"Few are the tones of love He hears,
Unpillowed oft His weary head;
By day He wrought, by night He prayed,
His way was paved with love and tears."

"Leaving Nazareth, He went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake." Matthew 4:13

That is always a momentous era in the history of every individual, when the period of youth is over, and manhood goes forth to grapple with the stern realities of life. Existence has new responsibilities—new cares—new hopes—new motives—new trials—new joys. If the character was plastic before, and only molding or developing, now it fast consolidates. "The Man" takes a new position. He selects his own associates—discovers his own resources—manifests his own tastes and congenialities. The magnetic needle, trembling and oscillating before, fixes itself now to its pole; and there, with little variation, remains till he goes to the last and longest home of all.

We have in these words the first glimpse which the Bible gives us of the Home of Jesus. Around that name, the earthly Home of the Lord of Glory, how many hallowed and sacred thoughts gather! Other spots already, indeed, claimed the honor. Egypt was for a time His home. There, in the morning of that mysterious infancy, He fled with His parents, till a message from Heaven assured of a safe return. Nazareth was His home. There, an impenetrable silence broods over thirty years of wondrous interest to all time. We dare not lift the veil of secrecy. But we can well picture the lovingness of that holy Childhood and Youth, unruffled by one frown or passion or taint of selfishness—a Holy Light in a dwelling of peaceful obscurity, His hands toiling, as we have reason to believe they did, in the workshop of His reputed father, thus voluntarily subjecting Himself to the full heritage of the curse of toil. We can picture the wanderings of that mysterious boyhood amid the olive groves and wooded eminences which enclosed the Village. We can listen in thought to the earliest prayers lisped in the quiet homestead or on the silent hills. Rising even then with elastic step "a great while before day," while the lower valley was still sleeping amid the shadows of early dawn, the "Holy Child" was invoking the ear of His Father in Heaven.

But CAPERNAUM is invested with a deeper interest still. Youth, obscurity, privacy, are left. He is now the public Person—the Teacher sent from God—the MAN. Nazareth was the home of His parents. There He was "subject to them." The period of subjection is over. He has completed His beauteous example—He has read His holy lesson to boyhood and youth. Now He has to bear a more advanced and dignified testimony. Manhood in its prime is invited to come to the shores of Gennesaret, or to enter one of the lowly porticos in the town of Capernaum, and gather solemn instruction by a visit to the Home of JESUS!

"Master, where do You live?" said two of His disciple-followers on one occasion. "Come and see," was His answer. He invites us to come also. We can, indeed, speak nothing regarding that lowly dwelling; we can mark no stone of the outer building; we cannot tell whether the blue waves of the Lake murmured under its lattice; or whether it looked out to the Vines climbing the slopes which hemmed in the plain. But the mere locality is nothing. It is the wondrous Life that stamped its impress on that home, and that reads many a lesson still as to what the home and the life together should be. Come, then, let us gather with all reverence around this model "Home," where the ideal of MAN, the root and flower of perfect Humanity, mysteriously unfolded itself.

Let us look to the life of Jesus in its twofold aspect—social and public; individual and private.

I. SOCIALLY—The character of the Redeemer partook of no asceticism. The Home of Jesus was in the center of Galilean and (Jerusalem excepted) the center of Palestine life. He was, in this respect, unlike His great forerunner, John the Baptist. Rigid, austere, separating himself from the amenities of existence, the wilderness and solitudes of Judea were John's abode. He shunned society. He came and delivered his message to teeming multitudes by day, and then, as the night shadows gathered around the Jordan, he plunged back into the untrodden wilds, with no eye to look kindly on him but that of One, whose presence to him was more than all human tenderness could be! There was much to love, at least to revere, about the Forerunner of the Messiah. He was bold, honest, courageous, sincere. He had forsaken all for the sake of his message. He could afford no time to fritter away in a worthless world. It took him the livelong night to get his spirit braced up for the solemn ministry of the morrow. With the prayer still lingering on his lips, he went forth with the old burning message of persuasion and terror—"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"

But the Home of Jesus was not the wilderness! No secluded nook was His selected dwelling—no quiet Palestine hamlet where He could dwell in mystic loneliness, refusing to mingle in the common business and duties of life. He pitched His own tent in the midst of human tabernacles, amid the noise and bustle of a town—the hum of busy industry ever around Him—coming in contact with every description of character—rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, bond and free, noblemen, centurions, publicans at the receipt of custom, sailors and bargemen on the Lake, crude Galilean mountaineers and shepherds, caravans crossing with motley crowds from Syria and Persia to lower Palestine and Egypt. He met them all in free, unrestrained communion. At one time, reading to the Jews in their synagogue. At another, gathering the multitude at their spare hours by the sea-side, with suggestive nature before Him—His pulpit a fisherman's boat—proclaiming the great salvation. At another, seating a similar crowd on the grass at the head of the Lake, He would miraculously feed them with the bread which perishes, and unfold spiritual things from the earthly type.

Nor do we find Him in any way spurning the duties and delights of social fellowship. At one time, He consecrates with His presence a marriage-feast at the neighboring Cana. At another, He is a guest in a Pharisee's house, eating with publicans and sinners. At another, as the Jewish Sabbath sun sinks behind Mount Tabor, look! the shores and highways are lined with eager hundreds. The sick and palsied, the blind and lame, come to receive the magic touch, and listen to the Omnipotent word! Wherever He goes, His steps are tracked with mercy; misery, in every form, crouches at His feet; and gratitude bathes the wondrous Healer with its tears.

