Wright - BT300 W8 1788

16 The NEW and COMPLETE LIFE of our BLESSED .51-0-kAlc54A5104;1/c;40'4A'SOVUOtteltcg- C H A P T E R IV. The Birth of CHRIST, with all the various Circumfances that attended it, viz. An Angel bringeth the News thereof to the Shepherds; the heavenly Hoff praife God; the Shepherds, finding it to be as the Angel had Paid, glorify God ; and the Circum- con ofCHRIST. THE great King of the creation, and righteous Governor of the univerfe, having fixed in his eternal counfels, both the time and the place where his only fon was to be born ; fo ordered the affairs of the world, as to bring his great predictions and gracious defigns to pats. And as he over-rules the counfels of princes, and determines the actions of men, fo as to anfwer the wife ends of his government, and accomplifh the defigns of his grace; fo in this prefent infiance, there is a re- markable manifeftation of divine wifdom and power co-operating to bring about this great event. The holy Virgin and her hufband dwelt at Nazareth ; and, ac- cording to the prophet's prediction, the Meffiah was tobe born atBethlehem, which was at a confiderable diftance ; but to bring the great prediftion to pals, Divine Providence fo ordered it, that about three years before the time of our Redeemer's birth, a decree paffed at Rome, by the order of the emperor Auguffus, that a furvey fhould be taken, and a regifter made, of the perlons, eflates, and wealth, contained in his vafi empire. This fur- vey feems not to have been taken with an immediate defign of taxation, but ra- ther from views of ambition, or that the emperor might know the number and riches of his fubjeéts ; for there were no taxes gathered by the Romans till eleven or twelve years after this, when Archelaus, the fon of Herod, was depofed for his tyranny and oppreffion, and Judea re- duced . into the form of a Roman pro- vince ; for Herod, and the reff of the tributary kings, received the taxes of 3 their fubjefs, and paid fuck tribute to Rome, as was ftipulated between them and the emperor. This furvey, having been carried through various provinces and kingdoms which were fübject to Róme in the 'two years paf, was now making in Judea; and every family received orders from Herod to repair to their own city, to give an account of their real or per- fonal eftates, and there to be regiftered. Jofeph and Mary his wife, being both of the family of David, were obliged on this occafion to take a journey to the an- cient city of Bethlehem. The evangelifts Matthew and Luke have each inferted in their Gofpels, the genealogy of JESUS CHRIST, in which there is fo great a variation, that it is with reafon concluded, that Matthew gives us the genealogy of Jofeph, and Luke of the Virgin Mary; that it may appear they were both of the houfe and lineage of David : one rifing through Solomon, and the other through Nathan, another fonof that prince. Though the holy Virgin was great with child, and near the time of her delivery, the could not be excufed from this long journey. The town of Bethlehem was crowded on this occafion; every inn, and every houfe of hofpitable entertainment was full: the extraordinary perlons who are the fubjeas of our prefent attention, made no great appearance in the world, and could not command the bed accom- modations : and while thofe, whofe fupe- rior affluence commanded refpefl, took up the heft apartments of the inns, the mother of the great Melfiah was content to lodge in a liable ; and there, having accomplifhed the