LET ev’ry Christian who desires to know,
What to his Saviour happen’d here below,
Draw near — whilst I his Incarnation tell,
And what, ’till death, unto our Lord befel.
The word was God (e’er heav’n and earth were made,
Or the foundations of the world were laid.)
The Second Person of the sacred Three,
And the Creator of all things that be.
He was the Lord, before he left the sky,
Coequal to his Sire in dignity,
And o’er the countless host of angels reign’d,
E’er he to visit sinful mortals deign’d.
He was a God — of matchless pow’r and might —
He was a Lord — of glory infinite —
He was a King — than ev’ry sov’reign high’r —
He was in all things equal to his Sire.
When, to redeem us, he the skies forsook,
Our form and fashion on himself he took,
Nay, e’en our flesh from Mary did assume —
A spotless virgin from her mother’s womb!
Who by a wond’rous pow’r, yet well believ’d,
The holy Spirit’s gracious pow’r! conceiv’d —
And, tho’ betroth’d, when marriageable grown,
She, ’till his birth, by man was never known.
Thus did the Son of God a man become,
By Grace divine, in Mary’s virgin womb,
And, though her nature only form’d the child,
Yet it was ne’er by any sin defil’d.
Two natures in our blest Redeemer join,
That is to say — the human, and divine:
This does the mother, that the Sire, declare;
They’re both distinct, and yet both perfect are.
The Son of God, and yet a mortal’s son,
And though thus complex — yet he is, but One:
The Son of Man, without a father, made —
The Son of God, without a mother’s aid!
As to his manhood, in his human state,
‘Tis my design at present to relate
The form and manner of his wond’rous birth,
When, to redeem us, he came down on earth.
When to fair Bethl’em Mary had arriv’d,
(Where David and his ancestors erst liv’d)
To be enroll’d, and Caesar’s tax to pay,
Her reck’ning was fulfil’d that very day.
But as large companies had throng’d each inn,
There was no place for her to lodge within;
So in an out-house she, for want of room,
Was forc’d to drop the burden of her womb.
There, without state or any vain parade,
The meek-ey’d virgin, on the litter laid,
Amongst the cattle, our Redeemer bore,
On Christmas-day — a day not fam’d before!
Thus born, without a single groan or throe,
(Which all her sex are doom’d to undergo)
In swaddling clothes, with a young mother’s joy,
She bound, tho’ heaven’s King! the beauteous boy.
And, when with care she had the infant drest,
She in the manger laid him down to rest :
Tho’ in mean circumstances, yet content
With whate’er Providence had kindly sent.
A train of guileless shepherds God dispatch’d,
Who in the field that night their flocks had watch’d,
To worship him before the break of day,
As in the manger the sweet infant lay.
Warn’d by a band of angels from the skies,
And fill’d with heart-felt pleasure and surprize,
To happy Bethle’m (with the sole intent
Of seeing the Messiah) glad they went.
They were commission’d, by divine command,
To let th’ expecting people understand,
That Christ was come — the promis’d Seed, of old,
From the beginning of the world foretold —
And tell to all — that with united voice
They at the gladsome tidings shou’d rejoice;
Because that, on that same auspicious morn,
The glorious Saviour of mankind was born.
The angels then their tuneful voices rais’d,
And in sweet hymns their great Creator prais’d,
Ascribing Glory unto God above,
Who to mankind vouchsaf’d such wond’rous love!
Soon after this was seen a radiant star,
Excessive clear, and visible afar,
Whose beamy lustre bright’ning all the air,
Was thought the Birth of Jesus to declare.
Three hoary sages, from the distant East,
Who had the meaning of the portent guess’d,
Led by the guidance of the friendly flame,
In search of Jesus, to Judea came :
To Herod they apply’d, when there arriv’d,
The greatest Tyrant that had ever liv’d!
To know where Christ, the Jew’s expected King,
Was to be born, and from what stem to spring.
The Rabbi all, with one accord agreed,
That Christ was to be born of David’s seed,
In Bethle’m-judah, as it was of old
By Micah in his sacred page foretold.
