The Star of Bethlehem – Joseph Seiss

Joseph Seiss devotes the last chapter in his 1882 book The Gospel in the Stars to the question of the Star of Bethlehem, the Magi from the East, the historical and astronomical proofs we can observe, and the conclusion we can draw about the date of Jesus’s birth. The writing may be a little difficult for modern readers, but we know of no better source for unveiling the important truths of God’s purpose in the heavens.

Read the entire public domain chapter below, and then read Terry’s article about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas on December 25th.


We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him. — Matthew 2:2

A LEARNED Christian antiquarian has expressed his belief ” that far more conclusive proofs of the promise of a Redeemer can be found in the primeval traditions of our race than even in the Hebrew Scriptures.” He may perhaps have expressed himself a little too strongly, for the Old Testament, rightly read, is very full of the Messianic hope. But it is a great mistake to consign to the Evil One the whole human family outside of Judaism prior to the time of Christ, and thus to brand almost the entire race with the mark of Cain. It may have the guise of orthodoxy, but it lacks the element of truth. The case which comes before us in connection with the text effectually confutes it.

It must also go very far toward establishing the doctrines which I have been propounding respecting the source and intent of the primeval astronomy to be able to find a case so clear and well authenticated in which the study and observation of the stars, in connection with the primitive traditions, have served to fix in Gentile minds a living belief in a Virgin-born Redeemer — a knowledge so complete as to embrace the time and place of His advent and to bring them in humble adoration around His infant cradle. Nor can we do better, in bringing these studies to a close, than by devoting a final Lecture to the consideration of this case.

THE VISIT OF THE MAGI

For a thousand years and more Christendom has been inquiring and wondering, Who were ” the wise men from the East” that came to Jerusalem asking about a new-born Jewish Prince? How came they to know about Him? What were those starry indications to which they referred as having induced them to make such costly and laborious search for Him? What were the sources of illumination by which they were thus brought to honor and worship Him in His lowly infant couch? For fourteen hundred years and more the Church has been observing a festival in commemoration of their visit, and made it the initiation of a season of her calendar scarcely inferior in prominence to the greatest of her sacred festivals and seasons. All Christian literature from the earliest centuries is full of comments and homilies and songs and liturgical prescriptions relating to the same. The first book of the New Testament places it close to the beginning of its account of the Saviour as a special testimony to His dignity as the King of the Jews and His worshipfulness as the Son of God. The apocryphal Gospels of the Infancy set it forth with great zest and circumstantiality as one of the divinest gems in the testimonies to the glory of Jesus of Nazareth. And neither in sermon nor in song is there any one thing, save and except the Cross and the Resurrection, which is more joyously contemplated than this so-called ” Star of Bethlehem.”

DIVERSE OPINIONS.

But when it comes to the explanation of particulars, Christians have not been so clear nor so well agreed as we would expect in a matter of so much prominence and interest. The diversities of opinion are almost endless, and the 131 Christian world as yet has not settled itself down upon any one theory as certainly the truth or of sufficient clearness to be free from serious difficulties and objections on the one hand or the other.

As to the starry leading spoken of, some think it was a meteor or a comet. Others think it was the bright light which shone upon the shepherds when the angel made known to them Christ’s birth, assuming that to men afar off that remarkable light may have been mistaken for a star. Some think it was some unidentified supernatural light in the sky which appeared to certain devout men in some remote region, and which they could no better describe than to liken it to a star. Some think it was a true star among the stars, brought into being, or at least brought into view, for the particular purpose of giving token of the Saviour’s nativity, and then made to disappear, never more to be seen. Some think there was no real external manifestation at all, that no star was ever seen by anyone, and that the whole thing was only a vision vouchsafed to these men alone.

Of later years it is more generally supposed to have been a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, such as did actually occur about that time, and which may have entered somewhat into the case, although the conjunctions referred to were not close enough to create the appearance of a single star, and were not in any respect what could with propriety be called Christ’s Star. Admitting all that Jewish rabbis as well as the Gentile astrologists and prognosticators have claimed for such conjunctions, there still would be a great lack to account adequately for the very definite and powerful convictions respecting Christ’s birth which these men showed, and for their reference to an individual star, which they described as the star of the new-born Prince they were seeking. True, Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, and others testify that there was at that time a widespread expectation of some great and triumphing Prince to arise in the East; but said expectation was so indefinite, and was actually applied in directions so unaccordant with the true Messiah and His predicted character, that it cannot be taken as at all up to what was in the mind of these Magi and implied in their inquiry. They expected to find a divine and worshipful being, by birth a Jewish Prince, and by character and right entitled to the homage of all the children of men. They had no question or doubt upon the subject. They knew that a great and wonderful personage was born. They knew and believed that He was worthy of the sacred worship of all men, and that it was their holiest interest and duty to come and greet Him with their best gifts, acknowledgments, and adoration. This was more than the prevailing expectation anywhere showed.

