« السابقةمتابعة »
we can conceive no reason why he should conceal them from his parents. The truth is, they lied grossly, and were ungrateful to Jesus in concealing his name on this occasion; but they were afraid to utter the least word which might seem to favour him because, by an act of the court, it was resolved, that whosoever acknowledged Jesus to be the Christ should be excommunicated. The court finding that nothing was to be learned from the man's parents, by which the miracle could be disproved, called the man himself a second time, and tried, by fair words, to extort from him a confession to the disparagement of Jesus. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, give God the praise, we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, whether he be a sinner or no I know not; one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see. In this answer of the beggar, there is a strong and beautiful irony founded on good sense; and therefore it must have been felt by the doctors, though they dissembled their resentment for a little time, hoping that by gentle means they might prevail with him to confess the supposed fraud of this miracle. They desired him, therefore, to tell them again how it had been performed. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? They had asked this question before [John ix. 15.]: but they proposed it a second time, in order that the man, repeating his account of the servile work performed at the cure, might become sensible that Jesus had violated the sabbath thereby, and was an impostor. Thus Christ's enemies would gladly have prevailed with the subject of the miracle to join them in the judgment which they passed upon the author of it. But their resistance of the truth appeared so criminal to him, that, laying aside fear, he spoke to them with great freedom. [John ix. 27.] He answered them, I have told you already, and you did not hear, i. e. believe; wherefore would Je hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? In this answer, the irony was more plain Are ye so affected with the miracle, and do ye entertain so high an opinion of the author of it, that ye take pleasure in hearing the account of it repeated, desiring to be more and more confirmed in your veneration for him? These words provoked the rulers to the highest pitch. Then they reviled him and said, thou art his disciple, as is plain from the partiality thou discoveredst towards him, but we arc Moses's disciples; and with great reason; for Moses clearly demonstrated his mission from God: whereas, this fellow, who contradicts Moses, and breaks his laws by his pretended cures performed on the sabbath, giving no proof of his mission, must be an impostor, and therefore deserves no credit. We know that God spake unto Moses; as for this fellow, we know not whence he is. The beggar replied, it is exceedingly strange that you should not acknowledge the divine mission of a teacher who performs such astonishing miracles; for common sense declares that God never assists impostors in working miracles. Accordingly, since the world began, no example can be given of any such persons opening the eyes of one born blind. My opinion, therefore, since ye will have it, is, that if this man was not sent by God, he could do no miracle at all. Since the world began, was it not heard that any man, that if not a worshipper of God, and a doer of his will, i. e. any sinner, any impostor, opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, were not sent of God; if he were not a prophet, and a messenger of God, he could do nothing. Thus the beggar, though illiterate, answered that great body of learned men with such strength of reason that they had not a word to reply. However, the evidence of his arguments had no other effect but to put them into a passion, insomuch that they railed at him and excommunicated him. They answered and said unto him, thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? Thou wicked, illiterate, impudent fellow, whose understanding continues still as blind as thy body was, and
who was born under the heaviest punishments of sin, dost thou pretend to instruct us in a matter of this kind, us who are the guides of the people, and eminent for out skill in the law? And they cast him out, i. e. they passed the sentence of excommunication upon him, which was the highest punishment in their power to inflict.
From this passage of the history we learn, that a plain man, void of the advantages of learning and education, but who has honest dispositions, is in a fairer way to understand truth, than a whole council of learned doctors who are under the power of prejudice.
About this time the feast of dedication approached, a solemnity, not appointed by the law of Moses, but by that heroic reformer, Judas Maccabeus, in commemoration of his having cleansed the temple, and restored its worship, after both had been profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes. But although this feast was of human institution, and Jesus foresaw that further attempts would be made upon his life in Jerusalem, he did not shun it, but went thither with great resolution. Luke explains the reason of this boldness: he had now continued on earth very near the whole period determined, and was soon to be taken up to heaven, from whence he had come down. He therefore resolved from this time forth to appear as openly as possible, and to embrace every opportunity of fulfilling the duties of his ministry. [Luke ix. 51.] And it came to pass, that when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. He did not travel thither privately, as he had often done before, but he declared his intention, and entered on the journey with great courage. The road to Jerusalem, from Galilee, lay through Samaria; wherefore, as the inhabitants of this country bare the greatest ill-will to all who worshipped in Jerusalem, Jesus thought it necessary to send messengers before him, with orders to find out quarters for him in one of the villages; but the inhabitants refused to receive him, because his intention in this journey was publicly known. The Samaritans could not refuse lodging to all the travellers that went to Jerusalem; for the high road lay through their country; such travellers only as went thither professedly to worship, were the objects of their indignation; because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem, must imply that his design of worshipping in Jerusalem was known to
When the messengers returned with an account of what had passed in the village whither they had been sent, the two disciples, James and John, being exceedingly incensed at this rude treatment, proposed to call for fire from heaven, which should destroy those inhospitable wretches immediately, after the example of the prophet Elijah, who thus destroyed the men who had evil entreated him. But Jesus, whose meekness on all occasions was admirable, sharply reprimanded his disciples for entertaining so unbecoming a resentment of this offence. But he turned and rebuked them, and said, ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. Ye do not know the sinfulness of the disposition which ye have just now expressed, neither do ye consider the difference of times, persons, and dispensations. The severity which Elijah exercised on the men who came from Ahaziah to apprehend him, was a reproof of an idolatrous king, court, and nation; very proper for the times, and very agreeable to the characters, both of the prophet who gave it, and of the offenders to whom it was given ; at the same time, it was not unsuitable to the nature of the dispensation they were under. But the gospel breathes a different spirit from the law, whose punishments and rewards were all of a temporal kind, and therefore it does not admit of this sort of rigour and severity. He told them further, that to destroy men's lives was utterly inconsistent with the design of his coming into the world. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them; alluding to his miracles, by which
he restored health to the diseased bodies of men, as well as to his doctrine and death, by which he gives life to their souls. Having said these things, he went with them into another village, the inhabitants of which were men of better dispositions. This was a noble instance of patience under a real and unprovoked injury; an instance of patience, which expressed infinite sweetness of disposition, and which, for that reason, should be imitated by all who call themselves Christ's disciples.
About this time, similar offers of following Christ were made to those mentioned on a former occasion, and similar answers were received, namely, that the Son of man had no certain resting place, and that the dead should bury their dead And another
also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewel which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God, fit to preach the kingdom of God
The scene of Christ's ministry being from this time forth to lie in Judea, and the country beyond Jordan, it was expedient that his way should be prepared in every city and village of those countries whither he was to come. He therefore sent out seventy disciples on this work, mentioning, probably, the particular places he intended to visit, and in which they were to preach; whereas, the twelve had been allowed to go where they pleased, provided they confined their ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is remarkable that our Lord assigned the same reason for the mission of the seventy which he had assigned for the mission of the twelve disciples; the harvest was plenteous in Judea and Perea, as well as in Galilee, and the labourers there also were few.
The instructions given to the seventy on this occasion were nearly the same with those delivered to the twelve: only he ordered the seventy to spend no time in saluting such persons as they met on the road, the time assigned them for going through the cities being but short; and concluded with the most awful denunciations of divine vengeance against Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, for their neglect of the great privileges with which they had been favoured.
The seventy disciples having gone through the several parts of the country appointed them, returned and told their Master, with great joy, what they had done, particularly that they had cast out many devils. It is probable that they expressed themselves the more strongly on this occasion, from the recollection of the defeat they had suffered about the time of their Master's transfiguration. But Christ diminished their exultation, by assuring them, that nothing had happened but what he had clearly foreseen, and reminding them that they ought not so much to rejoice that the spirits of the deep were placed under their influence; as that their names were written in heaven, not only as the disciples, but the everlasting companions of the Son of God. Once more he thanked his father that he had revealed the most important wisdom unto babes, and once more he admonished his disciples, that they were favoured above all the kings and prophets that were gone before them.
About this time, a doctor of the law thought he would make trial of the great wisdom which Christ had been represented to possess, by proposing to him one of the most important questions which it is possible for the human mind to examine, namely, what a man must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus, alluding to his profession, made answer by enquiring of him what the law taught on that point. He said unto him, what is written in the law? how readest thou? And he, answering, said, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live. Jesus Kk
approved of his answer, and allowed, that to love God as the law enjoined is the means of obtaining eternal life; because it never fails to produce obedience to all the divine revelations, and commands the belief of the gospel which he was then preaching, and which should be afterwards more fully revealed. But the lawyer, willing to justify himself, or shew that he was blameless in respect of the duties which are least liable to be counterfeited, the social and relative duties, asked him what was the meaning and extent of the word neighbour in the law. It seems, being strongly tinctured with the prejudices of his nation, he reckoned none brethren but Israelites, or neighbours but proselytes, and expected that Jesus would confirm his opinion by approving of it. For, according to this interpretation, he thought himself innocent, although enemies had no share of his love, since the precept enjoined the love of neighbours only. But our Lord, who well knew how to convince and persuade, answered him in such a manner, as to make the feelings of his heart overcome the prejudices of his understanding. He convinced him of his mistake by a parable; an antient, agreeable, and inoffensive method of conveying instruction, very fit to be used in teaching persons who are greatly prejudiced against the truth.
