Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Meditation for the Epiphany

The second witnesses of this Miracle [of Christ… his Nativitie] are the Wise-Men. After God had laid open the Treasure of his Divine Secrets to Idiots [the Shepheards… rusticall Swaines], He shewes them also to the Wise. It seemes the Earth, at this time, was become the Booke of Gods greatest Mysteries, and Heaven the Index. In this they finde the Star of this King of the Iewes, which (having beene before the declarer of his Nativity) they now make their guide in their journey. The Starre performing this duty to its Creator, at length brings them to Bethlem, where they view Him in the Cratch, Whose Nativity before they had found in the Heavens. To Him they doe Homage, tender Adoration, and pay Tribute; and opening their Treasures, make him an Oblation of Gold, Incense, and Mirrhe. Whom before they had in vaine sought in the Heavens, they now finde on the Earth; and in the most sorded part of it, a Stable, full of severall stinkes; where He (to Whom none are worthy to be servants) had two dull Beasts for His Companions.

Returne now you Sonnes of Wisedome to your owne home, by much more learned, by more than much more happy than when you set out. Heaven is now set open to you, which before your unbeliefe kept shut against you. If you be Chaldeans or Persians, or both, spreade through those Nations the fame of that which you have seene. Publish in all places this the greatest Mystery of Piety, which God is onely able to produce, onely Faith can apprehend. Of all Creatures to man onely belongs the gift of Reason, by the rule whereof he measures all things. But doe not you doe so, lest you fall not onely into an irreparable, but a damnable errour. Follow you the instruction of Faith, and where ere you come with a holy Pride, proclaime that God is manifested in the Flesh; justified in the Spirit; seene by Angels; reveal’d to Shepheards; found out, and ador’d, by you your selves; and hereafter to be assum’d, and to sit in Glory farre above those Starres you daily read. Goe, and give out that there is nothing greater in Heaven, than what you have found in a Stable.

— Anthony Stafford, The Femall Glory: or, the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1635), “Her Delivery”, pages 108-9


Ttony said...

By Lancelot Andrewes:

"Last we consider the time of their coming, the season of the year. It was no summer progress. A cold coming they had of it at this time of the year, just the worst time of the year to take a journey, and specially a long journey. The ways deep, the weather sharp, the days short, the sun farthest off, in solsitio brumali, the very dead of winter.

Venimus, we are come, if that be one, venimus, we are now come, come at this time, that sure is another.

And these difficulties they overcame, of a wearisome, irksome, troublesome, dangerous, unseasonable journey; and for all this they came. And came it cheerfully and quickly, as appeareth by the speed they made. It was but vidimus, venimus, with them; they saw, and they came; no sooner saw, but they set out presently. So as upon the first appearing of the star, as it might be last night, they knew it was Balaam's star; it called them away, they made ready straight to begin their journey this morning. A sign they were highly conceited of His birth, believed some great matter of it, that they took all these pains, made all this haste that they might be there to worship Him with all the possible speed they could. Sorry for nothing so much as that they could not be there soon enough, with the very first, to do it even this day, the day of His birth. All considered, there is more in venimus than shews at the first sight. It was not for nothing it was said in the first verse, ecce venerunt; their coming hath an ecce on it, it well deserves it.

And we, what should we have done? Sure these men of the East will rise in judgment against the men of the West, that is with us, and their faith against ours in this point. With them it was but vidimus, venimus; with us it would have been but veniemus at most. Our fashion is to see and see again before we stir a foot, specially if it be to the worship of Christ. Come such a journey at such a time? No; but fairly have put it off to the spring of the year, till the days longer, and the ways fairer, and the weather warmer, till better travelling to Christ. Our Epiphany would sure have fallen in Easter week at the soonest."

Now try to travel!

Joshua said...

Much appreciated!