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immediate revelation, or in some mi- Theophilus, to what cause would raculous manner, as he did afterwards you attribute the trouble of Herod, with reference to their return to their when he was told of the birth of the own country. But one thing at least “King of the Jews ?" we know, and this ought to be a sub- Theophilus. I fear that we must ject of serious reflection ; namely, attribute it to his wicked heart and that we have been blessed with a guilty conscience. He knew how guide to Christ, more glorious in justly he was disliked on account of character, and more distinct in its his cruel and tyrannical conduct ; announcement, than that which the and he dreaded the consequences of wise men saw. We have the holy his crimes, whenever any one should Scriptures, and they testify of Him. arise to make head against him. Let us follow their guidance, in hu- Reader. And, in another point of mility and faith; and we shall find view, we may trace this disquietude that they will lead us into the palace to false apprehensions, and a misand the presence-chamber of the taken opinion concerning the nature King of kings. “Thy word is a of the Messiah's kingdom. Here light unto my feet, and a lamp unto we discover two great sources of unmy path.”
easiness, which have caused perThe wise men said, “We have seen plexity to many men. A guilty conhis star, and we are come to worship science, that is the worst tormentor; him," i.e. to do him homage, as the and a set of mistaken opinions, or great and illustrious prince whose foolish prejudices, is another, capabirth was expected. It is probable ble of inflicting much misery and that they did not know his real cha- pain. Let us cultivate a conscience racter, and had little idea how wor- void of offence; and aim also at a thy he is of supreme honour, of right understanding, a sober, wellworship in the strict sense of the informed judgment, as a subsidiary expression. But we know this. and concurrent source of comfort. "When he bringeth in the first-be- A right judgment in all things, how gotten into the world, he saith, And great a blessing! What a happy let all the angels of God worship preservative against vain hopes and him.” Heb. i. 6. Those who have distressing fears! And how needbeen truly led to Christ by that ful to each of ourselves, in these bright star, the word of revelation, days especially, assaulted as we are will fall down and worship him in by infidelity on the one hand, and spirit and in truth ; they will say to by superstition, fanaticism, and false him practically, by the surrender of pretensions of various kinds on the their hearts, and the obedience of other !
other! Let us, therefore, without their lives, My Lord, and my God! ceasing, study the Scriptures and “Have we seen Christ's star?” says a pious writer on this passage, “let We may observe, also, that Herod's us study to do him honour !"
mistaken notions concerning the na
pray to God.
ture of Messiah's kingdom were not consist the real peace and happiness only a source of anxiety to himself, of every man's soul! From such but became, also, the occasion of his hardness of heart, and contempt of animosity against the infant. And thy holy word, good Lord, deliver hence we are reminded that “the us! greatest enmities, and the bitterest
HYMN. animosities, have arisen from cause
Micah iv. 1-5. less fears and groundless jealousies.
Behold, the mountain of the Lord It is only the reign of perfect truth
In latter days shall rise, that will be the reign of perfect Shall tower above the meaner hills, peace. Blest Prince of Peace, thy And draw the wond'ring eyes. kingdom come!
To this the joyful nations round, It is a melancholy picture which All tribes and tongues, shall flow : this verse brings before us. “ Christ, “ Ascend the hill of God," they say, who was the angel's song, the wise
“ And to his temple go." men's joy, and Israel's consolation, The beam that shines on Sion's hill becomes Herod's fear and Jerusa
Shall lighten every land ; lem's terror.” Yes; all Jerusalem
The King that reigns in Sion's towers
Shall all the world command. was troubled together with guilty Herod. This must have proceeded
No strife shall vex Messiah's reign,
Or mar the peaceful years ; from gross ignorance, to say the
To ploughshares shall they beat their swords, least. The wise men found the Jews, To pruning-hooks their spears. the professors of the true religion,
Come then, 0 come, from ev'ry land, uninformed on a point concerning
To worship at his shrine; which they ought to have been well And, walking in the light of God, instructed, and uneasy at the men
With holy beauty shine.
