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these wise men, when they were set- | and where he sitteth at the right ting out from Jerusalem on the road hand of God? We have that bright to Bethlehem. Thus “God is some- and glorious luminary, the written times pleased to favour young con word of God. Let us follow its verts with such tokens of his love as guidance, and we shall rejoice in it are very encouraging to them, in re- | as being indeed “a light unto our ference to the difficulties they meet feet, and a lamp unto our path." with at their setting out in the ways of God.” Such encouragements, if
HYMN I. granted, ought to be thankfully re
Bright was the guiding star that led, ceived and wisely improved; but, if With mild benignant ray, they are withheld, their absence The Gentiles to the lowly shed
Where the Redeemer lay. ought not to lead to impatience, unbelief, repining, or despair.
But lo! a brighter, clearer light “When they saw the star, they Now points to his abode; rejoiced with exceeding great joy."
It shines thro' sin and sorrow's night,
To guide us to our God.
Its gracious call obey;
Be rugged wilds, or flow'ry meads, everything that will show us the way
The Christian's destined way. to Christ.”—Hence we may take occasion to reflect that, under the or O gladly tread the narrow path dinary circumstances of the Christian
While light and grace are given !
Who meekly follow Christ on earth life, “the tokens of God's presence
Shall reign with him in heaven. and favour cannot but fill with joy unspeakable the souls of those that know how to value them."-And,
HYMN II. since the joy of the wise men was occasioned, as it appears, by the ap
Sons of men, behold from far,
Hail the long-expected star! pearance of the star after a tem
Jacob's star, that gilds the night, porary obscuration or retirement
Guides bewilder'd nature right. from their sight, we may hence take
Mild it shines on all beneath, encouragement to hold on our way
Piercing through the shades of death ; in faith under dark and mysterious Scattering error's wide-spread night, dispensations of Providence, or in Kindling darkness into light. seasons when we do not experience Nations all, remote and near, the comforts of divine grace; humbly Haste to see your God appear ; trusting in God, and hoping for a
Haste, for Him your hearts prepare ;
Meet him manifested there. return of light, and cheerfulness, and joy.
Sing, ye morning stars again, Have we no star to guide us to
God descends to dwell with men,
Deigns for man his life to employ, Bethlehem where Christ was ? nay Shout, ye sons of God, for joy. more, to heaven, where Christ is,
Reader. Read also Psalm xxxii. § VI.
8, 9. CHAP. II. 11, 12
Theophilus. “I will instruct thee,
and teach thee in the way which thou he wise men worship Christ, and offer | shalt go: I will guide thee with mine their presents.
eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as 11 And when they were
the mule, which have no understand
ing; whose mouth must be held in come into the house, they saw
with bit and bridle, lest they come the young child with Mary his
near unto thee.” mother, and fell down, and wor Reader. May God give us humble shipped him: and when they and teachable hearts, ready, at all had opened their treasures, times, to walk with cheerfulness in *they presented unto him gifts;
that way of salvation, and that path gold, and frankincense, and
of duty, which his word points out! How did the wise men act when they
saw the infant? 12 And being warned of God
Theophilus. “They fell down and 'in a dream that they should not
worshipped him.” return to Herod, they departed Reader. Yes; they did him hointo their own country another mage, notwithstanding his poor lodg
ing, and the mean appearance of Ps. lxxii, 10. Is. Ix. 6. 1 Or, offered.
everything about him, so different ch. i. 20.
from what they might have expectReader. Here we find that the ed. Here again we discover traces wise men, following divine direction, of humility of mind, and a devout were not misled, but guided to the acquiescence in divine appointments. object of their search. They came | The proud Jews would not receive "into the house” and “saw the the Messiah because he did not come young child with Mary his mother.” with outward pomp and splendour. Thus also we shall be well informed, Hence they continued in unbelief. and led by the right way to the right And we shall be unbelievers too, unend, if we meekly and thankfully less we approach the Gospel with follow those heavenly counsels which humble minds, prepared to receive are given to us in the holy Scrip- and reverence the truth, not merely tures. Let Theophilus read a pro such as we may expect to find, but mise to this effect in Psalm xxv. such as God may be pleased to re8,9.
veal, and to present for our acceptTheophilus. “Good and upright is | ance.—After the wise men had paid the Lord : therefore will he teach their respects, by tokens of reverence sinners in the way. The meek will and submission, what followed ? he guide in judgment, and the meek | Theophilus. They “opened their will he teach his way.”
