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3 3433 06824309


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By HEMRY ware Jr.,

Professor of Pulpit Eloquence and the Pastoral Care in
Harvard University.









Entered, according to the act of Congress, in the year 1833,

bv Brown Shattuck &. Co.

in the Clerk's Oiuce of the Disirict Court of the District of





The principles adopted in the arrangement of
the present history, are sufficiently explained in
the course of the work. That they will be uni-
versally satisfactory, is not to be expected. The
essential difficulties of constructing a harmony of
the evangelical historians are such as to forbid
the expectation. But I cannot persuade myself
that I am mistaken in thinking, that the system
here adopted has greater probabilities in its favor
than any other which has been suggested. A full
statement of the reasons on which it rests is in-
compatible with the limits of the work.

I would suggest to my readers, that they will
fmd the instruction and interest of the volume
greatly increased, by carefully examining in con-
nexion with it the passages referred to at the bot-
tom of the pages. Indeed, much of the perti-
nency of many remarks and illustrations will be
otherwise unperccived. The most convenient
mode of doing this, will be by using the Harmony
of the Gospels mentioned in the note on the 43d

I am aware that many things v/ill be found
unexplained which need explanation, and that de-


fects and omissions will be perceived by others
which have escaped mj own observation. But I
hope that, notwithstanding these, I have not alto-
gether failed in the attempt to unfold to young
minds some of the interesting points in our Sa-
viour's history, and to excite in them a desire to
be more intimately instructed in its wonderful and
beautiful records. It would be a great happiness
to believe, that I had aided in bringing any to a
true admiration and faithful love of our blessed

Cambridge, Jan. 4, 1833.


I have availed myself of the call for another
edition of this work to make several additions
and some changes in various parts of the volume.
None of these are of much moment, except an
additional chapter at the close of the work, and
the exclusion, from the first chapters, of what was
drawn from the apocryphal histories. This change
is made at the suggestion of several friends, and
I trust will be disapproved by none.

Cambridge, Oct. 8, 1833.



The Parentage and Descent of Jesus

His Birth and Childhood


State of Judea — Expectation of the Messiah — Signs
of his Coming — His Forerunner . . .25


The Baptism of Jesus — His Temptation . . 36


General Outline of our Lord's Ministry — Calling of
the First Five Disciples at Bethabara — The First
Miracle . 41


The First Passover — The Visit of Nicodemus — The
Return through Samaria to Galilee — The Woman
at Jacob's Well 52


The Feast of Pentecost — The Summer spent in Gal-
ilee — The Feast of Tabernacles — Conversation with
the Jews at Jerusalem ... . . 67



Imprisonment of John the Baptist — Jesus begins his
Public Ministry in Galilee — Sermon on the Mount 83


Jesus returns to Capernaum — Performs various IMir-
acles — Calls Matthew ... . .98


The Opposition of the Pharisees to Jesus — His Treat-
ment of them . . . . . . 116


Second Tour through Galilee — The Twelve Apos-
tles appointed — John's Message to Jesus — Jesus
goes up to the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem 127


Jesus retires beyond the Jordan — Raises Lazarus —
Returns to Galilee — His Parables — He visits Naza-
reth again ...... 138


Death of John the Baptist — Jesus feeds the Multi-
tudes — Returns to Capernaum — Converses in the
Synagogue .... . 152


Jesus makes Excursions to Tyre and Sidon — To Dal-
manutha — To Cesarea Philippi — He speaks of his
Death . . . . . . IGl


The Transfiguration — Jesus returns to Capernaum —
Passes through Peraea toward Jerusalem . . 172



Jesus enters Jerusalem in Triumph — Events of the
First Day — The Greeks desire to see him — He re-
tires to Bethany . . ... 188


Events of the Second and Third Days — Various Dis-
courses of Jesus in tlie Temple — His Prophecy of
the Destruction of Jerusalem . . . 196


The Passover — The Lord's Supper instituted — Jesus
converses and prays with the Apostles . . 213