Whence, then, came this clear and definite knowledge on the subject, exceeding even that of the sacred scribes and priests of Judea itself, with all the records and foreshowings of Moses and the prophets before them? The prophecy of Balaam touching the Star that was to arise out of Jacob may have had some remote connection with it, but it will scarcely begin to account for the clear, undoubting, and living faith touching the newborn Saviour which glowed in the hearts of these wise men. Prophecies of Daniel and influences of the Jewish teachings in general may also have floated down among these people from the great Captivity times; but, at the best, it would still not account for what we see exhibited in these Magi. A special revelation to them alone, without any further record of it on earth, would be so unlike what we know of God’s methods and purposes in the giving of His revelations that it is unwarranted to suppose it.

How, then, did these Magi come to know so much about Christ as an adorable King and Saviour? How came they to such full conviction that His birth had occurred in Judea? The true answer is: By the signs and constellations of the primeval astronomy, and the legends connected with them, interpreted as we have been contemplating them in these Lectures.

ASTRONOMIC FACTS

It is an astronomic fact, independent of all hypotheses, that at the precise hour of midnight, at the winter solstice, or the last week of December, in the period in which Christ was born, the sign of Virgo, everywhere and always regarded as the sign of the virgin mother from whom the divine-human Redeemer-King was to be born, was just rising on the eastern horizon.

It is a further astronomical fact, independent of all hypotheses, that at the spring equinox of the same period, just nine months earlier, this sign of the Virgin at midnight was on the meridian, with the line running precisely across her bosom. It is a further independent astronomical fact that at the same date, at midnight, the stars of the little constellation of Coma, the special sign of the infant Seed of the woman, the Desire of nations, was likewise, along with the Virgin, directly on the meridian.

Now, if our interpretation of these ancient astronomical signs be the true one, we have here some remarkable indications in which the facts and the signs singularly coincide. Taken by themselves, they might not mean much; but if other particulars, to be named, duly fill out the picture, they would help to fix the heavenly tokens that the time had in very truth come in which the great Virgin born Deliverer was to appear. They are important factors in the case.

A PRIMEVAL TRADITION

It is also a matter of record, among both Gentile and Jewish peoples, that the patriarch Seth, in whose day these heavenly signs were arranged and completed, gave out a prophecy in connection with them, that in the period in which the great promised One should be born there would appear a very bright star in the heavens. This was perhaps the very prophecy traditional among the ancient Magi and Parsis. that there should come a heavenly Child to command the homage and obedience of mankind, the sign of whose birth would be the appearance of a new and peculiar star in the sign of Virgo. Likewise, the Jews also have always held and taught that Messiah’s advent would be heralded by a new and peculiar star. Hence the great impostor who gave himself out as their Messiah called himself Barcokheba, ” the Son of the Star.”

A NEW STAR

Now, it is a matter of record that a new and peculiar star did make its appearance in the first Decan of Virgo in the period immediately preceding Christ’s birth, and that it was so bright as to be visible even in the daytime. Ignatius says it “sparkled brilliantly above all stars.” The same continued in the sky during the whole period of Christ’s lifetime, and for a time thereafter. Hipparchus, about one hundred and twenty-five years before Christ, observed it as a new star, and was led by it to draw up his catalogue of the stars. Ptolemy, about one hundred and fifty years after Christ, refers to it as having been observed by Hipparchus, but as having become so faint as hardly to be any longer distinguishable. The Chinese records also make mention of this new bright star at a time corresponding to the period of our Saviour’s birth. Since the time of Ptolemy we have no record of any observation of it. This star was in Coma, the sign of the Infant accompanying Virgo, and it marked the very head of that Infant. It was on the meridian at midnight at the spring equinox, just nine months before Christ was born, as again three months thereafter. Its brightness would necessarily arrest the attention of observers of the heavens, and awaken special interest in Coma and the Virgin-born Infant which that constellation signified both in figure and name. Believers in the sacred meaning of these signs, especially in connection with the traditional prophecy of the new star, which seems also to have been in Balaam’s mind, could not help but be convinced from these showings that the coming of the Desired One was surely approaching. It was a sort of midnight cry, “Behold, He cometh!” The star itself would thus also be just what these Magi called the star by which they were led — namely, Christ’s Star, emphatically ” His Star;” for it was a star of His particular constellation as the Desire of nations, and the peculiar star of His infancy, as it marked the Infant’s head, and was at the time by far the brightest in the constellation, as well as in all the heavens around.