Reader. That is, they opened the filled !—What were the gifts which caskets or vessels in which they had the Magi presented unto the infant brought their gifts. Can you refer Jesus ? to any passages of Scripture, which Theophilus. Gold, and frankinindicate the ancient practice of offer cense, and myrrh. ing presents to royal personages in Reader. It has been remarked that token of respect ?
these gifts, and especially the gold, Theophilus. A departure from this were a providential and seasonable custom is mentioned as a mark of supply to Joseph and Mary, which disrespect towards Saul, on the part probably enabled them to bear the of some of his subjects. “The child expenses of their journey into Egypt. ren of Belial said, How shall this -Frankincense is a fragrant balsamic man save us? And they despised product of the East, especially of bim, and brought him no presents.”. Arabia, used in worship. Myrrh is 1 Sam. x. 27. On the other hand, a substance of the same kind and the queen of Sheba manifested her climate, valued on account of its high respect for Solomon by the property of preserving bodies from abundance of gifts which she took putrefaction, and used principally in with her, when she made her cele- embalming the dead. brated visit. “She came to Jerusa Early Christian writers employed lem with a very great train, with ca their imagination in assigning a figu. mels that bare spices, and very much rative meaning to these offerings. gold, and precious stones.” 1 Kings Gold, say they, was offered to our x. 2.
Saviour as to a king ; frankincense, Reader. You might have reminded as to God; and myrrh, as to a man us also of the presents which Jacob that was to die. The conceit is sent to Egypt to “the man, the go pretty, and is more harmless than vernor of the land” (Gen. xliii. 11 many of the speculations of “ the
-25); and especially of a passage in fathers ;” but, of course, I do not that remarkably prophetic psalm in mention it as having anything to do which “David, praying for Solomon, with the principles of sound intersheweth the goodness and glory of pretation.—One lesson, however, of his, in type, and, in truth, of Christ's practical importance, may be fairly kingdom.” Read Psalm lxxii. 10, 11. deduced from the circumstance now
Theophilus. “The kings of Tarsh before us. We see that the wise ish and of the isles shall bring pre men offered to Christ some of the sents; the kings of Sheba and Seba best and most choice productions of shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall the earth; and this may admonish fall down before him, all nations us to present to him the best gifts shall serve him."
and offerings at our disposal,—to deReader. How glorious is the pros vote to him our hearts, to offer him pect which that prophecy opens to our worship, and to consecrate to his our view! May it be speedily ful service, in one way or other, our pro
perty, and our faculties of body and Reader. How would it have grievof mind.
ed them to have been successfully Observe, also, that the wise men employed as instruments in working presented themselves first, offering the destruction of the infant whom personal homage, and afterwards of they had sought and visited with so fered their gifts. And let us remem- | much reverence! But they were preber that we have no reason to expect served from this pain by the direct that any of our gifts will be accepted interposition of Heaven. And “thus by Christ, unless we first present they who in all their ways acknowourselves to him as living sacrifices. ledge God will find that God will, Read the commendation bestowed by by one method or another, graciously St. Paul upon the churches of Mace- direct their paths.” We here discodonia, in 2 Cor. vii. 3–5.
