Page images
PDF
EPUB

corre

pretation, and the matters of fact which filment in some event which they it may contain, in the way of con- had in mind, and then to invent or versation ;-and then to point out, propagate some suitable or as far as I can, the practical infer- sponding tale. Thus, it is written ences and lessons to be deduced from in Isa. xix. 1, “The Lord shall come the whole, in the way of a conclud- into Egypt, and all the idols of ing address.

Egypt shall be moved at his preHave you any questions to pro- sence;" and on this was founded the pose concerning the interpretation of fictitious narrative, that Joseph and the passage now before

you, or with Mary, on their entrance into Egypt reference to the history which it with the holy child, went into a cercontains ?

tain temple, and immediately the Theophilus. We are told here, very images of the idols were overthrown briefly, that Joseph took the young by a supernatural power, and fell child and his mother, and departed before the infant Saviour, as Dagon into Egypt, and was there until the once fell before the ark. Of course, death of Herod. Have we means of priests who had the power of inventascertaining any farther particulars ing and propagating such interesting respecting this interesting portion of narratives easily acquired great power our Saviour's life on earth ?

over the minds of an ignorant peoReader. None whatever. The ple, naturally prone to propose vain Holy Spirit has not thought fit to and frivolous questions. record such particulars; and there- The legends concerning our Safore we may be well content to be viour's sojourn in Egypt filled a voignorant concerning them. Vain lume. “ There is an apocryphal tradition, indeed, always ready to work in Arabic,” says one of our satisfy men's curiosity, to amuse the modern commentators, “ called 'The fancy, and to feed the soul with chaff Gospel of the Infancy,' which preinstead of wheat, has been very in- tends to relate all the acts of Jesus ventive and loquacious in this matter. and Mary while in Egypt. I have It pretends to inform us of the name taken the pains to read this through, of the place in which the holy family and have found it to be a piece of sojourned; namely, Matarea, not far gross superstition, having nothing to from the place in which the Temple entitle it to a shadow of credibility.” of Onias stood. But the truth is, -How great is our privilege in bethat we do not know the place of longing to a scriptural Church which their abode.—Another story, equally has rejected the fables and traditions unfounded, and therefore equally un- of the church of “the fathers," and profitable, is derived from the same has retained, in its purity and its inunsatisfactory source. It was the tegrity, the inspired word of God! practice of early writers, first to sup

How deep is our responsibility, in pose, or take for granted, that such possessing this blessing, unknown to or such a prophecy received its ful- our credulous and less enlightened

[ocr errors]

ancestors in the Christian faith! Reader. It is plain that the words And how earnest should be our en- of Hosea, in their original connecdearour, by divine grace, to use the tion, referred to the deliverance of gift aright!

the Israelites out of Egypt under Theophilus. I think I have heard Moses. In the Gospel they are apor read that this narrative is import- plied, say some, by the way of anaant as fixing the date of our Saviour's logy, to Christ, the Head of the birth.

church ; and it is probable that, Reader. It does fix the date of when St. Matthew wrote, the pasthat great event very nearly; for by sage was generally regarded by the means of it we connect it with an Jews as relating, in some way or event the exact date of which is other, to the Messiah. Perhaps the easily ascertained. From the fact more correct way of stating the case that Jesus was born before the death may be as follows. The words refer, of Herod, we learn that the date of in the first instance, to the people of his birth is at least three years earlier Israel, spoken of as one man, and than the common era, called “The called the son of God, as in Exod. Birth of Christ." And, although we iv. 22, 23. But the inspired Evando not know how long this event took gelist, by divine authority, teaches place before the death of Herod, yet, us to view the passage also in the as it seems probable that the space light of a prediction. By the appliof time which intervened was not cation which he makes of it, he invery great, we may conclude that the structs us that Israel, in the return Redeemer was born about the time from Egypt, was a type of Christ, which I have mentioned.

the events of whose life were even Theophilus. I am not quite sure then present to the divine mind; that I rightly understand the appli- and he reminds us that the natural cation of the prophecy quoted in the