To believers in the import of these signs as I have given them there could be no question about the meaning of these indications. But still, the time would remain far more indefinite than it seems to have been in the minds of these distinguished visitors. There needed to be some further and more sharply narrowed indications to account for the whole case in this line of explanation. But such more definite indications were not wanting.

CONJUNCTIONS OF JUPITER AND SATURN

In the rabbinical commentaries of Abarbanel, Eliezer, and others great stress is laid on conjunctions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn. It is there also affirmed that about three years before the birth of Moses a conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn occurred in the sign of Pisces. By astronomical calculations, we know that such a conjunction of these particular planets in that particular sign did take place about that period. According to Josephus and the rabbis, this sign was interpreted by the Egyptian astronomers and wise men as very favorable to the Jews and very unfavorable to the Egyptians. Their sacred scribes, noted for their skill and sagacity in these things, came to the king insisting that it foretokened the birth of a child among the Jews who, if allowed to live, would bring the Egyptian 133 dominion very low, excel in virtue and glory, exalt the children of Israel to power and honor, and be remembered throughout all ages. (See Josephus, Ant. ii. 9, §§ 2 and 27.)

Three things here come out with great clearness and conspicuity which deserve to be particularly noted : first, that the star reading of a conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn betokened the birth of a great, virtuous, princely, and glorious operator among men, and the beginning or starting of a new order of things;* second, that the sign in which the conjunction occurred indicated the people among whom the child was to be born ; and third, that the children of Israel were already at that early period associated with the sign of Pisces.

[* Kepler, on consulting the periods of the conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn, gave it as his opinion that such conjunctions astronomically coincided with the approach of each climacteric in human affairs; to wit, the revelation to Adam, the birth of Enoch, the Deluge, the birth of Moses, the birth of Cyrus, the birth of Christ, the birth of Charlemagne, and the birth of Luther.]

Josephus says that it was in consequence of what the scribes augured from these indications that the decree went forth from Pharaoh to slay every male child that should be born during the time impending.

We thus have the Jewish rabbis and the Gentile Egyptian scribes most seriously, on both sides, concurring in the interpretation of some very important points in astronomic indications, and may well conclude that their views and teachings with regard to these particulars were the same that held on the subject among the learned in such lore throughout the world in general, including the wise men who asked the question of the text. Abarbanel, in his Commentary on Daniel, affirms it as a settled thing that the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn always betokens some great event or beginning in human affairs, and because such a conjunction occurred in his day (about A. D. 1480), he expected the speedy birth of the Messiah, as still expected by the Jews.

Now, if an individual and isolated conjunction of these two planets presaged the birth of one so illustrious as Moses, and always indicates the coming of some great one on earth, what would be the dignity and glory of a Child whose birth is heralded by three successive conjunctions of these same planets in one and the same year? And yet this is what, in fact, did occur just before the birth of Jesus o£ Nazareth.

In the year of Rome 747, within the two years preceding the Nativity, during the last days of May, there was one such conjunction. In the same year, during the last days of October there was another such conjunction. And again in the same year, during the first days of December, there was a third conjunction, all three being conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn, as on the occasion of the birth of Moses. It was Kepler, the great German astronomer, who first pointed out these remarkable incidents of the heavens, and gave the opinion that they were most likely the starry phenomena which influenced the wise men in the case before us. The calculations on the subject have been repeatedly re-examined, and latest by the astronomer-royal at Greenwich, and pronounced to be correct. Independent of all theories or interpretations, the facts thus stand attested by the best science, and, as Farrar says, “do not seem to admit of denial.”

