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attention is arrested by exclamations of admi. ration proceeding from within an adjacent room, whose door is partly open, and directly, while all becomes hushed again, a silvery voice continues speaking. A mother's ear has caught the well-known sound, and in an instant she is standing in the midst of the spacious apartment, by the side of her child, in whom her own features seem, as it were, reproduced, her own likeness reflected back.
There, with serene brow, and countenance beaming with indications of profound thought, he sits in unconscious simplicity, while around him gather in amazement the sages of the nation. There we recognize most venerable Hillel, whose head is yet whiter than when we saw him standing before King Herod ; there his equally learned friend, Shammai; there, also, Rabbis Judah, Joshua, and Ben Uzziel; there Nicodemus, a youthful ruler; and there, in short, the flower of Jewish learning, science, and wit. What can her child be doing there?
In the simple language of Luke, "He is hearing them, and asking them questions."
These veterans in the subtleties of the law find a child in their midst, whose clear, unruffled judgment meets, on terms of equality, their long-practised wits, displaying already that profound acquaintance with the law which only the unwearied assiduity of such a mother, united to the surpassing genius of such a son, could account for, and which they have scarce attained by half a century's toilsome study.
Taking in all this at a glance, Mary, though first abashed by the presence of so reverend a synod, obeys at length the maternal instinct, and, clasping her son by the hand, exclaims,
“Son! why hast thou dealt thus with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing!"
And this is the first reproof those lips have ever been compelled to utter! How then is she startled by the unexpected reply, so dignified, so lofty, so impressively suggesting his high destiny, at the same time seeming to turn the reproof gently back upon herself,
“How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my FATHER's business?"
And yet, with immediate filial reverence he rises up, unseduced by that homage, to youth so intoxicating—the homage of well-established literary judgment to precocious talent-leaves that throng of great men, who would detain him, accompanies his mother and the lowly carpenter to Nazareth, to be unknown for almost twenty years, and is " subject unto them !"
The more I think
this scene, the more enchanting does it grow. Never was there, in fewer words, drawn a more perfect picture than this of the youthful Jesus. They wondered at his words, those hoary sages, astute and subtle Pharisee, skeptical Sadducee, and they questioned, doubtless, among themselves of him; doubtless many marvelings were interchanged concerning his parentage, education, and the means of such erudition; perchance they recurred to the memorable excitement just before the death of Herod, when a father and mother, and a certain child, were much noised abroad; but those were of Bethlehem, and the child was doubtless slain in the general massacre; these are of Galilee, and out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
They knew him not. They dream not what spirit is behind that fair tabernacle, looking out of those mild human eyes, speaking with those melodious tones; truly he is in the world, and the world knows him not!
Even that mother, who sees him daily, to whom he meekly subjects himself, and whose influence upon him is most constant, with all her incessant study, her woman's penetration, her mother's insight, finds that there is a mind beneath her care of whose fathomless deeps she can know nothing. She can but keep all his sayings in her heart.
Especially is she amazed by the manner in which he receives the ideas she endeavors to communicate, with such entireness of appreciation, such enlargement of their scope, as transcends all her powers. Thus, how has he received her teaching that he is, by the angelic description, “Son of the Highest !" This, which she has often labored fully to comprehend, while impressing it on his youthful mind, he now develops as a profound and practical element of his interior life.
“Wist ye not that I must be about my FATHER's business?"
“Ah!" she thinks, "he belongs not to me! Awhile Heaven lends him to my sight, but, ere long, that hidden destiny will claim him from
And oh, what, with such reflections, must then become the life of Mary, whom all succeeding generations may well pronounce most blessed!
Does she not, for nearly thirty years, enjoy with this being uninterrupted communion, and that in the most hallowed of all human relations? And did she not, as none other could, at once give and receive impressions, which fill our thoughts with wonder, while she beheld the
secret ways and domestic life of him whom she knew not, though she called him her son ?
Methinks could I summon from the abodes of the blessed one earthly spirit for a few hours' communion, if it were not that of my own mother, it should be that of this beloved mother of Jesus, who should reveal to me the story of his early years.
But, however dark these long chasms in his life may seem to us now, however we may deplore that not a single starbeam can gild the darkness of those years, let us reflect that there will be a day, if we please, when all this holy mystery shall be enlarged and made clear to our purified vision.
When, in the mansions of our final rest, we roam the fields of a fairer Palestine, in company with a fairer Mary than earth knew, we shall see her in angelic loveliness, and listen to her own story of those sacred years; but, above all, we shall stand in the presence of that other diviner, more radiant, but still human form of one whom we have followed from the cave of Bethlehem to the banks of the Nile, to the halls of rabbinical learning, and to the quiet recesses of maternal tenderness.
Then may we meet his own eye of unclouded serene affection bent upon us as we approach