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loaded with irons, which sore bruised their bodies, and to render them incapable of making fresh disturbances, or, it may be, to increase their misery they sometimes put out their eyes. In this manner Nebuchadnezzar treated Zedekiah. Wherefore, as Messiah, in many other prophecies, had been represented under the notion of a great and mighty conqueror, Isaiah, in describing his spiritual triumphs, with great propriety introduces him, declaring that he was come to subdue the oppressors of mankind, and to deliver from captivity and misery those wretches whom they had enslaved, by opening their prison-doors, healing the wounds and bruises occasioned by their chains, and even by giving sight to those whose eyes had been put out in prison. Some, understanding this prophecy in a literal sense, are of opinion, that it foretels the alteration which, by the Christian religion, hath been made in the policy of nations, but especially in the manner of making war, and of treating the vanquished; in both which much more humanity is used now than antiently, to the great honour of the Christian institution, and of its author.
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, (the servant who had brought it to him,) and sat down; and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him: they looked on him with great attention, expecting to hear him explain the passage. And he began to say unto them, This day is the scripture fulfilled in your ears. In speaking to the congregation from the prophecy, he told them it was that day fulfilled in their ears. For, although no miracle had been done in their city, they were credibly informed of many that had been wrought by him, and, it may be also, at the passover, had seen him do such things as fully answered the prophets' description of Messiah. By some illustration of this kind Jesus proved his assertion, in a sermon, probably, of considerable length, the subject of which is only mentioned by Luke, though, at the same time, he leads us to think of the sermon itself; for he tells us, verse 22, that, (and) all the congregation bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. It seems, on this occasion, Jesus delivered his thoughts with such strength of reason, clearness of method, and beauty of expression, that his townsmen, who all knew he had not had the advantage of a liberal education, were so astonished, that, in their conversation with one another, they could not forbear expressing their admiration. At the same time, the malevolence of their disposition led them to mingle with their praises a reflection, which they thought sufficiently confuted his pretensions to Messiahship, and shewed the absurdity of the application, which he had made of Isaiah's prophecy to himself as Messiah. It appears, that when our Lord went into Galilee, with a view to exercise his ministry, he did not go to Nazareth; on the contrary, he passed by it, and went straight to Cana, which lay not far from Sidon. This exasperated the Nazarenes. Besides, he had not performed any miracle in their town, far less had he done any like that which they heard he had performed in Capernaum, where he cured the nobleman's son without stirring from Cana. It seems, they thought since their townsman could so easily give health to the sick at a distance, there ought not to have been so much as one diseased person in all Nazareth. Our Lord's own words suggest this conjecture. And he said unto them, Ye surely say to me, ye apply to me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country; plainly alluding to the cure of the nobleman's son as if they had said, Since thou possessest powers so great, and art able to cure sick people at a distance, we cannot help thinking, that, in thine absence, thou oughtest to have recovered the sick of thy native city rather than those of any other town; it being expected of every physician that he will bestow the healing virtue of his art upon his own relations and friends, who need it sooner, than upon strangers. In answer
to their ill-natured whispers, Jesus told them plainly, that his character would suffer nothing by their rejecting him, because it ever had been the lot of the prophets to be despised in their own country. And he said, verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. And, with relation to his having wrought no miracle of healing in their town, he insinuated that the very heathens were more worthy of favours of this sort than they; to such a pitch of wickedness had they proceeded: in which respect they resembled their ancestors, whose great sins God reproved, by sending his prophets to work miracles for heathens rather than for them, in a time of general calamity. But I will tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel, in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land. But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the days of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. By putting them thus in mind of Elijah's miracle in behalf of the widow of Sarepta, a heathen inhabitant of a heathen city, in a time of famine, when many widows of Israel were suffered to starve; and of Elisha's miracle on Naaman, the Syrian leper, while many lepers in Israel remained uncleansed; he shewed them both the sin and the punishment of their ancestors, and left it to themselves to make the application. The Nazarenes, understanding his meaning, were enraged to such a pitch, that, forgetting the sanctity of the sabbath, they gathered round him tumultuously, forced him out of the synagogue, and rushed with him through the streets to the brow of the hill where on their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way; in the midst of the confusion he escaped, probably, by making himself invisible.
From the time of year in which the forecited lesson is appointed to be read in the synagogue, it is probable that this transaction took place in the latter end of August, or beginning of September.
