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THE HILL OF NAZARETH. FROM "THE LIFE OF CHRIST."
T has been implied that there are but two spots in Palestine where we may feel an absolute moral certainty that the feet of Christ have trod-namely, the well-side at Shechem, and the turning of that road from Bethany over the Mount of Olives from which Jerusalem first bursts upon the view. But to these I would add at least another-the summit of the hill on which Nazareth is built. That summit is now unhappily marked, not by any Christian monument, but by the wretched, ruinous, crumbling wely of some obscure Mohammedan saint. Certainly there is no child of ten years old in Nazareth now, however dull and unimpressionable he may be, who has not often wandered up to it; and certainly there could have been no boy at Nazareth in olden days who had not followed the common instinct of humanity by climbing up those thymy hill-slopes to the lovely and easily accessible spot which gives a view of the world beyond. The hill rises six hundred feet above the level of the sea. Four or five hundred feet below lies the happy valley. The view from this spot would in any country be regarded as extraordinarily rich and lovely; but it receives a yet more indescribable charm from our belief that here, with his feet among the mountain flowers, and the soft breeze lifting the hair from his temples, Jesus must often have watched the eagles poised in the cloudless blue, and have gazed upwards as He heard overhead the rushing plumes of the long line of pelicans, as they winged their way from the streams of Kishon to the Lake of Galilee. And what a vision would be outspread before Him, as He sat at spring-time on the green and thyme-besprinkled turf! To Him every field and fig-tree, every palm and garden, every house and synagogue, would have been a familiar object; and most fondly of all among the square, flat-roofed houses would his eye single out the little dwelling-place of the village carpenter. To the north, just beneath them, lay the narrow and fertile plan of Asochis, from which rise the wood-crowned hills of Naphtali, and conspicuous on one of them was Safed, "the city set upon a hill"; beyond these, on the
far horizon, Hermon upheaved into the blue the huge splendid mass of his colossal shoulder, white with eternal snows. Eastward, at a few miles' distance, rose the green and rounded summit of Tabor, clothed with terebinth and oak. To the west He would gaze through that diaphanous air on the purple ridge of Carmel, among whose forests Elijah had found a home; and on Caifa and Accho, and the dazzling line of white sand which fringes the waves of the Mediterranean, dotted here and there with the white sails of the
"ships of Chittim." Southward, broken only by the graceful outlines of Little Hermon and Gilboa, lay the entire plain of Esdraelon, so memorable in the history of Palestine and of the world, across which lay the southward path to that city which had ever been the murderess of the prophets, and where it may be that even then, in the dim forshadowing of prophetic vision, He foresaw the agony in the garden, the mockings and scourgings, the cross, and the crown of thorns.
The scene which lay there outspread before the eyes of the youthful Jesus, was indeed a central spot in the world which He came to save. It was in the heart of the Land of Israel, and yet― separated from it only by a narrow boundary of hills and streams-Phoenicia, Syria, Arabia, Babylonia, and Egypt lay close at hand. The Isles of the Gentiles, and all the glorious regions of Europe, were almost visible over the shining waters of that western sea. The standards of Rome were planted on the plain before Him; the language of Greece was spoken in the towns below. And however peaceful it then might look, green as a pavement of emeralds, rich with its gleams of vivid sunlight, and the purpling shadows which floated over it from the clouds of the latter rain, it had been for centuries a battlefield of nations. Pharaohs and Ptolemies, Emirs and Arsacids, Judges and Consuls, had all contended for the mastery of that smiling tract. It had glittered with the lances of the Amalekites; it had trembled under the chariot-wheels of Sesostris; it had echoed the twanging bowstrings
of Sennacherib; it had been trodden by the | Asia, Judaism and Heathenism, Barbarism and phalanxes of Macedonia; it had clashed with the broadswords of Rome; it was destined hereafter to ring with the battle-cry of the Crusaders, and thunder with the artillery of England and of France. In that plain of Jezreel, Europe and
Civilization, the Old and the New Covenant, the history of the past and the hopes of the present, seemed all to meet. No scene of deeper significance for the destines of humanity could possibly have arrested the youthful Saviour's gaze.
THE GREATNESS OF ST. PAUL.
