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breath, is one day to become? What dormant powers may there lie hid ' What a germ of wisdom ready to expand ' What godlike faculties, which are at length to astonish, to delight, to bless mankind Watch over the expansion. The precious seed is sown by the hand of the creator. Mark its springing: mark its progress. God has done his part, parent, master, minister, see that thou dost thine, “It is not the will of your father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” The next lecture will have for its subject the history of the infancy and childhood of Jesus Christ. May he who condescended to become a little child for our sakes; who, as He “went about doing good,” encouraged the approach of little children, saying, “suffer them and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of God:” may he bless us with the spirit of adoption, and endow us with the lovely simplicity, the docility, the submissiveness of little children, that we may enter into the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
And the child grew, and waaced strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon himLUKE xi. 40.
OF all the wonders presented to us in the world of nature, man is the greatest wonder to himself—His body dust of the ground, and mouldering back to dust; reduced to the level of the beasts of the field ; but that dust animated with the breath of life, a living soul, exalted to the rank of angels, an emanation from God himself. In him are blended, in a most wonderful manner, three distinct kinds of life, forming one glorious individual, formed “after the image of Him who created him.” As the tree in the forest imperceptibly rises, increases from lowness and feebleness to stateliness and strength, and having attained full maturity imperceptibly decays, so the feeble infant gradually increases in stature, changes the grovelling into the erect form, rears his head to the vault of heaven, exulting in the greatness of his strength; he begins to verge towards decay, he bendsto the ground from whence he was taken, and at length sinks into it again. But he is not like the plant rivetted to one spot, unconscious of existence, incapable of self motion. With the other animals around him, he feels himself among his fellows, he rejoiccs in society, he possesses consciousness, he is directed by motives, he aims at a determinate end. But he is not, like the beasts that perish, impelled by instinct merely, the slave of appetite and sense. To the animal, the goodness of the creator has superadded the rational life, the faculty of contemplating that great universe of which he constitutes a part so essential, the capacity of rising from the effect to the cause, from the work to the author: Man enjoys the gift of speech, whereby he is rendered capable of communicating his reflections and reasonings, of forming combinations of power which awe, control, and direct the subject world. To mark the progress of a human being is an interesting and delightful employment—to observe how the limbs acquire firmness and strength, how the mental powers unfold themselves, and all the passions of the man, in succession, stand confessed. See the fond mother bending with delight over her infant, at first a little pliant lump of animated clay, every power lying dormant save one, that of drawing its nourishment from her breast. By and by the eye begins to feel and follow the light, the slender neck strengthens and sustains the reclining head; the babe smiles, and the parent’s heart is overwhelmed with joy. Now he can distinguish the face of her that suckles him from that of a stranger, at least she flatters herself he can, while the soft murmur of infantine satisfaction expresses his gratitude. The figure by degress becomes erect, every limb is in motion, the uncertain tongue attempts to imitate the sounds which strike the opening ear, and the feet press downward to the supporting earth; tremblingly he totters into walking, and stammers into speech. The powers of recollection and comparing appear, the symptoms of passion becomes visible, love and aversion, desire and gratitude. The moral sense at length begins to dawn, and the man in miniature finds himself a limited, dependent, subject, accountable being; hence hope and fear, self-complacency and remorse. We are this evening to contemplate infancy and childhood in their loveliest and most attractive form, and in their most interesting and affecting circumstances. Look yet again to Bethlehem of Judea, and behold the nothingness of human greatness; the offspring of kings a stranger in his paternal city, the heir of David without a place where to lay his head, a sovereign destitute of all things. When God, at the fulness of time, sent forth his own Son, as he was made of a woman, so was he “made under the law,” subjected to all its rites and restraints however painful and humiliating, and the Saviour of mankind, that he might fulfil all righteousness, and become a perfect pattern of obedience, first passively submitted to every ordinance of religion, and then by an active and exact conformity, magnified the law and made it honourable. The minuter circumstances of this period of our blessed Lord’s life are not left on record; those excepted which relate to his public character and divine mission, for as to these Scripture is most exact and particular. Of the progress of his infant mind no traces remain; not a word is said even of the beauty of his person; though the general terms which the evangelists employ, warrant us in thinking, that never in child born of a woman did such early dawnings of superior wisdom appear, that never was human form so perfect. The modest reserve of the historians of Jesus Christ, in this respect, seems to minister a severe reproof of the ridiculous details to be found, in modern biography, of infantine actions and sayings, the supposed prognostics of future eminence and distinction. We can forgive a fond mother, may love her the more for the amiable weakness, when we hear her repeat the pretty sayings, interpret the significant looks, and describe the wonderful decds of her soul’s darling; but it excites pity, if not an ungentler feeling, to be told gravely, from the press, of the insipid nothings which a great man said and did, when he was an ignorant and silly, perhaps a pert and petulent boy, who probably merited correction where he obtained praise. Of our divine master, we are told what was done to him, not what he did : what was said by others concerning either himself or others. And thus was he early an instructor of parents to abstain from partial and excessive admiration of their children, and to little children to cultivate that modesty docility, and humbleness of mind, which are the real ornament and honour of their tender age. Behold in him then, parents, children, a helpless infant at the disposal of others. It is of importance to the world to know that, at the appointed period, the terms of the Abrahamic covenant were complied with ; that the name of JESUS was given him, according to the direction of the angel; that as the first born of his mother, being sacred to God, he was solemnly pressented to the Lord in the temple at Jerusalem; for these things admonish us of the divine truth and faithfulness in keeping covenant and promise with his people, and of the right which he has to expect, and require faithfulness and obedience on their part; of the character and offices annexed to that sacred, precious and venerable name, and of the self-dedication which not the first-born only, but even all owe unto God. On the eighth day, then, he was circumcised, and named, according to the commandment, and on the fortieth day he was presented with the accustomed offering in the temple. Providence lays hold of this latter occasion to procure a noble testimony to the high rank and character of the Son of God. The spirit of prophecy had lately revived, and many in Jerusalem were “waiting for the consolation of Israel,” and considered it as near at hand. Of this number was a just and devout man named Simeon, to whom it was communicated by a special revelation, that, old as he was, his eyes should not be closed in death, till he had seen the Lord's Christ. Heaven directed he goes up to the temple, probably to entreat the speedy accomplishment of this gracious promise, at the very instant when the ceremony of the law was performing, and the spirit that was upon him instantly points to Jesus as the fulfilling