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my text—“knew ye not that I must be in my Father's house?” His parents concluded that he was returned after the accomplishments of the day, or at least supposed the temple to be the most improbable place for him to be found in. Jesus, therefore, reproves them for their ignorance of his great mission, and expresses a kind of surprise, that they should look for him in any other situation, than that which was most correspondent to it. As far as I can judge the original expression will unquestionably bear this sense; but is as properly and more frequently admits the other-εν τους του πατρος μου δεί είναι με I have therefore adopted the meaning that is received in the common translation, and illustrated by the context. The answer, thus understood, shows, like the other interpretation, the importance of the task Christ was commissioned to execute, and carries with it additional force and spirit. It supposes the indispensible necessity of Christ's obedience to the commands of his heavenly Father; and it should have directed his earthly parents to yield all their own authority, and waive their interests, in consideration of the more sacred authority which Christ was bound to obey, and the more noble interests he was appointed to promote. The justness of the construction I have here put on the text, is yet further established by the subsequent remark of the Evangelist, that they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. How could they not understand what he meant by his Father's house, when they saw him there-or be at a loss, in this view, to conceive the propriety of his conversation

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with the doctors, when the practice was so frequent among the Jews, and turned out so much to the credit of their son? What indeed was his Father's business, or what connection those debates had with it, they might easily not understand they might easily be ignorant, while Christ was in this state of childhood, of the exalted office Christ was soon to sustain, the sublime truths he was to unfold, and the gracious ends he was to accomplish by the salvation of the world.

Should it be asked, how this could happen, the answer is obvious. Mary had been visited by an angel, who told her, that some illustrious person should be born of her womb. This declaration was afterwards confirmed by the many extraordinary circumstances that attended Christ's nativity, by the reports of the shepherds, and the pious exclamation of old Simeon. Yet all these events were insufficient to impress any rational conviction on a woman, whose very affection was likely to mislead her judgment—whose mind was possessed with general indistinct ideas of her son's excellence-or who referred the particulars of it to such opinions as the religious prejudices of her age had established, and the natural vanity, and perhaps weakness of her sex, might lead her to adopt. To us indeed, who are acted upon by the collective force of the evidence for Christianity, the words of the good old man are extremely intelligible. But on this occasion, as well as all others, where the dignity of their child was concerned, Mary and Joseph only marvelled. The truth is, they were not acquainted with

the proper character of the Messiah, and had preconceived, probably, the same hopes of a temporal deliverer, that their countrymen indulged, and their priests cherished. From this weakness the Apostles certainly were not exempt ; they mistook the design of their master's coming, and waited with impatience for his demand of an earthly kingdom, after they had repeatedly heard his doctrines, after they had repeatedly seen his miracles, and had been reproved by him for the slowness of their hearts. For a time, then, both the parents and disciples of Christ laboured under the same ignorance, prepossessions and errors. They knew the favour in which he stood with God—they respected his wisdom-they loved his virtues — they had obscure notions of his dignity; but they were mistaken about the real end of his mission, and the most proper means for the attainment of that end.

In a future discourse, I shall probably set before you some practical instruction, which the story just explained to you suggests, for the regulation of your parental and your filial conduct. I shall conclude the present discourse with two plain inferences from what has been already offered to your consideration.

From the rebuke that Mary expressed to Jesus, who was engaged in his Father's business, of which she was utterly ignorant, we may learn to check all rash decisions on subjects to which we are not familiarised by long and impartial attention to listen to the opinions of men who are more conversant in them than ourselves with respectful diffidence

and to suppose that they may have wise and meritorious views in such actions as to superficial, incompetent, and prejudiced observers, appear improper.

From the example of Christ we find that religious employments should engage our first and largest share of application—that points of duty are not to be sacrificed to the prejudices even of the wellmeaning-and that to abandon what we approve, in order to elude the scoffs, or propitiate the malice of the wicked, is to hazard our hopes of a better life for the sake of a precarious tranquillity in this, and to love the praise of fickle and short-sighted men, more than the approbation of an omniscient and most righteous God.


LUKE ii. 49.

Knew you not that I must be about my Father's business ?

In a former discourse on these words, I endeavonred to clear the text from the obscurity that hangs around its import, and to point out such references to ancient customs as might enable you to understand its full and real force. With this view, I explained to you the original design, and peculiar solemnity of the passover, for the celebration of which our Lord went up to Jerusalem. I opened to you the reasons for which Joseph and Mary disapproved of their Son's behaviour-reasons founded in timid ignorance and habitual mistakes ; and I at the same time enforced the justification of our Lord by illustrating on the judicious reply, in which he rebuked, without insulting, their weakness, and confuted, without shocking, their prepossessions. In the present discourse, I shall consider the practical observations, suggested by the story of my text, for the regulation of your parental conduct.

In what manner the example of our Lord ought to influence young men is a subject, which from its extent and importance, must be reserved for some

* 1782.

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