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Born of a Woman.

by H. P. Liddon
from Christmastide in St. Paul's: 
Sermons Bearing Chiefly on the Birth of Our Lord and the End of the Year. 

Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1898 [Fifth Edition]


Sermon VI. for the Sunday after Christmas.
 ST. MATT. i. 22, 23.
 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Behold, a Virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call
His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
MANY readers of the Bible must be struck by the reason which St. Matthew here gives for the occurrences connected with the Birth of Christ: “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet.” Perhaps we whisper to ourselves that the event predicted is, after all, more important than the prediction; and that it would have been more natural to say that the prophecy existed for the sake of the event, than the event for the sake of the prophecy; that Isaiah’s utterance was meant to prepare the world for Jesus Christ, than that the Birth of Jesus Christ was designed to justify Isaiah. But, in truth, both the prophecy and its fulfilment were from God; and the independent and higher importance of the event is not inconsistent with its being also a certificate of the Prophet’s accuracy. There were other reasons, no doubt, for the Birth of Jesus Christ of a Virgin-Mother; but one reason for it was that it was already foretold on Divine authority. And it fell in with St. Matthew’s general plan throughout his Gospel, to insist on this particular reason. He wrote for Churches consisting almost entirely of converts from Judaism; and he is concerned, at almost every step of his narrative, to show that the Life of Jesus, in all its particulars, corresponded to the statements of Jewish prophecy, as understood by the Jews themselves, respecting the coming Messiah. So he begins at the beginning, with the Birth of Christ; and he says that Jesus was born just as Isaiah had said that Christ would be born, and, among other reasons, because Isaiah had said so. Those first Jewish Christians might feel wonder, even scandal, when first they heard of the embarrassment of St. Joseph, and of the Angelic assurances; but they had only to open the roll of prophecy to find that the history had been accurately anticipated. “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Behold, a Virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” In St. Matthew’s eyes, then, Isaiah is almost as much the historian as he is the Prophet of our Lord’s Nativity. But is it clear that when Isaiah uttered the words which are quoted he meant to predict such an event as St. Matthew records?

It has been suggested that this was not really Isaiah’s meaning; that Isaiah had in view some other event, at once nearer to his own times, and more commonplace and ordinary than the Birth of the Redeemer; and that St. Matthew accommodates the Prophet’s language, by a gentle pressure, to the necessities of the supernatural account which he is himself narrating. And a main reason which is urged for this view of Isaiah’s meaning is, that if we look to the circumstances under which his pro-phecy was uttered, it is difficult to think that so distant an event as the Birth of Messiah would have at all served his purpose in giving a sign to Ahaz.

What, then, were the circumstances which led Isaiah to proclaim, “Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Emmanuel “ ? (Isa. vii. 14.) Ahaz, the King of Judah, was besieged in his capital by the allied forces of Israel and Syria, under their kings Pekah and Rezin. These kings were really leagued against the rising empire of Assyria; but they thought that they would best consolidate their own power in Palestine by deposing the reigning family of David from the throne of Jerusalem and setting up a vassal monarch, “the son of Tabeal,” (Isa. vii. 6.) on whose services they could reckon in the approaching struggle with Assyria. Isaiah, with his son, was sent to encourage Ahaz to make a stout resistance, and to assure him that, notwithstanding the project of the allied kings, God would be faithful to His covenant with David. These associated kings, Isaiah says, need occasion Ahaz no anxiety; they were like brands that are nearly burnt out; there was no Divine force in Syria, and no political future for Israel. Ahaz had only to trust God; all would be well.

Ahaz was silent; silent because suspicious and distrustful. And then Isaiah bade him ask for some token which might assure him of God’s presence with and good will towards him. “Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.”  Had Ahaz then asked for a token of God’s good will towards himself personally, or his immediate descendants, it would, no doubt, have been granted. But Ahaz was bent upon an irreligious policy of his own; he thought that, by the aid of Assyria, he would be able to do without the God and the religion of his ancestors; he looked on God and His Prophets as personal enemies who thwarted his plans; and he did not wish, by asking for a sign, to commit himself to a religious creed and system with which, he hoped, he had parted company for ever. Yet Ahaz, standing before the Prophet, could not refuse to say anything; he must accept or decline the invitation to ask for a sign. He declined to do so; and, as irreligious people often do in like circumstances, he pleaded a religious scruple as the reason for his refusal. The old Law had warned Israel against tempting the Lord by asking for new evidences or “signs” of such truth as was already sufficiently attested; (Deut. vi. 16.) and Ahaz, who had resorted freely to the forbidden arts of necromancy gravely produced this entirely insincere reason to account for his resolve: “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.” (Isa. vii. 12.)

