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of bondage ; but they shall be fetched being hurt by no persecutions, may
evermore give thanks unto thee in Can I give you any farther satis | thy holy church, through Jesus faction in the way of mere interpret- Christ our Lord.” ation or exposition of these verses ? | Take the young child and his mo
Theophilus. I am not aware, Sir, ther, and flee into Egypt.—Here we that any other question arises in our have a farther “instance of the huminds on the present occasion. miliation of the Lord Jesus. As
there was no room for him in the
inn at Bethlehem, so there was no READER. Let us now proceed quiet room for him in the land of to make some practical reflections, Judea." Thus early were the indiand to derive some religious instruc cations of the mournful fact, that tion, from this portion of Holy Scrip- "he came unto his own, and his own ture.
received him not.” “He was baHerod will seek the young child to nished almost as soon as he was destroy him.—His malice and cruelty | born.” “Lord, how great an humiwere foreseen and foretold. And liation was this, not only to become hence we are reminded of the most an infant, but in thine infancy to be encouraging fact, that God is inti- hurried up and down, and driven out mately acquainted with all the crafty of thine own land as a vagabond !” and malicious designs or projects of — May we cherish a deep devotion his people's enemies. He says, as it and a reverent love towards the were, to every enemy of himself and once suffering, but now glorified, of his cause, as he once said to the Redeemer! And may we learn to haughty Sennacherib by the mouth follow him in his great humility! of Isaiah," I know thy abode, and Flee into Egypt.—This teaches us thy going out, and thy coming in, that, in certain seasons of difficulty and thy rage against me.” Isaiah or danger, it is lawful, and in every xxxvii. 28. And he who is thus respect right, for God's people to acquainted with the ill-will of wicked seek protection by flight, or by men or evil spirits can easily frustrate otherwise endeavouring to escape the mischief which he foresees, and the evil which may be designed can destroy the power of those who against them, as long as they can exalt themselves against him. Oh do so without the breach of a plain let us mingle faith with that peti and positive commandment. It is tion to God, our merciful Father, fanaticism, and not faith, which “Graciously hear us, that those evils, would run into the flames of perwhich the craft and subtilty of the secution, or rush upon the sword of devil or man worketh against us be the destroyer. “When they persebrought to nought; and by the pro cute you in this city, flee ye into vidence of thy goodness they may another.” Matt. x. 23. be dispersed ; that we thy servants, Flee into Egypt.-Perhaps we may be permitted to regard this command | death? Will he not smite with as an earnest of favour to be ex- blindness those who shall be sent to tended to the Gentiles, in conveying slay him ? No. Christ himself must to them the knowledge of Christ and flee into Egypt. God does not see his salvation. It is delightful to fit to put forth that kind of power, watch even the first faint glimmer- or to give that kind of testimony, ings of that “light” which was ap which a different set of circumpointed “to lighten the Gentiles" | stances might have called forth. as well as "to be the glory of his “He doeth all things well." people Israel."
When he arose, he departed into Be thou there until I bring thee Egypt.-Here is a beautiful example word.—God, you observe, keeps his of faith and obedience. Unbelief people in a state of continual de- might have suggested that such a pendence upon him, and makes it flight could not be needed in favour their duty to await, and comply of such an infant ;-or it might have with, the indications of his will. whispered,-If this flight be indeed With respect to our station in life, necessary, then perhaps the infant is or any other circumstances of our not that wonderful One whom you lot, though we may desire a change, have supposed him to be. But no. yet let us wait God's pleasure. Let Joseph and Mary believed the word us follow what may at least com which had been spoken,—and were mend itself to our conscience and strong in faith, giving glory to God; our sober judgment as the leading of and their faith issued in a prompt, Divine Providence. “Be thou there unhesitating obedience. When he until I bring thee word.”
