The apartment was lighted by a lantern enough to enable the strangers to find the mother, and the child awake in her lap.
“Is the child thine?” asked Balthasar of Mary.
And she, who had kept all the things in the least affecting the little one, and pondered them in her heart, held it up in the light, saying- “He is my son!”
And they fell down and worshipped him.
They saw the child was as other children: about its head was neither nimbus nor material crown; its lips opened not in speech; if it heard their expressions of joy, their invocations, their prayers, it made no sign whatever, but, baby-like, looked longer at the flame in the lantern than at them.
In a little while they arose, and, returning to the camels, brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and laid them before the child, abating nothing of their worshipful speeches; of which no part is given, for the thoughtful know that the pure worship of the pure heart was then what it is now, and has always been, an inspired song.
And this was the Saviour they had come so far to find! Yet they worshipped without a doubt.
Why? Their faith rested upon the signs sent them by him whom we have since come to know as the Father: and they were of the kind to whom his promises were so all-sufficient that they asked nothing about his ways. Few there were who had seen the signs and heard the promises- the Mother and Joseph, the shepherds, and the Three- yet they all believed alike; that is to say, in this period of the plan of salvation, God was all and the Child nothing. But look forward, O reader! A time will come when the signs will all proceed from the Son. Happy they who then believe in him! Let us wait that period.
Ben-Hur Table of Contents of the On-Line Edition. Cf. Ben-Hur in Print, at Amazon