Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

believers, and the happy effects which they should produce in the world. The faculty of speakiug all the different languages on earth fluently, which was the first gift of the Spirit, qualifying them to preach such doctrines as the Spirit revealed to them, they were both watered themselves, and in a condition to water the Gentiles, not with small streams, but with large rivers of divine knowledge ; and so the land which, till then, had been barren, was, from that time forth, to be exceeding fruitful in righteousness to God. Accordingly the evangelist adds, by way of explication, But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive : for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified. The gifts of illumination and utterance were not yet coinmunicated to believers, being what they received on the day of Pentecost, to fit them for converting the world. Nevertheless, if the universality of the invitation and promise inclines the reader to think that, on this occasion, our Lord had the ordinary influences of the Spirit also in his eye, the evana gelists remark, that the Holy Ghost was not yet given, will not exclude them ; because, even these might, at that time, be said not to have been given, as they had been given but sparingly, in comparison of the plentiful distribution which was to be made of them to all believers after Christ's ascension. Accordingly, the ordinary influences of the Spirit are often, in scripture, represented as the consequences and reward of faith. [Gal. iii. 14. Eph. i. 12.7

While Jesus was discoursing on this subject, the officers, who had been sent by the council, came to apprehend him; but, being struck with the topic on which he was discoursing, and the energy with which he delivered his ideas, they thought proper to hear him awhile, before they proceeded to the execution of their office. After having listened for a while, they were either so oyerawed by his majesty, or so filled with love for the benevolence of his character, that they desisted from theirpurpose ; and, returning to their employers, instead of presenting them with a prisoner, gave it as their decided opinion, that never man spake like this man, Then answered The Pharisees, are ye, who have the advantage of a liberal education, and whom we always supposed to be men of sound understanding, also deceived ? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people, these foolish and ignor* 10 followers of Jesus, who know not the law, are accursed. On this occasion, Nicodemus, who had visited Jesus by night, and who still retained a veneration for his character, attempted his defence by asking his brethren, whether their law authorized them to condemn a man before his guilt is proyed. The only answer they returned, was to ask him whether he was one of this wretched Galilean faction, and to request him to search and look ; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. By this, they either meant no Messiab, or else were carried away by the heat of their passion, so as to forget that with which they must have been acquainted ; for Jonah was of Gath-hapher, a town of Galilee. But be this as it will, such blind judges were these masters of law. and learning, that an argument which had no force against Jesus, who was actually. born in Bethlehem, wéighed a great deal more with them than all the solid proofs by which he so fully established his inission. To conclude : the council separated ; and Jesus, having perfect knowledge of their designs, went to lodge in the inpunt of Olives, that he might be out of their reach.

Early next morning Jesus returned to the temple; and, as usual, taught in the temple. But while he was thus employed, the scribes and Pharisees set a woman before him that had been taken in the act of adultery ; and, standing round him, desired his opinion in the affair. The evangelist says, the Pharisees desired our Lord's. opinion in this matter with au insidious intention. John viii. 6.] This they said, kempting him, that they might have to accuse him. Probably, the Romans had modelled: the laws of Judea according to the jurisprudence of Rome; and, in particular, bad mitigated the severity of the punishment of the adultress, Wherefore, if Jesus should say that the law of Moses ought to be executed on this adultress, the Pharisees hoped the people would stone her immediately, which would aftord them an opportunity of accusing him before the governor as a mover of sedition ; but if he determined that the innovations practised by the Romans should take place, they resolved to represent nim to the people as one who made void the law out of complaisance to their heathen masters. This, their craft and wickedness, Jesus fully knew, and regulated his conduct towards these depraved hypocrites accordingly ; for he made them no answer. Perhaps there were in this woman some circumstances tending to alleviate her guilt, which might be known to Jesus, as well as the wickedness of her accusers' characters, However, he thought it proper on this, as on all other occasions, to decline the office of a civil magistrate ; and therefore proposed to her prosecutors, that he that was without sin among them should cast the first stone. And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last. When Jesus lift up himself and saw none but the wornan, he said unto her, woman, where are those thine accusers ? hath no man condemned thee, and begun thy punishment by casting the first stone? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.

He then addressed himself to the multitude, saying, I am the light of the world, the spiritual sun that dispels the darkness of ignorance and sin. He that followeth one shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life : that clear knowledge of God, which shall guide him to eternal felicity. The Pharisees, therefore, said unto him, thou bearest record of thyself, thy record is not true ; alluding, perhaps, to what he had said John vii. 18. Jesus answered and said unto them, though I bear record of myself my record is true ; for I know whence I canie, and whither I go : but ye cannot tell me whence I came and whither I go : though I call myself the light of the world, ye are not to imagine that I do it from a spirit of pride and falsehood. I gave myself the title for no other reason but because it truly belongs to me ; and that it dces so, yourselves would acknowledge, if you knew as well as I do by what authority I act, for wliat end I am come, and to whom I must return after I have executed my commission. But these things you are entirely ignorant of; nor can it be otherwise, in regard that ye judge after the ficsh ; I judge no man : ye judge of me according to outward appearances, and condemn me for this, among other things, that I judge no man. You tlrink that I cannot be the Messiah, because I do not destroy those who oppose me, as you imagine the Messiah will do ; but in this you are altogether mistaken ; for the design of the Messiah's coming is not to destroy, but to save mankind. And yet if I judge, iny judgment is true, i. e. just, equitable : for I am not alone, but my heavenly Father has constantly accompanied me with his presence and assistance. Herein I act in perfect conformity with what is written in your law ; for it is there said, that the testimony of two men is true. For I am one that bear witness of myself, not by words only, but by all the actions of my life, which accord fully with the character of the Messiah ; and the Father beareth witness of me by the miracles which he has enabled me to perform. Then said they unto him Where is thy Father ? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me nor iny Father ; for if ye had known me to be the true. Messiah, ye should have known, that niy Father, whom I have mentioned, is no other than the eternal God.