arose—without delay—even before Flee into Egypt, and be thou there | daybreak — Joseph took the young until I bring thee word.—How often child and his mother, and departed we may observe that God does not into Egypt.—When our instructions work miracles, when ordinary means, | are clear, let our obedience be prompt sufficient for the accomplishment of and cheerful. a purpose, are at hand. He employs He took the young child and his his miraculous and extraordinary mother by night.—Yes ;—privately power only in cases in which it may and cautiously, notwithstanding his be required for somewise, benevolent, conviction that the power of God was or necessary end, which could not engaged on behalf of the infant, be otherwise attained. Or rather, He acted in the spirit of that injuncperhaps, I should say, God works mi tion, " Thou shalt not tempt the Lord racles, not when man may choose to thy God.” Promises of safety and expect or to desire them, but ac- deliverance must not make us rash cording to the good pleasure of his or presumptuous. We must expect own most perfect will. Will not the fulfilment of such promises in the God, in order to protect the infant use of means, not in the neglect of Jesus, cut off Herod by a sudden them.
And was there until the death of
§ VIII. Herod : that it might be fulfilled which
CHAP. II. 16—18. was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called Herod slayeth the children. my Son.—This shielding of the infant
16 Then Herod, when he Jesus from the malice and rage of the cruel Herod is a beautiful em
saw that he was mocked of the blem of the effectual care and vigi
wise men, was exceeding wroth, lance of Almighty God on behalf of and sent forth, and slew all the his whole church—of all his faithful children that were in Bethlepeople—in the hour of danger and hem, and in all the coasts therealarm. Let every believer confide
of, from two years old and unin the divine protection; and say
der, according to the time which thankfully, but humbly, with David of old, “In the time of trouble he
he had diligently enquired of the shall hide me in his pavilion : in the
wise men. secret of his tabernacle shall he hide 17 Then was fulfilled that me; he shall set me up upon a rock. which was spoken by " Jeremy And now shall mine head be lifted the prophet, saving. up above mine enemies round about 18 In Rama was there a voice me; therefore will I offer in his ta
heard, lamentation, and weepbernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the
ing, and great mourning, RaLord.” Ps. xxvii. 5.
chel weeping for her children,
and would not be comforted, PSALM XCVII.
because they are not. Jehovah reigns! let all the earth
Jer. xxxi, 15.
Reader. This is a dark passage in In his applause unite their voice ! the history of human ungodliness Thou, Lord of all, art seated high,
and crime. And, as a dispensation Above earth's potentates enthron'd! of Divine Providence, it would be Thou, Lord, unrivall’d in the sky,
mysterious and difficult to our apSupreme by heavenly hosts art own'd.
prehension, did we not consider how Ye, who to serve the Lord aspire,
absolutely the lives of all men are in Abhor what's ill, and truth esteem; the hands of God, how completely He'll keep his servants' souls entire,
they have been forfeited by sin, And them from wicked hands redeem.
and that it is more than probable Rejoice, ye righteous, in the Lord ! Memorials of his holiness
that God, in his mercy, made the Deep in your faithful breasts record, cruelty of Herod towards these inAnd with your thankful tongues express. fants minister to their speedy and
Theophilus. This massacre is, I think, one of the most inhuman | years of age, and who had formerly transactions of which I have ever saved Herod's life; a man who, in read. The account of it is painful every revolution of fortune, had in the extreme; and, if it did not shown a mild and peaceable disposirest upon high authority, would be tion. His beloved and beautiful wife almost incredible.
