Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ford, being of an exceeding generous and merciful disposition, was touched with his distress, and had compassion on him, and ordered him to be loosed, Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt, that is, did not insist on present payment ; for be afterwards exacted the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants which owed him au hundred pence; and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, pay me that thou owest. The Roman penny, or denarius, which is here spoken of, being in value about seven-pence halfpenny of our money, the whole sum that was due to him did not much exceed three pounds sterling. Therefore, his craving this trifle in so rough a manner immediately on coming out of the palace where so much lenity had been shewed to him, in a matter of far greater importance, manifested the very basest, disposition in the man. Though this poor man's creditor was a fellow-servant, and consequently no more than his equal in rank, he humbly fell down at his feet, and, with the same earnestness, entreated bim, as he had done his lord, making him a promise of payment ; which there was not only a possibility, but a probability of his performing. Nevertheless, the other forgetting the much greater mercy that had been $0 lately shewn to hiraself in the like circumstances, by their common master, was insolent and inexorable, and would not wait a moment, but went immediately and cast the man into prison. Such inhumanity so much afflicted his fellow-servants, that they came and informed their lord of the transaction. Then his lord, after he called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, the vast sums thou owedst, because thou desiredst me; should not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee. And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors for the punishment of his unpardonable cruelty, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

As our Lord said, concerning the love of God and our neighbour, that on it depended both the law and the prophets ; so it may be observed, that this parable contains the substance of the evangelical and apostolical doctrines. Here we discover the enormity of human guilt, the sovereignty and freedom of God's method of pardoning, and the awful punishment which is designed for such as, while they claim the divine pardon for themselves, refuse to bestow their mercy on the children

After delivering the parable of the servants debtors, our Lord went into Judea, travelling through that country which is on the other side Jordan ; and he was followed by great multitudes, who experienced the benefits of his teaching, and the efficacy of his miracles. It is supposed by some, that he was now gone up to the

passover,

and that this was the fourth which was celebrated during his ministry. The first passover, agreeable to this hypothesis, was that in which our Lord purged the temple, as recorded in the second chapter of John. He is supposed to have been at Jerusalem on occasion of the second, when he cured the infirm man at the pool of Bethesda. The third took place after he had passed through the cities and villages (Mark vi. 56.]: and before he had that controversy with the scribes and Pharisees concerning eating with unwashen hands. The fourth we have just now mentioned : and the fifth was that at which he himself was offered up as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

From this time, to the feast of tabernacles, no events are recorded ; a festival which the law ordained to begin at the fifteenth day of the seventh month, answering to our Septen.ber and October ; so that it happened at the end of the former, or in the beginning of the latter. During the continuance of the solemnity, the males of the Jewisb nation, that were &t to travel, dwelt at Jerusalem in tents, or tabernacles,

of men.

maile of the boughs of trees, in commemoration of their fathers having dwelt is tabernacles of this kind for the space of forty years in the wilderness. A little while before the feast, Jesus being in Galilee, whither he had returned from the fourth passover, some of his kinsmen, who had not as yet believed on him, desired him to go up to the approaching solemnity, and shew himself. As they did not believe on him, they condemned him in their own minds, and said that he acted altogether absurdly in passing so much of his time in Galilee, and the other remote corners of the country, while he pretended to so public a character as that of Messiah : that it would be. much more for his interest to make disciples in Jerusalem and Judea, the seat of power ; and that he ought to work his miracles there, as publicly as possible, before the great and learned men of the nation, whose decision in his favour would have great influence to induce others to believe on him. But Jesus, knowing the malicc of the inhabit- . ants of Jerusalem, did not inclive to be among them longer than was absolutely necessary, lest they might have taken away his life prematurely. He therefore told, them, his time of going up to the feast was not yet come ; but that they, as being in perfect friendship with the world, might go whenever they pleased. However, when the bulk of the people had gone up, he went up, as it were, privately, that is, pro-.. bably, neither preaching nor performing miracles by the way.

As he did not appear openly on his arrival at Jerusalem, his enemies charged him with being a deceiver, who neglected the commandments of Moses ; and his friends did not dare to defend him openly, for fear of exposing themselves to the persecution of the Jews. At length, about the middle of the feast, Jesus came into , the temple, and preached many important doctrines of true religion, with such strength of reason, clearness of method, and elegance of expression, that his enemies themselves were astonished, knowing that he had not the advantage of a liberal education. But. he informed them, that the doctrine which he tauglit was not derived fro:n any human instruction, but from the immediate inspiration of God. [John vii. 17.] If any man. will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak, of myself. Good men can easily judge of any teacher whether he and his doctrine.

