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Now his parents went to Jerufalem every year at the Feast of
the pas over. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, after the custom of the Feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jefus tarried behind in Jerusalem ; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, /upposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they fought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem jeeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the Temple, fitting in the midst of the Doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were altonifhed at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him they were amazea : and his mother said unto him fon, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy Father and I have fought thee furiowing. and he said unto them, how is it that ye sought me? Wijt ye not that I must be about my. Father's business? and they understood not the Jaying which he spake unto them. And he went down with th.m, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart, and Jefus increa;ed in wisdom and stature, and in favour with Godand man. NIVERSAL Nature is progress, succession and change.
We observe it in every thing around us, we feel it in ev. ery particle o: our own trame. But obvious as this progres.
fion is, in its larger portions, the minuter derails defy treciofo • eft attention of the acutelt eye. Darkness has evidently given
place to light; but what vigilance of in pection couli dicertain the precise instant when night ceased and light began to dawn? That plant is palpably increased in strength and size, but let me hang over it the live-long day, with the unrerriring penetration of an eagle's eye, and I am incapable of ca-shing a single step of the progress, Shade melts imperceptibly into shade ; the transition is made, but we were not aware of it; whether we be asleep or awake, carelefs or atentive, the great complex machine keeps in motion, performs its revolution,
produces its effect. The progress of man, the mọit perfect of all creatures that we are acquainted with, is the most interesting of all objects to man. It it be delightful to behold the trees of the forest burit inte verdure, and those of the garden putting on their beautiful garments, and changing that beauty into fruitfulness; if it be plealant to behold the springing corn multiply thirty, fixty, a hundred told ; to behold the flocks and herds increase-what must it be to, behold the image of God multiplied on the earth, the human form divine rear itself toward heaven, the powers of thought and realon çx pand.
THOMSON'S SERING, I. 1143,
But this, like every other human delight, is blended with pain. Even the partiality of parental affection is constrained to observe rank and noisome weeds springing up with the delicate feeds of goodness ; the dawning of reason is obscured by the clouds of tolly and vice, and the promise of a golden har. veft is blighted in early spring, by late frost or premature heat. Before we are well awake to the joy of some newly discovered excellency, we are overwhelmed with the distrefs of perceiving some glaring imperfection, or ungpacious propensity : and where we love and rejoice, there also we find cause to la ment and condemn. The spirit of God has seen meet to prefent the world with one pertect model, for the instruction of every age of human life. We have held it up in a state of infantine beauty fimplicity and gentleness, a passive example of subjection to poverty, and danger, and persecution; but we have seen the meanness and obfcurity of that state relieved by the decided attention of eternal Providence, and by the voluntary homage ot angels and men.
On returning from Egypt, Jesus was carried to the obscure village of Nazareth, and the veil is drawn over him till his twelfth year, when he was pleased to clothe himself for a little while with majesty, and then disappeared, till the time of his final manifeftation to the world, as the Saviour of it. The laws
obliged every male of Israel to appear before the Lord in the place which he had chosen to put his name shere, three times every year, at the three great teafts of pallover, pentecoft, and tabernacles. This was evidently intended to maintain a good correspondence between all the members of the commonwealth; by the focial intercourse, the innocent festivity and the devo. tional exercises which these folemnities promoted,
Jofeph and the mother of Jesus, though the injunétion extended not to females, were in the habit of regularly attending the service of the temple on those occafions ; and Jesus, another" Nazarite to God from his mother's womb,” accompanied them to the holy place. Self-evident marks of the favour of: heaven were already upon him: " He grew, and waxed strong in fpirit, filled with wifdom.”, Expressions importing upcommon comeliness of person, and superior powers of understand ing; but in Him; as in other children, we behold a gradual progression from knowledge to knowledge, as from ftature to Itature. For as nature conceals from us at what moment she unites the immortal mind to the mortal frame, fo the Holy Spirit has thought proper to conceal at what feafon, and in what measure, Deity was pleased to unite himself to the human nature of the Redeemer; and let us not over-curiously seek " to know the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." Neither the lovely form, nor the attractive good: ness, not the excellent wisdom, however, of this wonderful child, seem to have roused much attention or commanded un. common respect. The world is captivated not by real and folid worth, but by the gaudy outside of thewy, superficial qualities. Rank and riches spread a glare over the person of their possessor that makes it known and remembered : they add weight to his most ordinary sayings, which gives them currency and importance ; while poverty, like a bushel put over a candle, prevents it, however clear it may be, from giving its light. What carnal mind can reconcile the idea of great and diftinguished qualities with that of the carpenter's son? No, “ He hath no forma nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should defire him."
