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From the behaviour of these Eastern sages, the moral philosophers of the present day may learn humility. They were wise men, yet they willingly resigned their minds to the belief of divine revelation, in a matter which seemed irreconcileable to human reason—that an infant, whose earthly parents had neither wealth, interest, or power, was of such high estimation in the sight of God as to deserve their homage; and they gladly undertook a long fatiguing journey, in order to bear testimony of their faith, and be made partakers of the blessings GoD doubtless intimated he would convey through this infant to the human race. It is reasonable to suppose, that the wise men regarded our Savious as a divine Heing; and that they reported, in their own country, what had been made known to them, “and in these blessed tidings, carried back far greater treasures than they left behind.” or
HERo D’s crue LTY, AND THE RETURN of Jesus
From Matthew, Chap. ii. - * * Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and, under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. . . . . ; ; ; ; But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young child, and his mother, and go into the land of Israe : for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
• And he arose, and took the young child, and his mother, and came into the land of Israel, “ . But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee.
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the pro phets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him. - - . . . .
* * * - ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Herod, knowing that his tyranny had made him hateful to the Jews, was apprehensive, that the report of persons being come from a distant country under the guidance of a wonderful star, in search of a new King of the Jews, would confirm the expectation which so much prevailed, of the approach of the Messiah, and occasion a revolution in his kingdom. To prevent this; he resolved at all events to cut him off; and having, from his conversation with the wise men, learnt what time the star first appeared, concluded he should be quite secure, if he destroyed all the infants under two years of age, as the young Prince could not be so old; he there. fore dispatched his soldiers to execute his cruel purpose. But the Eternal Father preserved His son from fall. ing a victim to the tyrant’s cruelty, and regarded Him
with His constant favour. * - - It is not possible to describe, or even to conceive, the terror and consternation which the arrival of these bloody executioners must have occasioned at Bethlehem; and it is quite painful to dwell on such a shocking subC 6 ject 1 ject: we will therefore only observe, that the sufferings these little innocents endured were of short duration; and there is no doubt but that they were amply recompensed by God, for the martyrdom they suffered on account of his Holy ONE. Nor did their deaths go unrevenged; for Herod was shortly after seized with a strange and terrible distemper, of which he died in great agonies *. By his will he settled his dominions on his three sons. Archelaus, the eldest son, he appointed his successor in that part of the kingdom which included Judea, Idumea, and Samaria; to Philip he gave Panea and Balnea; to Herod-Antipas, Galilee and Paraea; and to his sister Salome he left a considerable sum of money. - - * > . Archelaus, at the beginning of his reign, caused 3oo of his subjects to be put to death, under the pretence of a mutiny. The report of this deterred Joseph from settling in his dominions, and he retired into those of Herod-Antipas, who was a prince of a milder disposition; and as the birth of Jesus was not so publicly known in Galilee as at Bethlehem and Jerusalem, 7oseph might think it more adviseable to retreat into such a private village as Nazareth, than to fix his abode in any popu- . lous city. Here Jesus was brought up under the care of Żoseph and Mary. His progress in knowledge and piety;hewed an uncommon understanding, and pointed Him out to the world as a particular favourite of Hea. yen; but the time was not come, at which He was to declare the will of the Ever Last ING FATHER. Archelaus, following the example of Herod, rendered himself odious to the Jews: public complaint was made of him to Augustus, who deprived him of his kingdom, tonfiscated his goods, and banished him te Vienna, a • see Josephus’s Antiquities. . . . . ." town
town in Gallia, and reduced his dominions to the form of a Roman province, which was from this time ruled by a governor sent from Rome, called a Procurator, but was in some cases subject to the president or governor of Syria. The Jews had now additional reason to believe that the Mass 1AH would soon appear; sor the Patriarch Jacob, when at the point of death, had predicted, that the sceptre should not depart from Judah till Shiloh should come : and this, it seems, was the case ; for as long as Judah continued, a tribe, it was particularly honoured as such, both on account of David, and the expectation that the promised Sav Iou R would proceed from it; but when CHR 1st was born, and Judea became a Roman province, there was an end of the distinction. The Prophet Daniel also had a remarkable revelation, which pointed out the time of the Messiah’s appearance; but this we shall have occasion to examine in ane other place. - SECTION XIV. Jesus Goeth to Jerusalem at rweive years of . AGE. ... x 23 to ". -- Fran Luke, Chap. ii. . . . . . . . . Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. , And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, after the custom of the feast. -* > * And whén they had fulfilled the days, as they re. turned, the child Jesus tarried behind them in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. . But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey : and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. . . . . . . . . . . . . . * * And
.**) And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors,
both hearing them and asking them questions. - And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. - - ... * And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me * wist yet not that I must be about my Father's business And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. - . And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. - jo - And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. - - .
The children of the Jews were usually taken to Jerusalem at twelve years of age, and at thirteen they were examined before the Masters of the Synagogge, and confirmed by the Doctors of the Law in the principles of the Jewish religion. This ceremony, which answered to the Christian rite of confirmation, was performed with devout prayers and benedictions. • * * * * - Jesus offered himself for this examination a year sooner than the usual time, and displayed a perfect understanding in respect to those points to which it was customary to question children of a more advanced age, after they had been, from twelve to thirteen, in a course of catechising and preparation. On what other points - he conversed, we are not told; but it seems the Doctors - were