Page images

6. Be

the glad tidings of the gospel, and the near Tabor, attended by many of his disciples, approach of the great Messiah's kingdom ; and a great multitude of people. not a teniporal, but a spiritual empire, consisting of righteousness and peace.

On their coming to the entrance of the

city, a melancholy scene presented itself to To inure them to those hardships and the eyes of Jesus and his followers. dangers, which were to attend them in their hold there was a dead man carried out, the preaching, after the death of their Master, only son of his mother, and she was a wiour Lord forbade them to provide any thing dow." Luke vi. 12. Who would not for their journey : teaching them to rely have imagined, that God had indeed " forwholly on the providence of God, for sup gotten to be gracious, and in his anger shut port, in every distress, and to bave recourse up his tender mercies” liom this poor wito his protection, in every danger.

dow, suffering under the leaviest load, and

labouring under the most oppressive harden Our Lord's disciples had, perhaps, flat of distress ? deprived of her son, in the tered themselves with the pleasing expecta flower of his, youth, when he might have tion, that the glad tidings they were going repaid bis mother's toils, and been to her in to publish, and the miraculous cures they the place of a husband ; of that husband were enabled to perform, would procure she bad long since lost, and whose loss was. them an honourable reception, wherever supportable ouly through the comfort of they caine. Their Master, however, told this child, the surviving image of his departthem the event would not in any manner ed father, the bain of all her grief, the answer their expectations : but that they hope of her afflicted soul: Who sow shall were every where to be despised, perse administer consolation to this solitary wi. cuted, delivered into the hands of the rulers,

dow, to this lonely parent, bereaved of her and punished as wicked men. But at the

husband, deprived of her child ? what same time, he promised then the aid of the misery can be more complicated ? what can Almighty, and gave them instructions for

be more natural, than that she should refuse their behaviour, in every particular. He

to be comforted, that she should go down added, that those who rejected their mes

to the grave with mourning, and visit the sage, should be treated with severity, by chambers of death, the residence of the the great Judge of all the earth ; but those

beloved remains of her husband, and her who received them kindly, and gave even son, with sorrow. a cup of cold water to the least of his disciples, for their Master's sake, should not

Towards the receptacle of mortality, that fail of receiving a large reward.

dreary waste of forgetfulness, the mourn

ful funeral was now with slow and solemn Having received this commission, the

pomp advancing, when the compassionate apostles visited all parts of Palestine, where

Redeemer of Mankind met the melancholy the Jews inbabited, preaching the gospel procession, composed of a long train of her and ihe doctrine of repentance, working weeping neighbours and relations, who pitimiracles for its confirmation, and particular ed her distress, sympathized with her in this ly healing the sick, while our blessed Savi

great affliction, and were melted with comour continued the course of his ministry in

passion at her deplorable circumstances ; Galilee.

but sighs and tears were all they had to

offer, relief could not be expected from a The apostles being returned from the human being ; their commiseration, though tour, Jesus went to Nain, a town situated grateful to her oppressed soul, could neither near Endor, about two miles south of Mount restore her husband, for the son : submis


sion and patience were the only lessons they Here it must be observed, that as this could preach, or this afflicted daughter of miracle is liable to no objection; it thereIsrael learn. .

fore abundantly proves, that the power of

the blessed Jesus was truly and absolutely But though man was unable to relieve

divine. He met this funeral procession by the distresses of this disconsolate widow,

accident. It was composed of the greatthe Saviour of the world, who beheld the

est part of the inhabitants of the city, who melancholy procession, was both able and.

bewailed the disconsolate state of the afflictwilling to do it. There was no need of a

ed widow, and therefore well knew that the powerful solicitor to impiore assistance of

youth was really dead. The powerful word the Son God, his own compassion was which called the breathless body to life, was abundantly sufficient : “ When the Lord

delivered in an audible voice, before all the saw her, he had compassion on her." He

company, and even at the very gate of the both sought the patient, and offered the

city, the place of public resort. This micure, unexpectedly. " Weep not,” said

racle, with others amply attested, abunthe kind reliever of misery, to this afflicted

dantly evince the truth of our Saviour's · woman. Alas! it has been wholly in vain

mission, and that he was indeed the Son of to bid her refrain from tears, who had lost | God, the Redeemer of mankind... her only child, the sole comfort of berage, without administering the balm and comfort to heal her broken spirit. This our begevolent Redeemer well knew; and therefore, immediately advaqcing towards the corpse, " he touched the bier.” The pomp of the funeral was instantly stopped, silence closed every mouth, and expectation filled the

The Character of John the Baptist cleared breast of every spectator. But this deep

and justified, by the blessed Jesus. Dissuspense did not long continue. That glo.

playofour Lord's Humility and Conderious voice which shall one day call our

scension, by conforming to the custom of dead bodies from the grave, filled their ears

the Age and Place where he lived, with these remarkable words, “ Young man, I say unto thee, arise.” Nor was this pow W E have taken notice, in a foregoing erful.command uttered without its constant

chapter, that Herod, incensed at the effect. “He spake, and it was done." He honest freedom of the Baptist, reproving his called with authority, and iinmediately," he adulterous commerce with Herodias, bis that was dead, sat up, and began to speak; brother Philip's wife, had cast him into priand be restored him to his mother." He son; and in this state he still continued, did not shew bim around to the multitude; though his disciples were suffered to visit but by a singular act of modesty and huma and converse with him. In one of these nity, delivered him to his late afflicted, now visits they had given him an account of our astonished and rejoicing mother, to intimate, Saviour's having elected twelve apostles to that in compassion to her distress, he had preach the gospel, and of his miracles, parwrought this stupendous miracle.

ticularly of his raising to life the daugh

ter of Jairus, and the son of the widow A holy and an awful fear fell on all who | Nain.. heard and saw this astonishing event: “and they glorified God, saying, that a great Pro On hearing these wonderful relations, the phet is risen up among us ; and that God

Baptist immediately dispatched two of had visited his people."

his disciples to Jesus, to ask him this im

ven, he made it bis business to dispose the thesis is sent two of his disciples to ask

portant question; “ Art thou he that should To this some answer, that he had no other come, or look we for another ?"

intention than to satisfy his disciples that

Jesus was the Messiah, so long expected Accordingly, the disciples of John came among the Jews; and to engage them to to Jesus ; and proposed the question of their follow a more perfect Master, especially as master, at the very time when he cured he himself was now on the point of leaving many of their infirmities, and of evil spi. the world. rits, and to many that were blind he gave sight.

This solution is doubtless partly right,

but it does not seem to remove the whole Jesus, therefore, instead of directly an difficulty, as it is plain, from the very acswering their question, bid them return, count recorded by the Evangelist, that the and inform their master wlrat they had seen; question had actually some relation to him“Go your way, and tell John what things self; and therefore we must remove the ye have seen and heard ; how that the blind

difficulty, by some other method. In order see, the lace walk, the lepers are cleansed, to which, it must be remembered, that the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the John had been long confined in prison; and poor the gospel is preached. Matt. ix. 4, 5. being persuaded that it was necessary for Go, tell your master, that the very miracles him to preach the gospel, and prepare men the prophet Isaiah so long since foretold to receive the kingdom of the Messiah ; and should be wrought by the Messiah, you have for that reason, from the very time of his yourselves seen performed.”

imprisonment, earnestly expected that the

Messiah would exert his power to procure It appears from scripture, that the Baptist, his release. But on hearing that Jesus had through the whole course of his ministry, chosen twelve illiterate fishermen to preach had borne constant and ample testinony to the gospel and furnished them with miraour Saviour's divine mission : tbat he ex culous powers, in order to enable them to horted those who came to bim to rest their perform so great a work; and that two perfaith, not on himself, þut on him that should sons of no consequence were raised from come after him : and, that as soon as he was the dead, while he was suffered to remain acquainted who Jesus was, by a visible descent in prison, he began to think himself negof the Holy and a voice from hea

and his disregarded. Jews in general, and his own disciples in him this question, “ Art thou he that particular, to receive and reverence bim, should come; or, look me for another ??? by testifying every where, that he was the Not that lie entertained any doubt of his « Son of God, the Lamb of God, who cane being the true Messiah, intending nothing down from heaven, and spake the words of more by making the demand, but to con God, and to whom God had given the spirit, plain that Jesus had not acted the part without measure."

which he thought the Messiah should have

acted : and that this was really the ease The Baptist, therefore, well knew wlio

seems sufficiently plain, from the caution Jesus was; and consequently, he did not

added by our Saviour himself. And blessend his disciples to ask this question, to sed is he whomsoever shall not be offended solve any doubt in his mind concerning the

in me.” As if he had said, when you have Saviour of the world.

informed your Master of what you lave seen

and beard, tell bim that he would do well But it will be demanded, what else could

not to be offended, either at the choice of induce the Baptist to ask suela a question ?

[ocr errors]

desarts, his shunuina

the apostles, or that no miracle bas been them for that office, they were far superip wrought forinis release.

to him, with regard to illumination. They

were so fully possessed by the Spirit, that From this circumstance, it is evident, on all occasions they could declare the wili that impatience on account of his long con of God, infallibly, being, as it were, living finement was the true reason for the Bap oracles ; and having been the subjects of tist's sending his disciples, with this question ancient prophecies, they had beep long exto Jesus; and that the purport of the answer pected by the people of God. was, to teach bim submission, in a case that was plainly above the reach of his Having thus shewn the greatness of the judgment.