LOGAN tion of one whose name ought to have been a cause of thankfulness and rejoicing! And, alas! how many nominal Christians are equally ignorant of the Saviour, and equally of
CHAP. II. 4-10. fended at him! Satan in the soul, like Herod on the throne, hates
The wise men out of the East are diand is troubled at the name of
rected to Christ by a star. Christ; and the poor slaves of Satan, 4 And when he had gathered like the Jews in the days of Herod, all the chief priests and 'scribes are unprepared to give a welcome to
of the people together, he detheir glorious Deliverer. Ignorance manded of them where Christ of the true nature of Christ and his
should be born. office, and a willing subjection to the tyranny of sin,—what impedi
5 And they said unto him, ments are these to that cheerful re
In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus ception of the Saviour, wherein alone it is written by the prophet,
6 "And thou Bethlehem, in tive concerning the visit of the wise the land of Juda, art not the men to the infant Saviour; and in it least among the princes of Juda:
we find many particulars which may for out of thee shall come a Go
well arrest our attention, and af
ford subject for profitable reflection. vernor, 'that shall "rule my peo- Perhaps we may do well to review ple Israel.
the whole passage, verse by verse. 7 Then Herod, when he had Does any questicn arise out of the privily called the wise men, en- fourth verse, which stands first in the quired of them diligently what portion that has now been read ? time the star appeared.
Theophilus. I have been request8 And he sent them to Beth- ed to ask who were the chief priests lehem, and said, Go and search in the Old Testament of one High
mentioned in this verse? We read diligently for the young child ; Priest, who was distinguished from and when ye have found him, all other priests, but it does not apbring me word again, that I may pear so clearly what priest, besides come and worship him also. this High Priest, could lay any claim 9 When they had heard the
to the title of chief. king, they departed; and, lo,
Reader. But you do read of chief the star, which they saw in the priests in the Old Testament, do you
Turn, for example, to 2 east, went before them, till it
Chron. xxxvi. 14. came and stood over where the
Theophilus. “ Moreover, all the young child was.
chief of the priests, and the people, 10 When they saw the star, transgressed very much after the they rejoiced with exceeding abominations of the heathen, and great joy.
polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.”
Reader. And you may find men
tion of the chief of the priests in other Reader. In these verses, the place parts of the Old Testament; for inwhich was honoured as the scene of stance, in 1 Chron. xxiv. 6; Ezra, our Lord's nativity is brought very viii. 24; Nehem. xii. 7.-By “chief strikingly before our notice. We priests" in the New Testament we are conducted, in thought, to Beth- are to understand not only the High lehem; and, if we rightly consider Priest for the time being, and others the
great event by which that town who had served that office, but also was distinguished, we shall be able to the heads of the twenty-four orders say, in the words of an honoured dis- or classes into which the priests were ciple of old, “Master, it is good for divided in the time of David. These us to be here !" In this
heads of the sacerdotal families, as have also a continuation of the narra- such, were members of the Sanhe
e2 Chron. xxxvi. 14. 12 Chron. xxxiv. 13. 1 Mac. v. 12, & ni. 12. Mal. ii. 7.-h Mic. v. 2. Joho vii. 42. i Rer. ii. 27. Or, feed.
drim; and hence it became usual to that we may find them able to make designate any priest who was a mem- us “wise unto salvation through faith ber of that body by the title of " chief which is in Christ Jesus." priest."
Where do we find the prophecy to Theophilus. And who were the which the chief priests and scribes scribes ?
referred as pointing out the birthReader. They were the students place of Messiah ? and learned expounders of the law, Theophilus. In Micah v.2. “But —the same as are elsewhere called thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though lawyers (Matt. xxii. 35) and doc- thou be little among the thousands tors of the law (Luke v. 17). They
They of Judah, yet out of thee shall he also acted as registrars, and were come forth unto me that is to be employed in drawing up legal docu- ruler in Israel; whose goings forth ments.-In what respect does the have been from of old, from everlastconduct of Herod and his advisers, ing.' as described in the fourth and fifth Reader. Here is a little verbal verses, deserve to be imitated by us ? | difficulty; but perhaps so slight as
Theophilus. That question had hardly to require notice. In the not occurred to my mind before ; but Evangelist we read, “thou art not I am sure that we may profitably do the least;" in the prophet, “though one thing which may be considered thou be little." Some critics have as an imitation of their example,- suggested that the words of the orinamely, always consult the Scriptures ginal prophecy should be read inwhen we wish to learn anything con- terrogatively, "art thou too little?” cerning Christ.
