« AnteriorContinuar »
we desire them to suspend their opinion, or
CHAP. V. at least their judgment a little, while we remind them, that the governor's speech to Expulsion of the Profaners of the Temple. the bridegroom, “Every man at the begin 1. Jesus visits and disputes with Nicodening doth set forth good wine ; and when mus. Baptizes in Judea. Instructs a men have well drunk, then that which is poor Samaritan. Heals a sick Person worse," does not imply even such a suppo at Capernaum. Retires again to Nasition ; butan evident reference to the man- zareth, and is expelled thence by his ner in which the entertainment was conduct impious Countrymen, ed, a manner much preferable to that customarily followed.
UR blessed Lord, immediately on his Nor can these wise people in their own
arrival at Jerusalem, repaired to the conceit, rationally think, that Jesus or
temple, nor was he a little shocked at be
holding a place dedicated to the solemn serdered, or expected, that all the wine he had furnished should be expended at this enter
vice of Almighty God, 80 prostituted to
purposes of fraud and avarice, and become tainment ; though, according to the Jewish
the resort of traders of every kind. custom on these occasions, it continued a week. Permit us likewise to observe, that
Such abuse could not long esca pe his no.' there might be a very important.' reason assigned for our Lord's furnishing such abun
tice of correction, having an absolute right darice ; because, if the quantity had been
to chastise so flagrant a perversion of a place,
that, strictly speaking, was his own. in The considerably less, the miracle would have
Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come been much less apparent, and the enemies
to his temple ; even the Messenger of the of Christianity, ever ready to grasp at the
Covenant, whom ye delight in : Behold, shadow of the pretence, might have denied
| he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts." that a miracle was wrought at all, it having been easy to convey a way a small quantity
1 Accordingly, the blessed Jesus, whose of water, and substitute the like quantity of wine in its place; whereas, such a decep
pious soul was vexed at their profanation
of the sacred place, drove out the traders, tion must be allowed impracticable, in so
and over-set the tables of the money. large a quantity, the transmutation being
changers, saying unto them that sold doves, momentary
“take these things hence; make not my Fa. The deists have likewise made inuch pa ther's house an house of merchandize." rade of argument concerning the size of these water-pots. In this we give them These mercenary wretches appeared to their utmost scope, persuaded, that all have been struck at once with a conscious-' which they can say on that head, will not ness of their guilt, and the severity of our in the least tend to invalidate the Christian Lord's reproof, as they immediately departcause.
ed, without making the least resistance.
But our Lord's conduct in this affair, carryThe blessed Jesus baving thus, by diversing with it every token of zeal, for which means, confirmed the faith of his disciples, the ancient prophets were so remarkable, and attested the truth and divinity of his the council assembled, and determined to mission, among those with whom he had inquire by what authority he attempted been brought up, departed from Cana, and such a reformation, requiring, at the same proceeded towards Jerusalemn, in order to | time, a demonstrative proof of the divinity keep the approaching passover.
of bis commission.
noble amongst the inhabit of the mighty and ple oferent from the exalted noti
To gratify their curiosity, our blessed Jation of his doctrines, and so perfectly Lord referred them only to the miracle of agreeable to the attribute of the Deity, as his own resurrection ; 66 Destroy,” says he, well as the predictions of the ancient pro. laying his hand on his breast, "this temple, phets, concerning the Messiah, “the Son and I will raise it up in three days." The of Righteousness, who was to rise with healrulers, mistaking his meaning, imagined ing in his wings ;" was perfectly assured that he referred to the superb and lofty tem- | that nothing less than Omnipotence itself ple' finished by Herod, and therefore told could produce such wonders ; and thence, him such relation was highly improbable, like many others of his countrymen, connor had they the least reason to think he cluded that Jesus was of a truth the Son, could possibly rebuild, in three days, that and sent of God, wbich last term is the magnificent structure which had been finish meaning of the word Messiah. But scruples ed at immense expence, and was the labour still arose in his mind, when on the other of forty and six years.
hand, he considered the obscurity of his
birth, and the meanness of his appearance, Though the blessed Jesus declined com- so different from the exalted notions the peo
ple of ihe Jews always entertained concernnoble amongst the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ing this powerful Prince, who was to erect he wrought several miracles in the presence his throne in the mighty city of Jerusalem, of the common people, in order to confirm and subject to his dominion all the states the doctrines he delivered, and prove the and kingdoms of the earth. To obviate, divinity of his mission.
therefore, these scruples, and solve these
perplexing doubts, Nicodemus resolved As there had not been any miracles
on an interview with the blessed Jesus ; wrought amongst them for a considerable but chusing to conceal his visit from time, though many were recorded in their
the other members of the Sanhedrin, who sacred books, they beheld our blessed Lord
were greatly averse to bis person and docwith amazement and veneration; and num.
trine, he chose the night, as most convenio bers were satisfied that he was the long-pro | ent for that purpose. mised Messiab, the desire of all nations, so often foretold by the ancient prophets. For His salutation of the mighty Redeemer of wise reasons, however, he did not publicly Israel wasthus: “ Rabbi, we know that thou discover that he was the Great Prophet, as art a teacher come from God; for no man he knew that the faith of numbers was yet can do these miracles that thou doest, exbut weak, and that many would desert his cept God be with him.” John iii. 2. cause, when they found he was opposed by the Sanbedriin, or great council of the Rabbi, I am sufficiently convinced that . nation, and did not set up a worldly king. | thou art immediately sent as a teacher from dom, as they thought the expected Messiah on high : for nothing less than Power Divine was to do. But the miracles wrought by could enable thee to perform the miracles the holy Jesus did not excite the wonder and which thou hast wrought in the presence of astonishment of the common and illiterate multitudes. But this salutation by no class of the people alone.
means implies, that Nicodemus thought
Jesus the great promised Messiah, even the Nicodemus, a principal person among Redeemer of Israel ; nor could he obtain them, impartially reflecting of his wonder- that knowledge till it was revealed to bim ous works, astonishing in their nature, so by the blessed Spirit of God. demonstrative in their proof, so salutary in their effect, so happily adapted to confirm- We may observe, that our Saviour, wav
ing all formality and circumlocution, which for the participation of heavenly blessedtend to no real profit, immediately preaches | gess. to this disguised Rabbi, the first great doctrine of Christianity, Regeneration ; “ Ve. | This important work is likewise spiritual rily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man in its operation, unseen by mortal eyes, be born again, he cannot see the kingdom being jy rought on the mind or heart of man, of God.” Nicodemus, I declare unto thee, by the powerfulinfluence of the Holy Spirit, as a truth of the last importance'; verily, which changes his nature, and with respect verily, unless a man be regenerated in the to eternal things, makes him another, a new spirit of his mind, have bis will aud-affec- | creature. - The wind bloweth where it tions transferred from earthly to spiritual Listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, objects, he cannot see the kingdom of God, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and which is holy and spiritual in its nature and whither it goeth ; so is every one that is enjoyments.
born of the Spirit.”
This was a mysterious system to the 1 Notwithstanding this explanation of our Rabbi, whose religious views extended no blessed Jesus, Nicodemus was so preposfarther than rites and ceremonies, and were sessed with partiality towards the Jews, bounded by time and space ; besides, he who on account of their alliance to Abrathought the very position of our Lord an ham, though they were the people of God, absurdity in terms. " How can a man be entitled to heaven, and consequently, in bern when he is old ? Can he enter a se no neell of this new operation of the mind, cond time into his mother's womb, and be called regeneration, that he again demandborn ?" Our Lord replies to this question, ed, “ How can these things be ?! The “ Except a man be born of water, and of Divine Instructor then reproves his dulness the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom and misapprehension of what he had so of God.” The regeneration which I preach clearly explained, and propounded to him, unto you, is not of a natural, but of a Spiri- especially as he was himself a teacher of the tual nature ; unless a man einbraces the people, and one of the great council of the Christian religion and doctrines, whose ini- nation. “ Art thou a master of Israel, and tiating ordinance is baptism, he cannot be knowest not these things !” The doctrines the subject of divine glory ; whieh consists I deliver are not fiction and mere surmise, not in earthly splendour, and the gratifica- but founded on eternal truth, immediately tion of the weaner passions, but in an ex revealed froin God, and consistent with the emption from whatever is earthly, sensual, will of heaven. I am witness to the same, and sinful, and the prosecution of whatever and therefore affirin that such testimony is is heavenly, holy, and spiritual. “ That sufficient to render them valid. But your which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that prejudices still prevail, nor can your unbe. which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit. Mar lief be conquered by all the arguments I can vel not that I said unto thee, ye must be | advance. "We speak that we do kuow, born again.” Wonder not at my doctrine | and testify that we have seen ; and ye reof regeneration, which is designed to inform ceive not our witcess.” you, that you derive no excellence from your boasted descent from Abraham ; as If ye thus reject the first principles of the such you are merely earthly, subject to sins Cnristian religion, such as the necessity of and infirmities of every kind : as well as to | regeneration, or the influence of the Spirit .shew that you must undergo a spiritual men- of God upon the heart of man, how will tal regeneration, a renovation of the heart, 1 ye believe the sublimer truths I shall herewhich changes the whole man, and fits you | after deliver concerning the kingdom of .. God, or state of the saints in glory ? If I earthly, but heavenly Jerusalem, previous inform you of spiritual transactions in this to which he was to shed his blood, as by lower world, and ye believe not, how can virtue of the same, all of every nation and ve believe if I tell you of those things' which kingdom, throughout the earth, might pass relate solely to another, an heavenly state? into the lieareniy world, and there, once But to confirm your belief in' wliat I have for ever, provided they relied on their merits, delivered, know that my assured knowledge and confirmed their lives to the doctrines he of these things is derived from the Father of preached, enjoy the summit of bliss, which, Light, the God of Truth, by whom I am through his sufferings, was provided for vested with gifts superior to any of the an- | them by God himself, to all eternity. cient prophets.
This is the sun and substance of Christi. No man hath ascended the regions of im- | anity ; this is the sum, and substanice of mortality, but he who descended from what our blessed Lord preached to Nicothence, even, “ The Son of Man,” conse 1.demus, that great ruler and teacher of the quently no man but the Son of Man can
Jews ; a sermon comprehending the whole with truth and certainty, reveal the imme | of what is necessary to be taught ; not with... diate will of the Father, who is in heaven. 1 standing religion is at this day
1. standing religion is at this day rent to pieces, Your great law-giver Moses, ascended not by sectaries, each of whom invent some.. there, Mount Sinai was the summit of his | new-fangled doctrine, suggested by ignoelevation ; whereas the Son of Man, who
rance or presumption, or both united. wasin heaven, and came down from thence, with a divine commission to sinful mortals, That God Almighty, the Father, out of had the most clear and convincing proofs J. bis unsupplicated, unmerited grace and of the will of his Almighty Father, pene- | mercy to the sinful race of men, sent bis trated into the designs of infinite wisdom only-begotten Son to purchase eternal life and grace, and consequently must be higher | through the effusion of his own blood, for than any other prophet, being in a pecu all of every nation and kingdom throughout Jiar sense, the prophet of the most high the earth, who should believe in him ; God.
that is, who should believe in the divinity
of his mission, and the doctrines he taught ; This divine Preacher, who speak as no and, in consequence of that faith conform, man ever speak, likewise labours to eradi. | as far as the infirmities of sinful nature will cate the favourable principle of the Jews: I permit, to the rulers of his gospel. “Only mean that of confirming all blessings, tem let your conversation be as becometh the poral and eternal, to their own nation and gospel of Christ.”. Condemnation justly. people, as well as to shew the vanity of their passed on all transgressors of the law of expecting the appearance of the Messiah, in God, (which are all mankind) can alone pomp and magnificence.
be averted according to the divine institu
tion, the propriety of which it is the heigbt To effect this glorious design he lays open of impiety and presumption to call in questo the Rabbi, that it was agreeable both to tion, by faith in the blessed Jesus, such a the doctrines of Moses, as well as the will faith as we have just explained. “ He that of God, that the Redeemer, in this state of | believeth on him is not condemned ; but he mortality, should be exposed to poverty and that believeth not is condemned already, distress of every kind ; that his conquests because he hath not believed in the name were not to be of a temporal nature, over of the only-begotten Son of God.” the hearts and wills of mankind : that his throne was not to be established in the It appears from the future conduct of