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may be regarded as one part of his Lord have spoken it. And I will humiliation.-“Ye know the grace make with them a covenant of peace, of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though and will cause the evil beasts to cease he was rich, yet for your sakes he out of the land; and they shall dwell became poor, that ye through his safely in the wilderness, and sleep in poverty might be rich.” 2 Cor. the woods. And I will make them viii. 9. May we reflect with un- and the places round about my hill feigned thankfulness upon that grace, a blessing; and I will cause the —that free, unmerited goodness and shower to come down in his season ; compassion,—to which we owe our there shall be showers of blessing.' deliverance from sin and ruin !-And Ezek. xxxiv. 24-26. let us learn also to become, more and Theophilus, Why did Herod make more completely, followers of the such a secret of his consultation with blessed Jesus in his humility and the wise men ? It is said that he lowliness of mind. “Let this mind be called them privily. in you, which was also in Christ Reuder. Ah, guilty Herod ! He Jesus; who, being in the form of God, was, perhaps, afraid that if he did this thought it not robbery to be equal openly, the Jews, knowing his cruel with God: but made himself of no and tyrannical disposition, would susreputation, and took upon him the pect him of some design against the forın of a servant, and was made in infant Jesus, and that they would take the likeness of men: and being found measures for insuring His safety by in fashion as a man, he humbled him- concealment, or by conveying Him self, and became obedient unto death, out of the tyrant's reach. Atall events, even the death of the cross." Phil. we know that he did this with some ii. 548.
evil design.-A guilty conscience, “Out of thee,” says the voice of and an evil intention, often lead men prophecy, “shall come a Governor, to adopt sly, stealthy methods of that shall rule my people Israel;" proceeding. Oh, the disgrace of sin! -shall rule, as a shepherd does his When I read the eighth verse, flock, that is the force of the original. often disposed to meditate long upon How tender and how faithful is the the hypocrisy of Herod,- the infatucare of the good Shepherd ! How ation to which he was made subject, blessed his dominion in the soul ! -and the singular inconsistency of Let us yield ourselves to his govern- his conduct. . ance and guidance, and herein we Look at his hypocrisy—“That I shall find true liberty, and real hap- may come and worship him also.” piness;-liberty from the slavery of No; whether he intended to mock sin and Satan; and happiness which
him with the form of homage or not, is beautifully depicted by those ex- certain it is that his ultimate design pressions in Ezekiel, “I the Lord was to destroy him. Thus wicked will be their God, and my servant men often conceal their evil designs David a prince among them ; I the under the appearance of religion.
Thus crafty and politic enemies of to have believed that the birth of the Gospel often seek to destroy its Messiah was divinely foretold, and reputation and its efficacy, and to that it was to take place at Bethlestop its progress in the world, even hem; and, therefore, that the infant while they pay it a compliment with of whom he was in search was, to say their lips and by their profession. the least, under the divine protecSuch are the depths of Satan! Such tion: and yet, at the same time, he the dark and intricate mazes of the used his efforts to prevent the fulfilhuman heart, as long as the old ser- ment of prophecy, to defeat the depent lies coiled up within it!—How signs of the Most High! But Heoften also do ungodly men, like rod was not alone in this kind of inHerod, seek to make use of their consistency.
consistency. Are there not many in more pious neighbours, for the ac- our day who have a certain respect complishment of their evil purposes! for the Bible as a divine revelation, They look upon the more simple- a kind of belief in its declarations, hearted as fools, and fit only to be- and yet practically oppose its diccome their dupes,—the prey of the tates, and militate against it, as more spirited and clever! But, “He though it were possible for them to that sitteth in the heavens shall cancel its threatenings, and to negalaugh, the Lord shall have them in tive its most solemn announcements ? derision." Psalm ii. 4.
Here is another proof of the treaful to awake from their delusion only chery of sin, and the miserable deluat the moment when this threatening sion which may befal those men who begins to be fulfilled!
walk in the counsel of the ungodly, The infatuation of Herod, not- or stand in the way of sinners, or sit withstanding his craft and artifice, in the seat of the scornful. Our is remarkable. His intention was, only means of safety is to give our doubtless, deeply hidden in his own hearts to God; to submit unreservheart; and to this secrecy he proba- edly to his will; to live and act with bly trusted. But it would seem to us a single eye to his glory. that, if the Most High had not pur- Let me now call
attention to posely overruled his counsels, he the ninth and tenth verses. Lo, the would certainly, as he might easily, star! In this part of the narrative have adopted some means more ef- we may find an encouraging assurfectual for securing his purpose than ance that God will guide those who those to which he trusted.—But it are disposed to seek the Saviour ; is thus that God, in his wisdom, and, in general, that "if we go on “ casteth out the counsels of princes.” | as far as we can in the way of our
Once more, observe the inconsis- duty, God will direct and enable us tency of Herod's conduct on this oc- to do that which, of ourselves, we casion. He appears to have believed, cannot do.” The sight of the star, to a certain extent, in the word of which again made its appearance, prophecy; that is to say, he seems must have been very cheering to
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. The original is very emphatic, denoting the intensity of their delight. O haste to follow where it leads, Thus, also, "we should be glad of Its gracious call obey; everything that will show us the way
Be rugged wilds, or flow'ry meads,
The Christian's destined way. to Christ.”—Hence we may casion to reflect that, under the or- O gladly tread the narrow path
While light and grace are given! dinary circumstances of the Christian
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,
God descends to dwell with men, Have we no star to guide us to
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 xxxü. § VI.
8, 9. CHAP. II. 11, 12.
Theophilus. “I will instruct thee,
and teach thee in the way which thou The 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 understandcome into the house, they saw
ing; whose mouth must be held in
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 hipped 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 myrrh.
saw the infant ? 12 And being warned of God 'in a dream that they should not worshipped him.”
Theophilus. “They fell down and return to Herod, they departed Reader. Yes; they did him hointo their own country another mage, notwithstanding his poor lodgway.
ing, and the mean appearance of £ Ps. Ixxii. 10. Is. Ix. 6. Or, offrred. ch. i. 20.
everything about him, so different
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
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 him, 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
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
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