« PreviousContinue »
tion of myriads, and to check the progress of oppression. In contemplating it the psalmist exclaims : "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound!" It was a figure of that "acceptable year of the Lord” which it was predicted the Messiah should be sent to proclaim, the perpetual jubilee of the gospel, for the remission of sins; for the restoration of the forfeited inheritance of the saints; for the manumission of the slave; for the redemption of the captive; for releasing and bringing back the exile: in a word, "to destroy the work of the devil," to repair the ravages of sin and death, to introduce universal and everlasting liberty, and peace and joy.
The sequel of this service of the synagogue, and the effect which it produced, will be the subject of the next lecture.
Learn, christian, to compare Scripture with Scripture, and predictions with their corresponding events. Search diligently for him to whom all the prophets give witness, and in whom "all the promises of God are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God." Much is clearly manifested and pointedly applied: but much still remains to be brought to light. Truth will not obtrude itself on the careless, superficial reader or observer, but discloses its hidden charms to the diligent, the devout and the inquisitive. It is the injunction of Christ himself: "Search the Scriptures ; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.' Search then in this particular view, and ye will have to tell to others what Philip said to Nathaniel; "We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth." "With joy shall ye draw water out of these wells of salvation:" and having tasted how sweet and refreshing it is, you will be disposed to impart it to others, for in this, if in any case, the saying of the wise man is verified: "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth :" and "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
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 synagogue 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 son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, physician, heal thyself: Whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, verily I say 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, when 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 sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, aud led him unto the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way, and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: For his word was with power.LUKE iv. 20-32.
T is truly affecting to think on what a slippery foundation men attempt to rear the fabric of happiness. They dream of deriving it from their own stores. In the pride of his heart, a man imagines himself to be equal to every thing. What can elude his penetration; what can resist his force; what can fatigue his indus. try? Nevertheless, the stammering of a child betrays his purpose; the rustling of a leaf melts his resolution; a stone cut out of the mountain, and hurled at him by an invisible hand, crushes in a moment all his powers into the dust. Are they more secure, or more successful who depend on foreign aid; who build their felicity on the ability the constancy, or the affection of others? Alas, it is an attempt to erect a house upon the sand; the washing of the next tide levels it to the ground. Friendship, in a flush of zeal, promised you all encouragement and support. The hour of need comes, and you have recourse to the heart which fondly cherished you; it has waxed cold, it is alienated, it acknowledges you no longer. Your mountain stood strong in a prince's favour. What shall not "be done to the man whom the king delights to honour! Ah, his breath, is in his nostrils, he died yesterday, he has returned to his dust. Applauding multitudes hang upon your lips, the public finger point you out with approbation: but " you have heard" of the sufferings, as well as of the patience of Job. "When I went out of the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street, the young men saw me and hid themselves: and the aged rose and stood up. When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me. Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel. They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouth as for the latter rain; I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army-But," O sad reverse! "they that are younger than I, have me in derision.
And now I am their song, yea I am their by word. They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face-Upon my right hand rise the youth, they push away my feet: they mar my path, they set forward my calamity."-And such is every one who trusteth in popular favour; he feedeth on the wind and graspeth the east wind in his arms.
But a more illustrious and more instructive instance, to this purpose, than that of Job, is before us. Now the eyes of the admiring multitude in the synagogue are fastened with wonder and delight on the face of Jesus; anon they are filled with wrath against him: now all bear him witness, and dwell upon "the gra cious words which proceed out of his mouth;" next moment they are up in arms, they thrust him out of the city, they hurry him to the brow of the hill, with an intention to cast him down headlong. The cry today is, "let us take him and make him a king, never man spake like this man ;" to-morrow it is, away with him, crucify him; not this man but Barabbas." Let us trace the progress of the scene, and observe what produced the sudden change and learn to cease from man, and to draw consolation and support from the ap. probation of God, and from the testimony of a conscience void of offence.
The passage which he had read from the prophet, was deeply interesting and affecting. It held up to view a most illustrious personage, supporting a dignified and important character, and singularly qualitied for the exercise of it, employed in rendering the most essential services to mankind; evangelizing the poor, healing the broken hearted, redeeming the captive, enlightening the blind, setting the prisoner free, proclaiming the jubilee year, the era of universal joy. The value and weight of the subject were greatly enhanced by the manner in which he rehearsed it. Into his lips. grace was poured what majesty sat enthroned on his brow! what mild glory beamed from his eyes! what
dignity and grace in his attitude as he rose and sat down, in receiving the book and delivering it again to the minister! Behold every eye is fixed upon him, every ear is attention, while in these few but emphati. cal words, he explains and applies the prediction of the prophet, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." "I am He to whom the prophet gives witness; I am come into the world on this benevolent design; I, your bone and your flesh, your brother, your neighbour, your fellow-citizen, your friend." "Come to me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
On this admiration gradually gives way to a feeling less gentle. Familiarity lowers the object with which it converses: self-love cannot brook to acknowledge a superiour in an equal; envy seeks to indemnify itself under the oppresson of eminent worth and excellence, by discovering and fixing upon some humiliating, mortifying circumstance, that reduces the hated greatness nearer to its own level. This explains the change which so quickly appeared in our Saviour's auditory. Dazzled, at first, by both the matter and the manner of his address, they crown him with applause. But perceiving themselves eclipsed in the lustre of his graces and virtues, sinking as he rose, they strive to tumble him from his excellency, as if by degrading him, they were themselves to mount. His parentage is his only vulnerable part; that was poor, and mean, and despised, and that, accordingly, envy brings forward with affected surprise. "Is not this Joseph's son ?" And when once this baleful, malignant passion has taken possession of the breast, every claim of justice, every plea of worth, every call of gratitude, every emotion of mercy, is disregarded, stifled, trampled under foot.
Christ observes it with pity, not with indignation; for he came not only to relieve the miserable, but to bear with and overcome the froward, to con