Then it was that Isaiah spoke, not without some righteous anger, to King Ahaz. “Hear ye now, ye house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign.” (Isa. vii. 13.) A sign would be given, but Ahaz could now no longer determine its drift and character. It would show that God would be true to His promises to David; but it would afford scant encouragement to the personal ambitions of the degenerate descendants of the man after God’s own heart. The earthly throne of David might perish; but the promise of unfailing empire made to David would still be safe, though it would be fulfilled in a distant age, and by unthought-of agencies. Just as Moses was assured that God had sent him, by the sign of a future deliverance from Egypt, which at the time seemed impossible; (Exod. iii. 12.) so religious Jews of Isaiah’s day, for whom Isaiah was really speaking, were to be assured of the safety of the great religious interests entrusted to the House of David, by a sign or predicted wonder, without parallel in history, but designed to convince them that God might punish the rebellious kings of Judah, and yet work out the promised salvation of Israel and the human race. “Behold,” Isaiah cries, as he gazes across the centuries at the picture which passes before him—“Behold, the Virgin”—the language shows that he is thinking of one in particular—“is with Child, and beareth a Son, and shall call His Name Emmanuel.” (Isa. vii. 14.)

It was, then, no part of Isaiah’s plan to give a sign which should assure Ahaz of present deliverance; he had done that before in plain language. And when he utters the prophecy quoted by St. Matthew, he has other and higher objects before him, the nature of which must be determined, not by the real or supposed state of mind of Ahaz, but by the natural force of the Prophet’s words.

Here, then, let us consider the importance of the event to which Isaiah thus looks forward, and which the Evangelist describes as fulfilled.


This importance is seen, first of all, in the strictly preternatural character of the occurrence itself. “Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son.” The foil to this prediction is the universal law, by which our race is transmitted, that a child must have two human parents. St. Matthew is explicit in his account of the events which preceded our Lord’s Birth; but it has been contended that the word (Etymologically, the word hmle' may mean a marriageable maiden (ole, adolescere); but in the Old Testament there is no proof of its being applied to any but the unmarried. To determine the sense of such words by that which they, or their roots, bear in the cognate dialects, is a common source of error.) which Isaiah uses, and which is translated “virgin,” may mean a young but married woman. If this were the meaning, it is difficult to see why there should be any allusion to the mother at all, since the predicted child would only be born like all other children, and would not be a sign in the Prophet’s sense. But the Hebrew word for “virgin” is used of Rebekah (Gen. xxiv. 43.) before her marriage with Isaac; of Miriam, (Exod. ii. 8.) the maiden sister of the infant Moses; and in five other places (1 Chron. xv. 20; Ps. lxviii. 25; Prov. xxx. 19; Song of Sol. i. 3; vi. 8.) in which it is found in the Old Testament there is no reasonable ground for thinking that any but unmarried women are meant. I do not forget the names of scholars who, moved apparently by extraneous considerations, have disputed the accuracy of the authorized translation; but one fact in connection with it is instructive, and may throw a great deal of light upon more recent criticism. When the first translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek was made, some two centuries at the least before our Lord, in Alexandria, and nothing was supposed to be at stake, the Jewish translators rendered this word of Isaiah’s by “virgin.” (LXX., paryenov.) But when, in the second century of our era, Aquila, a Jewish proselyte of Sinope, having his eye upon the Christian appeal to Jewish prophecy, undertook a new translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, he rendered it by “a young woman.” (neaniv, Aquila.) If in our day the point could be decided by the natural force of language, without reference to the claims of Christianity or the possibility of the preternatural, there would not be much doubt upon the subject.

