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and changing that beauty into fruitfulness ; | holy place. Self-evident marks of the favour if it be pleasant to behold the springing corn of heaven were already upon him. “He multiply thirty, sixty, a hundred fold ; to be- grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with hold the flocks and herds increase—what wisdom." Expressions importing uncommust it be to behold the image of God mul- mon comeliness of person, and superior tiplied on the earth, the human form divine powers of understanding; but in Him, as in rear itself toward heaven, the powers of other children, we behold a gradual progresthought and reason expand.
sion from knowledge to knowledge, as from
stature to stature. For as nature conceals
-By degrees, The human blossom blows; and every day,
from us at what moment she unites the imSoft as it rolls along, shows some new charm, mortal mind to the mortal frame, so the Holy Then infant reason grows apace, and calls For the kind hand of an assiduous care.
Spirit has thought proper to conceal at what Delightful task) to rear the tender thought, season, and in what' measure, Deity was To teach the young idea how to shoot, To pour the fresh instructions o'er the mind,
pleased to unite himself to the human nature To breathe tir' enlivening spirit, and to fix of the Redeemer; and let us not over-curiThe generous purpose in the glowing breast.
ously seek, “ to know the times and the sea. Thomson's SPRING, 1. 1143.
sons which the Father hath put in his own But this, like every other human delight, power." Neither the lovely form, nor the is blended with pain. Even the partiality of attractive goodness, nor the excellent wisparental affection is constrained to observe dom, however, of this wonderful child, scem rank and noisome weeds springing up with to have roused much attention, or commanded the delicate seeds of goodness; the dawning uncommon respect. The world is captivated of reason is obscured by the clouds of folly not by real and solid worth, but by the gaudy and vice, and the promise of a golden har- outside of showy, superficial qualities. Rank vest is blighted in early spring, by late frost and riches spread a glare over the person of or premature heat. Before we are well their possessor, that makes it known and re awake to the joy of some newly discovered membered: they add weight to his most ore excellency, we are overwhelmed with the dinary sayings, which gives them currency distress of perceiving some glaring imperfec- and importance; while poverty, like a bushel tion, or ungracious propensity: and where put over a candle, prevents it, however clear we love and rejoice, there also we find cause it may be, from giving its light. What carto lament and condemn. The spirit of God nal mind can reconcile the idea of great and has seen meet to present the world with one distinguished qualities with that of the carperfect model, for the instruction of every penter's son? No, "He hath no form nor age of human life. We have held it up in comeliness, and when we shall see him, a state of infantine beauty, simplicity, and there is no beauty that we should desire gentleness, a passive example of subjection him." to poverty, and danger, and persecution ; but In those stated journeys to Jerusalem, it we have seen the meanness and obscurity of was customary for many families of the same that state relieved by the decided attention neighbourhood, or of the same kindred, to of eternal Providence, and by the voluntary travel in company. The road was sweetened homage of angels and men.
and shortened by friendly communication, On returning from Egypt, Jesus was car, and religion strengthened the bands of friendried to the obscure village of Nazareth, and ship and the ties of blood. Were there no the vail is drawn over him till his twelfth other reason but this to press upon the heart year, when he was pleased to clothe himself the importance of attendance on the ordifor a little while with majesty, and then dis-nances of God's house, that it serves to appeared, till the time of his final manifesta- strengthen the bond of nature between hustion to the world, as the Saviour of it. The band and wife, parent and child, one neighlaw obliged every male of Israel to appear bour and another, it were enough to recombefore the Lord in the place which he had mend it to every one who prizes the comfort chosen to put his name there, three times of the life that now is; how much more, every year, at the three great feasts of pass- when there are involved in it, all the infiover, pentecost, and tabernacles. This was nitely more important interests of that which evidently intended to maintain a good cor- is to come! Happy are those societies in respondence between all the members of which the powers of a world to come are so the commonwealth, by the social intercourse, felt, as to shed a sweetening, cheering, enthe innocent festivity, and the devotional ex- livening influence over present connexions ercises which these solemnities promoted. enjoyments, and pursuits. The solemnities
Joseph and the mother of Jesus, though of the feast being ended, all prepare to rethe iniinction extended not to females, were turn to their respective homes and their usual in the habit of regularly attending the ser employments. "Thus wisely and mercifully, vice of the temple on those occasions; and He who knows what is in man makes devo Jesus, another « Nazarite to God from his tion, labour, and rest, alternately to recommother's womb,” accompanied them to the mend, to relieve, and to support each other,
A perpetual sabbath would soon prove the pattern to children of twelve, of docility, of death of religion; under uninterrupted labour humility, of meekness; carefully listening the man would quickly sink; rest protracted to the questions proposed to him by the pubbeyond a certain bound would prove destruc- lic teachers, and answering with deference tive of all repose. But to the heart in which and submission, though with intelligence and the love of God is shed abronil, the paintul decision; and proposing, in his turn, questoil of the week is mitigated and diminished tions that led to important truth and really by the prospect of the day of sacred inter- useful knowledge, not such as displayed the mission, of heavenly communication; and acuteness of him who interrogated, or that the calm, satisfying delights of the Lord's aimed at exposing him of whom the answer day, bestowing ease on the body, and compo- was demanded. In truth, ever since I could sure on the mind, serve as a restorative read and understand the words of the histotoward undertaking and undergoing the fa- rian, I have considered this little anecdote tigues of another week.
