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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 white proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son ? And he said unto thema, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have hean done in Caper. naum, dó also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in beis 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 widov. 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, and led him unto the brow of the hill, whereas their city was built, that they might cast him down beadlong. 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 sabbathdays. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word, was with power.-LUKE iv. 2032
It is truly affecting to think on what a But,” O sad reverse !" they that are younger slippery foundation men attempt to rear the than I, have me in derision. And now I am fabric of happiness. They dream of deriving their song, yea I am their by-word. They it from their own stores. In the pride of his abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare heart, a man imagines himself to be equal to not to spit in my face. Upon my right hand every thing. What can elude his penetra- | rise the youth, they push away my feet: tion; what can resist his force; what can they mar my path, they set forward my cafatigue his industry? Nevertheless, the lamity.” And such is every one who truststammering of a child betrays his purpose ; eth in popular favour; he feedeth on the wind, the rustling of a leaf melts his resolution: and graspeth the east wind in his arms. a stone cut out of the mountain, and hurled But a more illustrious and more instructive at him by an invisible hand, crushes in a instance, to this purpose, than that of Job, is moment all his powers into the dust. Are before us. Now the eyes of the admiring they more secure, or more successful, who multitude in the synagogue are fastened with depend on foreign aid; who build their feli- wonder and delight on the face of Jesus; city on the ability, the constancy, or the af- anon they are filled with wrath against him: fection of others ? Alas, it is an attempt to now all bear him witness, and dwell upon erect a house upon the sand; the washing the gracious words which proceed out of of the next tide levels it to the ground. his mouth;” next moment they are up in Friendship, in a flush of zeal, promised you arms, they thrust him out of the city, they all encouragement and support. The hour hurry him to the brow of the bill, with an of need comes, and you have recourse to the intention to cast him down headlong. The heart which fondly cherished you; it has cry to-day is, “ let us take him and make him waxed cold, it is alienated, it acknowledges a king ; never man spake like this man;" you no longer. Your mountain stood strong to-morrow it is, “away with him, crueify in a prince's favour. What shall not " be him; not this man but Barabbas." Let us done to the man whom the king delights to trace the progress of the scene, and observe honour ?" Ah, his breath is in his nostrils, what produced the sudden change, and he died yesterday, he has returned to his learn to cease from man, and to draw consodust. Applauding multitudes hang upon your lation and support from the approbation of lips, the public finger points you out with ap- God, and from the testimony of a conscience probation: but “ you have heard” of the suf- void of offence. ferings, as well as of the patience of Job. The passage which he had read from the “When I went out to the gate through the prophet was deeply interesting and affecting. city, when I prepared my seat in the street, It held up to view a most illustrious personthe young men saw me and hid themselves: age, supporting a dignified and important and the aged arose and stood up. When the character, and singolarly qualified for the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when exercise of it, employed in rendering the the eye saw me, it gave witness to me. Unto most seasonable and the most essential serme men gave ear, and waited, and kept si-vices to mankind; evangelizing the poor, lence at my counsel
. They waited for me as healing the broken-hearted, redeeming the for the rain, and they opened their mouth as captive, enlightening the blind, setting the for the latter rain; I chose out their way, and prisoner free, proclaiming the jubilee rear, sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army.- the era of universal joy. The value and
weight of the subject were greatly enhanced acquaintance, eminent qualities are regarded by the manner in which he rehearsed it. Into with a jealous eye. The reputation, ability, his lips grace was poured : what majesty sat and wisdom of exalted goodness are consienthroned on his brow! what mild glory dered by the less deserving as a reproach to beamed from his eyes! what dignity and themselves: What is every day within our grace in his attitude as he rose and sat down, reach we every day neglect. What costs us in receiving the book and delivering it again little we lightly esteem. Difficulty, and danto the minister! Behold every eye is fixed ger, and distance enhance the value of every upon him, every ear is attention, while in object of pursuit. But the very apology implies these few but emphatical words, he explains a censure of human nature, as wicked, unjust, and applies the prediction of the prophet, and absurd, in undervaluing worth merely “ This day is this scripture fulfilled in your because it is allied to us, and neglecting good ears." "I am He to whom the prophet gives for no better reason than that it is known. witness; I am come into the world on this Our blessed Lord, accordingly, blends mild benevolent design; I, your bone and your and gentle reproof with the excuse which he flesh, your brother, your neighbour, your fel. makes for the unkind return that his counlow-citizen, your friend." "Come to me, all trymen and kinsfolk had made to his affecye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will tionate endeavours to serve and to instruct give you rest.”