For Christians, who bow to the authority of the Gospel, there can be no doubt. After describing our Lord’s Birth of a Virgin-Mother, St. Matthew adds, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Behold, a Virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son.” If the Prophet whom St. Matthew quotes said nothing about a “Virgin,” but was only predicting a marriageable maiden, and a natural birth, St. Matthew’s quotation is not only irrelevant; it is an attempt, by means of a false translation, to claim for his narrative the sanction of prophecy. If we are not prepared to say that the ignorance or the bad faith of the Evangelist is fatal to his authority as a religious teacher, we must continue to read the Prophet as our forefathers read him; we must believe him to have foretold that Emmanuel would be born of a Virgin-Mother.

The Birth of Jesus Christ is not unfrequently discussed in our day, as the birth of a great man, but without reference to the virginity of His Mother. Isaiah’s prediction and St. Matthew’s narrative are passed over, as if they were not of much importance to our estimate of the event. My brethren, it is necessary to say plainly that the account in the Gospel is either true or false. If it is false, it ought to be repudiated by honest men as a baseless superstition. If, as we Christians believe, it is true, then it is a very momentous truth; it implies a great deal more than is to be expressed by saying that the Son of the Virgin was a great or extraordinary Man; it carries us beyond the limits of nature and ordinary experience.

Doubtless, here and there in the heathen world, there were legends of sages or poets who were born of virgins; but these legends are related to the history of our Saviour’s Birth, as are false to true miracles. As the counterfeit miracle implies the real miracle of which it is a counterfeit, so the idea of a virgin-birth, here and there discoverable in paganism, points to a deep instinct of the human race, and to a high probability that the Absolute Religion would satisfy it. Men felt, pagans though they were, the oppression and degradation of their hereditary nature; they longed for some break in the tyrannical tradition of flesh and blood; they longed for the appearance of some being who should still belong to them, yet in a manner so exceptional as to be able to inaugurate a new era in humanity. Revelation, surely, is not less trustworthy because it recognizes an instinct which only led men to do it justice, and which was in accordance with moral truth.


For here we touch upon a primary reason for our Lord’s preternatural Birth. If He was to raise us from our degradation, He must Himself be sinless; a sinless Example and a sinless Sacrifice. Our Lord Himself and His Apostles abundantly insist upon this His sinlessness (St. John viii.; 2 Cor. v. 21; 1 St. Pet. ii. 22.) but how was it to be secured if He was indeed to become incorporate with a race which was steeped in a tradition of evil? When, by his transgression, our first parent had forfeited the robe of grace in which God had clothed him in Paradise, he passed on to his descendants a nature so im-poverished, as to be biassed in a wrong direction; thenceforth evil had the upper hand in human nature. It descended, like a bad name or a disease, from generation to generation; and though here or there, as with Jeremiah (Jer. i. 5.) or the Baptist, (St. Luke i. 15.) there was a special sanctification before birth, yet the millions of mankind had to say with David, “Behold, I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin hath my mother conceived me.” (Ps. li. 5.) How, then, was this fatal entail to be cut off so decisively that all should understand the enfranchisement? The Birth of a Virgin was the answer to that question. The Virgin’s Son was still human; but. in Him humanity had inherited no part of that bad legacy which came across the ages from the Fall. And truly, “such an High Priest became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. vii. 26.)

This, indeed, as you will have anticipated, is not the whole account of the matter. The Birth of Jesus Christ, as we Christians believe, marked the entrance into the sphere of sense and time of One Who had already existed from eternity. At His Birth, as St. Paul says, He was “manifested in the flesh;” (1 Tim. iii. 16; cf. pp. 108, 109.) but whether in this passage He is called God or not, the Apostle’s words at the least imply that our Lord existed before His manifestation in time. The Father “sent forth His Son, made of a woman,” as St. Paul again tells us in the Epistle for today. (Sunday after Christmas Day: Gal. iv. 4.) But the Son existed before He was sent forth; the expression is evidently chosen to imply this. And this previous existence did not date from creation; for “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (St. John i. 1.)

How was the entrance of such a Being into this our world so to be marked as to show that He did not originally owe existence to a human parent? We could not have dared to answer such a question beforehand; but we can see how it is answered by our Lord’s Birth of a Virgin. Was it not natural that Nature should thus suspend her laws to welcome the approach and the blessing of her Maker?


