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their accounts of the journey to Egypt and the sojourn there. The “ Infancy” makes it three years long, whereas the “ Higtory of Joseph” only makes it one year. All sorts of wonders take place, such as the healing of a demoniac boy, of two women possessed by devils, of a deaf and dumb bride, of a leprous girl, a leprous prince, and a young man who had been turned into a mule. At the arrival of Jesus in Egypt the idols fall prostrate,' robbers fly from him, dragons, lions, and panthers do homage to him.
Would you like to have a specimen of this literature ? Here is one from the Gospel of Mary's Birth and the Childhood of the Redeemer:
"On the third day of their journey from Bethlehem, Mary was exhausted by the heat of the sun in the wilderness. Seeing a tree she said to Joseph, “Let us rest ourselves in its shadow.' Joseph led her to the spot at once, and helped her to get down from the ass. When she had seated herself she looked up into the foliage of the palm, which was laden with fruit, and said to Joseph, “I should so like to taste the fruit, if only I could.' But Joseph answered, “How can you think of such a thing? You see yourself how high up the branches are. No! what I'm concerned about is the water. We have used up all our store, and we shall not have another chance of filling the skins and refreshing ourselves.?
" Then the child Jesus, sitting on the lap of his mother the Virgin Mary, said with a joyous countenance, Bow down your branches, () tree, and refresh my mother with your fruit!' Immediately the tree bowed down its head to Mary's feet, and they all of them took of its fruit and ate their fill. Still the tree bowed down, waiting the command of Jesus to rise up again. And Jesus said, “Palm-tree, rise up, be strong, and share the lot of the trees that are in the paradise of my Father! But open out from your roots a spring that is hidden in the ground, that water may flow out of it to refresh us. Immediately the tree rose up, and streams of pure, cold, beautiful water poured from its roots. Then they rejoiced and refreshed themselves completely both man and beast, and they thanked God.
- The next day, when they set out on their journey again, Jesus turned to the tree and said, “Palm-tree! it is my will that one of your branches be transplanted into my Father's paradise by one of my angels. And this is the blessing I pronounce on you: To all who have conquerel in the good
1 Compare Isaiah xix. 1.
fight it shall be said : You have reached the palm of victory.'
Hardly had he uttered the words, when behold! an angel of the Lord appeared, standing above the tree, and took one of its branches and flew with it up into heaven. And Joseph and Mary were overcome with deadly fear; but Jesus said,
Why do you fear? Know you not that this palm-branch, which I have had taken to paradise, shall be a joy to all the saints, even as it has been a joy to you in this wilderness ?'”
But what shall we say to the Egyptian village of Matarea, in which they still show you a sycamore tree that is said to have opened when Mary and Jesus were pursued by robbers ! It took them in, and then closed up again. When the robbers were out of sight it split in two once more, and remained in that condition until the year 1656 A.D., when a great piece of the trunk fell off.
We may mention here that the Talmud also makes Jesus go to Egypt, not it would seem in imitation of our narrative, but because it ascribes skill in sorcery to him, and Egypt was regarded as the land of sorcerers.
It is hardly necessary to contrast the simplicity, the beauty, and the deep significance which mark the legend of Matthew with these senseless stories from the Apocryphal books. The difference must strike every one.
A word in conclusion on the well-known feast of Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, sometimes called on the continent " The feast of the Three Kings,” which is held on January 6. Epiphany means the appearance or manifestation of a deity. The feast was instituted at an early period in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Jesus, because he was supposed to have assumed his divine dignity on that occasion. Towards the end of the third century the feast began to be celebrated in other quarters in commemoration both of the baptism of Jesus, when he was made known to the world and appeared in public, and of his birth. When, in the course of time, December 25 was set aside : to commemorate this last event, Epiphany was still consecrated in the East to the baptism of Jesus, but in the West it was set apart to commemorate the visit of the Wise Men of the East, "the revelation of Christ as the redeemer to the heathen world.” This is another proof that the Church had not forgotten the meaning of the legend in Matthew.
1 See pp. 40, 41. 2 See pp. 36, 37, 43.
JESUS IN THE TEMPLE AT THE AGE OF TWELVE.
LUKE II. 40 - 52.
[T always wakes our keenest interest to know how a great
man was brought up and educated, to see how from a helpless little creature, in no way distinguished from the ordinary children of men, he raised himself step by step to the height from which he coinmands such universal admiration; to notice the special circumstances that have contributed to develop his gifts and powers, and to bring out his noble character in all its strength. From this point of view even the most trifling details acquire a peculiar interest. But seldom indeed are we permitted to witness this fascinating spectacle. As a rule the materials are very insufficient, and i.nagination has to fill in many a gap that even the most careful research has left.
