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penury, than by all the enervating fumes which wealth can furnish through luxury and lust. The history of true greatness exhibits not a single model who did not from the first accustom himself to drink only from the well of homely life. Adversity, in exercising her power, loses her most offensive features, and develops in her victims their best strength. Said William Wallace to King Edward I., “ Thou hast raised me among men. Without thy banners and cross-bows in array against me, I had sunk in utter forgetfulness. Thanks 10 thee for placing me, eternally, where no strength of mine could otherwise have borne me! Thanks to thee for bathing my spirit in deep thoughts, in refreshing calm, in sacred stillness! This, O king, is the bath for knighthood : after this it may feast, and hear bold and sweet voices, an mount to its repose.”
The best energies of the greatest men are never fully unfolded within and without except by the ordeal of severe struggles and malignant sufferings. Almost every champion who has won eminent influence among his fellows might adopt the motto of Rousseau : " I was born weak; ill treatment has made me strong.”. They who " wander in the torrid climes of fame," the sons of beneficent genius, who are born to elevate the existence of the human race, must in the beginning shed many bitter sweat-drops, and give vent in solitude to many tear-steeped sighs. It is thus that the godlike is ever compelled to do penance for superabundant powers, and
pay, with exhausting interest, the debt which he owes to suffering humanity. No great redeeming spirit appears on earth to be ministered unto, but to minister; it is his highest prerogative and best reward to serve, to elevate, to bless. All wisdom that pertains to salvation is bought with labor and pain, and he who pants for the holiest truth and the highest power, will be indulged just so far as he climbs the rugged heights of tribulation with delight.
Lord Bacon compared virtue, or true manliness, to precious odors, “ most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed ; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.” Here is a high truth ; but Jesus came, in the circumstances of his birth, in the toils and deprivations of his youth, to teach us a higher and a better. He would have us no longer leave, unperceived, or, if known, despised, the numerous examples of heroical poverty, which lie all around, and which should challenge the fostering sympathy of all mankind. Shrouded in obscurity and enduring neglect, still are they the choicest denizens of the earth, coming here to devote their lives to benevolence, sacrificing themselves to duty and the defence of justice in view of inevitable persecution, perhaps of prisons or the rack. O, what moral grandeur in such examples is exemplified, and what divine lessons do they teach. We almost hear each consecrated votary at the shrine of Eternal Righteousness exclaim from the depths of his soul, “ Poverty may humble my lot, but it shall not debase me; temptation may shake my nature, but not the rock on which thy temple is based ; misfortune may wither all the hopes that blossomed in the dewy morning of my life, but I will offer dead leaves when the flowers are no more. Though all the loved objects of earth perish, all that I have coveted fade away, I may groan under my burden, but I will never be recreant to duty, never disloyal to thee, O my God.” Such resignation, suffering supported with so much constancy, was indeed noble, as seen, for instance, in the immolation of Socrates; but how much more sublime in the youthful struggles of Jesus Christ! What is there so exalted or divine “ as a great and brave spirit working out its end through every earthly obstacle and evil; watching through the utter darkness, and steadily defying the phantoms which crowd around it; wrestling with the mighty allurements, and rejecting the fearful voice of that Want which is the deadliest and surest of human tempters; nursing through all calamity the love of the species, and the warmer and closer affections of private ties; sacrificing no duty, resisting all sin ; and amid every horror and every humiliation, feeding the still and bright light of that genius, which, like the lamp of the fabulist, though it may
waste itself for years amidst the depths of solitude and the silence of the tomb, shall live and burn immortal and undimmed, when all around it is rottenness and decay?” But if it thrills every generous fibre of our nature to observe a fellow-creature thus toiling to be free and beneficent, what shall we think of that wonderful Being who deigned to assume humanity's woes, and struggle up from childhood through the most abject trials, that from the throne of heaven and the thrones of earth he might win the energies of almightiness to redeem mankind ! It is indeed strange to see a Savior incar. nate in a manger, and, from the first developments of youth, tied with base entanglements which, through all subsequent life, are destined to grow closer and closer, till death sets the inthralled divinity free. But the sight is glorious and instructive as it is strange. It tells us that effort is the condition of growth; that he who came to be a matured and perfect Redeemer had first to perform the appropriate toils of a youthful God.
