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be, notwithstanding I have none of those worldly honors and emoluments to bestow, which are generally considered, as inseparably connected with the coming of the Messiah.
When our Lord had dispatched this message to John, he then addressed the multitudes concerning hin, in terms, the most respectful and honorable to his Character, declaring that, among those who were born of women, there had not arisen one, who was greater than John the Baptist. But to shew, in the strongest point of view; the superior excellence of his own Character, and the superior importance of the establishment which he, as the Messiah, was about to set up, he adds,notwithstanding, he that is least in the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, is greater than He. · In the following chapter, upon occasion of our Lord's restoring sight and speech to a blind and dumb person, the Evangelical Historian remarks, that the people were amazed and said, Is not this the Son of David-in other words Is not this the Messiah, whose lineal descendant he was? Such a question, from the mouth of the common people, roused the jealousy and excited an alarm, in the minds of the Pharisees, least they should be induced to acknowledge Jesus, as the Messiah ; regardless of the proofs, of his being such, which he had just given them. Unable, however, to deny the reality of the miracle and, unwilling to suffer such a persuasion to get possession of the minds of the people; they chose malignantly to attribute the Miracle, to his connection with Demons.-v. 24. This fellow doth not cast out Demons, but by Beelzebubothe Prince of the Demons.
If ever language was capable of rousing an honest and virtuous indignation ; especially when the nature of the Miracle which occasioned it, is considered, surely this was! But what was the Answer of Jesus ? Why, he condescended to reason with them, upon the extreme absurdity of their supposition, and that, in a language which was, in the highest degree, cool and temperate, and fraught, with a strength of argument, which nothing could exceed.--v. 25. Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation ; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.
And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself;—how shall then his kingdom stand? And, if I, by Beelzebub, cast out Demons, by whom do your children cast them out ?-therefore, shall they be your Judges. But if I cast out Demons, by the
Spirit or power of God, then the KINGDOM OF GOD IS COME or rather is coming unto you.
The judicious and intelligent Reader will perceive that the malignant suggestions of the Pharisees, upon the occasion of our Lord's working this miracle, together with his answer, are here produced, principally, for the sake of the conclusion which he drew from his reasoning ; viz. that the kingdom of God was come near unto them ; for no doubt can well be entertained that, by the kingdom of God, is to be understood. the coming of the kingdom of the Messiah ; as the question which the people put--Is not this the: Son of David ? contained a very strong intimation that they suspected that Jesus was the Messiah.
After having made these remarks so closely connected with the principal design of this work; it must not be omitted to þe observed, that our Lord having, in his answer to the shameless and unprincipled cavils of the Pharisees, fully manifested, the utmost coolness and temper, and the most perfect self command, l in replying to them, nevertheless, expressed his most unqualified sense, of the heinousness of
* The same word which is used here, is likewise used by St. Paul, · Thess. ii. 16. and is applied by him to the destruction of Jerusalam, which was then only approaching: The note of Dr. Benson upon that passage, appears to be worth the judicious Reader's attention. " The Greek word " here rendered is come, being an Aorist; I would render it; (it will come
upon them shortly.) And the Aorist seems to be used here, for the paulo
post futurum, to denote the near approach of their destruction." See Benson in loc. In like manner our Lord seems to have meant not that the kingdom of God was come; but only that it was at hand, agreeable to his declarations, that they should not have gone over the cities of Israel until the Son of Man came ; and that some were present who should not taste of deaih till the Son of Man came, It may be obječted to the interpretation here given, that the kingdom of God is said in xvii. Luke, 21. to be within or among the Jews; but this difficulty will be entirely removed, by considering to what period this declaration referred. The question of the Pharisees was, when the kingdom of God, or of the Messiah, should come ? to which our Lord replied, that it would not come with observation, i. e. says Dr. Lardner, with outward pomp and splendour, visible in earthly kingdoms ; but they shall say, in opposition to those who shall call the attention of their countrymen by saying lo here, or lo there; when the Jews are anxiously expecting the Messiah to deliver them from their enemies. The kingdom of God, or of THE MESSIAH, is within, or among, you, and shall be fully manifested by your being totally disappointed of your expectations of a temporal Deliverer.' 'As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. Likewise also, as it was in the days of Lot ; even thus shall it be when the true nature of the coming of the Son of Man is revealed. But more of this hereafter.
their crime, in ascribing miracles, of the putest benevolence, toʻa diabolical influence, as proceeding from the most rootect depravity, and the most hardened determination of resisting all evidence, however strong which was not suited to their ambitious and interested views! This, every one must acknowledge, he might have done, with the most unruffled temper, and the most perfect self-composure. And, surely, no occasion could ever have more justly called for a severe censure, than the ascribing disorders, the most afflicting to the sdris of men, to sach a cause. If this was not criminality in the highest degree, what, apon earth, cam deserve the name of criminality?
It is only necessary to observe farther, both with respect to the message of John the Baptist, and to the cavils of these un principled and profligate Pharisees, that our Lord urged the miracles which he wrought as proofs, that he was the Messiah And his reasoning upon the latter occasion was so forcible, that they appear to have been utterly unable to make any reply to it. And yet some of our modern, easy-faith'd Christians, are disposed to think, and to assert, that Christianity requires in proof, neither prophecies nor miracles,-though he frequently urged both, for this purpose, and particularly, the fatter. If I had not done among them the works which no man ever did they had not bad sin. When this shall become the publick opinion---the total dereliction of Christianity cannot be very far distant !
The Reader's attention is now requested to a most interesting and important conversation, between Jesus and his Disciples, respecting the opinion which was entertained, by the Jews, concerning the nature of his character, and, it is thus introduced, by the Evangelical Historian. Matt. xvi. 13. When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi-or into the country, which was under the Jurisdi&tion of Philip; he asked his Disciples, what was the public opinion concerning him ? Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? To this question, the reply of the Disciples was, v. 14. Some say that thou art John the Baptista-somc Elias--and others Jeremiah-zyr one by the Prophets. From this account of the public opinion ; it appears, that however varied their conje&tures concerning him were, all were agreed that he was, an extraordinary personage. Our Lord then asked them, what was their own opinion of the nature of his character--ot. who they
thought him to be? to which question, the Apostle Peter, without hesitation, replied—Thou art O Xposós the Christ -or the Messiahấthe Son of the living God! *
* It is obserxed by Dr. G. Campbell that, “ if we were to judge by the " common versions, or even by most versions into modern tongues we " should consider the word Christ, rather as a a proper name, than an “ appellative, or name of office; and should think of it, only as a surname “ given to our Lord. Our translators have contributed greatly to this os mistake, by very seidom prefixing the article before Christ, though as it is rarely wanted in the original. The word Christ was, at first, as "" much an appellative, as the word "Baptist was, and the one was as regularly *** accompanied with the article, as the other. Yet our translators, who s always say, the Baptist have, one would think studiously avoided saying, * the Christ. This must appear to superficial Readers, an inconsiderable 56 difference; but the addition of the article will be found, when attended
“ 'to, of real consequence for conveying the meaning in English, with the ." same perspicuity and propriety with which it is conveyed in the Greek, Sa So much virtue there is in the article which, in our' Idiom, is never
prefixed to the name of a man, though it is invariably prefixed to a name 5 of office, unless where some pronoun, or other appropriate expression “ renders it unnecessary; that without it, the sense is always darkened, and " sometimes marred. Thus, in such expressions as these ; This Jesus whom 16 I preach unto you
Christ.---Paul testified to the Jews that Jesus was s Christ.---Skewing that Jesus was Christ.---The unlearned Reader, forms s6 no distinct apprehension, as the common application of the word leads “ him, uniformly, to consider Jesus and Christ as no other than the name 16 and surname of the same person. It would have conveyed to such a * Reader precisely the same meaning to have said, Paul testified to the Jews so that Christ was Jesus, and so of the rest. The article alone, therefore, "s in such cases, adds considerable light to the expression ; yet no more 56 than what the words of the Historiau manifestly convey to every Reader, s6 who understands his language.
5 But it may be asked, “Is the word Christ never to be understood in " the New Testament as a proper name, but always as having a direct
reference to the office or dignity ? I answer, that without question, " this word, though originally an appellative, came at length, from the “ frequency of application to one individual, and only to one, to supply " the place of a proper name. What wonld contribute to hasten this effect
was, the commonness of the name Jesus, among the Jews at that time; " which rendered an addition necessary for distinguishing the person. The 56 remark of Grotius is not without foundation, that in process of time, “ the name of Jesus was very much dropped, and Christ, which had never "s been used before as the proper name of any person, and was, for that “ very reason, a better distinction, and was substituted for it; so that among Hi the heathen, our Lord came to be more known by the latter than " the former.
“ But it is beyond a doubt, that the word was never applied to him as a
proper name, while he remained on this earth. It was at that time always Hi understood as the denomination of the dignity or office, to which some ** believed him entitled; others disbelieved, and many doubted." See Campbell's Dissertation on the Name Christ,
The Reader has here before him an unequivocal proof that, till this period, the Disciples had not acknowledged Jesus to be the Messiah---and indeed, if the state of things, at the time when this Conversation took place, be attentively considered; it will appear that it required no small exercise of faith, in the integrity of the character of Jesus, to have made this noble confession; for there were then no signs, of the nature of those which they had affixed to the character of the Messiah ; which could, at all, have led them to think,
their favorite idea of a worldly kingdom, was about to be realized, And, it is particularly worthy of Notice, from their own account, of the sentiments of the people at large, that they were perfectly, singular, in their opinion, upon this head; some saying, that he was John the Baptist--some that he was Elias--and others Jeremiah, or one of the Prophets_but none that he was the Christ, or the Messiah, but themselves. This has been thought extraordinary, and it has been considered as not easily to be accounted for, from the known and acknowledged sentiments, which they then held, concerning the nature of the Messiah's character, which, as has repeatedly been observed, were most certainly, not materially different, from those of the rest of their countrymen,
But, surely, there is nothing contrary to probability, in the supposition, that they might believe Jesus to be the Messiah, whom they expected, though he had not, as yet, given them, any of those distinguishing proofs of his sustaining that character; which they had, invariably, till this period, and even till after the resurrection of Jesus, affixed to it, and which they were, then, so anxiously looking for. They had heard him say, that the kingdom of heaven, or, of the Messiah, was at hand; and, in consequence of that declaration, they had joined him, upon the supposition, or at least, upon
the hope, that he himself might be the Messiah. They had themselves received a Commission from him, to announce its near approach. They had seen him work numerous miracles; which, very fully evinced, that he was an extraordinary personage; and this, as has already been observed, was, from their own account, the general opinion ; and, from an intimate acquaintance with him, they did not entertain the least doubt, of the perfect integrity of his personal character. If, to all this, it be added, that they had frequent opportunities of observing, the superior excellence and sublimity of his