Jesus is apprehended — Condemned by the Sanhedrim
— Peter denies him ... . . 226


Jesus is brought before Pilate, and condemned . . 236

The Crucifixion ... . . .243


The Resurrection and Ascension . . . 252

Conclusion ..... 263





It is usual to begin the life of a distinguished
person with an account of his family and parents.
Sometimes the line of descent is traced back gen-
eration after generation, and it is boasted from
what celebrated ancestors he sprung. Sometimes
it is acknowledged that he was of obscure origin,
and has been the founder of his own fame and
family. In either case, it is thought that the cir-
cumstance is honorable to him. In the first, he
derives splendor and dignity from the great men
from whom he descended. In the second, what
can be more creditable, than to have risen from
nothing, by his own industry and talents, to an
equality with those whose natural advantages were

Two of the Evangelists who have written the
history of our Saviour, begin their account of him

1 A


in this way. They give the genealogy of his
family, and show his descent from the kings of
Judah. His immediate parentage was obscure.
Joseph and Mary were persons of no note, and
he was born to the condition of humble life.
But his remote ancestors were of the royal fami-
ly, and through them his lineage went back to the
distinguished fathers and founders of the nation;
through David, the great king, to Abraham, the
chief progenitor, and to Seth, the son of Adam,
the first man, who was the son of God. Thus,
regarded only in a human point of view, this won-
derful person united in himself the two circum-
stances mentioned above, to which biographers
draw attention, that they may exalt the persons
they celebrate. He was of poor and humble
parents, yet rose to eminence above all persons
of his age and country. He was also of honor-
able ancestors, belonging to the chief family of
the nation, ennobled by descent from the greatest
names in human history, and able to trace his
lineage up to the first man, who was the immediate
creation of God.

The Evangelists point out another remarkable
distinction of our Lord's descent. It is capable
of being traced to its original stock through both
parents. The family of Joseph and the family of

Mat. i. 1. Luke iii. 13.


Mary both run back till they meet in David, and
thence proceed in a common line to Abraham.
This renders his descent doubly illustrious. The
genealogy of Joseph is given by Matthew, and
that of Mary by Luke.

Besides the circumstances already mentioned,
which give an interest to this subject, it is to be
considered, that this was amongst the Jews a
matter of extreme importance. Every family kept
its genealogical register, and knew the list of its
ancestry from the earliest day. This was neces-
sary on account of some peculiar requisitions in
their law respecting property and inheritance;
which required evidence of the tribe and family to
which every individual belonged. There was a
further reason which made it a matter of interest.
The promised and expected Messiah, — that great
prince and deliverer, of whom the prophets had
so rapturously spoken, and on whose coming the
hopes and glory of the nation were suspended, —
was to be of the tribe of Judah and the family of
David. It was important therefore to be able to
trace the descent of every individual who should
claim to be this person. Hence the records of
that family, and of every branch of that family,
would be kept with the most jealous care, in order
that it might be proved, when the Messiah came,
that he was in truth of the right stock. There
can be no doubt that the descent of Jesus wa^


carefully searched into by those who questioned
or opposed his claims; and as they do not appear
to have objected to him on this ground, there can
be no doubt that the tables of his genealogy, pub-
lished by his disciples, were faithful copies from
the family and public registers; though we know
too little of the Jewish method of keeping those
tables, to be able to clear away all difficulty 'from
the subject.

We must not be surprised, then, that the Evan-
gelists have given so much room to this subject.
It was necessary to prove that their Master was
the son of David; for otherwise he could not be
the Messiah, And it is curious to observe, how,
even on a point in which worldly ambition so often
boasts of superiority, our blessed Lord is placed
far above the illustrious names of human histo-
ry. Where are the potentates, lords, and princes,
in all their pride of birth, who can look back on
so honorable and ancient a line of progenitors; —
passing on, through nobles and kings, lawgivers
and prophets, beyond the date of all other records,
till it ends in the name of the first man, and God
the Universal Parent?

