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Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon ? And are not His sisters here with us ? And they were offended at Him. — Mark 6 : 3.
]ROM this it appears that our Saviour was a mechanic, a carpenter ; and that He followed this trade up to the time of His public ministry. Though the family was of royal descent, the vicissitudes of the Jewish people had greatly reduced it ; and honest labor was accepted in preference to trying to maintain a wasted nobility in proud idleness and rags.
It was a wise inculcation of the ancient rabbis, that every Jew should have some sort of trade. The saying was, that a parent who did not teach his son a trade, put him in training to become a thief It would also be greatly better for the community, and give a more hopeful outlook for society, if greater weight were attached to this among us. High schools may be good things ; but when they come in the way of the training of our young people to earn an honest living,
they had better not be. Saul of Tarsus, though one of the best educated young men of his day, 74
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had to learn to weave tent-cloth and make tents, which came good to him even in his great work as an Apostle of Christ.
It is no disgrace to be a mechanic. vSkill in any useful art or handicraft is just as honorable as skill in any other department, and may effectually help out where what is thought more dignified is of little or no account. People of wealth and blood, who boast their high estate, only prove their lack of sense by sneering at tradesmen and laborers. To be a competent shoemaker, tailor, baker, or bricklayer, is far worthier in all right valuation, than to be a genteel dog-fancier or simpering dude. Bishop Sanderson was not wrong when he said that idle gentlemen, the same as tramps and beggars, are the plague and scandal of a nation. If God himself were to come down
into our world, to live here as a true man. He would choose some useful trade or occupation, and would attend faithfully to its duties. Yea, verily ; for He did thus come in Jesus Christ, and Jesus was a carpenter, a builder and repairer of houses, and a maker of plows and yokes. And it is particularly unbecoming in those who profess His Name to be ashamed of work, or to look with contempt upon craftsmen and operatives, as if they were a class of inferior beings. A thousandfold more honorable is it for people to be occupied in honest toil, than to be idle vagabonds, and lounging do-nothings, living on the labor of others, or improvident spendthrifts frittering away their substance in extravagance and folly, paying
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their debts by bankrupt acts, depending as pensioners on their friends, and perhaps ending their lives in State prisons. The Lord of all was a carpenter ; and it detracted nothing from His heavenly dignity, and wrought no detriment to His greatness.
It also appears from the text that the holiest lives, to outward view, may be much the same as others. Life has its daily rounds of work and rest, duties and necessities, for the pious the same as for every one else. For thirty years Jesus lived and wrought in and around Nazareth, without showing any specially marked difference from others of His age; and yet He was the purest and holiest man that ever lived, and really the Lord of all.
It is altogether a mistake to suppose that piety means eccentricity, or is made up of certain extraordinary demonstrations. True religion does not require the carrying of a label on one's back to keep the world advised of it. People can be as good and holy in the ordinary paths of common life and duty, as in showy acts and manners which draw upon them public notice and attention. The Gospel calls us to be Christians, and the cheerful and honest discharge of the duties of our lot and situation belongs to proper Christianity, And no one is the holier, or the better off for heaven, for being a nun or an anchorite.
We cannot say that all states and conditions of life are equally favorable to piet}'. There are situations in which it is hard to maintain a o^ood
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conscience. But, if one cannot be true and faithful to God and right in the place or business in which he is, he must get out of it; for a man had better starve and die than sell his soul for a little earthly gain. The Lord always has a way for his Daniels, Shadrachs, Meschacks, and Abednegos to maintain their souls untarnished even in the midst of a world of idolaters; and in most cases people can serve God quite as well by fidelity to the common duties of their lot, as by trying to make a providence of their own. The great matter in any case is, to have faith in God, and to make sure of being on terms with Him, content to serve Him in such spheres and duties as have fallen to us, however trying or humble, till it may please Him to transfer us to other fields.
But it further appears from the text that preju-
dices and prepossessions are often great hindrances to salvation. These people were familiar with Jesus as an ordinary working-man, and one of themselves, and they could not bear the thought of His being the great Messiah when He began to assert His claims. They knew Him to be virtuous, industrious, kindhearted, truthful, and exemplary, and had heard Him read and preach with such clearness, power, and unction, ' ' that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man these things ? and what wisdom is this that is given unto Him?" They had never known Him to be fanatical, or given to extravagance, egotism, or insanity. They knew of His wonderful works. And they had every reason to believe
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that He would not claim to be what He was not. Yet ^'' they were offended at Him^'''' so much so that they even sought to kill Him, The trouble was that their prejudices got the better of their reason and good sense. They were looking for the Messiah to come as a great and mighty Csesar,
to break the Roman yoke and make them the masters and possessors of the earth ; and hence they could not brook the idea that one from among themselves, belonging to so ordinary a rank of life, could be the sublime King and Redeemer of the world. It so crossed their ways of thinking, and so offended their prejudices, that it stirred up their resentful passions, and caused them to reject and seek to destroy the true and only Saviour. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."
