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faith and encouragement of hope, to pour effulgence from base to summit of that highway to glory, planting attendant angels on the lowest step, increasing attractions at each ascent, and the amplest provisions of immortal joy at the journey's end.
It remains to show that Christ was not only the type of all exalting power, but that he was the pledge of universal free. dom. This will appear from a consideration of the divine na. ture he possessed, and the divine tokens which heralded his birth. He was the “ Word made flesh," the creativeness of Jehovah incarnate among a created, fallen race, himself without sin and powerful to redeem the depraved from every stain. A word is the clothing of an idea ; an idea never presents itself made ; the human mind can only conceive it under the drapery of expression. As soon as an idea presents itself, the mind hastens to create the equivalent word ; without this the idea remains vague at least, if not forever unseizable. Christ was the incarnation of eternal power, ancient truth and mercy imbodied. He was the Word made flesh, the Divinity in idea divinely clothed in a vesture of manhood, God humanized. In order to save man, to conduct him to the Supreme, the Word, all-creative from eternity, becomes flesh in time on behalf of those who could not behold him as Divinity alone. He assumes mortal shape and substance, passes through every phase of human experience, and through a human voice, thrilling through human sympathies, calls to himself those who, by being first conformed to the God incarnate, may afterwards gaze on the unclouded majesties of Jehovah. May not this be the meaning of Paul ? “ Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” He became human and dwelt among us. He was transformed on the mount, where he not only appeared in his own glory, but where he caused the spiritual law and the prophecies to be represented by Moses and Elias. Then they who were present could say, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Those spirits whom Christ summoned to the transfiguration, and revealed to men panting with astonishment on earth, were old acquaintances, with whom he talked in familiar terms respecting the great redemption he had come to achieve. Older than the human race, mightier than the worlds he formed, the babe of Bethlehem struggled into being amid tears, and groans, and oppressions, that from the ox's stall and that shepherd group might go forth a transforming power to revolutionize all tyrannical customs and break all accursed bonds. He was the new representative of mankind, a divine one, the destroyer of heathenism, the founder of a new era, the universal atoner, the first born of God, the father of a new spiritual human race. His advent was unseen save to the pure, the humble, and disconsolate, and was as noiseless as the falling dew or gleaming stars. But as that young breath first blended with the chill night air where suffering reclined, and even the brute creation moaned, earth felt a new power whispering above and penetrating beneath, like light and life pervading every where, foretelling complete redemption and universal joy.
Man has indeed become debased, cast down, and trodden under foot. He has crawled on abjectly for centuries in the very dust. Tyranny, superstition, and vice have bound him in cruel fetters, and hurled him down to the caverns of ignorance and night. But the vital spark has never been extin. guished; the most outrageous abuse can never quite obliterate the image of God in his soul. In the deepest degradation, in the gloomiest dungeon, man has ever prayed for light and struggled for freedom. Independence of mind, of heart, of body, of soul, - this is the great boon designed by Heaven for all; and to reconquer this the wonderful star burned on the hills of Judea, and Mary laid her still more wonderful child in the ox's crib. He will come forth from that comfortless abode to be. stow on earth richer blessings than all her kings can give moral and intellectual improvement; free limbs to toil and free minds to soar; blood unchilled by the oppressor's touch ; thoughts, souls, swift to compass the skies and ascend to heaven.
We live in an age of fearful commotion. A mighty storm is overturning thrones and changing the aspect of whole continents. What we have yet seen is only the beginning of the end. The germs of more radical and comprehensive revolutions were planted eighteen centuries ago. In order to interpret the present and anticipate the future correctly, it is necessary often to go back in thought and “place ourselves at the Christian era.
This was, in every respect, a most interesting period. It was the one to which all prior history had been pointing. It was the fulness of time,' for which all preceding time had been making ready. It stands conspicuous, not because a new order of things, different in causes and tendency entirely from the old, was then established, - but because a new and mighty instrument was then first put forth, in aid of the same purpose, which before had made but slow and feeble progress. For these reasons, therefore, that it imbodies in itself the result of all that had gone before, and because the series of events, from that time to this, is sufficiently long to illustrate their connection, it is the most appropriate and interesting point that we can start from.”
