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him, he is to be considered as an incorrigible sinner, whose company and conversatioif, being contagious, ought to be shunned by all who have any love of goodness : but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an leathen man and a publican. Next Jesus conferred on his disciples in general the power of binding and loosing, which he had formerly honoured Peter with singly: In the former grant, the power of binding and loosing had respect to nothing but doctrine. Whatever Peter declared lawful and unlawful, should be held so ly heaven : whereas here, it relates, not 10 doctrine only, but to discipline also. If, by their admonition, whether public or private, the apostles brought their brethren to repentance, they loosed the guilt of their sins, the fetters by which divine justice detains men its prisoners ; or, as it is expressed in the preceding verse, they gained their brethren, i. e. saved them from perisbiog. On the other hand, if the offending brother continued impenitent after the methods prescribed were all tried, they bound his guilt the faster upon him; because, according to the laws of heaven, the method of salvation, which they were to preach by inspiration, none but penitents shall obtain pardov.
Fartlver to encourage good men to be very earnest in their endeavours to bring sinners to repentance, he assured then, that if they prayed to God for it, he would hear them, provided it was agreeable to the wise ends of his providence. Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him ? till seven times ? Jesus saith, I say not unto thee till seven times, but until seventy times seven. This excellent morality he illustrated by the parable of the two servants, debtors to one Lord; in which is shown the necessity of forgiving the greatest injuries in every case, where the offending party is sensible of his fault, and promises amendment, a necessity of the strongest kind arising from this law of the divine governinent, that it is the condition upon which God forgives our offences against himn. There fore the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants : because I order you to forgive all who repent of the injuries they have done
you, therefore the method in which you are to be treated by me at the last day, if you refuse forgiveness, may be represented by the behaviour of a certain king towards his servants, when he took account of them. And when he had began to rickon, or inspect their accounts, one was brought unto him, probably his steward or treasurer, who, having had the management of his revenue, owed him uo less than ten thousund talents, that is, upwards of one million, eight hundred and seventy thousand pounds sterling; and who, upon enquiry, was found to bave nothing. Wherefore, as it plainly appeared, by his having run through such vast sunes, that he had been boti negligent and extravagant, his lord ordered the law to be executed against him. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. Not that the value of him and his family, and effects, was any way equal to the debt, but as a punisbment of his wickedness ; for, on any other supposition, it is hard to conceive how his lord, whose humanity and goodness was so great, came to take such a rigorous measure ; especially as the advantage thence accruing to himself must have been but a trifle in comparison of his loss. The steward thus being put in mind of his debt, and threatened with the execution of the law, durst neither deny it nor make light of it, as many do who are admonished with respect to their sins : for the accounts were at hand, and the officers had laid bold of him to bind him. In great perplexity, therefore, he fell down on įthe ground, and besought his lord, witổ many tears, to have patience, promising to pay the whole debt. The confusion he was in made him say this without consideration; for the debt which he owed was a sum by far too great for one advanced in years, as he was, and who had nothing, ever to think of acquiring. However, bis
ford, being of an exceeding generous and merciful disposition, was touched with his distress, and had compassion on him, and ordered him to be loosed. Then thc lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt, that is, did not insist on present payment ; for he afterwards exacted the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants which owed him an hundred pence; and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, pay me that thou owest. The Roman penny, or denarius, which is here spoken of, being in value about seven-pence halfpenny of our money, the whole sum that was due to him did not much exceed three pounds sterling. Therefore, his craving this trifle in so rough a manner immediately on coming out of the palace where so much lenįty had been shewed to him, in a matter of far greater importance, manifested the very basest disposition in the man. Though this poor man's creditor was a fellow-servant, and consequently no more than his equal in rank, he humbly fell down at his feet, and, with the same earnestness, entreated him, as he had done his lord, making him a promise of payment ; which there was not only a possibility, but a probability of his performing. Nevertheless, the other forgetting the much greater mercy that had been 80 lately shewn to himself in the like circumstances, by their common master, was insolent and inexorable, and would not wait a mosent, but went immediately and cast the man into prison. Such inhumanity so much allicted his fellow-servants, that they came and informed their lord of the transaction. Then his lord, after he called him, said unto him, Othou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, the vast sums thou owedst, because thou desiredst me; should not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee. And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors for the punishment of his unpardonable cruelty, till he should pay all that was due unto bim.