of our blessed Lord, as of singular importThe numerousness of the company which ance in his character, as the great teacher travelled back to Nazareth prevented its be- of mankind. The age of twelve is an inteing observed that one was wanting, and a resting crisis in human life. The rational complete day's journey is performed, before soul is then shaking off the child, and emerthe eager, attentive eye of even a mother, ging into the man. There is about that pemisses its darling object. How is this to be riod, knowledge enough to minister fuel to accounted for? The whole train was a band vanity and self-conceit, but not enough to of brothers, of one heart and of one soul; in discern ignorance and folly; there is learnwhatever part of it the child was, behind or ing sufficient to tease and perplex, but not before, he was encompassed with friends: to attract and conciliate afiection. And did other children of twelve years old need at- it please thee, meek and condescending Jetention, protection, and support
, but he has sus, to instruct that wayward season of exgiven many unequivocal proofs of a wisdom istence, when youth begins to feel the force capable of conducting himself. The time is of example, to blush at petulance, to be innow come that his mother herself must learn fuenced by honest shame and honest praise, with whom she had to do, and to revere in that season when the heart is awake, alive her own son, the Son of the Highest. All all over to the bitterness of censure, or to the was of God, who thus prepared the way for sweets of approbation? Yes, and we see in another public declaration of the great Pro- thee with wonder and joy the happy medium phet who should come into the world, and between the firmness of conscious wisdom, that not by the tongue of an archangel, nor and the forwardness of assumed superiority: by a multitude of the heavenly host, but by between the meekness and gentleness which the mouth of Jesus himself; into whose lips are the inseparable concomitants of real abigrace was poured and praise perfected. It lity, and the self-sufficiency which betrays is easier to conceive than to describe the want of talents, supporting itself by extravasorrow and anxiety occasioned by the dis- gance of claim. That this is the just view covery that Jesus was not in the train. The of our blessed Lord's conduct is evident from shades of night spread over the soul of a mo- the effect which it produced. You need not ther the terror of evil beasts, of evil men; be told of the jealousy of aged and profesof hunger and cold, of missing the road, and sional men. Not a doctor in the temple but of all the nameless apprehensions which would have felt and resented the mortifying solicitous parents feel for unprotected youth superiority of a child, had that superiority and innocence. Nothing remains but to been ostentatiously displayed; but his whole tread back their weary, anxious steps, and deportment excited only admiration and love; the close of the second day sees them enter his understanding was equalled only by his Jerusalem, with the mixed emotions of hope affability and condescension; he at once inand despondency; and another sleepless structs his teachers and gains their good will; night succeeds the painful day. The third all that heard him were astonished at his day, well knowing the zeal which he had for understanding and answers.” God's house, they repair betimes to the tem If strangers were thus moved by a muid ple: they find him; think, O mothers, with display of early, unaffected wisdom, what what astonishment and delight, in health, must a parent have felt, whose heart but a safety, and composure; and, gracious heaven! moment before was throbbing with anguish how employed ! " sitting in the midst of the unutterable? How happy is she to acknowdoctors, both hearing them and asking them ledge such a son, the delight of every eye, questions.” Painters and commentators seem the theme of every tongue. But even Mary, to have entirely mistaken this passage of our the mother of Jesus, is weak and imperfect, Saviour's history. They place him in the she speaks unadvisedly with her lips, she centre, in the chief seat, assuming authority, presumes to mingle upbraiding and reproach instructing gray hairs. The evangelist with expressions of endearment and exultaplaces him in the modest seat of a pupil, a tion; she has forgotten from whence she re
