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it would appear, he had not been born in that royal city.
Olympas. True: In what year was this decree, Thomas?
Thomas. I cannot so reconcile the various accounts of it I have read as to make it quite .certain to my
mind. Olympas. Our Lord was born four years before the present Anno Domini-certainly in the fourth year before; and therefore his birth ought to be set down in the year of the world 4000. This would be the twenty-sixth year of the empire of Augustus, counting from the battle of Actium. The most accurate looking calculation I have met with of the precise date of the nativity of the Messiah, places it about the close of the fourth year before the present Anno Domini, which is the year of the world 4004. Cyrenius, or Quirinius, had been deputy governor of Syria before the reign of Archelaus, as well as governor of that province after his reign. This fact reconciles all difficulties, and fixes our Lord's birth in the year of the world 4000, after the founding of Rome seven hundred and forty-nine years. That would make the world at present five thousand eight hundred and fortysix years old, and that brings the end of Daniel's days next year, or the year of the world 5847.. You will therefore in all your readings of Anno Domini remember that it commences four years after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Of this, however, we may have occasion to speak more particularly hereafter,
Thomas. But for the decree of Augustus Cesar, you informed us in our morning lesson, that the Messiah had not been born in Bethlehem. We desire to have this fact more fully illustrated.
Olympas. Neither Joseph nor Mary resided there. They both resided in Nazareth, a city of Galilee; consequently, but for some urgent reason, at that peculiar time Mary could not have consented to travel so far from home, a distance of some fifty-six miles.
William. But could not Mary have staid at home and suffered her husband to go to Bethlehem, if indeed Bethlehem must be the place of enrolment.
Edward. Bethlehem must be the place of His nativity; for so reads the Prophet Micah: "And thou Bethlehem, of the land of Judah, art not the least of the cities of Judah ; for out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel,”
Olympas. There is another must be in the case: for according to the laws of enrolment, every man must be present in his own city; and Joseph being of the house and lineage of David, must go to the city of David. But why also must Mary be present? This is not quite so obvious to those unacquainted with the Jewish history of that day. Eli, the father of Mary, having no son to keep up his name, required of Joseph as a condition of obtaining his eldest daughter, that he be enrolled
as his son in the Family Register, a custom long established among
the Jews in such cases. On such occasions the wife must always appear in person with her husband in order to the legality of the transfer of lineage. This fact, growing out of the peculiarity of Eli's family, together with the edict of Cesar, compelled the attendance of Mary at Bethlehem, and occasioned the literal accomplishment of a prediction seven hundred years old; which but for these apparent contingencies, could not have been so exactly fulfilled.
Reuben. I have read of Bethlehem in Zebulun. Were there two Bethlehems ?
Olympas. This is called Bethlehem, and Bethlehem of Judah, to distinguish it from the city of Zebulun, called by the same name. It is worthy of remark that king David was born in this city a thousand years before his Son our Lord. the town of Jesse, and its name indicates a place of hospitality : for its name in English is “THE HOUSE OF BREAD." It still stands same hill, the city of three thousand years.
Eliza. In what sort of place was our Saviour born ?
Olympas. The Inn was in all probability, a Caravansary, where guests were furnished only with room gratis, and was situate on an eminence. Volney, in his travels through Syria, says that “Bethlehem is situated two leagues east of Jerusalem, on an eminence, in a country abounding in hills and valleys, and might be rendered very agreeable. The soil is the best in all these districts: fruits, vines, olives, and sesanum succeed here extremely well; but, as is the case everywhere, cultivation is wanting."
William. I read that Jesus Christ had brothers and sisters : but I do not comprehend this. Will you please explain it ?
Olympas. Eli had no son. Mary married Joseph, and her sister married Cleophas. She had four sons and some daughters. These are called the brethren and sisters of Jesus. They were, indeed, only his cousins; but because in marrying the elder sister he renounced his own lineage and adopted that of his wife, he becomes the head of the family; and as a token of superior attachment and nearness of feeling the issue of such marriage is supposed nearer to the descendants of the sisters, and are called brethren rather than cousins.
Eliza. I am more anxious to know in what time of the year our Saviour was born, than the partieular geography of the place of his nativity.
Susan. On! he was born at Christmas, as our school-mistress told us last Christmas. Olympas. Your school
mistress and the Romanists, though worthy of respect on various accounts, are neither infallible nor even always accurate in some of their most common traditions. I will read you a passage from one of our Harmonies of the Four Testimonies, in which I have more faith than in all the evidence that Greeks and Romans. offer for their traditions :
“The time of the year in which our Lord Jesus was born, not being particularly mentioned, became, in the fourth century, a subject of dispute between the Greek and Latin churches; the former fixing it to the 6th of January, and the latter to the 25th of December. Both supported their bypotheses by.calculations grounded on the time of the angel's appearing to Zacharias : but as the me contended for by the one and by the other, does by na
means accord with the account which travellers give us of the climate, and particularly with the shepherds lying ont at night to watch their flocks, nor with Herod's calling the people together at that inclement season to be enrolled : doubts have arisen whether the time contended for, by either of the parties, is right. We have seen before that the Levites who attended the service of the temple were divided into twenty-four courses : that every course attended regularly one after another, a week at a time, and that Zacharias was the head or chief of the course of Abia, which was the eighth course. Now, suppose the first course began its tour of duty at the Passover on the fifteenth day of the first month, that is, on the beginning of the third week of the first month of the ecclesiastic year, the eighth course, namely, the course of Abia, would enter upon duty on the first day of the Pentecost, and would continue on duty till the end of that festival. The circumstance of Zacharias being struck deaf and dumb on the occasion seems strongly to intimate that the angel appeared to him on that day. It is then said, that when the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house, and after these days bis wife Elizabeth conceived : this might be about the end of the thirteenth week, or first quarter of the ecclesiastic year and consequently, John's birth would be at the beginning, of the ensuing year, or vernal equinox.
“Now with respect to Jesus, it is said that after Elizabeth conceived, she kept herself concealed five months, and in the sixth month the angel appeared to Mary, ard informed her of Elizabeth's conception, and that she herself should conceive miraculously, and bear & Son whose name she should call JESUS. This appears to have then taken place ; for Mary, we are informed, arose in those days and went with speed to the hill country, and saluted Elizabeth ; and, by Elizabeth's answer, it is evident that what was promised Mary had taken effect. This was the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy. Mary stays with her about three months, and returns home. John is born in the beginning of the ecelesiastic year, that is, at the vernal equinox, when Mary was three months with child; consequently, Jesus is born in the beginning of the civil year, that is, the autumnal equinox-a season remarkably typical. It was introduced with the sounding of trumpets through all the land ; and