Of Joseph, the husband of our Lord's mother,
and his reputed father, we know very little. He
is said to have been an upright and just man; and
the little which is told of him in the New Testa-
ment, proves him to have been such. There is


a tradition that he was married to Mary when
quite advanced in life, while she was but fourteen
years of age. Hence it is, that in all the pictures
of the holy family he is painted as an aged man,
while the Virgin is represented as young enough
to be his grandaughter. But there is no good
reason for supposing the tradition to be true. We
can only say, that we know nothing of his age,
and that it is a matter of no consequence. It is
more important to remember, that he exercised a
mechanical trade, and depended on the work of
his hands for a livelihood. He was a carpenter;
and it is extremely probable, as the Jews called
Jesus also a carpenter, that he, together with
the sons of Joseph, learned that trade and work-
ed at it. This will explain how it happened that
his brothers did not believe on him. They had
always seen him living amongst them like one
of themselves, and they could not readily under-
stand how their companion and equal in sports
and labors should be the son of God.

Of INIary, our Lord's mother, we know some-
thing more, though much less than we should be
glad to know of so interesting a being. It is not
strange that men have been eager to learn all that
concerned her; that in superstitious ages they
have listened to any tales invented to her honor,
and have contrived how they might show her the
greatest respect. This has been carried bo far,


that multitudes of Christians have made her an
object of worship; and by images and pictures,
by processions and offerings and hymns, have
expressed their veneration for the mother of their
Lord, and the natural interest they feel in her
character and fortunes. In one gallery in Flor-
ence there are two hundred and forty pictures of
the Virgin, mostly from the hands of the first
masters. Many churches have been erected to
her honor, and thousands of altars, at which she
is adored, are hung round with the* offerings of
grateful and devoted worshippers. ' It is sad to
witness such a diversion of good feelings from
the homage of God, to the adoration of a human
being. Yet, perhaps, it is true that we Protes-
tants do not allow ourselves to indulge the feelings
which are rightfully due to the mother of Jesus,
because we have seen them perverted. We
should learn to be more just; and this we may
be without becoming superstitious.

We know nothing certain of Mary, until an
angel appeared to her at Nazareth, and saluted
her with those memorable words, — " Hail, thou
that art highly favored! The Lord is with thee!
Blessed art thou among women!" One may
easily imagine what her feelings of surprise and
wonder would be. The Evangelist tells us, that

Luke i. 26.


she was troubled at the saying of the angel, and
waited anxiously to learn what might be his mes-
sage. The angel went on; told her that God had
designed for her the great honor of being mother
to the Messiah; that she should call his name
Jesus (that is, Saviour,) because he should " save
his people from their sins;" and that, because of
his miraculous birth, he should be called the Son
of God. Mary received this astonishing message
with simplicity and meekness. " Behold," said
she, " the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me
according to thy word."

We may imagine the agitation and ecstasy of
feeling which filled the breast of this poor and
humble maiden. At a time when all Israel was
looking out earnestly for the coming of the great
deliverer; and all the women of the land, the high
and the noble, were hoping that some son of theirs
should prove the Messiah; this obscure woman
is suddenly assured by a messenger from heaven,
that she is to be the favored person; that the
honorable ladies of Jerusalem and the palaces of
the chief rulers have been passed by, and a low-
ly dwelling of a distant country village is selected
as the home of the future prince. In the excite-
ment of such a moment, overwhelmed by feelings
which are not to be described, and which yet
must long to find vent and sympathy; whither
should she go ? There was her cousin Elizabeth,


who a few months before had been visited with
a similar message, and whose son was to be an
extraordinary prophet. She, said Mary to her-
self, will sympathize with me. Accordingly, as
Luke tells us, she arose in haste, and went into
the city in which Elizabeth resided. What a
meeting was that, between two women who knew
themselves about to be the mothers of the great
prophets for whom the nation was anxiously look-
ing! No wonder that it has been a favorite sub-
ject with religious painters. And what must have
been the delight of their intercourse during the
three months that Mary's visit continued! Pro-
bably they did not know, they could not know,
they could not guess, all the wonderful and gra-
cious consequences to flow upon their nation and
on mankind from the ministry of their unborn
sons; but they could gather enough from the
magnificeut language of the Prophets, whose
writings they undoubtedly read and pondered to-
gether, to excite the most exalted anticipations,
and cherish a spirit of the highest religious re-

