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city, scaled the pinnacle of the temple, mingled with the sons of God, has "transformed himself into an angel of light, and ever with a design to waste and to destroy.” But into “ the paradise of God," " that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie." Blessed state ! when there shall be no inward corruption, and no fear of asa sault from without. Fear not, “ The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” “ If God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth ; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any bther creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST,
And when the devil bad ended all the temptation he departed from him for a season. And Jesus re
turned in the power of the spirit into Galilee : and there went out a faine of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 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 bath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance 10 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 he gave it again in the minister, and sat down.' And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began 10 say unto them, this day, is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare hiin witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said. is vot this Joseph's son? and he said unto them, ye will surely say unto me this proverb, physician, heal thyselt: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy couniry. And he said, verily, I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But'l tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in ihe days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And niany lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust him out of the city, and led bim unto the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went bis way, and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And ihey were astonished at his doctrine : for his word was with power.
When the Son of God came for the Salvation of a lost world, " verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham;" he assumed not royal state, but, “the form of a servant;" his progress was marked, not by the blood of those who opposed themselves, but by the benefits which he conferred on the evil and unthankful. Subject himself to the sinless infirmities of human nature, he was experimentally taught to sympathize with the weak; " in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
The wilderness exhibited a wonderful display of the divine nature united to humanity, of the humiliation of the “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” and of the majesty of the mighty God, who has all creatures at his disposal, and under his control. The “ man was an hungered," and exposed to temptation, and arbitrarily disposed of by an insolent foe: He was humbled to the hearing of blasphemous suggestions, and the bearing of cruel and unmerited insults. The Divinity miraculously sustained the infirmity of nature, quenched the fiery darts of the devil, put Satan to flight, received the homage and service of angels. In all he presented an object of admiration and love, and in every display of human excellence he exhibited a pattern for imitation.
Jesus had now attained his thirtieth year. The Spirit of God and of glory rested on him; and a voice from heaven had declared his generation. In the solemnity and solitude of a forty days' retirement from all human converse, the order of his future proceedure is settled, according to the plan of the eternal mind. Behold him then in the power of the Spirit, in the greatness of his strength, in the travail of his soul, returning from the desert into Galilee, to enter on his arduous and important undertaking. The public attention was fixed, and expectation excited by the singular circumstances attending his birth and baptism. The discerning eye of the Baptist saw in him “ The great Prophet who should come into the world,” and with the finger he pointed him out as “ the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” His sudden disappearance after his baptism, and after the testimony then borne to him from above, must have been an occasion of some wonder, and a subject of much conversation, for on his return, at the end of the forty days, we find his fame already spread abroad, and a general disposition to receive and to hear him manifested. And where does be begin his career, and what character does he assume, and what arms does he employ? At Rome, the seat of empire, in the triumphant state of a conqueror, with his sword dyed in the blood of his enemies? "No, in Galilee, the proverbially reproachful residence of almost his whole life, in the humble character of a teacher of religion, and employing only the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. In this we behold him teaching us a generous superiority to the little invidious distinctions of country and kindred, a noble contempt of the glory of this world, an ardent zeal for the glory of God, a benevolent concern for the happiness of men, and a just discernment of the means best adapted to the attainment of these ends.
What a silent instructer had his childhood and youth been of subjection to parental authority, of contentment with a poor and mean condition, of holiness in all manner of conversation? What an interesting object was presented to the eye in a form so fair, animated by a mind so pure and exalted ! With what delight must the ear have hung upon those lips which wisdom inspired, and into which grace was poured! How commanding, how attractive that goodness which was incessantly aiming at communicating good to others! Is it any wonder that when He became the public and active instructer of his countrymen, he should be " glorified of all.” It was probably about this period, that “the beginning of his miracles” he performed at Cana of Galilee, "and manifested forth his glory,” by turning water into wine, at the marriage solemnity of one of his relations or friends. By this he approved himself the affectionate, condescending brother of mankind, and, at the same time, the great Lord of nature, to whom all elements are subject; and whereby he reproves the unbending pride of affected wisdom, the uncomplying preciseness which refuses to partake of the harmless intercourse and enjoyments of human life, and the coldness and indifference with which selfishness endeavours to stifle the voice of blood, of friendship and of natural affection. How greatly must his public ministrations have been enhanced and endeared by the meekness and gentleness of his private deportment! What force must divine truth, delivered in the synagogue, have derived from the utterance of that tongue which in domestic and social communication was governed by "the law of kindness."
In the mere human teacher, the professional appearance must frequently be at variance with the personal; a heart torn with a thousand anxieties, must try to conceal its bitterness under a serene forehead, and calmness of speech; and the unhappy man may be administering to others that consolation to which he himself is a stranger, or, what is infinitely worse, may be called by public duty to declare that truth which is his sccret reproach and condemna
tion. But O how delightful the entertainment, when the hand which dispenses to others can with holy confidence take its own appropriated share! How dignified is the character which, in the closet, in the parlour, in the marketplace, in the synagogue, in the pulpit, presents but one and the same person, the servant of God, the friend of man; the respectable and amiable member of society, the kind relation, the agreeable neighbour, the gentle master, the patriotic citizen, the faithful pastor! What a model, in all these respects, is presented to the Christian minister, in the person, the character and the conduct of his divine Master! What must have been the ineffable charm of that divine eloquence which captivated every ear, every heart; which commanded universal admiration and applause ; and which, alas, such is the enmity of the carnal mind, so soon roused the vjlest and worst of human passions in the breast of his neighbours and acquaintance, envy, and jealousy, and malice, and hatred! O how pleasant it is to accompany, in thought, the blessed Jesus from house to house; from devotional retirement, to useful and necessary employment; from honourable employment, to social endearment: from the pure and innocent delights of virtuous friendship, to the solemo and subJime exercises of public worship; and to observe in all the changing scenes, the same lovely simplicity, the same unassuming dignity, the same unvarying charity and good-will!
