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ciful visitation. It drew tears from the eyes of the compassionate friend of mankind: “And when he was come near he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes,” “For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there re. maineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” We conclude with pointing out the Saviour as a pattern of perseverance in well-doing. Nazareth is no longer a theatre of teaching and working. Does he therefore sullenly, resentfully, cease from discharging the duties of his high office? No, other cities will gladly receive him. “He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath days.” And what a course of active, unwearied beneficence did the remainder of his earthly pilgrimage exhibit! through evil report and good report, through opposition and discouragement, through sorrow and suffering, by night and by day, till, bowing his head, he could say, “it is finished.” “Arm yourselves,” therefore, christians, “with the same mind :” “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesús, the Author and Finisher of our faith:—consider io that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” “And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work
of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
Mow, when Jesus heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee: and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the seacoast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim : that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by Esaias, the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles ; the people which sat in darkness saw great light , and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a met into the sea : for they were fishers. .And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make gou fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee, their father, mending their nets ; and he called unto them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.—MAtt. iv. 12–22.
AMONG the other means of arriving at certainty, respecting “the things wherein we have been instructed,” it may be of importance to compare the present state of christianity with its origin; to contrast the smallness of its beginnings with the greatness of its success; to consider the real influence which a cause so unpromising has had on human affairs, and the changes which it actually has produced on the face of the globe. Who is its author? A mighty potentate, armed with sovereign power and authority? An invincible conqueror travelling in the greatness of his strength, at the head of triumphant legions, from victory to victory?. An experienced statesman skilled in every art of intrigue, and amply furnished with all commanding gold, to gain over credulous, or to purchase the suffrages of corruptible multitudes 2 The reverse of all this is the fact. The author of our faith, christians, as has frequently been repeated, was the reputed son of a carpenter; he was brought up in an obscure village of a region proverbially contemptible, of a conquered country; he was destitute of means, of friends, of worldly wisdom; he was a pensioner on the bounty of others, and frequently without a place where to lay his head. Will any one presume to allege that he associated with the great of this world, that he insinuated himself into the favour and counsels of the princes of the earth, that he went forth armed with their commission, and advanced in their name conquering and to conquer? No, history contradicts all this. He lived up to the age of thirty in the very depth of obscurity; his associates and coadjutors were few in number, men of mean parentage and parts, in the very lowest ranks of society, fishermen, the sons of fishermen. Did he employ, then, the arts of insinuation, address and flattery to captivate the vulgar? Did he teach an easy, palatable, pliant morality, and attract the countenance and support of the million, by gratifying their passions, by conniving at their vices, or by humouring their prejudices? No such thing. His life and doctrine were quite the reverse. He preached and exemplified mortification, and self. denial, and patient submission to painful and unmerited suffering, and renunciation of the world. Undoubtedly then his followers could not be numerous, nor his reputation extensive; nor his power of long duration. This too is contradicted by matter of fact. No teacher can boast of so many disciples; no name is so widely diffused; and after a lapse of eighteen centuries, the field of his triumph is extended and extending, and his outstretched arms are expanded to embrace a globe. How is all this to be accounted for ? Who shall explain this accumulation of mystery? Consult, on the subject, the learned Jewish doctor of laws, whom we formerly quoted with respect. His reasoning upon it is as sound, and as conclusive now, as it was near two thousand years ago. “If this counsel or this work were of men, it must have come to naught; but because it is of God, it cannot be overthrown.” Christianity is the cause of heaven, and therefore it hath prospered, and shall continue to prosper. We have hitherto beheld our blessed Lord single and unconnected; gradually shewing himself to the world as a teacher sent from God. In the passage which has now been read, we find him laying the foundation of his church, forming and modelling his household, beginning to provide a succession of public teachers of his religion, who should carry on to the end of time, the instruction of an ignorant, the reformation of a corrupted, the salvation of a perishing world. The career of John Baptist, his kinsman and forerunner, was now come to an end. That rigid moralist and honest reformer had, by speaking truth and acting faithfully, incurred the displeasure of an arbitrary despot, who cast him into prison, where he soon after fell a victim to the resentment of an abandoned woman. But this John had already given a repeated and public testimony to Jesus Christ, as the Messiah promised to the fathers, and as the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” And, at his baptism by John, God had confirmed that testimony by a voice from heaven.
As the Baptist’s public labours drew towards a conclusion, those of Jesus Christ were advancing to their commencement; and, as we have seen, they were first employed for the instruction and relief of his kindred and townsmen of Nazareth, where he had been brought up. His benevolent services there, however, were most ungratefully requited, the minds of his auditors being poisoned with envy, and, as a necessary consequence, their hearts hardened through unbelief. Disappointed of success there, where it might have been so reasonably expected, he gives not up, in sullen dissatisfaction, the work which was given him to do, but leaving Nazareth, in the manner related in the preceding lecture, he proceeds to Capernaum, a town of Galilee, on the sea-coast, on the confines of the inheritance of the two tribes Zabulon and Nephthalim, denominated “Galilee of the Gentiles,” from its proximity to the regions of Tyre and Sidon.
But what step of our Saviour's progress was unmarked by the finger of ancient prophecy, and conse. }. directed by a special interposition of Divine
rovidence? Isaiah, who had so clearly and fully described his character and offices, in the passage which he read and applied to himself, in the synagogue at Nazareth, has also clearly and undecidedly announced his visit to Capernaum, and the light and glory which his preaching and mighty works should diffuse over a region which lay buried in heathenish ignorance and idolatry. How runs the prophecy 2 “Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zabulon, and the land of Naphthalim, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” And what saith the history?