« AnteriorContinuar »
and this his knowledge was accompanied with zeal; he was a burning light in his doctrine, and a shining lamp in his conversation; he had the light of knowledge in bis head, the warmth of zeal in his heart, and the influence of both in his life. Learn hence, 1. That those whom God calls to the office and work of the ministry, he furnishes with abilities and endowments suitable to their great employments; he endows them with a light of knowledge, which is animated by the heat and warmth of zeal. 2. That ministerial gifts and abilities are not bestowed alike upon all, but dispensed variously. All are lights according to their measure, but all are not equally burning and shining lights for proportion and degree. 3. That the brightest burning, and clearest shining lights in the church of Christ, have bat their time in this world; they are subject, as well as other men, to the common condition of mortality, and the lamps of their lives burn out the faster, by lighting others to heaven. John was a burning and a shining light: but now is put out and gone. Observe, 2. As John's character, so the people's carriage: Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. Here is a threefold gradation; they rejoiced, they rejoiced in his light, and Ibey rejoiced for a season. 1. They rejoiced. The word signifies, they leaped for joy, and danced about him as children do about a bonfire, when he first began his ministry among them. O, how warm are the affections of a people, when a pious and zealous minister comes first among them. 2. They rejoiced in his light, not in his heat. Or, they rejoiced in John's light, not in Christ's; for when they found that John bare record to Christ, they soon grew cold in their affections towards John. 3. They rejoiced only for a season; for an hour, as the word signifies. For a short time John's ministry was acceptable. Learn hence, 1. That it has been an old practice among professors, not to like their pastors long, though they have been never such burning and shining lights. John was not changed, but bis bearers were changed; he did burn and shine in the candlestick of the church with equal zeal and lustre to the last; but they had changed their thoughts e-f him, and lost their esteem for him. Learn, 2. That as nothing in general is so mutable as the mind of man, so nothing in particular is so variable as the affections and opinions of people towards their mi
nisters. The lamp of John's ministry was always alike, burning and shining; his oil did not waste, but his hearers' zeal wasted, and their affections cooled. Those whose gifts are not at all abated, may yet find a great abatement in the acceptation of their gilts; therefore let no man live upon the breath of men; least of all let ministers live upon the popular air, or the speech of the people. O, let us live upon the credit which we have with God, and rejoice chiefly in his esteem. If our performances find acceptance with God, we are safe and happy, though they fall under contempt with men.
36 But I have greater witness than that of John ; for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
The third testimony produced by Christ, to evidence and prove himself to be the promised Messias, and Saviour of the world, is that of his miracles; which by an omnipotent power, as God, he was enabled to work. Christ's miracles were speaking testimonies of his unity with the Father, and of the divinity of his person. Not so the miracles of his apostles; for he wrought his miracles in his own name, and by his own power and authority; but his apostles expressly declared the contrary, Acts iii. 12, 16. Why look ye stedfastly on us, as if we by our own power had made this man whole? His name, through faith in his nqjne, hath made this man strong. Learn hence, That the testimony of Christ's own works, his miracles wrought in his own name, and by his own authority and power, is a clearer confirmation of his godhead, office, and doctrine, than the best of men's testimonies; yea, than John Baptist's own testimony, That he saw the Spirit descending on him.
37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you; for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
Here our blessed Saviour produces again the testimony of his Father, that he was the true and promised Messias: this was given him both at his baptism and his transfiguration;
when God the Father owned Christ to be his Son, by an audible voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Which testimony the Jews now ought the more to have regarded, because though their forefathers had heard the voice of God at certain times, Eiod. xx. and Dtnl. iv. yet they in their times had never heard his voice. Learn hence, That the Father's immediate testimony of Christ from heaven, is greater than all the testimonies given to him here on earth; greater than John's, greater than his miracles. The presence of the glorious Trinity, when that testimony was given, Matl. iii. ult. made that witness most awful and solemn.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them yc think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
The next testimony which Christ appeals to, is the testimony of the scriptures; that is, the writings of Moses and the prophets, which Christ hids the Jews diligently search, and they shall find that they abundantly testified of him, and that all the prophecies and types were fulfilled in him. The word search, signifying to search as men do for a golden mine in the bowels of the earth, which they must dig deep for, before they can come at; it intimates, 1. That there is an inestimable treasure lying hid in the holy scriptures, which we shall never fathom by a slight, superficial search. 2. That this inestimable treasure may be found out by the painful searcher; and it is the duty of all the members of the visible church to read and search the scriptures, which point out the way to eternal life.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
Here our Saviour upbraids the Jews for their obstinate infidelity; that notwithstanding God the Father by a voice from heaven, and John the Baptist by his testimony on earth; notwithstanding all the miracles which they had seen wrought by Christ himself, and notwithstanding the scriptures, which they pretended so highly to esteem of, did prove him to be the Messias, and the Author of eternal life, which they professed to seek; yet such was their obstinacy, that they would not come unto him, nor believe in him. Ye will not come unto me, that ye may hate life. Hence observe, 1. A choice and inva
luable mercy, which Christ stands ready to bestow upon poor sinners; and that is life, both spiritual and eternal. A life of grace, in order to a life of glory. Observe, 2. The gracious condition upon which this invaluable blessing may be had; and that is, upon coming to Christ, believing on him, and receiving of him. 3. Here B the true reason declared why sinners do miss of life and salvation by Jesus Christ, when he has so dearly purchased it for them, and does so freely tender it unto them, and that lies in their own wilfulness and obstinacy: Ye will not come unto me. Learn hence, That the true reason why so many sinners miss of salvation and eternal life, after all that Christ has done and suffered for them, is their own obstinacy and unwillingness to come to him, that they may have life. Man by nature has not only an inahility, but a fixed enmity in his will against Jesus Christ.
