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the flesh to drink. For when He was afterwards brought to Golgotha, at the foot of the cross, we are told, that they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh.89 We may therefore conceive the offering on this occasion to have had a reference prophetically, but perhaps unconsciously on the part of the offerers, to the bitter sufferings which He came upon earth to endure. From the expression when they had opened their treasures, we may presume that the offerings made were of considerable value. By means of them Joseph and Mary were probably enabled to defray the expense of their flight into Egypt, from the face of King Herod, and their maintenance there until his death. Thus the providence of God overruled the visit for their support in the time of need.
From this act of the wise men in presenting gifts out of their treasures to the infant Saviour, we may learn not only that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service,90 but also that we are to honour the Lord with our substance.91 According as He hath prospered us, we are to devote what He may enable us to set apart for this purpose, as we have opportunity, to His service, and for the promotion of His glory in the world. He will graciously accept what
89 Mark xv. 23.
90 Romans xii. 1. 91 Proverbs iii. 9.
is thus presented to Him, and will grant His blessing to attend it. If there be a willing mind, it is accepted, according to that a man hath.92 The true Christian is one who is a worshipper of God, and who devotes himself and his property to the service of God, that the name of the Lord may be glorified through his instrumentality. Are we such Christians? Are we numbered among the true worshippers, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh ?93 Are we men of prayer, who walk humbly with our God, and walk circumspectly before Him, as under His eye, seeking to please Him in all things? If the redemption of Christ has been brought home with power to our hearts, such will be our character. We shall love Him because He first loved us. And as He said, If ye love Me, keep My commandments,95 we shall be anxious to give this proof of our attachment to Him, and of our gratitude for His goodness and mercy vouchsafed to us. We shall honour His holy name and His word, and seek to serve Him truly all the days of our life; looking forward in hope that when we are called out of this world, we shall enter into the joy of the Lord, and worship and praise Him for ever in His eternal kingdom and glory.
922 Cor viii. 12. 93 Philip. iii. 3. 94 Eph. v. 15. 95 John xiv. 15.
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE WITH
Luke ii. 51, 52.
AND HE WENT DOWN WITH THEM, AND CAME TO NAZARETH, AND WAS SUBJECT UNTO THEM: BUT HIS MOTHER KEPT ALL THESE SAYINGS IN HER HEART. AND JESUS INCREASED IN WISDOM AND STATURE, AND IN FAVOUR WITH GOD AND MAN.
THE circumstance related in the Gospel for this day is the only one which it has pleased the Holy Ghost to record, in the volume of inspiration, respecting our blessed Saviour during His youth. A vail of obscurity is thrown over the early part of His life, until the time of His entrance upon His public ministry, when He
presented Himself to John for baptism; and before the assembled multitudes was declared, by a voice from heaven, to be the beloved Son of God, in whom He is well pleased.96 This did not take place until He was about thirty years of age. As the Levites did not enter upon the service of the tabernacle of God until they were thirty years old; 98 so our blessed Saviour was pleased to remain in a private station, unknown and unnoticed, until He arrived at the same age. This was doubtless intended as an example to young persons; to teach them not to be forward in obtruding themselves upon the notice of those around them; and especially not to imagine that they are themselves the most competent instructors in the things that pertain to the kingdom of God; which the confidence of youth often leads them to suppose. If He who discovered such a capacious mind and powerful understanding, when He was only twelve years of age, as to astonish the doctors of the law in the temple, thought proper to remain in obscurity until He was thirty, when He might have communicated His instructions to mankind at a much earlier period, if it had so pleased Him; what humility does it become young persons to manifest in this matter.
This conduct of our Lord Jesus Christ evinced
96 Matthew iii. 17. 97 Luke iii. 23. 98 Numbers iv. 3.
that the office of an instructor in religion was, in His view, a weighty and important office, which ought not to be undertaken by any one in a light and frivolous manner, but with great seriousness, reverence, and prayer. He who is set over others, to watch for their souls as one that must give an account,99 should not be a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Young men in the ardour of their zeal, often imagine that the time allotted to preparation for the ministry is too long; but those who have entered upon its arduous duties, in the true spirit of evangelists, have found that their preparation has rather been too short and superficial. Experience teaches them, under the Divine blessing, their insufficiency for the great work; and their entire dependence upon the grace of God for success in it. He must give wisdom, or man will darken counsel by words without knowledge. And He must give the increase, or the word of God will be spoken in vain. Let us then beseech Him to send down His heavenly blessing upon us, that we may have a right understanding of Divine truth, and may believe it to the saving of our souls.
The Gospel for this day informs us that the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem every year at the passover. At that festival the deliverance
99 Hebrews xiii. 17. 1 Timothy iii. 6.
2 Job xxxviii. 2.