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came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them : but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
So ends the beautiful and touching record of the one incident preserved to us of our blessed Lord in His childhood. And the first thing to note in it is what the last words announce to us—what is also declared in the verse that forms my text-the growth of our Lord in wisdom as in years—The child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was with Him.
What a loveable picture is here presented to us! How seldom do we see such a sight now! But when we dowhen we see even an approach to this harmonious growth how good is it! When we see a young person who, while he waxes in bodily size and power, waxes also in mental and spiritual attainment; who, as he grows out of childhood grows out of childishness : gathers to himself with each added year some increase of knowledge and self-mastery; becomes, as he ripens towards manhood, more fit for man's estate; more furnished, inwardly and outwardly, with those qualities which are needed for a brave struggle with the world ; more strong in spirit, more full of wisdom—when, I say, we see a character like this, how it gladdens the heart, and calls forth our admiration! Snch rare growths, we feel, are not without God: His hand must be in the work.
For, brethren, men may wax strong, in body as it were, by nature—though that too is God's doing—men may, by labour of the brain, by resolute application to study, attain to a high pitch of learning men may grow, as it were of themselves, to a particular greatness, be eminent in this or that one province of human activity—but no man ever grows as Christ grew; no man grows altogether, body, soul, and spirit, each developed in due proportion, except the grace of God be with him. But rare as such a growth must always be, it is, Ibelieve, set before us as in the Gospel for our model. Christ, who is the one perfect man, is also the one perfect child. It is by making His life our study in every part of it, and by conforming ourselves to it as far as we are able, that we shall become in some sort worthy of the name we bear—Christians—Christian men—and also Christian children. Let me then now point out some particulars in which the young may, God helping them, imitate their youthful Saviour. And note first in our Lord, His desire for acquiring knowledge; His early love of learning. Why did He tarry behind in the Temple? To get information from those who were able to give it Him about the Law and the Prophets, and the things therein written concerning Himself. It is a mistake to speak of Christ as teaching the doctors—He was Himself, at that early age, a learner. It would have been against the modesty of His wellordered childhood, to have set up, at twelve years old, for an instructor of those whom all the Jews looked upon as the wisest and most religious of their countrymen. No, He stayed behind to hear, to ask, but not as yet to teach. And it is by hearing and asking, hearing patiently, and asking with intelligence, that growing youth gets wisdom.
The subject, too, on which His youthful mind was set, may teach you a further lesson—it was God's word. He sought to know the Holy Scriptures. Let it be the same with you. In these days of wide-spread knowledge, with books on all subjects, light and grave, open to your perusal, see that you be well acquainted with the Bible. Store up against the time to come, before all other treasures of learning, the wisdom that maketh wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Again,—to note another point in which the Lord may be our pattern in youth. Mark how at twelve years of age the thought of God and duty had stamped itself upon Him—How is it that ye sought Me, wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business ?
What words from the mouth of one yet a child! Yet surely, brethren, they only express what, at the same age, ought to be in all our children's minds. We cannot teach them too early that they are God's, that He is their Father, that they have His work to do in the world.
Happy that child who learns these great truths betimes! Happy that child whose parents have taught it to acknowledge and to love God, and to serve God!
For it is this early acquaintance with God--this enlistment of our children from tender years, in the Lord's cause and service—that more than anything else will make their path plain for them to walk in: will save them from many a snare, and many a fall, and finally preserve them to His everlasting kingdom.
There is yet one other and that a most noticeable particular in which the Lord sets an example to the young. At the remonstrance of Mary, His mother, He left the
Temple, and with her and Joseph went down to Nazareth, and was subject unto them. He was then twelve years old—when next we hear of Him in the Gospel, He is thirty; and all that interval, those eighteen years, He remained at Nazareth in the poor carpenter's home, paying to His supposed parent Joseph, and to Mary His Mother, all the duty, honour, love, obedience, of a son—all that time He was subject wnto them 1 And what a lesson does this read us! How greatly is it needed ! Young men and young women—it is a common complaint in these days—are sadly wanting in subjection to their parents. So soon as a lad can earn ever so little, he becomes independent of his father and mother. If he lives still with them, he lives more as a lodger than as a son. At the least rebuke he is apt to take affront, and to talk of leaving them. Fearing this, the parents soon cease to check him, and though they see him going wrong, refrain from saying a word. Much harm is thus done on both sides—harm by the parents, because the son makes himself vile, and they restrain him not; harm by the son, because he sets up too soon to be his own master, and will not be advised by those who have most right to advise, and who, in giving their advice, can only have his good at heart. The evil, you will admit, is one very widely spread. But there is a remedy for it, and that remedy lies in following Christ. He, we have seen, was in subjection. Though not like any other child, though not simply a son in that house at Nazareth where He was brought up, but, by a higher birthright, Lord and Master, He did not the less shew to Joseph and Mary the duty and obedience of a true son-He lived at home and was subject unto them.
Surely, for our sakes has it been written—for your sakes especially, my younger friends, who are inclined to break loose from parental authority at home.
Let me pray you to lay it to heart. Do not seek to be above your Saviour; to be wiser than your Saviour, in the way you treat your parents. Think of Him, so far above them as He was, yet quietly submitting to be ruled by Joseph and Mary, those many years at Nazareth. Think, too, of what the Bible says everywhere about the respect due to father and mother. You all know what is in the fifth commandment. But look to other parts of the Book as well. Search both Old and New Testament, and you will find no duty more strongly advocated, none to which more surely God's blessing is attached, than this of obedience to parents.
Nay—and I would send you to one other monitor to enforce what I am saying-look calmly into your own hearts, put aside all prejudice and borrowed notions of corrupt custom, and look simply to what your conscience witnesses on this matter. Is not the voice there in close harmony with Scripture ? Does not nature go with God in declaring, that the first duty of the young is, to show piety at home, and to requite their parents ?