We stand, then, at that momentous period, which the introduction of Christianity has immortalized. And what is the first thought that bursts upon our mind ? It is, that we are standing, at the very moment, in the midst of a most glorious revolution — a revolution glorious in itself, but incomparably more so in its. tremendous and never-ending effects upon the human race. Yes, the star that rose in the east, - mild, peaceable, and radiant, as the young child to which it pointed; the guide of the wise men; the light, as it has proved, of the world, — the “ star in the east” was the herald of an event, mightier in itself, and mightier in its consequences, than any which the dazzling sun, in all his brilliancy, ever looked upon. The pæan of angels, as it sounded in the ears of the shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem, proclaimed the advent of a Being, before whom and whose kingdom tyrants have trembled and conquerors fled away. The introduction of Chris
tianity was, indeed, a revolution. And what a revolution ! Where can we learn that such events belong to the world, that they interest man, whenever and wherever he is found, if not from this, the first, the greatest of the series? Where can we be taught that the great end of great events has been the improvement, the progress, the elevation of man, if not in this, this “ Heaven's best gift to man”? We need not say, in this day and generation, that Christianity stopped not with those to whom it was proclaimed, that the influence of this greatest, because religious revolution was neither limited nor partial.
For what was Christianity, and what was the purpose of the revolution which ushered it in? It came, indeed, to proclaim that there was a God, a kind and beneficent Father. It pointed to a heaven. It spoke of a hereafter. But it did more than this. It came nearer to man as an inhabitant of earth. It whispered to him that he was an immortal being; that he had within him a noble spirit, capable of exalted attainments, and destined to lofty purposes, even here; a spark of divinity itself. It bade him cultivate, improve, exalt it. It bade him rise up in his native strength, to shake off the tyranny of ignorance, of vice, and of his fellow-man; to burst asunder the shackles which bound down his high nature. It bade him be free; in mind, that he might be intelligent; in conscience, that he might be holy; free in every thing, as his Creator had designed him. This was the grand purpose of the Christian dispensation, to fit man for heaven, by making him all that he could be on earth, and to give him an impulse, in this upward direction, which he should feel to the end of time.
In the book of Revelation the perpetual promise to the Re. deemer is, “I will give him the morning star.” Yes, there, in the sombre, but yet brightening skies, still shines, in full view of man, the ever-enduring star of morn, the herald and pledge of that “ hope that comes to all.” Beneath its placid beams the great purposes of infinite love and mercy will be rolled into full execution. Neither kingcraft nor priestcraft can hurl it from its lofty home, nor has hell storms dark enough entirely to obscure its cheering light. It will forever shine, the pledge of deliverance from all wrongs, and freedom to all ranks ; the memento of that beginning of good days when God descended to the lowest parts of earth, that he might exalt man to the sublimest heights of heaven.
“ All stars, that fill Time's mystic diadem,
THE YOUTH OF CHRIST.
IN HIS YOUTH, OCCUPIED IN TOIL SUCH AS THE GREAT MAJORITY
OF MEN PURSUE.
JESUS CHRIst came into this world to redeem it, to fill it with needful instruction and saving grace. There is not only infinite efficacy in the power of his blood to cleanse from sin ; there is also light in his life adapted to every age, force in his example vouchsafed to sustain the aspiring every where, and fortify the weak. The period of early youth, bis preliminary training, is less amply portrayed in the Gospels than his public ministry; but the stupendous achievements of his maturity bear an intimate relation to his juvenile career, rendering it desirable that we should contemplate the entire life of the great Redeemer as a unit, his teachings and actions as they are connected throughout, so as to derive the greatest profit from the harmonious view.
In this discussion, we will consider two general points. In his youth, Christ was occupied in toil such as the great majority of men pursue. That toil was prosecuted under circumstances adapted to develop his powers, and prepare him for the perfect accomplishment of his divine mission on earth.
In the first place, Christ, in his youthful condition on earth,