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God and Saviour, left it rise up in judgement against them, should they neglect so positive a duty.
Our blessed Saviour, with his human nature, took all its infirmities, sin only excepted: therefore in that nature (as we are told in the 52d verse) he increased in wisdom as he did in stature, and in favor with God and man.
The sacred history is silent for the next eighteen years of our beloved Lord's life, and commences again at his baptism.
I shall beg leave to conclude my observations on this chapter with a few lines from ‘Hervey's Starry Heavens," as being more to the purpose of expressing the wonderful goodness of our God, than any thing I could say upon this divine subject.
“How amazing, how charming, is that “ divine benignity which is pleased to be“ stow its sacred regards to so foolish and “ worthless a creature, yet disdaining not “ from the height of infinite exaltation to “ extend its kind providential care to our “ most minute concerns! This is amazing! " but that the everlasting Sovereign should “ give himself to be made flesh, and be“come our Saviour, shall I call it a mi“racle of condescending goodness? rather “what are all miracles-what are all my“ steries to this !"
CHAPTER THE FOURTH.
THAT I may omit no event which
1 has any relation to the miraculous birth of our blessed Saviour, I must now call your attention to a circumstance of a very peculiar nature, and well worth our observation; which we shall find recorded in the second chapter of St. Matthew.
ST. MATTHEW, CHAP. II.
“1. Now when Jesus was born in Beth“ lehem of Judea in the days of Herod “ the king, behold there came wise men “ from the east to Jerusalem, saying, where “ is he that is born king of the Jews, for “ we have seen his star in the East, and 6 are come to wor
The wise men here described were perfons whose lives had been devoted to study, and who made it their employment to enquire, and diligently to search into, the hidden things of nature, particularly into the motions and dispositions of the heavenly bodies ; a study of all others the most likely to raise our notions of that great Being, who not only created, but constantly keeps in order that wonderful system. The veneration and profound respect in which these wise men were held, appear from the important matters entrusted to their management: they were the counsellors, the judges, the priests, the rulers ; in a word, the oracles of the eastern countries.
Their going to Jerusalem with full afsurance that the Jewish priests could inform them of the place of the Messiah's birth, might probably be owing to a tram dition spread by the Jews, at the time of their several captivities, of his expected advent; and thus (as in almost every instance the Almighty made their punish
ment for idolatry the means of promoting his own wise purpose) was held out the expectation of a saviour to the surrounding nations. Besides, we may naturally suppose that the famous prophecy of Balaam, when sent for by Balak to curse the Ifraelites, was kept with great care amongst the Gentiles, in expectation of its accomplishment.
“ I shall see him, but not now : I shall “ behold him, but not nigh: there shall “ come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre “: shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite “ the corners of Moab, and destroy all the “ children of Sheth. And Edom shall “ be a possession; Seir also shall be a pof“ session for his enemies, and Israel shall “ do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come “ he that shall have dominion, and shall “ destroy him that remaineth in the city" -(Numb. xxiv. 17. 18. 19.)
When, therefore, the star appeared, the posterity of Jacob were the only people to whom the wise men could apply for the information they wanted. The last