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THE WISE MEN'S OFFERING.
From Matthew, Chap. ii.
Now when JEsUs was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem.
12 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the Eaft, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born? 017
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea for thus it is written by the prophet; and thou Bethlehem in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel. »
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star Lappeared?
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go, and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they departed, and lo, the star which they saw in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw
the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
And being warned of God in a dream, that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child, and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod, will seek the young child to destroy him.
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother, by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
What these wise men were, who paid their homage to the infant JESUS, is a matter of dispute with the learned. Some think they were Gentile Philosophers from Arabia, and of the family of Abraham, by his wife Keturah. It is at least evident, that they were actuated by motives of faith and piety to undertake a long jour ney in consequence of the appearance of an uncommon star, or meteor, which by some supernatural means they were taught to expect would conduct them to the presence of a Prince, to whom God required them to pay homage.
The MESSIAH, as we learn from the Prophecies, was sent into the world to be the SAVIOUR both of the Jerus and Gentiles. It pleased THE EVERLASTING FATHER, therefore, to give notice of his birth to each, that they might be disposed to receive him as a divine teacher,
From what we formerly read of the history of Herod, it appears that he was of a very jealous, suspicious temper: this king, therefore, must have been greatly alarmed, when he heard that the Prince, of whose coming there was at that time a general expectation, was actually born; and we cannot wonder that all Jerusalem should be troubled, as there was reason to apprehend this cruel vindictive king would commit great barbarities, in order to secure to himself the possession of his throne.
It is wonderful that Hered should not send some of his friends in whom he could confide, to be present at the discovery of the rival Prince, and to bring him word at least where he was found, if they did not dispatch him; but in this THE EVERLASTING FATHER'S protection of his beloved Son was visible.
We find, that the chief Priests and Scribes agreed with one consent, that, according to the prediction of the prophet Micah, the MESSIAH was to be born at Bethlehem; and Herod himself seems to have believed that such a person was foretold, and yet he impiously resolved to destroy him, though from his own age, and that of the new-born Prince, he had reason to hope he would not obtain the kingdom of Judea in his life. time.
The gifts which the wise men offered, were such as it was the custom of their country to present to illustrious personages, when they visited them; and they af forded a seasonable supply to Joseph and Mary in the journey which they were that night commanded to take, in order that they might be out of the way of Herod's persecution; a step the more necessary, as the time for the MESSIAH's public appearance was not yet
Vol. IV. of this Work.
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 SAVIOUR as a divine being; 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.”
HEROD'S CRUELTY, AND THE RETURN OF JESUS TO NAZARETH.
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 prophets, 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 falling 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 sub