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MATTHEW ii. 2. For we have seen His “ Star
“ in the East, and are come to worship him.”
When, in the fulness of time, the Son of God came down from heaven to take our nature upon him, many circumstances concurred to celebrate the event, and to render it an illustrious epoch in the history of the world. It pleased the divine wisdom, that the manifestation of the deity should be distinguished by a suitable glory; and this was done by the ministry of Angels, by the ministry of Men, and by the ministry of Nature herself.
First, This was done by the ministry of Angels; for an Angel announced to the shepherds " the glad tidings of great joy which should “ be to all people;' and a multitude of the heavenly “ host sang Glory to God in the highest,
on earth peace, good-will toward men."
Secondly, It was done by the ministry of Men; for illustrious persons, divinely directed, came from a far country, to offer gifts, and to do honour to the new-born King.
Thirdly, It was done by the ministry of Na. ture. Nature herself was commanded to bear witness to the presence of the God of Nature. A Star, or Divine Light, pointed out significantly from heaven the spot upon earth where the Saviour was born.
Thus it pleased the Divine Wisdom, by an assemblage of heavenly testimonies, to glorify the incarnation of the Son of God.
All these testimonies were appropriate ; but the Journey of the Eastern Sages had in it a peculiar fitness.
We can hardly imagine a more natural mode of honouring the event than this, that illustrious persons should proceed from a far country to visit the child that was born Saviour of the world. They came, as it were, in the name of the Gentiles, to acknowledge the heavenly gift, and to bear their testimony against that nation which neglected it. They came as the representatives of all the heathen; not only of the heathen in the East, but also of those in the West, from whom we are descended. In the name of the whole world, lying “ in darkness, and in the shadow " of death,” they came inquiring for that Light which they had heard was to visit them in the fulness of time. " And the Star which " they saw in the East went before them till
« it came and stood over where the young 66 child was.
And when they were come into “ the house, they fell down and worshipped 46 him
; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts, gold, s and frankincense, and myrrh.”
Do you ask how the Star of Christ was understood in the East? or why Providence ordained that peculiar mode of intimation ?
Christ was foretold in old prophecy, under the name of the Star that should arise out of Jacob ;” and the rise of the Star in Jacob was notified to the world by the appearance of an actual Star.
We learn from authentic Roman history, that there prevailed " in the East” a constant expectation of a Prince, who should arise out 'of Judea, and rule the world. That such an expectation did exist, has been confirmed by the ancient writings of India. Whence, then, arose this extraordinary expectation, for it was found also in the Sybilline books of Rome. : The Jewish expectation of the Messiah had pervaded the East long before the period of his appearance. The Jews are called by their own prophet the “ Expecting people,”* (as it may be translated, and as some of the Jews of the East translate it) the “people looking for
* Isa. xviii. 2." The people meted out,” in our translation.
and expecting “ One to come.” Whorever, then, the tribes of Israel were carried throughout the East, they carried with them their expectation. And they carried also the prophecies on which their expectation was found. ed. Now, one of the clearest of these prophecies runs in these words: “ There shall come a Star out of Jacob.”* And, as in the whole dispensation relating to the Messiah, there is a wonderful fitness between the words of prophecy and the person spoken of, so it was ordained, that the rise of the Star in Jacob should be announced to the world by the appearance
of an actual Star. A divine intimation of its nature and object, was, no doubt, given at the same time. And this actual Star, in itself a proper emblem of that “ Light which
was to lighten the Gentiles,” conducted them to Him who was called in a figure the Star of Jacob, and the glory of his people « Israel.”
But again, why was the East thus honoured? Why was the East, and not the West, the scene of these transactions ?
The East was the scene of the first revelation
* Numbers xxiv. 17.
of The Jew's used to speak of their Messiah under the appellation of Bar Cocab, or “the Son of the Star;" and false Christs actually assumed that name.
of God. The fountains of inspiration were first opened in the East. And, after the flood, the first family of the new world was planted in the East. Besides, millions of the human race inhabit that portion of the globe. The chief population of the world is in those regions. And, in the middle of them, the Star of Christ first appeared. And, led by it, the wise men passed through many nations, tongues, and kindreds, before they arrived at Judea in the West; bearing tidings to the world that the Light was come, that the “ Desire of all Na« tions" was come. Even to Jerusalem herself they brought the first intimation that her longexpected Messiah was come.
As the East had this honour in the first age of the Church, of pointing out the Messiah to the world; so now again, after a long interval of darkness, it is bearing witness to the truth of the religion of the Messiah ; not indeed by the shining of a Star, but by exhibiting luminous evidence of the divine origin of the Christian Faith. It affords evidence of the general truth, not only of its history, but of its peculiar doctrines; and not of the truth of its doctrines merely, but of the divine power of these doctrines in convincing the understandings and converting the hearts of men. And in this sense it is, that “ we have seen his Star in the “ East, and are come to worship him.”