ceived him, the character given him of the ture, and in favour with God and man." Let angel before he was conceived in the womb, us not presume to draw aside the vail which the sacred names which he bore, the testi- infinite wisdom has spread, nor seek to be mony which God had so repeatedly given to wise above what is written, these things the his beloved Son; she addresses him, all-won- angels desire to look into, and some of these derful as he was, as if he had been merely things, though now they are hidden from us, an ordinary child, who had thoughtlessly and we may be permitted to know hereafter. wantonly rambled away from his parents, and About the period of this passover, when had given them unnecessary trouble and Christ was showing himself in the temple pain, He whose every word, every action after this extraordinary manner, as the Son had an important meaning and design.- of God, Augustus Cæsar, the emperor of “ Son,” says she, “ why hast thou thus dealt Rome, dies, and is succeeded in the throne with us? Behold thy father and I have by Tiberius. About six years after, Josesought thee sorrowing." And now the an-phus, called Caiaphas, was made high priest swer of Christ to this question unfolds the of the Jews, through the partial favour of great end which he had in view, through the Valerius Gratus, the Roman governor. To whole transaction. It was time for him to wards the end of the twelfth year from that assert his divine original; and the meekest period, Pontius Pilate was sent into Palestine and most submissive of all children stands as procurator of Judea, in the room of Valeinvested with divine majesty, “ how is it that rius Gratus, and John Baptist entered on the ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be exercise of his public ministry. Those names about my Father's business?" or, as it might are now stripped of all their glory; those staperhaps with greater propriety have been tions are now fallen into disuse, those events rendered, “ in my Father's house." are now stripped of all their importance, save
What a lesson is conveyed to the world what they derive from the relation which in this reply! Sacred is the authority of a they bear to yonder Babe in the stable, that mother over a son of twelve years of age, but child in the midst of the doctors, that gentle, there is an authority still more sacred, of obscure, unassuming youth of Nazareth of which a child even of that age may be sen- Galilee. So differently do objects weigh sible. When the honour of God is concerned, when examined by the scale of the world, the voice of nature must be suppressed.
and tried by the balance of the sanctuary: When the voice of Heaven calls, the decen- In the next Lecture we will proceed, if God cies and civilities of life must give place, permit, to the history of Christ's baptism, and and all secondary obligations and consider- of the illustrious testimony then given from ations must be swallowed up of the first. the most excellent glory to Jesus Christ, as He silently endured the reproach of being God's well-beloved Šon. called the carpenter's son by strangers, but " Let us with Mary keep all these sayings his own mother must denominate him what in our heart.” Let us, from the example of he is, and what she knew him to be. But this pious pair, regularly attend the worship reproof of a parent must be insinuated, not of God's house, “not forsaking the assembling brought directly forward; and here again of ourselves as the manner of some is;" and the pattern is perfect; delicacy and firmness thus shall we “ go from strength to strength" unite to spare the mother, yet reprove the till we appear before God in Zion. Let us offence; and whatever were the other ques-carefully attend to the proper mode of treattions and answers of this celebrated confer- ment of children, suited to age, to capacity, ence, those which are on record will remain to temper, and disposition. The discipline an everlasting monument of the perfect union adapted to childhood is by no means suited to of wisdom and harmlessness, which distin- a more advanced state ; and when the youth guished the Son of God from every other. has become a man, and “put away childish
The Sun, having shone forth in this tem- things,” he must be treated as a man. It is porary effulgence, again hid its face in clouds, of importance to know when the stimulus, and submitted to an eclipse of eighteen years when the bridle is to be employed. What longer; He divested himself of all authority; would overwhelm the timid, may prove hardHe sought not glory from man; He became ly a curb to the headstrong; the slow of of no reputation ; He took on him the form of speech and understanding must not be urged a servant. “He went down with them, and into the speed of the acute and impetuous. came w Nazareth, and was subject unto Parents rejoice in a forward display of faculthem; and by this voluntary humiliation of ties in their children; they encourage it, and himself
, by this retreat into the shade, more they not seldom repent it. The opposite than by ten thousand precepts and argu- error is not common, and is therefore less an ments, He has inculcated the practice of hu- object of caution. The difficulties which mility on his disciples. A few short words daily present themselves, in managing the contain the history of many years, even so, progress of the human mind, are frequently holy Father, for so it seemed good in thy insurmountable by the ordinary powers of sight; " Jesus increased in wisdom and sta- 1 man, which therefore stand in need of the il
