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JAN. 23. LESSON IV. 1881.
Third Sunday after EpipJiany. Luke ii. 8-20.
KEY NOTE.—"and I Say Unto Yov, That Many Shall Comb From The East And West, And Shall Sit Down With Abraham, And Isaac, And Jacob, In The
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN."—Matt. viH. 11.
8. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.
10. And the aagel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11. For unto you is born thiB day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
I 14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth pe ice, good will toward men.
15. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us.
16. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17. And when they had seen it, they made kno.vn abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18. And all they that heard it, wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Can you repeat the Key-Note? Who informed Joseph that Mary was to become the mother of Jesus? Matt, i 19-25. What decree did Coosar Augustus issue about this time? verses 1-2. To what city had each family to go in Judea? verse 3. Whither had Joseph and Mary to go 1 verses 4-5. Who was born there? verses 6-7.
What Hymn have we to sing to day?
Into how many parts does this lesson readily fall? verses 8-12; verses 13-11; verses 15-20.
Verse 8. In what country were the shepherds? What were the shepherds doing? Against what were they obliged lo watch?
9. D ) we know the name of this angel? How was the glory of the Lord displayed? See Ex. xxiv. 10. How were they affected?
10. How did the angel cheer the shepherds? What were they to receive? What does our word Gospel mean? To whom was this good word to come?
11. What city was D tcid's city? What does Christ mean? To what three offices is Christ anointed?
12. How were they to find the Infant Christ? Was there, likely, another babe lying in a manger there and then?
13. Who then suddenly appeared?
j 14. What Anthem did this choir sing? Can you repeat it? Into how many parts did this Hvmn divide itself? To whom was the birth of Christ to bring glory? In what measure? What was His birth to establish on the earth? What Spirit was now to bind God and mankind?
15. Did these Shepherds believe the report of the angel? May we call them the first believers, then?
16. How did they find it at Bethlehem?
17. Did they keep their experience to themselves? Were they the first Preachers, then?
18. How did the news affect their friends?
19. What did Mary do? Do you suppose the Evangelists obtained much from her memory, when these subsequently wrote their Gospels?
20. What became of the Shepherds, then? What did they still continue to do? Is the same G.jspel still preached by the Shepherds of souls?
Why did the S>n of God become the Son of man? 1 John iii. 1.
What mark does St. John set as the proof of a true faith? 1 John iv. 2.
Have you this Faith? What is your duty, still further, then? Luke xxii. 32.
1. Hark! the herald angels sing,
2. Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Hail the heaven-born Prince of peace,
3. Mild He lays His glories by; Born that men no more may die; Born to raise the sons of earth; Born to give them second birth.
4. Come I Desire of nations! come, Fix in us Thy humble home:
O, to all Thyself imptrt,
Remarks.—Shortly after Mary's return to Nazareth, an angel informed Joseph, the intended husband, that Mary was appointed of God to be the mother of His Son, Jesus Christ, Math. i. 1925. About the same time, the Roman Emperor, Augustus, had commanded all hU subjects to be taxed. In Judea every household was obliged to appear in the place of nativity, in order to be properly enrolled. Thus it occurred that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, according to Micah's prediction—Mic. v. 2.
Comments.—This section falls naturally into three parts:—
I. THE MESS AGE 0 F TH E ANGEL, vi. 8 12 II. THE CORONATION HYMN, v«. 13 14. III. THE SHEPHTBDS-THE FIRBf EVANGELISTS, v 18.
Verse 8. In the same country means in the neighborhood of Bethlehem. Shepherds were obliged to protect and defend their flocks against robbers and wild animals.
Verse 9. An angel, probably Gabriel, was again sent on an important mission. The glory of the Lord may have been a heavenly halo of light that encompassed the watchers. Compare Ex. 24: 16. It was natural that they should be alarmed.
Verse 10. Fear not! How often is this greeting used in the Gospel! Good tidings, is just what our word Gospel means—God's spell, or God's word. To all people means for Jews and Gentiles —the whole race of man. In a few words, the angel tells the substance and compass of his report.
