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After having miraculously fed the moltitade, Jesus departed to the terrie tory of Magdala and appeared in a province of that country, called Dale maputha. The Pharisees having heard that he had again fed the multitude, followed him there ; for they feared that the common people would be convinced by his miracles, and acknowledge him to be the Messiah ; and they were determined to oppose him with all their might, and openly and poblicly confute whatever he advanced, with a view to prevent the nation from owning him under that character.
In order to this, they boldly demanded of him a sign from heaven, to make it plain, beyond all contradiction, that he was a greater prophet than Moses. Jesus replied, by rebuking their blindne:S & folly, who by observing the face of the sky, could distinguish the signs of fair & rainy weather, with a precision, which was fally manifested by the event ; but, at the same time, they were so blind and foolish, they could not perceive the evident manifestation of the fulfilment of the prophecies respecting the Mes. siah, nor distinguish the signs of those times which they so ardently expected and desired. Had the Pharisees duly attended to the evidences which our Lord produced to prove his divine mission, and examined them with the same care as they did the face of the sky, when they predicted the fairness or the foulness of the weather, they would doubtless have been convinced of the truth : but their obstinate and inveterate prejudices, prevented their receiving the Redeemer of Israel, and filled their hearts with so much pride and envy, that our divire Instructor would not attempt their information and conviction; but fetching a deep sigh, because of the hardness of their hearts, he declared, that their expected sign should never be given them; and further observed, that the only sign which Divine Providence would allow them, was that of his own resurrection from the cold regions of the dead, in which dark abodes he should be no longer held, than the prophet Jonah was in the belly of the whalex This miracle of our Lord's resurrection, was a sign greater than any which had formerly been shewn by the ancient prophets, and was justly insisted od by our great Redeemer, to prove that he excelled and was far superior to them all: “A wicked and adulterous generation,” said he," seeket: after a sign and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas."
Having given this answer to the Pharisees, our Lord departed with his disciples, and went by sea to Bethsada. During this short voyage, he cautioned his disciples to beware of the doctrine of the Scribes and Pharisees, which he introduced under the metaphor of leaven, describe its wide spreading contagion, and pernicious influence of the minds and actions of men. These hypocrites, valued themselves for their zealous attachment to a religion, which consisted in the scrupulous observance of frivolous tradition, while they neglected the immutable duties of natural religion as well as the weightier and more important precepts of the law ; but the disciples, having forgotten to take bread with them in their voyage, thought our Lord introduced the discourse of leaves, to caution them against procuring it of the Heathens, or Samaritans; for, though their master had so lately fed the multitude in the desert, they had forgotten bis miraculous power, and seemed not to be sensible, that he who had fed ten thousand persons with five loaves, was able, at all times, to provide for their necessities.
Having crossed the lake, and landed at Bethsada, there was brought to our Lord a blind man, and he was earnestly intreated to restore him to sight. He received the petition with his usual kindness, and taking the man by the hand, he led him out of the city ; then he spit in his eyes and laid his hands upon him, and asked him if he saw any thing: to which, the man replied, " I see men as trees walking :" which words very properly express the indistinctness of his sight : Jesus then laid his hands
upon him a second time, and he was immediately restored to clear, tinct, and perfect sight.
It is proper in this place to be remarked that the inhabitants of Bethsadaz had, by their ingratitude, impenitence, and unbelief, greatly provoked our great Redeemer; and it may be said of this city, as it was of another,
he would not do many mighty' works there, because of their unbelief: and this, no doubt, was the reason why he would not perform this mira eulous cure in the city, bat led the blind man into the fields; and soon after departed into the territory of Cæsarea Philippi.
Being retired into the country, our Lord thought proper to try the faith of the apostles ; not that he did it for his own information, but that it might be manifest to themselves, that they believed in the Lord. With this view, he asked them, “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, amp" In answer to this question, the disciples replied, “ Some say, that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets." The people in general, were convinced that Jesus was a great prophet; but though they were convinced of this, they did not acknowledge him as the Messiah. The reason of their mistake is very apparent: they expected that the Messiab, when he appeared, would assume The honors, grandeur, and power of a temporal kingdom; but, as Jesus disclaimed and declined all earthly honours, they could not receive him under that character. Jesus, therefore, gave the disciples an opportunity, of declaring what their conceptions were of his person and cliaracter; and, with this view, he asked them, “ But Whom say ye that I am ?" To įhis question, Peter immediately replied, “ Thou art Christ the Son of the living God." With a condescending smile, our Lord accepted the title, and, to testify his approbation of Peter's faith, immediately replied, “ Bles sed art thou, Simon Bar-jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Our great Redeemer, then alluding to the name of Peter, which signifies a rock, led him, and the rest of the disciples, to a view of that eternal Rock, on the faith he had before expressed, and the whole church of CHRIST rests, as on a sure foundation. And I say unto thee," said he, " that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not preYail against it."
It cannot, without great absurdity ; be concluded, that Peter was the rock on which Christ declared he would build his church : weak indeed, and easily assaulted and overcome by the powers of hell, would the noble fabrick be, if it rested on any creature ; and much more so, was it supported by a weak, mutable, & fallible man: it is therefore manifested, that Christ himself is the Rock, on which his universal church, containing the whole number of his redeemed, is erected; and this is a foundation which will stand for ever : not all the powers of earth and hell, can shake the immovable basis of this rock: and whosoever is so happy as to be fixed on this foundation, need not fear the dreadful earthquake, the rushing in undation, the raging tempest; or the devouring flame: not all the rage and confusion of a tumultuous world, can hurt such a person as this ; but he may stand secure amidst the last convulsion of expiring nature, and behold, without fear, « the wrecks of matter and the crush of worlds."
But our Lord proceeded to shew the favourable regard which he had for his disciples, and the gifts which he would bestow upon them; and, therefore, he adds, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven, Matth. xvi. 19. As Peter had spoken in behalf of himself and the rest of the apostles, so our Lord lays down these gifts which were common to all : for the same words, with very little variation, are applied to the whole
CHAPTER XIX. Christ informs his Disciples of his Sufferings and Death: He declares,
that he shall judge the World, and gives a Desciption of the Last Judg. ment: He is transfigured in the Presence of th:ee of his Apostles: At the Foot of the Mountain of Transfiguration, he cures a Youth, who had á dumb and deaf Spirit : And, returning to Capernaum, pays the Ro. man Tribute, with a piece of Money, taken out of the Mouth of a fisk by Peter, agreeable to his Master's Direction.
THE disciples, as they still retained their expectations of a temporal kingdom, were doobtless, highly elated with the discourse of their Master, which they had lately heară; giving them the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and enabling them to bind and loose with such authority, were very agreeable to them: and it is to be supposed, that they explained these grants to mean some great temporal powers and honours, they were to be invested with. Their divine Leader, to abate their high swelling con ceits, and lead them into clearer views of the nature of his kingdom, and the final issue of his ministry amongst the Jews, informed them, that it was appointed in the eternal counsels of his father, that he should be rejected by the rulers of Israel, persecuted with the utmost malice, followed with false accusations, and, at last, put to death as a malefactor, with citcumstances of the greatest crgelty and public shame.
The disciples were exceedingly alarmed at this prediction of their Master; he had just before accepted the title of the Messiah and declared, that he would bestow high honours, peculiar privileges, and extraordinary powers on his apostles ; and his now declaring, that he should be arraigned, condemned and put to death as malefactor, was so contrary to their expectations, that they thought it impossible to be true. Peter, who was of a warmer temper than the rest, heard his master talk of dying at Jers.
salem with the utmost astonishment, could not forbear binting, that he did not believe it to be true; and he proceeded to blame his Master, for mentioning any such thing. For this boldness, our Lord sharply rebuked him: "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
It was the false notions of the nature of the Messiah's kingdom which Peter had imbibed, and his love to the world, and desires after its grandeur and glory, which induced him to utter that impra lent language, whichi brought so severe a rebuke from his Master. It was therefore a lesson, which our Redeemer, at this time, thought peculiarly proper to inculcate, that all who would afterwards obtain that glory which belonged to the subjects of his kingdom, must deny themselves; that is, they must always be ready to give up every worldly pleasure, every thing which tends to gratify the senses, and even life itself, whenever the cause of Christ' required it. And he informed them, that whosoever pursued the glory and blessedness of his kingdom, in such a way as to be likely to obtain it, must expect to meet with trouble, vexation, disappointment; affliction, and distress : for, our Lord declared, that he who would be his disciple, must take up his cross daily, and follow him.
Our Lord thus opened to his disciples the true nature of his kingdom, and let them know, that it was quite the reverse of what they had expect ed: for, though they had undergone many afflictions, difficulties, an dtrials, there were greater and more severe exercises of their patience and fortitude still to come; these it would be in vain to attempt to shun or evade, for they must follow their master in the footsteps of his affliction, which if they attempted to shun, they would fall into greater evils; but those who persevered in the way of their duty with patience and fortitude, though they might lose their temporal lives, they would certainly gain an happy immortality: “ For whosoever,” said he, “will save his life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake the same shall save it. Fot what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?"