As our Lord said, concerning the love of God and our neighbour, that on it depended both the law and the prophets ; so it may be observed, that this parable contains the substance of the evangelical and apostolical doctrines. Here we discover the enormity of human guilt, the sovereignty and freedom of God's meihod of pardoning, and the awful punishment which is desigued for such as, svile ihey claim the divine pardon for themselves, refuse to bestow their mercy on the children
After delivering the parable of the servants debtors, our "Lord went into Judca, travelling through that country which is on the other side Jordan ; and he was followed by great multitudes, who experienced the benefits of his teaching, and the efficacy of his miracles. It is supposed by some, that he was now gone up to the passover,
and that this was the fourth which was celebrated during his ministry. The first
The first passover, agrecable to this hypothesis, was that in which our Lord purged the temple, as recorded in the second chapter of John. He is supposed to have been at Jerusalem on occasion of the second, when he cured the infirm man at the pool of Bethesda. The third took place after he had passed through the cities and villages (Mark vi. 56.]; and before he had that controversy with the scribes and Pharisees concerning eating with unwasher hands. The fourth we have just now mentioned : and the fifth was that at which he himself was offered up as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
From this time, to the feast of tabernacles, no events are recorded ; a festival which the law ordained to begin at the fifteenth day of the seventh month, answering to our Septen.ber and October ; so that it happened at the end of the former, or in the begiảning of the latter. During the continuance of the solemnity, the males of the Jewish naiion, that were fit to travel, dwelt at jerusalem in tents, or tabernacles,
made of the boughs of trees, in commemoration of their fathers having dwelt in tabernacles of this kind for the space of forty years in the wilderness. A little while before the feast, Jesus being in Galilee, whither he had returned from the fourth passover, some of his kinsmen, who had not as yet believed on him, desired him to go up to the approaching solemnity, and shew himself. As they did not believe on him, they condemned him in their own minds, and said that he acted altogether absurdly in passing so much of his time in Galilee, and the other remote corners of the country, while he pretended to so public a character as that of Messiah : that it would be much more for his interest to make disciples in Jerusalem and Judea, the seat of power ; and that he ought to work his miracles there, as publicly as possible, before the great and learned men of the nation, whose decision in his favour would have great influence to induce others to believe on him. But Jesus, knowing the malicc of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, did not incline to be among them longer than was absolutely necessary, lest they might have taken away his life prematurely. He therefore told them, his time of going up to the feast was not yet come ; but that they, as being in perfect friendship with the world, might go whenever they pleased. However, when the bulk of the people had gone up, he went up, as it were, privately, that is, probably, neither preaching nor performing miracles by the way.
As he did not appear openly on his arrival at Jerusalem, his enemies charged him with being a deceiver, who neglected the commandments of Moses ; and his friends did not dare to defend him openly, for fear of exposing themselves to the persecution of the Jews. At length, about the middle of the feast, Jesus came into the temple, and preached many important doctrines of true religion, with such strength, of reason, clearness of method, and elegance of expression, that his enemies themselves were astonished, knowing that he had not the advantage of a liberal education. But he informed them, that the doctrine which he taught was not derived from
any human instruction, but from the immediate inspiration of God. (John vii. 17.] If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. Good men can easily judge of any teacher whether he and his doctrine come from God; not only because the divine wisdom and goodness are interested to secure such from capital errors, but because they themselves have no predominant evil inclination to prejudice them against the truth when it appears; and because they can discern how far any doctrine is conformable to the principles of virtue which they possess. Hence, if one teaches what makes for the advancement of his own worldly interest, or for the gratification of his pride, or any other evil passion, the doers of the will of God will immediately know that such a teacher is an impostor. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory, whereas, if a prophet proposes doctrines which have a tendency to reform men, and to advance the glory of God, without regard to the opinion of the world, or to his own interest, he must certainly be sent of God, and should not, by any means, be suspected of im posture: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is truc, and no unrighteousness is in him : no falsehood, no design, to deceive the world. Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law ? why go ye about to kill me? There is a remarkable beauty in the sudden turn of the sentiment. Some of the Jews called Jesus a false prophet, because, on the sabbath, he had healed the paralytic who lay in one of the porticos of Bethesda, pretending that it was a gross violation of the law of Moses, which no good man, far less a prophet, would be guilty of. In answer to these surmiscs, he told thera plainly, that however much they pretended to reverence the authority of Moses in his law, they made no 'scruple to violate the most sacred of his precepts ; they had entered into the resolution of murdering him, directly contrary to every Jaw of God and man; and, for the same end, were laying secret plots against his life. This reproof came in with singular propriety and force, immediately after Jesus had, by the most convincing arguments, proved his mission from God. (John vii. 20.] The people answered and said, thou hast a devil; either thou art mad, or thou art actuated by the malice of the devil; who goeth about to kill thee? Jesus answered, and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel : I have done a miracle of an extraordinary kind on the sabbath, which ye think incons stent with the character of a good man, and therefore ye wonder how I have performed it; but I can easily vindicate my character by an argument which it is ng in your power to gainsay. Moses, therefore, gave unto zou circumcision, the law of circumcision, not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers,) and ye on the sabbath circumcise a man. The sentence should be constructed thus : and on the sabbath-day ye cir. cumcise a man, not because it is a precept of Moses only, but of the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If a man, on the sabbath-day, receivc circumcision, that the law of Moscs should not be broken ; are ye angry with me because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath-day ; because I have made a whole man, or the whole of a man sound on the sabbath-day? Since ye think yourselves bound to dispense with the strict observation of the sabbath, for the sake of another precept which is only of a ceremonial nature ; how can ye be angry with me, because, in pursuance of the great end of all of the divine laws, I have cured a man who was infirm in all his members ; and that with far less bodily labour than you perform the ceremony of circumcision, and cure the wound that is made by it ? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Consider the nature of the things, and judge impartially, without regard to your own prejudices, or to the superstition of your teachers.
Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he whom they seek to kill ? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? The inhabitants of Jerusalem, always Christ's bitter enemies, asked, with surprize and irony, if our Lord's boldness, and the silence of the rulers, proceeded from their having acknowledged him as the Messiah. At the same time, in derision of his pretensions, they added, [John vii. 27.] Howbeit we know this man whence he is : i. e. we know his parents and relations ; but wher . Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is, alluding to the obvious popular sense of Isa. liji. 8, “ who shall declare his generation ?”
Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and whence I am; and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. Though you pretend to know me, and whence I am, it does not follow that I am destitute of the prophetical characters of Messiah, and an impostor come to you of my own accord.' I am really sent to you by God, who is true in all the prophecies he uttered by his servants concerning Messiah, for they are all fulfilled in me ; but you are wholly 'ignorant of his blessed perfections and gracious counsels, and have no inclination to obey his will. But I linow him : for I am from him, aud he hath sent me. Were you acquainted with what the prophets have said concerning Messiah, as you pretend to be, you would know this to be one of his principal characters, that he is to understand the perfections and will of God more fully, and to explain them unto men more clearly than any messenger from God ever did before. Withal, by c?psidering the nature of my doctrine, you would see this character remarkably fulfi'led in me, and thereby would he sensible that I am from God, and that he hath sem mo.
This defence did not pacify his enemies ; for some of them would gladly have apo
prehended him ; however, none of them had the courage to lay hands on him, being restrained by providence, because the season of his sufferings was not yet come. In the mean time, the miracle which he had lately performed on the infirm man was so great and so well known, and his defence, by which he justified himself, so clear and so convincing, that many of the people believed on him, publicly affirming that he was Messiah. The attachment of the common people to Jesus greatly incensed the chief priests and Pharisees, with all their adherents; and therefore, on the last and great day of the feast, being met in council, they sent their officers to apprehend him, and bring him before them, thinking to confute his pretensions and punish him.
While these things were doing in the council, Jesus was preaching to the people concerning the improvement which it became them to make of his ministry among them. Then Jesus saith unto them, yet a little while I am with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. My ministry among you is drawing towards a conclusion, you ought, therefore, while it lasts, to make the best possible improvement of it, particularly you should listen to my sermons with great attention; for after that I am gone, you shall carnestly desire my presence, but shall not obtain it. Ye shall seck me and shall wit find me. This expectation of the Messiah was general through the nation, during the calamities of Judca, occasioned by Titus and his armies, and has continued among the Jews ever since, but to no purpose ; for though many deceivers have arisen, the only true Messiah has performed his work, and entered into his glory. This ascent to the celestial world is intimated by the following passage, and where I am ye cannot come, ye cannot arrive at heaven in your present state of impenitence and unbelief. Not entering into his meaning, they said among themselves, whither will he go that we shall not find bim? Will he go to our dispersed brethren, to teach them and the Gentiles among whom they reside? Yet, as we could eren then find the place of his retirement, this saying, let us take it however we may, is unintelligible and absurd.
It is commonly supposed, that while Jesus was thus discoursing in the temple on the last and great day of the feast, the water from Siloam was brought into the women's court with the usual solemnities, according to the directions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariab, if we may believe the Jewish writers. Part of this water they drank with loud acclamations, in commemoration of the mercy shewed to their fathers, who were relieved by the miracle of a great stream of water made te gush out of a rock, when the nation was ready to die with thirst in a sandy desert, where was neither river nor spring; a part of it they poured out as a drink-offering, which they accompanied with prayers to Almighty God for a plentiful rain to fall at the following seed-time ; the people, in the mean time, singing the passage, (Isa. xii. 3.) With joy shall yc draw water out of the wells of salration. Jesus, whose custom it was to raise moral instructions from seusible occurrences, took this opportunity of inviting, in the most solemn and affectionate manner, all who were in pursuit, whether of knowledge or happiness, to come unto him and drink, in allusion to the rite they were then em · ployed about. By coming to him and hirinking, he meant believing on him : and to encourage them, he promised them the gifts of his Spirit, which he represented under the image of a river flowing from their belly, to express the efficacy and perpetuity of these gifts, together with the divine pleasure which they produce by quenching the desires of those who possess them, and fructifying others who come within their influence. The flowing of rivers of water out of the believer's belly, is an idea taken from receptacles round springs, out of which great quantities of water flow by pipes. This figure, therefore, represented the plenitude of spiritual gifts to be possessed by