Verse 11. The City of David is none other than the birth-place of Israel's King—Bethlehem. Christ is the same as Messiah, a name which indicates the offices of Prophet, Priest and King
Verse 12. Lest they might expect too great grandeur attending this newborn King, or fear to approach Him, the angel tells them of His humble and lowly form — wrapped in swaddling clothes—the usual garb of infants. Lying in a manger was, however, a special mark, as not another infant was, likely, found in such a place, at that time.
Verse 13. Suddenly a whole choir of angelic beings were manifested to the humble shepherds.
Verse14. GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST I AND ON EARTH, PEACE | GOOD-WILL TO MEN. This was the simple Coronation Hymn. It is composed of three members;—1.
God's Glory was manifested (o) in the most exalted and mysterious measure; (6) among the highest order of beings; (c) in the noblest strains that men or angels ever conceived; 2. Peace was to result, in consequence of the Incarnation, (o) between God and mankind; (6) between man and man, or mankind ; and which might now become Man Kinned; and (c) between all the interior elements of each individual soul; 3. The Reign of Good Will or Charity was now possible in heaven and earth.
A perfect truce of God is declared in thfse words, which was the design of the Incarnation of the Son of God. Eph. 3 : 15.
Verse 15. The shepherds were the first mortals to whom the consummation of the birth of Jesus was manifested. They were the earliest believers, too. How readily they give credence to the heavenly report! And how they hasten towards Bethlehem.
Verse 16. They found it all soeven as the angels had declared.
Verse 17. They made known abroad. Now they become the very first heralds of the Gospel—the first preachers of the Incarnate God. Doubtless their text was the Song of the Angels.
Verse 18. And all they that heard it were astounded at their declarations.
Verse 19. Mary pondered or treasured all up and weighed all tbat had been told her, and kept manifesting themselves to her soul. From her spirit many a circumstance was obtained, subsequently, by the holy writers. Who could know so much and so well as she, all that had transpired in reference to her noble Son?
Verse 20. And (he shepherds return, ed to their own neighborhood, still preaching the wonders of Bethlehem, with believing and thankful hearts. And what but this Gospel is yet preached by the shepherds of souls?
1. The Son of God became the Son of man, that the sons of men might become the sons of God. 1 John, 3: 1.
2. Through the Incarnation God is glorified and mankind blessed.
3. Faith in the Incarnate Son of God constitutes us true believers, 1 John, 4: 2.
4. Having this faith in ourselves, let us afford it to others, after the manner of the pious shepherds. Sea Luke, 22: 32.
KEY-NOTE.—"what Manner Of Man Is
THIS, THAT EVEN THE WINDS AND THE SEA
Obey Him T'—MaU. viii. 27.
25. And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was np >n him.
26. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27. And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law
n. Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29. Lord, now lettest thon thy servant depart In peace, according to thy word:
30. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31. Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32. A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
34. And Simeon blessed them and said nnto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which snail be spoken against:
35. (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also;) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Repeat the Key-Note? How old was Jesus now 1 Whither had Jesus been brought? verses 22-24. What is the subject to-day? Into how many parts may we divide this lesson? verses 25-26; verses 27 2S); verses 30 35.
Verse 23. What does St. Luke tell us of Simeon? What is the meaning of juslt Of devout f Who is meant by the con-solution of Israel t How did Simeon concern himself about this?
26. What had been told him of God? How, do you suppose?
27. Whither had Simeon come? Had he done so frequently? Is this a habit of good people still? Who likewise came? What for?
j i What was the custom of the law ?. Nunjb. urii. «*n5-16; verse 24. ^htx^. fftf
f28. What did Simeon do? How may vie re-* reive Christ still closer home? What does blessed mean here?
Verses 29-32. Can you repeat the song of Simeon from memory? What bird is said to sing once more before it dies? What name has, consequently, been given to this Hymn? Can any one tell by what name it is known in Latin f Did he feel that God's promise had been made good to him? Whom had he now
seen? For whom had Christ come? What was Christ to be like, in the world? What honor had been conferred upon Israel by Christ's birth?
