« PoprzedniaDalej »
was twelve years of age, his parents carried him up to the passover, with a view to instil an early regard for religion and its precepts into his tender mind. (See the laws, Exod. xxxiv. 23. Deut. xvi. 16.) 41. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. But so it happened, that at the conclusion of the solemnity, when they were coming away, he was not to be found. 43. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and his mother knew not of it. Wherefore, not doubting that he had set out with some of his relations or acquaintance, they went a day's journey in expectation of overtaking him on the road, or at the village where they were to lodge. Accordingly, when they came thi ther they sought him, but to no purpose. Greatly afflicted therefore with thier disappointment, they returned next day to Jerusalem, in the utmost anxiety, to try if they could learn what was become of him. 44. But they supposing him to have been in the company, supposing that he had gone away with the company in which he had come up, went a day's journey homewards, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. Here, on the morrow after their arrival, which was the third day from their leaving the city, they found him, to their great joy, in one of the chambers of the temple, sitting among the doctors; who, at certain seasons, and particularly in time of the great festivals, taught there publicly: a custom hinted at, Jer. xxvi. 5, 6, 7, 10. See also John xviii. 20. It seems the child Jesus had presented himself to the doctors in order to be catechised; for we are told, that in the answers which he returned to their questions, and the objections which he made to their doctrine, he discovered a wisdom and penetration which raised the admiration of all present, even to astonishment. And as it is himself who has told us that on this occasion he was employed in his Father's business, it is probable that in these his answers and objections, he modestly insinuated corrections of the errors wherewith the Jewish teachers had now greatly disfigured religion. His parents finding him here engaged in such an employment, were surprised beyond measure; and his mother in particular, not able to repress the emotion she was in, chid bim with tender vehemence for leaving them without their knowledge, and putting them to so much pain. 46. And it came to pass, that after three days, i. e. on the third day from their leav ing the city, (see on Matt. xii. 40.) they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. 47. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48. And when they saw him,
they were amazed; and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. He replied, that they had no reason to be angry with him for leaving them without their knowledge, nor even to be grieved on that account, since they might have understood by his miraculous conception, and the revelations which accompanied it, that he was not to continue always with them, but was to employ himself in his business who was really his Father. 49. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me sorrowing? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? His parents, however, did not understand him; perhaps because they now doubted his being the Messiah, in regard he had not disappeared according to the notion of the scribes; or rather, because they had few just conceptions of the end for which the Messiah was sent into the world. 50. And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. Nevertheless, that he might not seem to encourage disobedience in children, by withdrawing himself in that weak age from under the government of his parents, it is particularly taken notice of by the evangelist, that, 51. He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them :—but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart: though she did not understand them fully, she was deeply impressed with them, and thought much upon them. 52. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour (xagıtı) with God and man. Though his divine nature was capable of no improvement, his human received distinct and gradual illuminations as he advanced in years. For as our Lord condescended to be like his brethren in body, so it was not below him to resemble them in the other and no less essential part of their nature, their soul. Accordingly it is observed, that he industriously declined shewing himself in public, till ripeness of years and judgment brought him to the perfection of a man *.
