« ElőzőTovább »
plating it, the Psalmist exclaims : “ Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound?” It was a figure of that " acceptable year of the Lord” which it was | prodicted the Messiah should be sent to proclaim, the perpetual jubilee of the Gospel, for the remission of sins ; for the restoration of the forfeited inheritance of the saints ; for the manumission of the slave; for the redemption of the captive; for releasing and bringing back the exile : in a word, “ to destroy the works of the devil,” to repair the ravages of sin and death, to introduce universal and everlasting liberty, and peace, and joy.
The sequet of this service of the synagogue, and the effect which it produced, will be the subject of the next Lecture.
Learn, Christian, to compare Scripture with Scripture, and predictions with their corresponding events. Search diligently for him to whom all the prophets give witness, and in whom “all the promises of God are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God." Much is clearly manifested, and pointedly applied; but much still remains to be brought to light. Truth will not obtrude itself on the careless, superficial reader or observer, but discloses its hidden charms to the diligent, the devout and the inquisitive. It is the injunction of Christ himself: “Search the Scriptures ; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." Search then in this particular view, and you will have to tell to others what Philip said to Nathaniel ; “ We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth." “ With joy shall draw water out of these wells of salvation :" and having tasted how sweet and refreshing it is, you will be disposed to impart it to others, for in this, if in any case, the saying of the wise man is verified: “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth :” and " it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
LUKE IV. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32.
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all
them that were in the synagogue were tastened on him. And he hegan to say unto them, this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, is not this Joseph's son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, physician, heal thyselt: Whatsoever we have beard doue in Capernaum, do also bere in thy country. And he said, verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his owu country. Bui I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in The 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 ihem was Elias sent, save unto Sarepia, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naamap 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 him unto the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast bim down headlong But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way, and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: For his word was with power.
It is truly affecting to think on what a slippery foundation men attempt to rear the fabric of happiness. They dream of deriving it from their own stores.
In the pride of his heart, a man imagines himself to be equal to eve ry thing. What can elude his penetration ; what can resist his force; what can fatigue his industry? Nevertheless, the stammering of a child betrays his purpose; the rustling of a leaf melts bis resolution; a stone cut out of the mountain, and hurled at him by an invisible hand, crushes in a moment all his
powers into the dust. Are they more secure, or more successful, who de. pend on foreign aid; who build their felicity on the ability, the constancy, or the affection of others ? Alas, it is an attempt to erect a house upon the sand; the washing of the next tide levels it to the ground. Friendship, in a flush of zeal, promised you all encouragement and support. The hour of need comes, and
you have recourse to the heart which fondly cherished you ; it has waxed cold, it is alienated, it acknowledges you no longer. Your mountain stood strong in a prince's favour. What shall not “ be done to ihe man whom the king delights to honour ?" Ah, his breath is in his nostril's, he died yesterday, he has returned to his dust. Applauding multitudes hang upon your lips, the public finger points you out with approbation : but " you have heard" of the sufferings, as well as of the patience of Job. “When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street, the young men saw me and hid themselves: and the aged arose and stood up.
When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witDess to me. Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel. They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouth as for the latter rain ; I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in
the army.-But," O sad reverse! “ they that are younger than I, have me in derision. And now I am their song, yea I am their by-word. They abhot me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face. Upon my right hand rise the youth, they push away my feet: they mar my path, they set forward my calamity."-And such is every one who trusteth in popular favour; he feedeth on the wind and graspeth the east wind in his arms,
But a more illustrious and more instructive instance, to this purpose, than that of Job, is before us, Now the eyes of the admiring multitude in the synagogue are fastened with wonder and delight on the face of Jesus ; anon they are filled with wrath against him : now all bear him witness, and duell upon “the gracious words which proceed out of his mouth ;" vext moment they are up in arms, they thrust him out of the city, they hurry him to the brow of the hill, with an intention to cast him down beadlong.
The cry today is, “ let us take bim and make him a king, never man spake like this man;" to-morrow it is, “away with him, crucify him ; not this man but Ba. rabbas." Let is trace the progress of the scene, and observe what produced the sudden change, and learn to cease from man, and to draw consolation and support from the approbation of God, and from the testimony of a conscience Toid of offence.