Israelites were spiritually represent

ed in the person of the Messiah. Reader. Read the whole verse in We learn, by later revelation, that which it occurs; namely, Hosea xi. 1. several portions of the Old TestaTheophilus. " When Israel was a

ment, which, in their immediate and child, then I loved bim, and called literal sense, related to passing events my son out of Egypt."

of Jewish history, contained also a Reader. With this compare Exod. reference to the more distant, but iv. 22, 23.

more important, history of Christ Theophilus. “Thus saith the Lord, and his people. 1 Cor. x. 4–9; Israel is my son, even my first-born. Gal. iv, 28-30. And I say unto thee, Let my son go With reference to this twofold apthat he may serve me,”

plication of the words of Hosea, a Reader. And Numbers xxiv. 8. pious commentator remarks, “It is

Theophilus. God brought him no new thing for God's sons to be in forth out of Egypt."

Egypt, in a strange land, in a house

fifteenth verse.

of bondage; but they shall be fetched being hurt by no persecutions, may out."

evermore give thanks unto thee in Can I give you any farther satis- thy holy church, through Jesus faction in the way of mere interpret-Christ our Lord.” ation or exposition of these verses ? Take the

young

child and his moTheophilus. I am not aware, Sir, ther, and flee into Egypt.—Here we that any other question arises in our have a farther “ instance of the huminds on the present occasion. miliation of the Lord Jesus. As

there was no room for him in the

inn at Bethlehem, so there was no READER. Let us now proceed quiet room for him in the land of to make some practical reflections, Judea." Thus early were the indiand to derive some religious instruc- cations of the mournful fact, that tion, from this portion of Holy Scrip- "he came unto his own, and his own ture.

received him not." “ He was baHerod will seek the

young

child to nished almost as soon as he was destroy him.-His malice and cruelty born." "Lord, how great an humiwere foreseen and foretold. And

liation was this, not only to become hence we are reminded of the most an infant, but in thine infancy to be encouraging fact, that God is inti- hurried up and down, and driven out mately acquainted with all the crafty of thine own land as a vagabond!" and malicious designs or projects of -May we cherish a deep devotion his people's enemies. He says, as it and a reverent love towards the were, to every enemy of himself and once suffering, but now glorified, of his cause, as he once said to the Redeemer! And may we learn to haughty Sennacherib by the mouth follow him in his great humility! of Isaiah,_"I know thy abode, and Flee into Egypt.This teaches us thy going out, and thy coming in, that, in certain seasons of difficulty and thy rage against me." Isaiah or danger, it is lawful, and in every Xxxvii. 28. And he who is thus respect right, for God's people to acquainted with the ill-will of wicked seek protection by flight, or by men or evil spirits can easily frustrate otherwise endeavouring to escape the mischief which he foresees, and the evil which may be designed can destroy the power of those who against them, as long as they can exalt themselves against him. Oh do so without the breach of a plain let us mingle faith with that peti- and positive commandment. tion to God, our merciful Father, - fanaticism, and not faith, which "Graciously hear us, that those evils, would run into the flames of perwhich the craft and subtilty of the secution, or rush upon the sword of devil or man worketh against us be the destroyer.

the destroyer. “When they persebrought to nought; and by the pro- cute you in this city, flee ye

into vidence of thy goodness they may another.” Matt. x. 23. be dispersed; that we thy servants, Flee into Egypt.Perhaps we may be permitted to regard this command death? Will he not smite with as an earnest of favour to be ex- blindness those who shall be sent to tended to the Gentiles, in conveying slay him? No. Christ himself must to them the knowledge of Christ and flee into Egypt. God does not see his salvation. It is delightful to fit to put forth that kind of power, watch even the first faint glimmer- or to give that kind of testimony, ings of that "light” which was ap- which a different set of circumpointed "to lighten the Gentiles" stances might have called forth. as well as "to be the glory of his “He doeth all things well." people Israel."

