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cated in an ample manner to the prophets and other persons, under the Old Testament, but they had ceased for many years before the appearance of Christ, and were not generally given till after his ascension.
40. Many of the people, therefore, when they heard this saying, “ this discourse,” said, Of a truth this is the prophet, referring probably to the Messiah.
This conclusion they drew not from the last words which Christ delivered, but from the whole of his discourse on the present occasion, which had in it something so convincing as to overcome the prejudices not only of the common people, but also of the officers who came to apprehend him. Others expressed themselves still more unambiguously: for it is added,
41. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
42. Hath not the scripture said that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem where David was?
Jesus was supposed to be born at Nazareth, a city of Galilee; whereas the Jews understood that their Messiah was to be born at Bethlehem in Judæa. On this account some found a difficulty in admitting Jesus to be entitled to that character. A prophecy of Micah undoubtedly speaks of some ruler of Israel, who was to come out of Bethlehem : but had the apostles applied that prophecy to Christ, and understood that being born there was necessary to the character of the Messiah, they would have called him Jesus of Bethlehem, and not Jesus of Nazareth, as he is uniformly denominated. It appears also that the friends of Jesus were at this time ignorant of his being born at Beth
lehem, otherwise they would have been able easily to remove this objection, by mentioning that circumstance.
43. So there was a division among the people because of him.
The people were divided in their opinion respecting
44. · And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
45. Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
The persons who proposed this question were pro. bably the Jewish Sanhedrim, assembled to receive and try their prisoner.
46. The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
47. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived ?
48. Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
"If not one of your magistrates and religious instruct. ors has yet believed in him, is it not presumption in you to do so? By rulers we are here to understand the members of the Sanhedrim, agreeably to which we find that Nicodemus, who was one of the number, is called a ruler of the Jews, John iii. 1.
49. But this people, " this multitude," which knoweth not the law are cursed. Vol. 2.)
50. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night) being one of them,
51. Doth our law judge any man, c condemn any man," before it hear him, and know what he doth ?
This might be the law of the Sanhedrim, as a court of justice, but founded, no doubt, upon the equitable principles of the law of Moses.
52. They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet, rather, “ the prophet is not to arise out of Galilee."
These members of the Sanhedrim, and teachers of the people, could not be so ignorant as not to know that Galilee had been the birth place of many prophets.
53. And every man went unto his own house.
1. Let all men joyfully accept the invitation. given by Christ to them that thirst, to come unto him and drink. Are you desirous of happiness, and dissatisfied with present enjoyments, from whatever sources they arise, whether the gratifications of sense, agreeable society, wealth or honour or power, or from all these united? Do you long for something more substantial than what these objects can afford? Come to Christ, and he will satisfy your desires. Is your mind dejected with disappointment, and overwhelmed with trouble? Come to him, and he will give you relief, His precepts will calm your minds; his gospel will kindle such joyful hopes in your breast, as will prevent you from feeling the weight of any earthly burthen. Are you ambitious of excellence? Do you wish to raise your minds to a far greater degree of perfection in moral virtue than they have yet attained ? He will furnish you with the means of doing so. Place yourselves under his direction : follow the rules which he has prescribed; and you will enter upon a career of improvement which will never end, which will place you in a rank with the highest angels, in the course of an eternal duration, and even carry you beyond their present condition !
2. Those who reject these invitations will, like these Jews, see reason to repent of their folly. Ale though, in the season of health and ease, they may make light of the offers of the Saviour, and think that the world furnishes them with many things which are more desirable; yet, when the time of sickness comes, and especially the hour of death, they will be of a dif. ferent opinion. At that season they will see the worth of virtuous dispositions of mind, which are necessary to qualify men for the enjoyment of future happiness, but which can be learnt froin Christ alone. They will then be sensible of the value of a well grounded hope of a glorious immortality, which an uniform obedience to the laws of Christ can alone inspire. They will then earnestly enquire for the means of attaining both: but the wisdom they have just acquired comes too late to be of any use. They may wish and long and seek for Christ, but he is not to be found. The period for securing an interest in him is past, and nothing now remains, for those who have suffered it to escape, but bitter and unavailing lamentations over their own folly. Think of this, ye that now make light of the Saviour, and listen in time to his invitations and instructions, lest ye should be guilty of an error which it will hereafter be impossible to repair ! ..
3. To condemn no man before he is heard, is an excellent rule, not only for courts of justice, but for
private persons. To examine a subject before we decide upon it, is no more than common prudence, which every one must learn who has the smallest experience of the weakness of his own faculties, and of the numerous causes which contribute to conceal or misrepresent the truth. For want of attending to this rule, how often do we see the best characters vilified, and the most important truths rejected, to which a little examination and enquiry would have ensured a very different treatment. Let the great mischiefs which have arisen from the neglect of this rule, as well as the reasonableness of the rule itself, obtain for it our sacred regard.
4. The question proposed to the officers, who, instead of apprehending Christ, as they were directed, were inclined to become his disciples, Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him, may teach us the folly of submitting our faith to the opinions of other men. The absurdity of such a conduct in the present instance is obvious to every one at first view : for no one will say that the Jews ought not to believe in Christ, because their rulers had not done so. Yet no better argument than this can be pleaded for withholding assent to many important articles of faith. “ Have any of the rulers of the kingdom, or of the teachers of religion, believed this or the other doctrine? Has it been adopted by the majority ?” is as confidently urged, as if the fallacy and absurdity of such reasoning had never been exposed. At certain periods of the Christian as well as of the Jewish church, the opinions of rulers and the opinions of the multitude afford presumptions of errors rather than of truth. Let us remember, my brethren, that as every one is to be answerable to God for his own faith, so it becomes him to receive or reject doctrines upon the conviction of his own mind, and not upon the opinions of others,