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declares to us the office which Christ was designed to perform, enables us to perceive our own condition in respect to him. to him. Has he delivered
from sin itself? If so, he has delivered you from its penalty
But you will say,—no man is altogether freed from sin: for “ if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
Certainly this is what Scripture declares and our own hearts bear witness to. But though the corruption of nature adheres to the sincerest Christian, still he is not under the power of sin as others are ; he does not yield to it, but strives against it; he does not indulge it, but mortifies it; he does not love it, but abhors it; he does not desire it, but aspires after more and more holiness, and a more complete renewal of his heart in the image of God. As St. Paul has expressed it, “sin has no more dominion over you.”
If then this is your case; if you have so believed your Saviour, as to be convinced that sin, unless you forsake it, must destroy you; and if in reliance upon his Spirit, you have renounced it, and are resolved to give it no place in your hearts, and are daily contending against it: then he has fulfilled that promise for you, of which his name is the pledge ;-he was called Jesus, for he should save his people from their sins.
Observe, on the other hand, that the same title which brings comfort to the disciples of Christ, speaks the sentence of condemnation to the unrepenting transgressor.
He shall save his people from their sins. Let the transgressor reflect.
has not saved me from sin; therefore I cannot be one of his people. From sin he is ready to save; even He cannot save those who “continue in sin.” He has himself declared that at the last day he will reply to all such, “ I never knew
depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
May God give us grace to know our real state, and deliver us alike from thoughtless security, from vain presumption, and from perplexing fears.
THE WISE MEN WORSHIP CHRIST.
Luke ji. 1—20.
Matt. ii. 1-12.
1. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem' of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2. Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews ? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
These wise men were so called, because they observed the appearances of nature and the heavenly bodies : subjects much studied in the eastern countries to which they belonged. The sight of some unusual meteor in the sky attracted their attention: and, perhaps, the general expectation which pre
This town lay six miles to the south of Jerusalem.
vailed, of some mighty king or deliverer, in consequence of the Hebrew prophecies, led them to suppose that this star was connected with his coming. God, however, must have communicated to them, by his Spirit, some surer intimation. So we are told afterwards (v. 12.) that he revealed his will to them in a dream.
3. When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Herod was troubled, expecting some rival to his power: and Jerusalem, knowing his character, and fearing some new cruelty ; not without too good reason, as soon appeared.
4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea : for thus it is written by the prophet ;
6. And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel, .
The sense of this prophecy (Micah. v. 2) seems to have been well understood by the Jews. We find them arguing, (John vii. 42) “Hath not the Scripture said, that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” They did not, however, understand the nature of his kingdom, or the object of his government.
Had they known that he was to be a spiritual and not a temporal ruler, Herod would not have been troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
7. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go, and search diligently for the young child, and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
Herod spoke these “words of peace, having war in his heart :” hoping in this way to discover the abode of the infant king, that he might destroy him. He was little aware that the safety of Christ was secured by a guardian who cannot be deceived. And so is the safety of his people too. “ He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."
The twelfth verse acquaints us that God pre. vented the wise men from giving to Herod the information which he sought, and they departed home without returning to Jerusalem. This is one of the facts which fulfil the prophetic words of David, (Ps. ii. 2, 4,) “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed. He that sitteth in heaven shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.”
9. When they had heard the king, they departed ; and lo, the star which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the
young 10. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child, with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
12. And being warned of God in a dream, that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country
In this narrative, an example is set us, which it is our duty to follow. God intimated the birth of his Son to the wise men, by a new appearance in the heavens. So, to us, a Redeemer is made known by early education, by the ministry of the word, by the Scriptures which we enjoy.
The philosophers of the east were not inattentive to the heavenly vision; but came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? Thus they made the birth of the Messiah their own personal concern: and, that they might not be disappointed in their search, applied to those best able to instruct them. We are bound to do the same; we are bound to secure to ourselves, by a lively faith, that interest in Christ, which is covenanted to us by the privilege of our baptism. We hear his gracious offers, and must come and worship him as our Saviour and our Lord.
God does not leave unnoticed and unrewarded those who desire to discover his will, and comply with the suggestions of his Spirit upon their hearts. You observe how the star which they had seen in the east, appeared again to the wise men, as they pursued their search from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
This illustrates the way in which the “Spirit prevents us, that we may have a good will, and works with us when we have that good will."? The star which advertised these
2 Art. x.