By James H. Snowden
n that cave Mary brought forth her first-born son; and as there appears to have been no woman’s hand there to minister to her, she herself wrapped the new-born babe in swaddling clothes; and as there was no other cradle or bed to receive it, she laid the child in the trough from which the camels were fed. This is all we know of what took place on that memorable night from which the history of the Christian world is now dated. The apocryphal gospels, legends that afterwards grew up, fill the chamber with supernal light so that visitors had to shade their eyes from the splendor of the child; and the painters portray the holy child and mother with halos of glory around their heads. But this is all imagination and myth. Jesus was born as other human beings are born, and looked just like a human child. No one seeing him could have guessed that a unique birth had ruptured the continuity of nature and brought a divine Man into the world. There was no glory streaming from his person, and no spectacular display of pageantry and pomp such as attended the birth of a Cæsar. The Son of Man did not come with observation, but stole into the world silently and unseen. If we could have gazed upon the Christ-child as it lay in its manger, we would have been disappointed and thought that nothing extraordinary had happened. But a great event rarely seems great at the time; long centuries may elapse before it looms into view and is seen in its central place as the axis of history. Outward size and circumstance do not measure inward power and possibility. God brought only a child into the world that night, but in that Child were sheathed omnipotent wisdom and mercy and might to save the world.
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