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the laws of Judea according to the jurisprudence of Rome; and, in particular, had mitigated the severity of the punishment of the adultress. Wherefore, if Jesus should say that the law of Moses ought to be executed on this adultress, the Pharisees hoped the people would stone her immediately, which would afford them an opportunity of accusing him before the governor as a mover of sedition; but if he determined that the innovations practised by the Romans should take place, they resolved to represent nim to the people as one who made void the law out of complaisance to their heathen masters. This, their craft and wickedness, Jesus fully knew, and regulated his conduct towards these depraved hypocrites accordingly; for he made them no answer. Perhaps there were in this woman some circumstances tending to alleviate her guilt, which might be known to Jesus, as well as the wickedness of her accusers' characters. However, he thought it proper on this, as on all other occasions, to decline the office of a civil magistrate; and therefore proposed to her prosecutors, that he that was without sin among them should cast the first stone. And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last. When Jesus lift up himself and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee, and begun thy punishment by casting the first stone? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.
He then addressed himself to the multitude, saying, I am the light of the world, the spiritual sun that dispels the darkness of ignorance and sin. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life: that clear knowledge of God, which shall guide him to eternal felicity. The Pharisees, therefore, said unto him, thou bearest record of thyself, thy record is not true; alluding, perhaps, to what he had said John vii. 18. Jesus answered and said unto them, though I bear record of myself my record is true; for I know whence I came, and whither I go but ye cannot tell me whence I came and whither I go: though I call myself the light of the world, ye are not to imagine that I do it from a spirit of pride and falsehood. I gave myself the title for no other reason but because it truly belongs to me; and that it does so, yourselves would acknowledge, if you knew as well as I do by what authority I act, for what end I am come, and to whom I must return after I have executed my commission. But these things you are entirely ignorant of; nor can it be otherwise, in regard that ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man: ye judge of me according to outward appearances, and condemn me for this, among other things, that I judge no man. You think that I cannot be the Messiah, because I do not destroy those who oppose me, as you imagine the Messiah will do; but in this you are altogether mis taken; for the design of the Messiah's coming is not to destroy, but to save mankind. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true, i. e. just, equitable: for I am not alone, but my heavenly Father has constantly accompanied me with his presence and assistance. Herein I act in perfect conformity with what is written in your law; for it is there said, that the testimony of two men is true. For I am one that bear witness of myself, not by words only, but by all the actions of my life, which accord fully with the character of the Messiah; and the Father beareth witness of me by the miracles which he has enabled me to perform. Then said they unto him Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye reither know me nor my Father; for if ye had known me to be the true Messiah, ye should have known, that my Father, whom I have mentioned, is no other than the eternal God.
These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; and though that place was much crowded, no man laid hands on him, for his hour was not yet come. Then said Jesus unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek. me, and shall die
m your sins. Whither I go ye cannot come.
Then said the Jews, will he kill himself? because he saith, whither I go ye cannot come. And he said unto them, ye are from below; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. Such a vile insinuation evidently shews what sort of persons ye are, and from whence ye have derived your original. Being from the earth, ye are obnoxious to all the evil passions wherewith human nature is infested; and, from what you feel in yourselves, you fancy that I am capable of murdering myself. But your thought is foolish, as is evident from this, that, being actuated by no evil passion, I cannot have the least temptation to commit so gross an act of wickedness. My extraction is heavenly, and my mind pure; and therefore I cannot be guilty of self-murder, or of any other sin whatever. I said, therefore, unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: because ye are from below, and are full of evil inclinations, they will hinder you from believing, and consequently expose you to perdition; for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins Then said they unto him, who art thou? Jesus saith unto them, even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of you; but he that sent me is true, and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. I have many reproois to give you, and a severe sentence of condemnation to pass upon you; but I shall wave them all for the present, and tell you only this one thing, that he who sent rae is true, and that I speak to the world nothing but what I have received from him, however disagreeable these things may be to persons of your wicked disposition. They were, however, so stupid, that they understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesus unto them, when ye have lift up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. When ye have crucified me, ye shall both know who I am, and who my Father is. miracles accompanying my death, my resurrection, the effusion of the Spirit on my disciples, and the destruction of your nation, shall demonstrate that I am the light of the world, and that I do nothing by my own authority, but by my Father's direction; speaking such doctrines only as he has commissioned me to teach. And he that hath sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone, for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words mary believed on him; believed him to be the Messiah. It would seem that, by the lifting of him up, which he said would convince them that he was Messiah, they did not understand his crucifixion, but his exaltation to the throne and kingdom of David. Hearing him, therefore, speak of a temporal kingdom, as they supposed, they began now to think he entertained sentiments worthy of Messiah, and, on that account, acknowledged him as such, believing the doctrine he had delivered concerning his mission.
Jesus knowing that the thoughts and views of those who now believed on him were, for the most part, carnal, judged it proper to undeceive them. Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples, indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, not only from the slavery and consequences of sin, but also from the ceremonial performances enjoined by Moses. It may here be remarked, that a sense of just and regular civil liberty has been more widely diffused by the propagation of the Christian religion than by any other cause; and it has ever been found, that those who are the most devoted to the doctrines and precepts of genuine Christianity, have been the warmest well-wishers to the temporal happiness of mankind. They answered, we are Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man. They could not mean temporal bondage, as they were now in subjection to the Romans; but a freedom from spiritual bondage from the idolatry of the surrounding nations, was what they here asserted. They were
they said, the descendants of a noble and illustrious stock, that, during the worst times, had preserved sentiments in religion and government worthy of the posterity of Abraham; and had not, by the hottest persecution of the Syrian kings, been compelled to embrace heathenism. In respect of truth, we were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou then, ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin: there are no greater slaves than those who give themselves up to a vicious course of life, and to the gratification of their sinful appetites. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the Son abideth for ever. As a slave may be at any time turned out of the family when his master shall think fit, so my Father can, when he pleases, turn you out of his family, and deprive you of the outward economy of religion, in which you glory; because, by your sins, and especially your unbelief, you have made yourselves bondsmen to his justice: whereas, if, by believing in his son, you are made partakers of liberty, you will be sure of ever remaining in the family, being the heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. I know that ye are Abraham's seed by natural descent; but ye seek to kill me, and thus evidently prove that ye are not his children in a spiritual sense, because my word hath no place in you. If ye were the spiritual progeny of Abraham, ye would resemble that great and good man in his righteousness; and therefore, instead of seeking to take the life of one who is come to you from God, with a revelation of his will, ye would believe on him in imitation of Abraham, who, for his faith in all the divine revelations, and his obedience to all the divine commands, however hard they were to flesh and blood, was ennobled with the grand titles of the father of the faithful, and the friend of God. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they unto him, we are not born of fornication; they have not broken the marriage covenant between the Jewish nation and the Almighty by idolatry; we have one father, even God. Jesus said unto them, if God were your father, ye would love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot, from the obstinacy of your prejudices, hear my word with any intention to obey it. intention to obey it. Ye inherit the nature of your father the devil, and therefore ye will gratify the lusts which ye have derived from him: he was the enemy and murderer of mankind from the beginning; and, ever since, has endeavoured to work their ruin, sometimes by seducing them into sin with his lies, and sometimes by instigating them to kill those whom God sends to reclaim them Withal, having early departed from holiness and truth, a habit of lying is become perfectly natural to him. Wherefore, being a liar, and the father of it, i. e. the first and greatest liar, when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh what is proper to himself. And ye, his children, disbelieve me; because, instead of soothing you in your sins, and flattering you with lies, I tell you the truth, which, like your father, you are utterly averse to. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Is there any of you able to shew that I have not received my commission from God, or that I have done any thing to render me unworthy of belief? If you cannot, but must acknowledge that my doctrine and life are such as become a messenger of God, what is the reason that you do not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words, and obeys them with pleasure. Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not the children of God.
Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, said we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? alluding to what they said John vii. 20. Thou who callest the children of Abraham the children of the devil, art a most profligate wretch, and either raving mad, or thou must be instigated by some evil spirit to speak as thou dost Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that secketh and judgeth. I am neither
mad, nor actuated by a devil; but I honour my Father by speaking the words of truth, which he has sent me to deliver, and therefore ye defame me. Verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man keep my sayings he shall never see death, i. e. experience that everlasting punishment which is called the second death. Then said the Jews unto him, now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my sayings he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead, and the prophets are dead, whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing. If I should speak in praise of myself, you would call it vain and foolish, and say to me as the Pharisees did lately," thou bearest record of thyself, thy record is not true." Wherefore, instead of giving a full description of my dignity, I shall only tell you that it is my Father that speaketh honourably of me, by the miracles which he enables me to perform, by the descent of his Spirit upon me at my baptism, and by his voice uttered from heaven, declaring me to be his beloved Son. This, I think, may be sufficient to convince you that I am able to do for my disciples what I said, especially when I tell you farther, that my Father is he whom this nation pretends to worship as its God. It is my Father that honoureth me, of whom ye say that he is your God. Yet ye have not known him; but I know him; and if I should say I know him not, I should be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced, or, as it may be translated, earnestly desired to see my day; and, by the particular favour of a divine revelation, he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham ? Understanding what he said in a natural sense, they thought he affirmed that he lived in the days of Abraham, which they took to be ridiculous nonsense, as he was not arrived at the age of fifty; for they had no conception of his divinity, notwithstanding he had told them several times that he was the Son of God. Jesus, therefore, finding them thus stupid and perverse, asserted his own dignity yet more plainly. Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am. Then they took up stones to cast at him, as a blasphemer; but he rendered himself invisible, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by unhurt.
As Jesus and his disciples were fleeing from the Jews, they found a blind beggar ia one of the streets of the city, who, to move people's compassion, told them he was born in that miserable condition. The disciples, on hearing this, asked their Master whether it was the man's own sin, or the sin of his parents, which had occasioned his blindness from the womb. It seems, the Jews, having derived from the Egyptians the doctrines of the pre-existence and transmigration of souls, supposed that men were punished in this world for the sins they had committed in their pre-existent state. Jesus informed them that this man had entered the world in this distressed condition. not in consequence of his own sins, or of those of his parents, but that the perfections of God might be displayed in him, particularly referring to his recovery, which he was now going to effect. He also intimated, that, as he had but little time more to spend in this world, it was necessary that he should fill it up with diligence, preparing their minds, by this hint, for his performing on the sabbath-day what might appear a servile work, and, as such, be deemed unlawful. And because he was going to confer sight on a man that was born blind, he took occasion from thence to speak of himself as one appointed to give sight likewise unto the darkened minds of men, As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Perhaps our Lord, by calling himself the light of the world, insinuated also to his disciples that they might safely have believed the lawfulness of the action though they had no other evidence
of it but that it was done by him. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, go wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is, by interpretation, sent,) He went his way, therefore, and washed, and came secing. From verse eleventh it appears, that this beggar knew that it was Jesus who spake to him; probably he distinguished him by his voice, having formerly heard him preach, or he might know him by the information of the disciples. Hence he cheerfully submitted to the operation, which, though, in itself, a very improper means of obtaining sight, and obeyed without scruple when Jesus bade him go and wash his 'eyes in the waters of Siloam, entertaining no doubt of his miraculous power. Those who lived in this beggar's neighbourhood, and those who had frequently passed by where he used to beg, being well acquainted with his form and visage, were astonished at the alteration which they observed in his countenance by reason of the new faculty that was bestowed upon him. Wherefore, they expressed their surprize, by asking one another if this was not the blind man to whom they used to give alms.
The cure performed upon the man that was born blind, being much talked of in Jerusalem, and the man himself being brought by his neighbours before the council, as the proper judges of this affair, who best were able to discover any cheat that might be in it, they set about examining the matter with a firm resolution, if possible, to blast the credit of the miracle. Nevertheless, on the strictest scrutiny, they were not able to find the least fault with it; their own eyes convinced them that the man really saw; and all his neighbours and acquaintance testified with one voice that he had been blind from his birth. They fell to work, therefore, another way; they asked the beggar by what means he had been made to see. They hoped to find something in the manner of the cure which would shew it to be no miracle, or, at least, which would prove Jesus to be a bad man. The man honestly and plainly told them the whole matter; that he had made clay, put it upon his eyes, and ordered him to go and wash in Siloam. On hearing this account of the miracle, the Pharisees declared that the author of it was certainly an impostor, because he had violated the sabbath in performing it. Nevertheless, others of them, more candid in their way of thinking, gave it as their opinion that no deceiver could possibly do a miracle of that kind; because it was too great and beneficial for any evil being to have either the inclination or the power to perform. And there was a division among them. The court being thus divided in their opinion with respect to the character of Jesus, they asked the man himself what he thought of the author of his cure. He said, he is a prophet. But the Jews, hoping to make the whole turn out a cheat, would not believe that the beggar was born blind, though all his neighbours had testified the truth of it; pretending, no doubt, that it was a common trick of beggars to feign themselves blind, and that this one, in particular, was in a combination with Jesus to advance his reputation, a circumstance which they urged from the favourable opinion he had expressed of him. Wherefore, they called his parents and enquired of them, first, if he was their son; next, if he had been born blind; and then, by what means he had obtained sight. They answered, that most certainly he was their son, and had been born blind; but with respect to the manner in which he had received sight, and the person who had conferred it upon him, they could give no information, only their Bon, being of age, would answer for himself. As the man who had been blind knew who had opened his eyes, without doubt he had given his parents an account, both of the name of his benefactor, and of the manner in which he had conferred the great hlessing upon him: besides, having repeated these particulars frequently to his neighbours and acquaintance, who were all curious to hear him relate the miracle