Mariamne was publicly executed ; Reader. The narrative, considered and her mother Alexandra followed in itself, is indeed equally mournful soon after. Alexander and Aristoand astonishing. But here again we bulus, his two sons by Mariamne, have an incidental confirmation of were strangled in prison by his orthe truth and accuracy of Scripture ders, upon groundless suspicions, history. Although this murder, not when they were at man's estate, having had a bearing upon any poli were married, and had children. In tical change or movement, is not re- his last sickness, he sent orders corded by common historians; yet it throughout Judea, requiring the preis in perfect accordance with the sence of all the chief men of the character and proceedings of Herod nation at Jericho. When they were in many matters which, being of a come, he caused them all to be shut political character, did come within up in the circus; and, calling for the range of their observations. Ma- his sister Salome and her husband crobius indeed (Saturn. Ü, 4), re- Alexas, he said to them, 'My life is cords a jest of Augustus, to the now short; I know the Jewish peoeffect that it was better to be He- ple, and that nothing will please rod's hog than his son,—which some them better than my death. You persons suppose to have had refer have them now in your custody. ence to the slaughter of the inno As soon as the breath is out of my cents. But be this as it may, there body, and before my death can be are abundant examples which serve known, do you let in the soldiers to show that this horrid piece of upon them, and kill them. All Jucruelty is no more than might have dea then, and every family, will, been expected at the hands of He- | though unwillingly, mourn at my rod.-Read a passage which I have death. Surely there could be no marked in the book that lies before cruelty which such a man was not you, containing an enumeration of capable of perpetrating." some of this tyrant's atrocities. I Reader. And it is worthy of re
Theophilus. “ Aristobulus, brother mark, that the Evangelist does not of his wife Mariamne, was murdered make any comment upon the bad by his directions at eighteen years of character of this wretched tyrant. age, because the people of Jerusalem It is the usual custom of the sacred had shown some affection for his per writers to give a simple narrative of son. In the seventh year of his reign facts, without stopping to express he put to death Hyrcanus, grand admiration, or any other sentiment, father of Mariamne, then eighty at the circumstances which they rementations which f Ramah when
cord; or to dilate upon the character | figure of Rachel weeping over her and motives of the actors. This children; it is a specimen of that speaks greatly in favour of their genuine and exalted poetry with credibility as historians; and, in fact, which the language of Scripture it points us to that fountain of truth abounds. And, what is more, the and purity from which they derived second fulfilment of the words of inspiration and guidance. It may Jeremiah, — which no one, anteceserve also to suggest to us a reli | dently to the event of the applicagious duty ;-namely, not to speak tion made by the inspired Evangeevil of other men, except when ne list, would have supposed to possess cessary; and, even then, not to take any farther reference or meaning, pleasure in casting blame or discredit is a proof of the certainty of the diupon them.
vine foreknowledge, and the depths Theophilus. Perhaps you will be of divine revelation. kind enough to explain to us the Other modes of explaining St. application of the prophecy to which Matthew's application of the pasthe Evangelist here refers.
sage are, I think, less satisfactory.Reader. These words of Jeremiah Some say that, perhaps, the massacre (xxxi. 15) referred primarily to the extended to the territory of Ramah, lamentations which were heard in which bordered on that of Bethlethe neighbourhood of Ramah when hem, and so the children of Rachel, Nebuzar-adan collected in that place literally speaking, were involved in the captives from Judah and Benja- the calamity.—One commentator remin whom he was about to carry marks, it is “as if the Evangelist away to Babylon. See Jer. xl. 1. had said, Bethlehem at this time Ramah was in the tribe of Benja- resembled Ramah; for, as Rachel min ; and the mother of that tribe is might be said to weep over her most elegantly represented as be- children which were slaughtered, or wailing the calamity of her descend- gone into captivity; so, in Bethleants.--Now Bethlehem was situate hem, the mothers lamented bitterly at the distance of about twelve miles | their children, because they were from Ramah, and lay in the tribe of slain.”—Luther translates the words Judah; but Rachel's tomb was there; “ in Ramah,” supposing them to and hence the prophecy of Jeremiah mean in " the hill country.” is to be regarded as receiving a se- 1 Theophilus. The number of infants cond and farther accomplishment in slain by Herod is, I suppose, uncerthe slaughter of the infants, over | tain. whose death, with equal propriety Reader. Quite so. Bethlehem was and beauty, Rachel may be repre- not a large place; and, although the sented as weeping—though not as slaughter extended to the parts adthe mother of the tribe, yet as hav- | jacent, or the neighbourhood some ing been buried in the neighbour- distance round,—which is meant by hood. There is great beauty in the “ all the coasts thereof” — yet, all