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them one in the water. He referred our inquisitive folks to Jonas, and told them they should have no other; for, added 'he, “ As Jonas was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The Jews, who were neither wizards nor prophets, could not comprehend this language. Jesus, to whom miracles cost nothing when every thing was arranged for performing them, did not risk himself by working them impromptu, or in the presence of those whom he judged acute enough to examine them. On this occasion he put off these poor Jews, whom he calculated on converting to himself for ever, with an unintelligible answer.
The refusal to perform a prodigy in the air creates a belief that Jesus declined the contest: raillery was introduced : the Son of God got into a passion, and launched out in prophetical invectives against the Jews. He compared the conduct of the queen of Sheba with theirs; boasted of his being greater and wiser than Solomon; and threatened to deprive them of the light which he shed in their country. We are of opinion, however, that, if he had deigned to consent to give the sign demanded, he would have spread this light much further. But there is reason to believe the Messiah felt that a sign in the air was much more difficult than all those he had given on the earth, where he was better able to arrange matters than aloft in the atmosphere, a region in which there was nobody to concert with.
Meanwhile Jesus' mother had joined her other chil. dren and relations in order to soothe and engage them to desist from their pursuits, but she could not prevail on them. They persisted in the design of taking up our adventurer ; but as they could not penetrate through the multitude and get close up to him, they sent notice they were there. “ Behold,” said some one to Jesus, " thy mother and thy brethren who seek thee."-Christ knowing the object of their visit which he was no ways eager to receive, abjured such froward relations ; “ Who is my mother, and who are my bre- . thren?" said he ; after which, stretching forth his hand towards the people, " Behold," added he, “ my mother and my brethren; I know no other kinsmen than those who hearken to my word, and put it in practice.” The people, flattered with the preference, took Jesus under their protection, and the attempt of his family was thus turned to their confusion*.
Escaped from this perilous adventure, afraid of being caught unawares, or mistrusting the constancy of the populace, who, notwithstanding the pleasure they found in seeing him perform his juggles, might desert him at last, Jesus thought proper to provide for his safety by leaving the townt. He accordingly departed with his twelve apostles, the ladies of his train, Mary his mother, Jane and Magdalane, who assisted the company with their property. There is reason to believe that the last, who, before she was with the Messiah, had made gain of her charms, was rich in jewels and ready money. This rendered her conversion of great importance to the sect, and especially to Jesus, who could not, without cruelty, refuse to repay so much love with a little return.
The persecution which Jesus experienced excited an interest in his behalf, and it would seem procured
* St. Matt. xii. 46. St. Mark, iii. 12, St. Luke, viii. 19. of St. Matt. xiii. l.
him greater countenance. A multitude of people impelled by curiosity, as soon as they knew the road he had taken, went out of the towns and hamlets in the environs to see him. To avoid being incommoded by the crowd, he again resolved to go on board a vessel; and having done' so, he began to preach to those on shore; but recollecting the scrapes which his former sermons had brought him into, he did not think it prudent to explain himself so elearly ; he, therefore, preferred speaking in parables, which are always susceptible of a double meaning. It may be believed the explication of these enigmas was circulated by means of the apostles, to whom Jesus gave it in charge*.
One day, chagrined at his little success, he distinctly avowed that he had changed his resolution as to the Jews, and meant to abandon their conversion. The reason for doing so he expressed to them in parables ; " that seeing,” said he, “ they may not perceive, and hearing they may not understand, lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven themt."
It must be owned, that it is very difficult to reconcile this conduct of God. Were we not afraid of committing sacrilege by hazarding conjectures on the mission of Jesus, might it not be presumed that at first he had the design of giving laws to the Jews, but perceiving afterwards his little success, he resolved, as he began to be disparaged in that country, to seek his fortune elsewhere, and gain other subjects? What he entrusted to his disciples in this secret interview, ap. pears to have been for the purpose of preparing them for this change ; but his punishment prevented all his designs, which were not executed till a long time after by his apostles, who no doubt carefully treasured up this conference.
* St. Mark, iv. 10.
+ St. Mark, v. 12.
We shall not enter into a detail of all the parables which Jesus employed in communicating his marvellous doctrine to the Jews, or preaching without being understood. Such a discussion would become very tiresome; we therefore advise those who may have taste for such kind of apologues rather to read those of Esop or La Fontaine, which they will find more amusing and more instructive than the fables of Christ. Those, however, who wish to consult the parables or apologues of the gospel, will find them in the following places :
The parable of the sower, Luke, viii. 5-of the concealed lamp, ib. viii. 16-of the tares, Matt. xiii. 24----of the seed, Mark iv. 26-of the grain of mustard, Matt. xiii. 31--of the leaven, ib. xiii. 33-of the hidden treasure, ib. xiii. 44-of the pearl, ib. xiii. 45~of the net cast into the sea, ib. 47-and of the father of the family, ib. 52.
Jesus, informed that his brothers and cousins were from home, went to Nazareth accompanied with his apostles. He perhaps wanted to convince his countrymen that he was not such a fool as was reported. Probably he hoped to confer with his family, and gain them over to his side. He arrived on the Sabbath, and repaired to the synagogue: immediately the priest very politely presented him with a book; he opened it, and stumbled precisely on this passage of Isaiah : “ The spirit of the Lord has rested upon me, and there. fore I am anointed to preach.” Having shut the book,
he delivered it to the priest and sat down; but he did not neglect to apply to himself this passage of the prophet, where also mention is made of miracles and prodigies. There were present, either by chance or design, several Galileans, who having been witnesses of the marvels he had performed the year preceding, did not hesitate to bear testimony in his favour. But the Nazarenes, who knew what to think of Jesus, were shocked at his magisterial tone. “ Is not this," said they to one another, “the carpenter, the son of Joseph the carpenter ? Is not his mother called Mary? Are not his brethren and sisters with us? Whence then has he so much skill? How and by what means does he work the miracles related to us?”
Jesus, hearing these discourses, saw plainly that this was not the proper place for performing prodigies.But he wished that his inaction might be attributed to the evil dispositions of bis countrymen, who were surprised to hear the sagacity and power of a man vaunted whose conduct appeared to them very equivocal. " I see well,” said Jesus to them, “ that you apply to me the proverb, Physician cure thyself; and that, to prove the truth of the marvels you have heard of me, you wish me to perform some of those fine leger. demains which I have elsewhere exhibited; but I know I shall labour in vain in this city : I am too well convinced of the truth of the proverb, No man is a prophet in his own country,” To justify himself he quoted examples which would seem to throw a suspicion on the miracles of the prophets of the Old Testament, whom this proverb, even by itself, was calcu. lated to make pass for knaves. Whatever opinion we may form of this, he cited the example of Elias, who,