But the Evangelist leads us from general to particular ideas; and gives vivacity and effect to our meditations, by bringing them to one point of time, of place and of expression. Behold him then at Nazareth, where he had - been brought up, in the synagogue, on the sabbath day, according to his usual custom, standing up to read, unfolding the prophecy, the prophecy of Isaias, a remarkable prediction, and himself the subject of it; then closing the book, delivering it again to the minister, sitting down to explain and apply what he had read; and how pleasant it is to mark the emotion which every word, every action produced in an astonished and delighted audience! Every one of these circumstances seems to merit a few moments' meditation.
He came to Nazareth. Having visited other parts of Galilee, and taught in their synagogues, and received the cheerful homage which heartfelt gratitude pays to real worth ; having performed the duties of a benevolent neighbour and kind relation at Cana, rejoicing with them that rejoiced, and putting respect on the ordinance of God, the idea of home suggests itself, the kind affections become concentrated, the calls of nature are felt and obeyed. At Nazareth his mother dwelt; he was well aware of her maternal tenderness and solicitude: his forty days absence about his “ Father's business” must have filled her with pain inexpressible; her soul was about to be pierced through with many a sword, whose keen point could not be averted; but filial affection will not suffer her to feel the stroke before the time ; and what moments of ecstacy to a mother those must have been which passed at Nazareth in the house and in the synagogue, during this blessed interval! And what delight must it have been to that Son to minister to the consolation of his mother!
He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. The scenes, in which early life was passed, are painted in lively colours on the imagination. Memory frequently recals, and the heart fondly cherishes them. They are blended with the ideas of gaiety, and want of care and innocence. I think with rapture on the tree from which my childish hand plucked the golden fruit ; on the cooling stream which refreshed the tongrie, parched with juvenile ex. ercise ; on the flower-enamelled turf whereon I cast my weary limbs ; on the ascent to the house of God along which my yet unconfirmed footsteps accompanied my venerable grandsire at the hour of prayer ; the note of the summoning bell is even now in mine ears. The feeling is natural, it is harmless,
perhaps it may be virtuous. And is it a degradation of our subject to say tha we see in the history before us, the ingenuous, generous Nazarene, thinking with complacency on the particular spots consecrated by the recollections of early piety, of friendship and of enjoyment; thinking with affection, such as only the Son of God could feel, on the associates of tender years ; on the relations which the hand of nature, on those which the wisdom of Providence bad formed; striving in the maturity of thirty, to communicate to grown men that wisdom and happiness, which the unsuspecting, unenvious generosity of twelve delights to convey to its equal. The Saviour of the world is here held up in the honourable, engaging, and attractive character of a liberal and generous townsman ; rejoicing in the exertion of his ripened talents, his improved powers, his enlarged abilities, for the information, improvement and comfort of the friends of his youth.
Attend to the place which he chose for this purpose--the place of public assembly, devoted to the service of God, to the conveyance of useful knowledge, and to the devout association of kindred spirits, the synagoguc. There is indeed no real difference of place, in respect of sanctity. Wherever God is worshipped " in spirit and in truth,” there is holy ground. Bat man, swallowed up as he is of sense, must have the devout affections raised by an appeal to the lower faculties of his nature: and the form and situation of the spot where he worships, must be called in to assist the mind, to promote the love of his fellow worshippers, to give energy to kind affections, and to elevate the soul to the Creator, on the wings of love to the creature whom he has formed after his own image. To thee, blessed Jesus! the city and the wilderness, the mountain and the seashore, the temple and the upper chamber were one and the saine thing ; but it pleased thee to be a pattern of “decency and order," to exemplify submission to the ordinance of God, to walk before thy kindred and acquaintance, in “things which are lovely and of good
The service of the synagogue was not at that time perfectly pure ; many corruptions both in doctrine and practice had been introduced, but still God was worshipped there, and Scripture still flowed pure and uncontaminated ; and he will not seem to pour contempt on what savoured of human imperfection, lest that which was genuine and divine should fall into disrepute. A virtuous state of Society, and a pure Church are highly desirable ; but in order to enjoy such a happy order of things, a man "must needs go out of the world." All that wisdom and piety united can achieve, is gradually and temperately to ameliorate the public morals, and to rectify disorders which may have crept into the Church. No vigilance nor sagacity can prevent the enemy from sowing tares among the wheat; but though they may be ever so distinguishable, they are not rudely and prematurely to be rooted up, “ lest, while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them." They must * both grow together until the harvest.” The holy Jesus derived no taint from a disorderly synagogue and a profaned temple; but he restored the order of the synagogue, and the sanctity of the temple. He could contract no impurity by sitting down to meat with publicans and sinners; and learn no hypocrisy by communication with pharisees; but by the wisdom and purity of his conversation publicans and sinners were reproved, instructed and reformed and hypocrisy stood detected. There is a mean, dishonourable and criminal " becoming all things to all men,” for the sordid purposes of self-interest, or the gratification of a vainglorious spirit; but there is likewise an honourable, manly and praiseworthy accommodation to the wants and wishes of our fellow-creatures, which disinterestedly aims at their good. This lesson“ Paul, the servant of Jesus Christ,” and the most independent in spirit of all mankind, had been taught in the school of his divine Master. For though,