them. And this seems to be the force of his On this admiration gradually gives way to reasoning.—" You have heard, my dear a feeling less gentle. Familiarity lowers friends, of my going about doing good, at the object with which it converses; self-love Capernaum and elsewhere; and you will nacannot brook to acknowledge a superior in turally and with justice say to me, in the an equal; envy seeks to indemnity itself language of the common proverb, Physician, under the oppression of eminent worth and heal thyself: look at home; in attention to excellence, by discovering and fixing upon objects more remote, overlook not such as some humiliating, mortifying circumstance, are equally pressing, and still more nearly that reduces the hated greatness nearer to its interesting ; let thy own country, if not in own level. This explains the change which preference, at least in common with strangers, so quickly appeared in our Saviour's audito- reap the benefit of these thy extraordinary, ry. "Dazzled, at first, by both the matter and supernatural powers. Well, my
beloved counmanner of his address, they crown him with trymen, here I am for this very purpose : applause. But perceiving themselves eclips- ready to instruct you in the way of salvation, ed in the lustre of his graces and virtues, ready to heal all your plagues, to perform al] sinking as he rose, they strive to tumble him the offices of mercy and loving-kindness from his excellency, as if by degrading him, which the prophet, in the passage which I they were themselves to mount. His parent- now read, predicted concerning me: but I age is his only vulnerable part; that was know the meaning of these ungracious looks, poor, and mean, and despised, and that, ac- of these malignant whispers, of that envious cordingly, envy brings forward with affected inquiry into my pedigree, and occupation, surprise. * Is not this Joseph's son ?" And and connexions in life. You are under the when once this baleful, malignant passion power of prejudice, you are too well acquainthas taken possession of the breast, every ed with me to reap benefit from my minisclaim of justice, every plea of wort every
trations: my labours will be more acceptable call of gratitude, every emotion of mercy, is where I am less known. disregarded, stifled, trampled under foot. “ It happeneth to me as it did to the pro
Christ observes it with pity, not with in- phets of old; they were neglected, hated, dignation ; for he came not only to relieve the persecuted of their own countrymen; and miserable, but to bear with and overcome the you inherit the spirit of your fathers, whom froward, to convince, subdue, and melt the no calamity could subdue, no arguments conobstinate, to cure prejudice, and to instruct vince, no goodness charm._I appeal to the indocility. Their uncivil, invidious inquiry history of our own nation. The times of Eliexcites in him no resentment; it can do him jah's prophecy were marked with many sig. no hurt; but grieved at the hardness of their nal interpositions of Divine Providence, parheart, and at the same time, compassionating ticularly with a grievous famine, occasioned their weakness, he at once reproves the one hy a drought of uncommon duration, three and makes an apology for the other. The years and six months. It was universally apology he draws from the common, and well felt, particularly by the poorer and more unknown principles of human nature. No pro- protected part of the community, the widow, phet is accepted in his own country. Among and the fatherless; and the extraordinary strangers, a man is esteemed according to his powers of the propliet were equally well talents and virtues. His ancestry and kin- known and acknowledged. But what is the dred are a matter of no moment. It is even fact? Was the prophet sought unto? Did a degree of merit to have emerged out of the general distress drive the sufferers to obscurity; but at home, among kindred and seek relief in the piety and miraculous powers of the man of God ? No, he was the Tish- , description. Their indignation falls, not as bite, the son of somebody whom they knew, it ought to have done, on their own mean, he was at home, among his own, and there- unworthy, ungenerous, unmanly spirit, but fore his person was despised, his office slight on their kind, affectionate, gentle monitor. ed, and even the widow and the fatherless, And what follows? Is it the cynical repre unsubdued by the strong hand of necessity, sentation of some surly traducer of mankind; perished from want, because they scorned or is it truth and history? Merciful Father the humane and compassionate interposition of mankind! must I believe that the very of a neighbour and kinsman. But 0 how persons who just now gazed with delight of acceptable was his visit to a stranger, a pa- that super-angelic face, who listened with gan, a woman of Sidon? She felt with rapture to the accents of that celestial voice, others the pressure of the common calamity; who justly gloried in their townsman, comthe law of self-preservation, and compassion panion, and friend, are instantaneously cop for the son of her womb, were strong in her, verted into demons of hell? What, meditate, as in any widow or mother in Israel: but digest murder! the murder of innocence, more faithful and believing than they, she truth, and wisdom! What, all of them! not cheerfully made the sacrifice of her last one calm, moderate spirit to suggest milder earthly provision; at the word of the prophet, counsels, to plead the cause of goodness, to she gave up her own and her son's subsist- arrest the hand of violence! No, not one. ence; she reposed confidence in heaven, she O human nature, what wert thou; and what acknowledged the ensigns of Deity, she cast art thou become! I tremble to think that I herself upon a miracle, and her hope made am a partaker of thee; of a “heart deceitful her not ashamed.