The significance of our Lord’s Birth of a Virgin-Mother may also be gathered from its results.

At this distance of time we can see that no other birth, since the beginning of history, has involved such important consequences to the human race. We Christians have had nearly nineteen centuries in which to form comparisons and to arrive at conclusions. We have had time to take the measure of the great statesmen, soldiers, poets, teachers, who have been foremost among mankind. Who of them all has left behind him a work which can compare with that achieved by Jesus Christ? Napoleon I. once set himself to contrast the empires of Alexander, of Caesar, and his own, with that of our Lord and Saviour. Theirs were transient, His is lasting; theirs had reached a limit, His is ever extending; theirs were based on force, His is based on convictions. Who, again, of the great men of letters has swayed the world like Jesus Christ? Doubtless they, too, have an empire. Who can dispute the influence at this hour of Plato, of Shakespeare, of Bacon? But it is an influence which differs in kind from His: they only interest the intellect, while He subdues the will. Nay, compare Him with the great teachers of false religions; with Sakya-Mouni, who preceded, or with Mohammad, who followed Him. Certainly Buddhism outnumbers Christendom; and we cannot deny the activity of Islam in certain portions of the Eastern world. But these religions are the religions of races with no real future. Christianity is the Creed of the nations which year by year are more and more controlling the destinies of our race. And if it be urged that large portions of the European nations, Christian by profession, are now abjuring Christianity, it may be replied that such an apostasy will not last. Man cannot dispense with Religion; and when he has come into contact with the highest type of Religion, he has thereby exhausted the religious capacities of his nature; the Absolute Religion makes any other impossible for free and sincere minds. The present efforts to replace Christianity by an imaginary religion of the future, distilled out of all the positive religions of the world, is doomed to a. failure only less complete than the attempt to replace it by mere negations. There are not wanting signs of a rebound towards the Faith; there are no signs whatever of a rising religious force capable of superseding it. Meanwhile, all that is best and most full of hope in the civilized world dates from the Birthday of Jesus Christ. Doubtless we owe to the old pagan days some things which rank high in the order of nature. We owe philosophy to Greece, and law and well-ordered life to Rome. But the idea of progress, which, however it may have been misapplied, is perhaps the most fertile and energetic idea in modern public life, is a creation of the Christian Creed. It springs from these high hopes for the future, whether of individuals or of the race, which Christ has taught His disciples to entertain, out of pure loyalty to Himself. And such institutions as hospitals, which make life tolerable for the suffering classes, that is, for the majority of human beings, date, one and all, from the appearance of Jesus Christ, and from the principles which He proclaimed to men with sovereign authority.

To take one point among many, the position of women in Christian society is directly traceable, not only to our Lord’s teaching, but to the circumstances of His Birth.  Before He came, woman, even in Israel, was little better than the slave of man; in the heathen world, as in Eastern countries now, she was a slave, to all intents and purposes. Here and there a woman of great force of character, joined to hereditary advantages, might emerge from this chronic oppression; she might become a Deborah, a Semiramis, a Cleopatra, a Boadicea, or a Zenobia; she might control the world, or at least its rulers. But the lot of the majority of women was a suffering and degraded one. Now, when Christ took upon Him to deliver man, He did not abhor the Virgin’s womb. In the greatest event in the whole course of human history the stronger sex had no part whatever. The Incarnate Son was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary. And therefore in Mary woman rose to a position of consideration unknown before. Nothing was forfeited that belongs to the true modesty and grace of woman’s nature, but the larger share of influence, in shaping the destinies of the Christian races, was secured to her in perpetuity. It was the Incarnation which created chivalry, and all those better features of modern life which are due to it. And surely they are no true friends to the real influence and usefulness of women who would substitute for the Christian ideal of womanhood another, in which she is to compete for awhile with man in all the bustling energy of his public life, and in the end to be relegated to some such social fate as will inevitably follow upon unsuccessful rivalry.

