« AnteriorContinuar »
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 SP1 R1T, which, like the wind,
was invisible, except in its effects. • * , Our Lord did not at that time cnter 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,
however improbable it might seem. . . Our Lo Rd 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 Son of God. Our Loko did not pretend to say, that, as stay, he had ever ascended up into heaven to gain the know, ledge he now possessed; but declared, that the divine nature, or (as we may understand from a former section) the Wo R D, 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 Gö 9, our Lord added, that notwithstanding the Mir'ss 1A H was so Peculiarly sanctified by the Wood, yet his body would be lified up like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, but for a more extensive purpose; since pot only Jews, but all persons, of whatever nation, who should believe him to be the only Son of God, might obtain everlasting life; that God’s gracious design in thus sending , the the Messi AH into the world, was to save mankind, whe would otherwise have continued in death through their sins. In order farther to engage the attention of Nicodemus to these sublime truths, our Lord added, that those who would not accept these gracious terms of salvation would be justly condemned: for they were such as none, but persons whose minds were perverted by vicious prejudices, could resist; who, äconscious. that their actions would not bear examination, refused to be instructed; choosing rather to continue in their wickedness than submit to be taught the way to reform. their conduct. * - - - - ,
The discourse of our Lord with Nicodemus was particularly designed to remove the prejudices which he knew the Jews would conceive against his doctrine; but it concerns Christians also, since it teaches, that being baptized with water, and externally devoted to God, is not alone sufficient to entitle any one to the privileges of a member of the kingdom of heaven, with. out a heavenly disposition, and the sanctification of the Holy Sri RIT. Let us, therefore, earnestly pray for God's grace, which, by nature, we cannot have, and endeavour, with unremitting diligence, to learn our duty; and, when we have learned it, let us practise it with cheer. fulness, not doubting but that Go D, for the sake of our faith in his beloved Sox, and obedience to his Laws, will make us partakers of everlasting salvatios. “ .*
- . .
After these things came Jesus and his disciples into F 2 the
the land of Judea, and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Enon, near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison. . Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews, about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven, Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the CH R1st, but I am sent before him. He that hath the bride, is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above, is above all : he that is of the earth, is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven, is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth ; and no mao receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal, that God is true. For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of . God : for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life;
and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. Now Herod the tetrarch had married Herodias, his brother Philip's wife : and John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him, but she could not. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. But Herod himself laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
* Soon after his baptism, Jesus began to call disciples, who, under his immediate commission, baptized the people in Judea unto repentance and belief in the doctrine of CH R1st, as John did before, and even at that very time. This brought on a comparison between the Baptist and our Saviour: for though there was such an agreement in their doctrines, some through ignorance were ready to oppose them to each other. John's disciples having had a dispute with some of the Jews, on this subject, complained to their master. This furnished the Baptist with an occasion, before his own ministry expired, of bearing testimony to Jesus in the actual exercise of his prophetical office. The answer which John returned to his disciples, strongly implied the exalted sense he entertained of the person of our Lord.
* In my Annotations on the history of John the Baptist, I have borrowed very freely from a valuable set of Sermons, published in the year 1782, preached before the University of Oxford, by the . Rev. Robert Holmes, at Bampton's Lecture. *s
He reminded them, that he never pretended to be the Mess IAH, but only his harbinger; assured them, that: the success of Jesus and himself were both given from above in just proportion to their different offices; that he rejoiced in the honour and happiness of CH R1ST, as a friend who assists at a marriage-feast partakes of the happiness of the bridegroom. John then proceeded to instruct his disciples concerning the divine nature of the MEssi AH, and taught them to consider him as the Son of God, who, as the Word, came down from heaven, and spake what he had actually seen and heard, though the greatest part of mankind would not believe him ; those who did, bare witness to the truth of God, who, by sending the Mess IAH, had fulfilled his promises.. And they likewise expressed their faith in the declaration which God made concerning Jesus at his baptism, that he was his beloved Son, and as such infinitely superior to all the teachers who had ever before appeared on the earth; for the highest of these had, like the Baptist himself, only occasional revelations from God ; but the Holy SP1R1T, which had at times inspired them, remained constantly with Jesus. John then informed his disciples, that whoever should give up his faith and obedience to CHRIST, would be in the way to obtain everlasting life; but whosoever should reject him, would continue under the wrath of God for their former sins, and be excluded the salvation he had graciously offered to mankind through his beloved Son, to whom God had committed the government of all things, and through whom he H IMs el F acted. Soon after John had deli. vered this remarkable testimony, he was cast into prison,
and his ministry expired. As the Baptist certainly spake by divine inspiration, and what he taught to his own disciples has, by the goodIlêSS