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The Jews of that day knew not what this meant; they contradicted it in principle and in practice. Born and bred among Jews, how came he to throw off Jewish prejudices? Educated in the midst of prevailing errors, whence did he derive the wisdom which rejected them? Accustomed to the rule, love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy, how came he to say, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. When his countrymen were convinced of the legality and sanctity of vows, how came he to say, "Swear neither by heaven, nor by the earth,, nor by Jerusalem? Swear not at all. Accustomed to the law of retaliation, a law sanctioned by national prescription, as well as by the natural bent of the human heart, how came he to say, Resist not evil; and to teach others to say, Overcome evil with good? Accustomed to the ceremonious observance of the Sabbath, how came he to seize that truth, so agreeable to our enlightened reason, but so contradictory to the prevailing usage of his country, It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day1?”
In this manner did our Saviour prepare the way for the entire abrogation of the Jewish ceremonial law, and the substitution of that new mode of propitiating and worshipping God, which was openly declared by St Paul to the Jews: "Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this man (Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and that by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which
1 Bp Sumner's Evidences of Christianity. Chap. II.
ye could not be justified by the law of Moses';" and also for the introduction of that new code of moral duty, which was to derive its most perfect illustration and its most powerful sanctions, from the example, the sufferings, and the character of the Redeemer himself. The whole conduct of our Saviour, with respect to the Jewish Law, not only displays a full knowledge of the intent and object of that institution, and of the prejudices which prevented the Jews from receiving at once the doctrine of our Saviour and his Apostles respecting it; but also exhibits an entire consciousness of power and authority to carry into effect the changes which he proclaimed. Now what God himself has ordained, it is in the power of God alone to disannul. For on what other hypothesis shall we explain the knowledge which our Saviour alone, of all the people of the Jews, displayed of the intention and object of this Institution, and the authority with which he proclaimed its final abrogation? Is the display of such knowledge, and the assumption of such authority, to be accounted for most reasonably on the supposition that our Saviour was a mere man, or that he was a Divine Person,― at once the author and the subject of both dispensations?
1 Acts xiii. 38, 39.
THE DISCOURSES OF OUR SAVIOUR WHICH ARE RECORDED BY THE EVANGELIST ST JOHN.
IN considering the discourses of our Saviour, which are recorded by the Evangelist St John, with reference to the evidence which they afford to the divinity of his Person and character, it is not intended to enter upon a regular investigation of them: in the first place, because such an investigation would far exceed the limits of the present Treatise; and, in the next place, because some of the most prominent points connected with them have been already considered in the preceding chapters. It is intended only to advert to them briefly, so far as they illustrate that part of the main argument of the Gospel, as it is stated in the opening chapter; with reference to the divinity of the Person and character of our Saviour.
"Now it is very plain," as has been observed by a learned writer", "that whatever other objects St John may have had in view, this was one; to convey to the Christian world just and adequate notions of the real nature, character, and office
2 The Bishop of London's (Blomfield) Lectures on the Gospel of St John. p. 4.
of that great Teacher, who came to instruct and redeem mankind. For this purpose, he studiously selected, for his narrative, those passages of our Saviour's life, which most clearly displayed his divine power and authority; and those of his discourses, in which he spoke most plainly of his own nature, and of the efficacy of his death, as an atonement for the sins of the world. The object, which this Evangelist had in view,...was not to accumulate as many instances as possible of the miraculous power exerted by Jesus; but only those, which most distinctly illustrated his peculiar office and nature. Many other signs truly did Jesus, which are, not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through his name. This expression seems to prove, that those persons are wrong, who suppose that St John wrote his Gospel, merely to supply the defects and omissions of the other Evangelists. The real difference between them is, that they wrote a history of our Saviour's life; but St John, of his person and office.
"Whoever then desires to form a just notion of the real office and dignity of the Saviour of the world, let him study the representations which Jesus has given of himself, in the discourses recorded by St John. The Apostles speak of him in their Epistles, it is true, in noble and characteristic expressions: but here the Saviour speaks
1 John xx. 30, 31.
of himself, in language which no ingenuity can pervert.'
We will, therefore, make some brief remarks, with reference to this subject, on some of the discourses of our Saviour, which are recorded by St John.
1. The discourse of our Lord with Nicodemus, which is contained in the third chapter, is the first regular discourse of our Saviour, which is recorded by St John; and, in this discourse, he makes a direct assertion, not only of his own heavenly origin, but also of the certainty and the object of his death for the salvation of the world. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 2. The fourth chapter contains the discourse of our Saviour with the woman of Samaria; in which we find an express assertion from our Saviour himself, that he was the promised Messiah. 3. The
2 Chap. iii. 11-16.