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AT ARGYLE CHAPEL, BATH, SEPTEMBER 26, 1830.
Luke, iv. 16–22.-“ And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and
as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias ; and when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book and gave it again to the minister, and sat doron : and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ear. And all bare him witnesss, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this
Joseph's son!” Why do we not feel, and express / tion and feeling piety will always be more attachment to the history of the affected when he comes to the place Son of God? It has infinite claims where he was brought up. Many upon us-claims the most dignified scenes will rush over his mind-t is and the most venerable. It was given well if he be not affected with instances by inspiration from God; and while of early depravity, and by painful perusing it we tread on holy ground. recollections be made to confess the It is written with proper and touching iniquities of his youth. Here, he will simplicity. It is filled with surprising say, I was preserved-here I was transactions; wherever we fix our eyes handed up through childhood: I find we are struck with astonishment. But, the scene remaining the same-the my dear hearers, astonishment is not rivers—the hills-the woods—the sufficient here. The life of Jesus is not lawns; but how changed are many of to be read as the life of Cyrus, or the my views of men and things; and life of Johnson: it is not the subject how many that once knew me, know of idle amusement, or curious specula- me no more for ever. tion; we are deeply and eternally con We may ask four questions here concerned in all he said, all he did, and all cerning our Saviour's coming to Nazathat he suffered. And, if we read his reth, where he had been brought up. history as we ought, we shall exclaim, First, What was Nazareth. It was a “Thou art fairer than the children of small town of the Zebulonites, in Gali. men;" we shall love him supremely lee, seventy-two miles north of Jeru. we shall confide only in him—we shall salem, and west of Mount Tamar. It resemble him—we shall feel the sanc-was a place of no reputation or consetifying tendency of every view we take quence; so that, you will remember, of his character, changing us into the when Philip said to Nathaniel, “We same image from glory to glory, even have found him of whom Moses in the as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Law, and the Prophets, did write, The narrative which is to engage Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph," your attention this evening is pecu- Nathaniel said with wonder, "Can liarly interesting and expressive. It any good thing come outof Nazareth ?” contains four articles-his arrival at Secondly, How came he to be brought Nazareth-his engagement there—his up here? Here, indeed, he was conpreaching-and the effect of it. Let ceived by the Holy Ghost-here Mary us review these.
resided when the angel came unto her First, HIS ARRIVAL AT NAZARETH. and said, “ Hail, thou that art highly “ He came to Nazareth, where he had favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed been brought up." A man of reflec- art thou among women.” But he was not born here; he was born in Beth- | people were aware of this and said, lehem in Judea; and you are aware of How knoweth this man letters having the circumstances which were so over- | never learned? As Mary and Joseph ruled as to produce his birth there, were poor, he surely would not live in according to the prophecy of Micah : 1 indolence. Nothing is so inconsistent “Thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, with the Christian life, unless actual art not the least among the princes of vice, as doing nothing, and having noJuda: for out of thee shall come a thing to do. Surely you cannot imaGovernor that shall rule my people gine that Christ would live as some of Israel.” But, you will observe, after you are living. The Saviour is himhe was born there, the angel of the self expressly called “the Carpenter :" Lord came to Joseph in a dream, say- and it is well known that Joseph was ing, “Arise, take the young child and a carpenter. We are sometimes his mother, and flee into Egypt, and amazed, when we consider that his be thou there until I bring thee word: life was so short, for he died at thrityfor Herod will seek the young child to two, that he should not have entered destroy him.” “But when Herod into his public work till he was thirty was dead, behold, an angel of the years of age : but neither did John, Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph whose life was shorter still, enter into in Egypt, saying, Arise and take the his till he was thirty: neither did the young child and his mother, and go Levites engage in their work until into the land of Israel ; for they are they were thirty. We cannot fathom dead that sought the young child's life. all the designs God has in view in any And he arose and took the young of his dispensations : but, surely, we child and his mother, and came into may learn from hence, that usefulness the land of Israel. But when he heard is not confined to publicity--that we that Archelaus did reign in Judea in must be willing to be concealed as the room of his father Herod, he was well as to be displayed—that a great afraid to go thither; notwithstanding, work requires great preparation-and being warned of God in a dream, he that those must largely learn who are turned aside into the parts of Galilee : | to teach unto the nations ; lest being and he came and dwelt in a city called lifted up with pride, they fall into the Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled condemnation of the devil. which was spoken by the prophets, But, fourthly, How came he to Na. He shall be called a Nazarene."
