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Ch. xiii. 8--11.
hinder their resorting to Jerusalem yearly, for the Celebration of it ; that in this Mary joined too, though not obliged to it, by the Letter of the Law: and that, when Jesus arrived at the Age of Twelve Years, he was taken thither with them. What Obligations they lay under for their own Attendance, the Texts, referred to in the Paraphrase, shew. The carrying up of Jesus seems to have had more immediate respect to those Ordinances, which required all Ilraelites to instruct their Children diligenț- 26--29. ly in the Knowledge of the Law : And
Deut. vi, &c. especially, in the Reasons, for which the Passover, and the rest of their great Solemnities, were instituted.
Now the Virgin and Joseph, by their punctual Compliance, in both these Cases, have set an excellent Example to Parents, of all Ages and Places. An Example, which, grounded on the express Command of God, should make them sensible of how great importance it is, That They, who govern Families, be conscientious in frequenting God's publick Worship themselves : That they go before their Children, and, by their own Behaviour, encourage them to follow, in the ways of Piety and Virtue ; That they season their tender Years with early Notions of Good and Evil, let them in to a right understanding of Religion, by such Methods, and in such Degrees, as the Greenness of that Age is capable of. Particularly, (which comes nearest to the Case before us ) to turn all their Childislı Curiosity to profit, by explaining to them the Occasion of the Christian Festivals ; begetting in them an early Reverence for the glorious Mysteries, and a becoming Value for the invaluable Benefits, of our Redemption. In short, that they would, from the very first, make them their Companions in the Service of God; and imprint, upon this soft Wax, such strong and lasting Characters of his
Majesty and Goodness, such an habitual Aweand Love of Him and his Commands, as may serve for a Foundation, to build a wise and holy Life upon. Such as may preserve their riper years, from the Contagion of Irreligion and Vice, direct their Choice, and secure their Perseverance, by Habits of Goodness, and exemplary Improvements in Religious Prudence, still aspiring nearer Perfection, to the End of their days.
2. The Three following Verses take notice of Jesus staying behind, and the anxious Concern of his Parents, upon that occasion. The Greatness of This Some have imputed to a fear of his falling into ili hands ; who, by destroying him, might defeat the Expectation of the glorious things, God sent him into the World to accomplish. But I conceive it much more reasonable, to ascribe that Concern to the natural Tenderness of a Mother, and the Frights and Confusions, which the missing a beloved Child, in whose Company they above all things delighted, uses to produce, upon so unexpected an Accident. And the Duty I would recommend from hence is, Kindness and Affection to our Children, A quick and tender Sense of their Sufferings and Dangers, And a very sollicitous Care for their Safety and Happiness.
I know not well, what may at first be thought, of my pretending so solemnly to excite a Disposition which Nature seems to have provided effectually for already, by planting it, even in the fiercest and wildest of Beasts. It hath indeed done this, and in such manner, that those very Brutes are a Reproach to many Men; Who behave themselves, as if Reason were given to harden their Hearts, and render them but so much less gentle and sensible. For it is really prodigious to f'e, how Some, even who profess themselves Christians, can lay aside all Bowels, and forget every thing of Care and Compassion for their own Flesh. Such Indifference, such Stupidity, nay such remorsess
2 Tim. iii. 2.
Cruelties, such Blows, such Revilings, fuch bitter Curses, are too often to be heard and seen, betwixt the nearest Relations, as would even tempt us to sufpect the power of Reason and Religion, for working us into softer and better Tempers: had not Christ and his Apostles foretold, that in the last days Matth. X. 21.
. some should so obstinately stand' it out against the force of Both, as to hate and Ch. xxiv. 12. betray their own Offspring, to become cold in love, and absolutely void of natural affeflion.
