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Feasts, were high or chief Days of Solemnity, • each of these might fitly be called Epiphany in
that Sense, and not only referring to the Star,
. 3. our Saviour's Baptism, and his miraculous Power
Joh.2.11. at the Marriage in Cana, by turning Water into Wine.
Q. How did God manifest the Birth of our Saviour to the wife Men ?
A. By a luminous Appearance of a Star in the lower Region of the Air, observed by those wise Men to differ from the ordinary Stars of Heaven ; which, as a new, prodigious Sight, seemed to them to presage something of great Moment and Consideration. For new Stars Juft. de the Gentiles were sometimes looked up. 37. c. 2.
Mith. lib. among on as Omens that Infants born at the Time of Lucan.l.r. their Appearance should arrive at great Power. Plin. Nat. The Appearance of the Star, and the Journey Hift. 1. 2. of the Chaldæan wise Men are mentioned by Chal- D.Auguft. cidius the Platonist. It seems not improbable, Grot. de what some Authors have suggested, that this Ver., Reseeming Star, which appeared to the wise Men in fig.Chrift
. the East, might be that glorious Light which 1. 3. C. 14Thone upon the Bethlehem Shepherds, when the Angel came to impart to them the Tidings of our Saviour's Birth; wbich at a Distance might appear like a Star, or at least, after it had thus shone upon the Shepherds, might be lifted up on high, and then formed into the Likeness of 4 Star.
Q. How could the wife Men guess at the Birth of our Saviour from the Appearance of this Star ?
A. Some think they might receive Light in 17. this Matter from the Prophecy of Balaam, or
from some other Prophecies in Daniel ; but as one seems too obfcure for the determining any particular Time, fo the others probably were not known to the Chaldeans. It is more likely they might be governed by that general Expectation the World was then in of an univerfal Monarch, and by the particular Expectation the Jew's had of the Mefias's coming in that Age, which might easily be promulged to the neighbouring Nations. Though, besides this,
fone Way of divine Revelation may be supMat. 2. 2. posed by their calling him King of ihe Jews.
For when God gave an extraordinary Sign, we may well imagine he would take Care to have it understood.
Q. How did they learn that our Saviour should be born in Bethlehein ?
A. Upon their Arrival at Jerusalem, they published the Cause and Design of their Journey, which gave great uneasiness to Herod, who was jealous of any Competitor. Upon which Herod enquired of those who had greatest Skill in the ancient Prophecies, what Place was assigned for the Birth of the expected Messias ; when he understood that Beiblebem was marked out for that Honour, he communicated to the wile Min the Determination of the Chief Priests and Scribes, with a Design to destroy this young Prince if they discovered him; strictly charging them to bring him Word, pretending that he would
go and worship him, which Trouble and Jealousy of Herod confirms the Expectation the Jews had of a King to be born about that
Q. Ilow did the wise Men find the young
Child erus? A. By the Help of the fame Star which ap. Mat. 2.9 ared to them in their own Country ; which as now visible to thein again, and conducted iem in their Search of our Saviour, by going
efore them, and standing still where the young :hild was; which was Matter of great Joy and jatisfaction to them.
Q. How did the wise Men behave themselves upon their finding of our Saviour ?
A. They fell down and worshipped him, and opened their Treasures, and presented unto him Gifts, Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh : Ver. 11. the most valuable Product of their own Country. Thereby also acknowledging his Majesty, according to the Custom all over the East, where they were wont to approach Kings with Presents. And by the Quality of their Gifts Iren. lib. they seemed to describe the object of their Ado- 3. c. 10. ration ; for they offered Myrrh as to a Man tliat was to be delivered to Death and the Grave for our Salvation ; Gold, as to a King, whole Kingdom shall have no End; Incense, as to a God, who was made known to them that fought him not.
Q. Why did God manifest bis Son to the Gentiles?
A. That his Grace might appear to all Men. For as the Jews had Notice of our Saviour's Birib by the Appearance of Angels to the Shepherds, so the Gentiles received it now by the Appearance of a Star ; thereby Thewing that the Time was come wherein the Wall of Partition hould be broken do?," and the
all Nations should be one Sheepfold under one Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Chrift.
Q. Wberein appears the Zeal and Courage of these wise Men ?
A. That upon the Appearance of an extraordinary Star, they undertook so long and tedious a Journey; neither regarding the Discoursses of the World, which might charge them with Folly and Rashness, nor considering the Dangers of going to proclaim a new-born King at the Court of a jealous Prince.
Q. What may we learn from the Observation of this Festival ?
A. That true Wisdom doth not so much consist in a great Understanding, furnished with a large Stock of universal Learning, as in the Use of such Advantages to the noblest Purposes of serving God and doing Good. That no Man is too great to be religious, because Piety and Virtue are the only Qualities that ennoble the Mind, without which Birth and Title will never give a Man a solid and lasting Character. Readily to obey all divine Inspirations; for though God prevents us with his Grace, yet he expects we should make a right Use of it. Not to be discouraged with any Difficulty that lieth in the Way of our Duty; and notwithstanding the Censures of the World, which will be apt to condemn us, when we depart from the comman Road of its loose Maxims, yet chearfully to obey when Obligation calls. To quit our Country, and all the Advantages of Life, when Obedience to God's Commands makes it necessary. To take Care to testify the Sincerity of our Faith by not being barren or unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To
make the outward Acts of our Adoration, and the doing Homage to the Deity, real Expressions of the Sense of our Minds and inward Allections. To offer to him the Treasure of our Hearts, which is the chief Sacrifice he requires.
Q. What Virtues do the Offerings of the wife Men represent unto 145 as an acceptable Sacrifice to Our blessed Saviour ?
A. Gold, which is the common Standard of those good Things we enjoy, and wherewith we may relieve the Wants of the Poor, is a fit Emblem for Charity and Works of Mercy, an Odour of a sweet Smell, a Sacrifice acceptable, weli !;!.9.18. pleasing to God. And David's desiring his Prayer P1.142.2. might be set before God as Incense, and the Prayers of the Saints ascending after the same Manner in the Revelations, shews us how fitly our Addresses to Heaven are represented by Frankincense. And the chief Use of Myrrh being to preserve dead Bodies from Putrefaction, is a lively Image of Mortification, that we should present our Bodies a Rom. 11. living Sacrifice, holy, coceplable to God. So thac". the Offerings of a true Christian should be out of a pure Heart, Charity, Prayer, and Mortificalion.
Q. How may we meke our Riches an accepiable Sacrifice to our blessed Saviour ?
A. By making use of them to those Ends and Purposes for which they were bestowed, in fupplying the Exigencies of our Families, and is making such decent Provision for our Children, as becomes the Station we are placed in : By iatisfying all our just Debts, and not opprefling our poor Neighbours by delaying the Payment of them; and particularly by taking Care that the Neceflitous, and thole that want Relief, al