صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

bade her call her husband; and, when she replied that she had no husband, lie told her that she had had five husbands, and was then living in adultery with a man that was not hers, but anothers husband. The woman hearing such a particular account of her life from such an entire stranger, was not only humbled by the discovery, but concluded that he certainly had intercourse with heaven. And, being glad of the opportunity, perhaps, also desiring to shift the discourse, she mentioned the principal point in controversy between the two nations, that she might have his opinion upon it. The dispute was, whether mount Gerizim or Jerusalem was appointed by God for worship and sacrifice. The Samaritans declared for Gezirim, because it was in their country, and because Abraham and Jacob, whom they called their fathers, had built altars, and worshipped in that mountain. Jesus replied, you need not be very solicitous about settling that point, for the time is at hand when an end will be put to the worship both at Jerusalem and mount Gerizim. Nevertheless, I must tell you that Jerusalem is the place which God has appointed for offering sacrifice, as you yourselves are bound to allow, since you acknowledge that you derive your religion from the Jewish sacred books. For these books fix the worship of God to a place which he promised to choose in our tribes, [Deut. xii. 5.] and which he did choose, by putting his name, or symbol of his presence, in the temple of Jerusalem, as soon as it was dedicated, making it his habitation, according to his promise. [2 Kings xxiii. 27.] Jesus saith unto her, woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what, we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews. This last expression, that salvation is of the Jews, points out that Messiah was to come of that nation. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. God is the supreme mind or intelligence, who, by one act, sees the thoughts of all other intelligences whatever, 10 may be worshipped in every place. And the worship to be offered him from henceforth does not consist in sacrifices, or other external rites, but in faith and love; for these constitute the true spiritual worship due to the supreme Being from all his creatures, and which cannot but be acceptable to him wherever it is offered. The woman, being affected with this doctrine, replied, that she could not but acknowledge, as he said, that Messiah was to arise among the Jews; but she hoped, when he did come, he would teach the Samaritans also. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, (namely, from among the Jews,) which is called Christ; when he is come he will tell us all things. The general expectation, which now prevailed, that a great prince was to arise in Judea, together with Moses's prophecy concerning him, constrained the Samaritans to a right faith with respect to the Messiah's nation. For, though they contended that the true place of acceptable worship was in their country, they did not assume the honour of being progenitors of the deliverer of mankind. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. It is remarked that Christ was more cautious of acknowledging himself to be the promised Messiah in his conversing with the Jews, is very apparent; [compare Matt. xvi. 20, Mark viii. 29, 30, Luke xxii. 67, and John x. 24.] and the reason was, that the Jews had such notions of the temporal kingdom of the Messiah, that they would have construed an open declaration of himself under that character as a claim to the throne of David; in consequence of which many would have taken up arms in the cause, [John vi. 15.] and others would have accused him to the Roman governor, as a rebel against Cæsar, [Luke xx. 20.] as they afterwards did. [Luke xxiii. 2.]

Thus far had Jesus proceeded in his conversation when the disciples returned

from the city. His condescension in talking with and instructing her who was hoth a Samaritan and a woman, raised their astonishment; yet none of them presumed to find fault with him, or to ask the reason of his conduct. When the woman heard Jesus call himself the Messiah she set down her pitcher and ran into the city, where she published the news in the streets, and desired all she met to go with her and see him, assuring them that he had told her the principal occurrences of her life; so strong an impression had that circumstance made upon her mind. The Samaritans, struck with wonder and curiosity, did not delay, but accompanied her instantly, wishing, no doubt, that her news might prove true.