OW little did men recognize his greatness! Here was one to whom no single man that has ever lived, before or since, can furnish a perfect parallel. If we look at him only as a writer, how immensely does he surpass, in his most casual Epistles, the greatest authors, whether Pagan or Christian, of his own and succeeding epochs. The younger Pliny was famous as a letter writer, yet the younger Pliny never produced any letter so exquisite as that to Philemon. Seneca, as a moralist, stood almost unrivaled, yet not only is clay largely mingled with his gold, but even his finest moral aphorisms are inferior in breadth and intensity to the most casual of St. Paul's. Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius furnish us with the purest and noblest specimens of stoic loftiness of thought, yet St. Paul's chapter on charity is worth more than all they ever wrote. If we look at the Christian world, the very greatest worker in each realm of Christian service does but present an inferior aspect of one phase only of Paul's many-sided pre-eminence. As a theologian, as one who formulated the doctrines of Christianity, we may compare him with St. Augus tine and St. Thomas of Aquinum; yet how should we be shocked to find in him the fanciful rhetoric and dogmatic bitterness of the one, or the scholarly aridity of the other! If we look at him as a
moral reformer, we may compare him with Savonarola; but in his practical control of even the most thrilling spiritual impulses—in making the spirit of the prophet subject to the prophet-hɔw grand an exemplar might he not have furnished to the impassioned Florentine! If we consider him as a preacher, we may compare him to St. Bernard; yet St. Paul would have been incapable of the unnatural asceticism and heresy-hunting hardness of the great abbot of Clairvaux. As a reformer who altered the entire course of human history, Luther alone resembles him; yet how incomparably is the Apostle superior to Luther in insight, in courtesy, in humility, in dignity, in self-control! As a missionary we might compare him to Xavier, as a practical organizer to St. Gregory, as a fervent lover of souls to Whitefield, and to many other saints of God in many of his endowments; but no saint of God has ever attained the same heights in so many capacities, or received the gifts of the Spirit in so rich an outpouring, or borne in his mortal body such evident brand-marks of the Lord. In his lifetime he was no whit behind the very chiefest of the Apostles, and he towers above the very greatest of all the saints who have since striven to follow the example of his devotion to the Lord.
HE life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon extended through the fiftyeight years from 1834 to 1892. During this comparatively short lifetime he built up the most remarkable congregation that ever united under one pastor; collected the money by which this congregation was housed in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, which has been one of the sights of London for more than thirty years; brought about the reclamation of a large district, including "some of the worst, most degraded, and most dangerous spots in London"; published more than two thousand sermons, edited a monthly magazine, and wrote books which, including the magazine, number nearly a hundred volumes. Besides all this, his work as an organizer of important enterprises for the spread of religion would have seemed to be sufficient for one man, however great his energy and ability. He was the originator and active head of a pastors' college, which, in 1890, had sent out nearly a thousand preachers and missionaries; he founded an orphanage which cares for five hundred children, and administered a group of almshouses for the aged poor in which there is also provision for a school of four hundred children of the lowest class; his Colportage Association employs fifty men in the distribution of religious books; the Tabernacle Building Fund loans. money without interest to assist in the erection of churches; a Book Fund supplies needy ministers with literature; a Church Poor Fund gives away the sum of five thousand dollars annually, and there are some twenty-five or thirty missions connected with the Tabernacle.
Mr. Spurgeon was a native of Kelvedon, in England, and both his father and grandfather were ministers. He was educated at Colchester and Maidstone, and at the age of sixteen became usher in a school at Newmarket. He soon joined the Baptist Church, and before he was eighteen was pastor of a little church at Waterbeach, a village five miles from Cambridge. At nineteen he was called to the New Park Street Church, in Southwark, London, which was the scene of his future labors until the erection of the great Metropolitan Tabernacle at Newington, which was completed in 1861. This great edifice quite readily accommodated six thousand persons in the auditorium, and provided a proportionate space for the school-rooms, etc.
Mr. Spurgeon's preaching was characterized by the greatest earnestness, and
was absolutely free from conventionality. He possessed a wonderful voice, and sometimes spoke without inconvenience to audiences of twelve thousand persons, and on at least one occasion to twenty thousand. The popularity of his published sermons has given him an audience far outnumbering that of any other English preacher, and extended his influence throughout the English-speaking world. His noble Christian spirit and his devotion to the spread of religion and of practical philanthropy gave him a high place among the greatest spirits of his time, and an influence hardly second to that of any religious teacher of the century.
THE FIRST CHRISTMAS CAROL.
FROM A SERMON ON THE TEXT "GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, AND ON EARTH PEACE, GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN," Luke II, 14.
EXT, I have to present to you some emo-
"Religion never was designed
It is designed to do away with some of our pleas-
"Lord, what a wretched land is this,
come ye hither and see the angels. Do they tell their story with groans, and sobs, and sighs? Ah, no; they shout aloud, "Glory to God in the highest." Now, imitate them, my dear brethren. If you are professors of religion, try always to have a cheerful carriage. Let others mourn; but
"Why should the children of a king
Go mourning all their days?" Anoint your head and wash your face; appear not unto men to fast. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say unto you rejoice. Specially this week be not ashamed to be glad. You need not think it a wicked thing to be happy. ance and whipping and misery are no such very virtuous things, after all. The damned are miserable; let the saved be happy. Why should you hold fellowship with the lost by feelings of perpetual mourning? Why not rather anticipate the joys of heaven, and begin to sing on earth that song which you will never need to end? The first emotion then that we ought to cherish in our hearts is the emotion of joy and gladness.