But these outward and visible results of the Birth of Christ were far from being the most important. It is onceivable that such results as these might have been due to a religious genius of commanding influence, or to a man invested with miraculous powers, but still altogether and only a man. The Birth of Jesus Christ meant much more than this. It was the entrance of the Word made Flesh into the scene of sense and time; it was the manifestation of God by His taking our nature upon Him.

Before the Incarnation there was a great gulf fixed between God and man. Man could think about God; he could pray to Him; he could practise a certain measure of obedience to His Will. But in his best moments man was conscious of his utter separateness from God, as the Perfect Moral Being. He was conscious of sin; and this meant nothing less than separation from the All-holy.

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ was a bridge across the chasm which thus parted earth and Heaven. On the one hand, and from everlasting, Jesus Christ is of one Substance with the Father, Very and Eternal God; on the other, He was made very Man, of the substance of the Virgin Mary, His Mother. As the Collect says, “He took man’s nature upon Him.” When He had already existed from Eternity, He folded around Him, and made His own, a created form, a Human Body and a Human Soul, to be for ever united to His Eternal Godhead. Through this His Human Nature He acts, on God’s behalf, upon mankind. Through this His Human Nature He pleads for man before the Majesty of God. Thus there is “one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.” (I Tim. ii. 5.) It is as Man that He mediates between the Creator and the creature, between sinners and the All-holy; but His Godhead secures to His mediation its commanding power. If He were not Human, we should be unrepresented in Heaven, where He ever liveth to make intercession for us. (Heb. vii. 25.) If He were not Divine, it would be impossible to say why His Death upon the Cross should have infinite merit; or why “the Body of Jesus Christ, which was given for us,” should now, in the Holy Sacrament, “preserve our bodies and souls unto everlasting life." (Words of Administration at the Holy Communion.) As Mediator He is at one and the same moment in the bosom of the Godhead, and in the closest contact with the souls of His redeemed; and this is a result of His entrance, clad in a Created Form, into our human world, being as He is the Everlasting Son, yet withal the Child of Mary.

That this is the deepest meaning of Christmas, and of the Birth of Christ, is implied in the Name assigned by prophecy (Isa. vii. 14.) to the Virgin’s Son—the sublime Name, Emmanuel. From the day of the Nativity God was with man, not simply as heretofore, as the Omnipresent, but under new and more intimate conditions. From the day of the Nativity there was a change in the relations between earth and Heaven. To be one with Christ was to be one with God; and this union with God through Christ is the secret and basis of the new kingdom of souls which Christ has founded, and in which He reigns. Who shall describe the wealth of spiritual and moral power which dates from the appearance of the Incarnate Son in our human world, as our “Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption?” (1 Cor. i. 30.)  Here and there we see through the clouds, as though by glimpses, some streaks of the glory of this Invisible Kingdom of souls; but only in another life shall we understand at all approximately what it has meant for millions of our race.


And here, though we are still only on the threshold of the subject, we must note two points in conclusion.

1. Observe the contrast between the real and the apparent importance of the Birth of Christ. To human sense, the event which took place at Bethlehem may well have seemed at the time commonplace enough. An Infant was born under circumstances of hardship; in a wayside stable. To those who did not look closely into the circumstances, it might have occurred that a like event had often happened before, and would often be repeated. Everybody did not hear the song of the Angels, or mark the bearing of the Virgin-Mother and of her saintly spouse. The Kingdom of God had entered into history, but certainly “not with observation.” (St. Luke xvii. 20.) Nay, more, even among the worshippers of Christ the full meaning of His Birth, as opening a new era in the history of the human race, was not at once practically appreciated. For five centuries and a half, Christians still reckoned the passing years by the names of the Roman consuls or by the era of Diocletian, just like the pagans around them. It was only in the year 541 that Dionysius the Little, a pious and learned person at Rome, first ranged the history of mankind around the most important event in it—the Birthday of Jesus Christ. Christendom at once recognized the justice of this way of reckoning time; and no attempts to supersede it, such as that which was made in France during the First Revolution, have since had a chance of success. But how often do we use the phrase, “the year of our Lord,” without reflecting that it proclaims the Birth of Jesus Christ to be an event of such commanding importance that all else in human history, rightly understood, is merely relative to it; interesting only as it precedes or follows, as it leads up to or is derived from it! Yet, as you know, five centuries and a half passed before this was practically recognized.

