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struction for the men of Nazareth. From the same precious treasury, from those “ wells of salvation, the faithful of every age have drawn the waters of consolation, to support and refresh them under every pres. sure of distress, to counteract the bitterness of death, and to enjoy a foretaste of the “pure river of water of life, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." “ Jesus answered and said," to the woman of Samaria, at Jacob's well, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again : but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life;" and "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." Therefore, “ search the Scriptures ;” as Christ hath commanded, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life : and they are they which testify of me.” Ye “have Moses and the prophets” ye have Christ and his apostles ; hear them. If men reject their testimony, “neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought
up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath 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 sight 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 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 the Scripture fulfilled in
And all bare him witness, and wondered at his gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. - Luke iv. 16-22,
We read, in the history of the patriarchal ages, of an illustrious personage who exercised at once the functions of a priest and of a sovereign; Mel. chizedec, “King of Salem, and priest of the Most High God.” He, whom this venerable person thus early represented to the world, united to these two characters, a third, less splendid indeed, but not less important, that of a teacher and instructor of man. kind; and thus He became all that a guilty, enslaved, ignorant world stood in need of. In the blessed Jesus,
Owretched man, thou beholdest the great High Priest of thy profession, who hath, by one offering, one vic. tim, one blood, procured the remission of all thy offences; the Prince of the kings of the earth, who has broken assunder the bands of thy yoke, and asserted thee into the “ glorious liberty of the sons of God;" and the great, unerring teacher sent from God, who spake as never man spake, whose lessons make men wise unto salvation.
As the sovereign and Lord of nature we have seen him exercising dominion over the powers of the world visible and invisible, putting Satan to flight by a word, receiving the homage and ministrations of angels. As a High Priest, “ after the order of Melchizedec,” we shall in the progress of this history behold him offering himself, once for all, “ a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour unto God.” We are this evening to sit at his feet, and to listen to him in his humbler and more familiar character of the mcek, patient, and condescending instructor of the weak, the ignorant, and the prejudiced. And, O may the gracious words which proceed from his mouth not only excite our wonder, but penetrate and melt our hearts, kindle our repentings together, and put all that remains of our existence under the dominion of love.
His first labours of affection were bestowed upon his kindred and acquaintance, they were consecrated to the improvement of the companions and friends of early life. He had hitherto taught them by example, he now teaches them out of the written word. Had he been covetous of fame or of honour, he would surely have chosen another theatre on which to display his superior powers, for he well knew that no prophet is accepted in his own country. He well knew that eminent excellency excites envy, that envy produces malignity, and that malice prompts to evil speaking. But regard to his own interest and ease is lost in compassion to others, and the love of reputation with men reverently bends to zeal for the glory of God. Every circumstance of the scene before us is interesting and instructive.
We have in the preceding lecture adverted to those of place, it was “ in Galilee at Nazareth where He had been brought up,” and “ in the synagogue." Attend now to the season, it was on the Sabbath day. As to the pure, all places, so all times are pure, yet to man, weak and imperfect as he is, distinction of both time and place is important and necessary.
Shew me a man who is habitually and uniformly that in the world, which decency obliges him to appear to be in the house of God, and I shall not presume to condemn hin, though he frequent not the temple ; although such a one is of all others the least likely to desert it. Shew me the man whose every day is a day of order, of piety, of mercy, and of good works, and such a one shall, for me, spend the seventh day in what manner he will; though such a one is of all others the most likely to put respect on the ordinance of God. Who of all those, who are born of a woman, stood least in need of the influence and assistance of sacred edifices and seasons ? He whose conversation was continually in heaven, whose “ meat and drink it was to do the will of his heavenly father, who never lost sight, for a moment, of the great end of his mission. And who was so regular in his attendance on the exercises of religious worship; who was so exact in the observance of every institution that was stamped with marks of divine authority ?
The sabbath is an ordinance of mercy, designed by Him who “preserveth man and beast," to be an interruption of painful toil, a restorer of exhausted nature, a season of repose; but in perfect consistency with this, it is a season of mental exertion of beneficence; of devout contemplation, of virtuous, social intercourse. But the observance of the sabbath had,
when our Saviour came into the world; degenerated into a narrow and grovelling superstition, which separated from it every idea of mercy and good-will to men, and the spirit was sunk in the letter. It therefore became this great teacher, to restore the institution to its primitive design and use, and to guard mankind equally against the extremes of superstition, on the one hand, and of profanity on the other: and this he does with a wisdom, a delicacy, and a dignity peculiar to himself. Who can think slightly of what he treated with respect? Who dares to violate what he observed as “ the holy of the Lord and honourable ?" And who again can think he is doing honour to God by expressing indifference, unkindness, and want of sympathy to men? He who attended the synagogue, who read and expounded the Scriptures on the sabbath; on the sabbath also restored the withered hand, defended his disciples from the charge of profanation, displayed the character of the sovereign Lord of the sabbath, as preferring mercy to sacrifice, and as having instituted “the sabbath for man, and not man for the sabbath."
Observe farther, the evangelist takes care to inform us that Christ's attendance on the services of the synagogue and the sabbath was not merely accidental or occasional, but habitual and stated : as his custom was. What we do according to no fixed rule, we do feebly and confusedly. What we do seldom, we do with reluctance and dislike; and from dislike the natural transition is to total omission. On the contrary, what is subjected to rule is done accurately and efficiently; what we do habitually, we do with ease and delight; for custom, says the proverb, and with much truth, is a second nature. The Saviour of the world, accordingly, vouched to become an example here also, as of every thing else that is wise and good; He was a pattern of regular, orderly conduct; from his child. hood, and upward. He was a silent instructor of the Vol. IV.