The Festivals Of The Christian Church Compared With Those Of Other Ancient Forms Of Religion -- By: Lyman Coleman

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 004:16 (Nov 1847)
Article: The Festivals Of The Christian Church Compared With Those Of Other Ancient Forms Of Religion
Author: Lyman Coleman


The Festivals Of The Christian Church Compared With Those
Of Other Ancient Forms Of Religion

Lyman Coleman1

Justly to exhibit this comparison it will be necessary first to take a cursory view of those festivals which were instituted in the ancient church and have continued, with greater or less variations, until the present time. These resolve themselves into three grand divisions, in each of which there is one great festival bearing a peculiar relation to the other of the same class, as their common centre. These great festivals are Christmas, Easter and Whitsunday. Of these the first two relate to the scenes of Christ’s humiliation on earth; the last to his glorious exaltation and power as displayed in the shedding forth of the Holy Spirit Each of these feasts is preceded by preparatory rites, and followed by corresponding festivities. So that from the first of December to the Sunday of whitsuntide these successive solemnities form a connected representation of the leading events in the life of our Lord from his incarnation to his triumphant ascension. He became flesh and dwelt among us, subject to all the infirmities of our nature; he suffered and died; and arose in glorious power whereby he is able to provide for all his followers to the end of the world. These are the great truths in our Lord’s history which this series of festivals commemorates. They remind us, both of the deepest humiliation and the highest exaltation of the Son of God, and represent the highest display of divine grace to man. The cycle of Christian festivals throughout illustrates historical truths of the deepest interest, and exhibits the relations of the Christian world to the great Head of the church. In both these respects they are well suited to exert a happy moral influence upon those who observe them.

Christmas commemorates the birth of Christ; God himself becoming man. This great event indeed is represented by two so-

lemnities; the birth of Jesus on the twenty-fifth of December, when this Divine Being entered on his earthly existence, and became subject to all the infirmities of human nature; and the day of his baptism on the sixth of January, when he first manifested himself as Christ, the promised Messiah. On this occasion his divine power and glory were publicly revealed; and, for this reason, the day is styled Epiphany, the manifestation.

For this day some preparation is necessary. The advent is accordingly celebrated four successive sabbaths previous by singing, prayer, and religious instruction. Just as the whole economy of grace, as manifested in the history of the Jews and taught by all the prophets, from Enoch to...

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