lumination of “wisdom from above;" “ if any, that gives, and him that takes." Meditate of you,” then, “lack wisdoin, let him ask of on the familiar image, which, no doubt, has God, that giveth to all men liberally, and up- frequently been suggested to you: honour, braideth not; and it shall be given him." like the shadow, pursues the flier, and flies
Let the young be instructed how to rise from the pursuer. Demand less than your into eminence and distinction. Covet not, due, and men will be disposed to give you pursue not premature honour and applause. the more. My young friends, " be not chilExtorted praise is gratifying neither to the dren in understanding: howbeit, in malice giver nor the receiver; a free-will offering of be ye children, but in understanding be approbation is “twice blest; it blesseth him I men.
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
Now, when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being haptized, and praying, the
heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove, upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Eli-LUKE iii. 21–23.
The declared purpose of our evangelist, in examines it, at whatever distance of time undertaking to write this history, is that his and place, from its indelible characters, from most excellent friend Theophilus, and with the universality of the field which it embraces, him every lover of God and truth, "might and from the glorious and godlike end at know the certainty of those things wherein which it aims: in a word, from its congenihe had been instructed.” This “certainty" is ality to the feelings, to the wishes, and to the demonstrable from the spirit which Christian- wants of human nature. Had no prediction ity breathes, and from the external evidence taught the world to expect a Deliverer; had by which its divine original was confirmed. no miracle declared Him the great Lord of The religion of Jesus Christ proves that it the Universe; had no voice from Heaven came down from heaven, from the Father of proclaimed Him the beloved Son of God, lights, by the character of the great Author He must have stood confessed, the predicted and Finisher of our faith, by the example of Emanuel, God with us, in his compassion to all righteousness which he set, by the purity the miserable, in his patience with the froand heavenly-mindedness which he displayed ward, in his forbearance toward the evil and and recommended, by the labours of mercy unthankful, in his clemency to the guilty, and love which he performed, by the suffer- The gospel breathes "peace on earth and ings which he patiently underwent, and by good will to men;" its unbounded liberality “the glory that followed.” To these Provi- diffuses its influence over the whole world dence was pleased to superadd proofs that of mankind; its professed aim and end are to reach the understanding through the medium confer all possibly attainable happiness on of sense ; namely signal, supernatural, and every human being in the life which now is, frequently-repeated testimonies, exhibited in and perfect and everlasting felicity in that the presence of a cloud of witnesses, who which is to come. The object which Chrisproduced a clear, concurring, consistent mass tianity proposes to itself is to reform, to purify, of evidence, respecting facts which fell under to exalt our fallen nature, by making us parthe personal observation of their own eyes takers of a divine nature ; it is to rear the and ears, and which were never contradicted fabric of present and everlasting blessedness nor even called in question.
on the solid foundation of wisdom, truth, and At this distance of time and place, the last virtue. It penetrates and pervades every mentioned species of evidence, that of exter- principle of our nature, and enters completely nal circumstances, must of necessity be trans-into the detail of human life and conduct: it mitted to us through the channel of history, informs the understanding, melts the heart, and its validity must rest on the veracity of overawes the conscience, and brings the the historian. The other sort of evidence is trembling, guilty, helpless, desponding creathe same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. ture unto God. "If these are not the characThis counsel approves itself to be of God, to ters of a Revelation from the God and Father the conviction of every one who seriously I of all men, what characters are sufficient to
produce belief? If the spirit and tendency of Nazareth! unseen, unknown, unregarded, of the Gospel work not conviction, the de- under the humble appellation of the carpenscent of an angel from heaven, or the return ter's son, partaking perhaps of the labours of of one from the regions of the dead would be his occupation, faring simply, submitting to equally inefficacious.
