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were also inspired by the Spirit in devout assemblies of Christians. Christianity, an universal religion, is recommended to the reason and veneration of all mankind by its intrinsic excellence and supernatural proofs, and by the dignity and majesty with which it is delivered.
THAT HIS INSTRUCTIONS FREQUENTLY SPRANG OUT OF THE OCCASION: AND THAT HIS IMAGES WERE DRAWX FROM FAMILIAR OBJECTS.
IT is observable of our Lord's discourse, that it is often suggested by accidental objects, and arises in the most easy and natural manner from present or recent occasions and circumstances. This topic has been discussed by very sagacious and diligent a writers, who have left little to be supplied, and have sometimes strained a true hypothesis beyond its just limits. I shall enumerate such instances as appear to be well founded,
• Sir Isaac Newton on Daniel, p. 148. Lond. 1733. Bishop Law's Considerations, &c. p. 229. 3d. ed. Benson's Life of Christ, p. 379. Jortin on the Christian Religion, 3d. ed. 229, &c. Bishop Newton's Works, 4to. iii. 281. I freely acknowledge, says Whiston, that Sir Isaac Newton's observation, how Christ in his parabolical discourses was wont to allude to things present, is, though not an entirely new, yet a very true, and, as here more fully than any where else, insisted on, a very curious observation : and I farther take the liberty to mention this rule, as that by which Sir Isaac Newton himself was pleased to examine the several sections of my Harmony of the Four Evangelists.
Six Dissertations, p. 312, 313.
The temple was the scene of the transaction, when Jesus thus answered the Jews who asked of him a sign : “ Destroy this temple,” [pointing to his body in which “ dwelt d all the fulness of the godhead,”] “ and in three days I will raise it up.”
* Within the precincts of the same building, in erecting which stones of great magnitude and beauty had been used, our Lord said to the Chief Priests and Elders, “The e stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. Whosoever shall fall on that stone shall be broken ; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to
To Nicodemus, who came to him by night, our Lord observed that "f Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
At Jacob's well in Samaria, Jesus, having asked drink of a Samaritan woman, went on to represent his doctrine under the image of living, that is, flowing, or perpetually springing water : and added, “ Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
b John ii. 19. c So Ter. Andr. ii. i. 12. Tu, si hic sis, aliter sentias. And. Hor. Sat. i. ix. 45. Haberes Magnum adjutorem, et posset qui ferre secundas, Hunc hominem velles si tradere. ij. 9. * In this and the next section the asterisk is prefixed to the author's own illustrations of the general remark. • Luke xx. 17, 18. John iii. 19. Randolph's View of our, blessed Saviour's Ministry,
& John iv. 10, 14.
At the same time “his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.” “ But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” “My meat is, to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."
It is also highly probable that it was seed time, when, during the course of this transaction, he thus addressed his disciples : “ Say 'ye not, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields ; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto everlasting life: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth and another reapeth.
Simon and Andrew his brother were employed in their occupation as fishermen, and astonishment had seized them at the wonderful draught of fishes which they had taken, when Jesus thus called them: “ Follow me, and I will make you to become k fishers of men:” and when in particular he said to Simon, who, agreeably to the warmth of his feelings, might most strongly express his admiration ; “Fear 'not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men."
“From his power exerted in raising the impotent man, our Lord makes an easy m transition to his power of raising the dead; and from thence takes occasion to instruct the Jews in the doctrine of a general resurrection and future judgment.”
John iv. 31, 32, 34.
iib. 35, 36, 37.
k Matt. iv. 19. Mark i. 17. I Luke v. 10.
John v. 21, 25. Randolph's View, &c. 93.
It must also be observed that our Lord was addressing fishermen when he said, “ What man is there among you, of whom if his son ask ~ a fish, will he give him a serpent ?” And that he was speaking to the same hearers, oimmediately after sitting in a ship and teaching the multitude that stood on the shore, when he compared his kingdom to “a P net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind : which when it was full they drew to shore, and sat down, and collected the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.”
4 Maundrell informs us that not far from the mount of beatitudes was the city of Bethulia, which stood on a very eminent and conspicuous mountain. Our Lord might therefore direct the eye to it, when he said, “ A city" that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” It has been further supposed that he might observe husbandmen manuring the soil with that material, when he called his disciples the 'salt of the earth :" and that he might point to the objects themselves, when he bade them “behold the fowls of the air," and “ consider the u lilies of the field;" when he instructed them to judge of false prophets as of " trees, by the fruits which they brought forth ; and when he compared hearers and doers of his word to * houses founded on a rock, and forgetful hearers of it to ruinous houses which had been erected on the sand.
A Matt. vii. 10. • See Mark iv. 1. Matt. xiii. 36. 48. 9 p. 115, ed. 6, Oxf.
Matt. v. 14. 'Matt. vi. 26.
ib. 28. wib. vii. 16, 17. 24, 26, 27.
. ib. 13. * Matt. yüj.
We find the same exhortation from the fowls of the air and the lilies of the field y repeated, when the words were probably spoken in Capernaum, or between that place and the adjoining lake. We have not sufficient grounds to fix the time of this repetition ; Jesus's teaching from 2 a ship being an equivocal mark in such a country as Galilee, and the 'tempest, which immediately succeeded, being no less so, in a lake surrounded with mountains, like that of Tiberias. It seems plain, from the series of events in the gospel history, that the discourse on the mount was delivered soon after the second passover in Christ's ministry, and perhaps about a month after the vernal equinox. But yet I incline to think that the general scene of the transaction, and the usual occupations of the Jews in their fields, vineyards and gardens of herbs, suggested some of the images which are ingeniously supposed to have arisen, not from familiar but from present objects.
* On healing the servant of a Centurion, who, though a Gentile, was more eminent for a rational faith in Jesus than the Jews, our Lord foretold the admission of many • Gentiles into the kingdom of heaven, and the exclusion and punishment of the unbelieving Jews.
When our Lord compared the progressive guilt of the Jews to the malady of a demoniac returning on him with seven fold fury, it is ingeniously remarked, “that he did not introduce this comparison abruptly,
y Luke xii. 24, 27. 2 Matt. xiii. 2. a Mark iv. 37. Matt. viii. 11, 12 See Farmer on the Demoniacs, p. 330. Matt. xii. 22, 43, 44, 45.