II. Thus much for His outward, public, social life—the stirring scenes of ministry and miracle. But is the portraiture complete? Does the revelation of the ideal of Human perfection end here? We now turn to its other phase, the remaining complement in that wondrous character; the PRIVATE Life of Jesus. He had, as each of His people have, a secret, inner being, in conjunction with the outer and social: the one a reflex of the other. That busy world on the one side of the Sea of Tiberias, witnessed His mighty deeds, heard His weighty words, and glowed under the sunshine of holy smiles and joyous friendships. But amid these boats flitting up and down the lake, one may now and then be seen (as the twilight shadows are falling) gently traversing its bosom; and when moored on the other side, a Figure, companionless and alone, is ascending the rugged steeps of the mountain, until the veil of night shuts Him out from view.

When the lights of luxury are gleaming on the opposite shores, and the fishermen's oars are heard pursuing their nightly task, the Son of Man and Lord of Glory is seeking refreshment and repose for His soul in divine communion. With the deep solitudes of nature for His oratory, He "continues all night in prayer to God." He is left "alone," and yet! He is "not alone," for His "God and Father are with Him!" Most beautiful union of the active and the contemplative: public duty and private devotion; ceaseless exertion, and needful spiritual cessation and repose; the outer life all given to God and man; the private inner life diligently cared for and nurtured; night by night, and morning by morning, the sinless and spotless One fetching down heavenly supplies, as if in every respect He were "tempted as we are," requiring equal strength for duty and preparation for trial. How it links us in sympathy to this adorable Redeemer, to think that He had bodily as well as mental affinities with ourselves; that He participated with us (sin only excepted) in ALL our infirmities!

Do we, like Him, combine the two great elements of human character? Are our public duties—the cares, and business, and engrossments of the world, finely tempered and hallowed by a secret walk with God? Is our outer life distinguished like His by earnest diligence in our varied callings—love to God and kindness and goodwill to man throwing a softened halo around our path; beneficence, generosity, sterling honor, charity, unselfishness characterizing all we do?

Is our inner life a feeble transcript of His? If the world were to follow us from its busy thoroughfares, would it trace us to our family altars and our closet devotions? Would it discover in our secret histories, "Sabbaths of the soul," when wearied with the toil and struggle of earth, we ascend in thought the mount of Prayer, and in these holy mental solitudes seek an audience of our Father in Heaven? Action and meditation, I repeat, are the two great components of Christian life, and the perfection of the religious character is to find the two in unison and harmony.

Not like Martha of old, all bustle, energy, impulse, and finding little time for higher interests. Nor like Mary, on the other hand, wrapped in devout meditation, indifferent to the duties and shrinking from the struggles of life, but the happy intermingling of both. In one word, come and visit the Home of Jesus—see that noblest of combinations, consuming zeal and childlike teachableness—untiring devotion to His fellows, hallowed converse with His God. Oh, that each dwelling, that each life, might be like that! Would that, in order to make a "model home," we were often led to cross and re-cross in thought Gennesaret's lake. Then would our hearths and households more frequently be like Edens, blooming in a desert world—miniatures of the great Heavenly Home, where still there will be the beautiful combination of untiring energy in God's service, and of peaceful rest and repose in God's love.

Let us only add, as one out of many practical lessons this subject suggests, a word of encouragement for the guiltiest. Where did this Blessed Lord of Glory establish His home? What portion of the wide world, or of the sacred land, did He select during the three most eventful years of earth's history for His most frequent residence? It was "the land of darkness;" it was "the region of the shadow of death." It was among a people who, in the most impressive and significant of Bible figures, are represented as "sitting" in that darkness; content to remain in guilty apathy and unconcern, heeding not the gloom around them, and the appalling shadows gathering overhead. Yet, He spurned them not. No; He, "The Light," entered this thick and gloomy darkness. Incarnate truth came into the midst of error. Incarnate wisdom settled in the midst of ignorance. Life came and settled in the abodes of death!

What does this teach? but that none need despair. Those who till this hour have been "sitting in darkness"—the darkness of guilt, and sin, and miserable estrangement from God—may listen to the voice of Jesus saying—"I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life."

And not only do we here learn that Jesus comes to the very worst, and is willing to enlighten them, but that He can change the very worst—that He does enlighten them. The Sun of Righteousness has not only arose on Galilee, but He rose "with healing in His beams." "Its common people heard Him gladly." His best converts, his truest and most trustworthy friends were from the ports, and fishing boats, and villages around Gennesaret. Oh, if He effected such a change on them, there is no room for despondency! "That is the true light which enlightens every one that comes into the world." He is willing to take up His home in every soul—though that soul be as the valley of the shadow of death. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, is willing to shine into that heart with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Whatever your darkness may be, Christ can relieve it; Christ can dispel it! If your heart be as a Gennesaret swept with storms, He will come and whisper in your ears, as He did of old, His calming words—"Peace, be still."

The Home of Jesus, His outer home, at Capernaum, is but a memory of the past; not one stone has been left upon another that has not been thrown down. But He has a more enduring home, which human hands cannot annihilate, and time cannot destroy. "Thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, I dwell in the high and in the holy place; with him also that is humble and of a contrite spirit!"