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things being considered, we may for our comfort to reflect that the conclude that the number could not “counsel of the Lord" shall always have been very large. Tradition, “stand,” in opposition alike to the indeed, fixes the number at fourteen craft and the rage of his enemies. thousand ! But this, as one com The promise of God to his faithful mentator has well observed, is only people is this,—" Thou shalt tread an instance of the vanity of that upon the lion and adder; the young most vain and deceitful guide ; for lion and the dragon shalt thou trameven a populous city would not con ple under feet.” Ps. xci. 13. tain such a number of infants of two | Herod was exceeding wroth. The years old and under.
word in the original is the same as Theophilus. I see, more and more that which the Septuagint employs plainly, how vain and unprofitable it to express the rage of Haman is, to attempt to become wise above against Mordecai. Esth. iii. 5; v. 9. what is written in matters of reli- To what awful lengths of wickedgion, and especially with reference ness are men sometimes led by the to those matters of fact which are indulgence of anger! Under the recorded in Holy Scripture.
influence of this evil passion, if they
yield to it, they are likely to commit READER. Let us endeavour to sins of the deepest dye. “Wrath is become wise, in a practical way, by cruel, and anger is outrageous.” “He that which has been written for our that is slow to wrath is of great unlearning in the passage of Holy Scrip derstanding; but he that is hasty of ture which has now been read. spirit exalteth folly.” Prov. xxvii. 4;
Herod, when he saw that he was xiv. 29. mocked of the wise men, was exceeding | Herod had already received a Croth.—His crafty and dishonest po- check in his iniquitous designs by the licy having been defeated, he pro- disappointment which he had suffered. ceeded, in the next place, to acts of Was not this enough to divert him open enmity and violence. “Hav from his purpose ? It might well ing played the fox before," says have spoken to his conscience; and Burkitt, “he acts the lion now." it ought to have deterred him from And thus it often happens, that his crime. But no. Even the re"when fraud and subtilty fail the bukes of God address themselves in enemies of the church, then they vain to the heart of a hardened sinfall to open rage and barbarous in- ner. And “inveterate corruption," humanity.”
so far from being allayed, “ often But this act of cruelty, great and swells the higher for the obstruction monstrous as it was, was not effec- it meets with in a sinful pursuit.” tual for its purpose. The child Je- Herod sent forth, and slew all the sus was not destroyed, as Herod in- children. There is a neat remark by tended and hoped. The Lord had an early Christian writer, which has the tyrant in derision. And it is been transferred to the pages of a
commentator on our Book of Com- | murder of the infants as a source of mon Prayer, to the following effect, grief and mourning to their parents.
—that there are three kinds of martyr The heart of many a parent was dom; the first both in will and deed, wrung with anguish on this lamentawhich is the highest; the second in will, ble occasion. How soon may we be but not in deed; the third in deed, called to mourn over the deathbut not in will. These infants were perhaps, as we may suppose, the martyrs (if such they may be called) untimely death — of relatives and of the latter class. And, in one sense, friends! Let us always be prepared they may be properly regarded as for so solemn and painful an event martyrs, that is, suffering witnesses to Let us walk in faith, hand in hand, Christ, if we regard their death, and with united hearts, towards a although involuntary, as the fulfil higher and a better world! Concernment of inspired prophecy.
ing the tenants of that blissful region There are, especially, four points it has been written, “God shall wipe of view in which we may consider the away all tears from their eyes; and slaughter of these children, in order there shall be no more death, neither to our practical benefit.
sorrow, nor crying, neither shall We may regard it, first, as the act there be any more pain, for the of a cruel and despotic tyrant. And former things are passed away.” hence we should learn to be thankful Rev. xxi. 4. that, through the good providence of Fourthly, we may look at this God, we are not exposed to the same circumstance with reference to the awful invasion of the rights of man, infants themselves. It was an early the same wanton exercise of irrespon and, as men call it, a premature sible and unbridled power. Thanks death. “It was no unrighteous be to God for the liberties of Britons, thing in God to permit this; every and the excellence of the British | life is forfeited to his justice as soon Constitution !