Thus advertis’d, the sages took their way,
‘Till guided by the star’s refulgent ray,
They came to Bethle’m, where, tho’ sorely tir’d,
With earnest zeal for Jesus they enquir’d.
But when they just had to the house arriv’d,
Where the blest Infant with his parents liv’d,
The star, which led them from their native land,
Seem’d o’er the stateless door to make a stand.
They enter’d to the homely cot with joy,
And saw the Virgin with her lovely Boy,
Then on their bended knees upon the floor
They fell — the gracious Sov’reign to adore.
There various gifts they offer’d at his feet —
Gifts that to Christ, in all respects, were meet —
Gold, the pure product of the wealthy East —
With od’rous Myrrh — and incense, of the best.
When Herod the unwelcome tidings heard,
That Christ, the true Messiah, had appear’d,
Whilst in his swathes as yet the Babe was drest,
He sought to slay Him at his mother’s breast.
A bloody, butchering, and murd’rous crew,
Whom void of all humanity he knew,
He sent the children all around to slay,
Rather than Christ shou’d not become his prey.
The cruel soldiers, to their orders true,
Inhumanly the hopes of Bethle’m slew :
All, about two years’ old, alike did fare;
Even the Tyrant’s son they did not spare.
But Mary, warn’d this massacre to shun,
At midnight rose, and with her Infant Son
To Egypt travell’d, by divine command,
Oblig’d to flee, and quit her native land.
There Christ some time among th’ Egyptians past,
Until his parents heard the news at last,
That Herod, from whose cruelty they fled,
Who sought t’ assassinate the Child, was dead.
On Herod’s death, who had the Infants slain,
Unto Judea Christ return’d again,
Where to his mother due respect He pay’d,
And even Joseph cheerfully obey’d.
At twelve years old, a Wonder to relate!
He with the Rabbies enter’d to debate,
Until those sages wonder’d how a Child
Cou’d be with such prodigious Knowledge fill’d.
When He, at thirty, to the Baptist came,
And was baptis’d by him in Jordan’s stream,
The Holy Ghost descended from above,
And hov’ring, perch’d upon him, like a dove.
Meanwhile the Father from on high declar’d
His will aloud, whilst all the people heard —
“This is my only Son, my best belov’d
“Who is by me, in all respects, approv’d.”
And, after this miraculous descent,
He to the desert, to be tempted, went;
Where, though he by the fiend was sore assail’d,
In each assault the baffled tempter fail’d.
This conflict o’er, He travell’d all around,
To spread the glorious Gospel’s gladsome sound,
And his stupendous miracles to do,
In ev’ry place, where He thought fit to go.
He, first of all, turn’d water into wine —
Then heal’d all, whom He saw with sickness pine.
The blind, He caus’d to see — and the deaf ear
Distinctly, ev’ry Word He spoke, to hear.
He nade the crippled Lazar nimbly go,
“And leap exulting, like the bounding roe,”
He made the woman, who had many days
Been bent, her back as strait as ever, raise.
Upon the boist’rous Billows, far from shore,
He walk’d erect, and still’d its noisy roar,
And by a single Word, whene’er He pleas’d,
When most it rag’d, the tempest he appeas’d.
To prove, that He was God — four diff’rent men
He rais’d from death, and bade them live again,
Laz’rus, tho’ he’d been three days dead, was one —
Jairus’s daughter — and the Widow’s Son.
With five small loaves five thousand men He fed,
How great his pow’r! — how filling was the bread!
Two ships He freighted at one wond’rous draught,
Tho’ they, who tri’d before, had nothing caught.
Many a furious fiend He dispossess’d,
And gave each miserable Maniac rest :
Malchus’ ear, shorn off by Peter’s sword,
Without a salve, He with a word restor’d.
Many a miracle besides He wrought,
To prove the sacred doctrines that He taught,
E’er Judas to destroy Him lent his aid,
And for a bribe his blessed Lord betray’d.
