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Our final object is that at length we and all the whole church " may attain to the light of
everlasting life.” Then our knowledge, our happiness, our holiness, the three blessings of which light is the emblem, will be complete. Then the life, which is here begun by the influence of the sun of righteousness, will be brought to perfection, and its functions be performed without impediment. “Now we see through a “ glass darkly, but then face to face. Now we “ know in part, but then we shall know, even “ as also we are known.” Now we begin to breathe, but the air is foggy, and our organs of respiration are diseased--we are oppressed with a spiritual asthma; but then we shall breathe freely. The atmosphere will be pure, and the soul in health. Now our spiritual nerves are benumbed. We feel, but complain that we feel not. Then these complaints will be made no more, but every fibre will be sensibly alive to the touch of Divine love, to the taste and relish of the heavenly manna, the harmony of angels, the beatific vision, and the odour of the tree of life. “ The city” to which we are bound, “ hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon " to shine in it; for the Lord God lightens it, “ and the Lamb is the light thereof." What “ the light of everlasting life” will be, we know not; but we may rest satisfied with the declaration of our Apostle, Behold, what manner of “ love the Father hath bestowed upon us that “ we should be called the sons of God: there« fore the world knoweth us not, because it - knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the « sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what “ we shall be: but this we know, that, when He “ shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we
s shall see Him as He is.” 1 John iii. 1, 2. To « see Him as He is,' will be to bask in “ the light of everlasting life.” May the writer and the reader of these pages “at length attain” thereto, through Jesus Christ our Lord. « Amen."
THE INNOCENTS' DAY.
O Almighty God, whò out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast ordained strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by their deaths ; mortify and kill all vices in us, and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constàncy of our faith even unto death, we may glorify thy holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
VHE observation of this day in the church
of Christ is mentioned by Origen, who suffered martyrdom, A. D. 202.* It has, therefore, all the sanction which immemorial prescription can give it; for it is impossible to ascertain how early it commenced, since he only mentions it as an ordinance of the church then existing, and to be in force for ever. ; The propriety of this ordinance will be justified by a consideration of the event which is commemo. rated.
The collect for “the Innocents' day,” which for the most part was newly composed at the æra of the Reformation, consists of-A preface recording a very memorable event which succeeded our Saviour's nativity-And a prayer founded thereupon.
Orig. Hom. 3. de diversis, T. ii. p. 436. Horum memoria
semper ut dignum in ecclesiis celebratur, secundum integrum ordinem sanctorum, ut primorum martyrum pro Domino occisorum. See Bingham's Works, vol. ij. b. 20, cap. 7, sect. 12.
U VOL. I.
The event to which the preface of our collect refers, is of a very affecting and instructive nature. Soon after the birth of our Saviour, some wise men, called by the Evangelist Magi, came from the east, under the direction of a supernatural star, to worship Him. Their history we shall have occasion to consider, when we review the collect appointed for the Epiphany. We shall therefore only observe concerning them here, that, on their journey in search
of the new-born king of the Jews, they went first to Jerusalem, and made their inquiries there concerning the place where the Messiah was to be born; and received an answer from the chief Priests and Seribes, founded on a prophecy of Micah (chap. v. 2), that Bethlehem of Judea was the place destined to so high an honour. The inquiries of the Magi, rendered important and authenticated as they were by the miraculous circumstances of their jour, ney, together with the determinate reply of the chief Priests and Scribes, alarmed the jealous tyrant Herod, who was at that time the king of Judea, and produced a resolution in his ruthless bosom of destroying the royal infant, whom he viewed as his rival in the throne. For this
purpose he at first employed the engine of craft and subtlety, directing the Magi to return to him after they had discovered the object of their search, that he might also go and pay him that homage which was suited to his rank and dig, nity. This insidious scheme was frustrated by the interposition of Divine providence, which prevented the return of the Magi to Jerusalem. On this disappointment Herod became greatly enraged, Fear and pride co-operating in his breast, induced him to perpetrate one of the most horrid and atrocious acts which history records. That he might make sure of the object of his vengeance, “ He 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 inquired of the wise men.” Hereby he was the unconscious instrument of fulfilling a prophecy which had been delivered by Jeremiah six hundred years before its accomplishment, and of establishing what he meant to destroy: “In Rama was there a voice heard, 5 lamentation and weeping, and great mourn:
ing, Rachel weeping for her children, and " would not be comforted, because they are " not." * But God, whose plans neither fraud nor violence can counteract, had provided for the safety of Him on whose life the salvation of a lost world depended, by forewarning His parents of Herod's malicious intent, and directing them to carry Him into Egypt. Thus the wrath of man turns to the praise of God. The impious tyrant " conceived mischief, and brought forth
vanity." His cruel artifice proved a mean of confirming the Messiahship of Jesus, and of accomplishing those prophecies which exhibited Him as the promised Son of God.
" The king's “ of the earth stood up, and the rulers took “ counsel together, against the Lord and against « His anointed. But He that sitteth in the
* The double sense which is often to be attributed to prophetic language, will account for the use which the Evangelist makes of this citation. See Bishop Hurd's Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies. It is a work of high value. “To such as consider the genius of the re“ vealed system, the Old Testament must appear á conti“ pued prophecy of the New." St. Austin, quoted by Bishop Hurd, vol. i. p. 64.