First Sunday after Christmas Evening Sermon, 1855
"I have gotten a man from the Lord." Genesis 4:1
Thus said Adam's wife Eve when she gave birth to her first son, for she thought that this was now that seed of the woman which should bruise the head of the serpent. But Eve began to preach of the Saviour too soon. Although Eve now had believed the promises of God of the coming Saviour, this faith of Eve's was partly from that, that she had received the gracious promise from God's own mouth, that the seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent. Eve's faith came partly from that pain which she had to suffer in giving birth, as the faith of many women is strengthened in the pains of child birth. Nevertheless, the Bible shows that Eve began to preach of the Saviour too soon, when she thought that the first child who was born of woman was that blessed seed of the woman who shall bruise the head of the serpent. And why did Eve begin to preach of the Saviour too soon? Yes, for the reason that she had a firm dead faith, which effects so much in many women, that she preaches of the Saviour even though the conscience has not yet awakened. If Eve would have had the right self-knowledge, she could have known that the Saviour would not come from such evil seed as Adam and Eve had after the fall into sin, since they were just then driven out of Paradise, and both had an evil conscience, for everyone who conceives with an evil conscience must know that the evil nature of the parents will adhere to the child. Everyone can experience that not only in himself if he has children, but also from the example of Adam and Eve, for Adam and Eve had an evil conscience when they were driven out of Paradise, and immediately afterward the first child was conceived, to whom the evil nature of the parent adhered. But when both of the parents could see the effects of sin in their own children, the evil of the children began to touch the heart of the parents, when they saw that their own children became a sorrow and bitterness of mind to them. Without a doubt the parents then became concerned over their children, and this concern effected so much that old adam did not have as much power as before. And for that reason especially the younger son Abel was quieter, since the gall of old adam no longer dripped as much as when the first child was conceived. Although this teaching of inherited sin is disputed by the wise of the world who do not believe that the corruption is in the seed, nevertheless David knew this when he said, "I was born of sinful seed", and those who carefully consider the corrupted nature of man must perceive that the fault is in the parents when some children are proud and some quiet, although they are born of the same parents. It depends on what conscience and what nature the parents have had when the children were conceived. If the parent has been in the influence of old adam a little while before the child was conceived, then the same evil nature adheres to the child. This teaching of the inherited sin is no new teaching, even if it is greatly disputed by the wise of the world, who do not believe that there is inherited sin. But the doctors who study the construction of the body and soul more, know well that the corruption adheres to the children. Thus Eve could have surmised that the Saviour, who is so free of sin, would not come from such seed. But Eve did not have self-knowledge in that matter, and therefore she, in her lack of understanding, began to preach of a Saviour too soon, especially for the reason that she believed upon a false Saviour; she thought that Cain was that blessed child or seed which should bruise the head of the serpent. In today's gospel another example is given to us of one woman who has also preached of the Saviour, namely Anna the Prophetess, but that woman has not believed upon a false Saviour, as Adam's wife Eve. This Anna also had a different state of conscience than Eve, for Anna's conscience had awakened, but we do not know what kind of conscience Eve had, since she did not have self-knowledge. We know, namely, that every person who does not have the right self-knowledge also does not know the true Saviour. If, therefore, such a one believes upon a false Saviour, he is in self-deceits but Anna the prophetess had self-knowledge, therefore she knew the true Saviour.
Anna, the Prophetess! You have been a widow a long time, and without a doubt have waited a long time for that blessed moment when you could see the Saviour of the world. Now you can preach of Him to all who await the redemption in Jerusalem. Now, say I, since you have seen Him with your own eyes, now you can preach of Him. And as you have diligently prayed in God's temple that you too could see the light of the world, then pray now with joy and rejoicing that the Son of God would be carried into the temple at this moment, that you could see Him and carry Him in your arms before you die. Our Father which art in heaven.
