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to be made or mended; ploughs, hoes, and mattocks to be fitted ; chests and boxes to be framed and made strong—those and such like village tasks would constantly fall to his lot. Though each matter be a simple one, yet there is considerable variety in the work—no one thing, perhaps, is exactly like another; and this gives play to thought, and demands calculation, forecast, and contrivance. A carpenter's trade, and that of the village smith, seem to me to tax a man's ingenuity as much as any calling in life. And if so, surely such a craft is an education to the mind; it draws it out to its best capabilities, and makes demands upon all its powers. Whereas, if the matter be of any magnitude, and at all complicated, the calculations required are not unworthy to rank with the problems of geometry; and imply something of the culture of the mathematician.

(ii.) Again, the carpenter's is a trade which requires skill. To carry bricks for the bricklayer may not need very skilful manipulation; but to fit and mortice one piece of wood into another, so that it shall last and remain fixed and immovable for a hundred years, needs a cunning hand, and an

accurate eye; it demands practice and steadiness of execution--the deftly moving finger, and the subtile wrist. Hence the carpenter's craft is a training to the body no less than it is to the mind. No clumsy, loutish countryman can hope to succeed at it.

(iii.) More than once I have gazed for some minutes upon Holman Hunt's picture of the “ Shadow of the Cross." , The principal figure, as you may recollect, is our Lord represented as a carpenter, who has just


finished work, and who looks tired, and is just stretching Himself, with His arms lifted up on either side of His head. As might be expected, from the painter's reputation; the carpenter is wonderfully delineated in form and flesh. But it is open to enquire whether our Lord is not depicted as rather too much of a carpenter ; or rather as a carpenter and nothing more. Surely it could never have escaped His recollection in the hardest day's toil, when His brow was most wet with sweat-the curse of man's fall that He was also the Son of David carpenter, yet a King! To us the idea may seem a little incongruous. But we know that the Jews, like the monks in the middle ages, mingled work largely with study and devotion, and considered their Rabbis all the better teachers if they worked at some handicraft so many hours of the day. Hence there would be nothing incongruous in a teacher come from God, who yet worked at the bench. Still, in our conception, we must not allow the handicraftsman to dwarf the King, nor to extinguish the Divine light that must not obscurely have illuminated those features of the Son of Man.

II.-Our Saviour, then, when He came into this world, chose to place Himself among the artisan class, selecting one of the most skilled trades, where thought and the cunning hand come most into play. This surely suggests two thoughts to us.

(i.) The dignity of labour. God set His first stamp upon labour when He put Adam fresh from His creating hand, as yet unfallen, into the garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it-exercise here, and thought, as all gardeners know. He set His second stamp upon it when,

coming down from Heaven Himself, He chose to become à carpenter. Agriculture and manufacture, sometimes conceiving themselves opposed, are here, at least, shown to be one-created, dignified by God. Yes, there is a dignity about labour. If not too laborious, it improves the human frame, and promotes health ; it improves the human mind, taking away its vapouring and hypochondria, and making it practical withal, and healthy. And, from the point of view of society, to learn and labour truly to get mine own living is dignified, as it gives a man self-respect and independence, which are real ingredients in a Christian's character.

One of the sad things about the relief of distress is that, after the bitter weather is passed, and with it the necessity for so much eleemosynary relief, the tamer spirits amongst us will not recover their self-respect and selfreliance so soon as one could wish. The populace at Rome, before her final downfall, thought of nothing, says Juvenal, but “ bread and the circus games.” May God avert the day when doles and sport shall become the sole thought of Englishmen! When you have toiled for your wages and your daily bread, you feel that you have done your duty in that state of life to which God has called you; and that, though bread is the gift of God, it is not the gift of any one else, for you have earned it with your own muscles and sinews themselves the gift of God. To God, therefore, you can thankfully and humbly go down upon your knees, and own your dependence upon Him. But you owe no dependence further upon man.

But when you have to beg alms at the hands of


others, a suspicion must cross your mind whether you have really done your duty in that state of life to which God has called you. The Post Office Savings Bank, the Penny Bank, the Clothing Club, have been close to you for many a long year, and not a penny, perhaps, have you ever laid by for the rainy day. Hence when hard times come, a suspicion arises in your mind whether you have, during the seven years of plenty, really made the provision you ought. I do not say this spitefully. But I do trust that when good times again come round, those who have received relief will save, and not readily lose their independence in the future. Our Saviour sets the example of downright honest labour : and what is good enough for the Son of God, surely is good enough for us!

Let us labour, let us pay our debts, let us lay by something, in order that Christian independence, and the sense of duty done, may be ours.

(ii.) But another thought strikes one. The labour which our Saviour chose was not slavish, but skilled labour. There is a labour that dwarfs the mind, that stunts the body, that crushes the spirit: He did not choose this. Indisputably all men are not qualified, have not capacity for skilled labour; and it is well for some that there is unskilled labour, or they could not earn a livelihood at all. Still I think we must acknowledge where, in this century, machines have been made to do some of the severest drudgery which used to tax men's frames, it has been a gift of God to our

To knead clay for brick-making or pottery ; to stand, hour after hour, at the bottom of a saw-pit;



what more exhausting to the body, what of less interest to the mind ! Now these things have been to a great extent removed by machinery, and men have been set free to undertake more elevating branches of labour.

And, similarly, we may thank God, who is the God of the world no less than of the Church, that He has enabled our legislation to shorten, in many branches of manufacture, the long hours to which

and children in this respect the victims, very often, of men) were once subjected. If Christ dignified labour by His example, He did not countenance the long hours of the weakest portions of our race, in what is, practically, an enforced slavery.

III. In Christ, the Son of David, in Christ, the King of the Jews, condescending to work as a carpenter, I think I a practical exhibition of that knitting together of class with class, which is the aim and glory of the gospel-“ that they all may be one." Christ

leveller. How could a rightful king become such ? there is no republic of heaven; it is the Kingdom of Heaven we read of. But Christ was a uniter; He was a leveller of pride, a leveller of prejudice, a raiser up of the downcast, a lifter up of the fallen. When carpenter on earth, He was still the King of Heaven, and now, though King in Heaven, He bears the nature, and feels the feelings of the Carpenter of Nazareth.

But it is not the King from David's loins alone that works as Carpenter; it is the Son of God, God of God, Very God of Very God. The Divine artificer, who once “ laid the beams of His chambers in the waters, when




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