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of the world to which God had caused him to hope. Filled with holy joy he takes the expected child into his arms, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, blesses God, saying, “Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.” He then points him out to the bystanders as the person spoken of by ancient prophecy, “who should be set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which should be spoken against;” a prediction descriptive of the reception of the Messiah should meet with from that world which he came to redeem. The same important truth is immediately confirmed by an ancient prophetess, who, coming in the instant Simeon had done speaking, gave public thanks likewise unto the Lord, and “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” Thus He, whose birth-place was determined many ages before, by prophetic illumination, whose natal hour was announced by one angel, and celebrated by a multitude of the heavenly host ; to whose feet a company of shepherds is led, with their simple offering, by a voice from heaven, and to whom eastern sages are conducted by an extraordinary star, is in the most public place of resort in the Jewish metropolis, declared aloud, a few weeks after his birth, at a public religious service, by testimony on testimony, the accomplishment God’s great purpose of mercy to mankind. While so many illustrious personages were producing their concurring evidence to the truth as it is in Jesus, exalting him toendless honours and universal dominion, one is cruelty plotting his destruction. Agitated by jealousy as groundless, as it was barbarously pursued, Herod determines to crush ot once this pretender to a throne, whom so many signal and splendid appearances in heaven and earth were striving to disVol. IV.
play in superiour glory. To make sure of his blow, his dark remorseless mind enlarges the circle of suspicion from a few days to two years, and from a single feared, hated individual, to all the male children of a great city. Humanity sickens at the thought of the dreadful tragedy of that day, when “in Rama a voice was heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are not.” By aiming at too much, the tyrant misses his aim altogether. The vigor of his pursuit exerted in one direction, confined to one object, might have overtaken it; but extending the sphere, dividing the pursuit, “the captive of the mighty is taken away, and the prey of the terrible is delivered, for thus saith the Lord, I will contend with him that contendeth with thee.” And how was this deliverance effected? Providence employs not extraordinary means, to fulfil its designs, wantonly and unnecessarily, but makes ordinary instruments to produce mighty events. The bloody intention of Herod is hardly conceived in the gloomy hell of his own breast, than it is seen of that eye which nothing can escape, and no sooner is it seen than prevented. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, Joseph is admonished of the danger which threatened the child’s life, and warned to shun it, by fleeing into Egypt. Thus at every stage of his life, was the Saviour of mankind hated and persecuted of men : thus the all-wise ruler of the universe knows how to deliver, and finds a way to escape; thus He “confounds the wisdom of the wise, and brings to naught the understanding of the prudent.” By a strange, perhaps unaccountable direction of the supreme will, the land of Egypt frequently serves as an asylum to persecuted goodness, protects and cherishes the precious seed of the church. Thither Abraham flees from the pressure of famine, and is thence dismissed with riches and honour. Here Joseph finds refuge from the malice of jealous and cruel brothers; from hence Jacob and his starving family are repeatedly fed. Here sprung up Moses, in times of extreme danger and distress; here he was miraculously preserved, and reared to unexampled eminence and usefulness. Here Israel miraculously increases into a great nation, and from hence triumphantly departs; and here, finally, He whom all the rest prefigured, and in whom their several glory united as in their centre, sought and found protection from the rage of an incensed king. This two was ordered of Him who seeth the end from the beginning. He went down into Egypt that in his return the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, “out of Egypt have I called my Son.” Surely, O Lord the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath thou “shalt restrain.” A veil is drawn over the sojourn in Egypt, and it were presumption to attempt to draw it aside: neither is it possible exactly to ascertain its duration. The infamous Herod meanwhile paid the debt of nature, leaving behind him a name loaded with the execrations of the age in which he lived, and with the detestation of every future generation to which the history of his enormities shall descend. His death was the signal of return to the land of Israel; but prudence suggested the retirement of the poor and despised town of Nazareth, as a residence more suitable to the circumstances of the times, than the noise and hurry of a metropolis, the seat of faction and intrigue, or the suspiciously observed city of David, to which the jealous eyes of successive tyrants had been attracted by well known prophecies and by recent portents. As the place of Christ's birth, so that of his upbringing was prophetically marked, not indeed by any particular text that appears in the sacred code, but by its whole spirit and tenor, which represent him as voluntarily submitting to every species of reproach and indignity; the carpenter’s son, a Galilean, a Nazarene, can any good come out of Nazareth ! It was in this obsure village, of a region of a conquered country, proverbially contemptible, that the childhood of Christ passed unseen, unnoticed of the great world ; but carefully observed of an attentive mother, who, to the tender solicitudes of that relation, was inspired with hopes, and animated with prospects, and torn with anxieties which no mother before or since ever could know; there this wonderful “child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom,” exhibiting unequivocal signs of a superiour nature, without courting the public notice, or attracting premature homage; and thus humility, from the beginning and throughout, marked the character of the condescending friend of mankind, who became of no reputation, sought not glory of man, took on him the form of a servant; he “strives not, nor cries, neither doth he lift up his voice in the streets;” and from the return out of Egypt, which was probably not beyond his second year, up to the twelfth, history is entirely silent as to the particulars —but O how much is conveyed in the strong general terms employed by inspiration, to impress on our hearts the discovery and progress of these veiled ten years. May not the history of them be one of the precious ārcana which “the father hath kept in his own power,” and reserved for the information, wonder and joy of an improved state of existence, when things hard to be understood shall be fully explained; and things known in part shall be unfolded in all their connections and dependencies; and infinite intelligence shall supply all the deficiencies of human understanding. It was in that fameless village, and in those trackless years that the foundation was laid of a greatness which should eclipse all created glory; of a kingdom that should swallow up every other; of an enterprize which should extend its influence to the remotest ages of eternity. The next lecture will, if God permit, take up the
next recorded period of our Saviour's history, his assuming for a moment a public character at the age of twelve years, and his sliding away from it again into silence and retirement, till his thirtieth year, the time of his final manifestation unto Israel, as the great “prophet that should come into the world.” Shall I degrade my subject, by saying it suggests to parents many useful hints respecting the early treatment of their children 2 Be as tender and attentive as you will ; listen to the voice of nature and learn your duty; but dream not of making a stranger bend the knee to your idol, perhaps he has an idol of his own, weak, silly and ridiculous as yours ; perhaps he sees nothing but impertinence and imperfection, where you behold only grace and loveliness, and the more you force your Dagon upon his attention, the more hideousness and deformity he will discover in it. Be not eager to bring forward the accomplishments of your child. If they are worthy of being seen, your reserve and the child’s modesty will give a glow to the colouring which will strike every eye. and please every heart. If they be trivial, why will you force a good-natured looker on to flatter your vanity at the expense of his own judgment; or provoke a stern and severe one, to approve his sincerity and truth at the expense of your feeling and of your idols fancied importance 2 In private let the person most dear to you, be most dear to you ; in society, the darling object, the first in consideration and affection, ought to be the last in respect of attention. Be not over anxious about an early crop from your offspring. You may have the fruit, it is true by means of vehement cultivation, a little earlier in the season, but it savours of the artificial heat that hurried it forward; the tree is wasted and fades before the time; and the proper season when nature is clothing the vigourous plant with its golden harvest, the languid child of art stands lifeless and leafless, expiring before