« PreviousContinue »
LUKE, IV. 13-32.
And when the devil had ended all the temptation he departed from
him for a season. And Jesus relurned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee : and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their /ynagogues, 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 fabbath 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 hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of fight 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 to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the /ynagogue were fastened on him. And he began 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 lon? and he Jard unto them, ye will surely say unto mne this proverb,.physician, heal thyself: whctsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do allo here in thy country. And he said, verily, I jay unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own.country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, zuhen 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 jent, lave unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in ljrcel in the time of Einjeus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, javing Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and roje 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 him down head!ong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way, and came s down to Capernaum, a city of Gali-ee, and taught them on the
fabbath days.. And they were afonished at his doctrine : for, his word. was with power.
THEN the Son of God came for the Salvation of a loft
world, " verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the feed 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 themfelves, but by the benefits which he conferred on the evil and unthanktui. Subject himself to the finless infirmities of human nature, he was experimentally taught to fympathize with the weak; " in that he himself bath 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, forrows 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 hungred," 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 Şaian to flight, received the hom. age 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 folemnity and folitude of a forty days retirement from all human converse, the order of his future procedure 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 foul, returoing from the desert into Galilee, to enter on his arduous and important undertaking. The public attention was fixed, and expectation excited by the fingular circumstances attending his birth and baptism. The discerning eye of the Baptist faw 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 lin 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 he 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 con. queror, with his sword dyed in the blood of his enemies ? No, in Galilee, the proverbially reproachful refilence of almost his whole life, in the humble character of a teacher of relig. ion, and employing only the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. In this we behold him teaching us a generous fuperiority 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 happinels of men, and a just discernment of the means beft adapted to the attainment of these ends.
What a Glent instructor had his childhood and youih been of subjection to parental authority, of conientment with a poor and mean condition, of holiness in all manner of conver, fation? What an interesting object was prelented to the eye in a form fo fair, animated by a mind to 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 thould be " glorified of all.” It was probably about this period, that "the beginning of his miracles" he performed at Cana of Galilee, “ and manifestedaforth his glory,” by turning water into winę, 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 unbend, ing pride of affected wisdom, the uncomplying preciseness which refuses to partake of the harmless intercourse and en. joyments of human life, and the coldness and indifference with which selfishness endeavours to fiile the voice of blood, of friendthip and of natural affe&tion.
How greatly must his public ministrations have been enhanced and endeared by the meekness and gentleness of his privale deportment ! What force must divine truth, delivered in the synagogue, have derived from the utterance of that tongue which in do. mestic 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, muft try to conceal its bitterness under a
: Terene forehead, and calmnels of Ipeeco ; and the unhappy man may be administering to others that consolation to which he himnlelt is a stranger, or, what is infinitely worse, may be called by public duty to declare that truth which is his secret szeproach and condemnation. But O how delightful the enteri tainment, when the hand which dispenses to oihers can with holy confidence take its own appropriated share ! How dignifed is the character which, in the closet, in the parlour, in the markel-place, in the synagogue, in the pulpit, presents but one and the fame perfon, the servant of God, the friend of man ; the respectable and amiable member of society, the kind relation, the agreeable neighbour, the gentle mafter, the patriotic citizen, the faithful paitor! What a model, in all these respects, ris presenied to the Christian minister, in the person, the char. acter and the conduct of his divine Master! What must have been the ineffable charm of that divine eloquence which captivaled every ear, every heart'; which coinmanded universal admiration and applause; and which, alas, such is the enmity of the carnal mind, so foon roused the vileft and worst of hu. man passions in the breast of his neighbours and acquaintance, envy, and jealousy, and malice, and hatred ! O how pleasant it is to acconi pany, 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 virthous friendihip, to the solemn and sublime exercises of public worship ; and to observe in all the changing scenes, the same lovely sim. plicity, the fame unassuming dignity, the same unvarying charaty and good will!
But the Evangelift 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. Be. hold him then at Nazareth, where he had been brought up, in the synagogue on the fabbath day, according to his tom, standing up to read, unfolding the prophecy, the propheк cy 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 plealant 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 GaliSee, and taught in their fynagogues, and received the cheerful shomage 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 na.. ture 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 inexpreffible ; 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 19 a. mother those must have been which passed at Nazareth, in the house and in the synagogue, during this bleiled 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 cola ors 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 rape ture 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 caft my weary limbs ; on the ascent to the house of God along which my yet unconfirmed footsteps accompanied my venerable grandfire at the hour of prayer ; the note of the summoning be!) is even now in mine ears. The feeling is nai-. ural; it is harmless ; perhaps it may be virtuous. And is it a degradation of our subject to say that we see in the history be tóre 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 Sun of God could teel, on the associates of tender years ; on the relations which the hand of pature, on those which the wisdom of Providence had formed:ftriving 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, engaga. ing, and attractive character of a liberal and generous townia.' man ; rejoicing in the exertion of his ripened talents, his im. proved powers, his enlarged abilities, for the information, ima provement and comfort of the friends of his youth.
Artend to the place which he chofe for this purpose-the place of public assembly, devoted to the service of God, to the.