Page images

verse appears to be a prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem for their rejecting and crucifying the saviour of the world.

The Almighty suits his miracles to the different situations of those for whose use they are intended. To the wise men, the appearance of an extraordinary star would be more impressive than any other un

common event.

Our blessed Saviour was also particularly attentive to this circumstance, while on earth: to fishermen he manifested his power, by giving them a wonderful draught of fishes; to those spent with hunger and fatigue, by feeding them in a miraculous manner; to sailors, by commanding a calm in the midst of a storm; to the sick, lame, and blind, by the gifts of health, strength, and sight. His parables, in like manner, were drawn from the common occurrences of life ; such as the fower, the good feed and the tares, the vineyard, the pruning of trees, and the shepherd and his sheep.

For these hints I am'chiefly indebted to Stanhope, who treats the subject at large in his comment on the Epiphany.

Let us now return to St, Matthew.-

3. When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusa66 lem with him.

4. And when he had gathered all the “ chief priests and seribes of the people * together, he demanded of them where “ Christ should be born.

5. And they said unto him, in Beth“ lehem of Judea : for thus it is written by the prophet :

“6. And thou, Bethlehem, in the land " of Judea, art not the least amongst the

princes of Juda : for out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel.

7. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of “ them diligently what time the star ap* peared.

“ 8. And

[ocr errors]

* 8. And he sent them to Bethlehem, * and said, go and search diligently for the

young child : and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”

[ocr errors]

Before we proceed with this relation, let us pause a little, to consider the conduct of Herod, as recorded in the foregoing verses. It appears evidently that he had some knowledge of the prophecies, and in consequence expected, with the generality of the Jewish people, the appearance of some extraordinary character about that time.

The account given him by the wise men, that a star had pointed out to them his birth, (as he supposed the prophecies to relate to a temporal prince who should deprive him of his kingdom,) greatly alarmed him, and all those who were connected with him, or held offices under him ; for so I understand the expression that all Jerusalem was troubled with him


at the news. He therefore determined by artifice to avail himself of the opportunity offered him, by the search of the wise men, to discover his dreaded rival; and having learnt from the chief priests and scribes, who had the care of the sacred books, and whose business it was to propound the prophecies, that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, he directed the wise men thither; and, concealing the blackest designs under the pretence of religious zeal, desired them to bring him word when they had found the child. But before he dismissed them, he took care to learn from them the precise time that the star appeared, and of consequence the exact age of the child, with a view, no doubt, to the subsequent murder, in case he could succeed by no other means.

9. When they had heard the king, “ they departed : and lo, the star which 10. When they saw the star, they re"joiced with exceeding great joy.

they saw in the East went before them “ till it came and stood over where the “ young child was.

10. When

11. And when they were come into “ the house, they saw the young child,

with Mary his mother, and fell down “and worshipped him : and when they “ had opened their treasures they pre“ sented unto him gifts : gold and frank“ incense and myrrh.”

Compare the foregoing passage with the prophecy contained in the 10th and 11th verses of the seventy-second Psalm :

The kings of Tarshish, and of the isles “ shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba

and Seba shall offer gifts : all kings

shall fall down before him : all nations “ Thall do him service.”

“ 12. And being warned of God in a dream, that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."


« PreviousContinue »