authority, unmortified by subjection to poverIn this “doctrine according to godliness," ty, neglect, and reproach; and thus hast thou men and brethren, we behold genuine philo- become a gentle and silent, but a severe resophy, not carelessly slumbering over fancied prover of the restlessness of ambition, of the plans of improvement, not coldly suggesting thirst of distinction, of the impetuosity of ideas of reform, not bewildering herself in appetite, of impatience of restraint. The the peradventures of doubtful disputation, Saviour of the world, my friends, was pleased but philosophy alive, awake, and in action: to pass through the successive stages of huphilosophy doing good and diffusing happi- man life, that he might sanctify and instruct ness, the divine philosophy which brings God every age of man. He became an infant of down to dwell with men upon earth, and days, that He might sanctify infancy, and which raises men from earth to heaven. In stamp importance and respect upon it; he its great Author we behold not the sullen, showed himself in the temple at the age of supercilious recluse, looking with affected twelve, that he might sanctify, and instruct contempt on the weakness and ignorance of that more advanced period of life in the duty mankind, talking and arguing sagely, and of frequenting the house of God, and of reeffecting nothing; but the beneficent friend sorting to age, office, and experience for the of man, mixing with society, looking with lessons of wisdom. He advanced to matucomplacency on harmless enjoyment, stretch-rity to sanctify, and instruct grown men to ing forth the hand to relieve distress, with practice self-denial, self-government, to te patience and condescension instructing the content with their lot, to repress inordinate ignorant, outrunning the expectations and desire, to aim at eminence by learning to beeven the desires of the humble, and over
“He that believeth shall not coming evil with good. At every period and make haste." He remained thus long in the in every condition of life, we behold Him, a shade, that He might teach his disciples to perfect pattern of every possible excellence. bear obscurity and retirement, and tv cease
We have already contemplated the blessed from premature aspiring. He emerges at Jesus in his original glory, before the world length into the light, the season of upen and was, and in all the wonders of his humilia- beneficial exertion being come, that he might tlun to the level of humanity: we have be- correct a spirit of indolence, irresolution, and held Him in all the affecting interest of in-affected humility; and to tell every man, fancy and childhood, born in a stable, laid in that he is sent into the world to act' an ima manger, aimed at by the dagger of a ruf- portant part, that he is entrusted with talents fian, driven into exile, meekly retiring into for the employment of which he is accountobscurity, silently increasing in wisdom and able, that God and his fellow-creatures have stature, and in favour with God and man. claims upon him which he must satisfy at his From the age of twelve to thirty years, that peril
. is for more than half the period which He The approach of Jesus to Jordan is per. tabernacled among men, Providence has seen ceived and announced by the Baptist. The meet to withhold all traces of his history. spirit which enabled Simeon to discern the Within the short space of about three years Saviour in the person of a little child, when is comprised the detail of all the things which presented in the temple, now discloses to the Jesus did, and taught, and suffered as the Sa- eye of the Prophet, who came in the spirit viour of mankind. To this eventful era we and power of Elias, the same divine Person are now brought forward, and we enter on on the eve of entering upon his public the contemplation of it with mixed emotions ministry. He suspends for a moment the of wonder, reverence, and joy.
employment of teaching and baptizing the Stand by, ye princes and potentates of the multitude, in which he was engaged, to earth ; the King of kings is about to inake point out to them “the Lamb of God his public entry. What is the consecration which taketh away the sin of the world." of a prelate, the coronation of an emperor, “As the people were in expectation, and all the voice of a trumpet, the anointing with men mused in their hearts of John, whether oil, compared to the majesty, solemnity, and he were the Christ or not; John answered, importance of the scene displayed on the saying unto them all, ! indeed baptize you banks of the Jordan! Bend your heads and with water; but one mightier than I cometh, cover your faces, "ye angels that excel in the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy strength,” He whom you are all commanded to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Hó to worship is here. Behold he cometh from ly Ghost and with fire." Nazareth of Galilee, to the baptism of John; John, at first, modestly declines the exerthe greater to be baptized by the less. cise of his office in a case so very extraor. Eighteen years hast thou now passed, Jesus | dinary. Hitherto he had taught only the