Imágenes de páginas

Thirdly, The persons to whom he came. united to the human, but only passed through And,

it in a kind of imaginary, phantastic way ; Fourthly and lastly, The time of his that is, to speak plainly, in some way or other, coming.

which neither Scripture, sense, nor reason Of all which in their order. And,

know any thing of. And others have by one 1. First for the person who came.

It was

bold stroke cut off all such relation of it to the the second Person in the glorious Trinity, the divine nature, and in much another sense than ever blessed and eternal Son of God, con that of the Psalmist, made Christ “altogether ceruing whom it is a miracle, and a kind of such an one as themselves," that is, a mere paradox to our reason, (considering the condi man και ψιλός άνθρωπος : for Socinus would tion of his person,) how he could be said to needs be as good a man as his Saviour. come at all : for since all coming is motion or But this opinion, whatsoever ground it may progression from a place in which we were, to have got in this latter age of the church, yet a place in which we were not before ; and no sooner was it vented and defended by since nity implies an actual comprehension Photinus, bishop of Sirmium, but it was of, and a presence to, all places, it is hard immediately crushed, and universally rejected to conceive how he who was God could be by the church ; so that although several other said to come any whither, whose infinity had heresies had their course, and were but at made all progression to, or acquisition of a length extinguished, and not without some new place impossible. But Christ, wlio de- difficulty, yet this, like an indigested meteor, lighted to mingle every mercy with miracle appeared and disappeared almost at the same and wonder, took a finite nature into the so time, However, Socinus beginning, where ciety and union of his person ; whereupon Photinus had long before left off, licked up what was impossible to a divine vature was his deserted forlorn opinion, and lighting upon rendered very possible to a divine person ; worse times, has found much better success. which could rightfully and properly entitle But is it true that Christ came into the itself to all the respective actions and pro world? Then sure I am apt to think that perties of either nature comprehended within this is a sordid inference, that he had an exisits personality; so that beivg made man, he tence and a being before he came hither ; could do all things that man could do, except since every motion or passage from one place only sin. Every thing that was purely or condition to another, supposes the thing or human, and had nothing of any sinful defi- person so moving to have actually existed ciency or turpitude cleaving to it, fell within under both terms ; to wit, as well under that the verge and compass of his actions. But from which, as that to which he passes. But now, was there ever any wonder comparable if Christ had nothing but a human nature, to this ; to behold divinity thus clothed in which never existed till it was in the world, flesh ! the Creator of all things humbled, not how could that possibly be said to come into only to the company, but also to the cognation the world? The fruit that grows upon a tree, of his creatures! It is as if we should imagine and so had the first moment of its existence the whole world not only represented upon, there, cannot with any propriety of truth or but also contained in one of our little artificial speech be said to liave come to that tree, since globes; or the body of the sun enveloped in that must suppose it to have been somewhere à cloud as big as a mau's hand; all which else before. I ain far from building so great would be looked upon as astonishing impos- and so concerning a truth merely upon the sibilities: and yet as short of the other, as the stress of this way of expression; yet till the greatest finite is of an infinite, between which reasoning grounded upon it be disproved, I supthe disparity is immeasurable. For that God pose it is not therefore to be despised, though should thus in a manner transform himself, it may be seconded with much better. aud subdue and master all his glories to a But the men whom we contend with, seem possibility of human apprehension and con- hugely injurious to him, whom they call their verse, the best reason would have thought it Saviour, while they even crucify him in his such a thing as God could not do, had it not divinity, which the Jews could never do, seen it actually done. It is, as it were, to making his very kindness an argument against cancel the essential distances of things, to his prerogative. For his condescending to be remove the bounds of nature, to bring heaven a man makes them infer that he is no more; and earth, and, what is more, both ends of and faith must stop here, because sight can go the contradiction together.

no farther. But if a prince shall deign to be And thereupon some, who think it an im- familiar, and to converse with those upon putation upon their reason to believe any whom he might trample, shall his condescenthing but what they can demonstrate, (which sion therefore unking him, and his familiarity is no thanks to them at all,) have invented rob him of his royalty? The case is the same several strange hypotheses and salvos to clear with Christ. Men cannot persuade themup these things to their apprehensions; as, selves that a Deity and infuity should lie that the divine nature was never personally I within so narrow a compass as the contemp

