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CHAPTER II.

FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.

MATT. ii. 13-21.

13. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15. And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

18. In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

19. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

20. Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

21. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

AFTER the wise men had departed, an angel of the Lord—that is a being from heaven, one of those pure and happy spirits that dwell in the presence of God, and always rejoice to do his will-came to Joseph as he slept, and told him by a dream to take Jesus and Mary, and flee into Egypt, and remain there, until he came to see them again. Joseph was a good man, who had married Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to these two pious peo

ple God intrusted the care of his Son, Jesus Christ, when he was an infant.

Have you ever seen a picture called "The flight into Egypt," where a desert country is pictured, with Mary riding on an ass, holding the precious babe close to her bosom; while Joseph is walking beside them, leading the slow beast, and urging him forward. A long road is stretched out before them, and the moon and stars are shining over their heads; while all around, far and wide, we can see no habitation, and no living creature, but this lonely party hurrying away from the dominions of a wicked king. If you have never seen this picture, you can easily draw the scene in your thoughts; and you can think too how Mary felt when Joseph first told her his dream, and she found that Herod was seeking the life of the child Jesus. She had longed for some better home for the sweet babe, than the inn-some better cradle than a manger; and when the wise men came to worship him, she knew that it was right to pay him honor and reverence, and it may be she expected others, and even the king and the chief priests and scribes to come and worship him too;-but now she learned that Herod was seeking to kill him. Kill that innocent and lovely babe! Kill that good being who had come to be the Redeemer of the world! Yet, strange and cruel as it was, they knew it must be true, for it was the angel of the Lord who had told them; therefore they hastened away from Bethlehem, to find another home among strangers.

They were obliged to make a long journey, and to travel by night, lest Herod's people should see

them fleeing, and take them back to him. You would think it very tedious to be out all night on a journey; and no doubt they felt weary and needed sleep; but they loved Jesus very much, and thought little of themselves, if they could but preserve him. Besides, they were doing just as God directed them, and when people do right, they never feel very unhappy.

Under the protection of their Heavenly Father, they arrived safe in Egypt, where they remained until the death of Herod. This was told by the prophet Hosea, many years before this, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son."

When the cruel Herod found the wise men did not return to tell him where the Saviour was, “he was exceeding wroth." He thought they had deceived him, and disobeyed his orders, and for this he meant to be revenged; besides, he thirsted for the blood of the infant King of the Jews. He did not care how much distress he caused if he could. only destroy him; and he thought if he sent his servants out to murder all the young children in Bethlehem, and in the country around, they could not fail to kill Jesus with the rest. So this hardhearted king directed his men to take all the children that were two years old, and under, from the cradle, or from their mothers' arms, or tottering about the floor, and playing with their brothers and sisters, and murder them all. Here the words of the prophet Jeremy, or Jeremiah, came to pass, "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning. Rachel," (which represents the mothers) "weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they

are not." Do you wonder that there was bitter weeping?

Perhaps you have seen a little brother or sister die; and your heart ached when you saw its pretty eyes grow dim, and its sweet lips close in silence; and when your mother bent over it, and groaned, and wept, and kissed its cold cheek-you wept aloud, and felt as if you could not be comforted. But your brother or sister was not murdered. Think how you would have felt if a ruffian had come into the house, and seized both your mother's youngest children, if she had a little infant, and another two years old, and killed them before your eyes. Think how your mother would shriek, and wring her hands, and perhaps lose her senses; and while you were thinking only of your own distress, some one should come to tell you that the murderers had been into the next house, and the next, and your little cousins and friends had fallen also by their cruel hands; and every house around was like your own, filled with the voice of woe!

Just such distress as this, Herod caused in Bethlehem, and the country around, because he meant to destroy the Saviour. If you know children who are very fond of power-anxious to make others obey them, you have reason to fear that they will dare to do very wicked things rather than give up their power. If you feel this disposition yourself, you should watch against it, and ask God to take it from you lest it should lead you to commit great sin. No doubt Herod would have hated the Saviour had he lived to hear him preach, and see his mighty works, but it could not be for this that

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he hated him now. It was only because he thought he was born to be a king.

All this time while Herod tried to destroy Jesus, he was safe and happy, far away in Egypt. . God had taken care of him because he knew what was in the heart of the wicked king. From the nineteenth and twentieth verses we learn that it was not long that the good family were obliged to remain in Egypt, for while Jesus was yet a young child, the angel appeared again to Joseph in a dream, and told him to arise, and return, with Jesus and his mother, into the land of Israel, because Herod was dead. O miserable king! how soon was he called to give an account of the deeds done in the body! He was expecting long to enjoy his kingdom, but he is called away, and can carry nothing with him. He hated his fellow beings, and defied the God who made him, but now he is called before that God in judgment!

Joseph and Mary were obedient to their Heavenly Father, and they took the young child, and journeyed back into the land of Israel. Now we need not suppose they traveled in the night, for they knew that Herod was laid in his grave, and they had nothing more to fear from him. They came trusting, as all good people do, in the protection of God, and rejoicing in the mercy and loving kindness which had watched over them.

The flight into Egypt shows you how carefully God watches over those who love him, to keep them from all harm, and guide them in the right way; and the death of Herod shows you that the wicked are in the hands of God, and will not long be allowed to persecute the righteous.

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