« ПредишнаНапред »
he that sheweth mercy with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another !"-" Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one towards another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate"-" If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
The subject of the next lecture will be the history of the nativity of our blessed Lord, and of the more remarkable circumstances which accompanied that allimportant event. May what has been spoken become "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness." Amen.
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 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,) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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 them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by nght. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came unto them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: For behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord-And this shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddlingclothes lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace; good will toward men.-LUKE
FROM the first instant of time until now, every in
stant has been displaying some new wonder, unfolding
some new design of the eternal mind. God gives the word. Light arises, the earth emerges out of ocean, the firmament is expanded, sun, moon, and stars ap. pear, nature teems with life, man starts up out of the dust, rears his erect form to heaven, shines in his maker's likeness; the creator contemplates the progressive glories of his power, and pronounces every thing good. The Lord gives the word, and ocean again covers the earth, chaos and ancient night resume their empire, the breath of every living thing expires. Again he sends forth his word, the windows of heaven are stopped, the seas retire to their appointed bed, the dry land appears, the bow is seen in the cloud, the sign of God's covenant of peace. The period of every event is settled to a moment, the instrument is provided, the hand is prepared. But of all the events which have taken place since the beginning of the world, the most illustrious and important surely is that recorded in the words now read. The moment of every child's birth, is highly interesting, at least to the mother-The birth of an heir, to a title, to an estate, to a crown, is felt by thousands, by regions, by empires.
Here we have the birth of the "first among many brethren," of the heir of all things," of " the Prince of the kings of the earth." Toward this eventful hour, time, from the first dawn of light, began to flow in one rising, swelling tide, here it came to its fulness, and hence it began to bend its awful course to lose itself in eternity again. Toward this, as to their common central point, all the powers of nature are attracted; from this, as from the sun the central light of the universe, glory is in all directions diffused. In the birth of this wonderful child, all the children of men who lived before, or who arose after it, have a serious, an everlasting concern. Is it any wonder, then, that by so many signs in heaven and signs on earth, that by the tongues of prophets, the decrees of princes, the revolutions of empires, the descent of angels, the finger of God should have pointed it out to mankind?
The evangelist, at the beginning of the chapter, conveys us to Rome, the proud and puissant mistress of the world; the enslaver of the nations, sinking, sunk herself into slavery. From what particular motive we are not informed, nor is it of much importance to determine, Augustus Cæsar thought proper to issue a decree for making an exact enrolment of all the subjects of his vast empire. A vain-glorious monarch, who could exultingly call a subjugated hemisphere his own, might be promped by pride to ascertain the number of slaves destined to obey him. As it was the boast of this magnificent prince that he had found Rome a city of bricks, and was leaving it a city of marble, the splendour of the capital was no doubt extracted out of the reins of the provinces, and enrolment probably was intended to precede taxation. However it was, and on whomsoever beside the decree of the emperor fell, it affected one little, poor family in circumstances of singular delicacy, and fell upon it with uncommon severity. Behold the messenger of Cæsar at the door of an obscure carpenter at Nazareth of Galilee, summoning him with all his family to repair to his native city, to be enrolled in their proper district and as the commandments of kings require haste, and do not always stoop to consult the feelings of the humble and the miserable, he must depart on a moment's warning, with his tender companion, now in the last week of pregnancy, poor and unprovided, to a home from which he had been long exiled, and to visit kinsmen to whom he had become a stranger.
But this removal was wholly ordered by the supreme will of Heaven. The Son of David, who was to reestablish his throne, could be born no where but in Bethlehem, the city of David. Thus the great Ruler of the world had willed, and thus prophecy had de clared. And thus Cæsar was merely the unconcious, unintentional minister of the son of Mary; furnishing a link to the chain of evidence respecting the truth and
divine original of christianity, and exhibiting an illustrious instance of the sovereign control which the great Jehovah possesses and exercises over the counsels of princes, the convulsion of nations, the fate of worlds.
We hasten from proud Rome to humble Nazareth, from a haughty despot, to uncomplaining sufferers, from unfeeling power, to patient submission. Behold that delicate woman, in the most delicate and interest-ing of all female situations, forced from home, constrained to undertake a painful and anxious journey, in a condition which rendered ease, and attention, and tenderness, and the accommodations of sympathy peculiarly desirable. See her advancing by slow and distressing stages, towards the residence of her forefathers, once illustrious, but now fallen into decay; to the city of her ancestors, but not to receive the attendance of royal state, not to usher into the world the heir of David's throne, amidst the prayers and expectations, and kind wishes of the myriads of Israel: No, not so much as to enjoy the consolation and support which even the poor enjoy in such a case, to deposit the solicitude of approaching child-birth in the bosom of a fond mother or sympathizing friend; alas, not even to partake of the ordinary conveniences which a traveller has reason to expect, the general hospitality and mercenary comforts of an inn: but to know the heart of a stranger, to swallow down the bitterness of neglect, to feel the insult of the proud, and the merciless pity of the mean. "There was no room for them in the inn." Bethlehem was crouded with guests; but lo, the lineal heirs of the royal house of Judah, in the city of David, are so unconnected, so forlorn, so friendless, that not a door will open to let them in, not a tongue say "God relieve you" as they pass by; and so poor that an apartment in the stable is all the accommodation which, by intreaty, or promise, or by presenting the face of misery, they are able to purchase.
The inevitable hour, to which natnre at once looks