Sidor som bilder


told of the jealouly of aged and professional men. Not a doctor in the temple but would have felt and resented the mortifying superiority of a child, had that superiority been oftentatiously displayed ; but his whole deportment excited only admiration and love ; his understanding was equalled only by his affability and condescension ; he at once instructs his teachers and gains their good will; "all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and anfwers."

If ftrangers were thus moved by a mild display of early, un2 ffecied wisdom, what must a parent have felt, whose heart but a moment before was throbbing with anguish unutierable? How happy is the to acknowledge such a son, the delight of every eye, the theme of every tongue. But even Mary, the mother of Jefus, is weak and imperfect, she speaks, unad. visedly with her lips, fhe presumes to mingle upbraiding and zeproach with expressions of endearment and exultation ; she has forgotten from whence she received him, the character given him of the angel before he was conceived in the womb, the sacred names which he bore, the testimony which God had fo repeatedly given to his beloved Son; she addresses him, all-wonderful as he was, as it he had been merely an dinary child, who had thoughtlessly and wantonly rambled away from his parents, and had given tħem unnecessary trou. ble and pain, He whose every word, every action had an important meaning and design. "Son," says she," why haft thou thus dealt with us? Rehold thy Father and I have fought thee forrowing." And now the answer of Christ to this queftion unfolds the great end which he had in view, through the whole transaction. It was time for him to assert his divine original; and the meekest and most fubmiflive of all children ftands invested with divine majefty, "how is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business ?" or, as it mighit perhaps with greater propriety have been rendered, " in my Father's house."

What a lesson is conveyed to the world in this reply ? Sax cred is the avthority of a mother over a son of twelve years of age, but there is an authority ftill more sacred, of which a child even of that age may be sensible. When the honour of God is concerned, the voice of nature must be suppresled. When the voice of heaven calls, the decencies and civilities of life must give place, and all secondary obligations and confiderations must be swallowed up of the first. He filently endured the reproach of being called the carpenter's fon by Brangers, but his own mother must denominate lim what he


is, and what she knew him to be. But reproof of a parent must be insinuated, not brought directly torward ; and here again the pattern is perfect ; delicacy and firmness unite to spare the mother, yet reprove the offence ; and whatever were the other queftions and answers of this celebrated conference, those which are on record will remain an everlasting monte ment of the perfect union of wildom and harınlessness, which distinguished the Son of God from every other.

The Sun, having thone forth in this temporary effulgence, again hid its face in clouds, and submitted to an eclipse of eighteen years longer ; He divested himself of all authority; He fought not glory from man ; He became of no reputation, He took on him the form of a servant. “ He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them ;" and by this voluntary humiliation of himself, by this retreat into the shade, more than by ten thousand precepts and argli. ments, He has inculcated the practice of humility on his disciples. A few short words contain the history of many years, even so, holy Faiher, for so it seemed good in thy fight; “ Jesus increased in wisdom and ftature, and in favor with God and man." Let us not presume to draw aside the veil which infinite wisdom has spread, nor seek to be wise above what is written, ihele things the angels defire to look into, and some of these things, though now they are hidden from us, we may be permitted to know hereafter.

About the period of this passover, when Christ was fhewing himself in the temple, after this extraordinary manner, as the Son of God, Auguftus Cesar, the emperor of Rome, dies, and is succeeded in the throne by Tiberius. About six years after, Josephus, called Caiaphas, was made high prieft of the Jews, through the partial favour of Valerius Gratus, the Roman governor. Towards the end of the twelfth year from that period, Pontius Pilate was sent into Palestine as procurator of Judea, in the room of Valerius Gratus, and John Baptist entered on the eser. cise of his public ministry. Those names are now stripped of all their glory; those stations are now fallen into disuse, those events are now stripped of all their importance, fave what they derive from the relation which they bear to yonder babe in the ftable, that child in the midst of the doctors, that gentle, ob. {cure, unaffuming youth of Nazareth of Galilee. So differently do objects weigh when examined by the scale of the world, and tried by the balance of the fan&iuary. In the next Lecture we will proceed, if God permir, to the history of Chrill's baptifm, and of the illustrious teftimony then given from the moft excellent glory to Jesus Christ, as God's well. beloved Son



Let us, with Mary keep all these sayings in our heart." Let us, from, the example of this pious pair, regularly attend the worship of God's house," not forsaking the assembling of ourselves as ihe manner of some is :" and thus shall we go from ftrength to strength" till we appear before God in Zion. Let us carefully attend to the proper mode of treatment of children, tuited to age, to capacity, to temper and disposition. The discipline adapted to childhood is by no means suited to a more advanced state ; and when the youth has become a man, and" put away childish things,” he must be treated as a man, It is of importance to know when the stimulus, when the bri. dle is to be employed. What would overwhelm the timid, may prove hardly a curb to the head strong; the flow of speech and understanding must not be urged into the speed of the acute and impetuous. Parents rejoice in a forward display of faculties in their children ; they encourage it, and they not feldom repent it. The opposite error is not comnon, and is therefore less an object of caution. The difficulties which daily present themselves, in managing the progress of the human mind, are frequensky insurmountable by the ordinary powers of man, which therefore stand in need of the illumination of “wisdom from above ; " " it any of you," then," lack wis. dom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it fhall be given him."

