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the benighted Pagans, on whom this Sun of righleousness never shone! But " I hope better things of you, and things which accompany salvation." Imitate the shepherds : they no sooner heard these welcome tidings, than they hastened to Bethlehem to find Christ. To Bethlehem you need not go; this Saviour - is not far from every one of us :" in every country, and in every part of the world, he will be found by those who seek him. Desist not then from seeking him, till you can use to him the appropriating language of Thomas, “ My Lord and my God:” till you can say with humble confidence, • for me he was born, for me he died, for me he intercedes; and when I leave this world, more happy than the shepherds I shall behold him, not in the manger of Bethlehem, but in the kingdom of glory, on the throne of the universe.'

Let the birth of Christ lead us to abandon and detest every sin. He came into the world to teach us “ to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” To continue therefore in the allowed practice of any sin, is now not only a disobedience to our great Creator, but also a contempt of the mercy and compassion of a kind and generous Saviour ; a base requital of the Son of God; an ingratitude which shall not escape the punishment of the Almighty.

Finally: let the humble circumstances in which Christ was born inspire us with humility, a contempt of the world, and a superiority to it. Disciples of Jesus ! we are required to resemble him, not always I acknowledge in our situation, but in our mind, our inclinations, and sentiments. There may be true Christians who are rich and powerful; who have not therefore a conformity of situation with Jesus Christ


in poverty, and laid in a manger. But in every state we cannot be Christians without being humble and poor in spirit; without a true superiority to the world, , to its false glory, its vain pomp, and its frivolous plea

It is permitted us to acquire, to possess, and to enjoy earthly blessings; but it is not permitted us to consecrate to this acquisition and enjoyment all our time, all our thoughts, all our faculties; nor to put our trust in them; nor to give our heart to them; nor to sacrifice our duty for them. Jesus, despising them in his incarnation, teaches us to enjoy them without being slaves to them; to possess them without fixing our warmest affections on them; to be ready to renounce them at the call of duty. Worldlings ! this doctrine and this example are not calculated to affect you. You have not a mind sufficiently elevated to admire them, or a heart sufficiently noble to feel their excellence. You have but one desire and occupation;—that of accumulating earthly blessings. What can you behold in the stable at Bethlehem? the image of that poverty which is the object of

your contempt; the example of humility, of disinterestedness, of the renunciation of that world which is your idol. But you, sincere believers, do you approach the humble manger to contemplate there a Saviour who lived in this world to teach you to despise it, and to elevate your hearts and your hopes to real blessings. Fix your views and your desires on those eternal blessings ; forget not that you are strangers and pilgrims; be neither dazzled by the splendours, nor terrified by the pains; trace the footsteps of the humble Jesus, they will conduct you · to glory infinite and immortal.



No. III.


LUKE ii. 22-35.

For four hundred years before the birth of Christ, the gift of prophecy had ceased among the Jews. At the period of his advent it was revived, and bestowed, among others, upon Simeon. The character and declarations of this pious person come now to be considered in the prosecution of our Saviour's life.

Among the plagues which God inflicted on the people of Egypt, to compel them to liberate the Israelites, the last and the greatest was the destruction of the first-born of every family, from that of the imperial Pharaoh to that of the meanest of his subjects. In commemoration of this event, and of the deliverance then experienced by the Israelites, God. claimed the first-born as peculiarly his own, in succeeding generations, and commanded that they should solemnly be presented to him in the temple, as an acknowledgment of his right in them, and that

the price of their redemption should there be paid. To comply with this ordinance, and to make the sacrifices required for her legal purification, Mary went up from Bethlehem, where she had probably remained since the birth of the Saviour, and carried him to the temple. She there, according to the law, offered two doves, the one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering; and having waited in the outer court till this service was performed, entered into the temple.

There was then at Jerusalem, Simeon, a man venerable for his years, but still more venerable for his piety, who had long been waiting for the consolation of Israel ;" an expression applied by the scriptures, and the Jewish writers, to the Messiah. We shall not stop to inquire whether, according to the opinion of some commentators, he was Simeon, surnamed the Just, one of the grand synagogue, and so celebrated in the annals of the Jews; or, according to others, Simeon the son of Hillel, president of the great sanhedrim, and father of that Gamaliel of whom St. Paul was the disciple. We know nothing of him, except from this portion of the sacred history. We cannot tell whether he was dignified by his rank and birth; but we know that he was great and dignified from his virtues. “ He was,” says the Evangelist, “ just and devout;" an eulogium which renders him more worthy of our reverence than the highest offices, and the most illustrious descent. The Holy Ghost was upon him ;" i. e. he was favoured by immediate revelations from God, and had the spirit of prophecy conferred upon him. By this spirit he was assured that he should not see death till he had beheld that Messiah for whom he, like every faithful Israelite, looked with so much ardour. Sustained by this as

surance, he joyfully saw those days passing away, the end of which was to be crowned by the accomplishment of all his wishes. By the inspiration of the Spirit he went to the temple just as the Son of God made his first entrance into it. By the same inspiration he recognised him as the Messiah; and immediately folding the holy infant in his aged arms, offers to God the first-fruits of those immortal praises, which all believers shall for ever render to him for the birth of a Saviour.

“Lord,” exclaims he, in the fervours of holy transport and joy, “now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” Who can describe the emotions of Simeon as he uttered these impressive words ? He sees before him, he touches, he holds in his arms, that Messiah whom so many prophets, and righteous men, so many kings, and patriarchs, have in vain longed to behold. He sees the accomplishment of those promises, which Abraham, and Jacob, and Moses, and so many other believers, under the former dispensation, had beheld only afar off.

If Abraham, the most illustrious of his ancestors, seeing by faith at the distance of many centuries, the advent of the Saviour, leaped for joy, what must be the transports of Simeon, who contemplates him present. Imagine to yourselves what would have been the joy of a faithful Israelite, if after contemplating the cruel servitude of his people to the Egyptians, he had seen Moses born, and been assured that he would be the deliverer of Israel. If after having trembled for his life, if after having seen him exposed upon the Nile in the floating cradle, which a tender and ingenious mother had prepared for him, he had beheld the daughter of Pharaoh adopting

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