In the second place, the sympathies of the young Messiah were as effectually developed by the stern necessity of toil, as were the other elements of redeeming strength. Man's destiny is best achieved, and his most valuable fruit produced, through the agency of suffering. This is a great mystery, and would be stranger still, did we not see the fact exemplified in the purest man “ that e'er wore flesh about him," and who, in all his career on earth, was the greatest of sufferers. Standing on the shore of that great sea of agony into which the Deliverer plunged to rescue a perishing race, we learn, through our own limited but bitter experience, that in the tumult and pressure of the profoundest billows of dark despair, God elaborated the sympathetic love, and gave to the world a tortured and bleeding heart, as the best symbol of its condition, and solace for its woe. As the unfathomed deep which unceasingly vibrates, the billows which forever moan, the waterspouts which fall back with crashing might upon the tempest that gave them birth, the lightnings that fringe cloud and billow, and the
thunders which shake the mighty main, may all be necessary to perfect the pearl lying in the obscurest coral depth, the storms of life designed to develop in their gloom bright gems for the sunshine of heaven. Pliny tells us that the ring of Pyrrhus contained a jewel which had the figures of Apollo and all the Muses in the veins of it, produced by the spontaneous hand of nature, without any help from art. The youth of Christ was adorned with fairer features than any that belong to the loveliest productions of earth, but they were unfolded amid the severest exactions of sublunary toil.
At an early age he was given up to the powers of darkness, to the end that, tempered in suffering, like a blade of steel in furnace flames and mountain torrents, he might become an irresistible sword to conquer the genius of evil and set humanity free. It was necessary that he should traverse “the vacant bosom's wilderness,” and stand worn and desolate in the leafless desert of the soul,” that he might sympathize with the great mass of our race, who are born in that condition, and in it are compelled to grow. "If misfortunes could be remedied by tears," says Muretus,“ tears would be purchased with gold. Misfortune does not call for tears, but counsel.” This advice, however, which is adapted at the same time to soothe and guide effectually, can originate only in a tenderly-experienced soul.
6 Few are the hearts whence one same touch bids the sweet fountain flow ;” but Christ was the chief of such, and was always ready to relieve the distressed, because from his tenderest years he had experienced their direst pangs. In every respect he was a model of moral excellence, possessing superlative worth ; and this superiority consisted not a little in the fact that, considered in his human qualities, his was one of those
“Souls that carry on a blest exchange
And, one in heart, in interest, and design,
Give up each other in the race divine.” The youthful days of our Savior were full of toil, such as is common to mankind; and this toil was adapted to develop his energies for the coming strife, and enlarge his sympathies for the suffering of every class. These are the points thus far considered. We would remark, thirdly, that in those early scenes of bitter experience, his aspirations were divine, and doubtless urged him with profounder ardor to break the fetters of the world. The Hebrew nations expected a Deliverer, and Micah had foretold that the promised king should be born in Bethlehem, the very place where the house of David had its origin. The Messiah appeared; but the lowly circumstances of his birth and youth were in striking contrast with his inherent dignity, and the glory it was supposed he would bring. That he should make his advent in the guise of a carpenter's son, and accustom himself to manual toil, instead of assuming at once the splendors of worldly dominion, rendered him, to the minions of priestly and regal power, the object of loathing and contempt.
We must remember that Christ was all the while conscious of this; that, in the face of the upper and most oppressive circles, and in spite of their rage, he, from the beginning, chose to identify himself with the lowest rank of common people, share their burdens, sympathize with their sorrows, and aspire to deliver them from all their wrongs. In the midst of the most menial pursuits, he fostered the sublimest purposes of soul ; in “ clear dream and solemn vision” he contemplated the auspicious destinies of the human race, and, in view of what his own almighty hand should, at the proper time, perform, labored on in patient thoughtfulness, lifting his young brow ever and anon toward heaven, to " hail the coming on of time." Let the youth, whose divine aspirations chafe against the chill impediments of earthly want and depressing toil, contemplate the history of the great pattern, and be content to
“Wait for the dawning of a brighter day,
the chain the moment when he may."