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where read, Messiah shall be cut off? Be, then, the oracle accomplished ! That vision, at least, shall not lie !!!

At this juncture the magi enter the apartment, marshaled by the wily Antipater. Behold now these noble strangers confronted with the fierce Edomite. How eagerly he communes with them, with difficulty dissembling the ferocious purposes within. Contrast his virulent soul with theirs. How calm they stand there before him, secure in the monitions of Heaven. They have seen a star—the star that should rise out of Jacob. They are come to seek the scepter that should come out of Israel.

Far in their Eastern realms, buried in their uncouth lore, they felt the lapse of an ancient cycle, they acknowledged the circling round of

A mysterious power hath raised them out of their obscurity in these ages, dashed them once upon the historic stream, and they vanish in the next curling wave of oblivion. But one cry of theirs echoes across the misty ocean of time, and that cry is “ A King! A King! We have seen his star, and are come to worship!"

Herod, on the contrary, fierce, scoffing, truculent, yet secretly alarmed at their testimony and their presence, cloaks his nefarious designs under the veil of hypocritical devotion.

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“ Wherefore, oh hoary philosophers and astrologers of the East, bend ye your steps to this foreign realm? Whom seek ye? or what? And by what strange spell were ye so summoned ?"

Advancing a step from his companions, the chief of the magi, bowing low, replies, “ My lord, O king! be it known to thee, that, from most ancient times, our fathers have spoken of a coming age of universal peace and prosperity. Through the far East they have spread the saying that a star and scepter must arise out of Judea. And what is written by the holy Zoroaster ?

• In the last time shall appear one who shall be called the man of the world, who shall adorn the earth with religion and righteousness; in whose time rest and peace shall prevail, all dissensions cease, all grievancy be done away.' This, may it please the king, is he whom we came to seek."

“And wherefore," answers Herod," came ye now? How knew ye this to be the appointed time ?"

Throughout the world, O king,” replies the sage, “the rumor hath sounded far and wide, that it is contained in the books of the fates, in mystic numbers, handed down from former generations, that about this time some must come out of Judea to obtain the empire of the world.



Deeply pondering on such universal anticipa tions, and brooding over the estate of kingdoms and of all religions, our minds were irresistibly impelled to watch for every sign or signal of impending change ; and when, in the depth of the divine night, we beheld, rising from our western horizon, and hanging over the region of Judea, an effulgent orb of lucid beams, seeming, as it were, to waver and beckon us onward, it was borne in upon our souls that this was Heaven's call, and this the star of which our fathers have spoken; and we said one to another, • Let us arise, and go unto Judea, inquiring for him that is born King of the Jews, for we have seen his star, and are come to worship him!''

“And when, oh hoary pilgrims," asks the eager tyrant, “ when beheld ye this portent ?"

“ Yesterday," replies the magian, “was the fortieth day since its first rising."

“ Yesterday !” exclaims the monarch, now changing color, and exchanging rapid glances with Antipater; "and yesterday it was that child was brought to yonder temple, to be redeemed, according to the law, at its fortieth day!"

“And where, then, o king," demands the sage, becoming questioner in turn, “where was this infant born ?"


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“Nay,” replies the king, “ we know not; unless, as the rabbis declare is written in their prophets, in Bethlehem here, a few leagues to the south."

At this, smiles and gleams of joy light up the anxious visages of those venerable men, and they seem hasting to depart.

“Go ye, then," commands the monarch, with a favoring smile, “ search diligently for the young child, and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also !" He has discovered the age, the birth-place, he needs further but to identify the person of his contemplated victim; and, deceived by his fair guise, the sages depart rejoicing.

“ Were it not best,” is the cautious inquiry of Antipater, " to send some emissary, who can perform more surely the worship thou, O king, spakest of but now ?"

“Nay,” replies Herod, 6 let them return, and we will then conduct in proper person those rites of adoration the King of the Jews must needs receive at our hands." And at this, both father and son smile in dark derision.

While such meshes are being woven, as it were, around her very path, and threatening instantly to entangle her in their fatal toils,


Mary, all unconscious, with her babe and her husband, has stolen quietly away, and, unperceived, has passed the gloomy, guarded battlements of the western gate. Little did those myrmidons suspect the interest attached to those humble travelers, when they allowed them unquestioned egress. Far different would have been their demeanor had but the tyrant's order —to let no persons of such description pass, and offering golden guerdon to him who should arrest such fugitives—arrived a few hours earlier. Brief, then, had been their history. Like a tiger leaping on his prey, those ruthless ministers of tyranny would have pounced upon them, and the mother have seen her babe the next moment in the hands of one that never knew pity, when ambition bade him strike.

Alike unsuspecting and unsuspected, they go out, however, ere the tyrant's suspicions arrive at such defined shape as to cause the order to be sent to every gate for the detection of any passengers such as had been present in the temple; and thus they precede by but a few hours the steps of the searching magi.

They are already safely housed in a retired cottage in Bethlehem, previously provided by the artisan against their return. The mother now sits watchful, in the gathering evening

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