« PreviousContinue »
• lished. The time will come, when with the utmost impa
tience you will wish for the appearance of the Messiah, to * work out the temporal salvation which you desire. But • the days will then be more calamitous and afflictive than · those of the present season, under which you are now so
uneasy. And they who will then offer themselves to you • in that character, as they will not bring with them a doc
trine like mine, so will they absolutely fail in every attempt •
for your advancement, and your earnest expectations of • deliverance will be utterly disappointed.'
And I cannot see, but that this may be reckoned the more direct design of our Lord, that is, to set before his disciples, in the hearing of others, the sad and deplorable circumstances of the Jewish people, if they did not improve the means afforded them by himself, and his apostles after him.
But if it be supposed, that our Lord here speaks to his own disciples chiefly, and to such others as sincerely believed in him; I apprehend, he must have had a respect to some prejudices, wbich still had too great an influence upon them. And what he says is to this purpose. That whereas
they looked for great things in this world, and, with too • many others, waited for a temporal salvation for the Jewish
people, together with spiritual privileges, they would be • disappointed. The time would come, when they would ' esteem these happy days. Such would soon be the ca
lamitous state of things in the land of Judea, that they ' would be glad to see a time of so much ease and quiet as • the present. You will wish to see again one of these days • of mine. But you will not. No! Your profession of my ' name, if you are faithful to me, will cost you dear. At . that time
The circumstances of things I will call you to weeping and fasting, and every instance • of self-denial. Improve then the present time; content * yourselves with it; be thankful for it and rejoice therein. • For a better state of things is not to be expected in this • land, and among those who dwell in it.'
IV. Having now in some measure explained this text, I would add a thought or two by way of reflection.
1. We perceive that every method was taken for saving the Jewish people, that could be used in the way of moral persuasion.
For our Lord, and his forerunner, and his apostles after him, preached among them the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven. They confined their preaching to them entirely, or chiefly, for a good while; and many miraculous works were done among them. They were called to repentance, and
the joys and glories of a future life were set before them. Beside this, they were again and again informed of the judgments hanging over their heads; and with earnest concern and affectionate tenderness they were warned to take heed to themselves. They were assured, for their good, that this was the day of their visitation ; if this opportunity should be let slip; if they did not now attend to the things of their peace, it would be afterwards too late. And moreover all expectations of another Messiah, and of temporal salvation by him, would prove vain and delusive, and the disappointment would be most grievous and vexatious. The only way of saving themselves was to hearken to those who now, in the name of God, and with evident tokens of divine authority, invited them to repentance, with the great and sure promises of forgiveness and eternal life.
2. We also may hence learn our own duty, and consider this warning as delivered to us.
If what is here said did more especially relate to others, yet the disciples were not altogether unconcerned therein, and our Lord thought best to say it to them.
66 And he said to the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall not see it.” If we are not in any immediate danger of losing our temporal or our spiritual privileges ; yet, certainly, the best way to secure them is to value and improve them; to be thankful for them, and rejoice in them; and not to be uneasy and discontented for want of some greater things. The time may come when we shall wish, in vain wish, for such days as these ; for a liberty of thought and inquiry, profession and practice; for freedom to unite together in the worship of God, though a few only, and those of low condition and mean appearance; to hear the Old and New Testament read and explained, and the truths of religion recommended and enforced by rational arguments, though without the ornaments of eloquence, in a plain manner;
and to be exhorted to virtue by the consideration of its real excellence, the Divine command, and the consequences of it in a future state, though no worldly honours and preferments are now annexed to it.
Is there nothing agreeable, nothing satisfying in such entertainments as these ? If such an advantage be despised and neglected, for want of worldly splendour and greatness, may there not be danger of an alteration for the worse? And if it should happen, a recovery of lost privileges may be very difficult.
When once our portion is come to be unintelligible mystery, with numerous and showy, but
empty rites and ceremonies, imposed by mighty and awful authority; we may desire to see one of these despised, unimproved days of reason and liberty, scriptural worship, and pure
ordinances, but not be able to see it.
JESUS THE SON OF GOD.
66 Go to my
Go to my brethren, and say unto them: I ascend unto my
Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.
John xx. 17. IN discoursing on these words I shall first endeavour to show, in what respects God is peculiarly the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And secondly, the design of this message of Christ to his disciples, and in what sense God is also their and our God and Father.