as it commences; that sin which enSecondly, we may contemplate tered by one man's disobedience this event as having taken place by introduced death with it; and we are. divine permission.—“Let us not say, not to suppose anything more than Where was the great Regent of the common guilt,—we are not to supuniverse when such a horrible butch pose that these children were sinners ery was transacted ? His all-wise above all that were in Israel,-becounsels knew how to bring good out cause they suffered such things. God's of all the evil of it. The agony of a judgments are a great deep. few moments transmitted these op- “But we must look upon this murpressed innocents to peace and joy, der of the infants under another while the impotent rage of Herod | character ; it was their martyrdom. only heaped on his own head guilt, How early did persecution commence and infamy, and horror.”
against Christ and his kingdom! Thirdly, we may consider the Think ye that he came to send peace
upon the earth? No; but a sword, | Lord appeareth in a dream to such a sword as this (ch. x. 34, Joseph in Egypt, 35.)". The meaning of which pas
20 Saying, Arise, and take sage is, not that such was the inten
| the young child and his mother, tion or design of Christ's coming, as
and go into the land of Israel : to the counsels of God, but that such was one of its effects, through
for they are dead which sought the corruption and wickedness of the young child's life. man." A passive testimony was 21 And he arose, and took hereby given to the Lord Jesus.- | the young child and his mother, They shed their blood for him who and came into the land of Israel. afterwards shed his for them.-If
| 22 But when he heard that these infants were thus baptized with
Archelaus did reign in Judea in blood, though it were their own, into the church triumphant, it could not
the room of his father Herod, be said but that, with what they
he was afraid to go thither: gained in heaven, they were abun
notwithstanding, being warned dantly recompensed for what they of God in a dream, he turned lost on earth."
aside "into the parts of Galilee : HYMN.
23 And he came and dwelt in Weep, Feep not o'er thy children's tomb,
a city called "Nazareth : that it Oh Rachel ! weep not so: The bud is cropt by martyrdom,
might be fulfilled which was The flower in heaven shall blow.
spoken by the prophets, He Firstlings of faith! the murderer's knife
shall be called a Nazarene. Hath miss'd its deadly aim; The God, for whom they gave their life,
o ch. iii. 13. Luke ii. 39—p John i. 45. q Judges For them to suffer came. Though evil were their days and few,
Reader. Hence it appears that Baptiz'd in blood and pain, He knows them whom they never knew,
our Saviour's sojourn in Egypt was And they shall live again.
but of short duration. He did not Then weep not o'er thy children's tomb, remain in that country long enough Oh Rachel! weep not so;
to receive any part of his earthly The bud is cropt by martyrdom,
education there ; for he was taken The flower in heaven shall blow.
back to Nazareth as “a young child,” i.e. while he was yet an infant.
Theophilus. From the expression $ IX.
" they are dead,” are we to conclude CHAP. II. 19_23. that others besides Herod were enHerod dieth. Christ is brought back
gaged in seeking the life of the inagain into Galilee to Nazareth.
fant Jesus, and that they had all been
removed by the stroke of death? 19 | But when Herod was | Reader. It is, of course, probable dead, behold, an angel of the that some of Herod's adherents were
1 Sam. i, 11.
ready to assist him in his wicked Theophilus. I suppose the condesign, and God may have cut them duct of Archelaus was very bad, and all off by death. — Or the plural that this led to his deposition; espenumber may be here used in a gene cially as it is said that Joseph “was ral and indefinite sense, but referring afraid” to return into Judea when strictly to Herod himself. But there he heard that Archelaus was in is, I think, a still better way of ac-power. counting for the plural form of Reader. Such is the fact. He expression in this place. The words made himself odious and intolerable appear to be a quotation from Exod. by his acts of cruelty and oppresiv. 19, and so to contain an allusion, sion; and it was at the instance of the although without the usual note of afflicted Jews that the emperor vireference, to what is said concerning sited his crimes with the punishment Moses in that place ;—hereby teach- | I have mentioned. ing us to regard Moses, in his flight Here let me call your attention to from his enemies, as a type of the what is, perhaps, to be regarded as an infant Redeemer in his flight from incidental evidence of the credibility Herod.—In this respect, Herod may of the Gospel narrative. The Evanbe viewed as a representative of all the gelist says nothing concerning the enemies of Christ,—"they are dead character or proceedings of Archewhich sought the young child's life.” | laus; but the fact of Joseph's being
Theophilus. I think I have un- | afraid to come within his reach is in derstood that Herod was the last perfect accordance with the character king of Judea,—but here it is said of the tyrant, as it is displayed to us that Archelaus reigned in the room by common historians ;—and the of his father.