These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple ; and though that place was much crowded, no man laid hands on him, for his hour was not yet come. Then satd Jesus unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek.-mie, and shall die in your sins. Whither I go ye cannot come. Then said the Jews, will he hiu himself! because he saith, whither I go ye cannot come. · And he said unto them, ye are froin below; I am from above : ye are of this world; I am not of this world. Such'a vile insinuation evidently shews what sort of persons ye are, and from whence ye have derived your original. Being from the earth, ye are obnoxious to all the evil passions wherewith human nature is infested.; and, from what you feel in yourselves, you fancy that I am capable of murdering myself. But your thought is fuolish, as is evident from this, that, being actuated by no evil passion, I canrnt have the least temptation to commit co gross an act of wickedness. My extraction is heavenly, and my mind püré ; and therefore I cannot be guilty of self-murder, or of any other sin whatever. I said, therefore, unto you, that ye shall die in your sins : because ye are from below, and are full of evil inclinations, they will hinder you from believing, and consequently expose you to perdition ; for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Then said they unto him, who art thou ? Jesus saith unto them, even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of you ; but he that sent me is true, and I speak to the world those things. which I have heard of him. I have many reproois to give you, and a severe sentence of condemnation to pass upon you ; but I shall wave them all for the present, and telt you only this one thing, that he who sent me is true, and that I speak to the world nothing but what I have received from him, however disagreeable these things may be to persons of your wicked disposition. They were, however, so stupid, that they understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesús unto them, when ye have lift up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. When yenave crucified me, ye shall both know who I am, and who my Father is. The miracles accompanying my death, my resurrection, the effusion of the Spirit on my disciples, and the destruction of your nation, shall demonstrate that I am the light of the world, and that I do nothing by my own authority, but by my Fnther's direce. tion ; speaking such doctrines only as he has commissioned me to teach. And he that hath sent me is with me : the Father hath not left me alone, for. I do always those things.. that please him. As he spake these words many believed on him; believed him to be the Messiah. It would seem that, by the lifting of him up, which he said would convince them that he was Messiah, they did not understand his crucifixion, but his exaltation to the throne and kingdom of David. Hearing him, therefore, speak of a temporal kingdom, as they supposed, they began pow to think he entertained sentiments. worthy of Messiah, and, on that account, acknowledged him as such, believing the doctrine he had delivered concerning his mission.

Jesus knowing that the thoughts and views of those who now believed on him were, for the most part, carnal, judged it proper to undeceive them. Then said Jesus to: those Jews who believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ys iny disciples, indeed ; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, not only from the slavery and consequences of sin, but also from the ceremonial performances enjoined by Moses. It may here be remarked, that a sense of just and regular civil liberty bas been more widely diffused by the propagation of the Christian religion: than by any other cause; and it has ever been found, that those who are the most devoted to the doctrines and precepts of genuine Christianity, have been the warmest well-wishers to the temporal happiness of mankind. They answered, we are Abrahani's seed, and were never in bondage to any man. They could not mean temporal bondage, as they were now iu subjection to the Romans ; but a freedom from spiritual bondage frora the idolatry of the surrounding nations, was what they here asserted. They were