41 I receive not honour from men. 42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
Here observe, 1. How little our Saviour sought the approbation and vain-glorious estimation of men: / receive not honour from "men. The same should all his disciples and followers do. rest satisfied m the secret testimony and silent applause of their own consciences, without pumping for popular applause. Observe, 2. The dreadful sin which Christ charged upon the Jews, as the cause why they rejected him: I know that ye have not the love of God in you. O! deplorable state and case, to be void of all true love to God! Love being the spring of all action, arid the root of all true obedience; he that loves God, will not only sweat at his work, but bleed at his work too, if his work cannot be carried on without bleeding. But where love of God is wanting, and no care to please God is found, his authority is despised, his Son rejected; as the Jews here would not come to Christ, that they might have life, because they had not the love of God in them. Observe, 3. The high affront which the Jews offered to the Son of God in preferring any seducers or impostors before him, who came in their own names; whilst he was rejected, who came in the name of his Father. Learn hence. That though Christ was the great Ambassador of his Father, not a servant, but a son, and had his mission, his approbation, and his testimony, from heaven; yet so far did the perverseness and prejudices of the Jews prevail, that he was rejected, whilst impostors and deceivers, false christs and antichrists, without any evidence and authority from God, (because promising them a temporal kingdom,) were embraced and entertained: I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not; but if another (a seducer) should come in his own name, him ye -will receive. As if Christ had said, You are incredulous to none but me; every deceiver, every cheat that has but wit or wickedness enough to tell you, " The Lord hath sent him," is believed by you; but though I come in my Father's name, showing a commission signed and sealed by him, and doing those works that none but a God can do, yet you receive me not. O unreasonable infidelity!
44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
Here Christ tells the Jews, that it is impossible they should believe aright in him, because they were so in love with the praise of men, that they would own him for the Messias, who could promise them a temporal kingdom, and in the mean time reject himself, who came authorized with the testimony and approbation of God; you will receive" honour one of another, but reject the honour that cometh from God only. Learn, That such as amhitiously hunt after vain-glory and respect 1rom men, do evidence themselves to be regardless of God's approbation and acceptation.
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
Think not that I will accuse you: that is, that I only will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses; that is, the writings of Moses, which you pretend to depend upon, and to trust to : for had you believed his writinss, that is, the prophecies and types contained
in his writings, you would have been led by them to believe in me; for they all pointed at me, and received their accomplishment in me: but if Moses cannot be heard by you, I must expect no authority with you. Learn, 1. That the whole scope of Moses' ceremonial law was to point out and prefigure Jesus Christ: Christ was the sum ot the law, as well as the substance of the gospel; he was Abraham's promised Seed, Moses' great Prophet, Jacob's Shiloh, Isaiah's Emmanuel, Daniel's Holy One, Zechariah's Branch, and Malachi's Angel. 2. That such as believed the ancient prophecies before Christ came, did see their accomplishment in him, when he was come.
A FTER these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.
Observe here, How busy and industrious our holy Lord was about his Father's work, both on the sea and on the land, both by night and by day: his meat was to do the mil of him that sent him, and to finish his work. Some have enquired into the reasons why Christ travelled by sea, as well as by land; and they seem to be these: 1. To show what was his intent in making the sea, namely, to be sailed upon, as the land was made to be walked upon. 2. That Christ might take occasion to manifest his deity in working miracles upon the sea, as well as upon the land. 3. Might it not be to comfort and encourage seafaring men, that dwell much upon the waters, in the midst of their distresses, to trust in and pray to such a Saviour, as had himself an experimental knowledge of the danger of the seas? Some have farther observed, That, after our Saviour's resurrection, we never find him sailing upon the seas more; for such a turbulent condition, which necessarily attends sea-voyages, was utterly inconsistent with the stahility and perpetuity of Christ's state, when he was risen from the dead; the firm land better agreeing with his fixed estate, than the fluctuating water.
2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
Observe here, what an exact knowledge Christ had, not only of all his followers, but of the motives and principles which did induce them to follow him: it was not the excellency of his person, nor the heavenlinessof his doctrine, that drew the multitude at this time after him, but the novelty of his miracles; They saw the miracles which he did. It is better to feel one miracle wrought upon the heart, in changing and renewing that, than to see a thousand outward miracles wrought before our eyes.
3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, wus nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip,Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 0 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world.
