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but as my Father hath taught me, I speak the worst of times, had preserved sentiments these things.” John viii. 28.
in religion and government worthy of the
posterity of Abraham ; nor had the hottest He added, that though he should be cruci
persecution of the Assyrian kings been able fied as a malefactor, that punishment would to compel them to embrace the religion of not be inflicted on him, as a consequence the heathens. In respect of truth, of his being deserted by his Father : be
were never in bondage to any man: how cause he would never leave him in any
sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?" period of his misery, or even at the hour of death, as he had always acted agreeable In answer to this question, Jesus told to his will.
them, that those who gave themselves up
to a vicious course of life, and to the gratiThese words induced many of the people fications of their sinful appetites, were absoto believe him to be the Messiah. Perhaps lutely slaves, and how far they might deserve by“ lifting him up,” they did not understand that appellation, it was incumbent on them his crucifixion, but his ascension to the to consider. “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, throne of David ; and hence supposed, that
whosoever committeth sin is the servant of he now entertained sentiments worthy of sin." Aud as a slave cannot be assured the Messiah, and were therefore very ready of the continuance of his Master's favour, or to acknowledge him as such, and believe the certain of abiding continually in the family; doctrine he had delivered concerning his inis so my Father cau, when he pleases, discard sion. But Jesus told them, that if they perse such habitual sininers, deprive you of the vered in the belief and practice of his word, external economy of religion, in which you they should in reality, become his disciples, so highly boast, as you have, through sin, have a title to that honourable appellation, be rendered yourselves bondsmen to his justice. fully instructed in every doctrine of the If ye are desirous of becoming the chilgospel, and not only freed from the slavery dren of God, and of remaining for ever in his of sin and its consequences, but also from the family, you must submit to the authority of ceremonial laws delivered by Moses. his Son, and embrace his doctrine ; which ye continue in my word, then are ye my will induce him to adopt you as co-beirs disciples indeed ; and ye shall know the with himself. It is be only that can truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
you free indeed, and place you in the John viii. 31, 32.
city of the heavenly Jerusalem, without the
least danger of being removed. I well know The Jews, on hearing him mention that that you are, in a natural sense, the seed they should be made free, answered, “We of Abraham, but in a moral one, the offspring be Abraham's seed, and were never in bond of Satan ; for many of you are desirous age to any man.” This assertion, if'taken li of destroying me, because I enjoin a greater terally, wasabsolutely false, the whole nation, degree of sanctity than you are willing to at that very time, being in bondage to the acquire. “I know that you are Abraham's Romans; nor were their ancestors any stran seed ; but ye seek to kill me, because my gers to slavery, having severely felt the band word bath no place in you. I speak that of tyranny, both in Egypt, Assyria, and which I have seen with my Father ; and ye Babylon. The expression, therefore, must do that which ye have seen with your fabe taken in a metaphorical sense, to signify ther. They answered aud said unto him, spiritual bondage : it was a freedom in re Abraham is our father.” John viii. 37, 38, spect of religion which they now asserted. 39. They meant that they were the descendants of illustrious ancestors; and, during Notwithstanding their claim to imme.
diate descent from that father of the faithful, did not come of himself, but was sent by Jesus told them that if they were the the great Creator of the Universe. spiritual progeny of Abraham, they would God were your Father, ye would love me ; resemble that great and good man in his for 1 proceeded forth and came from God; righteousness; and therefore instead of en neither came I of myself, but he sent me.' deavouring to take away the life of a per John viii. 42. son who came with a revelation from Ged, they would believe on him, in imitation of But ye, continued the blessed Jesus, Abraham, who was justly stiled the father inherit the nature of your father, the devil: of the faithful, and the friend of God. “If and therefore will continue to gratify the ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the lusts ye have derived from him.
He was works of Abraham. But now ye seek to an enemy and a murderer of mankind from kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, the beginning, and has ever since exerted which I have heard of God : This did not his whole power to work their destruction : Abraham." John viii. 39, 40. .
sometimes by seducing into sin by his falsi
ties, and sometimes by instigating them to Jesus added, that their deeds sufficiently kill those whom God thought proper to shewed whose children they were, and from send to reclaim them. And having early what stock they were descended ; even from departed from holiness and truth, a custom the great deceiver of mankind, who “ goeth of lying is become habitual to him. Being about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he therefore a liar and the father of lying, when may devour.”
he speaketh a falsity, he speaketh what is
properly his own. But I tell you the truth : The Jews at length discovered the drift and therefore it is natural to think that ye of our Lord's meaning, and accordingly will disbelieve me. “ Ye are of your father replied, they were undoubtedly in that the devil, and the lusts of your Father ye sense the children of God, as they were will do: he was a murderer from the be. certainly not born of fornication, alluding ginning, and abode not in the truth, beto the marriage covenant, which in scrip cause there is no truth in him. When he ture is metaphorically said to subsist be- speaketh a lye, he speaketh of his own; for tween God and the people of Israel, and he is a liar, and the father of it. And beby which their obligation to love, honour, cause I tell you the truth, ye believe me and obey him, was represented in a very not.” John viii. 44, 45. lively manner. We are neither, said the Jews, idolaters ourselves, nor sprung from Though you dare even to reject my docidolatrous parents : consequently we are, trine, are any of you able to shew that I with respect to a spiritual descent, the chil have not received my commission from headren of God. “We be not born of fornica
ven, or that I have done any thing that has tion; we have one Father, even God.” a tendency to render me unworthy of belief? John viii. 41.
Can you shew that I have taught false doc
trines, reproved you unjustly for your acBut Jesus told them, that an outward tions, or been guilty myself of sin ? If you profession of the true religion was of no are unable to do this, but on the contrary, consequence. They must “ love it in deed must acknowledge, that my doctrine and and in truth” if they hoped to be, in reality, life are such as become a messenger of God, the children of God : and if they truly loved what reason can ye pretend for not believreligion, they must love him who came ing me? “ And if (in affirming I am perdown from heaven on purpose to reveal it fectly free from sin) I say the truth, why do to the sons of men. Adding, that he ye not believe me » Whoever is of God,
receives with the greatest humility, what of the divine precepts, could not obtain the ever revelations God is pleased to make of privilege of being themselves exempt from himself by his messenger, and makes it his the stroke of death, much less for their fol. study and delight to obey his command
lowers. Now we know that thou hast ments. But ye reject the revelations and a devil. Abraham is dead, and the proprecepts of the Almighty, delivered by phets ; and thou sayest, if a man keep my me, who came down from heaven, for no saying, he shall never taste of death. Art other reason than because ye are not the thou greater than our father Abraham, children of God. “He that is of God, which is dead? and the prophets are heareth God's words ; ye therefore hear dead : whom makest thou thyself ?” John them not because ye are not of God.” John viii. 52, 53. viii. 47.
In reply to this impertinent query, the The Jews, still attached to their lineal Messiah returned, if I should attempt to descent, replied, that his calling the de speak in praise of myself, you will call it scendants of Abraham the children of the vain and foolish, and like the pharisees, devil, was a sufficient proof that he was tell me, “ Thou bearest record of thyself: either a very profligate wretch himself, or thy record is not true.” Instead, therefore, instigated by some evil spirit. But Jesus of giving you a full description of my digtold them he was neither mad nor actuated nity, I shall only inform you, that it is my by an evil spirit. On the contrary, he Father who speaketh honourably of me, honoured his father by speaking the words by the many miracles he enables me to perof truth, which he bad sent him to deliver: form. And surely this may be sufficient to and therefore they dishonoured him in call convince you of what I have promised for ing him by so opprobrious a title, adding, my disciples: especially when I tell you, that he did not, however, court their ap that my Father is no other than the Alplause, nor fear their reproaches; though mighty God of Jacob, whom all the dethere was one concerned to vindicate his scendants of Abraham pretend to worship. honour, and severely punish all who should But though you vainly boast of worshipping dare to attack it.
my Father as your God, you are ignorant
of him : you neither form just conceptions Our Lord, having declared his mighty of him, nor worship him in the manner you and divine power, asserts the happy effects ought. Your knowledge and actions, thereof faith and obedience to the gospel.
fore, give the lye to your profession ; but rily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep on the contrary, I entertain proper ideas of my saying, he shall never see death.” John him, and obey his precepts. You may, viii. 51. On this declaration, the Jews perhaps, construe this declaration as procried out, now we sufficiently know that ceeding from vanity ; but if I should say thou art possessed with a devil; for the most I do not form adequate conceptions of him, righteous persons that ever flourished among or acknowledge him as he deserves, I should the sons of men are dead: Abraham, and be a liar like unto you. Even your father the prophets, and other holy men, are all Abraham, of whom you so highly boast, laid in the chambers of the dust, and yet earnestly desired to behold the time when thou hast the impudence and folly to affirm, I, the promised seed, should appear in the that whoever keeps thy precepts shall never world to teach and convert all the nations die. Thou surely canst not think, nor pre of the earth from their idolatry to the knowtend to be more in favour with the Al- ledge and worship of the true God. He mighty than Abraham and the prophets earnestly desired to see the great transacwere, who, though the strictest observers tions of my life, by which this invaluable
blessing was to be procured for all the been blind from his birth. The sight of so sons of men; and view the happy state of affecting an object could not fail to excite all nations, when this blessing was bestow- | the compassion of the benevolent Saviour of ed upon them. This was granted him; he mankind. Nor could the affronts and in“saw it and was glad.” He was favoured dignities he had just received from the Jews, with the ravishing prospect of these happy biuder him from “ working the works of times, then concealed in the womb of futu him that sent him," and dispensing blessings rity, and was exceedingly transported with on that rebellious and ungrateful nation. the scene. “ Your father Abraham rejoiced Accordingly, be beheld this poor blind man, to see my day: and he saw it, and was not with a transient view, but fixed on him glad.” John viii. 56.
the eyes of his divine compassion, and pre
sented him with the riehes of his adorable The Jews, still blind to the spiritual love. meaning of our Lord's words, concluded he had affirmed that he was before Abraham; The disciples observing the affectionate and knowing he was not yet forty years old, regard of their Master to this object of comconsidered it as absolutely ridiculous. passion, and probably imagining that he They had no conception of his divine na was going to extend his usual mercy to this ture, though he had so often told them he unfortunate object, asked their Master, was the Son of God, and consequently exist whether his blindness was occasioned by his ed with the Father, long before this world own sin, or the sin of his parents? They was called from its primitive chaos. This had often heard their Master say, that gross stupidity and perverseness induced the afflictions were commonly the punishment Saviour of the world to assert his dignity in. of particular sins; and had learned, from still plainer terms: “ Verily, verily, I say the law of Moses, that sin was the fruitful unto you, before Abraham was, I am." source of evil; and that the Lord punished John viii. 58.
the iniquities of the fathers upon the children.
Their Master kindly answered, that neither The Jews incensed at our Lord's prior his own nor the sins of the parents were the claim to Abraham, in point of existence, immediate cause of this peculiar punishment, rushed on him, and attempted to stone him ; but that he was born blind, "that the works but Jesus, by rendering himself invisible, of God should be inade manifest in him ;" passed unhurt through the crowd, and retired particularly bis sovereignty in bringing out of the temple.
bim blind into the world, his power in con-
trine by which men are to be saved.
learn by this pertinent reply Our Lord continues to work Miracles in of the Saviour of the world, that a curious
Confirmation of his Mission and Doc- enquiry into the afflictions of other nen may
be safely avoided ; and that we ought to supDisciples. Preaches to the People of pose every calamity subservient to the g ory Judea, by way of Parable.
of Omnipotence; never imputing to their
personal sins whatever miseries we behold THE great preacher of Israel, having
in others, lest, like the disciples in the defeated the cruel designs of the obsti
present case, we assign to sin what owes its nate Jews, was passing through the oity, origin to the glory of our Maker. and saw in one of the streets a man who had
Having assigned the cause of this person's example, by feeding the multitude with blindness, namely, “ that the works of God the meat that perished, he signified that he should be made manifest in him (Jesus added) was come to quicken and nourish mankind, I must work the works of him that sent me, with the bread of life, that sovereign cora while it is day; the night cometh when no dial, and salutary nutriment of the soul. man can work ;" intimating to his disci His giving sight to the blind was a lively ples, and all the sons of men, his unwearied emblem of the efficacy of his doctrine to labour in the work of his Almighty Father. illuininate the blinded understanding of In this he was occupied day and night, His healing their bodies represented during the time of his sojourning in the his power to heal their souls, and was a world. To this alone he directed all bis specimen of his authority to forgive sins, as thoughts and all his intentions. This he if it was a real, though a partial removal of esteemed even as his weat and drink ; and its punishment. His casting out devils was for this he suffered the neglect of his ordinary an earnest of his final victory over Satan, food, that he might finish the blessed, the and all his powers. His raising particular beneficent work of human salvation. Α. persons from the dead was the beginning work to accomplish which he was commis of his triumph over death, and a demonstrasioned from heaven; and, during the execu tion of his ability to accomplish a general tion of it, went about doing good,
resurrection ; and in a word, his curing all
promiscuously, who applied to him, stiewIt was now the sabbath-day, and the ed that he was come not to condemn the blessed Jesus was going to perform a miracle,
world, but to save, even the chief of sinners. in which there was to be a small degree of Accordingly, at, or soon after, performing of servile work, and therefore he told his disci- these miracles, when the memory of them ples, that they need not be surprised to see
was fresh in the minds of his hearers, we bim work miracles of that kind on the sab often find him turning his discourse to the bath-day. For though they should imagine spiritual things they represented. But to that he might defer then till the day of rest
return from this digression. was over, his time on earth was so short, that he was obliged to embrace every oppor Having declared the salutary design of tunity that offered of working miracles. his coming into the world, “ He spat on Perhaps he chose to perform this work on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, the sabbath, because he knew the pharisees and he anointed the eyes of the blind man would, for that reason, enquire into it with with the clay, and said unto him, Go, the utmost attention, and consequently ren wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by der it more generally known.
interpretation, Sent). He went his way,
therefore, and washed, and came seeing.” But however this be, our blessed Saviour
John ix. 6, 7. who was now going to confer sight on one that was born blind, took occasion from From former examples it is evident that thence to speak of himself as one appointed our blessed Saviour could as easily have perto give light also to the minds of men involy formed this miracle without the assistance ed in darkness, “Aslongas I am in the world, of any external means. Indeed, those the I am the Light of the world.” John ix. 5. great Redeemer of mankind made use of on
this occasion, were so far from being likely It appears ,
to miracles were designed not only as proofs adapted to produce a quite contrary effect. of his mission, but also as specimens of the We must, therefore, conclude, that they power he possessed as the Messiah. For were intended to direct our attention to