And as the star in the head of the Virgin-born Infant was at the time shining with a peculiar brilliancy new to it and brighter than all other fixed stars in the firmament, those who took the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn as indicating the near birth of a lordly and illustrious operator in human affairs could by no means help themselves from the conclusion that here was the astronomic showing of the pending birth of a triply-illustrious One, who could be none other than that divine-human Seed of the woman everywhere set forth in the constellations, and promised and hoped for among all nations from the foundations of the world. These wise men would thus know, and be assured beyond all doubt or misgiving, that the particular time had come in which the worshipful One they were seeking was to make His advent. Such portentous conjunctions, along with the new star in Coma, and the Virgin herself on the meridian at the same time, would seal the whole matter. The signs were full, definite, and complete.

THE SIGN OF THE FISHES

And as to His being born in Judea as a Jewish Prince, that they would know from the same signs, just as well as the Egyptian priests knew from the conjunction of the same planets many centuries before that the illustrious one they held to be presaged at that time was to arise from among the seed of Jacob. The conjunction occurred in Pisces, the 134 sign of the Fishes; and the sign of the Fishes, by Jews and Gentiles alike, was assigned to the Israelitish people as to the Sethites and Shemites, who held to the worship of one only God and His holy promises over against apostates and unbelievers. Abarbanel argues five reasons for the reference of the sign of Pisces to Israel. In our explanations, the sign of the Fishes means the earthly Church, and the seed of Jacob at that time constituted God’s chosen and acknowledged people. And, as a matter of astronomic fact, all three of the conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn which immediately preceded Christ’s birth were in the sign of the Fishes — the first in the twentieth degree, the second in the sixteenth degree, and the third in the fifteenth degree. With the same clearness and loudness, therefore, with which these planetary conjunctions and stellar indications announced the immediate birth of the glorious divine-human Seed of the woman, did they also announce that He was to arise out of Jacob and to be a Jewish Prince.

THE FOLLOWING OF THE STAR

It was in December, at the winter solstice, then the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Christ was born. It was most likely in the following March, about the time of the spring equinox, at the first anniversary of the angel’s annunciation to Mary, that these wise men reached Jerusalem. The Church mostly puts it a little earlier, but without very solid chronological reasons. It was at this time that the bright star in Coma was vertical at Jerusalem at midnight. The record plainly implies that these men were following the star they spoke of as Christ’s Star. The following of the star in Coma, so emphatically the star of the infant Seed of the woman, could be no other following than the going to the place at which it would be thus vertical over them at that hour. We cannot conceive of any other sort of following of a fixed star. And it was at Jerusalem, and only there or close on that particular line of latitude at that particular time of the year, that this star was vertical at exact midnight. This would also allow the required time for their journey after the third conjunction.

The further item in the narrative, to the effect that ” the star went before them till it came and stood over where the young child was,” is explainable in the same way. The short distance of some six miles between Jerusalem and Bethlehem would make so little difference in the observation of a vertical star that it would be impossible to note it without special astronomical appliances. Hence, when these followers of the star came to Jerusalem, they had gone as near to the spot they were searching for as their natural observation could serve to bring them. Accordingly. the record implies that there they somehow lost the benefit of the star’s leading, so that they applied to Herod for further information. Their light from the observance of the stars being in this way exhausted, they would naturally betake themselves to the reigning sovereign there to learn the specific locality in which this sublime Prince was born, being assured by their starry guidance that it must needs be somewhere in that immediate vicinity. And having obtained answer that Bethlehem was the exact place indicated by sacred prophecy, they set out for Bethlehem.

But on their way to Bethlehem, by some means or other, to their great joy, their star began to serve them again the same as it did before. How this came about is explained by a well-preserved and beautiful old tradition which we have no reason to discredit. Though Bethlehem is only about six miles from Jerusalem, it is said that these distinguished visitors stopped on the way, and tarried by the side of a deep well. What they halted for in so short a journey it would be hard to tell, except it was to take another midnight observation of their star. For this purpose the well, with its perpendicular walls, would serve them the same as a fixed observatory. It was by means of such a well, and the reflection of the sun in it, at Syene in Egypt, that the line of the tropic was determined, and the extent of its declination in the time that had elapsed since that well was dug. So these wise men, by looking down the well, and observing the reflection of their bright star in the still water at the bottom, could find with great accuracy whether it was exactly vertical over them, or in what respect, if any, it was not. And so the tradition is, that they looked into the well and saw their star, and perceived that it ” stood over ” — was exactly vertical at — not Jerusalem, but Bethlehem, “where the young child was.” Making it designate the house is not in the record.