they said,

i sentiments in religios and Botion of the Syrian king

ever would them and

they said, the descendants of a noble and illustrious stock, that, during the worst times, had preserved sentiments in religioa and goveroment worthy of the posterity of Abraham ; and had not, by the hottest persecution of the Syrian kings, been compelled to embrace heathenism. In respect of truth, we were never in bondage to any man ; how sayest thou then, ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin : there are no greater slaves than those who give themselves up to a vicious course of life, and to the gratification of their sinful appetites. And the servant abideth, not in the house for ever ; but the Son abideth for ever.. As a slave may be at any time turned out of the family when his master shall think fit, so my Father can, when he pleases, turn you out of his family, and deprive you of the outward economy of religion, in which you glory; because, by your sins, and especially your unbelief, you have made yourselves bonds-. men to his justice: whereas, if, by believing in his son, you are made partakers of liberty, you will be sure of ever remaining in the family, being the heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. I know that ye are Abrahani's seed by natural descent; but ye seek to kill me, and thus evidently prove that ye are not his children in a spiritual sense, because my word hath no place in you. If ye were the spiritual progeny of Abraham, ye would resemble that great and good man in his righteousness; and therefore, instead of seeking to take the life of one who is come to you from God, with a revelation of his will, ye would believe on him in imitation of Abraham, who, for his faith in all the divine revelations, and his obedience to all the divine commands, however hard they were to flesh and blood, was ennobled with the grand titles of the father of the faithful, and the friend of God. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they unto him, we are not born of fornication ; they have not broken the marriage covenant between the Jewish nation and the Almighty by idolatry ; we have one father, even God. Jesus said unto them, if God were your father, ye would love me ; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech ? even because ye cannot, from the obstinacy of your prejudices, hear my word with any intention to obey it. Ye inherit the nature of your father the devil, and therefore ye will gratify the lusts wbich ye have derived from him : he was the enemy and murderer of mankind from the beginning ; and, ever since, has endeavoured to work their ruin, sometimes by seducing them into sin with his lies, and sometimes by instigating them to kill those whom God sends to reclaim them. Withal, having early departed from holiness and truth, a habit of lying is become perfectly natural to him. Wherefore, being a liar, and the father of it, i. e. the first and greatest liar, when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh what is proper to himself. And ye, his children, disbelieve me ; because, instead of soothing you in your sins, and flattering you with lies, I tell you the truth, which, like your father, you are utterly averse to. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Is there any of you able to -shew that I have not received my commission from God, or that I have done any thing to render me unworthy of belief? If you cannot, but must acknowledge that my doctrine and wife are such as become a messenger of God, what is the reason that you do not believe me ? He that is of God heareth God's words, and obeys them with pleasure. Ye therefore hear theni not, because ye are not the children of God.

Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, said we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil ? alluding to what they said Johu vii. 20. Thou who callest the children of Abraham the children of the devil, art a most profligate wretch, and either raving mad, or thou must be instigated by some evil spirit to speak as thou dost. Jesus answered, I have not a devil ; but I honour my Father, and ye dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that secketh and judgeth. I am neither

only, tell you

by the descent of his durably of me, by the miracles

pad, nor actuated by a devil ; but I honour my Father by speaking the words of truth, which he has sent me to deliver, and therefore ye defame me. Verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man keep my sayings he shall never see death, i. e. experience that everlasting punishment which is called the second death. Then said the Jews unto him, now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets, and thou sayest, If a man keep my sayings he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead, and the prophets are dead, whom makest thou thyselj"? Jesus ansz'ered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing. If I should speak in praise of myself, you would call it vain and foolish, and say to me as the Pharisees did lately, “thou bearest record of thyself, thy record is not true." Wherefore, instead of giving a full description of my dignity, I shall only tell you that it is my Father that speaketh honourably of me, by the miracles which he enables me to perform, by the descent of his Spirit upon me at my baptism, and by his voice uttered from heaven, declaring me to be his beloved Son. This, I think, may be sufficient to convince you that I am able to do for my disciples what I said, especially when I tell you farther, that my Father is he whom this nation pretends to worship as its God. It is my Father that honoureth me, of whom ye say that he is your God. Yet ye have not known him ; but I know him; and if I should say I know him not, I should be a liar like unto you : but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced, or, as it may be translated, earnestly desired to see my day; and, by the particular favour of a divine revelation, he saw it, and was glad. Then said. the Jews unto him, thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham ? Understanding what he said in a natural sense, they thought he affirmed that he lived in the days of Abraham, which they took to be ridiculous nonsense, as he was not arrived at the age of fifty ; for they had no conception of his divinity, notwithstanding he bad told them several times that he was the Son of God. Jesus, therefore, finding them thus stupid and perverse, asserted his own dignity yet more plainly, Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am. Then they took up stones to cast at him, as a blasphemer ; but he rendered himself invisible, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passcd by unhurt.

As Jesus and his disciples were fleeing from the Jews, they found a blind beggar in one of the streets of the city, who, to move people's compassion, told them he was born in that miserable condition. The disciples, on hearing this, asked their Master whether it was the man's own sin, or the sin of his parents, which had occasioned his blindness from the womb. - It seems, the Jews, having derived from the Egyptians the doctrines of the pre-existence and transmigration of souls, supposed that men were punished in this world for the sins they had committed in their pre-existent state. Jesus informed them that this man had entered the world in this distressed condition. not in consequence of his own sins, or of those of his parents, but that the perfections of God might be displayed in him, particularly referring to his recovery, which he was now going to effect. He also intimated, that, as he had but little time more to spend in this world, it was necessary that he should fill it up with diligence, preparing their minds, by this hint, for his performing on the sabbath-day what might appear a servile work, and, as such, be deemed unlawful. And because he was going to confer sight on a wan that was born blind, he took occasion from thence to speak of himseif as one appointed to give sight likewise unto the darkened minds of men. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the worid. Perhaps our Lord, hv calling himself the light of the world, insinuated also to his disciples that they miglit safely have believed the lawfulness of the action though they had no other evidence

« AnteriorContinuar »