Some perhaps may wish to know the history of our Lord's childhood and private life. What early proofs he gave of his having the divine nature united to the human; what proficiency he made in knowledge, and the methods by which he advanced therein; what way he employed him. self when he arrived at man's estate; what notions his acquaintance form. ed of him; the manner of his conversing with them, and other things of a like nature which the Holy Spirit has not thought fit. to explain. The following particulars only are left upon record. hat he had not the advantage of a liberal education. (John vii. 15.) receiving no instructions probably, but what his parents gave him, according to the law, (Deut. iv. 9, 10. vi. 7.) yet that at the age of twelve years, when carried up to Jea rusalem, he distinguished himself among the doctors by such a degree of wisdom and penetration as far exceeded his years. That he very early understood the design on which he was come into the world; Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? That as he grew in years, he became remarkable for his wisdom and stature, advancing gradually in the former as well as in the latter; and that by the comeliness of his person, the sweetness of his disposition, and the uncommon vigour of his faculties, he en
gaged the affections of all who had the happiness to be acquainted with him, Luke ii. 52. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.-That as his mind was filled with wisdom, and always serene, being perfectly free from those turbulent passions which distract other men, his countenance no doubt must have been composed and agree able, such as did betoken the strength of his understanding, and the goodness of his heart. The expression (xagis de ny avow) the grace of God was upon him, found Luke ii. 40. may imply this, unless it be thought an explication of the precedent clause, He waxed strong in spirit, and was filled with wisdom. See Raph. not. Polyb. p. 186. who makes it probable that the grace of God, in the passage under consideration, is the Hebrew highest superlative, being an expressin of the same form with the mountains of God, i. e. exceeding high mountains, and so is equivalent to the description which Stephen gave of Moses's beauty, Acts vii. 20. He was (45805 vw dra) exceeding fair. Besides, we find the word (gs) grace, used in a similar sense by Luke iv. 22. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious awords abich proceeded out of his mouth; επι τοις λόγοις της χάριτος, the harmony and beauty of his diction, as well as the importance of his subject. I confess this observation concerning our Lord's form may appear some what singular; yet a nearer view of it will conciliate our approbation, For if his stature was so remarkable in his youth, that it deserved to be tak en notice of twice by the evangelist Luke ii. 40, 52. his comeliness might be so likewise. Nor is any thing which the prophets have said of him, for instance Isa. lii. 14. inconsistent with this conjecture. For the meanness of the Messiah's condition, and the disposition of the Jews towards him, are described in that prophecy, rather than the form of his person; just as Psal. xlv. 3. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty, describes the triumphs of his religion, rather than the majesty and glory of his outward form.-The evangelists tell us farther, that Jesus was possessed of an uncommon and prevailing eloquence, insomuch that his hearers were often amazed at the beauty of his discourses, (Luke iv. 22.) and some of them made to cry out, Never man spake like this man, John vii. 46. That he remained subject to his parents, and lived with them in humble obscurity till he entered on his public ministry, which commenced about the thirtieth year of his age; the excellencies of his divine nature having been for the most part veiled during the whole course of his private life. And that as soon as his strength permitted, he wrought with his fa ther at his occupation of a carpenter, Mark vi. 3. leaving us an admirable example both of filial duty and prudent industry.
These are all the particulars which the Holy Spirit has thought fit to communicate to us concerning our Lord's private life. If our curiosity would go farther, it must be restrained; the means of gratifying it being denied us. Pass we on, therefore, with the evangelists, to consider Christ's public life, with which the next scene of the history opens.
§ XIV. The gospel begins to be preached.
The mission, character,
Matt. iii. 1,—12.
AND now Jesus being arrived at the time of life when the faculties of the human mind are in their greatest vigour, he thought proper no longer to remain in obscurity, but to enter upon the great work for which he was come into the world. Nevertheless, that the public attention might be excited, his fore-runner John Baptist came first upon the stage, and, agreeably to the predictions of the prophets, began the preaching of the gospel. So
Mark tells us, i. 1. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, was as it is written in the prophets; the gospel first began to be preached according to the prediction of Malachi and Isaiah, (Mal. iii. 1.) 2. Behold 1 send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. See on Luke i. 76, 77. § 5.
The time of the Baptist's public appearance is distinctly marked by Luke; for he tells us the year of the Roman emperor in which it happened, and mentions not only the procurator of Judea, and the high priest who then officiated, but the several contemporary princes who reigned in the neighbouring kingdoms. By his care in this particular, he has fixed exactly the era of the commencement of the gospel. Luke iii. 1. Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, (see Chronol. Diss. iii.) Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod ↑ being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of ‡ Iturea and Trachonitis,
After Herod the Great's death, Augustus the emperor at Rome, confirmed the partition which that Prince, by his latter will, had made of his dominions among his children. According to this partition, Archelaus obtained Judea, Samaria and Idumea, with the title of ethnarch. For though his father had called him king in his testament, the emperor would not allow him that dignity, till he should do something for the Roman state that deserved it. Archelaus, after a tyrannical reign of ten years, was deposed for his mal-administration, and his country was made a province of the Roman empire, under the name of Judea.
Properly speaking, indeed, Judea was an appendage of the province of Syria, being governed by a procurator, subject to the president of that province; yet the procurators of Judea were always vested with the powers of presidents or governors; that is to say, gave final judgment in every cause, whether civil or criminal, without appeal, unless to the emperor, by whom Roman citizens, in whatever part of the empire they liv ed, had a right to be tried, if they demanded it. Judea therefore, in ef fect, was a distinct province or government from Syria. Accordingly, the evangelists give its procurators, whom they have occasion to mention, the title of governors, as that which best expressed the nature of their dignity. The proper business of a procurator was to take care of the emperor's revenue in the provinces belonging to him; as the questor's business was to superintend the senate's revenue in the provinces belonging to them. But such procurators as were the chief magistrates of a province, had the dignities of governor and questor united in their persons, and enjoyed privileges accordingly.