The passage which he had read from the prophet was deeply interesting and affecting. It held up to view a most illustrious personage, supporting a dignified and important character, and singularly qualified for the exercise of it, employed in rendering the most seasonable and the most essential services to mankind; evangelizing the poor, healing the broken-hearted, redeeming the captive, enlightening the blind, setting the prisoner free, proclaiming the jubilee year, the era of universal joy. The value and weight of the subject were greatly enhanced by the manner in which he rehcarsed it. Into his lips grace was poured : what majesty sat enthroned on his brow! what mild glory beamed from his eyes ! whai dignity and grace in his attitude as he rose and sat down, in receiving the book and delivering it again to the minister! Behold every eye is fixed upon him, every ear is atiention, while in these few but emphatical words, he explains and applies the prediction of the prophet, " This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. “I am He to whom the prophet gives witness; I am come into the world on this benevolent design; 1, your bone and your flesh, your brother, your neighbour, your fellow-citizen, your friend." "Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
On this admiration gradually gives way to a feeling less gentle. Familiarity lowers the object with which it converses ; self-love cannot brook to acknowledge a superiour in an equal ; envy seeks to indemnify itself under the oppression of eminent worth and excellence, by discovering and fixing upon some humiliating, mortifying circumstance, that reduces the hated greatness nearer to its own level. This explains the change which so quickly appeared in our Saviour's auditory. Dazzled, at first, by both the matter and manner of his address, they crown him with applause. But perceiving themselves eclipsed in the lustre of his graces and virtues, sinking as he rose, they strive to tumble him from his excellency, as if by degrading him, they were themselves to mount. His parentage is his only vulnerable part ; that was poor, and mean, and despised, and that, accordingly, envy brings forward with affected surprize.
" Is not this Joseph's son ?" And when once this baleful, malignant passion has taken possession of the breast, every claim of justice, every plea of worth, every call of gratitude, every emotion of mercy, is disregarded, stifled, trampled under foot.
Christ observes it with pity, not with indignation ; for he came not only to relieve the miserable, but to bear with and overcome the froward, to convince,
subdue and melt the obstinate, to cure prejudice, and to instruct indocility. Their uncivil, invidious inquiry excites in hun no resentment; it can do him Du hurt; but grieved at the hardness of their heart, and at the same time, compassionating their weakness, he at once reproves the one, and makes an apology tor the other. The apology he draws from the common, and well known principles of human nature. No prophet is accepted in his own country. Amung strangers, a mau is esteemed according to his talents and virtues. His ancestry and kindred are a matter of no moment. It is even a degree of merit to have einerged out of obscurity ; but at home, among kindred and acquaintance, eminent qualities are regarded with a jealous eye. The reputation, ability and wisdom of exalted goodness are considered by the less deserving as a reproach to themselves : What is every day within our reach we every day neglect. What costs us little we lightly esteem. Difficulty and danger, and distance endance the value of every object of pursuit. But the very apology inplies a censure of human nature, as wicked, unjust and absurd, in undervaluing worth merely because it is allied to us, and neglecting good for no better reason than that it is known.
Our blessed Lord, accordingly, bleuds mild and gentle reproof with the exsuse which he makes for the unkind return that his countrymen and kinstolk had made to his affectionate endeavours to serve and to instruct them. And this seems to be the force of his reasoning.--" You have heard, my dear friends, of my going about doing good, at Capernaum and elsewhere ; and you will naturally and with justice say to me, in the language of the common proverb, Physician, heal thyself: look at home; in attention to objects more reinote, overlook not such as are equally pressing, and still more nearly interesting; let thy own country, if not in preference, at least in common with strangers, reap the benefit of these thy extraordinary, supernatural powers. Well, my beloved countrymen, here I am for this very purpose : ready to instruct you in the way of salvation, ready to heal all your plagues, to perform all the offices of mercy and loving-kindness which the prophet, in the passage which I now read, predicted concerning me: but I know the meaning of these ungracious looks, of these malignant whispers, of that envious inquiry into my pedigree, and occupation, and connections in life. You are under the power of prejudice, you are too well acquainted with me to reap benefit from my ministrations : my labours will be more acceptable where I am less known.