implying, “thou art not.” But, even Reader. That is what I meant. without this, the difficulty vanishes if And what a solemn reflection is here we remember that the leading idea is forced upon our minds, that men the same in both forms of the verse; may consult the Scriptures respecting-namely, that Bethlehem, notwithChrist, and may even become learned standing its political insignificance, in the page of inspiration, without should yet be highly honoured and having any saving knowledge of Him distinguished. “ of whom Moses in the law, and the In the Evangelist we read “princes" prophets, did write.” Nay, how instead of “thousands;" as in the possible is it for men to seek an ac- original. Here also the difference quaintance with Scripture, and its is more apparent than real; for in meaning, for purposes directly hostile Hebrew the same word signified a to religion! What an awful mass of thousand and a prince; from the cirimpiety and depravity is the heart of cumstance that the people had been a wicked man! Oh, let us search distributed into thousands, each unthe Scriptures, not for any mere der its own captain, chief, or prince. worldly purpose, nor even in the You perceive how easy and natural spirit of vain curiosity, but in order it would be, especially in such a
language as the Hebrew, to say where David was?” John vii. 41, thousand" instead of “ the captain of 42. a thousand."
Reader. We find very early menNow, with respect to Bethlehem, tion of this place in the Old Testa-let me ask you, what is the mean- ment; and that too in connection ing of the word ?
with some events of great
interest.Theophilus. In Hebrew, as you Read Gen. xxxv. 19.
have sometimes told us, The house of Theophilus. “ And Rachel died,
and was buried in the way to EphReader. Let us remember that rath, which is Bethlehem." He who was born there is indeed Reader. Refer to some verses in " the true bread which cometh down that book of the Old Testament in from heaven." Have you discovered which the name of Bethlehem most why this town is so fully described | frequently occurs. as Bethlehem Ephratah, or Beth- Theophilus. You allude to the lehem in the land of Judah ?
book of Ruth.-Here we find that Theophilus. To distinguish it from Elimelech, Naomi's husband, was a another Bethlehem, in Galilee, be- “man of Bethlehem Judah," and that longing to the tribe of Zabulon. their two sons were “Ephrathites
Reader. In what respect had this of Bethlehem Judah."-Naomi and Bethlehem already become remarka- Ruth “ returned to Bethlehem in ble?
the beginning of barley-harvest." Theophilus. As the birth-place of Boaz, of the kindred of Elimelech, David, the illustrious human ances- came from Bethlehem.”—“And all tor and one great type of the Mes- the people that were in the gate, and siah. 1 Sam. xvi. 4. Hence Beth- the elders, said, We are witnesses. lehem is called "the city of David." The Lord make the woman that is
Reader. And it is very evident, come into thine house like Rachel from the answer given to Herod, as and like Leah, which two did build well as from ancient Jewish writings, the house of Israel; and do thou that the Jews expected that the Mes-worthily in Ephratah, and be famous siah-the Son of David—would be in Bethlehem.” born at Bethlehem. Can you recite Reader. We have already seen a verse out of another Evangelist, the place which is occupied by Boaz which tends to prove that such a per- in the human ancestry of our blessed suasion was prevalent among the Lord.—You may find another referJewish people at the period of our ence to Bethlehem, in Psalm cxxxii. Saviour's ministry?
6.-It lay about seven miles southTheophilus. Yes. “Some said, west of Jerusalem.-It was but a Shall Christ come out of Galilee ? small town,-so small that in John Hath not the Scripture said, that vii. 42, it is called, in the original, Christ cometh of the seed of David, “the village of Bethlehem."— The and out of the town of Bethlehem, meanness of our Lord's birth-place