JUNCTION OF PROPHECY AND ASTRONOMY

The result of the acquisition of this new light by means of their own star-guide tradition and the Scriptures both describe. They both say that ” when they saw the star ” and realized its relation to Bethlehem, ” they rejoiced with exceeding great Joy.” And well they might, for it was a conjunction like that of Jupiter and Saturn themselves — the perfect conjunction and coincidence of the primeval astronomy and the revelations given by Israel’s prophets touching the great Messiah. These men, indeed, had not yet reached the object of their search, but they were now doubly sure of finding and seeing the illustrious Virgin-born Saviour of the world, of whom the heavens and all 135 sacred story had been telling and prophesying from remotest antiquity, and in whom they felt more interest than in all the earth besides. It was the Eureka! Eureka! of Gentile faith and hope on the threshold of embracing the adorable infant Seed of the woman, of whose glorious advent they had now no longer the least shadow of a doubt. Nor need we be surprised if it should turn out that this was the very well of Bethlehem of which David had such fond remembrance, and from which he so longed to drink.

And when we come to consider who these “wise men” were, whence they came, and what their character, position, relations, and main occupations, our explanation of the case is doubly strengthened.

WHO THE MAGI WERE

There has been about as much uncertainty, debate, and diversity of opinion touching the identity of these people as about the star of which they spake. It would be a waste of time to describe the wide-ranging imaginings upon the subject. We only need to know the solid facts in the case.

It is settled by Matthew’s narrative that these people on their mission of homage to the infant Christ were Magi, and that they came from a country far eastward from Palestine. Whether from due east is not involved in the statement. According to all the elements of the showing, and by the general consent of the Church in all ages, they were Gentiles — the first-fruits unto Christ from the Gentile world. All classic writers, from Herodotus down to Ammianus, agree in pointing to Media as their home-country, the country of the illustrious Cyrus, who is noted in sacred prophecy and was announced by inspiration as God’s anointed for the deliverance of Israel from Babylon long before he was born.

The Magi are specially named in the list of the Median tribes, just as Matthew names them. Anciently they were mostly a pastoral people greatly occupied with religion, astronomy, and other sacred sciences. They were the great teachers of kings and people in the divine wisdom. They were a priestly or sacerdotal tribe, after the style of Levi among the tribes of Israel. It was their hereditary privilege to provide their country with priests and religious instructors. They were the ministers and prophets of their day. Their religion was the noblest and the least corrupted of all the ancient world. They lived mostly in towns without walls, observing their own laws and trusting to God alone for protection. It was from among them that Zoroaster sprung, if indeed such a man ever lived, and that Confucius, more remotely perhaps, obtained his better knowledge. It was from among them that Cyrus selected his priests for Persia. They believed in one God, original Creator, supreme in omniscience and goodness, unrivaled in splendor, and dwelling in light eternal. They believed in a great and powerful spirit of evil in constant antagonism to God, the spoiler of the divine works and the author of all mischief. The history of the world to them was the history of the conflict of the good originating with God and the evil originating with the Devil. All men they considered active in this conflict on the one side or the other. They held that God by His prophets gave a revelation and a law by which men might know their duty, fashion their hopes, and direct their conduct, and which it was their business to preserve and expound. They possessed both the Solar and Lunar Zodiacs, and claimed that they were given of God to teach man wisdom, forecast the future, and give hope to the good. According to the showings of the constellations, they looked for a time when a Son of the eternal Lawgiver would be born, who should be a great Saviour and Deliverer, by whom the spirit of evil and the powers of hell would be destroyed, the dead raised up to life again, and a kingdom of everlasting life and happiness established over all the earth.

So I find it written in the best accounts of them and in those fragments of their sacred books which are still preserved and of late years published in our tongue.

And, as before Abraham’s time and outside of his chosen family-line, there were men like Job and his friends, like Melchisedec, king of Salem, like Jethro, priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, like Balaam before his fall, men of faith in the traditional revelations that came forth out of the ark — men whom the Spirit of God and saving wisdom had not entirely abandoned — so in the time of Christ’s birth there were some noble spirits among the descendants of these ancient Magi who still eagerly clung to the hope of the sure fulfilment of the primeval promise, and hence continued to observe the heavens, and to consult what they considered the inspired lore of the skies, that they might not miss the signs and tokens noted in the hereditary prophecies of their caste as presages of the advent of the great Virgin-born Son of the eternal Sovereign.

