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siable, because they must, in so doing, 1 if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye have abandoned all their grand ideas of a believe my words ?” John v. 46, 47. temporal kingdom. Our blessed Saviour, therefore, desired them to consult their own Thus did the blessed Jesus assert himself scriptures, particularly the writings of the to be the Son of God, the great Julge of prophets, where they would find the charact the whole earth, and the Messiah promised ters of the Messiah displayed ; and be fully by the propheis ; and at the same time gave convinced they were all fulfilled in his per them such convincing proofs of his being
sent from God, that nothing could be said
against them. He also gave them to understand, that the proofs of his mission were as full and Convincing as these proofs were, yet it clear as possible, being supported by the did not in the least abate the malice of the actions of his life, which in all things agreed scribes and pharisees; for the very next with his doctrine ; for be never sought the sabbath, upon bis disciples plucking a few applause of men, or affected secular power, ears of corn as they passed through the but was always innocent and bumble, field, and eating the grain after rubbing it though he well knew that these virtues out in their hands, they again exclaimed made him appear little in the eyes of those against this violation of the sabbath. But who had no idea of a spiritual kingdom, but our blessed Saviour soon convinced them of expected the Messiah would appear in all their error, by shewing both from the example the poinp of secular authority.
of David, and the constant practice of their
own priests, who never omitted the necesIn short, the fatal infidelity of the Jews sary works of the temple, on the sabbathwas principally owing to their pride. They day, that works of necessity were often had long filled the minds of the people with permitted, even though they break a ritual grand ideas of the glory and power of the command ; that acts of mercy were the Messiah’s kingdom : they had represent most acceptable services to God, on any ed him as a potent prince, who was to day whatever : that it was inverting the appear at once adorned with all the
order of things, to suppose that “ man was. ensigns of power: and therefore to have abode for the sabbath, and not the sabbath ascribed that august character to for man.” Adding, that if the service of the mere teacher of righteousness, destitute temple should be said to claim particular even of the ordinary advantages of birth, dispensation from the law of the sabbath, fortune, and erudition, would have been so he and his disciples, whose business of proplain a.confession of their ignorance of the moting the salvation of mankind was of scriptures, as must have exposed them to equal importance, might justly claim tbe the ridicule and contempt of the whole peo same exemption : as they were carrying ple.
on a much nobler work, than the priest
who attended on the service of the temOur blessed Saviour added, that he him ple. Thus did our blessed Saviour prove, self should not be their accuser to the God that works of mercy should not be left of Jacob, for their infidelity : but Moses, undone, though attended with the violatheir great legislator, in whom they trust tion of some of the most sacred institutions ed, would join in that unwelcome office : for of the ceremonial law. by den ving him to be the Messiah, they denied the writings of that prophet. "For had Soon after this dispute with the scribes ye (added he) helieved Moses, ye would and pharisees, our blessed Saviour entered have believed me; for he wrote of me : but
one of the synagogués of Jerusalem, on the malice and superstition: and accordingly sabbath-day, and tound there a man whose asked them, “Is it lawful ou the sabbathright hand was withered.
days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it ?” Luke vi. 9.
6 Is it not The pharisees, who observed the com more lawful for me on the sabbath-day to passionate Jesus advance towards the man, save men's lives, than for you to szek did not doubt but he would attempt to heal my death, without the least provocahim; and therefore watched him atten tion ?” This severe rebuke would admit of tively, that they might have something to no auswer, and therefore they “held their accuse him with to the people. Their hy
peace," pretending not to understand his pocrisy was arrived to that 'notorious pitch, meaning He therefore made use of an that they determined to blast his reputation, argument which stupidity itself could not by representing bim as a sabbath-breaker,
fail of understanding, and which all the art if be dared to heal the man, while they of these hypocritical sophists were unable to theinselves were profaning it by an aciion, answer. “What man (said the blessed Jewhich would have polluted any day; name sus) shall there be among yon, that shall ly, of seeking an opportunity to destroy a have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on person who had never injured them, but the sabbath-day will he not lay hold on it, done many good actions for the sons of and lift it out? How much then is a man Jacob, and was continually labouring for better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful their eternal welfare.
to do well on the sabbath-days.” Matt.
xii. il, 12. The Saviour of the world was not utrapprised of these malicious intentions. He
The former question they pretended not knew their designs, and defied their impo
to understand, and therefore held their tent power, by informing them of the be peace; but this argument effectually sinevolent action he designed, though he
lenced them, though they were determined knew they would exert every art they were
not to be convinced. This unconquerable inasters of, in order to put him to death.
obstinacy grieved the Spirit of the meek,
the benevolent Jesus, who beheld them Therefore when our Saviour ordered the
with anger, that, if possible, an impression man to shew himself to the whole congre
might be made, either on them or the gation, in order to excite their pity, these spectators. hypocritical teactiers declared in the strong But at the same time that he testified his est terms, the unlawfulness of his perform- displeasure towards the pharisees, he uttered ing even such beneficent actions on the words of comfort to the lame man, bidding sabbath : * Is it lawfal to heal on the him stretch forth his hand : and he po soon
er ask this question with an intention to hin was restored whole as the other, der him from performing the miracle. No, they had a very different intention, than This astonishing work, performed in the that of accusing bim. For they hoped he midst of a congregation, many of whom, would have declared openly that such doubtless, knew the man while he laboured actions were lawful; or at least make no
under this infirmity, and in presence of his reply to their demands, which they would
most inveterate enemies, must certainly have construed into an acknowledgment of bave had a great effect on the minds of the what they asserted.
people, especially as they saw that it had
effectually silenced the pbarisees, who bad Nor did our Lord fail to expose their nothing to offer either against the miracle
itself, or the reasonings and power of him by St. Matthew, and the original, in the who had performed it.
book of Isaiahı; yet the sense in both places.
is the same-- And we cannot - help obBut though these whited sepulchres, as serving that there is in this prophecy an our blessed Saviour justly termed then, evident contrast between the publication were silenced by his arguments, and asto of the Jewish religion, by Moses, and the nished at his miracles, yet they were so far Christian religion, by Christ. The doctrine from abandoning their malicious intentions, of salvation, as taught by Moses, extended that they joined their inveterate evemies, only to the single nation of the Jews : the Herodians, or Sadducees, in order to whereas that published by the Messiah exconsult how they might destroy bim ; well tends to every nation and people under knowing, that if he continued his preach heaven. Accordingly our blessed Saviour ing and working of miracles, the people by retiring into Galilee, fulfilled the first would wholly follow him, and their own part of this famous prophecy, " He shall power soon become contemptible. Jesus, shew judgment to the Gentiles ; for the however, thought proper to prevent their Evangelist tells us, great multitudes cadre malicious designs,' by retiring into Ga to bim from beyond Jordan, and from lilee, to the borders of the lake of Chine
Syria, about Tyre and Sidon.” Mark. reth.
This retreat could not, however, conceal Being now returned into Galilee, therehim from the multitude, who flocked to was brought unto him a blind and dumb him from all quarters, bringing with them man possessed with a devil; but Jesus, the sick and the maimed, who were all with a single word, cast out the evil spirit, healed, and sent away in peace.
and restored the noble faculties of sight and
speech. A miracle so surprising could not Some of his disciples, however, who still
fail of astonishing the numerous spectators, entertained the popular opinion, that the
who now seemed convinced that the person. Messiah would establish his kingdom by
endued with such remarkable power could force, and bear down all opposition, were
be no other than the Messiah, the Son extremely mortified to find their Master
of David. retreat from so weak an enemy. But had they read with attention the prophecy of The pharisees, who were come thither Isaiah, they would have known that this from Jerusalem, filled with malice at seeweakness was one part of the Messiah's cha ing him perform so many miracles, impi-. racter. “ Behold my servant, whom I have ously asserted, contrary to the conviction chosen ; my beloved, in whom my soul is of their own minds, that they were wrought well pleased : I will put my spirit upon him, by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. the devils. He shall not strive, nor cry ; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A So blasphemous a declaration could not bruised reed shall he not break, and smok be supposed to escape a censure from the ing flax shall he not quench, till he send Son of God, who addressing himself both eth forth judgment unto victory. And to them and the people, demonstrated the in his name shall the Gentiles trust." Matt. absurdity of the calumny, by an argument xii. 18, &c.
drawn from the common affairs of life,
" every kingdom (said the blessed Jesus). Though there are several small varia divided against itself, is brought to desolations between this prophecy, as quoted tion : and every city or bouse divided
against itself shall not stand. And if Satan you shall be punished for it, both in this cast out Satan, he is divided against himself, world, and in that which is to come. how then shall his kingdom stand ?" Your “- Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of calumny is malicious and absurd ; it is ma- sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto licious, because your own consciences are men ; but the blasphemy against the Holy convinced of its falsehood : and is absurd, Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. because Satan cannot assist me in preaching And whosoever speaketh a word against the kingdom of God, and destroying all the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him : the works of darkness, unless he be divided but whosoever speaketh against the Holy against himself, and destroy all the works Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in of his own kingdom. Adding, “And if I this world, nor in the world to come.” by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do Matt.
