« ПредишнаНапред »
ministry. These names are now stripped of all their glory; those stations are now fallen into disuse, those events are now stripped of all their importance, save what they derive from the relation which they bare to yonder babe in the stable, that child in the midst of the doctors, that gentle, obscure, unassuming youth of Nazareth of Galilee. So differently do objects weigh when examined by the scale of the world, and tried by the balance of the sanctuary. In the next lecture we will proceed, if God permit, to the history of Christ's baptism, and of the illustrious testimony then given from the most excellent glory to Jesus Christ, as God's well-beloved Son.
"Let us with Mary keep all these sayings in our heart." Let us, from the example of this pious pair, regularly attend the worship of God's house, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves as the manner of some is:" and thus shall we "go from strength to strength" till we appear before God in Zion. Let us carefully attend to the proper mode of treatment of children, suited to age, to capacity, to temper and disposition. The discipline adopted to childhood is by no means suited to a more advanced state: and when the youth has become a man, and “ put away childish things," he must be treated as a man. It is of importance to know when the stimulus, when the bridle is to be employed. What would overwhelm the timid, may prove hardly a curb to the headstrong; the slow of speech and understanding must not be urged into the speed of the acute and impetuous. Parents rejoice in a forward display of faculties in their children; they encourage it, and they not seldom repent it. The opposite errour is not common, and is therefore less an object of caution. The difficulties which daily present themselves, in managing the progress of the human mind, are frequently insurmountable by the ordinary powers of man, which therefore stand in need of the illumination of "wisdom from above;" "if any of
you," then, "lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Let the young be instructed how to rise into eminence and distinction. Covet not, pursue not premature honour and applause. Extorted praise is gratifying neither to the giver nor the receiver; a free-will offering of approbation is "twice blest; it blesseth him that gives, and him that takes." Meditate on the familiar image, which, no doubt, has frequently been suggested to you: honour, like the shadow, pursues the flyer, and flies from the pursuer. Demand less than your due, and men will be disposed to give you the more. My young friends, "be not children in understanding: howbeit, in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men."
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being laptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove, upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.-LUKE iii. 21-23.
THE declared purpose of our evangelist, in under
taking to write this history, is that his most excellent friend Theophilus, and with him every lover of God and truth, "might know the certainty of those things wherein he had been instructed." This " 'certainty" is demonstrable from the spirit which christianity breathes, and from the external evidence by which its divine original was confirmed. The religion of Jesus Christ proves that it came down from heaven, from the father of lights, by the character of the great Author and Finisher of our faith, by the example of all righteousness which he set, by the purity and heavenlymindedness which he displayed and recommended, by the labours of mercy and love which he performed, by the suffering which he patiently underwent, and by "the glory that followed." To these Providence was pleased to superadd proofs that reach the understanding through the medium of sense; namely signal, supernatural and frequently repeated testimonies, exhibited in the presence of a cloud of witnesses, who produced a clear, concurring, consistent mass of evidence,
respecting facts which fell under the personal observation of their own eyes and ears and which were never contradicted nor even called in question.
At this distance of time and place, the last mentioned species of evidence, that of external circumstances, must of necessity be transmitted to us through the channel of history, and its validity must rest on the veracity of the historian. The other sort of evidence is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever. This counsel approves itself to be of God, to the conviction of every one who seriously examines, at whatever distance of time and place, from its indeliable characters, from the universality of the field which it embraces, and from the glorious and godlike end at which it aims: in a word, from its congeniality to the feelings, to the wishes, and to the wants of human nature. Had no prediction taught the world to expect a deliverer; had no miracle declared Him the great Lord of the universe; had no voice from Heaven proclaimed Him the beloved Son of God, He must have stood confessed, the predicted Emanuel, God with us, in his compassion to the miserable, in his patience with the froward, in his forbearance toward the evil and unthankful, in his clemency to the guilty. The gospel breathes "peace on earth and good will to men ;" its unbounded liberality diffuses its influence over the whole world of mankind; its professed aim and end are to confer all possibly attainable happiness on every human being, in the life which now is, and perfect and everlasting felicity in that which is to come. The object which christianity proposes to itself is to reform, to purify, to exalt our fallen nature, by making us partakers of a divine nature; it is to rear the fabric of present and everlasting blessedness on the solid foundation of wisdom, truth and virtue. It penetrates and pervades every principle of our nature, and enters completely into the detail of human life and conduct: it informs the understanding, melts the heart, overawes the con
science, and brings the trembling, guilty, helpless, desponding creature unto God. If these are not the characters of a revelation from the God and father of all men. What characters are sufficient to produce belief? If the spirit and tendency of the gospel work not conviction, the descent of an angel from heaven, or the return of one from the regions of the dead would be equally inefficacious.
In this "doctrine according to godliness," Men and brethren, we behold genuine philosophy, not carelessly slumbering over fancied plans of improvement, not coldly suggesting ideas of reform, not bewildering herself in the peradventures of doubtful disputation, but philosophy alive, awake and in action; philosophy doing good and diffusing happiness; the divine philosophy which brings God down to dwell with men upon earth, and which raises men from earth to heaven. In its great Author we behold not the sullen, supercilious recluse, looking with affected contempt on the weakness and ignorance of mankind, talking and arguing sagely, and effecting nothing, but the beneficent friend of man, mixing with society, looking with complacency on harmless enjoyment, stretching forth the hand to relieve distress, with patience and condescension instructing the ignorant, outrunning the expectations and even the desires of the humble, and overcoming evil with good. At every period, and in every condition of life, we behold Him a perfect pattern of every possible
We have already contemplated the blessed Jesus in his original glory, before the world was, and in all the wonders of his humiliation to the level of humanity : we have beheld Him in all the affecting interest of infancy and childhood, born in a stable, laid in a manger, aimed at by the dagger of a ruffian, driven into exile, meekly retiring into obscurity, silently increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. From the age of twelve to thirty years, that is for more