[ocr errors][merged small]

tible dimensions of a human body ; that om is the sharpest and most afflicting calamity nipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence that human nature can be capable of. And should ever be wrapt in swaddling clothes, yet what is all this to Christs humiliation ? and abased to the homely usages of a stable He who tumbles from a tower, surely has a and a manger; that the glorious artificer of greater blow than he who slides from a molethe whole universe, “who spread out the hill. And we may as well compare the fallheavens like a curtain, and laid the founda- | ing of a crumb from the table to the falling tions of the earth,” could ever turn carpenter, of a star from the firmament, as think the and exercise an juglorious trade in a little abasement of an Alexander from his imperial cell. They cannot imagine, that “He who throne, and from the head of all the Persian commands the cattle upon a thousand hills, and Macedonian greatness, to the condition of and takes up the ocean in the hollow of his the meanest scullion that followed his camp, hand,” could be subject to the meannesses of any ways comparable to the descension of hunger and thirst, and be afflicted in all his him who was “the brightness of bis Father's appetites ; that he who once created, and at glory, and the express image of his person,” to present governs, and shall hereafter judge the the condition of a man, much less of a servant world, should be abused in all his concerns and a crucified malefactor,- for so was Christ and relations, be scourged, spit upon, mocked, treated : this was the strange leap that he and at last crucified. All which are passages made from the greatest height to the lowest which lie extremely cross to the notions and bottom : concerning which it might be well conceptions that reason has framed to itself of pronounced the greatest wonder in the world, that high and impassible perfection that re that he should be able so far to humble himsides in the divine nature. For it is natural self, were it not yet a greater that he could to men to be very hardly brought to judge be willing. And thus much for the second things to be any more than what they appear; circumstance. and it is also as natural to them to measure 3. The third is, the persons to whom he all appearances by sense, or at the farthest by came, expressed by that endearing term “his reason ; though neither of them is a compe own;" and this in a more peculiar, advanced tent judge of the things which we are here sense of propriety. For all the nations of the discoursing of.

world were his own by creation, and, what is 2. The second thing to be considered is the consequent to it, by the right of possession state or condition from which Christ came ; and absolute dominion ; but the Jews were and that was from the bosom of his father, his own by a fraternal right of consanguinity. from the incomprehensible, surpassing glories He was pleased to derive his humanity from of the godhead, from an eternal enjoyment of the same stock, to give them the honour of an absolute, uninterrupted bliss and pleasure, being able to call the God of heaven and the in the mutual, ineffable intercourses between Saviour of the world their brother. him and his Father. The heaven of heavens They were his own also by the right of was his habitation, and legions of cherubims churchship, as selected and enclosed by God and seraphims his humble and constant at from amidst all other nations, to be the seat tendants. Yet he was pleased to disrobe of his worship, and the great conservatory of himself of all this magnificence, to lay aside all the sacred oracles and means of salvation. bis sceptres and his glories, and, in a word, to The Gentiles might be called God's own, as “empty himself,” as far as the essential ful a man calls his hall or his parlour his own, ness of the Deity could be capable of such a which yet others pass through and make use dispensation.

of; but the Jews were so, as a man accounts And now, if by the poor measures and pro- his closet or his cabinet his own, that is, by a portions of a man we may take an estimate of peculiar uncommunicable destination of iť to this great action, we shall quickly find how its own use. irksome it is to flesh and blood to have been Those who have that hardy curiosity as to happy, to descend some steps lower, to ex examine the reason of God's actions, (which change the estate of a prince for that of a men of reason should still suppose,) wonder peasant, and to view our happiness only by that, since the design of Christ's coming was the help of memory and long reflections. For universal, and extending to all mankind, he how hard a task must obedience needs be to should address himself to so inconsiderable a a spirit accustomed to rule and to dominion ! spot of the world as that of Palestine, confining How uneasy must the leather and the frieze the scene of all his life and actions to such a sit upon the shoulder that used to shine with small bandful of men ; whereas it would have the purple and the ermine! All change must seemed much more suitable to the purposes be grievous to an estate of absolute, entire, of his coming, to have made Rome, at that unmingled happiness ; but then to change to time the metropolis of the western world, the lowest pitch, and that at first, without and holding an intercourse with all nations, inuring the mind to the burden by gradual, the place of his nativity and abode; as when intermediate lessenings and declensions, this a prince would promulge a law, because he

