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if I say the truth, why do ye not be
lieve me? is Your disbelief of a person whose conduct is irreproachable, and whom therefore you have no reason to suspect of falsehood, can proceed from nothing but a dislike of the truth, with which I now charge you, and which makes you resemble the devil.
47. He that is of God, 66 of a godlike disposition,” heareth God's words, “ hearkens to them,” Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
Ye are of a diabolical temper and disposition. This language provoked the Jews to the highest degree of fury.
48. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil ? rather, “hast a dæmon?”
Considering the enmity that subsisted between the Jews and Samaritans, to be called a Sarnaritan was almost the greatest reproach a man could suffer; but to this these Jews added that he had a dæmon; by which they meant to assert that he was mad, or disordered in his mind; for such was the condition of dæmoniacs.
This passage serves to show how much the commoni translation of the scriptures tends to mislead the English reader: for he would naturally be led to conclude that the devil mentioned in this verse is the same being with the devil mentioned in verse forty-four; whereas by the one, the Jews meant a dæmon, the spirit of some wicked man, supposed to occupy and torment thc bodies of the living, producing nadness, or other elisore ders of the understanding; by the other, Christ intended the author of all evil, who was indeed supposed Vol. 2.)
to tempt men to sin, but never to take permanent possession of their bodies.
49. Jesus apswered, I have not a dæmon, but I honour my Fatber, and ye do dishonour me.
My actions and language are not those of a dæmon. iac, but of one who obeys God; but for this you revile me.
50. And I seek not my own glory : there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
I am but little concerned about my reputation among such persons as you are; but there is one who will secure it, and judge between us; meaning God; and so great is the honour that he will confer upon me, that he will not permit any of those to die who believe in me and obey my doctrine.
51. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying he shall never see death.
52. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a dæmon. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my" saying he shall never taste of death.
53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead; and the prophets are dead: Whom makest thou thyself?
The Jews suppose that the claim of Christ to secure immortality to his followers, originated with himself, and therefore charge him with the highest degree of arrogance. Jesus replies, by saying that the honour he had claimed was not assumed by himself; for in that case it would have been nothing more than an
empty boast; but that it was to be conferred upon him by a being whose authority they would not dispute, because they called him their God.
54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me, of whom ye say that he is your God.
55. Yet ye have not known him ; but I know him, and if I should say I know him not, I shall be a liar, like unto you: but I know him and keep his saying.
The Jews, by asserting that God was their father. claimed some knowledge of him and resemblance to him: but this was a violation of truth, and Christ says that he should be guilty of a like violation of truth, if he should deny that he knew God: for he had a most intimate acquaintance with him, and followed his directions upon all occasions.
56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, “ earnestly longed to see my day," and he saw it and was glad.
You charge me with arrogance for my high pretensions : but I can assure you that I am not a person of so little consequence as you imagine ; for so great were the blessings which Abraham was informed were to flow from me, that he earnestly desired to be favoured with a prospect of the period in which I should flourish; and he saw it by prophetic vision, and was highly transported. The absurd construction which the Jews put upon these words, either by mistake or design, was that he was contemporary with Abraham.
57. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
To this absurd or malignant construction of his language, Jesus makes no reply, but goes on to assert the great importance of his character, since it was fixed and predetermined in the divine mind, even before the days of Abraham.
58. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was I am, rather, “ I am he.”
So the same phrase is translated twice in the preceding part of the chapter; thus in verse 24, If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. In the Greek it is, That I am. So likewise, verse 28, When ye have lift up the son of man, then shall ye know that I am he. In the greek as before, That I am. Had our translators, therefore, acted consistently, they would have translated the same phrase, I am ņe, in this verse. This translation, which is undoubtedly the true one, would have destroyed the foundation of those extraordinary inferences which have been made from it. For some imagine that Christ meant to assert that he was the I AM, and therefore the same Being who an, nounces himself under that appellation to the children of Israel, Jehovah, or the eternal God: while others conclude, from the same phrase, that he actually existed before Abraham, and even before the world, Whereas all that Christ meant to maintain was, that he was the light of the world, or the Messiah, before Abraham; that is, in the divine intentions or decrees, just in the same manner as he is called the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, and Christians are said to be chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. If it should be asked why Christ speaks of himself as existing before Abraham, and why the Lamb is said to be slain, and Christians chosen, before the foundation of the world, I answer, that it serves to illustrate the importance of the persons or things which are said thus to exist in the divine foreknowledge so long a time before hand. Important schemes men keep long in view before they execute them; and it is in order to give consequence, in our apprehensions, to the purposes of the Supreme Being that they are represented as existing in his mind from the earliest periods of time, before Abraham, and before the world was made.
59. Then took they up stones to cast at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, [going through the midst of them ; and so passed by.]
The last words are not to be found in many manuscripts, and probably, therefore, are not genuine. When Christ asserted that he, the Messiah, had been the subject of divine revelation to Abraham, he mentioned it, no doubt, as a proof of the honour that was done him by the Divine Being. When, therefore, he adds that he was the Messiah in the divine counsels, before the time of Abraham, he mentioned this likewise as a proof of higher honour. If the former declaration, therefore, was offensive to the Jews, the latter must be still more so: but as they put a false construction upon the former, so it is probable that, in the fury of their resentment, they put a like false construction upon the latter, and were hereby provoked to take up stones, with a view to put him to death.
1. Let us remember the odious light in which those who wilfully violate the truth, or who are unwilling to embrace it, are here represented. They are the children of the devil, the supposed patron of wickedness and author of all mischief; and well do they deserve to be ranked as members of this family : for there is no disposition so prejudicial to the individual, or so pernicious to society. When men are so hardened in vice, that they feel an aversion from the truth, and will not attend to the evidence upon which it is founded, they are incorrigible: for such men there is no remedy; they