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OF OUR LORD'S PORTITUDE.
OUR Lord exhorted his apostles not to · fear their persecutors, who killed the body and could not kill the soul; but rather to fear him who was able to destroy both body and soul in hell. This was an exhortation to fortitude in professing and propagating the true religion. His example taught this duty in its whole extent.
He shewed a noble contempt of worldly greatness by appearing in a low condition of life. During his public ministry he had not where to lay his head, some of his pious attendants o ministered to him of their substance, and he paid the tribute money by miracle. He suffered hunger, thirst, and weariness; he was ever contending with the dulness of his disciples, the incredulity of his kinsfolk, and the reproaches and injuries of the Jews. And he “e pleased not himself ;” but submitted to many and great evils, that he might please God and benefit mankind.
Let us observe in particular instances what“f contradiction of sinners” he endured, and what greatness of mind he displayed.
When he had pronounced forgiveness of sins to a paralytic, some of the Scribes and Pharisees charged him with blasphemy for invading God's prerogative.
a Matt. x. 26, 28. bib. viii. 20. Rom xv. 3. f Heb xii. 3.
<Luke viii. 3.
d Matt. xvii. 27.
But they made the accusation in the reasonings of their hearts ; and did not avow it openly. Notwithstanding this, Jesus, unawed by their authority, firm. ly but calmly expostulated with them for their evil thought ; and argued that the discernment of a man's moral state might justly be allowed to Him whom God had vested with the power of working miracles.
Having healed a man on the sabbath, who had laboured under an infirmity for thirty and eight years, the Jews persecuted him and sought to kill him. Jesus answered, “ My h Father worketh hitherto, and I work :" My Father preserves, governs and benefits the world without distinction of days ; and therefore I also extend good to men on the sabbath. This mode of expressing himself furnished the Jews with an additional reason for seeking his life. Observe now, throughout the whole of the discourse immediately following, with what magnanimity our Lord perseveres in the same language..
“ The i Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do."
“k The Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things which he himself doeth.” The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son : that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”
Probably on the sabbath after he had restored the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, our Lord intrepidly m vindicated his disciples against the Pharisees, who had censured them for plucking and cating ears of
S Mark. ii. 6--11. h John v. 17. So 0. 21, 26, 30, 36, 37, 43, 45.
10. 19. ko. 20.
v. 22, 23
corn on that day. And, thinking it expedient to wean the Jews from their excessive veneration for the law which he was about to abolish, on the " sabbath which next succeeded, though the Scribes and Pharisees watched him, he healed a man with a withered hand publicly in the synagogue. This filled them with madness; and they took counsel how they might de: stroy him.
Afterwards, as he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the ° sabbath, he restored a woman who had been bowed together eighteen years, confuted the ruler of the synagogue who with indignation restrained the people from coming to be healed on the sabbath, reproved his hypocrisy, as he concealed many vices under this semblance of piety, and made all his adversaries ashamed.
Again : as he was eating bread with a ruler of the Pharisees on the Psabbath, and those of that powerful sect insidiously observed his conduct, a man with a dropsy stood before them. Jesus said to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day ? Knowing how invincibly he reasoned on this point, they kept silence. But Jesus “ took him, and healed him, and sent him away.” Conscious of his rectitude, he was fearless of their power.
Once more: at the feast of tabernacles, though it was the? sabbath, Jesus made clay and opened the eyes of one blind from his birth : and he wrought this miracle immediately after the Jews had taken up stones to cast at him, and had sent officers to apprehend him.
o ib. xiii. 10-17.
p ib. xiv. 1-6. John ix. 14.
Luke vi. 6-11. : See c. vii. viii. ix.
I do not find in the history of the apostles that they had the disengagement from prejudice, and the courage, to imitate this part of our Lord's conduct.
There are other instances which shew that Jesus paid no deference to the wrong notions of the leading Jews. The Scribes and Pharisees murmured because he ate with: Publicans and Sinners in the house of Matthew the Publican. This censure did not deter him from saying to Zaccheus, a chief of the
Publicans, at a time when' multitudes surrounded him, This day I must abide in thine house.
When the "Scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem asked him why his disciples walked not according to the tradition of the elders, but ate bread with un. washen hands;" he expostulated with them for their hypocrisy, proved to them that they made void the commandment of God by their tradition, characterized them as blind leaders of the blind, and thus introduced liis explanation of moral defilement: “He called unto him all the multitude, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, all of you, and understand.”
Another proof of our Lord's fortitude was, that, although his first preaching at Nazareth had exposed his w life to danger, the unbelief, the ingratitude, the outrage and violence of his countrymen, could not divert him from attempting their conversion a * second time.
We have seen how y undauntedly he reproved his enemies on just occasions; and these were often the Jewish rulers who had his life in their power.
s Luke v. 30. Luke iv, 29.
rib, xix. 2-7. * Mark vi. 1-.-6.
Mark. vii. 1–15. and p. y Part ii. sect. 6, p. 393, &c.
He met death for the wisest and best ends, the glory of God and the salvation of mankind. He * astonished his timid disciples by the readiness with which he went before them in the way to Jerusalem, on the approach of the passover at which he suffered ; when they all knew that his enemies were conspiring against his life ; and he himself knew that he should suffer a most painful and ignominious death : he entered the city in a kind of public triumph : in the · hearing of the multitude he reproved the vices of the Scribes and Pharisees to their face, with une. qualled energy, and with words “ b quick and powerful and sharper than a two edged sword :" when Judas rose from the paschal supper to betray him, he said to his disciples with wonderful composure, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glo. rified through him :" he witnessed before the high priest, and before Pontius Pilate, a good confession ; and shewed that he voluntarily submitted to death, because he had d miraculously preserved his life at the preceding feasts of tabernacles and dedication.
It is natural to object that our Lord's agony was inconsistent with the fortitude which some good men have actually displayed.
I shall give this objection its full force; and shall consider it with the attention which it demands.
2 Mark x. 32. Luke xix. 28. a Malt. xxiii. 1. b Heb. iv. 12. - John. xiii. 31. dib. viii. 59.
e Celsus thus states it Orig. 1. 2, $ 24. Τί ν ποτιμάται και εδρεται, και τον τε ολέθρε φόβος εύχεται παραδραμείν, λέγων αδε πας Ωτα κ. λ.