"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. . . . And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city."
—St Luke ii.
S O there was peace from end to end of the great Roman Empire under Cæsar Augustus. From the great Atlantic Ocean, that washes the western coasts of France and Spain, to the river Euphrates, crossed by Abraham nearly two thousand years before, there was peace. From the German Rhine, to the burning African deserts, there was peace too. Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt—all were quietly resting under the mighty sway of Rome, under the wise rule of the Emperor Cæsar Augustus.
It was time to make a regular division of this great empire, to divide it into provinces, to prepare for a census or numbering of the people. In order to carry out this plan, each family had to go to their own home, however far away that home might be. Herod had made known this command from Rome, and the whole country of Judæa was astir.
Living away in distant Nazareth, some eighty miles, from his native town, was one Joseph. He too must journey across the country to obey the command of Cæsar Augustus. Taking his wife Mary, he started off on the eighty-mile journey. The story is familiar to every child.
When Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem, after a long and weary climb to the hill-city, the town was full of strangers, and there was no room for them in the inn; so they had to be satisfied with sleeping in a manger. And in this manger at Bethlehem, Jesus Christ was born.
The event made no stir, in the great world beyond quiet Judæa. Cæsar Augustus continued to reign over the Roman Empire, ships sailed to and fro over the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, men bought and sold as usual, and the news of Mary's little Son was not known outside the country of the East.
But, though as yet unknown to the world at large, the event was one which was destined to throw over the history of the great world the widest, deepest, mightiest influence, that has ever been known.
The birth of Christ passed by unnoticed. His death, thirty years later, was of world-wide interest. The love of
Him, has lasted true, throughout two thousand years, and