We have here brought before us a young man born in lowly life, having no advantages of position, or even education, to lift Him above the mass of men and contenting Himself by instructing the humble classes in society in one of the meaner provinces of the Roman Empire. For three or four years he spent His time in these pursuits.
He gathered about Him a meager band of disciples, not above His own state. He awakened only persecution and contempt among the influential men of His own nation, and before He reached the middle age of life, He was condemned as a malefactor and put to a violent and shameful death.
After His death, the most remarkable and permanent power belonged to one whose life, up to its latest moment, had been full of humiliation. His were the mighty words of the world. They were living and life-giving principles, which took hold upon men with regenerating power.
There was nothing in His claims, His teachings, His promises, to inflame or to gratify the ordinary passions of men; no honors to be won, no ambition to be gratified, no sensual pleasures to be enjoyed. Yet His words were powerful as no other teachings have ever been upon the earth. They went forth from the narrow boundaries of Judea, and attacked the hoary prejudices and superstitions of the pagan world, and in a few centuries, the gospel of the despised man of Galilee became the avowed faith of the Roman Empire.
And now for many ages, during which hosts of great men have risen and been forgotten, His words, wherever received in their simplicity, have had a power to cast down superstition, to change the aspect of human society, to teach men the true principles of freedom, to awaken impulses that refine and strengthen and elevate humanity, and to support true morality and true piety. That seems strangely in contrast with the “feeble attainments” of His life work, and with the apparent triumph of His foes in His death upon the cross.