WE must be content that the knowledge of this Divine Person should evolve itself slowly in our minds. We must be thankful, if any perplexities and sorrows, from within or from without, prepare us for it. The Name of Him, who was born of the Virgin, may be familiar to us; it may be surrounded with many beautiful and venerable associations; it may recall moments of youthful tenderness, or remorse, or enthusiasm. And yet it may rather hover about our minds, than be rooted in them. We may be trying, by acts of memory or fancy, or strong passionate efforts of what we call faith, to bind it to us more closely. What we want is, to know the barrenness and hollowness of our own selves. If there is not some One beneath ourselves, the ground of all we desire, and believe, and are, the spring of our hope, and the consummation of them, the fountain of all love in every creature, and the satisfaction of its love, life is a very miserable sleep, full of turbulent, broken, dreams, mixed with a strange dread of awaking.
There is a Presence near us, and within us, that cannot be put by. It haunts us, waylays us, torments us. It is indeed a rock of stumbling, and a stone of offence to us. The consciousness of it produces irritation and fever. It seems as if all outward nature presented it to us, in dark signs and hieroglyphics that we cannot decipher. But if we have once courage to ask boldly, "Who art Thou, that wilt not leave me, wherever I am, or whatever I am doing; whose voice I cannot silence, whose eye will not cease to look into me?"--the awful form of the Judge and the Accuser will be seen to change into the gracious form of the sympathising Friend and Brother. And, as the face becomes better known, without losing this human aspect, still bearing all the traces, deeper than ever, of birth and poverty, of sorrow and death, it will yet be seen to be royal and divine; we shall be sure that the Man is the King, and the King will be the Immanuel, GOD WITH US;--not with one of us only, but with all of us; most real, though the eye cannot see Him; certainly near, though the heart do not confess Him; He, in Whom alone we are all men and all brothers, in Whom alone our Father can behold us, and we Him.
When we have learnt to live in this conviction, or rather when God, by giving us perpetual experiences of our own failures and follies and vanities, has made it impossible for us to live in any other, then we shall not need signs in the height or the depth, that He will put down our enemies. "Quid times? Cæsarem vehis,"--"The Son of God is in the vessel,"--will be an answer to all suggestions of the cowardly nature within us, that the Father of spirits will desert the work of His own hands. " Associate yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces, powers of darkness and evil! for God is with us!" And we shall desire and hope, (that we, and the children whom God has given us, may be signs to the world of His kingdom and His victory. The commonest birth into the world will be a wonder, since He has been born into it. The continuance of every family, in spite of its sins and strifes, will speak of Him as the Everlasting Brother; even as the endurance of the earth itself, in the midst of all that is shaking it, will bear witness, that "He sitteth above the water-floods a King for ever."--Prophets and Kings, p. 246.