“And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” Job 1:4-5
Suggested Further Reading: Nehemiah 8:9-12
The text gives a licence. Now, ye souls who would deny to your fellow-men all sorts of mirth, come and listen to the merry bell of this text, while it gives a licence to the righteous especially—a licence that they meet together in their houses, and eat and drink, and praise their God. In Cromwell’s days, the Puritans thought it an ungodly thing for men to keep Christmas. They, therefore, tried to put it down, and the common crier went through the street, announcing that Christmas was henceforth no more to be kept, it being a popish, if not a heathenish ceremony. Now, you do not suppose that after the crier had made the proclamation, any living Englishman took any notice of it; at least, I can scarcely imagine that any did, except to laugh at it; for it is idle thus to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Although we do not keep the fast as papists, not even as a commemorative festival, yet there is something in old associations that makes us enjoy the day in which a man may shake off the cares of business, and relax with his little ones. God forbid I should be such a Puritan as to proclaim the annihilation of any day of rest which falls to the lot of the labouring man. I wish there were half a dozen holidays in the year. I wish there were more opportunities for the poor to rest; though I would not have as many saint’s days as there are in Romish countries; yet, if we had but one or two more days in which the poor man’s household, and the rich man’s family might meet together, it might perhaps be better for us. However, I am quite certain that all the preaching in the world will not put Christmas down.
For meditation: Perhaps you are completely opposed to the keeping of Christmas! That is your right! But you can still benefit from the holiday and show the joy of the Lord to those who are going to be with you.
Sermon no. 352
24 December (Preached 23 December 1860)