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Feafts, were high or chief Days of Solemnity, ⚫ each of these might fitly be called Epiphany in that Senfe, and not only referring to the Star, though not excluding but containing it also, as a fpecial Circumftance belonging to the Nativity. Befides, the Word hath been farther made ufe of to express the glorious Manifestation at our Saviour's Baptism, and his miraculous Power at the Marriage in Cana, by turning Water into Wine.
Q. How did God manifeft the Birth of our Sa
viour to the wife Men?
37. c. 2.
Hift. 1. 2.
A. By a luminous Appearance of a Star in the lower Region of the Air, obferved by those wife Men to differ from the ordinary Stars of Heaven; which, as a new, prodigious Sight, feemed to them to prefage fomething of great Moment and Confideration. For new Stars Juft, de among the Gentiles were fometimes looked upon as Omens that Infants born at the Time of Lucan.l.1. their Appearance fhould arrive at great Power. Plin. Nat. The Appearance of the Star, and the Journey of the Chaldean wife Men are mentioned by ChalD.Auguft. cidius the Platonist. It feems not improbable, Grot. de what fome Authors have fuggefted, that this Ver., Refeeming Star, which appeared to the wife Men in lig.Chrift. the Eaft, might be that glorious Light which 1.3.c. 14. fhone upon the Bethlehem Shepherds, when the Angel came to impart to them the Tidings of our Saviour's Birth; which at a Distance might appear like a Star, or at least, after it had thus fhone upon the Shepherds, might be lifted up on high, and then formed into the Likeness of a Star.
Q. How could the wife Men guefs at the Birth of our Saviour from the Appearance of this Star?
A. Some think they might receive Light in this Matter from the Prophecy of Balaam, or from fome other Prophecies in Daniel; but as one feems 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 Jews had of the Meffias's coming in that Age, which might eafily be promulged to the neighbouring Nations. Though, befides this, fome Way of divine Revelation may be fupMat. 2. 2. pofed by their calling him King of the 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 Bethlehem?
A. Upon their Arrival at Jerufalem, they published the Caufe and Defign of their Journey, which gave great uneafinefs to Herod, who was jealous of any Competitor. Upon which Herod enquired of thofe who had greateft Skill in the ancient Prophecies, what Place was affigned for the Birth of the expected Meffias; when he underflood that Bethlehem was marked out for that Honour, he communicated to the wife Men the Determination of the Chief Priests and Scribes, with a Defign to deftroy this young Prince if they difcovered him; ftrictly charging them to bring him Word, pretending that he would go and worfhip him, which Trouble and Jealoufy of Hered confirms the Expectation the Jews had of a King to be born about that Time.
Q. How did the wife Men find the young Child efus ?
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 them again, and conducted hem in their Search of our Saviour, by going efore them, and ftanding ftill where the young Child was, which was Matter of great Joy and Satisfaction to them.
Q. How did the wife Men behave themselves upon their finding of our Saviour?
A. They fell down and worshipped him, and opened their Treafures, and prefented unto him Gifts, Gold, Frankincenfe, and Myrrh: Ver. 11. the most valuable Product of their own Country. Thereby alfo acknowledging his Majefty, according to the Cuftom all over the Eaft, where they were wont to approach Kings with Prefents. And by the Quality of their Gifts Iren. lib. they feemed to defcribe the Object of their Ado- 3. c. 10. ration; for they offered Myrrh as to a Man that was to be delivered to Death and the Grave for our Salvation; Gold, as to a King, whole Kingdom fhall have no End; Incenfe, as to a God, who was made known to them that fought
Q. Why did God manifeft his Son to the Gentiles?
A. That his Grace might appear to all Men. For as the Jews had Notice of our Saviour's Birth by the Appearance of Angels to the Shepherds, fo the Gentiles received it now by the Appearance of a Star; thereby fhewing that the Time was come wherein the Wall of Partition fhould be broken down, and that afl
all Nations fhould be one Sheepfold under one Shepherd, the Lord Jefus Chrift.
Q. Wherein appears the Zeal and Courage of thefe wife Men?
A. That upon the Appearance of an extraordinary Star, they undertook fo long and tedious a Journey; neither regarding the Difcourffes of the World, which might charge them with Folly and Rafhnefs, nor confidering 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 fo much confift in a great Understanding, furnished with a large Stock of univerfal Learning, as in the Use of fuch Advantages to the nobleft Purposes of ferving 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 folid and lafting Character. Readily to obey all divine Inspirations; for though God prevents us with his Grace, yet he expects we should make a right Ufe of it. Not to be difcouraged with any Difficulty that lieth in the Way of our Duty; and notwithstanding the Cenfures of the World, which will be apt to condemn us, when we depart from the comman Road of its loofe 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 neceffary. To take Care to teftify the Sincerity of our Faith by not being barren or unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jefus Chrift. To
make the outward Acts of our Adoration, and the doing Homage to the Deity, real Expreffions of the Senfe of our Minds and inward Affections. 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 reprefent unto us as an acceptable Sacrifice to our bleffed Saviour?
Rev. 8. 4.
A. Gold, which is the common Standard of thofe good Things we enjoy, and wherewith we may relieve the Wants of the Poor, is a fit Emblem for Charity and Works of Mercy, cn Odour of a fweet Smell, a Sacrifice acceptable, well Phil.4.18. pleafing to God. And David's defiring his Prayer Pf. 142. 2, might be fet before God as Incenfe, and the Prayers of the Saints afcending after the fame Manner in the Revelations, fhews us how fitly our Addresses to Heaven are reprefented by Frankincenfe. And the chief Ufe of Myrrh being to preferve dead Bodies from Putrefaction, is a lively Image of Mortification, that we fhould prefent our Bodies a Rom. 12. living Sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. So that the Offerings of a true Chriftian should be out of a pure Heart, Charity, Prayer, and Mortif
Q. How may we make our Riches an acceptable Sacrifice to our bleffed Saviour?
A. By making ufe of them to thofe Ends and Purposes for which they were beftowed, in fupplying the Exigencies of our Families, and in making fuch decent Provifion for our Children, as becomes the Station we are placed in: By fatisfying all our juft Debts, and not opprefling our poor Neighbours by delaying the Payment of them; and particularly by taking Care that the Neceffitous, and thofe that want Relief, al