Let the young he instructed how to rise into eminence and diftin&tion. Covet not, pursue pot premature honour and applause. Extor ed praise is gratifying neither to the giver nor the receiver ; a free-will offering of approbation is "twice. bleft ; it bleffeth him that gives, and him that takes." Med. itate on the familiar image, which, no doubt, has frequently been suggested to you : honour, like the shadow, purlues the faver, and flies from the pursuer. Demand less than your due, and men will be disposed to give you the more. My young friends, “ be not children in understanding : howbeit, in malo ice be ye children, but in undertanding be men."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



LUKE, III, 21--23.

Now, when all the people were baptised, it came to pass, that Jesus

also being baptised, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove, apon him, and a voice came from heaven, which faid, thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus nimielf began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the fon of Foseph, which was the son of Heli. THE "HE declared purpose of our Evangelist, in undertaking to

write this history, is that his moft excellent friend Theo. philus, and with him every lover of God and truth, "might know the certainty of those things wherein he had been inftruc. ted.” This "certainty" is demonstrable from the spirit which Christianity breathes, and from the external evidence by which its divine original was confirmed. The religion of Jesus Chrift proves that it came down from heaven, from the Father of lights, by the character of the great Author and Finisher of our Faith, by the example of all righteousness which he set, by the purity and beavenly-mindedness which he displayed and recommend. ed, by the labours of mercy and love which he performed, by the sufferings which he patiently underwent, and by the glory that followed.” To these Providence was pleafed to fuperadd proots that reach the understanding through the medium of fense; namely fignal, fupernatural and frequently-repeated tel. timonies, exhibited in the presence of a cloud of witnesses, who produced a clear, concurring, consistent mass of evidence, ref. pecting facts which tell under the personal observation of their own eyes and ears, and which were never contradicted nor even called in question.

At this distance of time and place, the last mentioned species of evidenice, that of external circumstances, must of necessity be transmitted to us through the channel of history, and its va. lidity must reft on the veracity of the historian. The other fort of evidence is the same yesterday, and to day, and forever. This counsel approves itself to be of God, to the conviction of every one who seriously examines it, at whatever distance of time and place, from its indelible characters, from the univer


[ocr errors]

Cality of the field which it embraces, and from the glorious and godlike end at which it aims : in a word, from its congeniality to the feelings, to the wishes, and to the wants of human nature. Had no predi&tion taught the world to expect a Deliv. erer ; had no miracle declared Him the great Lord of the Uni. verse ; had no voice from Heaven proclaimed Him the belove ed Son of God, He must have food confessed, the predicted E. manuel. God with us, in his compaflion to the miserable, in his patience with the froward, in his forbearance toward the evil and unthankful, in his clemency to the guilty. The Gofpel breathes “ peace on earth and good will to men ;' its un. hounded liberality diffuses its influence over the whole world of mankind ; its professed aim and end are to confer all possibly attainable happiness on every human being, in the life which now is, and perfect and everlasting felicity in ihat which is to come. The object which Christianity proposes to itself is to retorm, to purity, to exalt our fallen nature, by making us partakers of a divine nature ; it is to rear the fabric of presenç and everlafting blessedness on the folid foundation of wisdom, truth and virtue. It penetrates and pervades every principle of our nature, and enters completely into the detail of human life and conduct : it informs the understanding, melts the heart, overawes the conscience, and brings the trembling, guilty, helpless, desponding creature unto God. If these are not the characters of a Revelation from the God and Father of all men, What characters are sufficient to produce belief ? If the fpirit and tendency of the Gospel work not convi&tion, the defcent of an angel from heaven, or the return of one from the

re gions of the dead would be equally inefficacious.

In this " doctrine according to godliness," Men and Brethren, we behold genuine philosophy, not carelessly flumbering over fancied plans of improvement, not coldly suggesting ideas of reform, not bewildering herself in the peradventures of doubtful disputation, but philosophy alive, awake and in action; philosophy doing good and diffusing happiness ; the divine philosophy which brings God down to dwell with men upon earth, and which raises men from earth to heaven. In its great Author we behold not the fullen, fupercilious recluse, looking with affected contempt on the weakness and ignorance of mankind, talking and arguing sagely, and effecting nothing, but the beneficent friend ot man, mixing with society, looking with complacency on harmless enjoyment, ftretching forth the hand to relieve distress, with patience and condescension instructing the ignorant, outrunning the expectations and even the desires of the humble, and overcoming evil with good. Au


« FöregåendeFortsätt »