« AnteriorContinuar »
our's Teaching that could extort so noble a Testimony from Persons that had been his Adversaries, and who were deeply prejudiced against him. And accordingly the Pharisees were very much surprised to hear them say this: Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived'? Their Manner of speaking shews, that these Officers were Persons they thought they could depend upon, and whom they judged to be far from entertaining any favourable Thoughts concerning him. And therefore they wondered to hear so advantageous a Testimony from them given to Jesus. And indeed they could hardly have expressed themselves more strongly, and more to his Advantage, in so few Words: Never Man spake like this Man. They had no Doubt frequently heard the Pharisees and Scribes, who taught the People, and fat in Moses'j Seat, as our Lord expresseth it, Matt- xxiii. . 2. And yet here they in Effect plainly tell them to their Faces, that none of them all was to be compared to him: Yea, and they intimate, that they believed there had never been any Person that had taught in so useful, so powerful, so divine a Way as he did.
There are several other Passages in the
Evangelists by which it appeareth, that,
notwithstanding the Prejudices the Jews
Vol. IV. K had had conceived against Jesus because of the Meanness of his external Appearance, yet they could not help admiring him as an extraordinary Teacher. We are told, on several Occasions, that they were ajlonijhed at his Doclrine ; for he taught as one that had Authority, and not as the Scribes; and that his Word was with Power. Matt, vih 28, 29, Mark i. 21, 22. Luke iv. 32, that he taught in their Synagogues, being glorified of all; and that all hare him Witness, and wondered at the gracious Words that proceeded out of his Mouth. Luke iv. 15,22.
We, who live at the Distance of many Ages from the Time of Chri/i's actual Appearance on Earth, could not have the Advantage of being present at his excellent Discourses, during his personal Ministry. But we have many of his admirable Instructions committed to Writing by those that heard him and had perfect Understanding of all Things from the very first, and who had the Holy Spirit given them, according to his gracious Promise, to guide them into all "Truth; and to bring all Things to their Remembrance, whatsoever he had said unto them. John xiv. 26, and xvi. 5. And, by considering his Discourses as transmitted to us in those sacred Writings, we may form some just Notions of his
transcendent Excellency as a Teacher, fb as mightily to heighten our Esteem of him, and to fill our Hearts with Thankfulness to God for having spoken to us by his Son.
From the Accounts given by the Evangelists it appears, that the Things out Saviour taught were not of a trifling Nature, but of the highest Importance to the Glory of God, and to the Good of Mankind: That he taught with inimitable Dignity, and yet with great Plainness and Simplicity: That he was unweariedly diligent and assiduous in his Teaching, and laid hold on all Opportunities for inculcating the most useful and excellent Instructions: That his Way of expressing himself was admirably comprehensive, comprizing a great deal in a few Words; and that he frequently made Use of short and pithy Sentences, full of profound Sense and Wisdom: That he taught with a noble impartial Freedom and Boldness, and yet with great Prudence and Discretion, gra- dually instilling his Divine Lessons, and taking the properest Seasons for doing it:" That he often chose to make Use of Parables, whereby he conveyed the most important Instructions in a very lively and agreeable Manner: And, lastly, that he taught with a wonderful Divine Power and Authority, in which he far excelled all that K 2 ever
ever pretended to instruct Mankind. I shall make some Observations on each of these, which will give me Occasion to take a distinct Notice of several Things recorded in the Gospel concerning our Saviour and his Teaching, which, though we cannot be supposed to be absolutely unacquainted with, yet are often slightly passed over without being so carefully attended to as they well deserve.
First, I would observe in the first Place, that the Things which 'Jesus taught were not of a mean trifling Nature, but of the highest Importance to the Glory of God, and to the Good of Mankind. The uniform manifest Tendency of all his Instructions was to make Men wiser and better, to purify their Hearts, and reform their Lives. Never did he descend to low trivial Janglings and Disputes, to little Descants upon Words or Controversies about trifling Observances and Traditions, which at that Time made up a great Part of the Learning of the Jewish Doctors. He did not concern himself with the Disputes between the.Schools of Hillelznd Shammai, or what tliis or that celebrated Rabbi said or decided upon such a Point. He entertained not his Hearers with Observations about nice Punctilio's of the Law, nor amused them with curious and useless Speculations.
Nothing Nothing of this Kind is to be found in his admirable Discourses, nor is there any Thing of that vain Deceit which hath often passed under the Name of Philosophy, nor of the Oppositions of Science, falsely Jb called. But all is great, wife, and good, of a practical and most excellent Tendency. He came to instruct Men in the Nature of true Religion, to recover them from their wrong and partial Conceptions of it, and to mew them what it is, and wherein it doth properly consist. This must be acknowledged to be of vast Concernment to Mankind: For Religion, rightly understood and practised, is certainly the most excellent Thing in the World, and of the utmost Importance to our Happiness.
It is evident to any one that reads the Gospel with Attention, that one principal Thing which our Saviour seems to have had in View, in the whole Course of his personal Ministry, was to guard Men against that most pernicious Delusion, to which they have been very prone in all Ages, and which hath done so much Mischief in the World, the placing Religion in Things that do not really belong to it, or the laying too great a Stress on smaller Matters, on mere outward ceremonious Observances, to the Neglect of thole Things that are of the highest and most essential K 3 Importance,