Nearly six thousand years ago the first man and the first woman were formed, out of the dust of the ground. Their names were Adam and Eve. They were placed in a very pleasant and beautiful garden, called Eden, where they had every thing they could wish; and were permitted by God to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden, except one.
“One tree that in the midst was placed,
God bade them not to take;
But ah! the fruit they dared to taste,
And his commandment break.”
In an evil hour they listened to the temptations of the serpent—the great enemy of mankind—and ate of the forbidden fruit. Then God was angry with them, and sent his Angel to drive them out of the garden, to a place where thorns and thistles covered the ground, and they were obliged to work hard for a living. God cursed the ground for their sake, but at the same time he promised that “the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head.”
This promise was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came into the world and suffered and died to save men from the consequences of the first man’s disobedience. I will now tell you something about this wonderful event.
A little more than eighteen hundred years ago, as some shepherds were taking care of their sheep by night on the hills of Palestine, an angel of the Lord came to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were very much afraid. But the angel told them not to fear, for he brought them good news: “For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.”
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 towards men.”
As soon as the angels were gone, the shepherds went to Bethlehem, to see the Savior that God had so wonderfully made known to them. They found his reputed father with his mother, Mary, and the babe lying in a manger: “because there was no room for him in the inn.” The shepherds then went to their homes praising God, and telling every one they saw of the new-born Savior.
Sometime afterwards, a wonderful star was seen by some wise men in the country east of Judea; and they concluded that it must be a sign that the long expected Messiah was born. They therefore went at once to Jerusalem, where they inquired for the “king of the Jews,” stating that they had seen his star in the east, and were come to worship him.
Herod was the king of Judea at this time: and when he heard of the new king, he was very much troubled, and the people were also troubled, not knowing what to expect. Herod made particular inquires about the place where it was expected Christ would be born: and when he found that it was at Bethlehem, he sent the wise men there, telling them to bring him word when they had found him, that he might go and worship him too.
So the wise men went to Bethlehem: and the star which they had seen in the east went before them till it came and stood over the place where the infant Savior was. They were glad when they saw this: and when they came into the house and found Jesus and his mother, they fell down on their faces and worshiped him. Then they made him many presents of money, and rich spices which were found in their country.
When the wise men were ready to return, the angel of the Lord appeared to them, and told them not to go back to Herod, as he had directed. So they went to their home by another way. The angel also appeared in a dream to Joseph, and told him to take the child and his mother, and flee into Egypt; and Joseph did as the angel had said.
Herod was a cruel, wicked man, and was afraid if Jesus grew up, he would be king of the Jews instead of him; so he intended to kill him while a little child. But when he found the wise men would not tell him where to find him, he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem, and ordered them to kill all the children under two years old, hoping in this way to come at Jesus: but the Lord had before provided for his safety, by sending him to Egypt.
When Herod was dead, Jesus returned with his parents from Egypt, and went to live in the city of Nazareth. Joseph was a carpenter, and we are told that when Jesus was old enough he worked with him at the same trade. The Bible tells us he grew in stature, and in favor both with God and man: and that he lived with his parents, and was subject to them, or did as they wished to have him. Thus he set an example of obedience to parents which every child should follow.
When he was twelve years old, he went with them to Jerusalem to the feast of the passover; and after the close of the ceremonies, when they were going home, they found Jesus was not with them. So they returned to look for him and found him in the temple sitting in the midst of the learned men, hearing them and asking them questions; so that they were astonished at his knowledge.
When his mother told him they had been looking for him, sorrowing, he replied, “How is it that ye sought me? Knew ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”
There was a law among the Jews that no one should be a public teacher, or minister, till he was thirty years old. Jesus wished to show respect to the laws of his country, and therefore we may suppose he continued to work as a carpenter till he was of that age. He was then baptized in the river Jordan by his forerunner, John the Baptist, and commenced choosing his disciples and preaching the gospel.
The story of his life after this time,—how he went about teaching the people, though they often abused him; how he gave them food when they were hungry, though he had not where to lay his head, healed the sick, and in every way returned good for evil to his ungrateful countrymen, for three years, till they cruelly put him to death,—is told at large in the New Testament, where we hope all our young readers will read it again and again, with earnest attention. They will find it a very interesting narrative, and in it instructions capable of making them wise unto salvation.