The rude treatment which Jesus met with from his townsmen made him quit all thoughts of residing at Nazareth. From that time forth, therefore, he resolved to dwell at Capernaum, a town situated northward from Nazareth, on the borders of Zabulon and Naphtali. By settling in Capernaum our Lord fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy, [ch. ix. 1.] which elegantly describes the effect of the Messiah's residence in Galilee. [Mat. iv. 13..15.] And leaving Nazareth he came and dwelt at Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea beyond Jordan. This latter clause, both in the Hebrew and Greek, is detached from that which goes before it, being a description, not of the land of Nephthalim, but of two distinct countries; first, the country round the sea of Galilee, and next, the country on the other side Jordan. For the way of the sea is an Hebraism for any country that lies round a sea or lake; and beyond Jordan is the name by which the land of Israel, on the other side Jordan, commonly went. The translation, therefore, ought to run thus; The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, the sea coast, the country beyond Jordan-Galilee of the Gentiles. The people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. In scripture, darkness represents ignorance and misery; consequently, the shadow of death being the blackest darkness, must signify the greatest ignorance and misery. On the other hand, light being the pleasantest work of God, represents happiness and joy; it signifies knowledge likewise, especially the knowledge of divine things, because
this is to the soul what light is to the body. Hence, the Son of God, who has dispelled the thick darkness of sin and misery, wherein the world was involved, is described, by the prophet Malachi, under the idea of a sun, the sun of righteousness; and his appearing on earth is called, by Isaiah, the springing up of light, and the people among whom he lived are said, while sitting in darkness, to have seen great light. The Jews, indeed, interpret this prophecy, of the deliverance which their fathers obtained by the miraculous destruction of Sennacherib and his army. But, from the context, it is evident that the prophecy has a much grander meaning; for it promises the universal restoration of the church of God, whose darkness of death should be turned into the light of life, and that by a son born to the Israelites, in conformity to the promises made unto Abraham and David, upon whose shoulders the government shall be, and who was to be named Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, &c. From that time Jesus began to preach the necessity of men's reforming their lives. This he urged by the consideration of the approach of Messiah's kingdom. The same doctrine John the Baptist had frequently preached but his ministry was now at an end. Jesus, therefore, thought fit to add weight to his forerunner's exhortations, by inculcating the things which he had made the great theme of his sermons.
Thus the countries round the lake, but especially Galilee, became the scene of Christ's public life, and Capernaum, the place of his ordinary residence. When he was at home, he always taught in the synagogue on the sabbath-days. During the rest of the week the inhabitants were employed about their affairs, and Jesus did not choose to take them from their business. Being the place which he considered as his home, he waited for the returns of the sabbath, when they met together in the synagogue, and then preached the word to them with such energy and power, as raised their admiration to astonishment. [Luke iv. 31, 32.] And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath-days. And they were astonished at his doctrine, for his word was with power. He did not, however, confine himself to Capernaum, for he frequently went into the neighbouring country, and, on such occasions, no doubt, preached every day, perhaps oftener than once.
Some time after his removal to Capernaum, Jesus intending to make a larger circuit than ordinary, would have his disciples to accompany him. Accordingly, going out to the lake, where their business of fishing led them frequently to be, he saw two of them casting their nets into the sea, and called them away. [Mat. iv. 18.] Simon and Andrew, formerly inhabitants of Bethsaida, but now of Capernaum, [Mark i. 29.] had become our Lord's disciples before this, at Jordan, [John i. 40, 41.] and, probably, when Philip received orders to accompany him into Galilee, had been required to attend. This, therefore, was not the first time that he saw and called them, as those who read the gospels singly are apt to imagine. The calls given to the disciples in the first year of Christ's ministry were only temporary, extending no farther than to the particular occasions on which they were given. After that they returned home with their master, and pursued their occupations, as formerly, in Capernaum, where they and he resided; till, at length, twelve of them were chosen to be with him always, [Mark iii. 13.] an expression which plainly implies, that, till then, they had attended him only occasionally. Jesus having thus called Simon and Andrew from their business, saw other two brothers, viz. James and John, whom he ordered, likewise, to follow him. They obeyed instantly. From their ready compliance we may believe that they, as well as Simon and Andrew, were acquainted with Jesus, and had believed on him at Jordan. Or, we may suppose, that their willingness proceeded from the secret energy of his power upon their minds. [Mat. iv. 21.] And now going
on from thence, (Mark, a little further thence) he saw two other brethren, James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his bother, in a ship, with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And he called them, and they.immediately left the ship, and their father, (Mark, with the hired servants,) and followed him; [Mark i. 21.3 and they went into Capernaum. The four disciples above named went with Christ to Capernaum, and, soon after that, accompanied him through the different quarters of Galilee, whither he went to preach. The evangelists have not told us what time he spent in this tour, neither have they given us a particular account of the transactions of it. They only say, in general, that he went about all Galilee, that is, through both Galilees, teaching in their synagogues every where, and preaching the good news of the approach of Messiah's kingdom; that he wrought an infinite number of miracles on diseased persons of all sorts; and that the fame of his miracles drew the people after him from Galilee, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan, that is, from all the different corners of the country: nay, that the report of them was spread even through the neighbouring heathen countries, particularly Syria, insomuch that they brought the sick from thence, also, to be cured by him. Wherefore, since the transactions of this tour were noised so far abroad, it must have taken up a considerable space of time, although there is but little said concerning it by the evangelists. [Mat. iv. 23.] And Jesus went about all Galilec, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of diseases among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria. Pliny 5. 12. tells us, that Syria contained several provinces; Comagene to the north, Phoenicia to the west, Colosyria to the south, Palmyrene and the province of Seleucia in the middle part If, by all Syria, the evangelist means all these different provinces of Syria, our Lord's fame, at this time, must have been exceeding great. Nor is there any thing incredible in the evangelist's affirmation, taken in the largest sense for, considering the number and greatness of the miracles which he performed, it would not have been beyond belief had the historian told us, that the fame of them reached as far as the communication of the Jews with the rest of the world extended. And they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy, and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.