33. How did Christ's parents regard Simeon's Hymn?
34. What did He do to them? How does blessing God differ from blessing ment What did He say about the child t How do yon understand this? Isa. viii. 14-15; Matt. Chap. xxiv.; Rom. xi. 11-12. Will all men rise or fall in Christ? What does a sign which shall be spoken against, mean?
35. To whom did Simeon then speak? What does the sword signify? Did Mary witness her sou's suffering and death?
"How is Christ the revealer of all men's hearts?
If we have found Christ, for what two events are we then ready? Where may we find Christ? What, if we reject Christ? Will Christ be the Judge of all hearts? 2 Cor. v. 10. Can you name the subjects of this month's lessons? Can you repeat the Key-Notes t How many Hymns are recorded for us by St. Luke, touching the Divine Infancy? By what several characters were the,e aung?
1. Jesus the ancient faith confirms,
3. Our God, how faithful are His ways 1
3. With the same blessing grace endows
4. Then let the ohildren of the saints
Be dedicate to God;
6. Thus to the parents and their seed
6. Thy faithful saints, eternal King!
Connecting-link.—The wonderful Child of whom the angels, and Mary, and Zacbarias, and Elizabeth had sung such noble strains, was now about forty days old. Mary presented herself with the holy babe in the temple, according to the custom to offer her thanksgiving. Being of limited circumstances, a pair of doves was accepted. During the service another, and the last inspired canticle was uttered in reference to the Divine Infant.
Comments.—For the clearer understanding of this section, we may divide the whole into three parts:
I. Simeon's pious waiting, vs. 25-26.
II. His happy finding, vs. 27-29.
III. His prophetic vision, vs. 30-35.
Verse 25. There was a man in Jerusalem—Simeon. There were many persons living thereof the same name ; but none so remarkable as this man. Some suppose him to have been a son of the great law-giver Hillel, who was held as next to Moses, in the Jewish nation. It is believed, too, that Simeon was the president of the Jewish Church-synod. We know nothing certainly of his history, except that he was just, or very obedient to God's laws, in his conduct, and devout, or pious and consecrated to God. He had a good heart and righteous life. Besides, he was one of the few who sincerely expected and longed for the consolation of Israel, that is, the Messiih. The Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God possesses him.
Verse 26. It was revealed unto him by an inward light of God, that he should not die, ere he should see the Lord's Christ in human form. Many private presentiments are given to the truly righteous.
Verse 27. He came by the Spirit into the temple, where he had often been for devotional purposes. Good men spend much time in God's house. Probably he thought much over the prophecy. Mai. 3 : 1. From his pious custom of visiting the temple he happily met the Holy Family there—the parents and the child Jesus. By neglecting God's house, members often forfeit great grace. Joseph and Mary were about to do for the Babe, after the custom of the law, that is, redeem him by paying five shekels. (Numb. 4T: 15-16.) See also verse 24. I^^X^n/^
Verse 28. Then took he him up in his arms. This was a great privilege; but to tabernacle Jesus in our hearts is a still greater blessing. He now blessed, or praised God in these words:
Verses 29-32. Lord, now letted 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.
This is known as the song of Simeon. Because of the swan, a large water fowl, singing once more before it dies, this hymn is also called Simeon's swan-song. In the early Church it is simply called the Nunc Dimittis, after the Latin words with which it opens. The substance of it is embraced in the following points: 1. He is now ready to die; 2. God's word had been made true for him ; 3. He had seen God's salvation for Israel in the new-born Saviour; 4. Christ was to be preached for all people—Jews and Gentiles; 5. He was to be the Sun of Righteousness for the world; 6. Israel was to be honored as the nation from whose bosom Jesus was born.
Verse 33. Joseph and Mary wondered again at the glorious words spoken over their babe. Even His parents only gradually learned the wonderful character of their infant.