But t was another sort of love that warmed

cannot with any convenience do it in all any inducement, upon the common principles places, therefore he does it in the most emic and methods of kindness, to visit them in that nent and conspicuous. To which argument, estate ? which could be nothing else but only frequently urged by the enemies of Christia- to share with them in servitude, and to bear nity, he who would seek for a satisfactory a part in their oppression. answer froin any thing but the absoluteness The measure of men's kindness and visits of God's sovereignty, will find himself defeated bestowed upon one another, is usually the in his attempt. It was the mere result of the prosperity, the greatness, and the interest of divine good pleasure, that the fountain of life the persons whom they visit; that is, because should derive a blessing to all nations, from their favour is profitable, and their ill-will so narrow and contemptible a head.

formidable ; in a word, men visit others beAnd here I cannot but think it observable, cause they are kind to themselves. But who that all the passages of the whole work of ever saw coaches and liveries thronging at the man's redemption carry in them the remarks, door of the orphan or the widow, (unless pernot only of mercy, but of mercy acting by an adventure a rich one,) or before the house or unaccountable sovereignty; and that for this prison of an afflicted, decayed friend ? No, at very reason, as may be supposed, to convince such a time we account them not so much as the world that it was purely mercy on God's our own ; that unfriends and unbrothers, and part, without any thing of merit on man's, dissolves all relations, and it is seldom the that did all. For when God reveals a Saviour dialect of my good friend, any longer than it to some few, but denies him to more ; sends is my great friend. him to a people despised, but passes over nations victorious, honourable, and renowned; the breast of our Saviour. He visits his he thereby gives the world to know, that his kindred, nay, he makes them so in the lowest own will is the reason of his proceedings. For ebb of all their outward enjoyments, when to it is worth remarking, that there is nothing be a Jew was a name of disgrace, and to that befalls men equally and alike, but they be circumcised a mark of infamy: so that they are prone to ascribe it either to nature or might very well be a “peculiar people,” not merit. But where the plea of the receivers is only because God separated them from all equal, and yet the dispensation of the benefits other nations, but because all other nation: vastly unequal, there men are taught, that the separated themselves from them. thing received is grace ; and that they have Secondly. Consider them upon an eccleno claim to it, but the courtesy of the dispen siastical account, and so we shall find them ser, and the largess of heaven; which cannot as corrupted for a church, as they were debe questioned, because it waters my field, spised for a nation. Even in the days of the while it scorches and dries up my neigh prophet Isaiah, (i. 21,) it was his complaint. bour's. If the sun is pleased to shine upon a is that the faithful city was become an harlot;" turf, and to gild a dunghill, when perhaps he that is, notable for two things, as barlotnever looks into the bedchamber of a prince, usually are, paint and impurity. Which we cannot yet accuse him for partiality ; that growing corruption, in all the intervening short, but most significant saying in the evan time, from thence to the coming of Christ, gelist, “ May I not do what I will with my received a proportionable improvement: su own ?” (Matt. xx. 15,) being a full and solid that their teachers, and most seraphic adored answer to all such objections.

doctors of the law, were still ranked with 4. The fourth and last circumstance of hypocrites. For the text of Moses was used Christ's coming related to the time of it; he only to authorize a false comment, and to came to the Jews, when they were in their warrant the impiety of a perverse interpretalowest and worst condition, and that in a tion. Still for all their villainies and hypodouble respect, national and ecclesiastical. crisies they borrowed a veil from Moses ; and

1. And first upon a civil or national ac his name was quoted and pretended as a count. It was not then with them as in those glorious expedient to countenance and varnish triumphant days of Solomon, when for plenty, over well contrived corruptions: nay, and riches, and grandeur, they had little cause they proceeded so high, that those who either to make friends or to fear enemies, but vouched the authority of Moses most, denied shone as the envy and terror of all the sur the being of immaterial substances, and the rounding neighbourhood. At the best now immortality of the soul, in which is wrapt up they were but a remnant, and a piece of an the very spirit and vital breath of all religions : often scattered, conquered, and captivated and these men had formed themselves into a nation : but two tribes of twelve, and those standing and considerable sect called the under the Roman yoke, tributary and op Sadducees; so considerable, that one of them pressed, and void of any other privilege but once stepped into the high priesthood: so that only to obey, and to be fleeced quietly by whether you look upon the Sadducees or the whosoever was appointed their governor. Pharisees, they had brought the Jewish church This was their condition ; and could there be to that pass, that they “established iniquity by

a law," or, which is worse, turned the law it- state, or at least to his own unreasonable fears self into iniquity.

and suspicions: but friends strive not who Now the state of things being thus amongst shall kill, but who shall die first. If, then, the the Jews at the time of Christ's coming, it love of kindred is so small, surely the love of eminently offers to us the consideration of countrymen and neighbours can promise but these two things,

little more.

