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“ the Lord by the prophet,” (Isaiah, chap. vii. ver. 1.) “ saying,
23. Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel; which being interpreted is, God with us.
24. Then Joseph being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord “ had bidden him, and took unto him his “ wife; “ 25.
And knew her not till she had " brought forth her first-born son: and he
called his name Jesus.”
In those times, God was pleased frequently to reveal his will by dreams and visions. Joseph did not, like modern infidels, disbelieve the divine mystery because it was above his comprehension : it was fufficient for him that God had revealed it. May the Almighty grant us all grace to follow his bright example, in the perfect assurance that, altho’ we now see through a glass, darkly, all things will be cleared up to us when we arrive at the place of
the blessed! then will our minds be enlarged to understand the mysteries of our divine religion.
Unbelief is but too much the fashion of the present age. Pride, and the want of a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, are generally the causes of it. May the God of
mercy preserve us from this fatal error, and cause us to peruse the revelations of his will which he has condescended to give us, with humility and reverence! If we beg God's assistance, he will, assuredly, enable us to see clearly every thing which is necessary for our salvation; for “ he re“ fifteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”
What is said of Joseph, that“ being a just man,” &c. leads me to observe, how ready good people commonly are to forgive an injury. The wicked are generally desirous of pushing the law to its utmost extent ; but the pious, benevolent man, drops a tear of tender compassion over the frailties and sufferings of human nature ; and if obliged by the law to punish the offender, he proceeds with the utmost tenderness and compassion; knowing that he himself must one day appear before the Judge of the whole world, and that, if he refuses mercy to his fellow-creature, he cannot expect mercy at that awful tribunal himself. May we all make an interest in the favor of this Judge, while time and opportunities are afforded us! Be our situation ever fo difficult, we shall be more than conquerors, if, instead of trusting to our own strength, we implore protection and assistance, where we are assured that the truly pious and humble Christian never sues in vain.
CHAPTER THE THIRD.
ST. LUKE, CHAP. II.
1. AND it came to pass in those days, " from Cæsar Auguftus, that all the world should be taxed.
“ 2. (And this taxing was first made " when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, " into Judea, unto the city of David, which " is called Bethlehem ; (because he was of " the house and lineage of David ;)
5 To be taxed, with Mary, his efpoused wife, being great with child.
“ 6. And
“6. And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished " that she should be delivered.
“ 7. And she brought forth her first“ born son, and wrapped him in swaddling
clothes, and laid him in a manger, because " there was no room for him in the inn."
Many things worthy of notice are contained in the foregoing verses.
The Almighty, who disposes of all events and directs the councils of kings, to effect the purposes of his wisdom and goodness, seems to have ordained this act of the government of Augustus Cæsar, (under whose authority the Jewish people then were) to take place at this particular time and in the manner pointed out in the third verse, for two purposes: first, that the prophecy of Micah, chap. v.ver. 2. that our blessed Saviour was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea, might be fulfilled ; and, secondly, that by means of the great concourse of people necessarily assembled upon this occasion, his birth might be