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arcana which “the Father hath kept in his own power," and reserved for the information, wonder and joy of an improved state of existence, when things hard to be understood shall be fully explained; and things known in part shall be unfolded in all their connections and dependencies; and infinite intelligence shall supply all the deficiencies of human understanding.
It was in that fameless village, and in those trackless years that the foundation was laid of a greatness which should eclipse all created glory ; of a kingdom that should swallow up every other; of an enterprize which should extend its influence to the remotest ages of eternity.
The next Lecture will, if God permit, take up the next recorded period of our Saviour's history, his assuming for a moment a public character at the age of twelve years, and his sliding away from it again into silence and retirement, till his thirtieth year, the time of his final manifestation unto Israel, as the great “ Prophet that should come into the world."
Shall I degrade my subject, by saying it suggests to parents many useful hints respecting the early treatment of their children ? Be as tender and attentive as you will ; listen to the voice of nature and learn your duty ; but dream not of making a stranger bend the knee to your idol, perhaps he has an idol of his own, weak, silly and ridiculous as yours ; perhaps he sees nothiog but impertinence and imperfection, where you behold only grace and loveliness, and the more you force your Dagon upon his attention, the more hideousness and deformity he will discover in it. Be not eager to bring forward the accomplishments of your child. If they are worthy of being seen, your reserve and the child's modesty will give a glow to the colouring which will strike every eye, and please every heart. If they be trivial, why will you force a good-natured looker-on, to flatter your vanity at the expense of his own judgement; or provoke a stern and severe one, to approve his sincerity and truth at the expense of your feeling and of your idol's fancied importance ? In private let the person most dear to you, be most dear to you; in society, the darling object, the first in consideration and affection, ought to be the last in respect of attention.
Be not over anxious about an early crop from your offspring. You may have the fruit, it is true, by means of vehement cultivation, a little earlier in the season, but it savours of the artificial heat that hurried it forward ; the tree is wasted and fades before the time; and at the proper season, when nature is clothing the vigorous plant with its golden harvest, the languid child of art stands lifeless and leafless, expiring before its time. There is always danger from a premature spring, though it be in the course of nature. Happy is the man who can hit the temperate mean betwixt indecent haste and indolent delay. I would address a few words, to the same effect, to adranced childhood and early youth. But childhood and youth are not disposed to attend serious Lectures, or do not understand, or disbelieve, and therefore do not attend to them. They must be left to the forcible, the irresistible lessons of experience. I earnestly recommend them to the teaching of God's good spirit. May the Son of God, who vouchsafed for our sạke to pass through ipfancy and childhood poor, neglected, unknown, guard our helpless infants, direct our thoughtless, wayward children, counsel and instruct manly, matured reason, and smile with complacency on the hoary head, and make it a crown of righteousness. And to God in Christ be ascribed immortal praise. Amen.
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was
(welve years old, they wept 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 beard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him they were amazed : and his mother said unto him, son, why hast thou thus dealt with us 1 Behold, 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 ibe saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came io 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.
UNIVERSAL Nature is progress, succession and change. We observe it in every thing around us, we feel it in every particle of our own frame. But obvious as this progression is, in its larger portions, the minuter details defy the closest attention of the acutest eye. Darkness has evidently given place to light; but what vigilance of inspection could ascertain the precise instant when night ceased and light began to dawn? That plant is palpably increased in strength and size, but let me hang over it the livelong day, with the unremitting penetration of an eagle's eye, and I am incapable of catching a single step of the progress. Shade melts imperceptibly into shade ; the transition is made, but we were not aware of it; whether we be asleep or awake, careless or attentive, the great complex machine keeps in motion, performs its revolution, produces its effect. The progress of man, the most perfect of all creatures that we are acquainted with, is the most interesting of all objects to man. If it be delightful to behold the trees of the forest burst into verdure, and those of the garden putting on their beautiful garments, and changing that beauty into fruitfulness; if it be pleasant to behold the springing corn multiply thirty, sixty, a hundred fold ; to behold the flocks and herds increase
-what must it be to behold the image of God multiplied on the earth, the human form divine rear itself toward heaven, the powers of thought and season expand.