Having made a visit of about three months,
Mary returned to her home, and shortly after-
wards Elizabeth gave birth to a son. This was
John the Baptist.




At the time of which we are vrriting, the Jew-
ish nation had fallen from its ancient power and
greatness. It was no longer the same prosperous
people that it had been in the days of David and
Solomon. Its independence was gone. The great
Roman nation, which had extended its wars and
conquests over a large portion of the known world,
had subdued Judea also, and reduced it to the
condition of a dependent kingdom. Herod, a
native prince, was permitted to occupy the throne;
but he was obliged to govern according to the
pleasure of the Roman Emperor, and the land
may be regarded as having become virtually a
province of Rome, though it was not yet such in

It is a mark of this subjection to the Roman
power, that when Augustus issued his decree for
taking the census of the Empire, Judea was in-
cluded. In the common translation of Luke's
Gospel, this is spoken of as a iaxaiion; but it w^as
properly only an enumeration of the inhabitants,
whose names were to be registered by proper
officers. It is said too to be the census of " all
the world;" by which is to be understood the
Roman world, or empire; though many suppose


that only the Jewish world or country is intended.
In executing this decree in Palestine, it was or-
dered that the names of the people should be taken
according to their tribes and families: — probably
because the Jews were accustomed to reckon by
families rather than by place of abode. Accord-
ingly all went to be enrolled or registered, " every
one in his own city." Now Joseph and Mary, as
we have seen, were of the tribe of Judah and the
family of David. But they were residing at
Nazareth, in the tribe of Zebulon. They were
therefore compelled, in obedience to this law, to
travel from home, nearly a hundred miles, to the
town of Bethlehem. This town was called the
city of David, because David and his ancestors
were born there. Hence, Boaz, David's great-
grandfather, called it the " city of his people."
It was the ancestral home of both Joseph and
Mary. Thither therefore they repaired. At the
same time, all descendants of the same family, in
whatever part of the country they might reside,
collected together in the same city. It was not
a large town, and was soon filled to overflowing
by the people who were thus brought together.
It is not therefore surprising, that when Joseph
and Mary arrived from Galilee, they found all the
rooms at the inn occupied, and were obliged to

Luke ii. 2.


take up with a lodging in the stable. The inhab-
itants of Bethlehem to the present day point out a
cave, as the place in which the Saviour was born.
It has been so regarded from time immemorial,
and a church has stood over it for ages to mark
the spot. Many, however, think the supposition
absurd. But whether it be so or not, into a stable
were these weary travellers obliged to go for
lodging; and there was born the King of the
Jews, the Saviour of the world. Little did the
multitude assembled there think, when they heard
that a poor woman in the stable had given birth
to a son, that that son was to be the most illus-
trious of all that were born of woman. Little
did the pious men and women who were waiting
for the salvation of Israel, and the ambitious and
impatient rulers and people whose eyes were
straining after their promised prince, — little did
they fancy that he was already among them in
that humble place. They were looking for him
in the high places of the earth, and in the families
of the great. They thought he would come with
a sign from heaven, with pomp and power. But
there he was, lying in a manger, unnoticed as any
common child.

