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JESUS CHRIST OUR PATTERN.
The entire practical value of our subject is inseparably connected with the truth, that Jesus, while on earth, took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, or human nature. The being that was given him by a volition of Almighty God, and announced to the Virgin-Mother by an angel, was indeed divine. It differed from other natures in the fact of the miraculous conception, but not otherwise, - not in the nature thereby imparted. For the Scriptures expressly teach, that " in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his breth
“ A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things that he shall say unto you.”
Regarding Jesus in this light, we may learn from him the extent to which God has manifested, and may still manifest, himself in the flesh. He who has once anointed the seed of Abraham with all of Himself that shone in Jesus may anoint
who bear the same seed, or human nature, to the like extent, if it so please Him, and if there are those fit to receive the blessing. As much of
God may be made flesh, and dwell in such as are begotten of God in Christ Jesus to be sons and heirs of his, as was made flesh and dwelt in Jesus. And in him and them may it be received up into glory, when their work, like his, shall be finished. Such the sure hope of glory, honor, and immortality opened unto the world in Jesus the Son of God.
Let but this view of the nature of Jesus be veiled, or let him be regarded as possessing any other nature than that of the seed of Abraham while in the flesh, and all faith that God may yet be manifest in the flesh as of old is at once at an end, as a matter of example in Jesus. It leaves us without pattern of such manifestation, save as it existed in prophets, apostles, and early Christians.
So, too, in proportion as we aseribe any other or different nature to Jesus, while in the flesh, than that of his brethren, we detract from his merits and lessen the power of his example. For, if he were super-angelic, preëxistent, or God supreme, in nature while on earth, he did no more, and lived no better, than we should expect of an angel or a god. But when we see one like unto his brethren so anointed of God and filled with his Holy Spirit as to live the life which is given as our pattern, then, indeed, we feel there was merit divine in that soul, which, while here on earth, was in heaven, and which came to reflect the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
From this, the only point of view from which we can have either an example or a proof of a resurrection and ascension for human nature in Jesus, let us consider, in humble and living faith, such portions of his example as
may help us in becoming anointed ones of God, by faith in Jesus, his Christ.
1. The early days of Jesus, and the years which preceded that deeper birth of the spirit, as he knelt in prayer by the river Jordan, are perhaps as full of instruction and practical influence, so far as example is concerned, as any portion of his life. Joseph and Mary were in the humbler walks of life. Jesus was born in poverty. So much so, that his parents availed themselves of the substitute provided for the poor who could not pay the three shekels of silver to redeem their first-born from the priesthood. They offered instead a pair of young doves or wild pigeons. The history of his exiled infancy in Egypt is familiar to all ; and on his return to his native land, fear led his parents still to hide him among its mountains and in one of its obscurest hamlets.
We next hear of him attending the national festival with his parents and kinsfolks, and manifesting at the age of twelve years more than ordinary interest in the Scriptures, and in religious life and duty. He was inquiring of those doctors and lawyers in the temple, whose office it was to expound the Law and the Prophets, astonishing them by the religious interest existing in one so youthful. And when chided by his mother for the anxiety and trouble he had caused them, he seems to have thought himself obeying the behest of his Heavenly Father in the instruction he had been seeking. He seems to have regarded the acquisition of such knowledge as the business which his Heavenly Father would that he should be about.
After his return with his parents, and being subject or obedient to them there, we have little, if any, further acNO. 238.
count of him previous to his public ministry, save what is gathered from the account of his return to “Nazareth, where he had been brought up.” On that occasion Mark informs us that those who had been familiar with him in youth'exclaimed, upon hearing him as a public teacher,“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses, and of Juda and Simon ? And are not his sisters here with us?" Such an exclamation from those who had “been brought up” with him, and who, of course, must have known his early occupation, shows the usefulness to which that portion of his life had at least been partially devoted.
In these few circumstances, we have all that is desirable, in regard to the influence of example, to be drawn from them. View them but for a moment in connection with the remainder of his life, and the consequences that have flowed from it. We behold one horn in poverty, persecuted in infancy, during childhood, youth, and early manhood hid in one of the obscurest villages of his native land, and devoted to a laborious and useful occupation, so having faith in the Law and the Prophets, in the instructions of pious parents, in the visions and predictions of angels, and in the preaching of his countryman, John the Baptist, and so living near to God in doing always those things that pleased him, and in prayer, as to become such a manifestation of God made flesh, and dwelling in the seed of Abraham, as to be for ever the world's light and pattern. Behold him, poor and laborious, without rank or emolument, comparatively friendless, and untaught in the wisdom of the schools, “ having never learned,” yet, through the simple force of piety, faith, and prayer, with godly living and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, surpassing all former prophets and anointed ones of God, and becoming his well-beloved, as he was his only begotten, Son. Behold him, living such a holy life, and receiving such divine gifts through faith and prayer, and such revelations and inspirations of heavenly truth and grace, as morally and spiritually, from the leaven of that single soul, blest of God, to revolutionize and regenerate the whole earth in due time. Behold him, though tempted at all points like as we are, yet so living without sin as to become no less the redeemer of the world by his life than by his doctrine. When we behold such world-wide, glorious, and eternal results, - results all redolent of redemption and salvation unto life everlasting, - results which can never be fully fathomed till time shall be no more, eternity's ceaseless scroll can alone unfold, - and all of one whose birth, early life, occupation, and outward condition were, to say the least, apparently less favorable than those of most of us, then we have before us an example of what godly living, faith and prayer, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, may do for all who bear the seed of Abraham. We see how, wherein, and to what extent, God may be made flesh and dwell in any of that seed, and through them be manifest to the world, even as he was in our elder Brother, Jesus Christ, the Righteous.