from God; not only because the divine wisdom and goodness are interested to secure such fionn capital errors, but because they themselves have no predominant evil inclinations to prejudice them against the truth when it appears ; and because, they can discern how far any doctrine is conformable to the principles of virtue which they possess. Hence, if one teaches what makes for the advancement of his owo. worldly interest, or for the gratification of his pride, or any other evil passion, the doers of the will of God will immediately know that such a teacher is an impostor. He that speakcth of himself seeketh his own glory, whereas, if a prophet proposes iloctrines which have a tendency to reform men, and to advance the glory of God, without regard to the opinion of the world, or to his own interest, he must certainly be sent of God, and should not, by any means, be suspected of imposture : but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him : no falsehood, no design, to deceive the world Did not Moses give you the law, and get none of you keepeth the law ? why go ye about to kill me? There is a remarkable beauty in the suddeu turn of the sentirent. Some of the Jews called Jesus a false prophet, because, on the sabbath, he had healed the paralytic who lay in one of the porticos of Bethesda, pretending that it was a gross violation of the law of Moses, which no good man, far less a prophet, would be guilty of. In answer to these surmises, be told them plainly, that however much they pretended to reverence the authority of Moses in his law, they inade no scruple to violate the most sacred of his precepts ; they had entered into the resolution of murdering him, directly contrary to cvery

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

daw of God and man'; sand, for the same end, were laying secret plots against his life.

This reproof came in : with singular propriety, and force, immediately after Jesus had, by the most convincing arguments, proved his mission from God. [John vii. 20.) The people answered and said, thou hast a devil ; either thou art mad, or thou art actuated by the malice of the devil; who goeth about to kill thee?, Jesus answered, and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel :: I have done a. miracle of an extraordinary kind on the sębbath, which ye think inconsistent with the character of a good man, and therefore ye wonder how I have performed it; but I can easily vindicate my character by an argument which it is not in your power to gaingay. Atoses, therefore, gave unto you circumcision, the law of circumcision, ( not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers,) and ye on the sabbath circumcise a man. · The sentence should be constructed thus : and on the sabbath day ye circumcise a man, not because it is a precept of Moses only, but of the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, : and Jacob. If a man, on the sabbath-day, receivc circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken ; are ye angry with me because I have made A man every whit whole on the sabbath day ; because I have made a whole man, or the whole of a man sound on the sabbath-day? Since ye think yourselves bound to dispense with the strict observation of the sahbath, for the sake of another precept which is only of a ceremonial nature ; how can ye be angry, with me, because, in

, pursuance of the great end of all of the divine laws, I have cured a man who was infirm in all his members ; and that with far less bodily labour than you perform the ceremony of circumcision, and cure the wound that is made by it ? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Consider the nature of the things, and judge impartially, without regard to your own prejudices, or to the superstition of your teachers.

Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he whom they seek to kill ? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? The inhabitants of Jerusalem, always Christ's bitter enemies, asked, with surprize and irony, if our Lord's boldness, and the silence of the rulers, proceeded from their having acknowledged him as the Messiah. At the same time, in derision of his pretensions, they added, [John vii. 27.] Howbcit we know this man whence he is : i. e. we know his parents and relations ; but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is, alluding to the obvious popular scuas of Isa, liji. 8, “ who shall declare his generation ?". .

? Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and whence I am; and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. Though you pretend to know me, and whence I am, it does not follow that I am destitute of the prophetical characters of Messiah, and an impostor come to you of my own accord.' I am really sent to you by God, who is true in all the prophecies he uttered by his servants concerning Messiah, for they are all fulfilled in me; but you are wholly ignorant of his blessed perfections and gracious counsels, and have no inclination to obey his will. But I Inow him : for I am from him, aud he hath sent mc. Were you acquainted with what the prophets have said concerning Messiah, as you pretend to be, you would know this to be one of his principal characters, that he is to understand the perfections and will of God more fully, and to explain them unto men more clearly than any messenger from God ever did before. Withal, by considering the nature of my doctrine, you would see this character remarkably fultilled in me, and thereby would he sensible that I am from God, and that he hath

This defence did not pacify his enemics ; for some of them would gladly have ar

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sent me.

prehended him; however, none of them had the courage to lay hands on him, being restrained by providence, because the season of his sufferings was not yet come. In the mean time, the miracle which he had lately performed on the infirm man was so great and so well known, and his defence, by which he justified himself, so clear and so convincing, that many of the people believed on him, publicly affirmug that he was Messiah. The attachment of the common people to Jesus greatly incensed

. the chief priests and Pharisees, with all their adherents; and therefore, on the last and great day of the feast, being met in council, they sent their officers to apprehend him, and bring him before them, thinking to confute his pretensions and punish him.

While these things were doing in the council, Jesus was preaching to the people concerning the improvement which it became them to make of his ministry among them. Then Jesus saith unto them, yet a little while I am with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. My ministry among you is drawing towards a conclusion, you 'ought, therefore, while it lasts, to make the best possible improvement of it, particularly you should listen to my sermons with great attention; for after that I am gone, you shall carnestly desire my presence, but shall not obtain it. Ye shall scek me and shall not find me. This expectation of the Messiah was general through the nation, during the calamities of judca, occasioned by Titus and his armies, and has continued among the Jews ever since, but to no purpose ; for though many de ceivers have arisen, the only true Messiah has performed his work, and entered into his glory. This ascent to the celestial world is intimated by the following passage, end where I am ye cannot coine, ye cannot arrive at heaven in your present state of in.penitence and unbelief. Not entering into his meaning, they said among themselves, whither will he go that we shall not find him ? Will he go to our dispersed brethren, to teach them and the Gentiles among whom they reside > Yet, as we could even then

? find the place of his retireinent, this saying, let us take it however we may, is uniutelligible and absurd.