Soft as it to blossom blows ; and e
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But this, like every other human delight, is blended with pain. Even the partiality of parental affection is constrained to observe rank and noisesome weeds springing up with the delicate seeds of goodness; the dawning of reason is obscured by the clouds of folly and vice, and the promise of a golden harvest is blighted in early spring, by late frost or premature heat. Before we are well awake to the joy of some newly discovered excellency, we are overwhelmed with the distress of perceiving some glaring imperfection, or ungracious propensity: and where we love and rejoice, there also we find cause lo lament and condemn. The spirit of God has seen meet to present the world with one perfect model, for the instruction of every age of human life. We have held it up in a state of infantine beauty, simplicity and gentleness, a passive example of subjection to poverty, and danger, and persecution; but we have seen the meanness and obscurity of that state relieved by the decided attention of eternal Providence, and by the voluntary homage of angels and men.
On reiurning from Egypt, Jesus was carried to the obscure village of Nazareth, and the veil is drawn over him till his twelfth year, when he was please ed to clothe himself for a little while with majesty, and then disappeared, till the tine of his final manifestation to the world, as the Saviour of it. The law obliged every male of Israel to appear before the Lord in the place which he had chosen to put his name there, three times every year, at the three great feasts of passover, pentecost, and tabernacles. This was evidently intended to maintain a good correspondence between all the members of the commonwealth, by the social intercourse, the innoceut festivity and the derotional exercises which these solemnities promoted.
Joseph and the mother of Jesus, though the injunction extended not to females, were in the habit of regularly attending the service of the temple on those occasions; and Jesus, another “Nazarite to God from his mother's womb,” accompanied them to the holy place. Self-evident marks of the favour of heaven were already upon him. “He grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom.” Expressions importing uncommon comeliness of person, and superiour powers of understanding ; but in Him, as in other children, we behold a gradual progression from knowledge to knowledge, as froin stature to stature. For as nature conceals from us at what moment she unites the inmortal mind to the mortal frame, so the Holy Spirit has thought proper to conceal at what season, and in what measure, Deity was pleased to unite himself to the human nature of the Redeemer; and let us not overcuriously seek “to know the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power.” Neither the lovely form, nor the attractive goodness, nor the excellent wisdom, however, of this wonderful child, seem to have rouscd much attention or commanded uncommon respect. The world is captivated not by real and solid worth, but by the gaudy outside of shewy, superficial qualities. Rank and riches spread a glare over the person of their possessor, that makes it known and remembered : they add weight to his most ordinary sayings, which gives them currency and importance ; while poverty, like a bushel put over a candle, prevents it, however clear it may be, from giving its light. What carnal mind can reconcile the idea of great and distinguished qualities with that of the carpenter's son ? No, “ He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should de. sire him.”
In those stated journeys to Jerusalem, it was customary for many families of the same neighbourhood, or of the same kindred, to travel in company. The road was sweetened and shortened by friendly communication, and religion strengthened the bands of friendship and the lies of blood. Were there no other reason but this to press upon the heart the importance of attendance
on the ordinances of God's house, that it serves to strengthen the bond of nature between husband and wile, parent and child, one neighbour and another, it were enough to recommend it to every one who prizes the comfort of the life that now is; how much more, when there are involved in it, all the infinitely more important interests of that which is to come! Happy are those societies in which the powers of a world to come are so felt, as to shed a sweetening, cheering, enlivening influence over present connections, enjoyments and pursuits. The solemnities of the feast being ended, all prepare to return to their respective homes and their usual employments. Thus wisely and mercifully, He who knows what is in man makes devotion, labour and rest, alternately to recommend, to relieve, and to support each other. A perpetual sabbath would soon prove the death of religion ; under uninterrupted Jabour the man would quickly sink ; rest protracted beyond a certain bound would prove destructive of all repose. But to the heart in which the love of God is shed abroad, the painful toil of the week is mitigated and diminished by the prospect of the day of sacred intermission, of heavenly communication; and the calm, satisfying delights of the Lord's day, bestowing ease on the body, and composure on the mind, serve as a restorative toward undertaking and undergoing the fatigues of another week.
