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not be followed by strength, and in sickness which can never be removed, there is no hope in God, how cheerless must be the situation of decaying age. But from this picture, turn to see the aged Christian, whose life has been spent in imperfect but sincere endeavours to perform the will of God. This world and its pleasures are receding from his grasp; but his mind is illumined by the splendor and glory of that to which he is approaching. The departure of those who have been his companions in this life produces no feelings of loneliness or solitude, for God is his friend, and is ever with him. In his sickness and his pain he is consoled by the hope of the happiness which sickness and pain are every day bringing nearer. He is grateful for the enjoyments the world has afforded him; he is contented in the prospect of leaving it; he sees the approach of death without dismay; and he expires perhaps with bodily suffering, but with joy in his heart.
We may see the sinner exulting in prosperity, and the virtuous man depressed and afflicted during life, and may be unable to discern the marks of retributory Providence; but we again observe them in the hour of death, and we no longer doubt; for there is no dispute whose condition is now to be preferred. On this subject the feelings of all men are the same; the good and the bad have no separate opinions. It was in the very act of disobeying the Almighty, that the exclamation was heard from Balaam" Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."
I hope, my friends, that what has now been said will have some effect either to confirm, or to produce the belief, that religion is of great benefit to a man in this world. But I have been able to give but a very inadequate idea of this benefit, unless my remarks may have excited you to reflection. I have mentioned but few of the many circumstances in which it is apparent; and I trust there are many of you who have noticed the imperfectness of my enumeration, since I have said
so little of those pleasures which may peculiarly be called religious pleasures-as the approbation of one's own mind, the complacency of conscious rectitude, the satisfaction flowing from love to God and love to man, from the performance of the duties of devotion and benevolence ;-but I have preferred to mention only such advantages as could be estimated by those who have no religion. I have endeavoured to show to those who love this world, that“ godliness has the promise of the life that now is;"_and let it not be forgotten that it has the promise also of the life that is to come. Let all remember that I have been speaking of a very inferior excellence of religion ; and that its chief end is to prepare us for perfect happiness in a more exalted and glorious state of existence. If the whole of this short life were to be spent in misery in or. der to secure the favor of God, we should be wise to choose it for the sake of those enjoyments which he has put in our pow. er to obtain, and should be beyond all measure compensated by their fruition. But the God of Christians, our heavenly Father, has no complacency in the sufferings of his creatures ; and in nothing does his benevolence appear more conspicuous, than in this provision, that the path of duty in this world shall be the path of happiness.
In this path may we all walk, and may it finally lead us to the presence of Almighty God.
ON THE MESSAGE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST TO OUR SAVIOUR,
AND OUR SAVIOUR'S DISCOURSE CONCERNING JOHN.
Matth. xi. 2-15,-Luke vii. 18-30.
What is here written, are some remarks from various sources, illustrative of the passages in Matthew and Luke which contain an account of John's message to Jesus, the answer of our Saviour, and his discourse concerning John. They are arranged in the order of the narration.
Matth. xi. 2, 3.7 “ Now when John had heard in the pris. on the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another ?"
Art thou he that should come EPXOMEVOG? This is a phrase used by the old prophets to designate the Messiah, and appears to have been a common style of mentioning him in the time of our Saviour
Wakefield, after Limborch, has given to this question, the following translation. “Thou art he that is to come, can
* This, and the following dissertation, were one of a number, which Mr. Eliot wrote for the exercises in the interpretation of the New Tes. tament, which the resident graduates at Cambridge, students in divinity, began to attend to, under the direction of Professor Ware, during the time of Mr. Eliot's residence there.
+ Luke vii. 18.
# Whitby in Matth.
$ Doddridge in loc.
we look for another?” This may be defensible ; not however in the sense which he assigns to it in his Evidences ;* as we may conclude from considering the object of John's message.
This was either for his own satisfaction, to remove his own doubts; or it was to remove the doubts of his disciples. It has been believed that John, deprived of all his honor, and suffering the pains of imprisonment and want, was overcome by the scruples which suggested themselves, so that he thought-Why am I suffered to remain so long in this misery, and danger? I did hope that this was he who should free both me, and the people.':
If John indulged such thoughts as these, he either doubted that Jesus was the Messiah, or he mistook the nature of his kingdom. That he could not have any doubt as to his being the Messiah, I think appears from a consideration of what had preceded. He knew that he himself was the forerunner of the Christ. It had been revealed to him that he should know the Messiah. He did supernaturally know him, and pointed him out as the Lamb of God," “ the Son of God," and said of him, that he was “above all," and that God gave not the spirit by measure to him.' He saw the Holy Spirit descend upon him at his baptism. It was not possible that after such repeated proofs of the character of Jesus, John could have any doubt that he was the Messiah. Nor is it probable that his ideas as to the nature of Christ's kingdom were so erroneous, as to lead him to such thoughts as have been supposed. Did he himself appear as the forerunner of a conqueror ? Was his poverty and humility, was his preaching, consistent with the character of a precursor of temporal power? All that John taught was perfectly consonant with what our Saviour taught; and not at all favoring the idea that he expected that Christ's would be a temporal kingdom. He foretold that his baptism would be a spiritual one. It
+ Wetstein in Matth.
* Remark 24.
appears also from what he himself said, “ He must increase, but I must decrease,” that he expected the diminution of his authority and consequence. And if John knew that Jesus was the Son of God, divinely commissioned, would he have murmured that he was neglected by him, and sent a message that in such circumstances would have been reproachful and insulting?
But to the other supposition, that this message was for the conviction of his disciples, I see nothing to object. They may with more probability be supposed to have been ignorant of the nature of Christ's kingdom ; or to have thought it improbable that John would have been suffered to remain in prison, if Jesus were the Messiah. They perhaps had been admirers of the severity of John's mode of living, and were displeased at the freedom of Christ's conversation, so different from John's austerity.* “ John came neither eating nor drinking."The Son of Man came eating and drinking." To remove their doubts, John sends them to Jesus himself, to ask, “and hear what he would say to the question"'t which they proposed in his name.
Matt. xi. 4-6. " Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see : The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me.” As the message was from John, though for the sake of his disciples, so the answer was to him. It is here noticeable, that Jesus urged his miracles as a proof of his divine commission. The argument from these was peculiarly forcible, not only because they are the only certain test of supernatural power, and divine interposition, but because their master John did not work miracles. The observations of Cappe on this subject are worthy of attention. “ The mir