Matt. xii. 31, 32. your children cast them out ? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out This solemn sentence on the sin against devils by the spirit of God, then the king. the Holy Spirit, was probably now prodom of God is come unto you.” Ye did nounced by our Saviour, to awaken the not impute the miracles of your prophets to consciences of the pharisees to a sense of Beelzebub, but received them, on the evi their danger, if they continued in such dedence of their miracles, as the messengers testable calumnies, when their own hearts of God. But ye reject me, who work sufficiently told them that they flowed engreater and more numerous miracles than . tirely from malice and resentment. they, and impute them to the power of evil spirits. Is this conduet reconcileable ? . But all his reasonings and threatenings These prophets, therefore, shall be your had no effect on this perverse set of mortals, judges; they shall condemn you. But as it who sarcastically answered, "Master, we is true, that I cast out devils, by the assist would see a sign from thee.” Strange stuance of the Almighty, it follows, that the pidity! Had not be the moment before, kingdom of God, so long expected, is about cast out a devil, and restored the faculties of to be established..
sight and speech to the blind and dumb ;
cleansed lepers, raised the dead, and even But this blasphemy, however great, may rebuked the winds and waves ? Were not be forgiven you, because stronger and more these signs sufficient to convince the most evident proofs of my mission may convince bigotted mortal? What, therefore, could you of your sins, and induce you to em those stubborn doctors of the law require ? brace the offers of eternal life. And the Well might the great Saviour of the world time is coming, when the Son of Man shall call them a wicked and adulterous genebe raised from the dead, by the power of ration ; for surely they could boast of no God, the gift of miracles showered on al part of the faith and piety of Abraham, most all the believers, and the nature of the their great progenitor. Persons of such inMessiah's kingdom more fully explained, in corrigible juclinations certainly merited no order to remove the foundation of your indulgence ; and accordingly, Jesus told prejudice, the expectation of a temporal them they should have no other sign given prince. But if you then shut your eyes and them, but what they every day beheld, the speak evil against the Holy Spirit, by af- sign of the prophet Jouas, who by lying firming that his gifts and miracles proceed three days and three nights in the belly of froin the prince of darkness, it shall never the whale, was a type of the Son of God, be forgiven you : because it is a sin you who should continue three days and three cannot possibly repent of, as no greater nights in the chambers of the tomb. Admeans of conviction will be offered : but ding, that the Ninevites repented at the-
preaching of the prophet Jonas ; and the tonishing acts, and confuting the most queen of the south undertook a long jour learned of the Pharisaical tribe, who enney to Jerusalem, to hear the wisdom of deavoured to oppose bis mission and doctrine, Solomon ; but they refused to attend to the brought together so great a multitude, that doctrines of an infinitely greater Prophet he repaired to the sea side ; and for the than Jonas, or listen to one much wiser better instructing the people, he entered than Solomon, Concluding his discourse into a ship, and the whole multitude stood with a very apposite parable, tending to the shore. Being thus conveniently shew the great danger of resisting con vic seated, he delivered many precepts of the tion, and breaking through resolutions, as utmost importance, beginning with the pasuch actions tended entirely to render rable of the sower, who cast his seed men more obdurate and abandoned than different kinds of soil, the products of which before.
were answerable to the nature of the ground,
some yielding a large increase, others noDuring this dispute with the pharisees, thing at all. By this elegant similitude, Jesus was informed that his mother, and the blessed Jewys represented the different brethren, or kinsmen, were without, de kinds of hearers, and the different manner siring to speak to bim : upon which the in which they were affected, by the precepts blessed Jesus stretched out bis hands to of religion. Some wholly suppress the docwards his disciples, and said, “ Behold my trines delivered, in others they produce the mother and my brethren ! For whosoever fruits of righteousness, in proportion to the shall do the will of my Father, which is in goodness of their hearts. And surely a more heaven, the same is my brother, and sister,
brother, and sister, | proper parable could not have been deliand mother." Matt. xii. 49, 50. This glo vered when such multitudes came to hear rious truth should be enstamped on the his discourses, and so few practised the preminds of all believers, as it shews that cepts, or profited by the heaveoly doctrines every one, of what nation or kindred 80 they contained. ever that is brought into subjection to the will of God, is allied to the blessed To vindicate the propriety of our Saviour's Jesus, and intitled to the 'salvation of conduct, it may not be aniss here to obGod.
serve, that parables were very familiar to the oriental nations, particularly those of Palestine, aš we learn from the concurrent
testimony of all the eastern writers; and it CHAP. XIII.
was the general method, both of the old
prophets, John the Baptist, and our blessed Our Lord delivers many remarkable Pa Saviour himself, to allude to things present,
rables, and explains several of them and such as immediately offered themselves. Returns to Nazareth, and commissions Our Saviour also, by using this manner of the twelve Apostles, whom he had before teaching, fulfilled the prophecies concerning selected as his constant attendants and the Messiah, relating to his method of infollowers, to disperse and preach the struction, it being foretold, “ that he should Gospel of the kingdom of God, in divers open his mouth in parables ; and utter places. After the death of John the things which had been kept secret from the Baplist the Apostles return to Naza foundation of the world." It is therefore l'eth.
no wonder that the mysteries and secrets
of the kingdom of heaven are generally the THE miraculous power of our blessed subject of our Saviour's parables : his grand
Lord, both in performing the most as and fundamental doctrines being delivered