ver a second instance of divine interTheophilus. “To their power, I position in order to prevent serious bear record, yea and beyond their | and well-disposed persons from fallpower, they were willing of them ing into dangerous or distressing erselves; praying us with much en rors. But it is worthy of remark, treaty that we would receive the gift, both in the case of Joseph and in and take upon us the fellowship of this of the Magi, that supernatural the ministering to the saints. And means of guidance were vouchsafed this they did, not as we hoped, but only in cases wherein the use of nafirst gave their own selves to the tural powers and opportunities was Lord, and unto us by the will of insufficient to enable the parties to God."
ascertain their true position. We Reader. And read Romans xii. 1; must not expect extraordinary aids, -for, while we see what offerings when the use of more common means others have made to Christ, it is would be sufficient. right that we should consider well Theophilus. The preservation of what gifts we are ourselves required the infant appears to be a striking to present.
proof of divine omniscience, and of Theophilus. “I beseech you there- an ever-watchful Providence. fore, brethren, by the mercies of Reader. It is one among many God, that ye present your bodies a such proofs. And we are encouliving sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto raged to remember for our comfort, God, which is your reasonable ser that, in other cases, as well as in that vice.”
before us, God has at his disposal Reader. Why was it that the abundant and ready means of deliMagi did not return to Jerusalem, vering his faithful people from the but “ departed into their own coun craft or power of their enemies. try another way?”
“ The Lord knoweth how to deliver Theophilus. Because they were the godly out of temptations." 2 Pet. “ warned of God in a dream that | ii. 9. “The Lord is my light and they should not return to Herod.” my salvation ; whom shall I fear ?
basalem, verifte or poweroweth how to. 2 Pet.
The Lord is the strength of my life; | Prayer.” Read first the passage of whom shall I be afraid ? When which you find marked in the smaller the wicked, even mine enemies and volume. my foes, came upon me to eat up my Theophilus. “ It is clear that, from flesh, they stumbled and fell.” Ps. whatever sources they obtained it, xxvii. 1, 2. “In God I will praise these Magi certainly had, and so had his word, in God I have put my many others, an expectation of a trust; I will not fear what flesh can Saviour that was to come. They do unto me.” Ps. lvi. 4.
possessed, indeed, very limited means The total and easy defeat of He- of acquiring the most important of rod's crafty device may teach us also all knowledge, the knowledge of to “rejoice in the thought that there God. But they employed those is no wisdom, nor understanding, means heartily, and to a good purnor counsel, against the Lord,'—no pose. The consequence was that, as scheme so artfully devised that he they employed properly their talent, cannot penetrate it, or so politicly God increased it: they trimmed as formed that he cannot with infinite well as they could their feeble lamp, ease confound it.”
and the Lord, therefore, sent them a There is a question, Theophilus, brighter light. He placed a glorious which I wish to ask you in connec- star in the heavens. At his comtion with this whole history of the mand it went before them, and visit of the Magi to Bethlehem un-brought them to the place where der the guidance of a star. Can you the Messiah they sought was laid, tell me on what day our Church and enabled them to kneel before commemorates this event ?
him and offer him their best treaTheophilus. The festival of “The sures. These Gentiles may be conEpiphany, or the Manifestation of sidered as the first-fruits of that Christ to the Gentiles,” is set apart great harvest Jesus was to gather chiefly for this purpose. The former into the Church; and the star was a part of this chapter of St. Matthew | lively emblem of that clear revelais the Gospel for that day.
tion of life and immortality which Reader. I propose now to con- | he has set before us in his holy clude our meditations upon this | word. The Gospel shines steadily whole transaction by requesting you and purely, and, when followed with to read two extracts which I have diligence and faith, will always, like marked in the books that lie upon the star, conduct unto Jesus those the table. One of them is from a who are wise, not in worldly wisdom, little work of which you haye heard but unto salvation. Before our eyes me speak highly, — “ The Penny it shines. It has brought us, who Sunday Reader;"—and the other is are descended from Gentiles, out of part of a passage from an old divine, darkness into his marvellous light. quoted by Bishop Mant in his “An- | Every Sabbath day God's ministers notations on the Book of Common direct our attention to this light, and