And to men of such descent, culture, faith, hope, office, and pursuits, what more would be necessary than just the starry indications which I have named to thrill their souls with profoundest enthusiasm, fan the smouldering embers of their hereditary knowledge into a flame of intensest animation, and create just such an expedition to greet the new-born divine King, as that described in connection with the text ? Had we’ been in their place, with their beliefs, feelings, and anticipations, with such signs and indications upon the face of the sky, where we and our fathers were taught to read the sacred foreshowings of what was to come to pass, I feel sure that we would have been moved, rejoiced, thrilled, and impelled just as they were.

And why, then, should we not accept the conclusion that so it was? There is not a particle of evidence on earth that this was not the true state of the case as respects the Magi. All the conditions and known facts and presumable likelihoods point in this one direction. Everything in the record thus explains to the full as it will not explain in any other way known to men. And the whole result in this view takes on that dignity, importance, and far-reaching instructiveness which best befit its place in the New Testament. It is a view which silences and sweeps away the unworthy suspicions, perplexities, and cavils which have so long hung about it in the minds and estimates of many, clearing it up into definite and comprehensible shape, and vindicating the action of the Church in putting it forward as the subject of a special festival, the opening theme of a prominent season in her calendar, and the keynote of the earthly Epiphany of the sublime Redeemer of the world.

THE SUM OF THE WHOLE

Here, then, is a magnificent instance, accredited by the Holy Ghost, which stands as an everlasting testimony to the fact of a primeval revelation to all men, to the existence of a record of that revelation in the primeval astronomy, and to the preservation of the same in sufficient incorruptness to inform those who clung to it of the time and place of the nativity of the long-promised Seed of the woman, and to move them to go and greet Him in His cradle with their devoutest homage and adoration. Surely, this ought to be enough to put the matter beyond dispute, and to settle forever that there is such a thing as THE GOSPEL IN THE STARS — even that very Gospel of God which holds forth Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Seed of the woman, the divine-human Son of the Virgin, who was to come, to suffer, and to toil and die for the deliverance of man from darkness, sin, death, and the power of the Devil, to bruise the head of the Serpent, to destroy the works and dominion of the great Enemy, and to bring in everlasting redemption to our fallen race. It was to Jesus of Nazareth, even in His cradle, that the primeval astronomy conducted these remote Gentile believers; and to that same Jesus, amid vivid and glowing illustrations of the truth respecting His nature, person, mission and work, past, present, and future, the primeval astronomy is still capable of conducting even Christians themselves.

To those who have entered into the induction of facts and showings which I have given, though imperfectly, in these Lectures, I am sure no further evidence is needed to work conviction of the merit and worth of the subject, and of the evangelic illuminations which it furnishes. We have considered these heavens, and, behold, we have found them flaming from end to end, from centre to circumference, with that superlative “glory of God” which shines “in the face of Jesus Christ.” We have taken our stand beneath the shining archway, and looked at the grand procession of the celestial scenery as inscribed by God’s primeval prophets, and have listened to the story as it unfolded; and, lo! it is the same blessed story of the fall and redemption of Jesus and ” the restitution of all things “which we have in the writings of the Prophets and Apostles. Our experience has been akin to that of those on Jordan’s banks, who saw the heavens opened, and beheld the Spirit alighting on the Virgin’s Child, and heard a voice from the depths of eternity saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” On that great Virgin-born our eyes were fixed from the very starting-point. On Him our attention has been kept and riveted at every step of the way through the whole circuit of the skies, with the Ecliptic and across it. And ever sharper, clearer, gladder, and fuller grew the glorious testimony as we advanced, till all the morning stars seemed to resume their ancient songs and all the sons of light their primeval shouts, whilst these far-spanning heavens through all their constellations rang out, “Hosannah! Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord! Hosannah in the highest !”

On such sublime heights, amid such scenes of song and brightness, we would fain linger. Like Peter on the mount, we would here build tabernacles and abide. But, though to other scenes and duties called, like him we still may bear away with us the memory of what we have witnessed, and think of it in our humble toils and sad solitudes, and be all the firmer in our faith and the more hopeful in our outlook toward the nearing eternity. And happy they, and wise indeed, to whom it is given through these contemplations to say in truth and soul-earnestness of Him to whom the heavens thus testify, “We have seen His star, and are come to worship Him.” Thus, then, my long task is done. And may the God of heaven and earth, who bringeth forth Mazzaroth in his seasons and guides Arcturus with his sons, bless the humble contribution to the confirmation of His Word, the honor of His Name, and the vindication of the claims of Jesus Christ to the undoubting faith and everlasting adoration of all that live and move beneath His genial skies!

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