It is commonly supposed, that while Jesus was thus discoursing in the temple on the last and great day of the feast, the water from Siloam was brought into the women's court with the usual solemnities, according to the directions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, if we may believe the Jewish writers. Part of this water they drank with loud acclamations, in commemoration of the mercy shewed to their fathers, who were relieved by the miracle of a great stream of water made to gush out of a rock, when the nation was ready to die with thirst in a sandy desert, where was neither river nor spring ; a part of it they poured out as a drink-offering, which they accompanied with prayers to Almighty God for a plentiful raiu to fall at the following seed-time ; the people, in the mean time, singing the passage, (Isa. xii. 3.] With joy shall yc draw water out of the wells of salvation. Jesus, whose custom it was to raise moral instructions from sensible occurrences, took this opportunity of inviting, in the most solemn and affectionate manner, all who were in pursuit, whether of knowledge or happiness, to come unto hina and drink, in allusion to the rite they were then enre ployed about. By coming to him and drivking, he meant believing on him : and to encourage them, he promised them the gifts of bis Spirit, which he represented under the image of a river flowing from their beliy, to express the efficacy and perpetuity of these gifts, together with the divme pleasure wbieh they produce by quenehing the desires of those who possess them, and fructifying others who come within their influence. The flowing of rivers of water out of the believer's belly, is an idea taken from receptacles round springs, out of which great quantities of water flow by pipes. This figure, therefore, represented the plenitude of spiritual gifts to be possesszal by

[ocr errors]

believers, and the happy effects which they should produce in the world. The faculty of speakiug all the different languages on earth fluently, which was the first gift of the Spirit, qualifying them to preach such doctrines as the Spirit revealed to them, they were both watered themselves, and in a condition to water the Gentiles, not with small streams, but with- large rivers of divine knowledge ; and so the land which, til then, had been barren, was, from that time forth, to be exceeding f-uitful in righteousness to God. Accordingly the evangelist adds, by way of explication, But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on hini should receive : for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified. The gifts of illumination and utterance were not yet communicated to believers, being what they received on the day of Pentecost, to fit them for converting the world. Nevertheless, if the universality of the invitation and promise inclines the reader to think that, on this occasion, our Lord had the ordinary influences of the Spirit also in his eye, the evangelists remark, that the Holy Ghost was not yet given, will not exclude them ; because, even these might, at that time, be said not to have been given, as they had been given but sparingly, in comparison of the plentiful distribution which was to be made of them to all believers after Christ's ascension. Accordingly, the ordinary influences of the Spirit are often, in scripture, represented as the consequences and reward of faith. (Gal. iii. 14. Eph. i. 12.]

While Jesus was discoursing on this subject, the officers, who had been sent by the council, came to apprehend him; but, being struck with the topic on which he was discoursing, and the energy with which he delivered his ideas, they thought proper to hear him awhile, before they proceeded to the execution of their office. After having listened for a while, they were either so overawed by his majesty, or so filled with love for the benevolence of his character, that they desisted from their purpose; and, returning to their employers, instead of presenting them with a prisoner, gave it as their decided opinion, that never man spake like this man,

Then answered The Pharisees, are ye, who have the advantage of a liberal education, and whom we always supposed to be men of sound understanding, also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people, these foolish and ignorant followers of Jesus, who know not the law, are accursed. On this occasion, Nicodemus, who had visited Jesus by night, and who still retained a veneration for his character, attempted his defence by asking his brethren, whether their law authorized them to condemu a man before his guilt is proved. The only answer they returned, was to ask him whether he was one of this wretched Galilean faction, and to request him to search and look ; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. By this, they either meant no Messiah, or else were carried away by the heat of their passion, so as to forget that with which they must have been acquainted ; for Jonah was of Gath-hapher, a town of Galilee. But be this as it will, such blind judges were these masters of law and learning, that an argument which had no force against Jesus, who was actually born in Bethlehem, weighed a great deal more with them than all the solid proofs by which he so fully established his mission. To conclude : the council separated; and Jesus, having perfect knowledge of their designs, went to lodge in the mount of Olives, that he might be out of their reach.

Early next morning Jesus returned to the temple; and, as usual, taught in the temple. But while he was thus employed, the scribes and Pharisees set a woman before him that had been taken in the act of adultery ; and, standing round him, deşired his opinion in the affair. The evangelist says, the Pharisees desired our Lord's opinion in this matter with an insidious intention. [Jolin viii. 6.] This they said, Lempting him, that they might have to accuse him. Probably, the Romans had modellest

I i

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »