صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

A. M. 4035, &c. or 5411.

Ann. Dom.

31, &c. Vulg. Er. 30.

through their country, with a set purpose to do this, was looked upon as an affront to their way of worship: For it argued our Lord's judgment in this case to be, that Jerusalem was the only place where these feasts could be regularly celebrated, and, consequently, that the keeping them on Mount Gerizzim, and the temple there, was a presumptuous novation, directly contrary to the will and law of God.

"But why was our Saviour alone treated in this rude manner, when every traveller to Jerusalem, upon the like occasion, declared against the Samaritan schism as much as he did, and yet, for any thing we find, met with better entertainment?" Now this different sort of treatment can be resolved into nothing but the different character of the travellers. The Samaritans might think, that the opinions and practices of common people were not worth their regard, but that it would be of mighty consequence if a person so eminent as Jesus should declare against them; and therefore, since his going to worship at Jerusalem, on this solemn occasion, would, in all common acceptation, bear this meaning, they contrived to prevent, as much as in them lay, the influence which that supposed indignity might have, by revenging it with another of not receiving him; because such refusal, they thought, was a constructive disowning of his authority, and a plain declaration to all people, that whatever esteem and veneration others might have for this famed man, they themselves took him for no prophet.

(a) In this feast of tabernacles, it was a custom among the Jews (derived, as some imagine, from the institution of their prophets Haggai and Zechariah), on the last day more especially, to fetch water from the fountain of Siloam in great pomp and solem nity, with trumpets and other musical instruments going before them. At such fountains, it was usual to build receptacles or wells, and in the middle of them to have pipes and cisterns laid, through which the water passed, and, coming out at cocks, was received in urns, or large big-bellied vessels, and so carried to the temple. The water thus carried was given to the priests, who, mixing it with the wine of the sacrifices, offered it to God by way of intercession for the blessing of rain against the approaching seedtime: And, during the whole festivity, they read the lvth chapter of the prophet Isaiah, which begins with these words, "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money," &c.

Now, whoever looks into the method of our Saviour's preaching, may easily perceive, that it was customary with him to take occasion, from some obvious thing or other, to discourse of spiritual blessings, and frequently to make use of phrases metaphorically taken from the matter in hand. Pursuant hereunto we find him, in allusion to the customs of this feast, beginning his invitation with words not unlike what we have cited from the prophet, b)"If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." Water is, by God himself, represented as no bad emblem of the dispensation of grace; for (c) " I will pour water, says he, upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground." Which he explains in this manner,-"I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring;" and (d) the frequent libations, in the feast of tabernacles, were supposed, by the Jewish doctors themselves, to have had a mystic sense in them: And therefore the meaning of our Saviour's words is this," That whoever was desirous of the spiritual blessings which were prefigured in this festival rite, if he would become his disciple, and believe in him as the promised Messiah, he would communicate to him such gifts of the Holy Ghost, and in such a plentiful measure, as the world was not yet acquainted with; "for (e) out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Whence it is that our Saviour borrowed this metaphorical expression, is a matter not so well agreed by the learned. Some think from the Proverbs of Solomon, (ƒ)" The

(a) Whitby's, Hammond's, and Beausobre's Annotations.
xliv. 3.
(d) Surenhusii Concil. ex V. T. apud Johannem,"

(f) Prov. xviii. 4.

(b) John vii. 37.

(c) Isaiah (e) John vii. 38.

xii. 1. Mark ii.

Matth. xvii 14.

John vii. 1.

words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the well-spring of wisdom a flowing From Matth. brook." Others from the thirty-second of Isaiah, (a) "Behold a king shall reign in 23. Luke vi. 1. righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment, and a man shall be as rivers of waters John v. 1. to in a dry place:" And others, with more probability, from the fifty-eighth of that prophet; Mark ix. 14. (b) "Thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters fail Luke ix. 37. not." However this be, it is certain, (c) that our Saviour, taking the rise of his discourse from the customary libations at this time, had under his view and consideration the make and figure of the water-vessels that were used on this occasion, which, by reason of their large bellies, being able to hold a great quantity of water, were therefore proper emblems of that plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost, which he intended to send upon the Christian church, when (d)" to one should be given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit; to another, faith, by the same Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, discerning of spirits; to another, divers kinds of tongues; and to another, the interpretation of them.

[This is the account which is usually given of our Lord's exclamation to the people on the last day of the feast of tabernacles; and it is surely a sufficient answer to the preceding objection. The whole transactions of that day may be placed however in a light somewhat different, in which the words of Jesus will appear to have a meaning more obvious, and at the same time equally important.

"The feast of tabernacles, says Bishop Horsley (e), continued eight days. At what precise time I know not, but in some part of the interval between the prophets and the birth of Christ, the priests had taken up a practice of marching daily, during the feast, round the altar of burnt-offerings, waving in their hands branches of the palm, and singing, as they went,-" Save, we pray, and prosper us!" This was done but once on each of the first seven days; but on the eighth and last, it was repeated seven times. When this ceremony was finished, the people, with extravagant demonstrations of joy and exultation, fetched buckets of water from the fountain of Siloam, and presented them to the priests in the temple; who mixed the water with the wine of the sacrifices, and poured it upon the altar, chanting all the while that text of Isaiah (ƒ)—“ With joy we shall draw water from the fountain (or wells) of salvation." The fountain of salvation, in the language of a prophet, is the Messiah; the water to be drawn from that fountain is the water of his Spirit. Of this mystical meaning of the water, the inventors of those superstitious rites, whoever they might be, seem to have had some obscure discernment; although they understood the fountain literally of the fountain of Siloam: for, to encourage the people to the practice of this laborious superstition, they had persuaded them that this rite was of singular efficacy to draw down the prophetic spirit. The multitudes, zealously busied in this unmeaning ceremony, were they to whom Jesus addressed that emphatical exclamation-" If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." The first words" if any man thirst"-are ironical. "Are ye famished," says he, "with thirst, that ye fatigue yourselves with fetching all this water up the hill? O! but ye thirst for the pure waters of Siloam, the sacred brook that rises in the mountain of God, and is devoted to the purification of the temple! Are ye indeed athirst for these? Come, then, unto me and drink. I am the fountain, of which that which purifies the temple is the type: I am the fountain of salvation of which your prophet spake; from me the true believer shall receive the living water,-not in scanty draughts fetched with toil from this penurious rill, but in a well perpetually springing up within him." The words of Isaiah, which the priests were chanting, and to which Jesus alludes, are part of a song of praise and triumph, which the faithful are supposed

(d) 1 Cor. xii. 8, &c.

(a) Ver. 1, 2. (e) Sermons, vol. iii, ed. i. p. 38.

(b) Verse 11.

(c) Surenhus. ibid.
(f) Ch. xii. ver. 3.

A. M. 4035, to use in that prosperous state of the church, which, according to the prophet, it shall

&c. or 5441.

Ann. Dom. finally attain under Jesse's root." In that day shalt thou say, Behold, God is my salvation: I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and song, Vulg. Ær. 30 he also is become my salvation." Consider these words as they lie in the context of

31, &c.

the prophet; consider the occasion upon which Jesus, standing in the temple, applies
them to himself; consider the sense in which he applies them; and judge whether this
application was less than an open claim to be the Lord Jehovah come unto his temple.
It is remarkable that it had, at the time, an immediate and wonderful effect.
of the people, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the prophet." The
light burst at once upon their minds. Jesus no sooner made the application of this
abused prophecy to himself, than they acknowledged the justness of it, and acknowledged
in him the fountain of salvation."]



THAT the accomplishment of ancient prophecies, in the person and actions of our Blessed Saviour, was one of the external evidences of his Divine mission, and consequently of the truth of our most holy religion, was the subject of our last Dissertation; and how far the evidence of the miracles which he wrought is available to the same great end, we shall now endeavour to set before our reader.

(a) To this purpose we must observe, that a true miracle is properly such an operas tion as exceeds the ordinary course of things, and is repugnant to the known laws of nature, either as to its subject, matter, or the manner of its performance. For though we readily acknowledge that there are beings in the spiritual world which are able to perform things far exceeding the power of men, and therefore apt to beget wonder and amazement in us; yet that any created beings, and, consequently, agents of a limited power, are capable of working such miracles as our Saviour did; are capable of controlling the course of nature, of supplying mens natural defects, of giving sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, and life to the dead (which are miracles relating to the subject matter), or of doing any of these things in an instant, by a touch, by a word, at a distance, and without any kind of outward means (which are miracles regarding the manner of their performance), is a thing impossible; unless we can suppose that limited, inferior, and created beings, have an equal power of creating, controlling, and restoring with Almighty God, which is contradiction enough in all conscience.

It was upon this persuasion, therefore, viz. that "true miracles are the sole operation of God," that the world has, all along, agreed to acknowledge and accept of miracles as an authentic and indisputable testimony, that the persons entrusted with such power were certainly sent and commissioned by God. To this purpose we find Pharaoh's magicians confessing, (b) that the miracles which Moses and Aaron exhibited were the finger of God; and in the controversy between Elijah and the priests of Baal, it was readily accepted as a fair proposal, that he (c) "who answered by fire from heaven" should be unanimously served and worshipped as God. The less reason have

(a) Bishop Smalbroke's Vindication.

(b) Exod. viii. 19.

(c) 1 Kings xviii. 24, &c.

xii. 1. Mark ii.

Mark ix. 14

we then to wonder, that we hear a learned ruler of the Jews accosting our Lord in From Matth. these words, (a) "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher sent from God; for no man 23. Luke vi. 1. can do those miracles that thou dost, except God be with him;" or that a mean man, John v 1. to who had been born blind, should confront the whole assembly of the Pharisees with this Matth. xvii. 14. one argument, (b)" Since the world began, was it not heard that any man opened the Luke ix 37. eyes of the blind; if this man were not of God, he could do nothing;" or that our bles- John vii. 1. sed Saviour himself should so frequently appeal to the miracles he wrought as proper testimonies of his Divine mission, (c) "The works which my Father hath sent me to finish; the works which I do in my Father's name, the same bear witness of me, that my Father sent me."

Our Saviour, indeed, and his apostles both, do often appeal to the predictions of the prophets relating to the promised Messiah, as fulfilled and accomplished in him; and the truth is, unless the validity of this appeal can be supported, miracles alone, or exclusive of this testimony, would not be a sufficient evidence of our Lord's commission: But then it ought to be considered, that, when among the particular predictions of a person promised to the Jews as their Messiah, it was foretold that he should (d) "be like unto Moses ;" that (e)" the Spirit of the Lord should rest upon him;" that (f)" he should open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; and that he should make the lame to leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb to sing." Miracles became then an essential ingredient of his character, and a sure test of his being a prophet sent from God.

(g) Some modern Jews indeed, when pressed with the evidence of our Saviour's miracles, make this their subterfuge,-That the Messiah, at his coming, was not to perform any wonders of this kind, but only to manage the Lord's battles, and to overcome the people that were round about him. But that this was not of old the sense of the Jewish nation, is evident from the words of the people in our Saviour's time, (h)" When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?" Nay, (i) an author of theirs of no great antiquity, (after his having mentioned the three glorious gifts, viz. prophecy, miracles, and the knowledge of God, which the Israelites, in the time of their captivity, had lost) gives us to understand, that upon the appearance of the Messiah, the return of miracles was justly to be expected, in completion of this prophecy,―(k) "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions."

Since the Messiah then was to work miracles when he came into the world, if we consider the design of our blessed Saviour's mission, viz. (l) that he was a teacher sent from God to abolish a form of worship which had incontestably been established by the power of miracles in Moses, and to introduce a new religion repugnant to the wisdom of the world in many mysterious doctrines, and abhorrent to the vicious inclinations of men in all its righteous laws and precepts; that he was appointed, in short, to destroy the kingdom of the devil, and, upon its ruins, to erect a kingdom of righteousness, there was an absolute necessity for him to be invested with a power of working miracles: Otherwise his pretensions to this high character had been ridiculous, and the Jews, with good reason, might have demanded of him, (m) " Master, we would see a sign from thee; what sign therefore dost thou do, that we may see and believe?" But this demand is effectually silenced by our Saviour's being able to make the reply,-(n) " If I had not done among you the works which none other man did, ye had not had sin; but now ye have both seen and hated both me and my Father."


(b) Ibid. ix. 92, 33. (ƒ) Ibid. xxxv. 5, 6. (i) Abravenel in Joel.

(a) John iii. 2. (e) Isaiah xi. 2. (2) John vii. 31. fleet's Orig. Sacræ, p. 172.


(m) John vi. 30.

(c) Ibid. v. 36.

(d) Deut. xviii. 15. (g) Maimonides, H. Melach. et Milch, cap. xi. (k) Joel ii. 28. and Acts ii. 17. (1) Stilling(n) Ibid. xv. 24.

2 G

John the Baptist, who was born a little before our Saviour, was his fore-runner. (a) He appeared at the time when the Messiah was expected; and being much famed for his virtue and sanctity of life, was followed by the people, who were prone to take him Vulg. Er. 30. for the prophet who was to come, as there was not indeed, at that time, a greater per

A. M. 4035. &c. or 5441. Ann. Dom. 31. &c.


son born among women: And yet the Divine Providence so ordered the matter, that, as great as he was, he wanted this character of the true Messiah, viz. the working of miracles; and therefore our Saviour, comparing himself with the Baptist, a burning and a shining light indeed, but who himself did no miracles, (b) “ I have a greater witness, says he, than that of John; for the works which my Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me that I am the Messiah, or (which is all one) that my Father hath sent me."

And well indeed might our Lord be allowed to claim a pre-eminence, not above the Baptist only, but above every prophet that went before him; when upon so many occasions he exercised a power and authority not inferior to that of God; when, by the same Omnipotence wherewith he created all things at first, he multiplied a few loaves and two fishes into a sufficiency to feed five thousand; when, at his command, the wind and the sea grew still, and unclean spirits departed from mens bodies, confessing him to be the Son of God; when acute diseases, and chronical griefs, (c) such as no length of time, no skill, no remedies, no expence could assuage, were equally cured with a touch, nay with the touch of his garment, with a word, nay, with a word that operated effectually upon the absent and at a distance; when persons at death's door, nay, actually dead, and dead for some time, were commanded back to life and health; and himself, when slain by the Jews and committed to the grave, was (according to his own prediction) raised from the dead, by the same Divine Spirit whereby "he quickeneth and enliveneth all things."

These and many more actions of the like nature, recorded in the Gospel, are plain demonstrations of a Divine Power residing in our Blessed Saviour: But then there is something farther to be said concerning these miraculous acts of his, viz. that they were exceedingly well chosen to characterise the Messiah, in regard of their suitableness to the end and design of his coming.

(d) The law was enacted with a very terrible pomp, such as spoke it to be (what indeed it was) a dispensation of servitude and great severity. But the Gospel is a covenant of reconciliation and peace, of friendship, nay, of sonship with God, intended not so much to strike awe upon mens minds, as to charm and win them over by all the endearing methods of gentleness and love; and therefore, the wonders that bore testimony to its truth were works of mercy and kindness, such as never wrought any harm, but always brought comfort and advantage to the needy and distressed; (e) sustenance to the hungry, supplies to those in want, safety to them that were ready to perish, speech to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, eyes to the blind, understanding to the disturbed, strength to the impotent, limbs to the maimed, health to the sick, life to the dead, and release to souls and bodies held in bondage by the devil. These, these are the wonders by which our Jesus proved his mission, wonders of gentleness and pity, of beneficence and love, wherein he manifestly excels, and, as it were, triumphs over all the prophets that went before him. They proved their commission by acts of Divine vengeance and sore plagues, as well as by cures and corporal deliverances; whereas our Blessed Lord (f) "went about always doing good;" healing diseases and infirmities, but inflicting none; and releasing from death, but never hastening it; insomuch, that through the whole course of his ministry we have not one instance of his power exerted in the suffering or annoyance even of his bitterest enemies.

(a) Kidder's Demonstration of the Messiah, part i. p. 45.
(c) Stanhope's Sermons at Boyle's Lectures.
(e) Stanhope's Sermons at Boyle's Lectures.

(b) John v. 35, 36, (d) Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. i. (f) Acts x. 38.

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