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the murder of the Innocents, exactly corre sponds with the character of Herod, who was one of the most cruel and ferocious tyrants that ever disgraced a throne, and amongst other horrible barbarities had put to death a son of his own. No wonder, then, that his jealousy should prompt him to murder a number of infants not at all related to him.
All these circumstances concur to prove that the sacred historians lived in the times and the countries in which they are supposed to have written the Gospels, and were perfectly well acquainted with every thing they relate. Had not this been the case, they must have been detected in an error, in some of the many incidents they touched upon; which yet has never happened.
4. It is also, in the last place, worthy of remark, that every thing is here related with the greatest plainness, brevity, and simplicity, without any of that ostentation and parade which we so often meet with in other authors. Thus, for instance, a heathen writer would have put a long and eloquent speech into the mouth of the wise men, and would have provided the parents of the infant with a suitable answer. He would have painted the massacre of the infants in the most dreadful colours, and would have drawn a most affecting picture of the distress and agony of their afflicted parents. But the Evangelists have not enlarged on these, or any other similar topics. They have contented themselves with telling their story concisely and coldly, with a bare simple recital of the facts, without attempting to work upon the passions, or excite the admiration of their readers.
In fact, it appears from this and a variety of other instances of the same nature, that neither fame nor reputation, nor any other worldly advantage, had the least influence upon their hearts. Their sole object was the advancement of truth, of morality, of religion, of the eternal welfare and salvation of mankind. For these great objects they wrote, for these they lived, for these they suffered, and for these they died; on these, their thoughts were entirely and immoveably fixed, and therefore their narratives justly claim the most implicit belief in every thing that relates to these great and important and interesting subjects.
Another observation which this part of the Sacred History suggests to us, is this; that no person ever yet appeared in the world, to whom such distinguished marks of honour were paid from his birth to his death, as our blessed Lord. We are often reproached with the mean condition of our Redeemer. We are often told, that He, whom we have chosen for our Lord and Master, who is the object of our adoration, and on whom all our hopes are fixed, was the reputed son of a carpenter, lived in penury and distress, and at last suffered the ignominious death of the cross. All this is true. But it is equally true, that this man of indigence and of sorrow appeared through his whole life to be the peculiar favourite of Heaven; and to have been considered, not indeed by his infatuated countrymen, but by beings of a far superior order, the most important personage that ever appeared on this earthly scene. At his birth, we are told, that the glory of the Lord shone round about certain shepherds that were then keeping watch over their flocks by night; and there was a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in VOL. I.
the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men*.";
Not long after this, a new star or meteor appeared in the heavens on purpose to announce his birth, which accordingly (as we have just seen) attracted the notice of those illustrious strangers, who came from a distant country to pay their homage to the infant Jesus; whom, notwithstanding the humility of his condition and of his habitation, they . hailed as king of the Jews. At his baptism, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him-t. After his temptation, when he had vanquished the prince of dark-ness, behold, angels came and ministered unto him . At his transfiguration, his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was bright as the light, and there appeared Moses and Elias talking with him, and from the cloud which overshadowed them, there came a voice, -- saying, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom
I am well pleased'; hear ye him Ş.” At his : agony in the garden, there appeared an angel
i * Luke, ii. 14. ' + Matth. ii. 16. son't Matth. iv. 13. . : . Matth. 27. 5.
unto him, strengthening him*. At his crucifixion, all nature seemed to be thrown into convulsions : the sun was.darkened; the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom; the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; the graves were opened, and gave up their dead; and even the heathen centurion, and those that were with him, were compelled to cry out, “ Truly this was the son of Godt". Before his ascension, he said to his disciples, “ All power is given to me in heaven and in earth; and while he yet blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into hearen, and a cloud received him out of their sight.” There, we are told, he sitteth at the right hand of God, making intercession for the sinful race of man, till he comes a second time in the glory of his Father, with all his holy angels, to judge the world. There has God “highly exalted him above all principalities and power, and might and dominion, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under
* Luke, xxii. 43. Matth. xxvii. 54.