« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
your duty; but dream not of making a of the artificial heat that hurried it forward; stranger bend the knee to your idol, perhaps the tree is wasted and fades before the time; he has an idol of his own, weak, silly, and ri- and at the proper season, when nature is diculous as yours; perhaps he sees nothing clothing the vigorous plant with its golden but impertinence and imperfection, where harvest, the languid child of art stands lifeyou behold only grace and loveliness, and less and leafless, expiring before its time. the more you force your Dagon upon his at. There is always danger from a premature tention, the more hideousness and deformity spring, though it be in the course of nature. he will discover in it. Be not eager to bring Happy is the man who can hit the temperate forward the accomplishments of your child. mean betwixt indecent haste and indolent If they are worthy of being seen, your re-delay. I would address a few words, to the serve and the child's modesty will give a same effect, to advanced childhood and early glow to the colouring which will strike youth. But childhood and youth are not disevery eye and please every heart. If they posed to attend serious Lectures, or do not be trivial, why will you force a good-natured understand, or disbelieve, and therefore do looker-on, to flatter your vanity at the ex- not attend to them. They must be left to the pense of his own judgment; or provoke a forcible, the irresistible lessons of experience. stern and severe one, to approve his sincerity I earnestly recommend them to the teaching and truth at the expense of your feeling and of God's good spirit. May the Son of God, of yow idol's fancied importance ? In private who vouchsafed for our sake to pass through let the person most dear to you, be most dear infancy and childhood poor, neglected, unto you; in society, the darling object, the first known, guard our helpless infants, direct our in consideration and affection, ought to be thoughtless, wayward children, counsel and the last in respect of attention.
instruct manly, matured reason, and smile Be not over anxious about an early crop with complacency on the hoary head, and from your offspring. You may have the fruit, make it a crown of righteousness. And to it is true, by means of vehement cultivation, God in Christ be ascribed immortal praise. a little earlier in the season, but it savours Amen.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was
twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his unders'anding and answers. And when they saw him they were amazed : and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? bebold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.---LUKE i1. 41–52.
UNIVERSAL Nature is progress, succession, eye, and I am incapable of catching a single and change. We observe it in every thing step of the progress. Shade melts imperaround us, we feel it in every particle of ceptibly into shade; the transition is made, our own frame. But obvious as this progres- but we were not aware of it; whether we sion is, in its larger portions, the minuter de- be asleep or awake, careless or attentive, the tails defy the closest attention of the acutest great complex machine keeps in motion, pereye. Darkness has evidently given place to forms its revolution, produces its effect. light; but what vigilance of inspection could The progress of man, the most perfect of ascertain the precise instant when night all creatures that we are acquainted with, is ceased and light began to dawn? That plant the most interesting of all objects to man. is palpably increased in strength and size, If it be delightful to behold the trees of the but let me hang over it the livelong day, forest burst into verdure, and those of the with the unremitting penetration of an eagle's garden putting on their beautiful garments, and changing that beauty into fruitfulness; , holy place. Self-evident marks of the favor 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 uncoumust it be to behold the image of God mul- mon comeliness of person, and supera 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 progres thought 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 in Soft 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 conccal at what Delightful task! to rear the tender thought, season, and in what measure, Deity was To teach the young idea how to shoot,
pleased to unite himself to the human nature To pour the fresh instructions o'er the mind, To breathe lu' enlivening spirit, and to fix
of the Redeemer; and let us not over-cunThe 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 wis parental affection is constrained to observe dom, however, of this wonderful child, seem 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 gandy 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 or or premature heat. Before we are well their possessor, that makes it knowo and re awake to the joy of some newly discovered membered: they add weight to his most orexcellency, 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 car perfect model, for the instruction of every penter's son ? No, “He hath no form so 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 friends ried 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 hean 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 recuerbefore 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 inf. over, 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 injunction extended not to females, were turn to their respective homes and their osa) in the habit of regularly attending the ser employments. Thus wisely and mercifuls, vice of the temple on those occasions; and He who knows what is in man makes dereJesus, another • Nazarite to God from his tion, labour, and rest, alternately to remmother'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 abrouil, the painful 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 affection. 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 fluenced 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 miid 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 received 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, Jese sought 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, sre
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 differenily do objects weigh sible. When the honour of God is concerned, when examined by the scale of the worid, 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 baptismn, 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 Son. 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 stimulos, 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 impetnous. came to 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- | 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 wisdom, 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 baptized, 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 wa 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, tó 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 of all men, what characters are sufficient to