A prophet may, without the First, The invincible strength of Christ's help of his prophetic spirit, foresee that he love, that it should come leaping over such shall have but “ little honour in his own mountains of opposition, that it should country.” Men naturally malign the greattriumph over so much Jewish baseness and ness or virtue of a fellow-citizen or a domestic; villainy, and be gracious even in spite of they think the nearness of it upbraids and malice itself. It did not knock at, but even obscures them : it is a trouble to have the sun brake open their doors. Blessing and happi- still shining in their faces. ness were in a manner thrust upon them. And therefore the Jews in this followed but Heaven would have took them by force, as the common practice of men, whose emulation they should have took heaven: so that they usually preys upon the next superior in the were fain to take pains to rid themselves of same family, company, or profession. The their happiness, and it cost them labour and bitterest and the loudest scolding is for the violence to become miserable.

most part amongst those of the same street. Secondly, It declares to us the immovable In short, there is a kind of ill disposition in veracity of God's promise. For surely, if any most men, much resembling that of dogs, thing could reverse a promise, and untie the they bark at what is high and remote from bands of a decree, it would have been that them, and bite what is next. uncontrolled impiety which then reigned in the Now, in this second part of the text, in Jewish church, and that to such a degree, that which is represented the entertainment which the temple itself was profaned into a den of Christ found in the world, expressed to us by thieves, a rendezvous of hagglers and drovers, those words,“ his own received him not,” we and a place not for the sacrificing, but for the shall

consider these three things, selling of sheep and oxen. So that God might 1. The grounds upon which the Jews rejected well have forgot his promise to his people, Christ. when they had altered the very subject of the 2. The unreasonableness of those grounds, promise, and, as much as in them lay, had And, ceased to be his people.

3. The great arguments that they had to the We have here finished the first part of the contrary. text, and took an account of Christ's “coming As to the first of these. To reckon up all to his own,” and his coming through so many the pretences that the Jews allege for their obstacles : may we not therefore now expect not acknowledging of Christ, would be as to see him find a. magnificent reception, and a endless as the tales and fooleries of their rabwelcome as extraordinary as his kindness ? bies a sort of men noted for nothing more For where should any one expect a welcome, than two very ill qualities, to wit, that they if not coming to his own? And coming also are still given to invent and write lies, and not to charge, but to enrich them; not to share those such unlikely and incredible lies, that what they had, but to recover what they had none can believe them but such as write them. lost; and, in a word, to change their tempo- But the exceptions which seem to carry most rals into eternals, and bring an overflowing of reason and argument with them, are these performance and fruition to those who had two,lived hitherto only upon promise and expec First, That Christ came not as a temporal tation ; but it fell out much otherwise, “his prince. own received him not.”

Secondly, That they looked upon him as an Nor, indeed, if we look farther into the underminer and a destroyer of the law of world, sh we find this usage so very strange | Moses. or wonderful. For kindred is not friendship, 1. As for the first. It was a persuasion but only an opportunity of nearer converse, which had sunk into their very veins and which is the true cause of, and natural induce marrow; a persuasion which they built upon ment to it. It is not to have the same blood as the grand fundamental article of all their in one's veins, to have lain in the same womb, creed, that their Messiah should be a temporal or to bend the knee to the same father, but to prince, nor can any thing beat their posterity have the same inclinations, the same affections, out of it to this day. They fancied nothing and the same soul, that makes the friend. but triumphs and trophies, and all the nations Otherwise Jacob, may supplant Esau, and of the earth licking the dust before them under Esau hate and design the death of Jacob. the victorious conduct of their Messiah : they And we constantly see the grand seignior's expected such an one as should disenslave coronation purple dipped in the blood of his them from the Roman yoke; make the Senate murdered brethren, sacrificed to reason of stoop to their Sanhedrim; and the Capitol do

homage to their-Temple. Nay, and we find ward vigour and spirituality, they, whose soul the disciples themselves leavened with the was of so gross a make that it was scarce a same conceit: their minds still ran upon the spirit, presently defied him as a Samaritan and grandeurs of an earthly sovereignty, upon an impostor, and would by no means hear of

