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splendid shrine.* But it is needless to say that all this lore is probably the fruit of the imagination. If they were only sheiks, or emîrs, the word "kings," in the prophetic passages just quoted, would be proper. Whether the apostle Thomas baptized them, and whether they helped him to evangelize India, and whether they died as martyrs, or what became of them upon their return from Judea, are questions upon which the Bible gives us no information. But the brief, inspired record respecting them is full of interest and instruction.


The word rendered "worshipped," in the passage which speaks of the prostration of the wise men, it is said, does not necessarily imply any thing more than an act of respectful salutation, the same word being used in speaking of acts of courtesy between man and man.

But as Peter refused to receive the worship expressed by this same word, from Cornelius, saying, "I myself also am a man," and as the angel said to the evangelist John, who fell down before him, with the same worship, "See thou do it not; worship God," we cannot conclude, from the word itself, that

* See a most interesting article on the Cathedral at Cologne, in the London Quarterly Review, vol. lxxviii., 1846.

adoration was not intended by the wise men. us look, then, at the probabilities of the case.


Had the wise men regarded the Messiah merely as an earthly king, it would have been a most contemptuous and daring act to have proclaimed in Herod's dominions, nay, in the metropolis itself, "We have come to worship him." This would not be an act of "wise men.” While they called the Messiah "King of the Jews," they must have regarded him as having a kingdom which did not conflict with that of Herod, of a heavenly nature, warranting, as the birth of an heir to no earthly kingdom would warrant, such a journey, and such respect as theirs.

Here let it be considered, that the wise men may not have known, to its full extent, the intention of an overruling Providence in their coming to the feet of Christ; nor may they have understood their enthusiasm, with regard to this new-born personage, which brought them so far. Their habits and customs as astrologers made this act natural to them, while they may have been, and we believe that they were, like the prophets, under the excitement of inspiration, who did not fully know the vast import of many of their predictions.

We cannot believe indeed, it is too great a tax on our credulity to ask us to believe-that God appointed this miraculous star to bring those sages


from their distant land merely to pay their respects to a remarkable child. There is an air about the narrative which conveys something more to the mind than this. Self-interest did not prompt them. They had no favors to ask or expect of that child; they would be dead or far away when he should be old enough to ascend a throne; but they laded their camels with gifts for him evidently from a disinterested desire to pay some homage to him. What, then, was the nature of that homage?

Let us read this narrative, and learn to read the Bible in the same way, not with the unbeliever's eyes and heart, but with our own eyes, and our own believing hearts. It is one of the pernicious effects of sceptical opinions, that we subject the Bible in our own thoughts, even when we read it for devotional purposes, to the criticisms made by unbelievers; we are injuriously affected by the doubts and cavils of oth


These may help us to examine narrowly the evidences of our faith, but let them not have the effect upon us, if we can help it, to make our faith timid. As those who honor the Son even as they honor the Father; as those who need not still to be laying the foundations of their faith in the Saviour; as those who have learned to say to him, My Lord and my God, let us contemplate this coming of the wise men to Christ, and see if there be not every probability

of its being intended by the divine Spirit as an act of adoration.


That young child, then, whom we see in his mother's arms, while Persian wise men fall before him on the humble floor, who is he? whom do we believe him to be? It is he of whom we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." It is the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh." It is he who afterward stilled the tempest, opened the eyes of the blind, raised the dead. It is he who came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." It is he before whom the heavenly hosts were afterward seen prostrate, crying, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." That scene between the wise men and the child Jesus is more than a mere act of respect to a remarkable infant. In their imperfect state of knowledge, as was just before observed, these wise men probably did not know the full extent and meaning of their worship. We, to whom Christ is more fully revealed, can see in that prostration of the wise men an act of religious devotion intended by the divine Spirit, though the wise men may not fully have comprehended the meaning of their own act. Our souls join with those Gen

tiles to worship that babe who was God manifest in the flesh, having then those attributes of Deity which he will have when he comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him, and before him are gathered all nations.

While many see nothing in the visit of the wise men to Christ but superstition, oriental reverence for royalty, and the zeal of courtly men to find or make occasion for acts of condescending respect, he who sees dwelling in Christ all the fulness of the Godhead bodily will not ask the lexicographer nor the unregenerate commentator whether the passage imports real worship. "When he bringeth in his first begotten into the world, he saith, Let all the angels of God worship him." He who believes that by the Son all things were created that are in heaven or in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, has no question what worship the angels, his creatures, paid him, when he assumed man's nature.

It may truly be said that a large part of the "comfort of the Scriptures," as the apostle expresses it, to a pious heart, is derived from comparing spiritual things with spiritual, from the confirmatory influence of the several parts of the Bible in their relation to each other, and from the discovery of probable allusions and intended coincidences, as well as from the more explicit fulfilment of types and

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