zareth, since he was there brought up? Thirdly, How was he brought up Because he had been absent from the there? In reading the Scriptures, how place: he had been to the baptism of often must we be impressed with the John. Then he had been led by the conviction that it was not the design Spirit into the wilderness, where he of the Holy Ghost to amuse the curi. was forty days and forty nights tempted ous minds of men. A veil is thrown of the devil. Ater this he “ returned over the private life of our Saviour, in the power of the Spirit into Galilee : which no hand can draw aside. No- and there went out a fame of him thing can be more foolish than the through all the region round about: popish legends concerning his infant And he taught in their synagogues, miracles-his being sent by his mother being glorified of all.” The case was for a pitcher of water, and breaking it, this—though he was full of courage and then repairing the vessel by a yet he was to be proved. He had miracle—and many otherthings equally himself expressed, that, “a prophet foolish. “He grew in wisdom and is not without honor, save in his own in stature, and in favour with God and country, and among his own kindred.” man.” At twelve years of age he was Domestic greatness is unattainable ; found in the temple, in the midst of and if it does not produce contempt, the doctors, both hearing them, and reduces veneration. Those who knew asking them questions. He went the man in his childhood, and had down to Nazareth, and was subject to been familiar with him in common his own parents. This is all we know life, were not likely to reverence him of the first thirty years of the Lord as a teacher of religion. We should, Jesus. He had no public, or what is indeed, have imagined that he would called University education; and the have been an exception, by his wis.
dom, by his sanctity, by his heavenly- | fathers and mothers teach their chilDess. But what is wisdom—what is dren, by example, to sanctify God's sanctity-what is divinity itself, if it holy day. There never was yet known be poor according to the estimation of in any age, or in any people, a revival men? He knew what was in men-he of real religion, that was not attended knew the prejudices of the Nazarenes by a peculiar concern for the sanctifitowards him; and therefore he would cation of the Sabbath. not begin his ministry at home. For a Then, the place was the Synagogue. considerable time he visited other Synagogues were scattered all over places, where he performed his first Judea, and were in ever country where miracles; and having thus gained a the Jews lived. They were places well-deserved renown, this would sacred to devotion and instruction. serve to favour his introduction to his They were not expressly of divine aptownsmen and his relations : and thus pointment, like the temple, but they he came to Nazareth where he had arose from the moral exigencies of the been brought up.
people; and were peculiarly serviceLet us observe, secondly, HIS PRI- able in maintaining and perpetuating VATE ENGAGEMENTS THERE BEFORE the knowledge of Moses and the ProHE PREACHED. “ And, as his cus phets. They are supposed to have tom was, he went into the synagogue originated in the days of Ezra. The on the sabbath day and stood up for expediency of places of social devotion to read.” The season, the place, and arises from the very nature of the the action are all worthy of a brief service; therefore, there always have notice,
been such places in all ages and counThe time was the Sabbath. The con- tries. The very light of nature taught secration of the seventh portion of the heathens the propriety of publicly our time for a day of rest, is the most adoring their gods. As to Christians, wise and the most merciful institution the command is, “ Forsake not the that was ever established. But it assembling of yourselves together, as principally regards man : the sabbath the manner of some is.” And to enwas made for man. It looks towards courage your assembling together, you him as a citizen of time, and as an heir have the assurance, “ In all places of immortality. Who can bear end where I have recorded my name, I will less toil and everlasting thought? The come unto thee, and I will bless thee." body requires repose, and the mind Thus the distinctions of life are hinrequires relief. After such intervals dered from becoming excesses; and of relaxation, with renewed strength,“ the rich and the poor here meet toand with fresh vigour, you return gether; the Lord is the maker of again to the cares and toils of this life. them all.” It is thus religion is preHow does the Sabbath conduce to served visibly in a country. It is thus cleanliness, to health, to cheerfulness, that provision is made for the attracto social intercourse. Without such tion of the careless, who may be seasons as these, what time would drawn into such places, not at first many ever have for religious reflection, from religious motives, but there God or for religious instruction and im- ministers, and they may be known of provement. Ah, Christians, we need all, and judged of all, and exclaim, not recommend the Sabbath to you: “ God is in the midst of them of a you find in it the emblem, the earnest, truth.” There he awaits the distressed and the foretaste of the rest that re- and afflicted. In all the troubles of mains to the people of God. How life there stands his place for a refuge. lamentable is it that this day is so There enters the widow, leading her much profaned by business, by amuse little fatherless boy, and wipes her ment, by slothful indulgence, and es- | eyes; and she hears that the father of pecially in the higher ranks of life. the fatherless, and the husband of the The profanation of the Sabbath was widow, is God in his holy habitation. one of the national sins which drew There Christians feel themselves united the vengence of God on the Jews. Oh, with their brethren in holy affection : may England beware of it: may the they resemble the world above where rich beware of it; and masters and they are still praising him mistresses teach their servants, and
“ Lord how delightful 'tis to see
I to enter when he begins who speaks A whole assembly worship thee:
on earth. In the next place, Be more At once they sing, at once they pray,
| attached to the Scriptures, and read They hear of heaven and learn the way.” |
them privately moremore in your Oh that each of us may be able to say families. Bless God that you have with David—“One thing have I desired the Scriptures in your own hand, of the Lord, that will I seek after; that and in your own language ; and that I may dwell in the house of the Lord you are allowed to read them, that all the days of my Lord, to behold the you are commanded to read them. beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in - Search the Scriptures; for in them his temple.”
ye think ye have eternal life ; and they You should note here, that our Sa- are they which testify of me.” This is viour always attended the temple ser- the charter of your privileges—this is vice, and the annual three festivals in the bulwark of your eternal defencethe synagogue of the Jews; and you this is your guide through the wilderhere see, it was his custom always, ness—this is your synagogue in the whenever he had an opportunity of house of your pilgrimage. Remember going into the synagogue. Surely, his the address of God to Joshua. “This example has, with his followers, the book of the law shall not depart out of force of a law. But do all they who bear thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate his name tread in his steps? Do they therein day and night, that thou mayst continually and invariably attend public observe to do according to all that is worship, unless sickness indeed hin written therein : for then thou shalt der? Are they not often detained by make thy way prosperous, and then trifling excuses, which they know, and thou shalt have good success.” And their domestics know, detain them what also said Moses to the Israelites from nothing but the house of God? –"These words which I command Surely, we need such exercises as thee this day, shall be in thine heart; much as he did; and surely, we need and thou shalt teach them diligently the constancy of them as much as he unto thy children, and shalt talk of did.
them when thou sittest in thine house, Then, the action“ As he stood up and when thou walkest by the way, for to read.” The reading of the and when thou liest down, and when Scriptures was always a part of the thou risest up. And thou shalt bind synagogue service, and it should al- them for a sign upon thine hand, and ways be performed when we assem- they shall be as frontlets between thine ble and meet together. This practice eyes, and thou shalt write them upon deservedly and commendably occupies the posts of thy house, and on thy a large proportion of the worship of gates." the Established Church. When we This brings us, thirdly, to his assemble together, and thus read the PREACHING. “And there was deliScriptures, we honor them as supreme vered unto him the book of the proin our assemblies, as our rule, our phet Esaias ; and when he had opened standard, and our judge. It affords the book he found the place where it an advantage to the ignorant and to was written, The Spirit of the Lord is the illiterate, who are unable to read upon me, because he hath anointed the Scriptures for themselves. It tends me to preach the gospel to the poor, to remove the prejudices of others, by he hath sent me to heal the brokenshowing them that what we advance hearted, to preach deliverance to the in our sermons we first find in our captives, and recovering of sight to bibles; and by showing the harmony the blind, to set at liberty them that between our language and the lan- are bruised, to preach the acceptable guage of revelation. It tends to so year of the Lord.” This was the text. lemnize the mind, and prepare the It is needless for us to enquire, beheart for devotion and instruction. cause it is impossible for us to deter
Let me close this part of our expo- mine, whether this passage was one of sition by two admonitions; the one is, the appointed lessons of the day; or, Always be in time for that part of the whether it was the first text that service; and do not turn away from struck his eye when he opened the him that speaketh from heaven, only roll; or, whether he chose it purposely for the occasion. One thing | Lord: but Christ Jesus the Lord we are sure of, that there was nothing preached himself. What other subject casual in his conduct; and that what could be take, consistently with his ever things seem to be accidental cir- | wisdom and his concern to be useful ? cumstances only fulfil his pleasure and He knew infinitely better than we do, design.
