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the revealed order of the triune Jehovah, who takes our nature into union with his divine person, and veils his Godhead beneath the human flesh. Thus is God and man united in the person of our glorious Immanuel; and as if no proof should be wanting of his Deity, the angel Gabriel when directing Mary to call his name Jesus, added : “ for he shall save his people from their sins.” Thus did he give the most decided testimony to his Godhead, for who but God, strictly speaking, can claim a people as his own ? and none but God can save them from their sins. In regard to the Virgin Mary, we would cheerfully join in Gabriel's salutation, “ Hail! thou highly favoured of the Lord;" but, at the same time, we would beg to observe a nice distinction with reference to Mary, who was only one of Eve's daughters, and, though highly honoured of the Lord in this particular instance, an honour which never was or can be conferred on another; yet Mary's salvation depended on the same foundation as the rest of God's children, and it is plain Mary viewed it in the same light, for we hear her saying, “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour.” Mary was only a creature, and consequently it is sinful to offer her adoration, for it is written “ thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and none other.” As to her having any pa. ticular interest at the court of heaven, Jesus has determined that point, by saying,
“ Woman what have I to do with thee, mine hour is not yet come.” It is worthy observation, that whenever Jesus spoke of Mary, he invariably called her“ woman,” as if at once to silence all who he knew would in after ages bestow improper honours on the virgin. When one said “Behold thy mother and thy brethren stand without desiring to speak with thee," Jesus pointed to his disciples, and said, “ behold my mother and my brethren;" and added, “whosoever shall do the will of my father who is in heaven, the same is my mother, and sister, and brother.” Whether Mary had, or had not children, after the birth of Jesus, is to us a matter of no importance; all it concerns us is to know she had none before.
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Israel ; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.–Micah v. 2.
We find Boaz (the husband of Ruth) was of Bethlehem, a small city belonging to the tribe of
Judah, situate about five or six miles from Jerusalem, and his posterity continued to possess it for some time, for it was the birth-place of David, the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, great grandson to Boaz. This was the city from which, according to prophecy, the Messiah. should come. If we examine the records left by the Evangelists, we shall find a decree was issued by Augustus Cæsar, to tax all the people of the Jews, and every family was ordered to repair to the cities belonging to their respective tribes. This it was, which brought the Virgin Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem, she being of the house and lineage of David. It is probable the whole family of David were cited to assemble for the purpose of being taxed ; it might be with a design to humble and mortify them, for they had a rightful claim to the throne of Judab. Jf this had not been the case, it is more than probable Mary, from her situation, would have been permitted to remain at Nazareth. Whatever were the motives of the civil authorities, we have cause to bless our God for thus overruling events, which distinctively considered were oppressive, but now tend to establish the truth as it is in Jesus. What else, humanly speaking, could have brought Mary, a female in the humblest walk of life, to Bethlehem?-If it were not for this circumstance, we should have wanted this proof of Jesus being the Messiah; for we are told, he should be born at Bethlehem, a city little among the thousands of Judah.* Although a manger was the best accommodation offered for the royal babe, yet his birth was not altogether unnoticed, or passed by, as an event of little importance ; for lo! amidst the stillness of the night, an angelic messenger is sent to announce to Jewish shepherds, the arrival of the chief Shepherd. No sooner are the glad tidings of great joy communicated, but a multitude of the hea. venly hosts, who had followed with joyful haste, make the air re-echo with sounds, sweet as the music of heaven. While charmed with the delightful melody, and breathless to catch the strain, we distinctly hear,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men.” The next object which arrests our attention, is a company of Eastern philosophers, who are come to pay their adorations to the sovereign stranger, and to welcome his arrival. But who could have directed them to this obscure retreat, to find the
* It will be observed the chief priests and scribes, in quoting this passage (see Matt. ii. 6.) have not given it core rectly, but have made it bend as much as possible to their ideas of a temporal prince.
infant King? They were led thither, by a star of peculiar motion, appointed to direct these eastern sages (probably Chaldeans), to Israel's King. But how ill did his appearance accord with the dignity of his character; yet notwithstanding the poverty with which he was surrounded, they worshipped him. For he who was a babe at Bethlehem, by the mysterious union of the human nature with the divine person, is the same
“ whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." We are told that when he went forth in the acts of creation, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." What wonder then if they tuned their golden harps afresh, when he went forth to accomplish redemption's work, which mystery the angels are represented as desiring to look into. He is also described as a Ruler not only in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of earth; but, in a more near and interesting sense, does he reign and rule in the hearts of his redeemed. The symbol of his authority is not an iron rod; no, he rules them with the sceptre of his love, We would
“Gird on thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty; and go forth, conquering and to conquer; until every land shall own thy power, and all the nations of the earth shall call the Redeemer