Verse 34. And Simeon blessed them. Blessing men is to invoke the benediction of God upon them; whilst blessing God, is to magnify His goodness. This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel. This was a prophecy of the manner in which some Jews would reject Jesus and fall in consequence of their unbelief; and others would rise by believing in him as the Messiah. See Is. 8: 14-15. Matth. chapt. 24; Rom. xi: 11-12.
As it was with the Jews, so it is even yet with all men. Christ is a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death, just as the sun melts ice or hardens clay.
He is a sign, too, or mark, against which many will shoot, or act, because of His lowliness.
Verse 35. Then Simeon speaks a special word to Mary. The sword is an emblem of the suffering and death of Jesus, which His mother was to witness. She had a high honor conferred upon herself, in being chosen as the mother of God's Son ; but this honor brought with it a heavy trial, too.
That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. This sentence ought to be read in connection with the former verse. It refers to Christ, who will Bhow of what mind every man if, accordingly as he accepts or rejects Him. He is the revealer of our hearts. By lejecting Him, the Jews showed of what mind they were. The same is true of eveiy people that refuses to accept of His gospel. And what is true of a people, is also true of the individual.
From all that is presented in the Lesson, we may apply the following truths:
1. If Christ is our?, we may live or die in peace. 2. Jesus is the only Saviour for the world. 3. To reject Christ is to die in our sins. 4. Christ is the revealer and judge of our hearts.
It were well to review the Lessons of the month, since the several subjects— five in number—bear on the immediate preliminaries to the coming of our Lord and His Divine Infancy. The different themes may, at least, be mentioned and threaded aside of one another, and thus afford the class a simple cluster, as it were.
How They Treat Babies.
When the Lord Jesus came down to earth as the Babe of Bethlehem, His mother, the Virgin Mary, wrapped Him in "swaddling clothes" or linen bands wound tightly round his little body, as the custom was among those Jewish people. In the present time, the babies of the Dutch and German peasantry are laced tightly to a pillow, which one would think must be even worse than to have their little limbs confined in swaddling bands; however, it is said, that being kept thus still and motionless in infancy has a good deal to do with forming the slow, quiet nature and habits of the German and Dutch men and women.
In the south of Italy, the babies are bound up too, something after the fashion of Egyptian mummies; they are fastened to a board, and are allowed to use their arms and hands as they hang up to a tree or wall. If we were to travel in
Hindostan, we should find the Europeans who dwell there protecting their babies from the troublesome mosquitos, by putting them while they sleep under a frame covered with green gauze. Very much like a wire meat guard, is it not? but then if it gives poor baby quiet rest, that does not matter. 1
The different tribes of East Indians mostly carry their babies on their hips; the Egyptians hold them on their shoulders; but in all these lands we see the mother's love and mother's care which God has implanted in the hearts of these women for their helpless off-spring.
But what do you think of the Samoan father? He gives his baby away to one of his relations, from whom he receives some gift in return which he likes better.
The poor Sioux mother Btraps her baby to a board, puts a canopy over its head to screen it from the sun, and a toy in its small hands, and she carries it on herhack till it is seven months old, when it is thought old enough to lie in the folds of a blanket. But if the little thing dies during those first months of life, its place is failed with black quills and feathers, and the mother still bears this burden about as carefully as if her child was there, aud continues doing so for twelve months. Poor woman! I suppose it comforts her to fancy their little baby is there, for she has not learned to think of it in the arms of the Saviour, who carries the Iambs in His bosom.
Young people often consider themselves wise beyond their years. They have no patience with parents or pastors who try to train them in a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. Said a small group of giddy, trifling young ladies (?) to their Sunday-school teacher: "Let us have pleasant chata in our class about what we have seen and heard during the week. What do we care about Lesson Leaves and Scripture Study? AVe are no children." Because they are no children they ought to have better sense than thus to trifle with the Word of God. Such conduct is unlady-like: it is unchristian. Surely one possessing the Spirit of Christ would not act thus. "And if any one have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his."