“A super-infinite plan” by Maximus the Confessor (A.D. 580–662)

“For it was fitting for the Creator of the universe, who by the economy of His incarnation became what by nature He was not, to preserve without change both what He himself was by nature and what He became in His incarnation.

For naturally we must not consider any change at all in God, nor conceive any movement in Him. Being changed properly pertains to movable creatures.

This is the great and hidden mystery, at once the blessed end for which all things are ordained. It is the divine purpose conceived before the beginning of created beings.

In defining it we would say that this mystery is the preconceived goal for which everything exists, but which itself exists on account of nothing.

With a clear view to this end, God created the essences of created beings, and such is, properly speaking, the terminus of His providence and of the things under His providential care.

Inasmuch as it leads to God, it is the recapitulation of the things He has created. It is the mystery which circumscribes all the ages, and which reveals the grand plan of God (Eph. 1:10–11), a super-infinite plan infinitely preexisting the ages.

The Logos, by essence God, became a messenger of this plan (Isa. 9:6) when He became a man and, if I may rightly say so, established Himself as the innermost depth of the Father’s goodness while also displaying in Himself the very goal for which His creatures manifestly received the beginning of their existence.”

–Maximus the Confessor, Ad Thalassium 60, in On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ: Selected Writings from St Maximus the Confessor, ed. John Behr, trans. Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken, vol. 25, Popular Patristics Series (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003), 124–125.

“Strengthen Your servants to boldly declare Your name” by Columba (A.D. 521-597)

“O Lord,

Holy and true,
Who opens and none can shut,
As You have set before Your church an open door,
Strengthen Your servants to boldly enter in
And to declare Your name,
That they who oppose may yet come to worship
And may know that You love Your church.

Grant to Your people patience to keep Your Word,
And keep them from the hour of trial which is coming
Upon the whole world to try them who dwell on the earth,
And encourage all Christians in every land
To hold fast that which You have given,
That the crown of glory be not taken away,
But that having overcome, they may stand before You
As pillars in the temple of God
And bear the name of the heavenly city
And Your own new name, O Christ our God.

Father, we commend to You all who are joined to us
By natural bonds of love;
The little children dear to our hearts,
And all who for our sakes daily deny themselves.
May all our kindred,
Having Your Holy Spirit as their helper,
Be at peace and have unfeigned love among themselves.
And grant them, O Lord, not only what is sufficient to supply
The needs of this present life but also the good
And eternal gifts that are laid up for them who do Your commandments
Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen.”

–Columba, as quoted in Sinclair Ferguson, Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings For Advent(Epsom, U.K.: Good Book Company, 2018), 155-156.

“The hardest promise the Father ever made” by Sinclair Ferguson

“The cross and the empty tomb tell us something. They prove that all of God’s promises can be trusted.

For the promise that His Son would suffer in our place (Isaiah 53:4-6) was surely the hardest promise the Father ever made. And He kept it. In fact, says Paul, ‘all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20)’.

What does God promise to you this Christmas and beyond?

He promises to forgive all your sins when you turn from them.

He promises always to hear you when you call to Him.

He promises only to work for your good.

He promises to walk alongside you through all the hard times, and bring you safely into His presence in heaven.

If you love Him, you will trust Him.

How? By remembering that God has already kept His hardest-to-keep promise in Christ— from His makeshift cradle to His empty grave.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings For Advent (Epsom, U.K.: Good Book Company, 2018), 101.

“The excellency of Christ in the beauties of nature” by Jonathan Edwards

“Now we have shown, that the Son of God created the world for this very end, to communicate Himself in an image of His own excellency. The beauties of nature are really emanations, or shadows, of the excellencies of the Son of God.

So that when we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ. When we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see His love and purity.

So the green trees and fields, and singing of birds, are the emanations of His infinite joy and benignity. The easiness and naturalness of trees and vines are shadows of His infinite beauty and loveliness. The crystal rivers and murmuring streams have the footsteps of His sweet grace and bounty.

When we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous bow, we behold the adumbrations of His glory and goodness and in the blue skies, we see His mildness and gentleness.

There are also many things wherein we may behold His awful majesty: in the sun in its strength, in comets, in thunder, in the towering thunderclouds, in ragged rocks and the brows of mountains.

That beauteous light with which the world is filled in a clear day is a lively shadow of His spotless holiness and happiness and delight in communicating Himself.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Entry 108: Excellency of Christ” in The “Miscellanies”: Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 13, Ed. Harry S. Stout (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 279. This entry may be read here in its entirety.