Preparing for the Nativity: George Whitefield

This passage is taken from George Whitefield’s excitingly titled, “The Observation of the Birth of Christ, the Duty of All Christians; Or the True Way of Keeping Christmas,” in which he reminds us that, of all things, the birth of Christ warrants celebration:

If we do but consider into what state, and at how great a distance from God we are fallen; how vile our natures were…when I consider these things, my brethren, and that the Lord Jesus Christ came to restore us to that favor with God which we had lost, and that Christ not only came down with an intent to do it, but actually accomplished all that was in his heart towards us; that he raised and brought us into favor with God, that we might find kindness and mercy in his sight; surely this calls for some return of thanks on our part to our dear Redeemer, for this love and kindness to our souls. How just would it have been of him, to have left us in that deplorable state wherein we, by our guilt, had involved ourselves? For God could not, nor can receive any additional good by our salvation; but it was love, mere love; it was free love that brought the Lord Jesus Christ into our world about 1700 years ago. What, shall we not remember the birth of our Jesus? Shall we yearly celebrate the birth of our temporal king, and shall that of the King of kings be quite forgotten? Shall that only, which ought to be had chiefly in remembrance, be quite forgotten? God forbid! No, my dear brethren, let us celebrate and keep this festival of our church, with joy in our hearts: let the birth of a Redeemer, which redeemed us from sin, from wrath, from death, from hell, be always remembered; may this Savior’s love never be forgotten! But may we sing forth all his love and glory as long as life shall last here, and through an endless eternity in the world above! May we chant forth the wonders of redeeming love, and the riches of free grace, amidst angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, without intermission, for ever and ever!

I cleverly excluded the sections on how Whitefield expects people to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity: without “cards, dice, or gaming of any sort,” without “eating and drinking to excess,” and without taking time off from your “worldly callings to follow pleasures and diversions.” Whitefield really knows how to throw a feast.

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