By virtue of the partition above-mentioned, Herod, another of the first Herod's sons, governed Galilee and Perea, or the country beyond Jordan, with the title of tetrarch, which, according to some, was the proper denomination of the fourth dignity in the empire, or, as others think, the title of one who had only the fourth part of a country subject to him; though in process of time it was applied to those who had any considerable share of a kingdom in their possession. This is the Herod under whose reign John began his ministry, and by whom he was beheaded. It was to him likewise that Pilate sent our Lord in the course of his trial.
Luke says Philip's dominions were Iturea and Trachonitis; but Josephus says they were Auranitis and Trachonitis. Reland reconciles the historian with the evangelist, by supposing that Iturea and Auranitis were 3 A
Trachonitis, and Lysanius the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness: John the son of Zacharias, and fore-runner of Jesus, was a priest by descent, and a prophet by office. (Luke i. 76.) He was sirnamed the Baptist, from his baptizing or washing his disciples; and was foretold anciently under the name of Elijah, because was to come in the
different names of the same country. r Chron. v. 19. the Itureans are mentioned with the Hagarites; and the half tribe of Manasseh is said to have seized upon their territory. Pliny indeed removes the Itureans farther north, placing them in Syria, lib. v. cap. 23. which Reland accounts for by observing, that like the other Arabs they were a wandering nation, without any fixed seat. Jetur, the son of Ishmael, the son of Hagar, was their father, and gave them their name, Chron. 1. 31. Properly the country of Auranitis, where they most commonly resided, was so called from the city Chauran, not far from Damascus, Ezek xlvii. 16, 18. Accordingly the LXX, in translating that passage, make use of the word avgantidos. Wherefore, if Iturea was the same with Auranitis, as Reland believed, it must have been to the south of Damascus. Trachonitis, the other branch of Philip's dominions, was situated between Palestine and Celosyria, Jos. Ant. I. 7. And because the same author, Bell. I. 15. tells us that all the country between Palestine and Trachonitis was given to Herod, Reland in his Palest. ch. 23. affirms, that Trachonitis was not contiguous to Galilee. Gaulanitis was between them, extending in length from the sea of Tiberias to the fountains of Jordan. But in the passage last cited, Josephus says that Batanea was added to Trachonitis. Hence Reland conjectures that Batanea lay to the east of Gaulanitis; that Iturea lay to the east of Batanea; and that Trachonitis was to the north of Batanea and kurea, as appears likewise from this, that the lake Phiala, out of which the Jordan comes, was 120 stadiums from Paneas northward, in the way as they went up to Trachonitis, Bell. III. 3. Trachonitis anciently was called Argob, Deut. iii. 13. It was full of rocky hills, which in Herod the first's time, afforded shelter to bands of robbers, whom he was at great pains to extirpate.
Annas and Caiaphas, we are told, were high priests when John began his ministry. But according to the institutions of the Jewish religion, there could be only one high priest, properly so called, at a time, that minister being typical of the one mediator between God and man. The most probable solution therefore of this difficulty is, that Annas was the high priest, and Caiaphas his sagan or deputy, to whom also the title of high priest might improperly be given -Aaron, the first high priest, left two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar. Eleazar the eldest, obtained the sacerdotal tiara by birthright; but under the Judges it was translated from his family to that of his brother. For Eli, who was both high priest and judge, is not mentioned among Eleazar's posterity, 1 Chron. vi. 4, &c. so that he must have been of Ithamar's family, as Josephus expressly affirms, lib. v. fine. Accordingly, Achimelech, the father of that Abiathár, (1 Sam. xxii. 20.) whose deposition by Solomon is declared to have been an accomplishment of the word of the Lord concerning the house of Eli, 1 Kings ii. 26, 27. and who for that reason must have been oue of Eli's descendents, is said to have been the stock of Ithamar, 1 Chron. xxiv. 3. But the high priesthood passed from the one family to the other more than once, either through the legal incapacity of him to whom it pertained by right of succession, or by the decree of the chief magistrates, who seem to have claimed the disposal of this dignity. For it was brought back to the family of