Baptist's character, and whereiu he was

surpassed by the disciples, our blessed Sa. Lest the people from this conversation, viour took occasion from thence, to blame should imbibe any opinion prejudicial to the perverseness of the age, in rejecting both the character of the Baptist, our blessed his own, and the Baptist's testimony. Lord thought proper to place it in a proper point of light. He praised bis invincible It seems that the scribes and pharisees, courage and constancy, which was not to seeing their pretended mortifications eclipbe overcome, or, “like a reed to be shaken sed by the real austerity of the Baptist, im. by the wind :" bis austere and mortitied life; pudently aflirmed, that his living in the for he was not “clothed in soft raiment" like those who waited in the palaces of kings ; the coarseness of bis clothing, the abste. adding, that he was a prophet, nay more miousness of bis diet, and the other seye, than a prophet. For this is he of whom it rities he practised, were the effeets of his is written, behold, I send my messenger beiog possessed by an apostate spirit, or of before thy face, which shall prepare thy religious melancholy, “For John came way before thee.” But subjoined, " not ueither eating nor drinking, and ye say he withstanding, he that is least in the king bath a devil.” Matt. xi. 18. dom of heaven, is greater than he.”

On the other hand, they would not listen The propriety of this remark will appear, to the heavenly doctrines preached by Christ, when it is considered, that though the Bap because be did not separate himself from tist excelled all the prophets that were be society: attributing his free manner of living fore him, yet the least inspired person in to a certain looseness of disposition, though the kingdom of heaven,' the least apostle or they well knew that he observed the strictpreacher of the gospel, was greater than est temperance himself, and never encouhe ; because by constantly attending on raged the vice of others, either by dissimuJesus, they were much better acquainted lation or example.

* The Son of man came with his character, disposition, and doc- eating and drinking, and they say, Behold trine, than the Baptist, who had only seen a man gluttonous and a wine bibber, a him transiently : wherefore, in respect of friend of publicans and sinners ; but their personal knowledge of the Messiah, wisdomis justified, of ber children." Dlatt. the apostles greatly excelled the Baptist. xi. 19. They were also employed not in making preparation for the Messiah's kingdom, but He next proceeded to upbraid the several in erecting it ; and consequently greater cities where his most wonderful works had than the Baptist, with respect to the diguity been performed. For though they had of their office. Moreover, by having the heard bim.preach many awakening sermons, gift of miracles and the like, conferred on and seen him perform numerous astonishing

No. 5.


[ocr errors]


their ways,

[ocr errors]

miracles, such as would have converted bitants of the earth, and even by those words Tyrė, Sidon, and Sodom, cities infamous he bath himself delivered. It is this highly for their impiety, contempt of religion, exalted Person that speaks, declaring at pride, luxury and debauchery ; yet so great once his great willinguess to receive them, was their obstinacy, that they persisted in and bis power to give that rest and peace their wickedness, notwithstanding all he to the soul, which is the pursuit of every had done to convert them from the evil of son of Adam, and is the gift of his religion

, “ Wue unto thee, Chorazin, only. Nor is the invitation less important, woe unto thee, Bethsaida ; for if the mighty containing the whole glad tidings of the works that have been done in you, had been gospel to every oppressed and sinful soul. done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have And that nothing may prevent our acceptrepented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. ing the benevolent offer, he invites with But I say unto you, it shall be more toler the most affectionate tenderness, not the able for Tyre and Sidon, in the day of judga great, the happy, and the powerful, nor ment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, the merry-hearted, and the sons of joy, but thou art exalted unto heaven, "shalt be all that labour, and are beavy laden;" all brought down to bell; for if the mighty that are under the bondage of sin and works that have been done in thee, had sorrow, and those be calls, not with a de. been done in Sodom, it would have remain sire to expose their miseries, to punish their ed until this day. But I say unto you, that offences, or to display his own glory, but it shall be more tolerable for the land of solely with a view to render them happy, Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for “Come, (says be) come to me, I entreat thee.” Matt. xi. 21, &c.

you to come, I will give you rest." I myself

will relieve and release you from your heavy Having denounced these judgments on burdens ; come to me, and you shall find the eities which had neglected to profit by perfect rest and peace to your souls. “Take his mighty works, he concluded his dis my yoke upon you, for it is easy, and my; course, with these heavenly words; “Come burden, for it is light.” to me all ye that labour, and are beavy laden, and F will give you rest. Take Is it possible that creatures of a day like my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for us; can it be possible that “ portals who I am meek and lowly in lieart; and have but a short time to live, and are full of ye shall find rest to your souls. For my misery, who come up and are cut down yoke is easy and my burden is light.”. Matt. like a flower, who flee as it were a-shadow, xi. 22; &c.

and never continue in one stay ;" can it be

possible that they should reject and disreThis affecting invitation must engage the gard a call so full of love, so full of affection, most serious attention and particular regard of such infinite consequence, of such unof every reader ; if the greatness of the speakable advantage ? Can they reject the speaker, the importance of his message, or love of him who gave them rest, took their the affectionate manner of his address, have burdens upon himself; and who, after all any weight, have any force, have any power bis sufferings, desires them only to come, to affect the soul. It is Christ, the Re to exchange their own oppressive burdens, deemer of mankind, the Son of the most for his lightsome yoke ; to abandon their High; he into whose hands, as our media. sins and sorrows, and become his disciples ; tor, all things are delivered of his father ; to love and obey him, and thence to be he unto whom all power in heaven and happy? Can we possibly despise such earth is given ; even he who shall come in grace, refuse such offers, fly from such rest, the clouds of heaven to judge all the inba thus freely proposed to us, and prefer the

« PreviousContinue »