[written for the Richmond Dispatch.]
Though a "deep gloom seems to have settled on everything around us," and our firmament is darkened with a threatening storm; although one bright star has vanished, and others are so obscured that we cannot count them in the blue expanse; even although "we have a divine warrant for saying that the house of mourning is better than the house of mirth," yet we have, also, another divine warrant--"Break forth into joy!" uttered to all the world, which at this season should predominate in the minds of every one of us.
The event which we at this time commemorate was announced as "good tidings of great joy." Times and seasons have changed, but the fact
we all as Christians acknowledge, and few there are among us, of whatever sect, who do not in some way celebrate it, whether by family gatherings, by interchange of gifts and tokens of affection, or by holidays and joyful greetings.
Therefore, in accordance with the holy salutation, "Peace on earth, good will to man," let us for a time endeavor to cast away the gloom from our firesides; let us dwell on the many mercies still vouchsafed to us; let us be thankful for the friends still spared to gather around us, and for our homes, still sacred and unmolested.
If prudence forbid some among us to present to our friends the magnificent gifts we fain would do; if sudden hopes and disappointments have for a time put a stop to our balls and entertainments, there are yet left to us in numerable sources of real enjoyment.--Let us minister to the innocent pleasures of our children, and give to them our sunniest smiles; let us cheer the aged and the lonely invalid, and gladden a poor family with an unlooked for meal; and let us practice everywhere that "good will towards man," which is the best and truest commemoration of the season.
The same God who has clothed the earth in brightness and beauty, has implanted cheerfulness in the heart of man; therefore, let us cultivate this plant with religious zeal, that it may bud and bring forth its fruit of gladness and contentment, and that out of these again may grow that "peace on earth" which was proclaimed to the world at the birth of the Saviour. C. C.