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of the artificial heat that hurried it forward; the tree is wasted and fades before the time; and at the proper season, when nature is clothing the vigorous plant with its golden harvest, the languid child of art stands lifeless and leafless, expiring before its time. There is always danger from a premature spring, though it be in the course of nature. Happy is the man who can hit the temperate mean betwixt indecent haste and indolent

your duty; but dream not of making a stranger bend the knee to your idol, perhaps he has an idol of his own, weak, silly, and ridiculous as yours; perhaps he sees nothing but impertinence and imperfection, where you behold only grace and loveliness, and the more you force your Dagon upon his attention, the more hideousness and deformity he will discover in it. Be not eager to bring forward the accomplishments of your child. If they are worthy of being seen, your re-delay. I would address a few words, to the serve and the child's modesty will give a same effect, to advanced childhood and early glow to the colouring which will strike youth. But childhood and youth are not disevery eye and please every heart. If they posed to attend serious Lectures, or do not be trivial, why will you force a good-natured understand, or disbelieve, and therefore do looker-on, to flatter your vanity at the ex-not attend to them. They must be left to the pense of his own judgment; or provoke a forcible, the irresistible lessons of experience. stern and severe one, to approve his sincerity I earnestly recommend them to the teaching and truth at the expense of your feeling and of your idol's fancied importance? In private let the person most dear to you, be most dear to you; in society, the darling object, the first in consideration and affection, ought to be the last in respect of attention.

Be not over anxious about an early crop from your offspring. You may have the fruit, it is true, by means of vehement cultivation, a little earlier in the season, but it savours

of God's good spirit. May the Son of God, who vouchsafed for our sake to pass through infancy and childhood poor, neglected, unknown, guard our helpless infants, direct our thoughtless, wayward children, counsel and instruct manly, matured reason, and smile with complacency on the hoary head, and make it a crown of righteousness. And to God in Christ be ascribed immortal praise. Amen.



Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, 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. And when they saw him they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me ? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.-LUKE ii. 41-52.

UNIVERSAL Nature is progress, succession, | eye, and I am incapable of catching a single and change. We observe it in every thing step of the progress. Shade melts imperaround us, we feel it in every particle of ceptibly into shade; the transition is made, our own frame. But obvious as this progres- but we were not aware of it; whether we sion is, in its larger portions, the minuter de- be asleep or awake, careless or attentive, the tails defy the closest attention of the acutest great complex machine keeps in motion, pereye. Darkness has evidently given place to forms its revolution, produces its effect.light; but what vigilance of inspection could The progress of man, the most perfect of ascertain the precise instant when night all creatures that we are acquainted with, is ceased and light began to dawn? That plant the most interesting of all objects to man. is palpably increased in strength and size, If it be delightful to behold the trees of the but let me hang over it the livelong day, forest burst into verdure, and those of the with the unremitting penetration of an eagle's garden putting on their beautiful garments,

and changing that beauty into fruitfulness; if it be pleasant to behold the springing corn multiply thirty, sixty, a hundred fold; to behold the flocks and herds increase-what must it be to behold the image of God multiplied on the earth, the human form divine rear itself toward heaven, the powers of thought and reason expand.

-By degrees,

The human blossom blows; and every day,
Soft as it rolls along, shows some new charm,
Then infant reason grows apace, and calls
For the kind hand of an assiduous care.
Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,
To teach the young idea how to shoot,
To pour the fresh instructions o'er the mind,
To breathe ti' enlivening spirit, and to fix
The generous purpose in the glowing breast.


But this, like every other human delight, is blended with pain. Even the partiality of parental affection is constrained to observe rank and noisome weeds springing up with the delicate seeds of goodness; the dawning of reason is obscured by the clouds of folly and vice, and the promise of a golden harvest is blighted in early spring, by late frost or premature heat. Before we are well awake to the joy of some newly discovered excellency, we are overwhelmed with the distress of perceiving some glaring imperfection, or ungracious propensity: and where we love and rejoice, there also we find cause to lament and condemn. The spirit of God has seen meet to present the world with one perfect model, for the instruction of every age of human life. We have held it up in a state of infantine beauty, simplicity, and gentleness, a passive example of subjection to poverty, and danger, and persecution; but we have seen the meanness and obscurity of that state relieved by the decided attention of eternal Providence, and by the voluntary homage of angels and men.

