« السابقةمتابعة »
nothing else than the carpenter's fon: but his fore-runner, that powerful preacher of righteoufnefs, declares his dignity. Yea, the declaration of Heaven itself is given in his favour. That awful voice, which the dead fhall hear and obey, the voice of the Almighty, pronounces him his beloved Son in whom he is well pleafed. Could he have been ushered into the world in a way more ready to conciliate the love and approbation of mankind, to make the good to revere him, and the wicked to dread him? Thus one would judge. But attend to the history.
The apoftate angel, the king of darkness, the patron and head of the wicked, always watchful against the first appearance of any thing that is good, and ever defirous to feduce from righteoufnefs, has power allowed him to tempt him. He ufes his most prevailing arts. But neither hunger the most extreme, nor the offer of earthly power and fplendour, could draw him from the direct path of integrity. Secure on every fide, a fuit urged with a religious appearance could not deceive him. At last baffled, as when he fell from Heaven, he leaves the Son of God, and angels receive him.
Our Saviour now enters upon his public miniftry and what aftonishing facts are we prefented with! Behold and wonder, the most fingular predictions of the prophets are fulfilled! The eyes of the blind are opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame leap like the hart, the dumb fing for joy, and the inhabitant of the filent tomb is reftored to life. Surely these wonderful acts of love and kindness procured him fuch approbation, that he could want neither the neceffaries, nor the conveniencies of life.Whofe door would not have been open for the reception of so honourable a guest? Who that had two garments would not have beftowed one upon him? Or who would not
have shared with him the very last morfel? But the cafe was far otherwife. I am covered with shame, when I reflect upon the ingratitude and inhumanity of the Jews, and hear my Saviour thus fpeaking of his own condition: The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head. The rains did not fooner defcend, the winds did not
fooner blow, and the tempefts did not fooner roar, than he, without aid, without fhelter, felt all their force. Shrinkeft thou, O Chriftian, at the relation of thofe hardships? Let thy tears flow in admiration of that patience and fortitude which never fhrunk from the feeling of them.
But I come to tell you of forrows which pierced thy Redeemer much deeper. Thofe I am to mention, though to him unspeakably great, yet unless thy foul feel fomething of that benevolence which actuated him, will not, perhaps, strike thee much. Yet hear and confider them. I mean, then, the forrows and grief which Jefus felt in being defpifed, rejected, hated by fach numbers of his countrymen. O the distorted eye of malice, what will it not fee? Does our Saviour keep company with finners, in order to reform them? Then is he called their friend. Does he wear no forbidding or auftere appearance, but partake innocently and cheerfully of the gifts of providence? Then he is a glutton and a wine-bibber. Does he perform miraculous cures, in order to bestow
4 Matthew xi. 19.
health, in order to spread happiness and joy; and does his defire to be the author of these prevent him from obferving rites that were merely ceremonial, inftitutions that were merely positive, and never defigned to preclude fuch beneficent works? Then is he a difrefpecter of their laws, a contemner of their law-giver. Yea, do the devils obey his word, and leave thofe who were poffeffed by them? He effects this by a combination with their prince; and works of piety, juftice, and charity, are the foundation on which the kingdom of Satan is reared. Do you fay, were undeferved hatred and reproaches, which many men have borne bravely, fo difficult to be fupported by Jefus, when he had the inward teftimony that there was no guile in him, and when unspotted innocence and integrity were his robe, and his diadem? Miftake me not. The pain and forrow which Jefus felt, did not proceed from the reproaches which were thrown upon him: but from this caufe they proceeded, from knowing the difpofitions which prevailed in those who reproached him. How Bb 3
e Matth. ix, 34.
are we fhocked, and what pain do we feel when we see our fellow-creature in the last stage of a loathfome diftemper? But could mental diseases, the difeafes of malice, of hatred, of envy, of obftinacy, be exhibited to our fenfes, how much greater anguish would a generous mind feel for the miferable fufferer? By looking forward and confidering the end, how would the anguish be increased? Now to the penetrating eye of Jefus, those diseases appeared in their blackeft deformity: and the unhappy wretches who were infested with them he beheld ignorant and blind, ready to fall into that miserable state, where is weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, where their worm dieth not, and their fire fhall not be quenched. Ye benevolent minds, figure to yourselves, what the benevolent mind of Jefus endured, when to the inhabitants of Chorazin, Bethfaida, proud Capernaum, and Jerufalem itfelf, he, foreseeing the final day of retribution, pronounced woes, the very thought of which muft chill the warmest blood, and to avoid which, they will but in vain call upon the mountains and hills to cover them for Behold him, then, defpifed and re