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to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will to merr."

Much of this has been styled a myth or legendary fiction by the sceptics of continental Europe, and their imitators in this country; after all, the thing, the reality remains. No hypothesis can explain it away. It is an effect of which some adequate, and therefore divine cause must be supposed. If any fact in history is well established, it is that of the extraordinary birth of Christ, and the wonderful change thereby wrought in the history of the world. But if the birth of Christ must be conceded, as the first step, in the series of stupendous facts connected with his mission, then the mystery of the incarnation, the song of the angels, the visit of the Magi, and the star in the east, or the luminous appearance which guided their steps to the place of his nativity, all, in a word, connected with this event, natural, or supernatural, may be allowed.

The same testimony which proves the one, proves also the other. If the one is natural in the circumstances supposed, so is the other. The miracle of Christ himself, his very presence in the world, with its vast influence among men, so clearly divine, easily accounts for all the rest. The sun in the heavens is not alone there, cannot be alone there. Stars follow in his train. Planets and satellites are his natural attendants. Light and

beauty supernal flash along his pathway. If Christ, then, be the Son of God, how natural and becorning the angelic announcement! how beautiful “ that soft bosanna's tone” from celestial choirs! how glorious that refulgent star, leading on the believers of the Orient - first fruits and representatives of the Gentiles - to Christ, and standing like a thing of life over the place where the young child lay! how dignified and touching the homage of the shepherds, and the adoration of the Magi, with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh !

Let us draw nigh, then, and behold this great sight, this transcendent wonder, this true Shekinah of the Godhead. Away with curious imaginings and impotent speculations. The Word is made flesh and dwells among us, and by faith we behold his glory, the glory as of the onlybegotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Not by the vulgar senses, not even by the mere formal intellect, but by that higher exercise of the soul which discerns the true, the beautiful, the good, absolute and eternal, palpitating beneath the thin vesture of external forms and finite existences, can we recognize and appreciate the glory of God in the face of Jesus. Life only can apprehend life. Souls echo to souls. Love is their interpreter. It is only thus that God himself can be known to man. Spirit answers to spirit, finite to infinite, the love of the believer to the love of God.

Hence the incarnation is a sacred mystery, to be known and cherished in the secret depths of regenerate hearts.

CHAPTER IX.

THE DISCIPLINE.

Nature is progressive. Principles and forces remain, but organic forms and living creatures are gradually developed.* The powers beneath the surface are often concealed from human observation, and apparently restrained and limited by an invisible hand; but they are essentially, and at all times, the same, as God is the same. Working on, however, they give rise to the most diversified appearances, and actually seem to gather strength and volume as they proceed. The change is generally from the less to the greater, as the dawn advances to the perfect day. Thus the stars are born, taking their place in the galaxy of night. Thus the rivers rise, and the forests grow. Thus the earth itself is projected into the realms of space, with its accumulating freight of living beings. Hence in the Scriptures we find “the beginning” of all things recognized,

Of course we do not here indorse “ the Development Theory of the author of “The Vestiges of Creation,” now pretty thoroughly exploded. We maintain an original and perfect creation of distinct and independent species. But when created, thcse, as well as other organic forms, arc gradually developed. Growth succeeds creation.

and as in the discoveries of geological science, so here we behold the first creation of the great masses, “chaos and elder night” succeeded by the beautiful and all-penetrating day, then the deep strata of the earth's foundations, the alternations of sea and land, the green herbage with plants and trees, the old monsters of the deep and of the wilderness, fishes and birds, in their order, then the higher animals, and finally man, to crown the whole; the six days of successive change and improvement, with the seventh of completion and perfection, or, as some have it, the six great periods and revolutions of time, figured under the symbol of the common week, with its six periods of social activity, and its seventh of sacred rest.

Man himself appears as a feeble beginning, first as an individual, and then as a single pair, after which follow families, communities, states, empires, that mighty and multiform thing which we call mankind, or the race. In the individual man, also, as now developed, we see the same wonderful process; for he first appears as an embryo, and then as a child, feeble and dependent, with the majestic soul within, wrapped up, so to speak, in the tissues of the flesh, or in the secret chambers of the brain, but of vital and productive energy, capable of all growth and 'enlargement of thought, purpose, and will, expanding with the body, and finally arriving at the stature of a com

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