Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

greatly struck with the truth and evidence of the case, replied, without doubt, he that shewed mercy unto him. Then Jesus said unto him, go thou, and do likewise : shew mercy and kindness to every one that standeth in need of thy assistance, whether he be an Israelite, an heathen, or a Samaritan ; and when works of charity are to be performed, reckon every man thy neighbour, not enquiring what he believes, but wbat he suffers.

In his way to Jerusalem, Jesus spent a night at Bethany, in the house of Marlba. and Mary, two religious women, the sisters of Lazarus. On this occasion, they dishe played the difference of their natural dispositions ; Martha taking abuudaut paigs to provide for his accommodation, and Mary paying the strictest attention to his divine instruction. The latter received the strongest tokens of our Lord's approbation, not because God is more served in a contemplative than in an active life, but because Christ preferred an attention to his doctrine to any sensual indulgencies whatever ; and wished to intimate, that time ought not to be wasted in unnecessary preparations of this kind, when it might be more profitably employed in the worship of God.

It was, probably, at this time, that our Lord went up to the feast of dedication, when he met with the man that was born blind, and had been expelled from the synagogue for his refusing to acknowledge that Christ was a sinner. Jesus opened the discourse by asking the poor man whether he believed on the Son of God. To which he replied by asking the question, who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. The beggar, being fully convinced of his mission from God, by the great miracle performed on himself, replied, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. Upon this, Jesus directed his discourse to the people who happened to be present with them. And Jesus said, for judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind. In these words, he alluded to the cure of the blind man ; but his meaning was spiritual, representing the effect which his coming would have upon the minds of men. Those who were esteemed ignorant and foolish would receive the benefit of its light ; while those who fancied themselves wise, would, in consequence of their prejudices, shut their eyes against it. The Pharisees enquiring whether he intended to extend to them the imputation of blindness, he answered, that if they had been blind in such sense as not to have had the means of discovering the truth, they would not have been so guilty as they now were, possessing, indeed, great advantages, but priding themselves upon thein, and refusing to employ them to any useful purpose.

Having thus reproved the Pharisees for shutting their eyes against the evidence of his mission, he continued the reproof by describing the characters of a true and false teacher, leaving them, who had so unjustly excommunicated the beggar, to judge which of the classes they belonged to. Our Lord, being now in the outer court of the temple, near the sheep which were there exposed to sale for sacrifice, the language of the aitient prophets caine into his mind, who often compared the teachers of their own times to shepherds, and the people to sheep. Accordingly, in describing the characters of the scribes and Pharisees, he made use of the same metaphor, shewing that there are two kinds of evil shepherds, pastors, or teachers; one who, instead of entering in by the door to lead the flock out, and feed it, enter in some other way, with an intention to steal, kill, and destroy: there is another kind of evil shepherds, who feed their flocks with the dispositions of hirelings; for when they see the wols coming, or any danger approaching, they desert their flocks, because they love them selves only. Of the former character the Pharisees plainly sheweit diprselves to be, by excommunicating the man that had been blind, because he wouid not act contrary to the dictates of hus reason and conscience to please them. But though they cast him out of their church, Christ received him into his, which is the true church, the spiritual inclosure, where the sheep go in and out and find pasturę. That this parabolical discourse was taken from the sheep which were inclosed in little folds within the outer court of the temple, whither they were brought by their own shepherds to be sold, is plain ; because our Lord speaks of such folds as the shepherd himself could not enter till the porter opened to him the door, viz. of the temple. [John x. 1.] Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheep-fold, that does not come in my name, and preach ny gospel, but climbeth up some other way, intruding into the church to serve his own worldly purposes, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door; the teacher that believes on mė, and derives his authority from me, is a true pastor, the shepherd of the sheep. To him the purter openeth, that he may be regularly admitted to his office, and the sheep hear his voice : and, like the eastern shepherds, who gave names to their sheep, he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And, as he is attentive to confirm his preaching by his practice, when he putteth forth his own sheep he goeth before, and the shiep follow him : for they know his voice, having experienced the benefits of his instruction.

Finding that they did not understand this parable, he added by way of explanation, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me in the capacity of religious teachers, without my authority, are thieves and robbers,. but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door, by which alone mankind can be admitted into the fold of God ; by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shal! go in and out and find pasture, receiving such instructions as shall nourish his soul unto eternal life. Whereas, the thief, the pretended minister of God, cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they, who were before dead in sins, believing in me, might have life, and that they who already possessed it might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd, the chief shepherd to whom the Father hath committed the care of his people ; and as the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep, exposing himself to death in their defence, so I am going to shed my blood to accomplish the redemption of my saints. But he that is an hireling, that acteth from selfish motives, and has not, like the shepherd, an interest in preserving the sheep, seeth the wolf coming, when tribulation, falls upon the church, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth, and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling, fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. But I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, having a feeling for their infirmities, and an known of nine, they having a blessed experience of my saving grace. And such is my relation to the eternal God, that as the Father knoweth me by his all-searching wisdom, so know I the Father, and it is in his cause, and by his special commission, that I lay down iny life for the sheep. And, beside the Jewish tribes, who are now the partakers of my more immediate care, there are other sheep that I have, even the Gentiles, who are not of this fold ; them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father lovc me, because I lay dowu my life for this very purpose, that I might take it again, and thus completely accomplish the redemption of my people ; for no man, weak as I may appear, taketh it from me, but I lay it down of niyself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again ; and in all this I fulfil the divine appointment, for this commandment I have received of my Father.