1. That God is in an especial and peculiar manner“ the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," may be inferred from the frequent use of that title and character? in the epistles of the apostles. In this text our Lord's style is remarkable. He does not say: brethren, and say: I ascend to our Father and God:” but “ I ascend to my Father, and your Father, to my God, and
your God.” In the gospels our Lord is often styled “the only-begotten Son of God," and the well-beloved Son of God."
And the apostle to the Hebrews begins that epistle thus: “ God who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." Though therefore others also are called “ sons of God," the Lord Jesus is “ the Son of God” in a sense peculiar to himself, transcendent and superior to all others.
Father and son are relative. If I show in what respects and on what accounts Jesus is the Son of God, it is at the same time shown, in what sense God is bis Father. And I shall now mention these several respects, which, I think, are plainly expressed in scripture.
1. Jesus is the son of God upon account of his miraculous conception and birth.
2 Cor. i. 3; xi. 31; Eph. i. 3, 17; iii. 14; Col. i. 3 ; 1 Pet. i. 3.
a Rom. xv. 6;
Luke i. 31–35. An angel appeared to Mary, and said to her: “ Fear not. For, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” When Mary asked, “ how that could be? the angel answered, and said unto her; The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore that holy thing, that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” Here our Lord is expressly said to be the Son of God on account of his miraculous conception and birth. A like history of our Saviour's nativity may be seen in the first chapter of St. Matthew's gospel.
St. Luke, who carries up our Lord's genealogy to the first man, concludes it, saying: " Who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of God.” Adam, as seems to me, is here said to be the son of God, as he was immediately formed by God out of the earth. So Jesus was formed of the substance of the virgin Mary by the power of God, or the special operation of the Holy Ghost.
2. Jesus is the Son of God, or the well-beloved Son of God, upon account of the most plentiful measure of the gift of the Holy Ghost conferred and bestowed upon him.
St. John having spoken of the “ word” as “ with God,” and “God,” and that “ all things were made by him," says, ver. 14, “ And the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father." It was not the word, which John and others beheld, but Jesus, in whom the word dwelled. Him they beheld, and his greatness or glory was conspicuous; so that he appeared, and they knew him to be," the only-begotten of the Father,” or the Messiah.
In other places of St. John's gospel this is expressed in other words. Ch. iii. 34, John the Baptist bears this testimony to Jesus : “ He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God. For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him."
John x. 36. Our Lord himself argues with the cavilling Jews: “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God ?" That is, as a learned expositor paraphrases that verse : “ Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified (by the Holy Ghost essentially dwelling in,
• or without measure imparted to, him, John iii. 34,) and sent • into the world, thou blasphemest because I (after this • unction, and commission to make known his will to you) • said, I am the son of God ?”? Or, as another expositor : " " Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified,” that is, consecrated, designed, separated from the rest of men by a supernatural birth, and by a communication of the Spirit without measure, and by a special commission and . • authority to declare his will, that he blasphemeth,” because he has thus spoken ?
John xiv. 10, “ The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself. But the Father that dwelleth in me, he doth the works.” Which in other gospels is expressed by doing miracles by the finger, or spirit, or power of God. Luke xi. 20, “ If I by the finger of God cast out demons, no doubt the kingdom of God is come unto you.” Matt. xii. 28, “ But if I cast out demons by the spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” Which should be compared with John x. 38, “ If ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.”
Matt. i. 22, 23, In the history of our Lord's nativity. “ Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
Col. ii. 9. St. Paul : “ In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily:" that is, really. In the temple of Jerusalem there was a glory, which was a symbol of the divine presence. But in Jesus Christ God dwelled really. Or, as St. John's expression is : “ The word was made flesh, and dwelled among us."
By virtue of this indwelling of the Father, or this most plentiful and extraordinary communication of the Spirit, without measure, Jesus knew the whole will of God concerning the salvation of men, and spake the words of God with full authority, and wrought miracles of all kinds, at all times, whenever he pleased, and had the knowledge of all things; even the thoughts and characters of men, and things at a distance, and things to come.
With regard to this it is, that St. Paul says of our Lord, c Sanctifié.] C'est à dire, consacré, destiné, separé, du commun des hommes par une naissance surnaturelle, par une communication d'esprit sans mesure, et par un pouvoir tout divin pour exercer la charge de Mediateur. Voyez le mot de sanctifier pris dans ce sens. Jer. i. 5. L'Enfant.