In those stated journeys to Jerusalem, it was customary for many families of the same neighbourhood, or of the fame kindred, to travel in company. The road was sweetened and fhortened by friendly communication, and religion strengthen. ed the bands of friendship and the ties of blood. Were there no other reason but this to press upon the heart the importance of attendance on the ordinances of God's houle, that it ferves to strengthen the bond of nature between husband and wite,
parent and child, one neighbour and another, it were enough to recommend it to every one who prizes the comfort of the life that now is ; how much more, when there are involved in it, all the infinitely more important interefts of that which is to come! Happy are those societies in which the powers of a world to come are so felt, as to shed a sweetening, cheering, enlivening influence over present connections, enjoyments and purfuits. The folemnities of the feast being ended, all prepare to return to their relpective homes and their ufual em, ployments. Thus wisely and mercifully, He who knows what is in man makes devotion, labour and reft, alternately to recommend, to relieve, and to lupport each other. A perpetual sab. bath would soon prove the death of religion ; under uninterrupted labour the man would quickly fink; reft protracted beyond a certain bound would prove destructive of all repose. But to the heart in which the love of God is shed abroad, the painful toil of the week is mitigated and diminifhed by the prospect of the day of facred intermiffion, of heavenly commu. nication ; and the calm, satisłying delights of the Lord's day, bestowing ease on the body, and composure on the mind, ferve as a restorative toward undertaking and undergoing the fatigues of another week.
The numeroulness of the company which travelled back to Nazareth prevented its being observed that one was wanting, and a complete day's journey is performed, before the eager, attentive eye of even a mother, miffes its darling object. How is this to be accounted for? The whole train was a band ot brothers, of one heart and of one foul ; in whatever part of it the child was, behind or before, he was encompassed with friends : other children of twelve years old need attention, protection and support, but he has given many unequivocal proofs of a wisdom capable of conducting himself. The time is now come that his mother herselt must learn with whom she had to do, and to revere in her own son, the Son of the Highest. All was of God, who thus prepared the way for another public declaration of the great Prophet who should come into the world, and that not by the tongue of an Archangel, nor by a inultitude of the heavenly host, but by the mouh of Jesus himself ; into. whose lips grace was poured and praise perfected It is eafier to conceive than to describe the sorrow and anxiety occasioned by the discovery that Jesus was not in the train. The shades of night spread over the foul of a mother the terror of evil beats, of evil men; of hun. ger and cold, of missing the road, and of all the nameless ap. prehenfions which folicitous parents feel for unprotected youth
and innocence. Nothing remains but to tread back their weary, anxious, fteps and the close of the second day fees them enter Jerusalem, with the mixed emotions of hope and der. pondency; and another sleepless night fucceeds the painful day. The third day, well knowing the żeal which he had for God's house, they repair betimes to the temple : they find him, think, O mothers, with what astonishment and delight, in health, safety and composure, and gracious heaven ! how em. ployed ? " fitting in the midst of the Doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions." Painters and commentators seem to have entirely mistaken this passage of our Saviour's history. They place him in the centre, in the chief seat, assuming authority, instructing grey hairs. The Evan. gelist places him in the modeft seat of a pupil, a partern to children of twelve, of docility, of humility, of meekness ; carefuily liftening to the questiogs proposed to him by the public teachers, and answering with deference and submission, though with intelligence and decision; and proposing, in his turn, questions that led to important truth and really useful knowledge, not such as displayed the acuteness of him who interrogated, or that aimed at exposing him of whom the an(wer was demanded. In truth ever since I could read and un. derstand the words of the historian, I have considered this little anecdote of our blessed Lord, as of fingular importance in his character, as the great teacher of mankind. The age of twelve is an interesting crisis in human life. The rational soul is then shaking off the child, and emerging into the man. There is about that period, knowledge enough to minister fuel to vanity and felt-conceit, but not enough to discern ignorance and tolly ; there is learning sufficient to tease and perplex, but not to attract and conciliate affection. And did it please thee meek, and condescending Jesus, to inftru£t that way ward season of existence, when youth begins to feel the force of example, to blush at petulance, to be influenced by honest shame and honest praise, that season when the heart is awake, alive all over to the bitterness of censure, or to the sweets of approbation? Yes, and we see in thee with wonder and joy the happy medium between the firmness of conscious wisdom, and the forwardness of assumed fuperiority : between the meekness and gentleness which are the infeparable concomitants of real ability, and the lelf-sufficiency which betrays want of talents, supporting itself by extravagance of claim. That this is the just view of our blessed Lord's conduct is evident from the effect which it produced. You need not to be Del