BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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173
THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyne; Nor all the gods beside Longer dare abide;
Not Typhon huge, ending in snaky twine ; Our Babe, to show his God-head true, Can in his swaddling bands control the damned crew."
Oh! how different were those religions of the passions and the senses from that of the sentiments and pure affections of the Christian heart; which, as it rises to heaven in sublime devotion, expands in charity towards its kind,—until it comprehends all humanity in the bond of universal benevolence. To ameliorate the temporal as well as elevate the spiritual state of man is its dis­tinguishing excellence—the sublime peculiarity of its character, as a religious dispensation. All the systems of superstition were external and gross,—or mysterious and occult. They either encouraged the follies and J;he passions of men, or, by a vain and fruitless knowledge, flattered their vanity. But Christianity came to repress the one and to dissipate the other ;—to make the exer­cise of the virtues the result and the proof of mental attachment to the doctrines which, while they afford grand subjects of eternal interest, contain the principles of all true civilisation. It is in this religion alone that faith is the sister of charity ;—that the former brightens, with the beams of another world, the institutions by which the latter blesses this,—those institutions of mercy and of instruction which cover the land with monuments of humanity, that are nowhere to be found but among the temples of our faith.
And now, when silent and desolate are even the high places over which Augustus ruled—fallen majestic Rome with all her gods,—the religion proclaimed to the humble shepherds,—whose sound was first heard by the moonlight streams and under the green boughs,—has erected, on the ruins of ancient grandeur, a sublimer dominion than all those principalities of the earth which refused its hospitality. It came in gentleness and lowliness, and the spirit of peace; and now, it grasps the power of the universe, and wields the civilized energies of the greatest of all the nations, —to the beneficent extension of its authority,—imperishable in its glory, and bloodless in its triumphs!
Our account of Christmas would not be complete,—without
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