sitting at Christ's right and left hand in his such strange impracticable notions. But when kingdom,” banqueting and making merry at from refining and correcting their expositions his table, and who should have the greatest and sense of the moral law, he proceeded also office and place under him. So carnal were to foretell and declare the approaching destructhe thoughts even of those who owned Christ tion of their temple, and therewith a period to for the Messiah ; but how much more of the be put to all their rites and ceremonies, they rest of the Jews, who contemned and hated grew impatient, and could hold no longer, but him to the same degree! So that while they sought to kill him, and thereby thought that were feeding themselves with such fancies and they did God good service, and Moses too. expectations, how can we suppose that they So wonderfully, it seems, were these men conwould receive a person bearing himself for the cerned for God's honour, that they had no way Messialı, and yet in the poor habit and pro to shew it, but by rejecting his Son out of fession of a mean mechanic, as also preaching deference to his servant. to them nothing but humility, self-denial, and We have seen here the two great exceptions a contempt of those glories and temporal which so blocked up the minds and hearts of felicities, the enjoyment of which they had the Jewish nation against Jesus Christ, their made the very design of their religion? Surely true Messiah, that when he came to his own, the frustration of their hopes, and the huge his own rejected and threw him off. I come contrariety of these things to their beloved now, in the next place, preconceived notions, could not but enrage 2. To shew the weakness and unreasonthem to the greatest disdain and rejection of ableness of these exceptions. And, his person and doctrine imaginable.

First, For Christ's being a temporal monAnd accordingly it did so: for they scorned, archi, who should subdue and bring all nations persecuted, and even spat upon him, long under the Jewish sceptre. I answer, that it before his crucifixion ; and no doubt, between was so far from necessary, that it was absorage and derision, a thousand flouts were lutely impossible, that the Messiah should be thrown at him : as, What! shall we receive such an one, and that upon the account of a a threadbare Messiah, a fellow fitter to wield double supposition, neither of which, I cona saw or a hatchet, than a sceptre ? For“ is ceive, will be denied by the Jews themselves. not this the carpenter's son ?" and have we 1. The first is the professed design of his not seen him in his shop and his cottage coming, which was to be a blessing to all amongst his pitiful kindred? And can such an nations; for it is over and over declared in one be a fit person to step into the throne of Scripture, that “in the seed of Abraham," David, to redeem Israel, and to cope with all that is, in the Messiah, “all nations of the the Roman power?. No, it is absurd, unrea earth should be blessed.” But now if they sonable, and impossible : and to be in bondage mean this of a temporal blessing, as I am sure to the Romans is nobler than to be freed by they intend no other, then I demand how the hand of such a deliverer.

this can agree with his being such a prince, 2. Their other grand exception against as, according to their description, must conhim was, that he set himself against the quer all people, and enslave them to the Jews, law of Moses, their reverence to which was as “hewers of wood and drawers of water," so sacred, that they judged it the unchange as their vassals and tributaries, and, in a word, able rule of all human actions ; and that liable upon all occasions to be insulted over their Messialı at his coming was to impose by the worst conditioned people in the world? the observation of it upon all nations, and so A worthy blessing indeed, and such an one to establish it for ever : nay, and they had an as, I believe, few nations would desire to be equal reverence for all the parts of it, as well beholden to the seed of Abraham for. For the judicial and ceremonial as the moral; there is no nation or people that can need the and (being naturally of a gross and a thick coming of a Messiah to bless them in this conception of things) perhaps a much greater. manuer ; since they may bless themselves so For still we shall find them more zealous in whensoever they please, if they will but send

tithing mint, and rue, and cummin, and messengers to some of their neighbours, wiser washing pots and platters," (where chiefly and powerfuller than themselves, and declare their mind was,) than in the prime duties of their estates and country at their service, promercy and justice. And as for their beloved vided they will but come and make them sabbath, they placed the celebration of it more slaves without calling them so, by sending in doing nothing, than in doing good; and armies to take possession of their forts and rather in sitting still, than in rescuing a life, garrisons, to seize their lands, moneys, and or saving a soul : so that when Christ came to whatsoever else they have, and, in a word, to interpret and reduce the moral law to its in- l oppress, beggar, and squeeze them as dry as a

« AnteriorContinuar »