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afterwards, either late or early, his high and holy name should be in people's mouths continually, and rendered cheap by too familiar usage; but that the temper and the habits of our Saviour's infancy should be ever kept in sight by Christian parents or instructors, and these be ingrafted into the hearts of children, as piety and prudence shall suggest. We ought to look at the one great example much earlier than in general we do. For it is not likely that a childhood such as we must think to have been that of those irreverent and heedless young ones, who had (as would appear) been taught no better than to mock a prophet of the Lord', in the person of Elisha, should end in any proper likeness of the manhood of Jesus. He that would desire to reap a like harvest must sow a like seed: men do not "gather grapes of thorns nor figs of thistles'," but "whatsoever a man "soweth that shall he also reap.'
The one great probable cause, then, of the manifold perversenesses of Christian people to which I would awaken your attention is, that they do not begin early enough to look to their Lord's example, as an object of imitation for themselves. They are not trained to copy his
iMatth. vii. 16.
infant obedience and dutifulness of spirit: how then should it be wonderful, if they be found unable to direct their thoughts at twelve years old, as he did, unto their heavenly "Father's "business ?" Is it not more like a natural consequence than an occasion of surprise, that when they go abroad at somewhat riper age into the wilderness of life, they should give way to almost any temptation, instead of withstanding "the
world, the flesh, and the devil," as our Lord withstood them in the natural wilderness-even the temptations of hunger, vanity, and ambition? Whoever now gives way to either or to all of these enticements, is sure to find abundance of companions to keep him in countenance; and where is the wonder in the matter, that they who have not learnt their duty after the example of Jesus, should not be found to follow his example in doing their duty?
If we may here discover one cause, of an extremely probable nature at the least, of much of the unchristian conduct of professed Christians, we shall go on with livelier interest to an inquiry in what manner, and how far, it may be reasonably judged within our power, under God's blessing, to remove it, or to abate its influence. And this is the inquiry which I now propose to
ground upon the subject of the childhood of Jesus.
In order to do this, it will be necessary first to reflect on what the New Testament informs us respecting our Lord's early years. And here there need be no unwillingness to own that very little is recorded there concerning them. shall perceive that there is no excuse for carelessness on our parts to be drawn from that circumstance for though there be but little said, it happens that, according to the singular and universal power of Scripture, that little is enough for the instruction and direction of a willing mind.
The most that is related in the Gospels of our Saviour's childhood is contained in two places ; in the latter part of the second chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, from whence the text is taken; and in a single verse of the fourth chapter of the same Evangelist. I will read the two entire passages together, and we will then reflect on what they seem to teach us.
The first, and far the larger of the two, runs as follows. "And the child (Jesus) grew, and "waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and "the grace of God was upon him. Now his
* Luke ii. 40, ad fin.
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.
"increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour
"with God and man."
Such is the longer
passage the single verse is this. "And he (Jesus) 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'.'
From these two places we may with fairness, I conceive, collect the following particulars.
First, that our Saviour was brought up by his parents (I mean, by his reputed father and his holy mother) in a careful observance of the public duties of religion; that he had been taught to honour the sabbath-day, and that habitually; and to respect the regular appointed festivals observed at that day by the Church of his nation.
Secondly, it is to be contended with the fairest reason, that as a child our Saviour must have made great progress in divine knowledge; in knowledge of the Scriptures and the law of God. When his parents found him in the temple, conversing with the teachers of the law, it is added, that all who heard him were astonished "at his understanding and answers." Now let
Luke iv. 16.