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CHRIST PREACHING AT NAZARETH.
ST. LUKE iv, 16-22. And he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up; -and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and stood up for to read.
And there was delivered unto him the book, of the prophet Esaias: and when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, 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.
And he closed the book, and gave it again to the minister, and sat down; and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
And he began to say unto them, this day is the scripture fulfilled in your ears.
And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.
This is on many accounts a peculiarly interesting passage of scripture. In the first place there is something so lively in the mere descriptive part of it, that I think it cannot fail forcibly to arrest the attention of every one who reads it; -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."
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 bis poor
kindred and humble circumstances. He sees 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 parrative, 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