This miracle of our Saviour's feeding five thousand persons with five barley-loaves and two small fishes, is recorded by all the four evangelists; and several particulars therein are very remarkable. Observe, 1. What a poor and slender provision the Lord of the whole earth hath for his family, for himself, for his disciples, and the multitude; nothing more than five barley loaves and two fishes. Teaching us, that these bodies of ours must be fed, not pampered. Our belly must not be our master, much less our god: And as the quality of the victuals was plain, so was the quantity small; only fire loaves and two fishes. Well might the deciplessay, What are they among so many? The eye of sense and reason sees an utter impossihility of those effects which faith can easily apprehend, and a divine power more easily produce. When men judge by sense and reason, and do not look to Christ's power, if extremities come, they are soon at their wit's end, and know not what to do. Observe, 2. How the great Master of this miraculous feast doth marshal his guests: he commanded them to sit down. None of the people reply, " Sit down! but to what? Here's the mouths, but where's the meat - We may soon be set, but when shall we be served?" Not a word like tins, but they obey and expect. Lord, bow easy it is to trust thy providence, and rely upon thy power, when there is corn in the barn, bread in the cupboard, money in the purse! But when our stores are empty, when our stocks run low, and when we have nothing in hand, then to depend upon an invisible bounty is a noble act of faith indeed. Observe, 3. The actions performed by our blessed Saviour: 1. He blessed the . loaves; teaching us by his example never to use or receive the good creatures of God without prayer and praise, not to sit down to our food as a beast to ha fodder. 2. Christ broke the loaves; he could have multiplied them whole, why then doth he rather choose to do it in the breaking? Perhaps to teach us, that we may rather expect his blessings in the dEtribution of his bounty, than in the reservation of it . Scattering is the way to increasmg, and liberality the way to riclies. Agam, 3. He gave to his disciples, that they might distribute to the multitude: lie did not do it with his own hands, but by thens; doubtless it was to gain reputation to his disciples, from the people. The same course doth Christ take in spiritual distributions. He that could feed the
souls of his people immediately by the hand of his Spirit, chooses rather by the hands of his ministers to divide the bread of life among them. Observe, 4. The reality and greatness of the miracle: They did all eat, and were filled; they did eat, not a crumb or a hit, but to satiety and fulness. All that were hungry did eat, and all that did eat were satisfied, and yet twelve baskets of fragments remain. More is left than what was at first set on. 'Tis hard to say which was the greatest miracle, the miraculoiis eating, or miraculous leaving. If we consider what they eat, we may wonder that they left any thing; if what they left, that they eat any thing. Observe lastly, These fragments, though of barley-loaves and fish-bones, must not be lost, but gathered up; we must exercise frugality in the enjoyment of the greatest plenty*. Lord! how tremendous will their account be, who, having large and plentiful estates, do consume them upon their lusts! how will they wish they had been born to poverty and necessity, when they appear to make up their accounts before God!
15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Here we have observable, The wonderful effect of the foregoing miracle; the people seeing so many thousands fed with five loaves, were so transported, that they concluded that Jesus was certainly the promised Messias. Now the notion they had of the Messias was this, that he should be a temporal Prince that should subdue all nations under his feet, and particularly free the Iews from the slavery of the Roman yoke, which was now upon their necks; forgetting what our Saviour had often told them, that his kingdom was not of this world, but within men; and that his business was to free men from soulslavery, not from civil subjection; however, upon this mistake, the Jews here in a furious zeal designed to take Christ by force and make him their king; but our Saviour (who came not into the world to disturb the order of civil government) understanding their intentions, withdraws himself into a mountain, to avoid giving the least occasion for any such jealousy or suspicion. Hence learn, That although Jesus Christ be the great King of his church, and doth
exercise a spiritual kingdom in it, yet he came not into the world to be a temporal king, nor was his kingdom of this world, or ever designed to be prejudicial to the thrones of princes, and civil government of men. Therefore doth Christ withdraw himself, and refuse all this otfer, as no ways agreeable to him, or consistent with his design.
16 And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, 17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. 18 And the sea arose, by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. 21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
Observe here, The great danger the disciples were in, and the difficulties they encounter with, after they had enjoyed the sweet privileges of Christ's gracious presence with them. They were tossed upon a tempestuous sea. Learn thence, That it is not unusual, after sweet refreshments and manifestations of Christ unto his people, to meet with a stormy and sharp exercise of faith and patience; such was the lot of his disciples here: a constant gale of sweetness and uninterrupted course of prosperity and happiness, as it is not to be expected here, so neither can it be enjoyed here, without great peril and danger. Observe, 2. What baste our Saviour makes towards his disciples, when they were tossed upon a tempestuous sea: Jesus drew nigh unto the ship. Nothing can separate between, nor keep Christ from, his children and people in a suffering hour. He that waded through a sea of wrath to save his people, will walk upon a sea of water to succour and relieve them in an hour of tribulation. Observe, 3. The disciples not discerning Christ, not knowing him to be their Saviour, were afraid of him. Christ may be coming to save his people, and they not able at present to discern and apprehend him; but their fears may be highest, when their deliverer and deliverance is nearest.