Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

in the form in which the corruption of the world, objectively presented, alone could occasion its development. The child found congenial occupation in the things of God; in the Temple he was at home. And, on the other hand, we see an opening consciousness of the peculiar relation in which he stood to the Father as the Son of God. We delight to find, in the early lives of eminent men, some glimpses of the future, some indications of their after greatness; so we gladly recognize, in the pregnant words of the child, a foreshadowing of what is afterwards so fully revealed to us in the discourses of the completely-manifested Christ, especially as they are given to us in John's Gospel.”

The history of rising worth has nothing to compare with that temple scene. A youth appears

sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” He comes into the assembly of venerable sages with a mild and pensive countenance, that seems haunted with earnest thought. He is no favorite of earthly fortune, no scion of aristocratic pride, no pet of exclusive schools, but the simple child of the unsophisticated people, steeped to the lips in suffering ; and yet, mightier than the domes that bend above him, he is for the intellect and heart of man a glorious living temple, built with the choicest riches of unnumbered worlds. The first question he propounds startles the attention of all who hear him, and creates the greatest astonishment in the most profound; for his words bear that charm of immaculate wisdom which can neither be defaced nor excelled. Question succeeds to question, and learning, in despair, grows more and more confused, in this, the grandest gladiatorship of mind yet witnessed on earth. Sage after sage, swelling with wounded pride, is silenced before that youth apparelled in the plain attire of peasant life, radiant with the celestial light that emanates from an aspiring heart, and bent on throwing wide open the gates of instruction to all. The whole park of artillery which power and craft have erected on their contracted citadels he

has spiked, and, like “a mailed angel on a battle day," he rejoices in his triumph, not for himself, but for the sake of the benighted multitudes around. Free thought and free discussion then and there were born!





[ocr errors]

It is important that we keep constantly in view the relation which the progressive development of Christ's manhood bore to the complete accomplishment of his divine mission, The years

of his life which were most veiled in obscurity were full of preparatory discipline, wisely adapted to the sublimest ends. The lowly circumstances of his infancy, the severe toils of his youth, and the varied experience of his early manhood, were doubtless designed gradually to awaken the full consciousness of that divine call, and fortify him with that perfect mastery over adverse powers, which he displayed on entering upon his public life. From an infinite diversity of sources, sublunary and celestial, Jesus imbibed energies of every kind, which, with irresistible concentrativeness, were at length employed to redeem and renovate the world. To the silent, solitary preparation which transpired in the life of Christ between the ages of twelve and thirty, let us now attend.

In examining this period of transition from youthful consecration to perpetual struggle and triumphant sacrifice, we shall find that our Redeemer experienced much of social oppression, personal self-reliance, and the seductions of power.

In the first place, Jesus Christ experienced much of the



rela hood hon,

bitterness produced by social oppression. Suffering humanity drank from no cup and experienced no wrongs in which he did not participate. He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet sinless. He knew no actual participation of depravity ; but, as he rose from the lowest vale of human existence, and pressed through every barrier that sin has raised, he learned how to sympathize with a fallen race in every pang they endured. This was essential to the full development of the Messianic character, and the perfect discharge of the work he came to perform. He entered upon various human relationships, mingled intimately with human beings of every class, and witnessed human wretchedness of every degree. That which he saw, felt, and wept over, made profound impressions on his mighty heart, and nerved him, amid the tempest of vicarious woe, to win peace for mankind.

Jesus, in common with nearly all who are born to elevate and bless the world, was disparaged by those who had the best evidences of his worth, and found least encouragement from the kindred to whom he was most closely allied. Various statements of the evangelists inform us that Christ had younger brothers and sisters. For instance, they who witnessed the first marvels of his career said, “ Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and Simon, and Juda ? and are not his sisters here with us?” A distinguished critic observes,

“ It is worthy of note that Mark and John agree in stating that these brothers of the Savior remained unbelievers during his stay on earth a fact which illustrates the truthfulness of the history, since it by no means tended to glorify either Christ or his brothers, one of whom, at least, (James,) was in high repute among the Jewish Christians. It is not to be wondered at that the prophet was without honor among those who dwelt under the same roof, and saw him grow up under the same laws of ordinary human nature with themselves. True, this daily contact afforded them many opportunities of beholding the Divinity that streamed through the veil of his flesh; yet it

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

required a spiritual mind and a lively faith to recognize the revealed Son of God in the lowly garb of humanity. The impression of humanity made upon their senses day after day, and thus grown into a habit, could not be made to yield to the divine manifestations, unless in longer time than was required for others; but when it did yield, and, after such long-continued opposition, they acknowledged their brother as the Son of God and the Messiah, they only became thereby the more trustworthy witnesses."

The whole life of Christ on earth was tragical in the highest degree; the portions which were most obscure, not less so than the scenes on Calvary and Olivet. Think of the desolateness of that preparatory state, wherein his own kindred discarded his claims, and oppressed him with all the chilling weight of undisguised distrust. Nothing is sublimer in the history of mind than the lonely struggles which precede and generate success. Every predestined hero will have to demonstrate his superior worth by encountering and overcoming the most undeserved obstructions. Long before an effective foothold is attained, he will have suffered most from unexpected quarters, and been more aroused by neglect than by timely aid. Misfortune is a fire that melts weak hearts, but renders the firm purer and stronger. How many of the best of our race can recognize their model and consolation in the unfriended youth of Nazareth! Let the young man compelled to struggle with that sorest destiny, relatives who foster not but rather congeal his warmest hopes, take heart from the experience of his Lord, homeless and brotherless among his own kindred, but yet on his way to the conquest of popular prejudice, the redemption of degraded humanity, and the possession of power the most comprehensive and supreme.

How merciful was God to the best desires of the best hearts, to portray before the world the discipline of toil and neglect which his beloved Son endured! Alas for the nobly aspiring, if they derive not more solace from this heavenly example than can be found in the selfishness of earth! In every age,


oppressive sceptres and galling chains have been broken by youthful hands nerved by wrongs, as the rock shivers in the thunder stroke;” and in almost every instance these saviors, like their great Pattern, have been inured for the strife by the contempt or envy which at the outset they incurred. They arose in the field or shop, panting to be useful, and demanding only the patronage of good will and a fair opportunity to exercise their gifts. Some have contemptuously glanced at the lowly condition of such, saying, “Can any good thing come out of sources so obscure?” and have done what they could to depress the native talents with which they are too ignoble to sympathize. But when the wealthy and powerful of earth discard all claims on their regard proffered by the indigent candidate for usefulness and the highest fame, how sweet to turn to Christ for sympathy and support! How easy of access is he! How grateful to walk with him in the dusty path of hard endeavor, and spread before his generous heart our own benevolent and comprehensive schemes, when all others are distant and deaf-him, my fellow-mechanic, brother sufferer, kindred student, friend, teacher, God !

At an early day, the great Deliverer began to look out from the centre of his own domestic circle through all the ramifications of the human race, and saw that injustice and oppression every where prevailed. His keen experience of this set in operation his superhuman energies to defend the feeble and demolish the strong. He won a mastership over injustice even while suffering it, and through the paths of distress ascended to the highest triumphs and the best repose. Hence he exclaimed to those who would tread in his footsteps and emulate his deeds, “In the world ye will be oppressed; but be of good courage, I have conquered the world.” In a manner full of light and encouragement, he has taught the champions of righteousness that it is their doom and reward to endure much that is oppressive, in order that they may the better know how to appreciate the invulnerable nature within man, which may be abused but cannot be destroyed. Providence has armed

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »