« AnteriorContinuar »
constitutes the triumph and the security of every be. liever in Christ Jesus: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope : and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” Though the buyers and sellers were abashed and put to flight some of the consequential cavillers, who are to be found in every age, and in every society, maintain the ground, and call for the commission under which Jesus acted. “Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, what sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things 2 This furnished him with a fair occasion of bringing forward the peculiar and distinguishing doctrine of his religion, the resurrection of the body, which was soon to be exemplified in his own resurrection from the dead, as “the first fruits of them that sleep.” This will accordingly constitute the subject of the next lecture. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ :”
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, what sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things & Jesus answered and said unto them, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days * but he spake of the temple of his body. JWhen, therefore, he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them ; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. Now, when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast-day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men ; and needed not that any should testify of man: For he knew what was in man,—Joh N xi. 18–25.
THE actions and events of Christ’s life are the basis on which the truth and importance of his doctrine rest, and the solidity of the foundation must be estimated from the structure which it supports. The foundation of a building lies buried under ground, and cannot be examined by the eye; but when we behold a stately, lofty and venerable pile, which has withstood the attack of ages, and which still presents undiminished beauty and strength, we justly reason from what we do see to what we do not; and we feel ourselves constrained to applaud the excellency of the design, from the perfectness and durability of the exe
cution. ... “Behold,” saith the Lord God, by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, more than seven centuries before the fabric began to appear, “behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believ
eth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to
the line and righteousness to the plummet.” Here is the design of the sovereign architect, not sleeping like many a beautiful human plan in the port folio of the artist, never to be realized, but quick with the spirit of life, already executed “in the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” and to arise, in due time the wonder of angels and of men. This building of God at length began to appear and to astend. But it accorded not with human ideas of grandeur and magnificence. The very depositaries of the original design, were the first to resist the completion of it, because it justified not their prejudices and prepossessions. Their opposition, however, served only more illustriously to display the manifold wisdom and goodness of God, and to expose the weakness and folly of man. Had the edifice been man’s devising and rearing, it could not have stood “the washing of a tide,” for the “foolish man built his house upon the sand : and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house ; and it fell ; and great was the fall of it.” But infinite wisdom founded the fabric of christianity upon a rock. The rains have descended, the floods have come, the winds have blown and beaten upon this house, but it has not fallen ; for it is sounded upon a rock. In the gospel history we behold the ground floor or platform of the christian religion. It principally con. sists in a narration of plain, unadorned facts, well au. thenticated, indeed, but recommended by no artificial polish, and deriving all their importance and effect from their own native truth and excellence, serving,
nevertheless, as a solid support to the precepts, the promises, the predictions, the doctrines, the consolations of our most holy faith. Take, for instance, the event which our blessed Lord, in the passage which has now been read, foretold concerning himself, namely, that the temple of his body should be destroyed, and in three days raised up again. Now when this event actually did take place, not only was the veracity of Jesus as a prophet, completely established, but a soundation was laid of sufficient strength to sustain the whole weight of the christian's hope, of a resurrection to life and immortality. We shall, therefore, first consider this all important doctrine, in the history which, is the foundation of it, and then in the superstructure reared. o In purifying the temple from the abominations practised in it, Jesus had undoubtedly assumed the authority of one invested in the office of magistracy, of with the character of a prophet. That he was no magistrate all men knew, and he never pretended to it. To have acted in this capacity might have been considered as usurpation. As a prophet, then, and only as a prophet, could he appear in the character of a public reformer. But it is requisite that a prophet should produce his credentials. This suggested the demand: “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?” which plainly implied, that one acting under a commission from heaven, was obliged to support his claim by a sign from heaven. But is there need to produce supernatural testimony to a right to reform known, public, flagrant abuse? Did not their own history furnish a noted instance of a private person's assuming the sword of justice, and acting at once as judge and executioner, in the case of open and gross violation of the divine law; that of Phinehas, who was but the grandson of Aaron the priest? He not only became liable to no censure, but obtained a deathless name, and an honourable office for
his seasonable interposition. “Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed. And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.” Did not the sign, in the present instance, appear in the act 2 Did not the great reformer authenticate his powers by the manner in which he exercised them, and by the effect which they produced 2 Did the guilty resist? Did they call in question his authority? Did they drag him, in their turn, to the tribunal? No, they feel his ascendant and shrink from his rebuke. Who, then, call for a sign? Not the offenders; they had received sufficient evidence: not the populace, for they must have been equally overawed and confounded. The rulers of the Jews hearing of this singular transaction, some of them, perhaps, being on the spot, and eye-witnesses of whathad passed, jealous of their honour, and considering their prerogative as invaded; they, as men having authority demanded a sign. From their general character, and from the inefficacy of this and other signs afterwards given, we know from what motive the present demand was made; not in the spirit of meekness, not from the love of truth, not to obtain conviction; but in the hope of finding occasion to censure, or of putting the assumed authority of Christ to a test which it could not stand. A sign is given them, and a most remarkable one it is. “Jesus answered and said unto them, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Whatever construction the Jews might put on these words, what Jesus intended to convey is obvious, and it was in every point justified by the corresponding event. He who is simplicity and truth itself could have no design to mislead. The action and emphasis with which he spake, clearly pointed out the object. The general attention had just been directed to a temple made with hands, a temple wickedly profaned by an abominable traffic, which was connived at by its professed conser. vators, and whose honour had been so nobly vindicated Vol. IV. 2 L