صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Next, they expressly disclaimed their having any relation to the Jews, either in point of extraction or religion. Their ancestors, they said, were Sidonians, who, to remove certain plagues incident to the country, observed the festiva! which the Jews called the sabbath. That they had a temple on mount Gezirim, dedicated to the nameless God, in which they performed sacrifice. That as their temple had, hitherto, the name of no god, they begged leave of him to dedicate it to the Grecian Jupiter. A letter of this kind, wrote while the Jews were under the greatest hardships for the sake of their religion, could not fail to enrage them exceedingly against the Samaritans; and the remembrance of the injury, in all ages afterwards, continued fresh in their


Passing on in his journey Christ came to Jacob's well, which received its name from its being dug by that patriarch, who gave it to his son Joseph. It is thus described by Maundrel. "About one third of an hour from Naplosa, the antient Sychar, as if is termed in the New Testament, stands Jacob's well, famous, not only on account of its author, but much more for the memorable conference which our blessed Lord had there with the woman of Samaria. If it should be enquired whether this be the very place it is pretended, seeing it may be suspected to stand too remote from Sychem for the woman to come and draw water, we may answer, that, in all probability, the city extended farther in former times than it does now, as may be conjectured from some pieces of a very thick wall (the remains, perhaps, of the antient Sychem) still to be scen not far from hence. Over it stood, formerly, a large church, erected by that great and devout patroness of the Holy Land, the empress Irene. But of this, the voracity of time, assisted by the hands of the Turks, have left nothing but a few foundations remaining. The well is covered, at present, with an old stone vault, into which you are let down by a very strait hole, and then removing a broad flat stone you discover the well itself. It is digged in a firm rock, and is about three yards in diameter, and thirty-five in depth, five of which we found full of water. This confutes a story commonly told to travellers who do not take the pains to examine the well, viz. that it is dry all the year round, except on the anniversary of that day on which our blessed Saviour sat upon it, but then bubbles up with abundance of water. this well the narrow valley of Sychem ends, opening itself into a wide field, which is, probably, part of the parcel of ground given by Jacob to his son Joseph. It is watered by a fresh stream running between it and Sychem, which makes it so exceedingly verdant and fruitful, that it may well be looked upon as a standing token of the tender affection of that good patriarch to the best of sons." [Gen. xlviii. 22.]


Christ being wearied with his journey sat down immediately by the side of the well, and it was about the sixth hour. Whether this hour was noon, or six o'clock in the evening, has been the subject of considerable dispute; those who entertained the former opinion, supported it by Christ's weariness, and its conformity to the general language of scripture; while those who maintain the latter, contend that it is chiefly in the evening that the eastern women are accustomed to draw water.

While his disciples were gone into the city to purchase food, a Samaritan woman came with a bucket to draw water out of the well, and Jesus, being thirsty, desired her to give him some of it. For as he was not spirited with the passions of his countrymen, he did not think himself bound by the rules which they observed, especially when they hindered the common offices of friendship and humanity. Nevertheless, his demand surprised the woman, who, knowing him to be a Jew, either by his speech or dress, could not understand how he came to ask any good office of her who was a Samaritan. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, how is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings, intercourses

of friendship, with the Samaritans. On this occasion Jesus shewed the greatness of his condescension and benevolence; for though this was a person of an infamous character, and though he himself was pressed with thirst, he delayed refreshing himself, that he may bring her who was spiritually dead to the waters of life. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. To understand this last verse, it is necessary to remark, that many of the eastern wells are not furnished, like ours, with a line and bucket, but travellers are obliged to carry those things with them for their own accommodation. It may surprize an English reader, unacquainted with the oriental idiom, that this woman, who appears, by the sequel, to have totally misunderstood our Lord, did not ask what he meant by living water, but proceeded on the supposition that she understood him perfectly; and only did not conceive how, without some vessel for drawing and coutaining that water, he could provide her with it to drink. The truth is, the expression is ambiguous. In the most familiar acceptation, living water meant no more than running water. In this sense, the water of springs and rivers would be denominated living, as that of cisterns and lakes would be called dead, because motionless. Thus Gen. xxvi. 19, we are told, that Isaac's servant digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. It is living water both in the Hebrew and the Greek, as marked on the margin of our Bibles. Thus, also, Lev. xiv. 5, what is rendered running water in the English Bible, is, in both those languages, living water. Nay, this use was not unknown to the Latins, as may be proved from Virgil and Ovid. In this passage, however, our Lord uses the expression in the more sublime sense for divine teaching, but was mistaken by the woman, as using it in the popular acceptation. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Are you a person of greater power, or more in favour with God than our father Jacob, that you can procure water for yourself by supernatural means? He was obliged to dig this well, in order to provide drink for himself and his family. Can you create water? Jesus answered and said unto her, whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; this water can allay the pain of thirst only for a little while, because, though it be drank ever so plentifully, the appetite will soon return. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst shall, at no time, be subject to any vehement painful sensations, arising from unmortified irregular appetites ;-but in the water that I shall give him shall be a well of water, springing up into everlasting life: shall yield him divine satisfaction now, and shall be the source of his happiness to all eternity in heaven, where he shall feel none of the bodily appetites or wants so troublesome to men in this life,

Thus Jesus, under the image of living or springing water, taken from the well beside which he was sitting, as his manner was, beautifully described the efficacy of the influences of the Spirit of God; for as water quenches thirst, these, by quieting the agitation, and cooling the fervency of earthly desires, beget an unspeakable inward peace. By this image, also, he sets forth the plenitude and perpetuity of the celestial joys flowing from holy dispositions, produced by the influences of the Spirit of God. For these, by an innate power, satisfying all the capacities and desires of the soul, render it so completely happy, that it is not able to form a wish or a thought of any thing better.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Some suppose that she intended this as claiming his promise; but others, that she designed only to ridicule his words; and that he, to check this inpudence, shewed her that he was perfectly acquainted with her character, for be

bade her call her husband; and, when she replied that she had no husband, he 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, so 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 déclaration 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 both 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 cat? 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 reapeth 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, rowed; for ye are gathering into the kingdom of heaven these, 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 reapeth,

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

[ocr errors]


« السابقةمتابعة »