The Gospels Luke 2:33-40
It is written in the gospel not only of Simeon, who was ready to die through seeing the Saviour, but also of Anna, who also preached of Christ to all those who awaited the redemption of Israel in Jerusalem. We have spoken before of the prophesy of old Simeon, for which reason it could be fitting to speak of Anna at this time. Therefore let us observe how Anna the Prophetess preaches of Christ to all those who await the redemption of Israel in Jerusalem. There were many who awaited the redemption of Israel, but many awaited only a natural Saviour, who should redeem the Jews from under the power of the Romans. All the sorrowless waited only for a change in the government, since their King Herod was a terrible tyrant, who not only burdened the people with excessive taxes, but also killed many people and shed innocent blood. Therefore the Jews awaited a change in government, and they had such a faith that the promised Saviour or Christ must soon come to redeem them from under natural tyranny. All the sorrowless feel fleshly slavery, when the government is strict and severe in burdening them, and therefore they wait for a change in government. But the sorrowless do not feel any trouble from spiritual slavery. The wretches do not feel how the head tyrant, the devil, hurries them into hell with a fiery switch. Therefore the sorrowless cannot await a spiritual Saviour, who should redeem the prisoners of death from under the power of the devil. But old Simeon and Anna the Prophetess were among those few who awaited the spiritual redemption of Israel. Namely, they felt a great trouble and a burden from the attacks of the devil. Since it is written about Anna that she departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day, then it can be surmised that she did not have so much concern over the sustenance of the body, but her greatest concern was how her soul would become saved. Therefore, she was one penitent and grace seeking soul who held fast to the gracious promises of God of that coming Saviour. She had not yet seen the Saviour, nevertheless she awaited His coming soon. And when Mary came into the temple with her Son and Anna could see old Simeon taking the child in his arms and thanking God, then Anna also became joyous, for she believed that this child was the Saviour Himself. Assuredly we can say that Simeon and Anna were awakened and penitent souls, and that they believed firmly upon that promised Saviour, especially since Simeon had received that assurance from the Holy Spirit that he would not taste of death until he had seen the Lord's Christ. Therefore they had true penitence and hope, but Just at that moment they became joyous when they could see the Christ. Anna the Prophetess was unable to preach much about Christ before she had seen Him. But to whom did she preach of Christ? Did she preach to the sorrowless of Christ? The evengelist says that she spoke to those who awaited the redemption of Israel in Jerusalem, that is, to the penitent, sorrowful, doubting, oppressed and poor in spirit, who had no joy or comfort in the world. These penitent, sorrowful and oppressed souls surely awaited the redemption of Israel, but they had no joy since the promised Saviour was unknown to them. Some were able to hope that they would see Christ before they die, but not all had that hope. The last promise of Christ had been given through the prophet Malachi, and from that time four hundred years had already gone by, and no Messiah or Saviour had come. Certainly, the Jews even now await the Messiah's coming, although it is one earthly Saviour which they await. But it is apparent that the penitent do not have such long suffering and patience that they would await the redemption very long before they begin to doubt of their salvation, when the Messiah does not come immediately to help them from that burdensome life which the awakened and penitent souls are in. They want to become faint because of doubt, and begin to think that striving and awaiting no longer help, and then they cease and go into spiritual laziness, cease watching and praying, cease striving in faith and knocking. And after that spiritual laziness comes spiritual slumber. Love of the world causes one to gradually watch toward the world, from which not even a natural Saviour will come, how then a spiritual one. Do you see now, you burdened souls, who have awaited the redemption of Israel and have not yet received the full redemption, do you see how zealous the Jews were in awaiting a natural Saviour, which nevertheless was a vain hope. The Jews had already awaited 2,000 years for a natural Saviour, who should build them a new Jerusalem, and the hope of the Jews upon that coming Saviour has not yet ceased. And you sorrowful, you penitent, you burdened souls, who await a spiritual Saviour, you cannot await the redemption of Israel one year or one month or one week, although Anna the Prophetess preaches to you that the Messiah has already come, that He will soon reveal His glory, that He will soon come to preach redemption to the prisoners of death. Neither old Simeon nor Anna the Prophetess have ceased to await the redemption of Israel, although the last promise of Him was given 400 years earlier, and because of this endless waiting and longing, Simeon and Anna could see the Lord's Christ in the temple. Ad when the old Simeon and Anna the Prophetess preach of Him to all those who awaited the redemption of Israel in Jerusalem, which had not happened before, since all Jews in Jerusalem awaited only for a natural Saviour who will never come, no matter how long they wait, so believe now, you few souls who await the redemption of Israel. Believe now, you sorrowful and penitent ones, that the Messiah has already come, since Simeon and Anna have seen Him. Believe, you burdened and sighing ones, that Christ will soon come to redeem the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Believe, since Simeon and Anna preach to you of Christ, that the King of Zion will come to redeem your souls from this valley of death and slavery of sin, which trouble and burden your souls. Believe that the Jews' vain hope and trust in a natural Saviour is a deceit of the devil, with which he reverses their eyes, that they must believe lies. For all Jews who are now living will die in their sins before their Saviour comes. And those wretches, who believe upon a natural Saviour, will also have an unfortunate death, for they will never see that natural Saviour. But Simeon and Anna, who await a spiritual Saviour, they can see Him before death. Simeon had received that assurance from the Holy Spirit that he should not taste of death before he sees the Lord's Christ and he also did see, and through that seeing he was prepared to die. It is truly not written of Anna, whether she would have received the same kind of assurance from the Holy Spirit, but nevertheless she awaited the redemption of Israel until old age. She waited, she longed, she prayed with unspeakable sighs of the spirit, and this waiting and longing effected so much that she could see the Saviour. And through this seeing Anna became joyous and began to speak of the Messiah to all those who awaited the redemption of Israel in Jerusalem. You few souls, who await the redemption of Israel in Jerusalem, do not become weary of waiting the redemption of Israel; but with Anna be unceasingly in fastings and prayers until the time that the King of Zion comes to give you that eternal redemption. You sorrowful and burdened souls, come with Anna to the Lord's temple, both those who have received that assurance from the Holy Spirit and those who have not received it. Surely Simeon, who has received the assurance previously, will immediately recognize the Lord's Christ, and from that Anna also comes to know Christ and to believe. Simeon becomes ready to die through that seeing, and Anna the Prophetess begins to preach to all those who await the redemption of Israel. And believe now, you sorrowful, penitent, and burdened souls, that the Messiah has come. The King of Zion has come to redeem the prisoners of death and to preach the sweet year of grace on the mountain of Israel. Amen.