holy place. Self-evident marks of the favour of heaven were already upon him. "He grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom." Expressions importing uncom‐ mon comeliness of person, and superior powers of understanding; but in Him, as in other children, we behold a gradual progression from knowledge to knowledge, as from stature to stature. For as nature conceals from us at what moment she unites the immortal mind to the mortal frame, so the Holy Spirit has thought proper to conceal at what season, and in what measure, Deity was pleased to unite himself to the human nature of the Redeemer; and let us not over-curiously seek, "to know the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." Neither the lovely form, nor the attractive goodness, nor the excellent wisdom, however, of this wonderful child, seem to have roused much attention, or commanded uncommon respect. The world is captivated not by real and solid worth, but by the gandy outside of showy, superficial qualities. Rank and riches spread a glare over the person of their possessor, that makes it known and remembered: they add weight to his most ordinary sayings, which gives them currency and importance; while poverty, like a bushel put over a candle, prevents it, however clear it may be, from giving its light. What carnal mind can reconcile the idea of great and distinguished qualities with that of the carpenter's son? No, He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."


In those stated journeys to Jerusalem, it was customary for many families of the same neighbourhood, or of the same kindred, to travel in company. The road was sweetened and shortened by friendly communication, and religion strengthened the bands of friendship and the ties of blood. Were there no other reason but this to press upon the heart the importance of attendance on the ordi

On returning from Egypt, Jesus was carried to the obscure village of Nazareth, and the vail is drawn over him till his twelfth year, when he was pleased to clothe himself for a little while with majesty, and then dis-nances of God's house, that it serves to appeared, till the time of his final manifestation to the world, as the Saviour of it. The law obliged every male of Israel to appear before the Lord in the place which he had chosen to put his name there, three times every year, at the three great feasts of passover, pentecost, and tabernacles. This was evidently intended to maintain a good correspondence between all the members of the commonwealth, by the social intercourse, the innocent festivity, and the devotional exercises which these solemnities promoted.

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strengthen the bond of nature between husband and wife, parent and child, one neighbour and another, it were enough to recommend it to every one who prizes the comfort of the life that now is; how much more, when there are involved in it, all the infinitely more important interests of that which is to come! Happy are those societies in which the powers of a world to come are so felt, as to shed a sweetening, cheering, enlivening influence over present connexions. enjoyments, and pursuits. The solemnities of the feast being ended, all prepare to return to their respective homes and their usual employments. Thus wisely and mercifully, He who knows what is in man makes devotion, labour, and rest, alternately to recommend, to relieve, and to support each other.

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A perpetual sabbath would soon prove the pattern to children of twelve, of docility, of death of religion; under uninterrupted labour humility, of meekness; carefully listening the man would quickly sink; rest protracted to the questions proposed to him by the pubbeyond a certain bound would prove destruc-lic teachers, and answering with deference tive of all repose. But to the heart in which and submission, though with intelligence and the love of God is shed abroad, the painful decision; and proposing, in his turn, questoil of the week is mitigated and diminished tions that led to important truth and really by the prospect of the day of sacred inter- useful knowledge, not such as displayed the mission, of heavenly communication; and acuteness of him who interrogated, or that the calm, satisfying delights of the Lord's aimed at exposing him of whom the answer day, bestowing ease on the body, and compo- was demanded. In truth, ever since I could sure on the mind, serve as a restorative read and understand the words of the histotoward undertaking and undergoing the fa- rian, I have considered this little anecdote tigues of another week. of our blessed Lord, as of singular importance in his character, as the great teacher of mankind. The age of twelve is an interesting crisis in human life. The rational soul is then shaking off the child, and emerging into the man. There is about that period, knowledge enough to minister fuel to vanity and self-conceit, but not enough to discern ignorance and folly; there is learning sufficient to tease and perplex, but not to attract and conciliate affection. And did it please thee, meek and condescending Jesus, to instruct that wayward season of existence, when youth begins to feel the force of example, to blush at petulance, to be influenced by honest shame and honest praise, that season when the heart is awake, alive all over to the bitterness of censure, or to the sweets of approbation? Yes, and we see in thee with wonder and joy the happy medium between the firmness of conscious wisdom, and the forwardness of assumed superiority: between the meekness and gentleness which are the inseparable concomitants of real ability, and the self-sufficiency which betrays want of talents, supporting itself by extravagance of claim. That this is the just view of our blessed Lord's conduct is evident from the effect which it produced. You need not be told of the jealousy of aged and professional men. Not a doctor in the temple but would have felt and resented the mortifying superiority of a child, had that superiority been ostentatiously displayed; but his whole deportment excited only admiration and love; his understanding was equalled only by his affability and condescension; he at once instructs his teachers and gains their good will; "all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers."

