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was a manger, (Luke. ii. 7,-a circumstance which went at once to prove that his reign was to be a spiritual one, and that earthly splendor was of no value in the eyes of God.
Very little is said of the first years of our 198. Saviour; but what is recorded of him at the age of twelve years by St. Luke, (ii. 41-52,) is sufficient to give us an example of filial attachment, of obedience and submission to earthly parents, as well as of early piety. And, although no more mention is made of Him till He reached his thirtieth
when He entered upon his ministry, we may infer that He continued throughout that time in the same tenor of life, serving God and comforting his earthly parents, or, as the Scriptures express it, “increasing in favour with God and man.” There is one lesson, however, and that of the greatest consequence to us, which we may derive from the time that intervened between his childhood and the period when he began his ministry, and that is, that if a man without sin, and supported by direct intercourse with God as our Saviour was, (Matt. iv. 11, Luke xxii. 43,) did not look upon a period of thirty years as more than sufficient to prepare Him for the
“cup He was to drink,” how much more ought we sinful mortals to make a good use of the time allotted to us, to make our peace with God, before we are summoned to appear before Him!
Did we but read the Scriptures attentively, and with a view to make them the rule of our daily conduct, we should find the words of our Saviour a valuable and infallible guide (indeed the only true one) to our duty towards God, towards our neighbour, and towards ourselves. This is the only object for which they were written. Moreover, the language of our Saviour is so plain, that it may be understood by the meanest capacity. His gospel is preached to the poor and unlearned, (Luke vii. 22, Matt. xi. 25,) and is plain enough to be “revealed unto babes.” If this life is merely a passage to another, to which we can only attain through the merits of Jesus Christ, it surely stands to reason, that the wisest thing we can do, is to follow his precepts, which are to lead us there. Such learning is alone valuable, and such thanks to God all can acquire, who choose to read with profit the account we possess of our Lord and his doctrines, attested as they are by Divine authority. By which authority alone, such a revelation could have been made to mankind.*
We read, then, that before Jesus Christ 201. actually entered upon his ministry, He went A. D. 27. first to John the Baptist, to be baptized of him. (Matt. iii. 13–17.) The object of this baptism was twofold: first, to proclaim to the world in a public manner that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and, in fact, to make a manifestation of the Three Persons of the Godhead; (Matt. iii. 16, 17, Mark i. 10, 11, Luke iii. 21, 22;) and secondly, to announce that repentancet or the putting away of sin was to be effected before we could enter into the kingdom of heaven; that is, before we could be fit to partake of the free offer of salvation which had now reached mankind. (Matt. iv. 17.)
It is not meant here to depreciate other kinds of learning, which have their uses, when kept subservient to that of the Word of God. But we must not follow after the learning of men to the exclusion of that of God. We must, as St. Paul says, (Col. ii. 8,) “ Beware lest any man spoil us through philosophy, and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
+ See Butler's Analogy, Part ii. Chap. i. Church Catechism.
The voice from heaven which was heard on this occasion, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” (Matt. iii. 17,) was heard again at the transfiguration of our Saviour, (Matt. xvii. 5, Mark ix. 7, Luke ix. 35,) when the same words were repeated with this addition, “Hear ye Him;" there being then three of his disciples present, who were after a time to be the promulgators of His doctrine, and to whom it was necessary to give this injunction. (2 Peter i. 17, 18.) The same voice was heard for the last time by a multitude, (John xii. 28;) and was said by our Saviour to have come, “not because of Him, but for the sake of those who were with Him.” That voice was God the Father, at once proclaiming to the world the Divinity of his beloved Son, upon whom the Holy Ghost descended, to glorify Him, and to invest Him with all power as man, and commanding his people to “hear Him.”
This awful manifestation of the Godhead, and the revelation which it announced through Jesus Christ, constitute the base upon which is founded the Christian's faith. And as the subject falls naturally into the same order
which is followed in the Apostles' Creed, we 20+. cannot do better in considering it than take that Confession of faith as our guide, premising, that though it is called the Apostles’ Creed,* it was, in fact, composed after their time, and for the purpose of bringing together the different articles of our belief, to prevent the extension of the errors that were fast creeping in amongst the early Christians.
According to it, we acknowledge to believe God the in God the Father Almighty, &c.
God is 205. called our Father, because he hath made us, sustains us and all the world, and also because that appellation denotes the peculiar relation which he bears to the Son. The title of Father is here used in a very exalted
For our Saviour says, “God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John iv. 24.) He is therefore, as we have before said, a Being much above our comprehension. But our reason, as well as what we see around us, tell us of His almighty power. 206 “He made us, and not we ourselves.” (Ps. c.)
* See History of the Apostles' Creed, by Peter King. London, 1702.