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CHELSEA : PRINTED AT THE OTTICE OF THE WEST MIDDLESEX ADVERTISER," by I. LOXDALE,

39, MARKHAM SQUARE, KING'S ROAD.

PREFACE.

It will be remembered that this the Seventh Volume of the “LOCAL

PREACHERS' MAGAZINE” was commenced under peculiar circumstances. Through six volumes it had been published at twice its present price; and with a resolution to provide for Methodist Local Preachers, their families and connections, and also for the general religious public, a suitable periodical at a very small cost to the purchaser, the experiment was hazarded of sending out such a magazine as would be certainly unremunerative, except with a very largely increased sale.

The hope that this step would be attended with success has, we are thankful to say, been realised to a considerable extent. The circulation was trebled at once, and has maintained the augmented ratio throughout the year. The steady continuance of the sale thus obtained, if not its progressive increase, is probable from various indications : but there seems no reason to limit it to its present bounds; and the previous success, as well as the undoubted possession of a much more numerous constituency than at any former period, warrants the hope that a farther expansion of the sale will mark the commencement of a new volume.

We heartily and respectfully thank those excellent friends who so energetically aided our efforts at the beginning of 1857; and bespeak the repetition of their kind activities for the coming year-1858.

To our contributors our grateful acknowledgments are especially due. We feel honoured by the privilege of co-operating in any degree with them in the dissemination of truth, and in sustaining and advocating the admirable institution of which this publication is the organ. We trust that with one heart and with united minds and wills we shall continue to subserve together the great and good objects thus conjoined. May we all be baptised with the spirit of love and of a sound mind, and may the blessing of God indeed be upon both us and our work.

2, Union Street, Union Square,

Islington, Nov. 23, 1857.

THв

LOCAL PREACHERS' MAGAZINE

AND

CHRISTIAN FAMILY RECORD.

JANUARY, 1857.

Original and Selected Articles.

A VISIT TO BETHLEHEM.

A CHRISTMAS MEDITATION. “Will God in very deed dwell with man upon the earth ?” How could such an idea have ever entered the mind of man if God had not himself first revealed it? Even the kingly Solomon, accustomed to grandeur and magnificence, was struck with wonder and astonishment when the great truth burst upon him at the dedication of the temple, the house being “filled with the glory of the Lord.” It was a subject which filled the angelic host with wonder, that led them to bend their exalted minds to its contemplation. How strange is it that multitudes, for whose benefit the Lord of life and glory became incarnate, treat that sublime act of condescension with astounding indifference; and though invited never think of taking a single step on the road to Bethlehem, so absorbed are they with their temporal interests. Hence the gospel message is not listened to; even the song of angels remains unheard; and the stupendous plan of redemption is disregarded.

However much these all important matters have been hitherto slighted, let us slight them no more. Go with us down even to Bethlehem, and let us behold the event that has made the name of Bethlehem one of the most famous in the world's history.

Here we behold Deity incarnated. That is, “ God in very deed” has come to “dwell with man upon the earth”—the Son, personally distinct from the Father, but essentially the same, having taken our flesh, and by being born of a woman having become our Emmanuel-GOD WITH US: yet not God by derivation or commission only, but really and properly so; the same in the perfections of his nature, and equal in his claims upon our regard.

The contemplation of this subject is well calculated to afford us the highest instruction and profit. Considered in reference to the divine government, it brings glory to God in the highest; in reference to our

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state as sinners, it brings peace upon earth, and goodwill towards men. It is the great medium of reconciliation through the whole empire of God on earth. It is a subject which ought never to be out of our thoughts. The entrance of Christ into our world by incarnation was made known by ancient seers, and it is well worthy of remark that every circumstance of time, place, person, and deed minutely corresponded with the prediction. A comparison of the prophetic writings with the historic records of the New Testament reveals the beautiful harmony of the whole.

1. In repairing to Bethlehem we meet with a grand display of divine perfections. God is not only a Father, but he is the Governor of the universe. His government is fitted for a race of rational creatures : it is a moral government, and his rule is the moral law. Man broke this law and brought on himself the penalty. God, in the benevolence of his heart, pitied the sinner; but how could he pardon him and sustain his own law ? To meet such an emergency an atonement is required. We all know that it is excellency of design which gives importance to an enterprise ; we know also that nothing like an interested or selfish principle could actuate the Supreme Being. Harmony must characterise the actions of the God of Heaven. From a human point of view various obstacles existed :-sinful man had incurred God’s displeasure : holiness abhorred the crime; justice demanded punishment; man's condemnation impended; but mercy interposed : a sacrifice was required to expiate human guilt, and such a sacrifice was made by Jesus Christ as revealed the brightest display of infinite wisdom the world ever witnessed. Had Christ descended from his throne as a divine person only, without becoming incarnate, the law broken by man could not have been magnified. The thought of Deity suffering the penalty due to sin is absurd. Infinite wisdom devised the assumption of human nature, that by the union of God with man in the work of redemption, Christ should retain his almighty ability to save and bless mankind.

2. In our visit to Bethlehem we become acquainted with a transcendent display of voluntary humiliation. So low did infinite greatness stoop, that the Ancient of Days became a babe; the Almighty, an helpless infant; the Incorruptible One assumed corruptible clay; the Immortal clothed himself with mortality; the Infinite became circumscribed. It will ever remain one of the most touching facts in gospel history that Christ was not born in a palace, but in a stable, and cradled in a manger. Yet even here traces of dignity appear: a new and extraordinary star signalled the advent of the Star of Jacob; songs of angels ushered in his birth; and sages from distant nations laid princely gifts at his feet in token of homage.

3. But in this visit to Bethlehem we read a marvellous lesson of love. Before the incarnation, our Redeemer, the Babe before us, filled the throne of the universe, ruled the hosts of heaven, and received the

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