These sayings affected the minds of the Jews differently; for some of them cried out that he was possessed and mad, and that it was folly to hear him : others, judging

80 in and out and of God; bin I am the door

more impartially of himn and his doctrine, declared that his discourses were not the words of a lunatic, nor his miracles the works of a devil. Moreover, they asked his enemies if they imagined any devil was able to impart the faculty of sight to one that was born blind, alluding to the astonishing cure which Jesus had lately performed.

This conversation took place at Jerusalem on the feast of dedication, in the winter before his crucifixion. And Jesus was walking in the temple, in that part of it which, to preserve the memory of the antient edifice, was denominated Solomon's porch. The Jews at this time came round him, requiring that he would tell them plainly whether or not he were the true Messiah of God. Jesus replied that he had already told them by his works, both common and miraculous ; but that they had refused to believe him, because they were not his sheep, the people whom his father had drawn to him. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hands: My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck then out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. The Jews, finding him assert this intimate union with the Father, took up stones to stone him, in obedience, as they supposed, to the law, which was promulgated against blasphemy in Lev. xxir, 16. Jesus answered them, many good works have I shewed you froin my Father, for which of those works do ye stone ine? In confirmation of my mission from any Father, I have worked many miracles, all of a beneficent kind, and most becoming the perfections of my Father, who sent me. I have fed the hungry, I have healed the lame, I have cured the sick, I have gi en sight to the blind, I have cast out devils, and I have raised the dead, for which of all these are ye going to stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, for a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy, and because that thou being a man makest thyself God. We are going to punish thee with death for no good work, but for blasphemy ; for though thou art a man, weak and mortal as ourselves are, thou arrogantly assumest to thyself the power and majesty of God; and, by laying claim to the incommunicable attributes of the Deity, makest thyself God. This they took to he the plain meaning of his assertion, that he and the Father were one. Jesus answered thein, is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods ? If he called them gods to whom the word of God canie, and the scripture cannot be broken ; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God? If in the scripture, the authority of which you all acknowledge, they.to whom the commandment of ruling God's people was given are called gods, and the sons of God, on account of their high office and the inspiration of the Spirit, which was bestowed on them but sparingly, can ye with reason say of him whom God hath sent into the world on the grand work of saving the human race, and whom he hath set apart for that work by giving him the Spirit without measure, thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God ! If I do not thc works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you believe not ine, believe the works. Though you do not believe what I say concerning my personal dignity, ye ought to believe it on account of my miracles, which are plainly ef such a kind, that it is impossible for any deceiver to perform them; they are the works of God himself, and therefore ye ought to consider them as such; believe the works that ye may know and believe that the Father is in nie and I in him: may know that I neither do nor say any thing but by his authority; for the Father and I are 80 united, that every thing I say and do is, in reality, said and done by him, and he approves of it accordingly.

As this defence was so far from satisfying the Jews, that it only increased their

rage, and caused them to make atteinpts to seize his person, our Lord thought proper to retreat to the country beyond Jordan, and there employed some of the last months of his life in delivering the most valuable instructions to his disciples, and to the multitude. His ministry was well received, the people flocking round him in great numbers, and many of them receiving -him as the Messiah, in consequence of their finding the testimony of John amply confirmed, and illustrated by the teaching, conduct, and miracles, of the Son of God.

CHAPTER X.

From The Feast of DEDICATION, TO THE RESURRECTION OF Lazarus.

IN

Christ in Perea teaches his disciples---his miracles are again ascribed to Beelzebub -

he again repeats the sign of the prophet Jonas, and the parable of the lighted lamp--dincs with a Pharisee---the Pharisees reprooed---exhortation to the disciples to avoid anxiety-- Christ refuses to decide a dispute---parable of the rich glutton---the disciples exhorted to watchfulness, and informed of approaching troubles---Christ's observations on the murder of the Galileans---parable of the barren fig-tree---cure of the woman who had been bowed down eighteen years---exhortation to enter by the strait gate--

the approaching calamities of Jerusalem bemoaned---Christ visits one of the chief · Pharisees, at whose house he heals a man who was afflicted with the dropsy, and

delivers the parable of the great supper---the three parables of the lost sheep, lost silver, and prodigal son---parable of the unjust steward---of the rich man and Lazarus exhortation to humility, and to avoid giving offence---Christ goes to see Lazarus--the ten lepers---the resurrection of Lazarus.

WHILE Jesus was in the country beyond Jordan, he happened to pray publicly with such fervency, that one of his disciples, exceedingly affected both with the matter and manner of his address, begged that he would teach them to pray. It seems, this disciple had not been present when our Lord, in the beginning of his ministry, gave his bearers directions concerning their devotions ; or, if he were present, he had forgotten what had then been said. Wherefore, Jesus, who always rejoiced to find his brearers desirous of instruction, willingly embraced this opportunity, and repeated the discourse on praver which he had formerly delivered in his sermon on the mount; but with this difference, that he now handled the arguments which he had offered as motives to the duty a little more fully than before. Christ, on this occasion, repeated that brief formula which is denominated the Lord's prayer, and which he had delivered in the sermon on the mount, as well as in that on the plain ; and then enforced the duty of constancy in prayer, by the example of one who gave way to the importunity of his friend, though he called upon him at midnight; and of an earthly parent, who will not refuse the reasonable requests of a child, but give him such gifts as should be really conducive to his benefit. If ye, said Christ, being evil, know how I give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the IIcły Ghost to them that ask him. About this time, our Lord having 'cast out a devil, the Pharisees again attributed

« AnteriorContinuar »