The numerousness of the company which travelled back to Nazareth prevented its being observed that one was wanting, and a complete day's journey is performed, before the eager, attentive eye of even a mother, misses its darling object. How is this to be accounted for? The whole train was a band of brothers, of one heart and of one soul; in whatever part of it the child was, behind or before, he was encompassed with friends: other children of twelve years old need attention, protection, and support, but he has given many unequivocal proofs of a wisdom capable of conducting himself. The time is now come that his mother herself must learn with whom she had to do, and to revere in her own son, the Son of the Highest. All was of God, who thus prepared the way for another public declaration of the great Prophet who should come into the world, and that not by the tongue of an archangel, nor by a multitude of the heavenly host, but by the mouth of Jesus himself; into whose lips grace was poured and praise perfected. It is easier to conceive than to describe the sorrow and anxiety occasioned by the discovery that Jesus was not in the train. The shades of night spread over the soul of a mother the terror of evil beasts, of evil men; of hunger and cold, of missing the road, and of all the nameless apprehensions which solicitous parents feel for unprotected youth and innocence. Nothing remains but to tread back their weary, anxious steps, and the close of the second day sees them enter Jerusalem, with the mixed emotions of hope and despondency; and another sleepless night succeeds the painful day. The third day, well knowing the zeal which he had for God's house, they repair betimes to the temple: they find him; think, O mothers, with what astonishment and delight, in health, safety, and composure; and, gracious heaven! how employed? "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions." Painters and commentators seem to have entirely mistaken this passage of our Saviour's history. They place him in the centre, in the chief seat, assuming authority, instructing gray hairs. The evangelist places him in the modest seat of a pupil, a

If strangers were thus moved by a miid display of early, unaffected wisdom, what must a parent have felt, whose heart but a moment before was throbbing with anguish unutterable? How happy is she to acknowledge such a son, the delight of every eye, the theme of every tongue. But even Mary, the mother of Jesus, is weak and imperfect, she speaks unadvisedly with her lips, she presumes to mingle upbraiding and reproach with expressions of endearment and exultation; she has forgotten from whence she re

ceived him, the character given him of the | ture, and in favour with God and man." Let angel before he was conceived in the womb, us not presume to draw aside the vail which the sacred names which he bore, the testi- infinite wisdom has spread, nor seek to be mony which God had so repeatedly given to wise above what is written, these things the his beloved Son; she addresses him, all-won-angels desire to look into, and some of these derful as he was, as if he had been merely things, though now they are hidden from us, an ordinary child, who had thoughtlessly and we may be permitted to know hereafter. wantonly rambled away from his parents, and had given them unnecessary trouble and pain, He whose every word, every action had an important meaning and design. "Son," says she, "why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing." And now the answer of Christ to this question unfolds the great end which he had in view, through the whole transaction. It was time for him to assert his divine original; and the meekest and most submissive of all children stands invested with divine majesty, "how is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" or, as it might perhaps with greater propriety have been rendered," in my Father's house."

What a lesson is conveyed to the world in this reply! Sacred is the authority of a mother over a son of twelve years of age, but there is an authority still more sacred, of which a child even of that age may be sensible. When the honour of God is concerned, the voice of nature must be suppressed.When the voice of Heaven calls, the decencies and civilities of life must give place, and all secondary obligations and considerations must be swallowed up of the first. He silently endured the reproach of being called the carpenter's son by strangers, but his own mother must denominate him what he is, and what she knew him to be. But reproof of a parent must be insinuated, not brought directly forward; and here again the pattern is perfect; delicacy and firmness unite to spare the mother, yet reprove the offence; and whatever were the other questions and answers of this celebrated conference, those which are on record will remain an everlasting monument of the perfect union of wisdom and harmlessness, which distinguished the Son of God from every other.

The Sun, having shone forth in this temporary effulgence, again hid its face in clouds, and submitted to an eclipse of eighteen years longer; He divested himself of all authority; He sought not glory from man; He became of no reputation; He took on him the form of a servant. "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them; and by this voluntary humiliation of himself, by this retreat into the shade, more than by ten thousand precepts and arguments, He has inculcated the practice of humility on his disciples. A few short words contain the history of many years, even so, holy Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight; "Jesus increased in wisdom and sta

About the period of this passover, when Christ was showing himself in the temple after this extraordinary manner, as the Son of God, Augustus Cæsar, the emperor of Rome, dies, and is succeeded in the throne by Tiberius. About six years after, Josephus, called Caiaphas, was made high priest of the Jews, through the partial favour of Valerius Gratus, the Roman governor. Towards the end of the twelfth year from that period, Pontius Pilate was sent into Palestine as procurator of Judea, in the room of Valerius Gratus, and John Baptist entered on the exercise of his public ministry. Those names are now stripped of all their glory; those stations are now fallen into disuse, those events are now stripped of all their importance, save what they derive from the relation which they bear to yonder Babe in the stable, that child in the midst of the doctors, that gentle, obscure, unassuming youth of Nazareth of Galilee. So differently do objects weigh when examined by the scale of the world, and tried by the balance of the sanctuary. In the next Lecture we will proceed, if God permit, to the history of Christ's baptism, and of the illustrious testimony then given from the most excellent glory to Jesus Christ, as God's well-beloved Son."


