To Begin then with the Scripture, Gods own Word, to prove the honor of his Day, who in the beginning was the word.
In the first of the Hebrews at the sixth verse, when the Lord brings in the first begotten into the world, he saith, Let all the Angels of God worship him [Hebrews 1:6]; in the words, commanding those glorious creatures to set the day of Christs birth aside, for such an holy worship.
And so they did, for we read, Luke 2:7,8,9,10,etc. no sooner had Mary brought forth her firstborn son, and laid him in a manger, but immediately the Angels according to the former command, descended from Heaven in multitudes, to make merry, and keep holiday with the wakeful Shepherds in the fields of Ephrata; Heaven and Earth, Church Militant and triumphant, Angels and men thus met in one to solemnize this glorious day, to make it so, and to consecrate it for a future worship, the glory of the Lord shone round about them; the Angel preacheth the sermon, and his text is suitable to the time and auditory, directed to them that were to teach others; the words, fear not you, for behold I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord, etc. The Sermon ended, the multitude of the heavenly host do sing the Psalm, the burden whereof was, Glory be to God on high, in earth peace, and good will towards men. This done, the Angels depart , and leave their brethren the Shepherds to finish what they began; for this purpose they, as they were commanded by the Angels, go in haste to Bethlehem and worship the new born Babe, which service once performed, they return not to their Flocks, but leave them to the protection of the new born Shepard and go up and down all that day, preaching what they had heard and seen, and make them to wonder, and well they might, seeing great was this Mystery of Godliness, God manifested in the flesh, seen of Angels, by them preached unto the Shepherds believed on by the Jews, and all upon this day.
Shall angels then, that have no sin, preach and sing, and exhort their hearers to a celebration and shall men be silent that are nothing but sin ? Shall shepherds leave their flocks, and Christians go to plow ? Here we have Gloriam Dei diem illuminantem, Angelum praedicantem multitudinem canentem, Pastores feriantes, the glory of God, the day enlightening, one angel preaching, the multitude singing, the shepherds keeping holiday, what better warrant for the sanctifying of this day ? Shall the day then of Christs resurrection be kept holy once a week, his birthday from the grave, and shall not the day of his Nativity, or of his birth from the womb, be solemnized once a year ? Especially seeing we have more warrant for keeping of this, then that, for that we have only the practice of a few churches, as of Troas, Galatia, and Corinth, who used to meet together upon the first day of the week, but not one word of precept; but for keeping the day of Christ’s Nativity, we have both precept of God and Angels, in the Church Triumphant, the practices of the shepherds and Christians in all ages in the Church militant.
A third place to prove this truth we have in the hundred and tenth psalm, verse three, where the prophet speaking of the coming and kingdom of Christ, saith, In the day of thy power the people shall bring the free will offerings with an holy worship, the dew of thy birth is as the womb of the morning: Or as our last translation reads it, Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, thou hast the dew of thy youth. Here the prophet makes mention of a day, in which all people should bring free willing offerings unto Christ, with an holy worship which is to be tendered unto him in the beauties of holiness, that is, in the particular places of assembly, the churches, and therefore to be kept holiday, nay must, for it runs, the people shall bring the free will offerings, or they shall be willing in that day, shewing it to be their duty, whenever the day comes so to do.
Now what day is this, but Christs birthday ? And therefore we have it here called the dew of his birth, Taljalduthekah, most properly according to the original, which was either as the womb of the morning, as one translation, or from the womb of the morning, as the other, the first showing that the birth of Christ, and dew or fruit thereof, was like the mornings womb, comfortable and pleasant unto all, according to the angels testimony, Luke 2:10. Or that he was born in the beginning of the morning whereof, his power was manifested in breaking open the gates of Mary’s womb; nay more properly the day of his power, because Initium regni, the beginning of his reign being as this day born King of the Jews Mat 2:2. When kings came to do homage to this King of Kings that now was born, and whereupon he set his King upon his holy hill of Zion, and therefore the day of his power, Ps 2:6 when he said, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee, verse 7. That is to say, I have manifested thee by being born as upon this day, to be my first begotten from all eternity, giving thee heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession, that thou mayest break them with a rod of iron, and bruise them to pieces like a potters vessel: all arguments of great power, verse 8, 9, concordant with the words of the hundred and tenth psalm, verses 5,6,7. Behold the day of Christs power upon that day, therefore every year that the prophecy may be fulfilled, the people that believe in him, are to bring him not legal sacrifices, which figured him to come but the free will offerings of praise, and thanksgiving for his gracious coming, to be tendered unto God in the beauties of holiness, the places where we meet together to exercise holy duties, and the reason is, because the dew of his birth like the womb of the morning did refresh all; so for that, refreshing thanks is to be given by all.
A fourth and last place is, John 8:56, where our Savior Christ saith unto the Pharisees, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad. What day was this ? It was not the day of his passion, nor of his resurrection, nor of his ascension into heaven, for these were to come when our savior spake the words, but that day was past of which he then spake; it could then be no other but the day of his coming and manifestation in the flesh ( according to the current interpreters ) that blessed day of his Nativity which Abraham by the eye of faith beheld, and saw so many years before.
Now, if he, the Father of the faithful did so many years before, rejoice and was glad to see that day a coming; surely all the sons of the faithful Abraham will in their successive generations be glad, rejoice, and give thanks that it is come and past, and every year solemnize the same in remembrance of what they got by his coming, 1 Timothy 1:15
This is that great festival called by the eastern church
(1) God’s Appearing because God appeared to men by his Birth; so Basil [AD370] and Gregory of Nazianzus [AD371] or to use the Apostles phrase, God was manifested in the flesh.
(2) The Epiphany or The Appearing implying that this appearing excelled all other whatsoever. But here two things are worthy to be noted. The one is, that the churches in Egypt, because the celebrated Christs Birth and also his Baptism, upon one and the same day, called both these feasts promiscuously Epiphany. The other is that the modern churches have through the use and custom of speech, restrained the word Epiphany unto the feast commonly called the Twelfth Day, celebrated in memory of the miraculous appearance of the Star which led the wise men to Christ.
(3) The Birthday of the savior
(4) The Greatest and Metropolitan Feast
The western church called it
(1) The Day of the Nativity. By way of eminency and dignity.
(2) The Feast of Lights, either because they used many lights and candles at this feast, or rather because Christ the light of lights, that true light then came into the world.
(3) The Birthday of Our Lord;
We call it Christmas, or Christs Mess not from the popish mass said thereupon, but from our ancient word mess which signifies a feast, so that Christmas is no more than mess or feast provided on the day of Christs birth, in a way of rejoicing as Abraham did, foretold by Jacob Gen 49:10. Marked out by the prophet Isaiah, as a special and wonderful day; nay, so ravished he is with the consideration thereof, that he rejoiceth with the Church as if the day of Christs birth were then come. They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And he is seconded by the prophet Zechariah saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I will bring forth my servant (Christ) the Branch. In that day shall ye call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.
So much de jure, that the day may and ought to be kept holy of all them that have any part in Christ, and that by Scripture.