And so it is even to this present. Nothing is more adverse to faith and salvation than the inveterate prejudices and prepossessions of those to whom the Gospel comes. It is not that Christ fails adequately to commend himself to their confidence and acceptance. It is not that eternal life has not been brought near to them, even to the doors of their dwellings. The only trouble is that it comes in a way that does not suit their fancy. It does not come with pomp and circumstance to captivate their carnal likes. It does not fit their notions. It conflicts with their estimates, tastes, and ideas. It demands admissions and concessions against themselves which do not
flatter their self-consequence. There is too much
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of the carpenter, and the common, — too much humiliation of human pride, — too much bringing down of vain conceits, — to be relished by them ; and so Christ is rejected, the mighty work He would do for them is repelled, grace is refused, and salvation retires, leaving them to their ill judgments and unpardoned sins.
Dear friends, it is a bad thing to set up our dreams and fancies against the claims of Jesus. Whether He comes as we would prescribe and prejudge, or in ways quite different from our likes and expectations, He comes with ample proofs and tokens that He is all that He claims and professes ; and it is our interest and duty to receive and welcome Him. His Christhood is not to be determined by the humbleness of His birth, or the rank of His schooling and trade, or the ordinary character of His relatives. Some of the world's greatest benefactors arose from very low
Neither can we be justified in thinking meanly of His Church because of the unattractiveness of its members, or the sacrifices to be made in accepting place in it. There is after all a superior glory in it bevond anything this world can offer. Though Christ was a carpenter, He was also the architect of the world, and its all-sufficient Redeemer, And it was part of His glory that, being in the form of God, and thinking it no robbery or wrongful assumption to be equal with God, He condescended to partake of our common life and
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lot, to be to US a Saviour, to whom we can look and feel as toward a brother. And to let our worldly temper turn us away from Him because He was a carpenter and lived among men as other men, is the height of unwisdom ; for its effect is to deprive us of the most precious opportunities that ever came to needy mortals, — to sacrifice our salvation to our own petty notions, — to repeat the
folly of these offended Nazarenes.
And equally at fault are they who plead the lowliness of their own station, trades, or occupation, as an excuse for neglecting Christ and their souls. Jesus earned His living and supported His mother by serving as a carpenter, and it was no hindrance to His maintenance of a holy life. With His service at the bench He could still fulfill every duty to God and every precept of the law. No one is so disabled by his situation that he cannot also at the same time successfully attend to his spiritual wants. No demands of worldly business can justify or excuse impiety or neglect of God. Business men, and laboring men, and every sort of men, can also be Christian men, if so minded, without any detriment to legitimate earthly interests ; and they live beneath their privileges and their duty if they are not Christians. People may follow their daily avocations and still serve God acceptably. Jesus did it, and worked as a carpenter at the same time that He "increased in wisdom and in favor with God and man." Even trade, and labor, and common duty, belong to the service of God, if
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undertaken in a right spirit, for a right end, and with proper reference to the divine will and favor. Therefore, let no one say that he is too low down in life, too much driven, too busy, too much constrained by his situation, to serve his Maker ; for such is not the truth.
Consider, then, dear friends, how the blessed Saviour comes to us, and what example He hath set us of humble, honest, and godly living. Think upon your manner of life, and to what extent your hearts and energies are conditioned to His gracious proposals. Many, alas, are repeating the conduct of these unbelieving Nazarenes. To many He is nothing but a carpenter, the brother of James, and Joses, and Juda, and Simon, beyond which they have no further use for Him. Though impressed by the grandeur of His teachings and the wonderfulness of His works, they are "offended at him" when He demands their confidence and their hearts. Many rail at His Gospel, and only despise those who believe
and obey it. Yea, great is the company of those who disdain serious attention to the calls and claims of Jesus.
O, ye people of unfaith, give ear, and consider your ways. You have much to question and object respecting this Jesus of Nazareth ; but in whom will you find a better? You have little or no regard for His Church ; but where else will you get such a salvation as it holds forth, proclaims, and effects? You object to the doctrines it teaches and the demands it makes ; but by what
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other faith or conditions can you count on acceptance in the judgment and a blessed eternity? You sometimes dream of a better world ; but how will you ever reach it, while putting aside Him who alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life ? You deem yourselves exempt because of your station or disabling surroundings ; your poverty, your daily labors, your unfavorable associations ; but, if Christ could live a perfect life as a poor
carpenter for all those years in Nazareth, without interference with His business, how can you be justified in neglecting your soul for any such reasons as you allege ?
Be not deceived, dear friends. If you are still among the unbelieving and unsaved, the trouble is not that you cannot do better, but that you ivill not. The Christ is here, teaching, and preaching, and proposing himself as the anointed Saviour; and His own word is, "Blessed is he that shall not be offended in Me." Why, then, give preference to your own erring fancies, and let the great salvation go ? O the unwisdom of the unbelieving !
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