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ful ?” What attitude does he assume? Where do we first behold him? The answer is in those simple, remarkable words,


The careless menial of the haughty Roman plies his evening toil, and passing from charger to charger, providing for the wants of the warlike steeds, glances occasionally, with transient curiosity, upon Thy sleeping form. No rays of heavenly effulgence circling round thy brow reveal the presence of a God. The distant songs of angel choirs reach not his ear. There thou liest in thy first earthly slumber, weak, helpless, and visibly the mere offspring of a despi. cable Jew. So he thinks. Let him pass on with his thoughts and labors, little wotting that before the name of that child the throne of Cæ. sar must go down, the Eternal City sink in fire.

But near thy side, vigilant of thy slumber, reclines now a maiden, young, and pale, and of a deep heart. Who shall fathom the thoughts of her breast, who divine its emotions, as now, a virgin mother, Mary gazes on thee, thou sleeping babe? Are not the voices of angel messengers yet ringing in her ears? Feels she not the overwhelming influence of the Almighty Father? and, as the silent fountains of a moth


er's love are first unloosed, how do their waters gush forth, only to mingle with the ocean of love that rolls shoreless through the bosom of the Eternal !

There, too, lies buried in sleep the over-weary artisan, seizing at length the first hour of quiet for repose, his manly visage, in the ruddy light of the flickering fire, marked with calm and resolute integrity.

Wonderful group! Methinks I could never weary of this humble grotto, these mysterious guests. Fain would I tarry with them and make one of their number, would watch their rising and their sitting, their going out and coming in, their sleeping and their waking. I would interpret the meaning of those expressive glances, and treasure up the few low words which hearts so overburdened may speak. No longer should they remain pale, shadowy ghosts of beings, flitting in memory's uncertain twilight above some shapeless portion of the world called Palestine ; but I would force them to seem to me indeed human; for me, as for them,

; should the sun arise behind the Arabian mountains, and quench his beams in the broad Mediterranean. With them would I eat and drink, hunger and thirst, labor and grow weary.

Doubtless an infant's feeble wail oft smites

upon the ear of night in that reverberating cell, and there, like angel warbling, rises in the night-watches the soft cradle hymn of the wakeful Mary, soothing in that artless voice, that wild and ancient language, the slumbers of a God.

Night at length wanes over the inmates of this humble cave. The hum of business has not yet commenced, the raging blast has died into silence, and, in the east, pale Phosphorus alone declares the orient day, his tremulous beams sparkling every where upon the snow, which lies like a silvery mantle upon the gloomy pines and evergreens that crest the slumbering mountains.

Yet, in this hour, when deep sleep falleth upon men, the tramp of feet is heard, and voices break the stillness of the night. Mary, roused from a moment's oblivion, starts toward her child, and looks forth with sudden alarm, while Joseph cautiously removes from the mouth of the cave the rude and heavy door. A flood of torch-light streams in upon the

dazzled eye of Mary, now used to the darkness, and with increased tremor she beholds her unexpected visitors. A nomad shepherd, in red tunic and white turban, stalks forward, poniard and sword at his belt, quiver and bow upon his shoulder, and in his hand a torch and a long spear.

After him troop a horde of rugged followers in pastoral garb, some armed, some bearing only shepherds' crooks, and some with torches.

Before Mary can find courage to utter a word, lo! every knee is bent, and every forehead bowed to the ground; when, rising from this posture of adoration before the sleeping infant, the aged shepherd with a snowy beard thus speaks :

“We were abiding in the fields, keeping watch over our flocks by night, and lo! the angel of the Lord came upon us, and the glory of the Lord shone round about us, and we were sore afraid! And the angel said unto us, 'Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people ; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord; and this shall be a sign unto you, ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.' 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 toward men!' And it came to pass that, when the angel was gone away from us into heaven, we said one to


another, 'Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which the Lord hath now made known unto us. Now, therefore, will we return, glorifying and praising God for all the things we have seen, even as they were told unto us.

So saying, they reverently depart, and the cave is dark once more, and its inmates see outside, upon the snow, the star-light, now growing wan before the luster of the dawn.

Can not we all see with what emotion the youthful Mary looks first upon her silent husband, and next upon the now awakening boy?

"Is this helpless infant," thinks she, “now lying in my arms, one day to sit upon a golden throne, blazing with jewels, with a scepter in his hand, and a crown of diamonds on his head ? Shall this weak and wailing voice ever be heard above the din of battle, louder than the clangor of the trumpets, and the shouting of the captains ? Shall these tiny fingers one day grasp a cimeter red with carnage ?"

Ah, woman! that tiny hand shall bear no curved cimeter, but thou shalt see it mangled by the driven nail! that head shall indeed wear a crown, but-of thorns !

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