When he arose, he departed into Be thou there until I bring thee Egypt.-Here is a beautiful example word.—God, you observe, keeps his of faith and obedience. Unbelief people in a state of continual de- might have suggested that such a pendence upon him, and makes it flight could not be needed in favour their duty to await, and comply of such an infant ;-or it might have with, the indications of his will. whispered,- If this flight be indeed With respect to our station in life, necessary, then perhaps the infant is or any other circumstances of our not that wonderful One whom you lot, though we may desire a change, have supposed him to be. But no. yet let us wait God's pleasure. Let Joseph and Mary believed the word us follow what may at least com

which had been spoken,—and were mend itself to our conscience and strong in faith, giving glory to God; our sober judgment as the leading of and their faith issued in a prompt, Divine Providence. “Be thou there unhesitating obedience. When he until I bring thee word.”

e-without delay-even before Flee into Egypt, and be thou there daybreak — Joseph took the young until I bring thee word.—How often child and his mother, and departed We may observe that God does not into Egypt.-When our instructions work miracles, when ordinary means,

are clear, let our obedience be prompt sufficient for the accomplishment of and cheerful. a purpose, are at hand. He employs He took the young child and his his miraculous and extraordinary mother by night.— Yes ;—privately power only in cases in which it may and cautiously, notwithstanding his be required for some wise, benevolent, conviction that the power of God was or necessary end, which could not engaged on behalf of the infant, be otherwise attained. Or rather, He acted in the spirit of that injuncperhaps, I should say, God works mi- tion, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord racles, not when man may choose to thy God.” Promises of safety and expect or to desire them, but ac- deliverance must not make us rash cording to the good pleasure of his or presumptuous. We must expect own most perfect will.

Will not the fulfilment of such promises in the God, in order to protect the infant use of means, not in the neglect of Jesus, cut off Herod by a sudden them.

[ocr errors]

arose

And was there until the death of

§ VIII. Herod : that it might be fulfilled which

CHAP. II. 16–18. was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called Herod slayeth the children. my Son. This shielding of the infant Jesus from the malice and rage of

16 Then Herod, when he the cruel Herod is a beautiful em

saw that he was mocked of the blem of the effectual care and vigi-wise men, was exceeding wroth, lance of Almighty God on behalf of and sent forth, and slew all the his whole church-of all his faithful children that were in Bethlepeople—in the hour of danger and hem, and in all the coasts therealarm. Let every believer confide of, from two years old and unin the divine protection; and say der, according to the time which thankfully, but humbly, with David of old, “In the time of trouble he he had diligently enquired of the shall hide me in his pavilion : in the wise men. secret of his tabernacle shall he hide 17 Then was fulfilled that me ;

he shall set me up upon a rock. which was spoken by *Jeremy And now shall mine head be lifted the prophet, saying, up above mine enemies round about

18 In Rama was there a voice me; therefore will I offer in his ta- heard, lamentation, and weepbernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the ing, and great mourning, RaLord.” Ps. xxvii. 5.

chel weeping for her children,

and would not be comforted, PSALM XCVII.

because they are not. Jehovah reigns! let all the earth

In his just government rejoice ; Let all the isles, with sacred mirth,

Reader. This is a dark passage in In his applause unite their voice ! the history of human ungodliness Thou, Lord of all, art seated high,

and crime. And, as a dispensation Above earth's potentates enthron'd! of Divine Providence, it would be Thou, Lord, unrivall’d in the sky,

mysterious and difficult to our apSupreme by heavenly hosts art own'd.

prehension, did we not consider how Ye, who to serve the Lord aspire,

absolutely the lives of all men are in Abhor what's ill, and truth esteem; the hands of God, how completely He'll keep his servants' souls entire, And them from wicked hands redeem.

they have been forfeited by sin,

and that it is more than probable Rejoice, ye righteous, in the Lord !

that God, in his mercy, made the Memorials of his holiness Deep in your faithful breasts record, cruelty of Herod towards these inAnd with your thankful tongues express.

fants minister to their speedy and eternal benefit.

Theophilus. This massacre is, I

n Jer. xxxi, 15.

« PreviousContinue »