above all things, and desperately wicked." “ Take another example, my friends, from “ They rose up, and thrust him out of the your own history, and let it admonish and city, and led him unto the brow of the hill, reprove you. Elisha inherited a double por- whereon their city was built, that they might tion of the spirit of his master Elijah; he per- cast him down headlong.” And shall not formed many notable miracles, he divided fire come down from heaven, as it did once, the waters of the river, he made iron to swim, and a second time, to avenge a lighter inhe raised the dead to life, he employed the sult offered to a much inferior prophet? O supernatural powers which were conferred no! “the Son of man came not to destroy upon him, in removing the miseries of his men's lives, but to save them.". Behold a fellow-creatures. Among these the leprosy more glorious triumph, a miracle of grace was one, a disease which baffles the skill of and condescension, a triumph worthy of the the physician, which not medicine, but the Son of God, and the Saviour of men. - He, immediate power of God alone can_cure. passing through the midst of them, went his Now, what saith the record? What Israel- way." Behold power and mercy united. itish lepers applied to the prophet, of the mul- Were they, like the men of Sodom, stricken titudes who were affected with this loathsome with blindness? Were their hands, like Jedistemper? Not so much as one. He was roboam's, dried up and rendered immoveable? at home, among those of his own house ; the Were their eyes, like the disciples going to wretched patient, loathsome to himself, and Emmaus, holden, that they should not know a burden offensive to every one about him, him? I stop not to inquire. Suffice it to say, chooses rather to continue an abomination, his “hour was not yet come," and they had than to be beholden to an acquaintance, to an no power at all over him but what was perequal, to a prophet of his own country, for the mitted of God. And vain is the contention miracle of cleansing. Not so the son of the of man against God: it is hard for thee, O stranger: Naaman, the Syrian, the com- persecutor, to “ kick against the pricks." mander of armies, the favourite of a prince, In the history referred to by our Lord, and a worshipper of strange gods. He believes in the instance of a miraculous supply of the report, he flies to the physician; he fol- food to the widow of Sarepta, in a season of lows the prescription, he washes in Jordan, extreme scarcity, as well as in the other and becomes clean."
