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"It is the lonely stranger's friend,
Who drinks the bitter cup of grief;
And find in tears a sweet relief.:
This scene met the eye of the Redeemer.
When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, “Weep not.”' Precious words ! Like - balm to the wounded spirit; like a star breaking forth midst the loneliness of night; like rivers of water in a dry place; like fruit in a desert. How lovely does the Saviour appear in every trait of his character, but especially in his manifestations of pity and compassion. 'He came and touched the bier : and they that bore him stood still;' as though conscious of the greatness of the being who stood before them. The Redeemer speaks: 'Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.' The departed spirit obeyed the
The cold clay was again animated. He that was dead sat up and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother! Happy moment! What a change from the deepest affliction to the highest raptures! The widow's heart was made to sing for joy!
III. Friendship of Jesus to his enemies. Here the love of Jesus rose to the highest point. Remarkable instances of friendship had been shown to the world. There had been those who were willing to die for country ;--some few had died for friends. Indeed, this is the greatest height to which human love has ever been manifested. Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.' But we must go far beyond this to find the love of Jesus. "God commendeth his love toward us, in that
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.'* We may point to the hero who puts on his armor, and mounts his war-horse, and rushes into battle, and bleeds and dies for his country, but this is not the love of the Redeemer. We may look to the mother who, to save her child, will throw herself into the foaming wave, or amidst the devouring flame, but this is not the love of Jesus. We must find some one who has suffered and died for his enemies, and when we seek for such an one, we must go to Calvary, and there we shall find a bleeding Saviour! who in the expiring agonies of death could exclaim, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'
Such was the friendship of Jesus. Well is he entitled to the appellative, Friend of sinners. The sinner never had such a friend before. Society has long been employed in the erection of dungeons, and in inventions of torture for the sinner; but Jesus came to show that mercy and judgment could be mingled; that there was room for compassion to the sinner, even to the vilest of our race. He taught that the way to remove sin was by manifestations of love and forgiveness, not by awful and terrific exhibitions of cruelty and wrath.
It becomes us then to be guided by his precepts, and to imitate his example, especially in his love for sinners. We ought to remember that none need pity so much as those who have no pity for themselves. The world must ultimately be redeemed by love, and there is power enough in the love of Jesus to reach the most obdurate heart, to cleanse the vilest sinner in existence. After a lapse of eighteen centuries, this
* Rom. v. 8.
principle or trait in the character of Jesus is beginning to be understood. It begins now to be applied practically, and its effects are glorious. We design to present a single instance, illustrative of its mighty effects on the hearts of the vile, given to us by one who has been on the spot and witnessed them.
‘At Berlin,' says Rev. C. E. Stowe, 'I visited an establishment for the reformation of youthful offenders.' "The children,' he says, 'received into this institution are often of the very worst and most hopeless character. Not only are their minds most thoroughly depraved, but their very senses and bodily organization seem to partake in the viciousness and degradation of their hearts. An ordinary man,' he adds, "might suppose that the task of restoring such poor creatures to decency and good morals was entirely hopeless.' But not so; the superintendent took hold with the firm hope that the moral power of the word of God was competent to such a task.' 'On one occasion,' we are informed, 'when every other means seemed to fail, he collected the children together, and read to them, in the words of the New Testament, the simple narrative of the sufferings and death of Christ, with some remarks on the design and object of his mission into this world. The effect was wonderful. They burst into tears of contrition, and during the whole of that term, from June till October, the influence of this scene was visible in all their conduct. The idea that takes so strong a hold when the character of Christ is exhibited to such poor creatures, is, that they are objects of affection ; miserable, wicked, despised as they are, yet Christ, the Son of God, loved them, and loved them enough to suffer and to die for them—and still loves them. The thought that they can yet be loved, melts the heart, and gives them hope, and is a strong incentive to reformation.'*
One there is, above all others,
Well deserves the name of Friend ;
They who once his kindness prove,
Which, of all our friends, to save us,
Could, or would have shed his blood ?
This is boundless love indeed!
When he lived on earth ill-treated,
Friend of sinners was his name;
Still he calls them brethren, friends,
O, for grace, our hearts to soften!
Teach us, Lord, like him to love:
But when home our souls are brought,
* Report on Elementary Public Instruction in Europe, made to the thirty-sixth General Assembly of the State of Ohio, Dec. 19, 1837. Reprinted by order of the House of Representatives of the Legislature of Massachusetts, March 29, 1838. P. 23.
"And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among
the princes of Judah ; for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel.'
Matt. ii. 6.
This title, though occurring twenty-six times in the singular, and twelve times in the plural, is only in this instance applied to the Saviour. It is a quotation from the prophecy of Micah, (ch. v.
ah, (ch. v. 2.) The evangelist seems to use great care in speaking of 'Bethlehem in the land of Judah. His object was to distinguish it from Bethlehem in the tribe of Zebulon, Josh. xix. 15. The word 'rule' is rendered 'feed' in the margin. In ancient times, there was not much difference, as rulers were often employed in feeding the flocks. ' Among the Greeks, kings are called by Homer lawy Troueves, shepherds of the people. This appellation probably originated from the pastoral employment, which kings and patriarchs did not blush to exercise in the times of primitive simplicity; and it might particularly refer to the case of David, the great type of Christ, who was a keeper of his father's sheep, before he was raised to the throne of Israel. As the government of a good king was similar to the care a good shepherd has of his flock, hence noun signified both shepherd and king; and roquaivw, to feed and to rule, among the ancient Greeks.'
It is worthy of remark that Jesus was born in the very place and at the very time predicted. It appears