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SERMON II.

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE

EPIPHANY.

ON THE OBSERVANCE OF SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS, AND

THE DUTIES OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN.

GOSPEL. St. Luke, ü. v. 42-52.—And when Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem ; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered; and his mother said to him, Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them, How is it that you sought me? did you not know that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth ; and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age, and grace with God and man. The Gospel of this Sunday presents us with an interesting and circumstantial account of a remarkable occurrence in the private life of our blessed Saviour, whilst he dwelt in obscurity under the humble roof of his parents at Nazareth. It states in the first place, that when Jesus had attained his twelfth year, he was conducted by his Virgin Mother, and his reputed father Saint Joseph, to the city of Jerusalem, there to celebrate, with them, according to their annual custom, the Feast of the Passover. 2ndly. That on the expiration of that solemn festival, (which lasted seven days) they set out on their return home, imagining their beloved son to be in company with them. 3rdly. That having proceeded a day on their journey, and sought him in vain among their friends and relatives, they went back to Jerusalem, where, after a most active and diligent search, they found at length, to their no small amazement and delight, the dear object of their anxious pursuit, seated in the temple, amidst the doctors of the law, listening to, and interrogating them, and astonishing those who witnessed the extraordinary scene, by the sagacity of his questions, and the excellence of his replies. 4thly. That his Virgin Mother having given vent to her feelings in that gentle expostulation, so expressive of maternal affection, “son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. ;” and having received for answer, that it behoved him to be engaged in the concerns of his heavenly father, “how is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my father's business?" silently acquiesced, as did her venerable spouse, in the mysterious reply, though, at the same time, they were utterly

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at a loss to comprehend its meaning. understood not the word that he spoke unto them.” 5thly. That he accompanied them home to Nazareth ; that his conduct towards them, was there distinguished by dutiful submission to their parental authority, and that every particular of this remarkable series of events, was to the devout Mary, a secret subject of profound meditation. “ And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.” And finally, that the transcendant wisdom of the holy Jesus, and the estimation in which he was held both by God and man, were progressively manifested, as he advanced in age. “ And Jesus increased in wisdom and age,* and grace with God and men.” Such, my friends, is in substance, the account given to us in this day's gospel, of an event, constituting the whole of the intelligence to be depended upon as authentic, respecting our blessed Saviour, from an early period of his youth, to the time of the baptism administered to him by his precursor on the banks of the Jordan, preparatory to his entrance on the discharge of the functions of his public ministry, and from which, I

purpose to submit to your consideration, a few reflections that it has obviously suggested to my mind.

* The Greek word rAexta is used to express either age or stature. The former is the usual rendering in this passage, but the latter appears to me to be the true meaning

The first object, which an attentive perusal of this interesting narrative immediately presents to our notice, is the exemplary piety of the devout couple in this holy family, who were not only themselves in the habit of going annually to the city of Jerusalem for the celebration of the Feast of the Passover, but who, when their son was of a proper age, conducted him also with them on the return of that solemnity.

“ And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast.” What an admirable model is here exhibited to parents of punctuality, in assisting at the public worship of the church, on festivals appointed to be kept holy, and of causing their children, when at the age of discretion, to accompany them thither on those solemn occasions! I am indeed aware of the observation which will no doubt be made, that in a country like this, in which the religion which you profess, is not the established religion of the state, and in which therefore, the people at large pay no attention to its sacred ordinances, you can not, consistently with that just regard which is due to the subsistence of yourselves and families, sanctify as you would wish, those great solemnities consecrated to the worship of the living God. Far be it from me, my friends, to lay burthens upon you which you are unable to bear. Far be it from me to counteract in any manner, those strenuous exertions which the support of yourselves and offspring imperiously demands. Nor is it the design of your holy mother the church, to lay injunctions upon you of such unreasonable severity, but conformably to the doctrine of holy writ, she may be conceived on the contrary, thus to address you in the language of St. Paul, “if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1. Tim. C. v. v. 8.) Whenever therefore a strict observance of her positive institutions, is not compatible with the paramount obligations of maintenance, which you indispensably owe, both to yourselves, and to those, who under heaven, look up to you for their daily bread, it is not, by any means, her intention to enforce them in your regard. But you are to observe at the same time, that as she has appointed her ministers the guardians of her discipline, and has left it to them to decide when such cases really occur, it is incumbent upon you, when you consider yourselves to be so circumstanced, to make application to them, and to abide respectfully by their decisions.

Reasonable however, as the observation, which has been stated respecting festivals appointed by the church, must be allowed to be, and willing as I am to give it every due consideration, yet there is one festival of divine institution, to which it can not be admitted to be justly applicable : and that is the festival of the Lord's day, which by Christians of every denomination, is universally consecrated to the service of the Most High. To

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