equally noted instance of a miraculous cure The conscience of his audience makes the of leprosy performed on the body of Naaman application of our Saviour's doctrine; and the Syrian, we perceive the dawning of the what ensues? What always did, and always gospel day upon the Gentile world. They will, when the principle of conscience is believed and obeyed the word of the proawakened, either humble and contrite sub-phet, and they obtained relief, while the mission to the reproof, and an honest endea- seed of Abraham after the flesh" remained vour to profit by it: or else a rancorous ani- unbelieving and impenitent. “Of a truth, mosity against the reprover, the confirmation God is no respecter of persons: but in erery of prejudice, a wilful exclusion of light, or a nation, he that feareth Him, and worketh determined perseverance in what is known righteousness, is accepted with him." - The to be wrong. Unhappily the frequenters of times of this ignorance God winked at; but the eynagogue at Nazareth were of this last now commandeth all men every where to
repent: because he hath appointed a day in heaven.” That same apostle was spared to the which he will judge the world in right- address epistles “to the strangers scattereousness by that man whom he hath ordain- ed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, ed; whereof he hath given assurance unto Asia, and Bythinia, elect according to the all men, in that he hath raised him from the foreknowledge of God the Father, through dead." How God will deal in the judgment sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, with those who never enjoyed the benefit and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." of either the law or the gospel, it is not for Philip, the evangelist,“ went down to the us to determine. “Shall not the Judge of city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto all the earth do right?" But " we ought to them. And the people with one accord gave give the more earnest heed to the things heed unto those things which Philip spake, which we have heard, lest at any time we hearing and seeing the miracles which he should let them slip. For if the word spoken did.” That evangelist finds a proselyte in by angels was steadfast, and every transgres- the desert of Gaza, in a person of " great sion and disobedience received a just recom- authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopence of reward; how shall we escape if we pians, who had the charge of all her treaneglect so great salvation; which, at the sure.” He, too, gladly receives the word, is first began to be spoken by the Lord, and baptized, and goes on his way rejoicing, to was confirmed unto us by them that heard carry into those dark regions the light of him; God also bearing them witness, both divine truth, and the Scripture is fulfilled with signs and wonders, and with divers which saith, “ Ethiopia shall soon stretch miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, accord-out her hands unto God.” ing to his own will ?"
Time would fail in tracing the progress, Among other evidences that the Christian and marking the success, of him, who is dispensation is from heaven, the universa- emphatically denominated the Apostle of the lity of it is not the least. This act of Gentiles, through the islands of the Meditergrace contains no unkird exceptions. There ranean, over the states of Greece, in Italy, is no proscribed region, or family, or indivi- at Rome. John the beloved disciple, had the dual. The proclamation is, “ peace, peace pleasure of despatching particular letters, to him that is far off, and to him that is near, dictated by the Spirit of wisdom and revelasaith the Lord.” This dawning light was tion, to the seven churches of Asia. He was now in a progress“ unto the perfect day." one of those, then, concerning whom Christ Though Christ's personal ministry was, in the said, in the passage already quoted, " verily first instance, addressed " to the lost sheep I say unto you, that there be some of them of the house of Israel,” its influence quick- that stand here, which shall not taste of ly spread far beyond the confines of Judea. death till they have seen the kingdom of “ His fame went throughout all Syria ;" a God come with power.” His life was prowoman of Canaan believed on him, and her longed to extreme old age. He saw the kingdaughter was healed: the Roman centurion, dom of his divine Master established in who had been made partaker of the same Europe, in Asia, in Africa. The great Westprecious faith, in like manner had power ern World was still unknown; but, in the with God, and prevailed in behalf of his pal-wisdom of God, it too has emerged out of sied servant. Some of our Lord's immediate the bosom of the vast ocean, to swell the attendants lived to see “the kingdom of God Redeemer's empire. To embrace the whole come with power.” “ The centurion, and globe is its generous design. The period they that were with him watching Jesus” on approaches, when "great voices in heaven" the cross, " when they saw the earthquake, shall proclaim, saying: “The kingdoms of and those things that were done,” though this world are become the kingdoms of our unaccustomed to fear, " they feared greatly,” Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign and made this open confession; “ Truly this for ever and ever.” “Though Israel," therewas the Son of God."
fore, “be not gathered,“ “ Messiah “ shall be The miraculous effusion of the Holy Spirit glorious in the eyes of the Lord :" for he on the apostles, in the gift of tongues on the saith of him; “it is a light thing that thou day of Pentecost, opened a passage in all shouldest be my servant, to raise up the directions for the speedy diffusion of the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved truth as it is in Jesus, over all lands. Peter of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to no longer trembles and denies his master, the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvabut stands boldly up to plead his cause, and tion unto the end of the earth.” And as the precious souls by thousands are added unto ancient dispensation contained many intimathe Lord. Cured of his Jewish prejudices, tions of favour to the Gentile world, so the by a vision from heaven, he descends to Gospel contains and discloses a dawn of hope Cesarea, preaches the word of life to the to the Jewish nation. “ Blindness in part is centurion, Cornelius and “his kinsmen and happened to Israel, until the fulness of the near friends.” It is accompanied with power, Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall and “with the Holy Ghost sent down from be saved; as it is written, There shall come
out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn lofty spirit of man now subdued to the obe away ungodliness from Jacob.” “ ( the dience and love of Christ? Has not a daring depth of the riches both of the wisdom and attempt lately been made by a great nation, knowledge of God! How unsearchable are once denominated Christian, to obliterate 'be his judgments, and his ways past finding name, and overwhelm the cause of Christ? out?"