The superstitious of later times have delighted
to connect marvels with this event, as if not sat-
isfied with the simple and unostentatious manner
in which Providence had been pleased to con-


duct it. They have given a celestial lustre to the
bodj of the new-born babe, and represented it,
in their pictures, as splendidly shining by its own
light. They have said that the very cattle which
stood by, fell upon their knees to acknowledge
the heaven-descended child; and multitudes still
believe, that at midnight, on the anniversary of
the nativity, the cattle every where kneel in their
stalls to commemorate the Redeemer's birth.
But all this is the imagination of man. In no
such puerile way did Providence testify to the
greatness of the infant prophet. The wonders
which God wrought were of a higher and more
significant character.

It is customary among men to announce the
birth of a prince by formal messages to other
princes, in order to receive their congratulations,
and to proclaim it in form to the people over
whom he is to reign. The Evangelist has re-
corded something of this kind on the present
occasion. Not indeed a message to princes, or
a proclamation to the nation; but something far
more beautiful, and more consonant to the nature
of the new kingdom of the Messiah. In the still
midnight, while the shepherds of Bethlehem were
watching their flocks in the fields, a light burst
upon them from the heavens, and the angel of
the Lord, as an ambassador from God, appeared
before them. He announced to them the birth


of the Messiah, and was immediately joined by
a multitude of voices, singing that delightful
anthem: " Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth peace, good will towards men." — The shep-
herds went to Bethlehem, and found the child as
the angel had said; and Mary, strongly affected
by this new proof that she was mother of the
Messiah,, "kept all these things and pondered
thera rn her heart."

Afler forty days had passed, the time arrived
when she must present herself with her child at
she Temple, and make the offerings which the
law required. It being her first child, there was
a double ceremony to be performed. Forty days
after the birth of all children, the mother was
bound to appear at the temple with the sacrifice
of a lamb for a burnt-offering, and a turtle dove
or a young pigeon for a sin-offering. Those who
could not afford to bring a lamb, were allowed to
offer a pigeon or turtle dove as a substitute ; and
it is an evidence of the humble station of Mary,
that she brought two turtle doves, — the offering
which was permitted to the poor. Besides this,
which was required at the birth of every child, in
the case of the first-born son there was an ex-
traordinary ceremony to be passed through. In
order to keep alive a solemn memory of the provi-
dence which delivered the nation from Egypt by
the death of the Egyptian first-born, the law re-


quired that every first-born male, of man and of
beast, should be sacred to the Lord; — the beast
to be sacrificed, and the child to be redeemed.
This redemption consisted in paying to the priest,
for the service of the temple, five shekels;* a
sum equal to about two dollars seventy-eight
cents. Mary therefore must redeem her child.
Accordingly, having presented her humble sacri-
fice, she proceeded " to do for him," as the Evan-
gelist says, " after the custom of the law;" — that
is, to present him to the Lord, and pay the price
of his redemption. Here she was called to an-
other scene which honored her son, and tried and
delighted her own feelings.

There was an aged man in Jerusalem by the
name of Simeon, a devout and religious person,
whose mind was filled with an earnest longing for
the coming of the Messiah and the consolation
of Israel. And he had been favored with the
assurance that he should not die, until his desire
had been accomplished. This venerable saint
had come into the Temple just at the moment
when the parents of Jesus had brought their first-
born to the altar; and being assured that this was
the child for whose coming he had been waiting,
he took it in his arms, and giving utterance to his
holy delight, blessed God and said: " Lord, now

* Numbers xviii. 15, 16.


lettest thou thy servant depart in peace ! for mine
eyes have seen thy salvation." He added a pro-
phecy of the greatness and the offices of the child.
This was not all. Scarcely had he ended, when
the wondering parents were astonished by the
entrance of another ancient person, a prophetess,
named Anna, who dwelt continually in the temple,
occupied in offices of religion. On seeing the
child, she broke out in thanksgiving to God, and
spake of him to all who looked for redemption in
Jerusalem. By such circumstances was the faith
of the parents confirmed.

Another event is recorded by Matthew, by
which the nativity was honored and proclaimed.
Certain Magi, philosophers from some eastern
country, (he does not say what,) having seen an

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Online LibraryHenry WareThe life of the saviour → online text (page 1 of 15)