He ne’er was tax’d with guile at any time,
And none cou’d justly charge Him with a crime;
He, like a lamb with innocence replete,
Was little honour’d, tho’ his pains were great.
But when the hour, ordain’d by God, drew nigh,
When He, for our offences, was to die,
The traitor came, in seeming virtue bold,
And for a trivial sum his Master sold.
Scarce half a crown was to the villain paid,
When to the Jews his Saviour he betray’d,
Whom they to Caiaphas tight-pinion’d bore,
Although by Annas question’d much before.
When they to Caiaphas had led him bound,
False witnesses encompas’d Him around,
Who to his charge unnumber’d falsehoods laid,
And things, that He had never done, nor said.
The Pontiff then examin’d Him full hard,
About a thousand stories he had heard,
And bound Him by an Oath to let him know,
Whether he was the Son of God, or No.
And yet because he publicly confess’d
That he was Christ the son of God — the rest
Wou’d fain have murder’d him, altho’ untri’d,
Or ston’d him on the spot, until He di’d.
Some on his face their filthy spittle threw —
Some o’er his eyes in sport a cov’ring drew —
Others with rods his sacred Person bruis’d,
And with insulting buffetings abus’d.
Next morn, the Chief of the assembled tribes,
The populace, the Levites, and the scribes,
Brought Jesus bound, unto the Judgement-hall,
There to be tri’d, and judg’d before them all.
When Pilate had examin’d him a while,
And found in him no fault, nor any guile,
His hands he wash’d before them — and, at last,
Tho’ with regret, the fatal sentence past.
He first of all condemn’d him to be stripp’d,
And after that to be severely whipp’d,
He then was sentenc’d to be crucify’d,
Like a base slave or felon, ’till he di’d.
Thus Christ was us’d by that inhuman throng,
And sorely scourg’d from street to street along,
Nor was there left an inch from head to heel,
Whereon the blood-stain’d lash he did not feel.
Then Pilate’s soldiers, fiercest of his foes,
Advanc’d, and robb’d the suff’rer of his clothes,
And in their stead the vile insulting crew,
A robe of scarlet o’er his shoulders threw.
They platted next a new invented crown
Of thorns, and o’er his temples press’d it down,
Until the blood well’d from each spouting wound,
And streaming down his cheeks, inrich’d the ground.
In his right hand an ample reed they plac’d,
And with feign’d homage the procession grac’d,
Mocking Him with sarcastical abuse,
And crying, “Hail thou sov’reign of the Jews.”
Robb’d of his clothes, which he was us’d to wear,
On his bare back, his cross they made Him bear;
Tow’rds Calvary he dragg’d it on with pain,
Where, on its brow, the guiltless Lamb as slain.
But as they went to crucify the Lord,
His hands and feet they barbarously bor’d,
And fasten’d each (a shocking sight to see!)
With three strong nails of iron, to the tree.
Yet, though so great his woes, so fierce his pain,
His mouth he never op’ned to complain,
Nor spoke a word unto the savage band,
More than a sheep beneath the shearer’s hand :
But, on the cross, (when most acute his pains)
His soul, and all the blood that fill’d his veins,
He offer’d as a sacrifice for sin–
For all the sins of all the sons of men!
His soul he recommended to his Sire,
The Judge, whose justice all men must admire,
Whom he besought, with his departing breath
To pardon the inhuman Jews his death.
Thus on the cross the blessed Jesus di’d —
Who, his heart’s blood, forth gushing from his side,
With love unutterable, freely gave,
The souls of his true votaries to save!
And thus God gave his best-beloved Son,
When he a thousand woes had undergone,
To suffer on the cross, that we might live,
And from hell-torments our lost souls reprieve!
Then let us praise Him, both by night and day,
And never fail our bounden thanks to pay,
For the vast love and mercy He did show,
When to redeem us, He did stoop so low.
All thanks and laud unto the God of heaven,
To Father, Son, and Holy-Ghost, be given,
Who bought the souls of men, at such a rate,
And led to bliss from such a wretched state!
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