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through him, not only bodily but spiritual food in due
When our LORD had fed the multitude, he sent them away, lest they should expect to be fed by daily miracles, instead of using industry for their own support; shewing by this, that he did not require the generality of mankind to forsake all and follow him; though, for a particular purpose, he demanded the constant attend. ance of his apostles.
Although the Pharisees and Sadducees were at variance among themselves, yet they agreed in opposing our SAVIOUR'S ministry; for he had equally condemned the pride, tyranny, and hypocrisy, of the former, and the infidelity and errors of the latter. Each party proposed ensnaring questions to him; but with divine wisdom he constantly gave such answers as defeated their perfidious intentions. A sign from heaven they insisted on, before they would give their assent to his doctrine. Would these obstinate infidels have made use of their reason, as they did in common matters, they must have discovered that every miracle wrought by our SAVIOUR was a sign from heaven; had they properly attended to his discourse, they would have known that his doctrine was from above. They had sagacity and skill enough to foretel, from the appearance of the sky, as our LORD observed, a change of weather; but in respect to the signs of the coming of the MESSIAH they were wilfully
Though the sceptre was departed from Judah, and Daniel's seventy weeks were nearly completed, the Jewish teachers would not believe from our SAVIOUR'S mouth that the kingdom of heaven was at hand; neither would they credit his assertion that he was the
MESSIAH, notwithstanding the corroborating evidence of John the Baptist, and the writings of Moses and the Prophets. They were, therefore, unworthy of any farther sign; for which reason our LORD would not make a display of his boundless power for their gratification, but referred them to a future proof of his divine mission, purposely expressing himself in so obscure a manner, that they in their unconverted state could not comprehend his meaning. He called them an adulterous generation; because, like a woman who breaks her marriage-vow, by forsaking her husband, to live with another man, they had broken their covenant with GOD, by rejecting the Prophet, in whose mouth the LORD had (according to the covenant on his part) put his words.
On this occasion our LORD gave a remarkable proof of his benevolence. Instead of indulging anger and resentment for the personal abuse of the Jews, he contented himself with vindicating the honour of his FATHER, by withholding divine grace from those who were unworthy of it; but he could not thus execute the divine will without a sigh, being grieved to find his preaching and miracles had no influence on them.
Our LORD had another trial of his patience, in the stupidity of his disciples. As they had been witnesses. of the discourse which passed between him and the Pharisees and Sadducees, he cautioned them not to suf fer their minds to be corrupted by their false doctrine, which he compared to leaven; because, like that, it spread and fermented wherever it came. Notwithstanding it was so customary for our Saviour to speak of spiritual things under similitudes, his disciples did not discern his meaning, but supposed that he upbraided them for their forgetfulness of taking the usual supply of provisions, which when they recollected, they began
to be apprehensive they should be distressed for food. Our LORD was justly displeased at their distrust of him after the late miracle, but only gave them a mild reproof, which brought them back to their duty, and at the same time furnished instruction for succeeding generations of Christians.
In every age, from the time of CHRIST even til now, false doctrines, of one kind or other, have prevailed in the world. We have not, indeed, any sects under the denominations of Sadducees and Pharisees, but we have Deists and Atheists, who answer to the one, and Papists, who resemble the other. Let us, therefore, beware of the former, lest they teach us to doubt the truths of Christianity; and of the latter, lest they instruct us to corrupt them, by misinterpreting the Scriptures, and teaching for doctrine the traditions of men.
A BLIND MAN CURED; PETER PROFESSETH HIS FAITH; OUR LORD FORETELS THAT PETER WOULD PREACH THE GOSPEL WITH FIRMNESS.
From Mark, Chap. viii.-Matthew, xvi.
AND he cometh to Bethsaida, and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.
And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him 'out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw aught.
And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that, he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
And JESUS went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Cesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Bap ist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the CHRIST, the Son of the living GOD.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.
Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was JESUS the CHRIST.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Our LORD's conduct, in respect to curing the blind man, was different from his usual method. It is sup posed that he led him out of the city, because he would do no more mighty works there, on account of the unbelief of its inhabitants; and that he performed the cure gradually, to awaken the faith of the man who did not come of his own accord, but was brought by his friends.
As every action of our LORD's contained spiritual in. struction,
struction, we may suppose that he designed to intimate on this occasion, to those who are spiritually blind, that though at first their minds are dark and confused, they may hope to be gradually enlightened by his heavenly doctrine, if they will seek for a cure from the Gospel. By his forbidding the man to publish the miracle at Bethsaida, it appears that those who obstinately reject the Gospel shall be excluded from the means of salvation.
Cesarea Philippi was a city in the northern parts of Canaan, near Mount Lebanon, formerly called Laish. This being a retired place, the multitude did not imme. diately discover our LORD's retreat, and he was left at leisure to hold a private conference with his disciples. He had no need to question them for his own information: but it was proper to examine the Apostles, in order to try their faith, and that their sentiments concerning him should be recorded for the instruction of others,
The multitude were, as we find, divided in their opinions but his disciples in general understood that he was the MESSIAH, yet it was necessary that they should acknowledge his divinity. SIMON PETER, ever ready to shew his zeal and affection, replied, in the name of all the rest, Thou art CHRIST, the Son of the living God; which implied, that he was convinced of the truth of what our LORD had formerly taught, con. cerning his union with the FATHER. In order to confirm this faith, our LORD pronounced him blessed; assuring him that no man, by mere human reason, could have discovered that he was not only the CHRIST, or anointed one, but also the Son of GOD. Peter, therefore, must have paid proper attention to our LORD's doctrine, and the proofs he gave of his divine mission; for it does not appear that he had any particular revelation made to