The parable which our Lord now spake was that of the Samaritan, who shewed extraordinary kindness to a distressed Jew, his bitter enemy on account of his religion. This Jew, in travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among robbers, who, not satisfied with taking all the money that he had, stripped him of his raiment, beat him unmercifully, and left him for dead. While he was lying in this miserable condition, utterly incapable of helping himself, a certain priest, happening to come that way, saw him in great distress, but took no pity on him. In like manner, a Levite espying him, would not come near him, having no mind to be at any trouble or expence with him. Soon after this, a Samaritan happened to come that way, and seeing a fellow-creature lying on the road naked and wounded, went up to him; and though he found it was one of a different nation, who professed a religion opposite to his own, the violent hatred of all such persons that had been instilled into his mind from his carliest years, and every objection whatever that remained, were immediately silenced by the feelings of pity awakened at the sight of the man's distress; his bowels yearned towards the Jew; he hastened with great tenderness to give him assistance. It seems, this humane traveller, according to the custom of those times, carried his provisions along with him; for he was able, though in the fields, to give the wounded man some wine to recruit his spirits; moreover, he carefully bound up his wounds, soaking the bandages with a mixture of wine and oil, which he poured in them, and which is of a medicinal quality; then, sitting him on his own beast, he walked by him on foot, and supported him. In this manner did the good Samaritan carry the Jew, his enemy to the first im he could find, where he carefully tended him all that night: and, on the "morrow, when he was going away, he delivered him over to the care of the host, with a particular recommendation to be very kind to him. And, that nothing necessary for his recovery might be wanting, he gave the host what money he could spare, a sum equal to about fifteen pence with us, desiring him, at the same time, to lay out more if more was needful, and promising him to pay the whole at his return. As neither the Samaritan nor the host knew whether the man himself was in condition to defray the charges of his own recovery, he was so charitable that he became bound even for the whole. It seems, he was afraid the mercenary temper of the host might have hindered him from furnishing what was necessary, if he had no prospect of being repaid.
Having finished the parable, Jesus said to the lawyer, which now of these three thinkest thou was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves? The lawyer,
greatly struck with the truth and evidence of the case, replied, without doubt, he that shewed mercy unto him. Then Jesus said unto him, go thou, and do likewise : shew mercy and kindness to every one that standeth in need of thy assistance, whether he be an Israelite, an heathen, or a Samaritan; and when works of charity are to be performed, reckon every man thy neighbour, not enquiring what he believes, but what he suffers.
In his way to Jerusalem, Jesus spent a night at Bethany, in the house of Martha and Mary, two religious women, the sisters of Lazarus. On this occasion, they dis played the difference of their natural dispositions; Martha taking abundant pains to provide for his accommodation, and Mary paying the strictest attention to his divine instruction. The latter received the strongest tokens of our Lord's approbation, not because God is more served in a contemplative than in an active life, but because Christ preferred an attention to his doctrine to any sensual indulgencies whatever ; and wished to intimate, that time ought not to be wasted in unnecessary preparations of this kind, when it might be more profitably employed in the worship of God.
It was, probably, at this time, that our Lord went up to the feast of dedication, when he met with the man that was born blind, and had been expelled from the synagogue for his refusing to acknowledge that Christ was a sinner. Jesus opened the discourse by asking the poor man whether he believed on the Son of God. To which he replied by asking the question, who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. The beggar, being fully convinced of his mission from God, by the great miracle performed on himself, replied, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. Upon this, Jesus directed his discourse to the people who happened to be present with them. And Jesus said, for judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind. In these words, he alluded to the cure of the blind man ; but his meaning was spiritual, representing the effect which his coming would have upon the minds of men. Those who were esteemed ignorant and foolish would receive the benefit of its light; while those who fancied themselves wise, would, in consequence of their prejudices, shut their eyes against it. The Pharisees enquiring whether he intended to extend to them the imputation of blindness, he answered, that if they had been blind in such sense as not to have had the means of discovering the truth, they would not have been so guilty as they now were, possessing, indeed, great advantages, but priding themselves upon them, and refusing to employ them to any useful purpose.
Having thus reproved the Pharisees for shutting their eyes against the evidence of his mission, he continued the reproof by describing the characters of a true and false teacher, leaving them, who had so unjustly excommunicated the beggar, to judge which of the classes they belonged to. Our Lord, being now in the outer court of the temple, near the sheep which were there exposed to sale for sacrifice, the language of the antient prophets came into his mind, who often compared the teachers of their own times to shepherds, and the people to sheep. Accordingly, in describing the characters of the scribes and Pharisees, he made use of the same metaphor, shewing that there are two kinds of evil shepherds, pastors, or teachers; one who, instead of entering in by the door to lead the flock out, and feed it, enter in some other way, with an intention to steal, kill, and destroy there is another kind of evil shepherds, who feed their flocks with the dispositions of hirelings; for when they see the woff coming, or any danger approaching, they desert their flocks, because they love the selves only. Of the former character the Pharisees plainly shewed themselves to be, by excommunicating the man that had been blind, because he would not act contrary