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to the little invidious distinctions of country and kin dred, 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 instructor 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 instructor 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 secret reproach and condemnation. 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 market-place, 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 vilest 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 solemn and sublime 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 particu
lar 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 a 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 tongue, parched with juvenile exercise; 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 that 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 had 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 synagogue. 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. But man, swallowed up as he is of sense, must have the devout affections raised by an appeal to the lower facul
ties 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 sea shore, the temple and the upper chamber were one and the same 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 report."
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