"Let us with Mary keep all these sayings in our heart." Let us, from the example of this pious pair, regularly attend the worship of God's house, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves as the manner of some is;" and thus shall we go from strength to strength” till we appear before God in Zion. Let us carefully attend to the proper mode of treatment of children, suited to age, to capacity. to temper, and disposition. The discipline adapted to childhood is by no means suited to a more advanced state; and when the youth has become a man, and "put away childish things," he must be treated as a man. It is of importance to know when the stimulus, when the bridle is to be employed. What would overwhelm the timid, may prove hardly a curb to the headstrong; the slow of speech and understanding must not be urged into the speed of the acute and impetuous. Parents rejoice in a forward display of faculties in their children; they encourage it, and they not seldom repent it. The opposite error is not common, and is therefore less an object of caution. The difficulties which daily present themselves, in managing the progress of the human mind, are frequently insurmountable by the ordinary powers of man, which therefore stand in need of the il

lumination of "wisdom from above;"" if any of you," then, "lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Let the young be instructed how to rise into eminence and distinction. Covet not, pursue not premature honour and applause. Extorted praise is gratifying neither to the giver nor the receiver; a free-will offering of approbation is "twice blest; it blesseth him

that gives, and him that takes." Meditate on the familiar image, which, no doubt, has frequently been suggested to you: honour, like the shadow, pursues the flier, and flies from the pursuer. Demand less than your due, and men will be disposed to give you the more. My young friends, "be not children in understanding: howbeit, in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men."



Now, when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove, upon him, and s voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Eli.-LUKE iii. 21–23.

THE declared purpose of our evangelist, in undertaking to write this history, is that his most excellent friend Theophilus, and with him every lover of God and truth, "might know the certainty of those things wherein he had been instructed." This "certainty" is demonstrable from the spirit which Christianity breathes, and from the external evidence by which its divine original was confirmed. The religion of Jesus Christ proves that it came down from heaven, from the Father of lights, by the character of the great Author and Finisher of our faith, by the example of all righteousness which he set, by the purity and heavenly-mindedness which he displayed and recommended, by the labours of mercy and love which he performed, by the sufferings which he patiently underwent, and by "the glory that followed." To these Providence was pleased to superadd proofs that reach the understanding through the medium of sense; namely signal, supernatural, and frequently-repeated testimonies, exhibited in the presence of a cloud of witnesses, who produced a clear, concurring, consistent mass of evidence, respecting facts which fell under the personal observation of their own eyes and ears, and which were never contradicted nor even called in question.

examines it, at whatever distance of time and place, from its indelible characters, from the universality of the field which it embraces, and from the glorious and godlike end at which it aims: in a word, from its congeniality to the feelings, to the wishes, and to the wants of human nature. Had no prediction taught the world to expect a Deliverer; had no miracle declared Him the great Lord of the Universe; had no voice from Heaven proclaimed Him the beloved Son of God, He must have stood confessed, the predicted Emanuel, God with us, in his compassion to the miserable, in his patience with the froward, in his forbearance toward the evil and unthankful, in his clemency to the guilty. The gospel breathes "peace on earth and good will to men;" its unbounded liberality diffuses its influence over the whole world of mankind; its professed aim and end are to confer all possibly attainable happiness on every human being in the life which now is, and perfect and everlasting felicity in that which is to come. The object which Christianity proposes to itself is to reform, to purify, to exalt our fallen nature, by making us partakers of a divine nature; it is to rear the fabric of present and everlasting blessedness on the solid foundation of wisdom, truth, and At this distance of time and place, the last virtue. It penetrates and pervades every mentioned species of evidence, that of exter- principle of our nature, and enters completely nal circumstances, must of necessity be trans-into the detail of human life and conduct: it mitted to us through the channel of history, and its validity must rest on the veracity of the historian. The other sort of evidence is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. This counsel approves itself to be of God, to the conviction of every one who seriously

informs the understanding, melts the heart, overawes the conscience, and brings the trembling, guilty, helpless, desponding creature unto God. If these are not the characters of a Revelation from the God and Father of all men, what characters are sufficient to

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