that none but Jesus Christ can save But observe the attention of the au- helpless sinners. He knew that he dience. “And he closed the book, was the subject of prophecy; that and gave it again to the minister, and from the beginning God had purposed sat down : and the eyes of all them to raise him as a Saviour. Therefore, that were in the synagogue were unto him gave all the Prophets witfastened on him." It is very desir-ness, and especially Isaiah, who wrote able to see an audience attentive, as concerning him, who testified SO the mind follows the eye, and the eye clearly and fully concerning the sufaffecteth the heart. It is well when ferings of Christ, and the glory that the eye is turned as much as possible should follow, as to be called by some towards the preacher, instead of being the evangelical Prophet, and to be called sleepy and drowsy, and rolling all over by others the fifth Evangelist. “And the place, in order to observe every he began to say unto them, This day individual that enters, and their dress. is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears," Some preachers by their talents, and This is all we have of this interesting their character, and their usefulness, sermon; and if we go on to fill up the have awakened much attention. Others outline we feel our insufficiency; and for this purpose have had recourse to yet something may be done, because tricks, far from being consistent with we have the assurance from his own simplicity and godly sincerity. Our lips and he kept to his text,we Lord and Saviour, the great Teacher have the assurance from his own sent from God, had recourse to no words, that this day the Scripture was arts, yet what an eagerness was there fulfilled in their ears. in the people :-" The eyes of all in And therefore, first, he asserts his the synagogue were fastened upon qualification for his mission. “ The him.” Some were curious ; they were Spirit of the Lord God is upon me." eager to hear a preacher who spoke as What, was the Spirit necessary even never man spoke-a preacher who had to enable him to preach ? No wonder, turned water into wine, and who had then, that it should be necessary for hushed the winds and the waves with all his servants. Therefore the canwords. Others were captious and ma-didate for holy orders always acknowlignant-were eager to hear him in ledges, that he is moved by the Holy order to make him an offender for a Ghost to undertake this office. How word, or to entangle him in his talk. many of these know not whether there These soon assailed his reputation ; be any Holy Ghost, and perhaps turn, and he was considered as an enemy, in the first sermon they preach, the as a deceiver, as a blasphemer of Mo- doctrine of divine influence into ridises, as one who wished to overturn cule and scorn. But if, as ministers, the constitution in Church and State. we have any hope in our work—if we We hope, however, that there were some have any sufficiency for the work, or few humble and teachable, and that success attending it, it is all to be asthese were eager to hear him for their cribed to the agency of the Spirit of improvement—that these were thirsting God. for his communication—that these Then he asserts the design of his office were waiting for him as the earth -that he came not to destroy men's waits after the drought for the rain lives, but to save them; that he came that they were waiting for the conso. into the world, not to condemn the lation of Israel.
world, but that the world through him Then observe the sermon itself. “And might be saved. “He hath anointed he began to say, This day is this Scrip me to preach the gospel to the poor, ture fulfilled in your ears.” There he hath sent me to heal the broken was this peculiarity attending him as hearted, to preach deliverance to the a preacher, that he made himself al-captives, and recovering of sight to ways his own subject. We are not to the blind, to set at liberty them that preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the are bruised, to preach the acceptable