirits, earth and heaven, angels, men and devils, sun, moon, and stars, land and sea, fish and fowls, all the silver and gold, kings and potentates as well as mean men— are as much the Christian’s as the money in his pocket, the clothes he wears, or the house he dwells in, or the meals he eats; yes, properly his, advantageously his, more his, by virtue of the union with Christ; because Christ, who certainly does possess all things, is entirely his: so that the Christian possesses it all, more than a wife the share of the best and dearest husband, more than the hand possesses what the head does; it is all his.

Every atom in the universe is managed by Christ so as to be most to the advantage of the Christian, every particle of air or every ray of the sun; so that he in the other world, when he comes to see it, shall sit and enjoy all this vast inheritance with surprising, amazing joy.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Miscellany ff,” The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. A–z, Aa–zz, 1–500), ed. Thomas A. Schafer and Harry S. Stout, Corrected Edition., vol. 13, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2002), 13: 183–184.

“The happiness of the Christian is a serious happiness” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“For the Christian man who mourns because of sin and because of the state of the world, there is this comfort—the comfort of the blessed hope, the glory that yet remains.

So that even here, though he is groaning, he is happy at the same time because of the hope that is set before him. There is this ultimate hope in eternity.

In that eternal state we shall be wholly and entirely blessed, there will be nothing to mar life, nothing to detract from it, nothing to spoil it.

Sorrow and sighing shall be no more; all tears shall be wiped away; and we shall bask for ever and ever in the eternal sunshine, and experience joy and bliss and glory unmixed and unspoiled. ‘Happy are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.’

How true it is. Unless we know that, we are not Christian.

If we are Christian, we do know it, this joy of sins forgiven and the knowledge of it; the joy of reconciliation; the joy of knowing that God takes us back when we have fallen away from Him; the joy and contemplation of the glory that is set before us; the joy that comes from anticipation of the eternal state.

Let us, then, try to define this man who mourns. What sort of a man is he?

He is a sorrowful man, but he is not morose.

He is a sorrowful man, but he is not a miserable man.

He is a serious man, but he is not a solemn man.

He is a sober-minded man, but he is not a sullen man. He is a grave man, but he is never cold or prohibitive.

There is with his gravity a warmth and attraction. This man, in other words, is always serious; but he does not have to affect the seriousness.

The true Christian is never a man who has to put on an appearance of either sadness or joviality. No, no; he is a man who looks at life seriously; he contemplates it spiritually, and he sees in it sin and its effects.

He is a serious, sober-minded man. His outlook is always serious, but because of these views which he has, and his understanding of truth, he also has ‘a joy unspeakable and full of glory’.

So he is like the apostle Paul, ‘groaning within himself’, and yet happy because of his experience of Christ and the glory that is to come.

The Christian is not superficial in any sense, but is fundamentally serious and fundamentally happy.

You see, the joy of the Christian is a holy joy, the happiness of the Christian is a serious happiness.

None of that superficial appearance of happiness and joy! No, no; it is a solemn joy, it is a holy joy, it is a serious happiness; so that, though he is grave and sober-minded and serious, he is never cold and prohibitive.

Indeed, he is like our Lord Himself, groaning, weeping, and yet, ‘for the joy that was set before him’ enduring the cross, despising the shame.

That is the man who mourns; that is the Christian. That is the type of Christian seen in the Church in ages past, when the doctrine of sin was preached and emphasized, and men were not merely urged to take a sudden decision.

A deep doctrine of sin, a high doctrine of joy, and the two together produce this blessed, happy man who mourns, and who at the same time is comforted.

The way to experience that, obviously, is to read the Scriptures, to study and meditate upon them, to pray to God for His Spirit to reveal sin in us to ourselves, and then to reveal to us the Lord Jesus Christ in all His fullness.

‘Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.’(Matt. 5:4)”

–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Second edition. (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976), 65-66.