But, when foretelling this, they signify withal, that the abounding of Iniquity is the Cause of it; and, to shew, that those are the very Dregs of Time, they give the Coming of such things to pass, for a Mark of the worst, as well as the last Days. Since then such unnatural Things are practicable however, and plainly possible at least ; it cannot misbecome Me to press a Duty, which, though Nature hath univerTally implanted a Disposition to, yet the Corruption of Human Nature hath the Scandal of being too often proof against. _And indeed I the rather chuse to recommend this Tenderness for our Children, so remarkable and eminent in God and Good Men ; because a due observance of this particular will exceedingly contribute to the Success of the former. It will quicken our Concern for their best and most valuable Part; It will make our Care of their Souls more earnest and vigorous, and it will prepare the way for its being better accepted too. For the first step to Persuasion, is, to possess Men with an Opinion, that we heartily love them. Anda Command is half obeyed, when once the Party is thoroughly convinced, that what we require, is not for the sake of exercising a Despotick Power, or from a Delight to lay heavy Burthens; but from a Sense of its being necessary to their Happiness, and because we zealously desire their
Good. Now, considering, how much more this World affects the Generality of People, than that which is to come ; the Parent, who does not first approve himself tender of his Children's Body, and its present Comforts and Conveniencies, will never be able to get himself believed, when professing the kindest Refentments, and most impatient Wishes, for the Safety and Happiness of their Souls.
3. But to proceed. If the Trouble of these Parents was great for the Absence of so dear a Child, their Joy must needs be doubled by meeting him again ; not only safe, but engaged in an Employment so very promising, fo very becoming, so much above his Years. For the Forty-Sixth Verse fays, They found bim in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the Doctors, both hearing them and asking them Questions. And this, 'tis probable, he might do, not meerly out of Curiosity, but to acquit himself of a Duty, expected from all, who attained to a certain Age, among the Jews. For They, who have taken pains in examining Their Institutions and Customs, observe this com
mendable one to have obtained among the rest; That their Youth were brought
before some Masters of the Synagogue, to render an Account of their Proficiency in Religion, and from thenceforth to be answerable for
their own Sins: That this was a CereBuxtorf. Syna
mony, performed with strict Examinagog. Judaic.
tion, with devout Prayers, and folemn
Benedictions. All which, as it very nearly resembles, so may it seem to have ministred some ground to, the Christian Rite of Confirmation. Wherein, after having answered to the first and most neceffary Rudiments of Faith and Practice, our young People, in presence of the Fathers of the Church, and with the Blessing of God by these implored upon their future Endeavours, do
See Grot. in locum.
take the Charge of their Baptismal Vow upon themselves; as being presumed sufficiently instructed, to be responsible for their own Duty, the remaining part of their Lives. A very Learned Man supposes our Lord to have staid behind for this purpose. Which, though Others were not usually called upon to do till Thirteen, yet He might do it at Twelve Years old. The particular Season then in use being accommodated to the Capacities and Attainments of Children in general, but not forbidding those of extraordinary Qualifications to do it earlier, when competently prepared, and of a Genius, which (to speak in the Jews own Phrase ) did run before the Command.
4. However this be (for I am content to leave it as a probable Conjecture only) yet thus much is certain; That He, in those Conferences, behaved himself, not only to the Satisfaction, but the Wonder of the whole Assembly. For all that heard him were astonised at his understanding and answers. We are not however to imagine all the fulness of his Divine Knowledge displayed upon this Occasion, but such a brightness of Parts and Apprehension, as spoke an uncommon Pregnancy, and left them still free to suppose him no more than Man, though, for his Age, a wonderful one. So much the Dispensation undertaken by him required, in the whole course whereof nothing was permitted, that might justly call the Truth of his Human Nature in question. For this reason the Evangelist prudently adds, at the close of the Chapter, that he increased in Wisdom, as well as Stature. Mind and Body both received additional Improvements, though some of those Additions were imparted in larger Proportions than usual. The Endowments of each exerted themselves, in measures and actions suitable to the several Stages of his Life. And even the Divine Nature, though always present, seems to have com