Our Lord's fame being now very great, a vast concourse of people attended him; some with their sick, to obtain cures (for he never rejected any who applied to him); some out of curiosity and the love of novelty; some with a design to find fault; and some to hear his doctrine, which seldom failed to make a deep impression on those who had any share of good sense or piety. Such a vast multitude of men bewildered in the darkness of ignorance excited the compassion of the Son of God; he looked on them, was sensible of their sad condition, and felt, in himself, a strong desire to give them more particular instruction than ever. For this purpose he went up into a mountain, and, sitting down on an eminence where he could be heard, he inculcated many important points of religion, which, in general, were contrary to the opinions then received, and which, without miracles, would have been but coldly received by his hearers. Whereas, the multitude having seen him freely and instantly restore health to the diseased, than which there is no gift more god-like, more acceptable, or which strikes men with a higher admiration of the giver, they could not but entertain the greatest good-will' towards him, and must have been sensible that the spirit and power by which he acted were divine. [Mat. v. 1.] And seeing the multitudes, he
went up into a mountain, and when he was set his disciples came unto him. And he opened his mouth,-(a phrase used by the Jewish writers when they introduce a person speaking gravely on any subject of great importance. For instance, Job iii. "After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day, and Job spake and said.”)—and taught them he explained to them the great doctrines of religion and morality.
This sermon Jesus began with the doctrine of happiness, a subject which the teachers of wisdom have always considered as the principal thing in morals, and, for that reason, they have laboured to give their disciples a true idea of it. Most of the Jews seem to have considered the enjoyments of sense as the sovereign good. Riches, mirth, revenge, women, conquest, liberty, fame, and other things of the same kind, afforded them such pleasures, that they wished for no better in the Messiah's kingdom, which they all considered as a secular one; even the disciples themselves, who afterwards were made apostles, long retained this notion of the kingdom, having followed their Master first, with a view to the honours, profits, and pleasures, attending the posts which they expected under him. Therefore, to shew his hearers in general, and his disciples in particular, the grossness of their error, our Lord declared that the highest happiness of man consisteth in the graces of the Spirit; because, from the possession and exercise of them the purest pleasures result, pleasures which satisfy the Great God himself, and constitute his ineffable felicity. Said the Wisdom of God, the rich, the great, and the proud, are not happy, as you imagine, who covet the pleasures of high life, and consider prosperity as a mark of God's favour; but they are happy who rest contented with their lot, whatever it is, discharging the duties well that belong to it; and particularly, if, while they fill high stations, they are perfectly humble and mortified, having their affections as much weaned from sensual pleasures as the poor, who, because they are deprived of the means, have, in a great measure, lost their taste for such enjoyments. Saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit; for, though they be excluded from the honours and pleasures of earthly kingdoms, theirs is the kingdom of heaven: they have a peculiar title to the honours and privileges of the Messiah's kingdom. The merry and the gay are not happy; but the afflicted, if they improve their afflictions aright, being excited by them to mourn for their sins, to amend their lives, and seek a better country.
Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted: they shall have consolation here in the hope of forgiveness, and hereafter in the fruition of eternal joys. Affliction awakens serious thoughts in the mind, composes it into a grave and settled frame, very different from the levity which prosperity inspires. Moreover, it gives a man a fellow-feeling of the sorrows of others, and makes him sensible of the evil of departing from God, the source and centre of his joys.
Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth: they shall enjoy the protection of civil government, with all the blessings of the present life, the greatest and best of which flow from meekness itself. Meekness, consisting in the moderation of our passions, makes a person beautiful and venerable in the eyes of his fellows; so that he possesses their inward esteem: while the man devoid of this grace is despicable, though dignified with ever so many titles of honour. Hence it is called the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. Farther, this grace secures a man against many injuries which he may be exposed to, a soft answer being powerful to turn away wrath, or, if an injury is done to a meek person, his meekness prevents the storms which pride, anger, and revenge, raise within, enables him to bear the injury with tranquillity, and strengthens him to overcome it with good. Luxurious men, who enjoy the pleasures of eating and drinking in the nicest perfection, are not happy, but they who have a vehement desire of holiness. This passage may, however, be under