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- he sees as it were a picture set before him, or rather he almost imagines himself present at the scene, every thing is so circumstantially mentioned. Behold our blessed Lord entering into the synagogue ;-he stands up to signify his wish to read to the congregation ;-some one delivers to him a volume of the scriptures, the several books of which were probably written on separate rolls. It is not by accident, be assured, that. this particular volume is put into his hands ;-it contains the writings of the prophet Isaiah, of him who was an evangelist by anticipation, who gave a true and very particular account of the history and doctrines of the Messiah, seven hundred years
before " the word was made flesh and dwelt among us. No part of scripture could have furnished Christ with so fertile a theme, from which to “ expound the things concerning himself.” He opens the sacred book ;-neither was that done at random, or without a divine providence, or at least without a deliberate design of his own in selecting the passage that he would read; for it was the most appropriate that could have been chosen, both as declaring the divine authority of his commission, and as describing what would be the nature and object of his preaching. Having read this passage, he closes the book ;-he returns it to the minister, (the person whose office it was to carry the book
as directed by the ruler of the synagogue;) --he sits down as was customary with the Jews in preaching ;-and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. They had heard of his preaching and his miracles, and they listened with eager expectation to catch the words of one, whose fame was so spread abroad; but much of this anxiety, must be ascribed to mere curiosity, much to prejudice, much to envy. He begins to preach ;-his whole audience are delighted, and “wonder at the gracious words that proceed out of his mouth;” but immediately they recollect who this great preacher is, “ Is not this Joseph's son?”— they begin to alter their opinion of him, upon calling to mind his poor kindred and humble circumstances. what is in their prejudiced and curious hearts, and he makes a personal application of his discourse by observing, that those who seemed to be most highly favoured by God, often most despised his mercy and goodness, and therefore were rejected, while others who appeared destitute of like advantages, were sought out as better qualified to receive the neglected blessings. Hereupon they could endure no longer, their real temper broke forth, their proud unhumbled hearts revealed themselves ;- in the very house of the God of love and peace, they “ were filled with
wrath at the words of his own Son, with whom he was well pleased ;-they all “ rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong." But his “ time was not yet come," and this was not the way
in which he was to " offer his life a ransom for many.” The “Son of Man was to be lifted up,” and “not a bone of him was to be broken ;” - their malicious and diabolical fury was disappointed; he miraculously escaped from them to go and fulfil his ministry, and to "bow his head” upon the cross, when all should be finished.
Shall we then return to the synagogue at Nazareth, and listen to him, who spake" as never other man spake?” Alas! “the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth” are no more to be heard, their sound has passed away, and there is no record of them preserved. Why has . the evangelist, who seems, from the particularity of his narrative, to have enjoyed the high happiness of hearing them himself, been so unkind to his readers as to refuse them a participation in the same privilege and pleasure? We must rebuke this curiosity or complaining question ; --the Holy Spirit, who guided the pens of the sacred writers, no doubt most wisely ordered what they should record, and what omit. If every
thing had been written which our Saviour spoke in the course of his ministry, “ the world itself could not contain the books that should be written;"—the gospel would have been too large work for any one to possess, much more to read; -all the great benefits arising from its present portable size would have been lost ;-besides, you do not suppose that Christ preached new doctrines and precepts every day. claimed but one and the same faith and practice; -and although he may have varied the expressions from time to time, yet he must continually have taught the same truths in substance to different congregations ;-and we cannot doubt that all have been preserved and transmitted to us, which it is neccessary that we should know, that nothing has been omitted which is essential towards making us “wise unto salvation.”
And there is one thought, my brethren, which ought to occur to us, when we indulge the desire to hear more of the words of Christ. Have we sufficiently profited by those which we have already heard? Are we heartily thankful for them? Do we value them above gold and silver ? Are they truly precious to us? Do we constantly read them, and meditate on them day and night? Is his word our guide and our counsellor?” “a light unto our feet and a lantern unto our
paths ?” are we never offended at it? do we never forget it? do we never prefer our own wayward wills, and the evil maxims of the world before it? Let us be very careful that we value what we have and derive the full benefit from it, before we presume to ask for more ; let us take heed that we discharge our present obligations, before we desire to lay ourselves under an increased responsibility.
But although we must be contented without having the means of reading the divine discourse which Christ delivered to the people of Nazareth, yet we have the text and the first sentence of it, and these will furnish us with the clue by which we may understand what was the drift and
purport of the whole. The text is a most beautiful one ;-nothing can be more consoling and encouraging. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, be. cause he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” These in themselves are indeed “gracious words;” but “ of whom speaketh the prophet this ?--of himself, or of some other man?” The first sentence of the sermon will explain : “ This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Hereby Christ declared