Wherefore change the ancient measureSome interpreters of note have remarked ments of time? It was in the hope of swala coincidence between the duration of the lowing up the distinction of days, and theregreat famine which afilicted Israel, in the by of sinking the observance of the Loru's days of Elias, and that of our Saviour's mi- day in the mass. With the abolition of the pistry from his baptism to his death, namely sabbath the service of the sanctuary is swepe three years and six months. As during the away; and the spirit of Christianity, it was former period, at the word of the prophet, presumed, would not long survive its fornis heaven was shut up, and all elementary in- and rites. Are there none among ourselres fluence suspended, to the inexpressible dis- who express rancorous animosity against the tress of the whole land; so during the lat- worthy name which they so unworthily bear! ter, through the mediation of a greater than Is not the Lord's day profaned and the temElias, full communication was opened. In ple deserted; and, in defiance of the law of the one we have displayed the severity of the land, to say nothing of the obligations of the Law, in the other the grace of the Gos- decency and religion, are not efforts made by pel; in Elias, the minister of wrath and con- persons high in place and station, to discredit demnation: in Jesus, the minister of mercy and disuse the ordinances of the Gospel, and and reconciliation; the one inflicting a tem- thereby to bring the Gospel itself into disteporary curse, the other calling down an pute? We say, however, concerning such everlasting benediction; there the clouds men, in the spirit and words of the wise bound up, and the dew restrained; here a Gamaliel : “ Refrain from these men and let “ doctrine dropping as the rain, and speech them alone: for if this counsel, or this work, distilling as the dew; as the small rain upon be of men, it will come to nought: but if it the tender herb, and as the showers upon be of God, they cannot overthrow it; lest the grass." The prophet represents, in beau- haply they be found even to fight against tiful language, the blessedness of an open God." communication between earth and heaven: To this fell spirit in man, what a striking, “ It shall come to pass in that day, I will what an amiable contrast have we in the hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the hea- temper and conduct of our blessed Lord! vens, and they shall hear the earth; and the To withdraw himself from among these inearth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and grates is the only mark of displeasure exthe oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And pressed by him. He desisted from teaching I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I persons who were determined not to learn; will have mercy upon her that had not ob- “He did not many mighty works there," betained mercy; and I will say to them which cause they were liable to misapprehension, were not my people, Thou art my people; to misrepresentation. “Hle, passing through and they shall say, Thou art my God.” | the midst of them, went his way." Thes But the contrast is dreadful! “She did not men grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and he know that I gave her corn, and wine, and departs from them. And thus the Apostles oil, ard multiplied her silver and gold, which of the Lord, Paul and Barnabas, when the they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I Jews, filled with envy, spake against them, return, and take away my corn in the time contradicting and blaspheming," they said; thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, “ It was necessary that the word of God and will recover my wool and my fax; and should first have been spoken to you: but I will destroy her vines and her fig-trees." seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourThe prayer of faith is the channel of this selves unworthy of everlasting life, lo we mteresting communication.
turn to the Gentiles." And is it no punishIt is humiliating to observe, and to reflect 'ment to be forsaken of a friend; a friend on the uniform and unrelenting malignity of whom we have grieved and offended. who the human heart. That greatness, power, feels himself constrained to retire, but rewealth should be envied, and the possessor tires silently, slowly, reluctantly ? Little do hated and thrust at, is not so much an object men reflect what sorrow, what remorse they of surprise ; but that simplicity, innocence, are treasuring up to themselves, in slighting, kindness, beneficence should provoke hos- in neglecting a day of merciful visitation. It tility, would exceed belief, were not the drew tears from the eyes of the compassineproofs too numerous and too stubborn to be ate friend of mankind: “ And when he was resisted. We justly detest the wickedness, come near he beheld the city, and wept orer injustice, and ingratitude of the Nazarenes, it, saying, If thou hadst known, even theo.st in attempting to destroy their unassuming, least in this thy day, the things which bra unoffending townsman: but is the angry, the long unto thy peace! but now they are hud