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Let us observe, with pleasure, this further honour which God did to his only-begotten Son, in ordering a new star to appear, as the signal of his birth, and in calling these illustrious persons from afar, to pay their early adorations to him. No doubt they thought such a discovery as brought them to the feet of their infant Saviour, an ample recompense for all the fatigue and expense of such a journey. They were exceedingly transported when they saw the star. So let us rejoice in everything which may be a means of leading our souls to Christ, and disposing us to cast ourselves down before him with humility and resignation.
Let us look upon this circumstance of the sacred story as a beautiful emblem of that more glorious state of the Christian church, when the Gentiles shall come to its light, and sages and kings to the brightness of its rising ; when the abundance of the sea shall be converted to it, and the wealth of the Gentiles shall be consecrated to its honour. « The multitude of camels shall cover it, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah ; all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord.”—Isai. lx. 3. 5, 6.
How wonderful was the honour conferred upon so obscure a town as Bethlehem, when it was made thus illustrious among the thousands of Judah! Happy they who consecrate not only gold and their other possessions, but also their souls and their bodies, to that Great Ruler, whose office it is to feed and govern the Israel of God; under whose conduct and care they shall receive blessings infinitely more valuable than all the treasures of the east or the west !
God does not leave unnoticed and unrewarded those who desire to discover his will, and comply with the suggestions of his Spirit upon their hearts. You observe how the star which they had seen in the east, appeared again to the wise men, as they pursued their search from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. This illustrates the way in which the “ Spirit prevents us, that we may have a good will, and works with us when we have that good will.” The star which advertised the strangers of the birth of Christ, is like the Spirit warning us, as we hear or read the word, that the same Jesus is the author of eternal life to all them that obey him. Are our hearts awakened by this truth? — do we desire to know him “ of whom Moses and the prophets did write ?” – do we desire more fully to understand “what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance ?”—Here again the star appears, and guides us on our way: 66 the eyes of our understanding ” are gradually “ enlightened ;” and “ the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, gives unto us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” The Spirit does not leave us, till it has conducted us safely to the Son of God : as the star did not desert the wise men, till it came and stood over where the young child was. “ The mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh," is more and more unfolded to us, and its wonderful adaptation to the circumstances and wants of our state, is more and more perceived, till we entirely and cordially receive him as “ made unto us of God, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
Has the Spirit done this for you? Is he thus leading you ? Has he brought you to acknowledge Christ as the author of your salvation, by whom you “ have access to the Father ?”
The history gives us one more lesson of instruction. The wise men, when they were come into the house, and saw the young child with Mary his mother, fell down and worshipped him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. You must resemble them in this : you must offer him gifts ; not once only, or when you first approach him ; but constantly offer him, out of the treasure of your heart, the best gifts you have of active service and obedient love. These are the gifts which he requires, and this is the least return which you can pay—that the “ life which you live in the flesh," you should 6 live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved you, and gave himself for you.”
BISHOP J. B. SUMNER.
Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Behold my Servant, whom I uphold, mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth : I
have put my Spirit upon him ; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Isaiah xlii. 1. Behold, my Servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be
very high.—Isaiah lii. 13.
SACRED NARRATIVE. THEN cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan, unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering, said unto him, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, spraying—Luke iii. 21,] lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.—Matt. iii. 13-17.
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent Priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou ? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, no. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself ? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered