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Not so: he shall be called John. And they made signs to his father, to know how he would have him called.
Lucy. Then it seems he could not hear any more than speak.
Aunt. It appears that he was both deaf and dumb: and they brought him a writing-table, and he wrote, His name is John; and his friends were astonished: but, the time of his correction being now expired, he immediately recovered his speech, and used it in praising God, as may be seen in his prophetical hymn recorded in the 1st chapter of Luke.
Lucy. Surely the people must expect great things from a child whose birth had been so wonderful!
Aunt. He was hid for a season, living in the deserts, till the time of his appearing in his public ! ministry; but, under the protection of God, the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit. The angel who appeared to his mother, was sent, six months afterwards, to a city of Nazareth, to a virgin, who was espoused to Joseph, of the house of David; her name was Mary. And the angel came to her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured! the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him she was troubled. And the angel said, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God; and thou shalt conceive and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be
it anto me according to thy word. And the angel departed.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, A virgin shall conceive, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, Isaiah vii. 14.
George. But the angel said it was to be Jesus.
Aunt. The interpretation of the name Immanuel is, God with us, or, Jesus a Saviour. Joseph and Mary were now in Galilee; and it had been predicted many ages before, that the Messiah should be born at Bethlehem, in these words: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, Micah 2.
George. Then this prophecy was not literally fulfilled.
Aunt. Yes; it was. The Lord took occasion, by the pride of a heathen prince, to accomplish his own purposes and predictions. Augustus Cæsar, the Roman emperor, issued an edict, that all the world should be taxed. By this edict, all persons were required to resort to the city to which their families belonged; so it became incumbent on Joseph and Mary, being the lineal descendants of David, to go to Bethlehem for that purpose. This was no contrivance of their's, but shews how wonderfully the Lord brings his purposes to pass.
Maria. How could they prove themselves of the family of David?
Aunt. By their genealogies.
George. I remember to have read a number of hard names in the 1st chapter of Matthew, and the 3d of Luke.
Aunt. And in those hard names is traced the genealogy of our Lord, by which it appears that both Joseph and Mary were descended from the family of David.
Lucy. But how astonishing that it should be preserved for such a length of time!
Aunt. And through so many revolutions, which the Jewish nation experienced: we can ascribe it only to divine interposition, that it might be proved that Jesus was the true Messiah. The genealogies of the Jews are now lost. I suppose scarcely a Jew can tell to what tribe he belongs, much less to what family. When Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem, the city was crowded, probably with persons in superior circumstances: and there was no room for them in the inn: no better accommodation could be obtained than a stable; and there Mary the World brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger. In this manner did the Saviour of the world, the Lord of glory, make his first appearance.
Maria. It grieves me to think that the blessed babe Jesus should have a manger for a cradle. As he was Lord of the whole earth, why did he not come in the pomp and grandeur of a great king?
Aunt. He made his appearance in this manner,
for very important purposes; yet, though his birth was thus mean, as to its external circumstances, it was marked with a dignity, far surpassing all the vain pomp and empty parade of earthly grandeur. It was proper, for an event so important to the world, to be announced with a peculiar solemnity: and angels were appointed to be the heralds of the newborn Saviour.
Lucy. But they were not sent to kings or princes, but to poor shepherds, who were keeping their flocks by night in the field.
Aunt. You see by this, my dear, whom the Lord esteems the excellent of the earth; not those who are adorned with fine robes, but such as are clothed with humility. To these men the angel of the Lord came, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were afraid. And the angel said, Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto yoù is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Isaiah anticipated this event in his prophecy, chap. ix. 6, for, he says, Unto us, a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. The angel then described to them the place and situation in which they should find this glorious new-born Prince and Saviour. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will
towards men. When the angels had sung their Maker's praise, they left the shepherds and returned to heaven.
George. I should think the shepherds must be all astonishment.
Aunt. They certainly were; but concluded to go immediately to Bethlehem, where they found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And they made known abroad the things which were told them concerning the child.
Maria. It must set the people a wondering.
Aunt. It excited astonishment for a time: but appears not to have made any lasting impression on the minds of the people. On the eighth day, they circumcised the child, and called his name JESUS: and, at the end of forty days, Mary went up to the temple, to offer the appointed sacrifices; Joseph also attended, taking the holy child Jesus to present him to the Lord. There was a man of remarkable piety at Jerusalem, named Simeon, who waited for the coming of the Messiah, as the consolation of Israel: he was moreover endued with the spirit of prophecy (which began to be restored to the Jews, after a suspension of about four hundred years from the time of Malachi); by immediate inspiration he was assured, that he should not see death, till he had seen the Lord's Christ or Anointed, the promised Messiah; and, by the divine guidance, he came into the temple, at the very time when Joseph and Mary were presenting the child Jesus. Thus he witnessed the first accomplishment of that prophecy concerning him, in Hag. ii. 7, 9, And the desire of all na tions shall come; and I will fill this house with