So it has been ever since; so it is at this hour. Real importance is one thing, apparent importance another.  The events which move the world are not always those which men think most noteworthy. The men who most deeply influence their fellows are not those of whom everybody is talking. The currents of thought and feeling which will shape the future are not those which are welcomed by the organs and interpreters of current opinion. When Christ appeared, the Palace of the Caesar seemed to be more likely to govern the destinies of mankind than the Manger of Bethlehem. No, brethren, depend on it, the apparent is net always, or even generally, the real.

2. The importance of the Birth of Christ must be variously recognized; by the student of history, by the philosopher, by the divine. But there is one aspect of it which, for you and me, is more pressing than any other. What is its practical importance to us now, and in the approaching future? Probably every one in this Cathedral has said to himself to-day, “This is the last Sunday in 1878.” Yes, my friends, the hours of this year are quickly running out; and as those of us who have reached or have passed middle life look back on it, we are tempted to say, in the phrase of the Psalmist, “I went by, and lo, it was gone; I sought it, but its place could nowhere be found.” (Ps. xxxvii. 37.) It seems, indeed, but yesterday when we were gathered here at the close of 1877; yet since then how much has taken place, how much has there been to think about! And, after all, thought and occupation are the wings of time. Certainly it has been a year of anxieties, a year of struggles, a year of surprises, a year of achievements, a year in which, whether for good or evil, the nations, as the phrase goes, have been “making history.” This is not the hour to discuss it controversially; probably those who come after us will be better able than we to bring a large knowledge and a calm impartiality to the estimate of what it has really been to our country and to the human race. But, as it passes, it leaves us Englishmen with a double burden on our hands; widespread distress at home, which, according to our means, it should be our care to alleviate; and one, perhaps two wars, in our dependencies abroad. All who think at all will find in these facts matters for sober and anxious thought; reasons, it may also be, for serious misgivings. But, as the year passes, it sweeps away with it into the abyss of history, into the great company of the dead, many whom, in private or in public, we have known so well; the aged statesman, whose long life had been spent in the ardent struggles of political party ; (The Rt. Hon. John, Earl Russell, died May 28, 1978.) the great missionary bishop, who will rank hereafter in a distant colony with our own Augustine (The Right Rev. Augustus Selwyn, D.D., Bishop of Lichfield, formerly Bishop of New Zealand, died April 11, 1878.) the divine, in whom, now that he is gone, men have traced the genius and the spirit of Butler, (The Rev. J. B. Mozley, D.D., Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, and Regius Professor of Divinity, died January 4, 1878.) the ruler of the largest portion of the Church of Christ ; (Pope Pius IX, died February 27, 1878.) and, not least, those whom we have most recently mourned—the wife, the Princess, who has shown us how a high station can be consecrated to God by works of charity and benevolence. (Her Royal Highness the Grand-Duchess of Hesse, Princess Alice Maud Mary of England, died December 14, 1878.) Yes! they and many others, nearer, it may be, and dearer to us, are now among the dead; and as the passing year bears them with it from our sight, we catch a glimpse of those great realities which we too easily, all of us, forget. It is certain that many who prayed and listened in this Cathedral on the last Sunday of 1877 have since passed into the presence of the Eternal Judge. It is certain that many who pray and listen here this afternoon will have followed them before the last Sunday of 1879. Which of us it will be, we know not; but as we think steadily on the undeniable truth, surely some of the mists of our daily thought clear away, and we see things more nearly as they are. In that world there will be no England, but only the souls of Englishmen. In that world there will be no distinctions of race, or rank, or wealth, or accomplishments, but only the great and the ineffaceable distinction between the saved and the lost. Surely, as from this vantage-point of passing time we look out into that coming world, with its blessed and terrific possibilities, with its glories, its solemnities, its nearness to each one of us, we must take heed that, for each one of us, the Birth of the Redeemer shall mark, ere the sacred week has gone, something more than a milestone on the road of life, or the occasion of a family gathering. There is one question which every man here should lose no time whatever in answering, if it be not answered yet: What is my actual relation to Him, Who, for love of me, was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary; my present Redeemer, and my future Judge?