The numerousness of the company which travelled back to Nazareth prevented its being observed that one was wanting, and a complete day's journey is performed, before the eager, attentive eye of even a mother, misses its darling object. How is this to be accounted for? The whole train was a band of brothers, of one heart and of one soul; in whatever part of it the child was, behind or before, he was encompassed with friends : other children of twelve years old need attention, protection and support, but he has given many unequivocal proofs of a wisdom capable of conducting himself. The time is now come that his mother herself must learn with whom she had to do, and to revere in her own son, the Son of the Highest. All was of God, who thus prepared the way for another public declaration of the great Prophet who should come into the world, and that not by the tongue of an Archangel, nor by a multitude of the heavenly host, but by the mouth of Jesus himself; into whose lips grace was poured and praise perfected. It is easier to conceive than to describe the sorrow and anxiety occasioned by the discovery that Jesus was not in the train. The shades of night spread over the soul of a mother the terror of evil beasts, of evil men; of hunger and cold, of missing the road, and of all the nameless apprehensions which solicitous parents feel for unprotected youth and innocence. Nothing remains but to tread back their weary, anxious steps, and the close of the second day sees them enter Jerusalem, with the mixed emotions of hope and despondency; and another sleepless night succeeds the painful day. The third day, well knowing the zeal which he had for God's house, they repair betimes to the temple: they find him; think, O mothers, with what astonishment and delight, in health, safety and composure; and, gracious heaven! how employed ? “sitting in the midst of the Doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions.” Painters and commentators seem to have entirely mistaken this passage of our Saviour's history. They place him in the centre, in the chief seat, assuming authority, instructing grey hairs. The Evangelist places him in the modest seat of a pupil, a pattern to children of twelve, of docility, of humility, of meekness; carefully listening to the questions proposed to him by the public teachers, and answering with defference and submission, though with intelligence and decision ; and proposing, in his turn, questions that led to important truth and really useful knowledge, not such as displayed the acuteness of him who interrogated, or that aimed at exposing him of whom the answer was demanded. In truth, ever since I could read and understand
the words of the historian, I have considered this little anecdote of our bles. sed Lord, as of singular importance in his character, as the great teacher of mankind. The age of twelve is an interesting crisis in human life. The rational soul is then shaking off the child, and emerging into the man. There is about that period, knowledge enough to minister fuel to vanity and selfconceit, but not enough to discern ignorance and folly; there is learning sufficient to tease and perplex, but not to attract and conciliate affection. And did it please thee, meek and condescending Jesus, to instruct that wayward season of existence, when youth begins to feel the force of example, to blush at petulance, to be influenced by honest shame and honest praise, that season when the heart is awake, alive all over to the bitterness of censure, or to the sweets of approbation? Yes, and we see in thee with wonder and joy the happy medium between the firmness of conscious wisdom, and the forwardness of assumed superiority: between the meekness and gentleness which are the inseparable concomitants of real ability, and the selfsufficiency which betrays want of talents, supporting itself by extravagance of claim. That this is the just view of our blessed Lord's conduct is evident from the effect which it produced. You need not be told of the jealousy 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 ostentatiously displayed ; but his whole deportment excited only admiration and love ; his understanding was equalled only by his affability and conde. scension ; he at once instructs his teachers and gains their good will; "all that beard him were astonished at his understanding and answers."
If strangers were thus moved by a mild display of early, unaffected wisdom, what must a parent have felt, whose heart but a moment before was throbbing with anguish unutterable? How happy is she to acknowledge such a son, the delight of every eye, the theme of every tongue. But even Mary, the mother of Jesus, is weak and imperfect, she speaks unadvisedly with her lips, sbe presumes to mingle upbraiding and reproach 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 so repeatedly given to his
beloved Son ; she addresses him, all-wonderful as he was, as if he had been • merely an ordinary child, who had thoughtlessly and wantonly rambled away
from his parents, and had given them unnecessary trouble and pain, He whose every word, every action had an important meaning and design. “ Son,” says she, .' why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing." And now the answer of Christ to this question 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 submissive of all children stands invested with divine majesty, “how is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business ?" or, as it might perhaps with greater propriety have been rendered, “in my Father's house.”
What a lesson is conveyed to the world in this reply ! Sacred is the authority of a mother over a son of twelve years of age, but there is an authority still 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 suppressed. When the voice of heaven calls, the decencies and civilities of life must give place, and all secondary obligations and considerations must be swallowed up of the first. He silently endured the reproach of being called the carpenter's son by strangers, but his own mother must denominate him what he is, and what she knew him to be. But reproof of a parent must be insinuated, not brought directly forward; and here again the pattern is perfect; delicacy