Nothing could be more natural than the wish to learn something of the childhood and youth of Jesus. For in his case more than in any other we long for accurate information as to the circle in which he grew up, the circumstances by which he was surrounded, and which helped to make him so great, so unique among men; in short, to hear in what way and under what influences his character, his intellect, and his affections were developed. Where his actual history opens, and he emerges from obscurity and begins the work of his life, he stands before us fully equipped, his many-sided nature already matured into that of a great, a noble, a mighty personality. Can we possibly succeed in penetrating here and there to the silent workings of his spirit, in gathering scattered traits to throw light on the circumstances of his bringing up, in tracing scattered indications of the course that was taken by his inner life, of the forces that were brought to bear upon him at a time when the mind is specially receptive, in discovering, at least to some extent, how and by what his glorious powers were so finely and so harmoniously developed ? We know what he was, and we cannot help asking how he became what we know him to have been.
With regard to this time of preparation, all our Gospels except that of Luke are profoundly silent. At the end of his
account of the birth of Jesus, Luke gives us a general de scription of his childhood in the words : “ He grew up and waxed strong and was filled with wisdom ; and the grace of God was with him ;” and afterwards he thus describes his youth : “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men.” Between these notices lie inserts an account of an event intended to bring out the great intellectual gifts and the earnest piety which distinguished Jesus even as a boy. The story runs as follows:
The parents of Jesus were accustomed to visit the City of the Temple every Passover. The Law commanded every male Israelite to appear before the face of Yahweh at each of the three great feasts ;? but since this injunction could hardly be carried out completely by those who lived at a distance from Jerusalem, the most magnificent of Israel's festivals was generally selected as the occasion of the journey to the temple. Women were not ordered by the Law to come up also, though some of the Rabbis thought their presence at the Passover desirable. But Mary's pious heart urged her to accompany her husband. On these journeys the pilgrims joined to make up caravans; and on their way they raised their voices in sacred song, and their hearts were filled with the thoughts suggested by the festival. The stay at Jerusalem itself, which extended over eight days, was a time of deep and sacred joy.
Of course, no little children would be taken on such a journey as that from Nazareth to the Holy City. But when Jesus was twelve years old he had sufficiently outgrown his childhood. The people of Eastern countries are grown up at a much earlier age than here; and a boy of twelve was considered by the Jews capable of taking part in all the practices of religion, and was, therefore, called " a son of the Law.” Jesus, then, was to accompany his parents on their journey for the first time in his life. What an event it was for him ! Ilis high-wrought expectations were not disappointed. The very journey was so glorious; the magnificence of the temple so imposing ; Jerusalem at such a time so grand and so full of life; the Passover so splendid! Everywhere the religious wants of the youthful Israelite's heart found satisfaction, and the impressions he received could never be forgotten.
The days flew past, and Joseph and Mary set out upon their homeward journey. But Jesus stayed behind, unknown to them. When they missed him at the moment of their de.
1 Exodus xxiii. 17; and elsewhere,
parture, they thought he must have started already with some other company of pilgrims from Nazareth, that might have left Jerusalem a few hours before. So they hastened on their journey that day, in hopes of overtaking the friends or relatires with whom they expected to find their son. But when they reached the first station at Shiloh, and came up with the caravan of the Nazarenes, they sought and inquired for the boy in vain. No one had seen him or knew where he was. Who can describe the feelings of the anxious parents? What could have become of him? How he would wander about in that huge city, in despair at not finding his parents! He was still so young, and Jerusalem was so great! They hurried back with the utmost speed. They made inquiries of the host, under whose roof they had spent the preceding week; but he could tell them nothing of the boy. They applied to every one they knew, but all in vain ; for there was no one who could give them any news. They traversed the city in every direction, and hour by hour their distress increased. At their wits' end, after three days' search, they finally ascend the mount of the temple, pass through the outer buildings of the sanctuary, and to their inexpressible relief they see him in a lecture-room, or in the synagogue of the temple, sitting among the Rabbis! Thank God that they have found him ! But how came he there? And what a child he is! He does not show the smallest sign of anxiety or fear. He seems completely at home amid his surroundings. His glowing cheek and kindling eye speak to the intensity of his interest. He catches every word that falls from the teachers, and hangs. upon their lips as they argue together and discuss the knotty questions of the Law. And he himself, too simple-minded to be over-diffident, sometimes puts questions to them, for the free intercourse then customary between the teachers and the taught made it easy for him to do so; and when they asked him questions in their turn, his answers showed such grasp and penetration that all around were lost in amazement at his knowledge of religious things, and the early development of such wonderful powers.
Joseph and Mary looked on in amazement, and then made their way through the crowd that yielded them a passage, wondering to see them press into the inner circle. Did the boy fly to them as soon as he perceived their presence? Far from it! Mary, as she threw her arms about him and pressed a mother's kiss upon his forehead, could not restrain the gentle reproof: "My child, why have you caused us all this