" It happeneth to me as it did to the prophets of old ; they were neglected, hared, persecuted of their own countrymen ; and you inherit the spirit of your fathers, whom no calamity could subdue, no arguments convince, no goodness charm. I appeal to the history of our own nation. The times of Elijah's prophecy were marked with many signal interpositions of Divine Providence, particularly with a grievous famine, occasioned by a drought of uncommon duration, three years and six months. It was universally felt, particularly by the poorer and more unprotected part of the community, the widow and the fatherless; and the extraordinary powers of the prophet were equally well known and acknowledged. But what is the faci? Was the prophet sought unto? Did the general distress drive the sufferers to seek relief in the piety and miraculous powers of the man of God? No, he was the Tishbite, the son of somebody whom they knew, he was at home, among his own and therefore his person was despised, his office slighted, and even the widow and the fatherless, unsubdued by the strong hand of necessity, perished from want, because they scorned the humane and compassionate interposition of a neighbour and kinsman. But O how acceptable was his visit to a stranger, a pagan, a woman of Sidon? She felt with others the pressure of the common calamity; the law of self-preservation, and compassion for the son of her womb, were strong in her, as in any widow or mother in Israel : but more
fai:hful and believing than they, she cheerfully made the sacrifice of her last eartily provision; at the word of the prophet, she gave up her own and her so 's subsistence ; she reposed confidence in heaven, she acknowledged the ensigus of Deity, she cast herself upon a miracle, and her hope made her not ashamed."
“ Take another example, my friends, from your own history, and let it admonish and reprove you. Elisha inherited a double portion of the spirit of his master Elijah; he performed many notable miracles, he divided the waters of the river, he made iron to swim, he raised the dead to life, he employed the supernatural powers which were conferred upon him, in removing the miseries of his fellow-creatures. Among these the leprosy was one, a disease which battles the skill of the physician, which not medicine, but the immediate power of God alone can cure. Now, what saith the record ? What Israelitish lepers applied to the prophet, of the multitudes who were affected with this loathsome distemper? Not so much as one. He was at home, among those of his own house ; the wretched patient, loathsome to himself, and a burden offensive to every one about him, chooses rather to continue an abomination, than to be behoiden to an acquaintance, to an equal, to a prophet of his own country, for the miracle of cleansing. Not so the son of the stranger : Naaman, the Syrian, the commander of armies, the favourite of a prince, a worshipper of strange gods. He believes the report, he flies to the physician, he follows the prescription, he washes in Jordan, and becomes clean.'
The conscience of his audience makes the application of our Saviour's doctrine; and wbat ensues ? What always did, and always will, when the principle of conscience is awakened, either humble and contrite submission to the reproof, and an honest endeavour to profit by it: or else a rapcorous animosity against the reprover, the confirmation of prejudice, a wilful exclusion of light, or a determined perseverance in what is known to be wrong. Unhappily the frequenters of the synagogue at Nazareth were of this last description. Their indignation falls, not as it ought to have done, on their own mean, unworthy, ungenerous, unmanly spirit, but on their kind, affectionate, gentle monitor, And what follows? Is it the cynical representation of some surly traducer of mankind; or is it truth and history ? Merciful Father of mankind ! must I believe that the very persons who just now gazed with delight on that super-angelic face, who listened with rapture to the accents of that celestial voice, who justly gloried in their townsman, companion and friend, are instantaneously converted into demons of hell? What, meditate, digest murder! the murder of innocence, truth and wisdom! What, all of them ! not one calm, moderate spirit to suggest milder counsels, to plead the cause of goodness, to arrest the hand of violence! No, not one. O human nature, what wert thou; and what art thou become! I tremble to thiok that I am a partaker of thee; of a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
They rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led hiin unto the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong." And shall not fire come down from heaven, as it did opce, and a second time, to avenge as lighter insult offered to a much inferiour prophet? O no! “the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Behold a more glorious triumph, a miracle of grace and condescension, a triumph worthy of the Son of God, and the Saviour of men. " He, passing through the midst of them, went his way.” Behold power and mercy united.
Were they, like the men of Sodom, stricken with blindness? Were their hands, like Jeroboani's, dried up and rendered immoveable ? Were their eyes, like the disciples going to Emmaus, holden, that they should not know him ?
I stop not to inquire. Suffice it to sav, his “ hour was not yet come,”, and they had no power at all over him but what was permitted of