While these things were doing the disciples set the meat which they had brought before their Master. But he did not mind it, though he stood then very much in need of refreshment. It seems, he was wholly intent on the duties of his mission, preferring them to his necessary food. Hence, when his disciples entreated him to cat, he told them he had meat to eat which they knew nothing of, meaning the satisfaction he was about to receive from the conversion of the Samaritans. The disciples understanding his words in a natural sense, asked one another whether any one, in their absence, had supplied him with provisions. Therefore said the disciples one to another, hath any man brought him aught to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. I have greater satisfaction in doing the will of God than in any sensual enjoyment whatever. [John iv. 35.] Say not ye, There are yet four months and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest. This, says Dr. Macknight, is a proverbial expression, taken from the time that commonly intervenes between sowing and reaping, and signifies, that after having used the means of procuring a thing, the effect must not be expected to follow all of a sudden, but must be waited for with patience. Our Lord told his disciples that, in the present case, they could not apply that proverb; because, if they would lift up their eyes, they would see the fields white already to harvest, would see a multitude in a fit disposition to believe, notwithstanding the seed had been sown but an hour or two before so that he had, what was his proper food to eat, a convenient opportunity of doing the will of him that sent him, and of finishing his work. But to this interpretation Dr. Doddridge objects, 1. Because neither Whitby, nor Grotius, nor Lightfoot, who is large on this text, could produce any such proverb. 2. Because, indeed, there could be no foundation for it, since the distance between seed-time and harvest must differ according to the different kinds of grain in question. And 3. Because, if there had been such a proverb, it would have been improper to apply it here; since our Lord was not speaking of the period of time between the prophets' sowing and the apostles' reaping, (to which four months has no analogy,) but only means to tell them, that though they reckoned yet four months to the earthly harvest, the spiritual harvest was now ripe. So that he chooses, as Sir Isaac Newton does, to take words. in their plainest sense, as an intimation that it was then four months to the beginning of harvest. And he takes this passage to be of very great importance for settling the chronology of Christ's ministry. And he that reapeih receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, one soweth and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. Ye are employed to reap that which the prophets, with great difficulty, sowed; for ye are gathering into the kingdom of heaven those, who, by the writings of the prophets, having been imbued with a sense of piety and virtue, are prepared for entering into it, This application of the proverb one soweth and another reapet

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

does not imply any discontent in the persons who sow without reaping, as it does in common use; for the sower and the reaper are represented as rejoicing together in the rewards of this spiritual husbandry.

It seems, many of the Samaritans had been so struck with the account which the woman gave of Jesus, that they believed him to be the Messiah on her testimony. Accordingly, being come to him, they begged him to take up his residence in their city. Jesus, in compassion to their wants and desires, complied so far as to stay with them two days, during which time, what sermons he preached were attended with great power, as appeared by their success; for they brought many of the Sycharites to believe on him as Messiah. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them, and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of this saying; for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

When Christ had stayed two days in Sychar, and finished his appointed work in that city, he went a considerable way into Galilee, passing by Nazareth, his native city, on account of the prejudices which his townsmen entertained against him. Luke speaking of this journey, says, [iv. 14.] And Jesus returned, in the power of the Spirit, into Galilee; that is, he went thither to work miracles and to preach, by the assistance of the Spirit; or, in other words, to exercise his ministry, a character whereby this ministry is distinguished from that which he made after his baptism, and which the three evangelists have omitted, because he did not till now begin his ministry in Galilee, which is the subject of their history. On his arrival, he preached [Mark i. 15.] the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel. The time is accomplished that was predetermined by the divine wisdom for erecting the Messiah's kingdom, even the kingdom of God and of the saints, in which the Mosaical ceremonies shall be no longer obligatory, but righteousness alone shall be required from men. Wherefore, repent ye, and believe this doctrine. [Luke iv. 14.] And there went out a fame of him through all the region round about the fame of the miracles which he performed in Jerusalem at the passover, and Judea, during the course of his ministry there, spread the more through Galilee now that he was come: for, at this time, he had done only one miracle there, namely, the turning of water into wine. He spent a considerable time in Galilee, preaching, for the most part, in their synagogues, where was the greatest concourse of people; and on the sabbath-days, when they could attend his sermons without neglecting their worldly affairs. The effect of his first exercise in Galilee was, that the excellency of the doctrines which he taught, and the greatness of the miracles which he wrought, made all the people admire and applaud him exceedingly. John, likewise, has informed us, that, at his first coming into Galilee, he was received, that is, acknowledged as Messiah, and followed as such. [John iv. 45.] Then, when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: they treated him courteously, and attended his ministry with a disposition to believe, having conceived a favourable opinion of him, by reason of the miracles they had seen him perform in Jerusalem during the passover.

Soon after this Jesus went to Cana, the town that had been honoured with the miracle of water turned into wine. Here a courtier, who had heard of his fame, came from Capernaum, and entreated him to go down and heal his son, who was extremely

ill of a fever. The story is thus told by the evangelist John, ch. iv. 46..54. So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine: and there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way, thy son liveth; and the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, thy son liveth. Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend, and they said unto him, yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him : So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, thy son liveth, and himself believed and his whole house. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did when he was come out of Judea into Galilee.

To illustrate this account we submit the following remarks. 1. The word which is here translated nobleman, may be more properly rendered courtier, or officer, as there was no hereditary dignity among the Jews answerable to our titles of nobility. 2. Cana was a day's journey distant from Capernaum; so that our Lord, by effecting the cure in this manner, made no unnecessary display of his miraculous power, but avoided a considerable inconvenience. This consideration has still greater force if we admit, with some commentators, that John follows the Roman method of reckoning the hours, and that, therefore, this miracle was performed at seven o'clock in the evening. 3. It is probable, that the recovery of the child was sudden, so as to prove the interference of an extraordinary cause. Lastly, it is supposed by many, that this courtier and his family not only were induced to reverence the character of Christ, but truly to receive him as the Messiah of God.

At length Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been educated. The evangelist mentions the circumstance of our Lord's education in Nazareth to put his readers in mind that it was a place where Jesus could not but be well known, having lived there from his infancy. The Nazarenes knew all his relations, they remembered the manner of his education, and they were perfectly acquainted with his character. Wherefore, from their knowledge of him, they ought to have given him a favourable reception but the wickedness of their disposition was such, that this very circumstance, which should have conciliated their affection, they turned into an occasion of rejecting him, as we shall see anon, [Luke iv. 16.] And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day. The synagogue being a place of worship, the evangelist, by making this observation, informs us, that Jesus never neglected attending on divine service. Besides, as the people, on the sabbath, rested from their worldly occupations, and assembled for public worship, they had leisure and opportunity to receive his instructions. Wherefore, he always improved those occasions, by disseminating the knowledge of salvation among the multitudes, with cheerfulness. And stood up for to read. The reading of the scriptures made an essential part of the Jewish public worship But it was not confined to those who were properly the ministers of religion. The rulers of the synagogue assigned it to such persons in the congregation as they knew were capable of it. Nay, they sometimes conferred the honour upon strangers, and incited them to give the people an exhortation on such subjects as were suggested by the passage read, see Acrs xiii. 15. Wherefore, though Jesus was none of the stated ministers of religion in the town of Nazareth, the office of reading the scriptures, and of exhorting the people, which they now assigned him, was

agreeable to the regulations of the synagogue. Perhaps, the rulers, knowing the reports which went abroad of his miracles, and having heard of the Baptist's testimony concerning him, were curious to hear him read and expound the scriptures; the rather, because it was well known in Nazareth that he had not had the advantage of a learned education, Wherefore, as the Hebrew was now a dead language, Jesus had not been taught to read; his actually reading, and with such facility, the original Hebrew scriptures, as well as expounding them, was a clear proof of his inspiration. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,- The books of the antients consisted of one long sheet of paper, or parchment, which they rolled up neatly upon a round piece of wood. When a book of this kind was to be read, they unrolled it gradually as they read it, and put what was read round another piece of wood of the same sort as the former. Wherefore, as the scripturés were read in order, the passage of the prophet Isaiah, which fell, of course, to be read in the synagogue of Nazareth, would naturally present itself on separating the two rolls of the book. This happened to be the celebrated prediction, [Isa. Ixi. 1.] in which Messiah is introduced, describing his own mission, character, and office. The spirit of the Lord is upon mc,- this was said of the prophets when they were under an immediate afflatus of the Spirit, because he hath anointed me, i. e. commissioned me, in allusion to the Jewish priests, kings, and prophets, who were consecrated to their office by anointing, to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted. The reason why I, Messiah, enjoy so great a degree of inspiration, and am endowed with the power of working such astonishing miracles, is because God hath commissioned me to preach the glad tidings of salvation to the poor, and, by so doing, hath sent me to heal all without distinction, whose hearts are broken by sharp convictions of sin and fears of punishment. To one who considers the matter attentively, it must appear an unspeakable recommendation of the gospel dispensation, that it offers the pardon of sin and salvation to all, on the same terms. The rich, here, have no preeminence over the poor, as they seem to have had under the law, which prescribed such costly sacrifices for the atonement of sin as were very burdensome to the


The prophet Isaiah, therefore, in describing the happiness of gospel times, very fitly introduces Messiah, mentioning this as one of the many blessings which would accrue to the world from his coming, that the glad tidings of salvation were to be. preached by him and his ministers to the poor, and, consequently, were to be offered to them" without money and without price," as it is expressed Isa. lv. 1. To preach (to proclaim) deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. This is a magnificent description of Messiah's miracles. All that he needed to do for the deliverance of such persons as were held captives, or, as the apostle expresses it, [Acts x. 38.] were oppressed of the devil, was to proclaim, or declare them delivered. In like manner, to give recovery of sight to the blind, or to work any other miracle of healing whatever, no more was requisite but that he should speak the word. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord; to proclaim that happy period of the divine dispensations towards mankind, in which a full and free remission of all their offences was to be offered them, and which might be fitly represented in prophecy by the Jewish jubilee, wherein debts were forgiven, slaves released, and inheritances restored to their original owners. It is observable, that, in this description of Messiah's ministry, Isaiah has alluded to the manners of the easterns, who, in antient times, were so inhuman, as to lead captive into far distant lands those whom they conquered. Their principal captives they cast into prison,,


« السابقةمتابعة »