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to have had the custody of a holy doctrine, which never touched

your

hearts of a pure commandment, by the light of which ye never walked.

To those who disgrace the doctrine of their Saviour by the scandal of their lives, it will be of no avail to have vainly called him “ Lord, Lord,”

SERMON XXV.

John, iv. 42.

We have heard him ourselves; and know that

this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Such was the testimony which, in an early period of our Saviour's ministry, the good people of the town of Sychar in Samaria, bore to the truth of his pretensions. They make, you see, a double profession,

first, of a previous faith in a Christ that was to come ;

then of a faith now wrought in them by the preaching of Jesus, that Jesus himself

person they expected. From this public confession of the Sycharites, connected with the sentiments which had been expressed by a woman of the same town, in her private conference with our Lord at Jacob's Well, these facts, as I showed you in my last discourse, may readily be deduced,—that the Samaritans of our Saviour's day, with advantage of less light from reve

was the

lation, no less than the more instructed Jews, expected a Messiah, that they knew no less than the Jews, that the time was come for his appearance; that in the Messiah who was now to come, they expected not, like the mistaking Jews, a Saviour of the Jewish nation only, or of Abraham's descendants, but of the world; that they expected a Saviour of the world from moral evil — from the misery of sin and guilt — from the corruptions of ignorance, hypocrisy, and superstition.

Of these facts I now purpose to investigate the causes.

I am to inquire therefore, first, on what grounds the previous faith which we find in the Samaritans - their faith in a Christ to come, was founded; and in the next place, what particular evidence might produce their conviction that Jesus was the person they expected actually arrived.

The first question, what were the grounds of their previous faith, may seem naturally to divide itself into two parts, -as it respects this previous faith in that part which was peculiar to the Samaritans; or in that more general part of it in which they only concurred in the universal expectation of all the civilized nations of the world. The ation of an extraordinary person who should arise about this time in Judea, and be the

The expect

instrument of great improvements in the manners and condition of mankind, was almost if not altogether universal at the time of our Saviour's birth, and had been gradually spreading and getting strength for some time before it. The fact is so notorious to all who have any knowledge of antiquity, that it is needless to attempt any proof of it. It may be assumed as a principle which even an infidel of candour would be ashamed to deny; or, if any one would deny it, I would decline all dispute with such an adversary, as too ignorant to receive conviction, or too disingenuous to acknowledge what he must secretly admit. This general expectation was common therefore to the Samaritans with other nations : And so far as it was common,

it must be traced to some common source ; for causes can never be less general than their effects. What was peculiar to the Samaritans, was the just notion which is expressed in my text, and in the private professions of the Sycharite woman, of the nature and extent of the benefits men were to receive from the expected deliverer, and of the means by which the deliverance was to be accomplished.

The subject therefore before us, in its first general branch, the inquiry into the grounds

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of the previous faith of the Samaritans, appears, in this view of it, to be of vast extent and comprehension : For, to give the question a complete discussion, and to conduct the inquiry in what might seem the most natural order, it would be necessary to consider, first, the general grounds of the expectation which so generally prevailed; and afterwards, to inquire from what particular sources the Samaritans drew those just views of the Messiah's business which they have been found to entertain. The investigation of the first question would carry us into deep disquisitions of theological antiquities.

It is not much my practice to shrink from difficulties; nor can I bring myself to believe that common people are so incompetent as they are generally supposed to be to comprehend whatever the preacher will be at the trouble to explain. Under the contrary persuasion, I scruple not to serve you with stronger meats than are generally thought fit for popular digestion. I should consult my own ease more, and your advantage less, if I could acquiesce in the general opinion.

For our present subject. The condition of the Samaritans in the article of religious information was,

in

consequence of their connexion with the Jews, so different from that

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