Our great Redeemer, having explained to his attentive disciples, the usage they must expect to find from the world, and the reproach, trouble, afiliction, and variety of distress which they must expect to go through; he then thought proper to change the scene, and represented to them the grandeur, glory, dignity, and majesty in which he should appear, when
' an come in the glory of his Father; and then he shall reward every man act cording to his works.” This consideration might have been abundantly sufficient to quiet their minds, and reconcile them to various difficulties, troubles, and afflictions which lay before them. Then their despised Mas ter will appear in greater glory and dignity than the most pompous earthly prince; he will assume the birth right of the skies, and sit as the supreme judge of heaven and earth ; then will his enemies meet with the punishment which they have so justly deserved, & his friends most assuredly receive their eternal reward; but those who, through fear of the difficulties & troubles which lay before them, have deserted his cause, will find themselves deserted, and finally rejected at that awful day; for said our great Redeemer, “ Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his father with the holy angels.” As this is the first time which our exalted Redeemer mentioned this
great event to his disciples, it may not be amiss to take a short view of this grand, magnificent, awful, and most interesting scene. As the Son of God is the exalted person who shall judge the world in righteousness, lef
As for moment, contemplate the glory, grandeur, and dignity in which he will appears he himself
declares, that he will appear *** in the glory of his Father, and with the holy angels :" he will appear arrayed in the ma. jesty of that God, who dwells in light, and whose glory no mortal can ap. proach; not the blessed inhabitants of the heavenly world, can bear the blaze of that boundless glory which surrounds the eternal throne, but veil their faces in the presence of that God; who dwells in light, and fills the heavenly regions with the boandless blaze of uncreated brightness. How small, how dim a speck is the son, when compared with the Eternal Fountain of Light, or with the brightness of thuc God, who pours the beamy tadiance from world to world, and could with one ray of glory darted from his throne, light up a thousand sons.
In this boundless brightness, and majestic pomp, will the son of God appear. Ab ! how unlike the despised Galliean ; how unlike the the person, who groaned and bled on Calvary! Not now attended with twelve weak disciples, twelve mean, illiterate fishermen ; but surrounded with myriads of cælestial spirits, and numberless hosts of mighty angels. With what cælestial pomp, with what unutterable brightness, they descend through the sky, while the sun, overpowered with excessive light, shrinks and disappears, and the whole bright assembly descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God."
with dead : the dead awake and rise ; some exulting with joy at the sight of their Saviour, and others terrified, confounded, & filled with inexpressible horror, at the sight of their "Judge : the great and mighty, the rich and noble, warriors, captains, princes, and potentales who ruled the world, and did as they pleased amongst the sons of men, now have lost all their honours and command, and are filled with the utmost consternation, amazement, and distnay: they cannot bear the brightness of the Judge, they would plunge into eternal darkness, to avoid his piercing eye, and they call upon the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, “and hide the in from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand."
However reluctant, they are forced to appear: urged by strong necessity, and driven by frowningungets, they crowd to the bar, and stand trembling and astonished, on the left-hands of their Judge. The elect of God, gathered by angels from the utermost parts of the earth, and placed on the right-band; they lift up their heads with joy, and, beholding the great Judge of heaven and earth, with 'exoltation and transport can say, " This is oor God, we have waited for him ; we will be glad and rejoice in him.” And now the time is come, when flagrant outrageous vice shall be thrown down and despised, oppressed, afflicted virtoe shall be exalted ; now is the time, when the mysteries of Providence shall be unveiled, when all the clouds and darkness which surrounded the ways of God, will be cleared away, and the wisdom, justice, and goodness of divine conduct fally vindicated, both in those who are saved, and those who perish: now the church of CHRIST, his spotless bride, purchased with his blood, shall appear in all her glory and beauty, all vain hypocritical pretenders will be exposed, and every thing that offendeth, done away.
An awfal silence is proclaimed; the books are opened; the secrets of all hearts, and every dark deed which bad been carefully concealed. are bro't to light, and then the exalted King of the universe, who sits in Judgment, proceeds to pass that sentence, which must stand for ever. With looks of the most kind, condescending goodness, and unspeakable complacency and delight, he first beholds the happy heirs of life and glory, who had been enabled, by his grace, to believe in him for life and salvation, and bring forth such fraits of righteousnest, as were honourable to his cause :