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•«f>enneJ5 of temper. which makes us the property of erary hypocritical pretender to kindness and respect *."
THE CONVERSATION «F JESUS WITH NrCODEMUS".
From jfobxy Chnf. iii.
The,'e was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus. a ruler of the jews.
, Th same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him> It we know that thou art a teacher come irom Cud . lor no man can.oo these miracles that thou doest, except God bt. with him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, veriiy, I *ay un;o thee, except a man be born again, he cannot •see the k ngdom oi God.
. KicoJeiuus saiih unto him, How can a man be boja when he is old?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Ex. cepi a man be born of wa.er, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is barn of .he flesh, is flesh; and that ivhich is born of the Spins, is spirit.
Marvel not that I said umo thee, Ye must be born again. The wind loweth where it listeth, and thoa hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How cafl the&o things be?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master ol itraci, and knowest not these things?
.. Verily, verily, I say unto you, We speak tliat we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
And rib man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must,the Son of .Man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal life. , 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his onlybegotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be 'saved.
He that believeth in him is not condemned: but he that believeth not, is condemned already; because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one tnat doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrim, who being alarmed, as many of his brethren were, at the success of our Lord's ministry, and astonished at the miracles he wrought, made him a visit in person, that he might more distinctly be informed of the nature of his doctrine, and of the intent of his coming; but, lest he should incur the censure of the Jewt, by conversing openly with Jesus, Nicodemus came secretly in the night, to hold a private conference with him; when he addressed our Lord with the greatest reverence and respect, confessing that hii miracles proved, beyond -disi pute, that he acted by divine authority.
That Nicodemus might not think the acknowledging him "to be sent from God" was sufficient, our Lord told him, that no man could become a member of the Messiah's kingdom without having a new birth; that he must be born of Water and of the Spirit, in order to be cleansed from the defilement of original sin. Here was an evident allusion to the Sacrament of Baptism. Nicodemus was surprised to hear that it was necessary for Jews to be baptized. It was customary, indeed. for those Gentiles who were received into the Jewish church, to "undergo this ceremony, at which time they renounced their heathen relations, and it was usual to say of them, that "they were born again;" but for the descendants of Abrahara, whom he iilready regarded as the Sons a/God, to be washed with water, as if they were to be initiated into a new religion, he could not reconcile with the notions he entertained respecting God's Cove. »Mf with that people. Our Saviour told him, that the jjrivileges of a member of the kingdom of heaven were
Vol. V. E not not such things as a man can inherit by natural descent, but of a spiritual nature; that the new religion he came to teach, consisted in assuming a new and heavenly disposition, in consequence of an inward conviction of mind that it was agreeable to the will of God; that this inward conviction of mind was derived from the operation of the Holy Spirit, which, like the wind, was invisible, except in its effects.: .. .i.'.•
Our Lord did not.at that time enter into an explanation of the spiritual things taught by Moses and the Prophets, with which Nicodemus, as a man of learning and an expounder of the Scriptures, ought to have been well acquainted; but assured him, from his own knowledge, that what he now asserted was certainly true, howerer improbable it might seem.
Our Lord then observed, that if the first principles of the Gospel appeared, to Nicodemus so hard to.be understood, he would find it still more difficult to believe the sublimer truths of it, which none could make known but the San of God. Our Lord did not pretend to say, that, as he had ever ascended up into heaven to gain the knowledge he now possessed; but declared, that the divine nature, or (as we may understand from ;i former section) the Word. came down from heaven to dwell in human nature. To shew that the whole scheme of Redemption-was known to him, and ;to* point out the exceeding love-of "god, our 'lord added, that notwithstanding the Messiah wasrso peculiarly sanctified by the Word, yet his body would be lifted up like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, but for a more extensive purpose; since not only Jews, but all persons, of whatever nation, who should believe him to be the onlj Son S/god, might obtain everlasting life; that God's gracious design in thus sending
, -the the Messiah into the world, was to save mankind, wh» would otherwise have continued in death through their sins. In order farther to engage the attention of Ni. codemus to these sublime truths, our Loud added, that those who would not accept these gracious term* of salvation would be justly condemned: for they. were such as none, but persons whose' minds were perverted. by vicious prejudices, could resist; who, "conscious. that their actions would not bear examination, -refused to be instructed:; choosing rather to continue in fheit wickedness than submit to be taught the way to reform their conduct. *• .' -ft' .,
The discourse of'our Loan-'-•with Nieodernus tyas particularly designed to remove the prejudices which b« knew the Jews would conceive against his doctrine; but it concerns Christians also, since it teaches, that being baptized with water, and externally demoted to God, is not alone sufficient to entitle any onfe to the privileges of a member of the kingdom of heaven, with-. out a heavenly disposition, an<2 the'sanetification of the Holy Spirit. Lctus, therefore, earnestly pray-for God's grate, which, by nature, we cannot have, and endeavour, with unremitting diligence, to learn ourdutyj and,when wehave learned it, let us practise it with cheeri. fulness, not doubting but that God. for the sake of our faith in his beirvid Son, and ibedience to his Lnwst will make us partakers of everlasting Salvation, --,, •t
; ' SECTION XXIII.'
THE LAST TESTIMONY OF JOHN, AND HIS IWPRli SONMENT,
From John, Chap. iii.
. -afti* these things came Jesus and his discipres into E 2 the