sacred writer, by thus dropping a Reader. It was the intention of hint, without attempting to account Herod, expressed in his will, that for the fact to which he alludes, apArchelaus should succeed him as pears to us in his true light, as one king; but Augustus, the Roman who was writing for persons who well emperor, would not bestow upon understood the circumstances of the him that title. He suffered him, times of which he treated. however, to retain the government of | Why might Joseph have been exJudea, Idumea, and Samaria, under pected to think of returning to Judea, the inferior title of ethnarch; and in the first instance ? at the same time he gave Batanea, Theophilus. Because the infant Trachonitis, &c., to Philip, and had been born at Bethlehem; and beGalilee and Peræa to Antipas. cause he knew that the Messiah was Archelaus held his office only nine to be of the tribe of Judah. years; at the end of which time Reader. And why would he nahe was deposed and banished, turally turn his thoughts to Galilee, and Judea was entirely reduced to in the next instance,-and especially the condition of a Roman province. to Nazareth ?
Theophilus. Because,-as we learn writings which had been lost before from another Evangelist, although his time. But this was merely his the fact is not mentioned by St. conjecture; and it is one which the Matthew,-Nazareth was the place more accurate criticism of the present in which Mary, and probably Joseph | day will not suffer us to adopt withalso, originally resided. Luke i. 26, out obvious necessity.
I am inclined to agree with those Reader. Here you may remark interpreters who think that the an incidental coincidence between Evangelist makes a general allusion the histories of the Evangelists. to the sense or substance of pre
Theophilus. It is said in the dictions contained in several parts of twenty-third verse that it“ was spo- the Old Testament, rather than to ken by the prophets, He shall be | the precise words of any particular called a Nazarene.” But we have book or books. Now it had been not been able to trace this prophecy foretold in more places than one that in any part of the Old Testament. the Messiah would be despised and Will you be pleased to help us out rejected by his contemporaries ; and of our difficulty ?
when the Evangelist wrote, the term Reader. Some have supposed “ Nazarene" was proverbially emthat the Evangelist here applies to ployed as an expression of scorn or the Messiah several passages of the | contempt. Having mentioned our Old Testament, containing appella Lord's early abode at Nazareth, the tions resembling that of Nazarene Evangelist points out the fact of his merely in sound. Thus they have having incurred the odium and conreferred to Gen. xli. 26, where it is tempt necessarily connected with a said that Joseph should be "separate residence in that place, as being part (Nezir) from, or a Nazarite among, of that humiliation which had been his brethren.”—They regard Judges so expressly foretold by the voice xiii. 5, “The child," i.e. Samson, of prophecy. “To be called a Na“shall be a Nazarite,” as pointing, zarene was to be called a despicable in a more remote signification, to man.—Now this was not particularly Christ.— And they suppose also that foretold by any one prophet; but, in Isaiah xi. 1, in which our Saviour general, it was spoken by the prophets is foretold under the title of The that he should be despised and rejected Branch (Natzir), may be regarded as of men (Isa. lxiii. 2, 3), a worm and another passage of the prophets to no man (Ps. xxii. 6, 7), that he should which St. Matthew refers.—But I be an alien to his brethren. Ps. lxix, do not think that this view of the 7, 8." matter is consistent with the princi- In reading this chapter, we have ples of sound interpretation. more than once had occasion to dis
Chrysostom thought that the pre cuss the Evangelist's method of apdictions referred to by St. Matthew, plying Old Testament prophecies to were contained in some prophetical | the person and history of Christ. I