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found fault with on this account; especially as he is well known to have addressed his mother by the appellation of Woman, at a time when he meant to thew her the highest and tenderest regard, by recommending her from the cross to the care of the beloved disciple. John xix. 26. “Woman, behold thy son.” To proceed, the sentence read interrogatively will easily run thus: “Woman, what have “ I to do with thee? is not mine hour come ?” is not the season of my public ministry commenced, in which I am to be no longer under the direction of my parents; but must work miracles, when I myself and not you judge it proper - The answer which he gave to the people in Capernaum, who told him chat his mother and brethren desired to speak with him, does not imply the least contempt of the natural relations established by God among mankind in ger neral, nor any want of affection to his mother and brethren in particular ; on the contrary, it imports the highest regard to both. Matth. xii. 49. “Who is my mother and brethren ?" Who do you think are the objects of my tenderest regard ? " And he stretched " forth his hands towards his disciples, and laid; Behold my mother and
my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which " is in heaven, the fame is my brother, and siker, and mother." They who do the will of God, are beloved by me with a tenderness equal to that which I bear to my brother, my sister, and my mother. A declaration of this kind is so far from throwing contempt in general on the relations established between mankind by nature, or on Christ's mother and brethren in particular, that it implies these relations to be objects of the strongest and tenderest affections in the human nature ; and that he had the highest respect and love for his own relations in particular.
2. The manner in which Jesus reformed the abuses committed in the temple is found fault with. We are told that his driving out, with a scourge of small cords, not only the cattle and those who fold them, but the money-changers allo, and the people; his overturning the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them who fold doves; and his scattering the changers money; were outrageous actions, more becoming the furious zeal of an enthufiaft, than that command of temper and sobriety which Jesus is said to have polfelled. But to understand this part of our Lord's conduct, we must remember, that in the action itself he called himself “ the Son
of him to whom the temple belonged,” John ii. 16. “ And he said "unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence, and make not
my father's house, a house of merchandize.” Wherefore, as on this occasion he expressly affirmed that he was the Son of God, his right to reform the abuses of the temple, the house of God, was unquestionable. Nor can any fault be found with the manner of the reformation, considering the authority of the person who made it. He acted plainly as master of the house. And though he was unsupported, the terror which he singly impressed upon the minds of the men, by the air of his countenance and the tone of his voice, was lo great, that none of them made any resistance. The whip of
cords was defigned not for the men, whom he never could have intimidated by the exertion of bodily force, but for the beasts, which were at market in the temple, and which could no otherwise be driven out. Wherefore, the whole of this tranfaction was perfectly suitable to our Lord's dignity as the Son of God; and the rather that, in so far as it regarded the men, there was here an exertion of his miraculous power, very proper at the beginning of his ministry. Accordingly, the Jews neither found fault with the action itself, nor with the manner of it: they only desired him to prove that he was the person he pretended to be. ver. 18. “ What fign “Thewest thou unto us, seeing thou dost these things ?” Besides, among the Jews, it was cominon for prophets, by their own authority, to reform such abuses as were introduced into the worship of God, and to punish with their own hands, upon the spot, gross violations of the law : witness the action of Pninehas, by which he staid the plague, and which (Ps. cvi. 30.) " was accounted to bim “ for righteousness to all generations for evermore.” The profanations of the temple which Jesus reproved were the most horrid abuses imaginable. The priests for gain allowed a fair to be kept in the outer court, whereby the Gentile profelytes were excluded from the place of worship allotted them. Or if any room was left them, they could not but be exceedingly difturbed in their devotions, by the noise and hurry of the market. Add to this, that great' frauds were committed in the bargains transacted here, by which the court of the temple, which had been affigned to the Gentiles as a house of prayer, was made a den of thieves. "No wonder, therefore, that Jesus expressed the utmost indignation against the transgreffors
, and used some violence in expelling them. The men he intimidated by his miraculous power; the cattle he drave out with the scourge he had made; the implements of their illicit trade be overturned ; and the things which he could not himself remove, he ordered to be taken away. In all this he acted agreeably to the character which he sustained. His zeal was no greater than what prophets far inferior to him had shewed ; and the severity which he used was no greater than the crime deserved. Wherefore, in every respect
, this part of our Lord's conduct was perfectly proper and consistent.
3. That Judas should have been of the number of the apostles, is thought inconsistent with the knowledge and wisdom ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels. This objection our Lord himself has taken notice of. He foresaw, that his honouring Judas with the apostlefhip, would be considered as a presumption that he was ignorant of his real character. Wherefore, long before Judas discovered himself, Jesus foretold what he would do, to thew that he was fully acquainted with the character of the man.
70 " Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil ?” Wherefore, if any objection lies against the founder of Christianity for this choice, it cannot affect his foreknowledge, but must be levelled against his prudence, Yet in this part likewise, as in every other, he is perfealy free of
blame blame. His making Judas an apostle is a shining instance of wisdom: It was designed to be a demonstration of our Lord's innocence. A man of profligate dispositions, who he foresaw would at the conclusion betray him, Jesus chooses into the college of the apostles. By the choice, this wicked person, who had not yet
discovered himself, is appointed his master's constant attendant, and made the witness of the most secret actions ; he is admitted into all the mysteries of his fellowship. Whọ does not in this see, that Jesus was not afraid of the eyes of his enemies, however malicious that his miracles were no juggling tricks, performed by compact with his disciples and that he was not carrying on any plot, to deceive the world? If Jesus had been engaged in such a design, muft he not have foreseen that Judas, when he betrayed him to the chief priests, would discover the whole fraud ? The choice therefore which our Lord, with the fullest knowledge of Judas's character, made of him for an apostle, instead of being an instance of imprudence, was a proof of the most profound wisdom. He thereby demonstrated, in the clearest manner, his own most perfect innocence. I have only to add, that in this view the wisdom and propriety of the choice was so great, that it was fore-ordained to be from the beginning: and that notices thereof were given early in the Jewith prophecies, which described Messiah’s life, sufferings, and death.
4. The freedom Jesus used in rebuking the Scribes and Pharisees," and the vehemence with which he denounced woes against them more
once, are thought inconsistent with the sweetness of his dispofition, and with the respect due to persons of their rank. - Nevertheless, if we consider the matter in its just light, we shall foon be fenfible that the severity wherewith Jesus treated this order of inen, was by no means inconsistent with his general character, but was the necessary result of his wisdom, and of his love to the reft of mankind. The Scribeş and Pharisees were persons remarkable for avarice, sensuality, pride, obstinacy, and contempt of real religion. Their corruption of heart exceeded all bounds. "Gentle means would have made no impression upon them. They needed the severest remedies. --Besides, without regarding their reformation at all, which perhaps was not to be accomplished by any methods; considering the hew of worth which they assumed, and by which mankind were cheated into an high admiration of them, it was necessary, for the fake of the people, to pull off the mask of hypocrisy under which they had so long concealed their wickedness, and led the world aftray
. Luke xvi. 15. “ Ye are they which justify yourselves be"fore men, but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is
highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the fight of God.” Nor was there any other method to prevent the pernicious influence of their example and doctrine. This was the reason Jesus rebuked them so openly, and denounced woes against them with such vehemence. By so doing, he, whose judgment was by his miracles proved to be the judgment of a prophet, thewed his hearers every where what opinion he had of those hypocrites, and cautioned
them, in the most affecting manner, to beware both of them and of their doctrine. And though on these occasions he expressed himself with more than ordinary vehemence, it must be owned that he preserved an entire command of himself. For he uttered no sentiment of expression, but such as the offences fully warranted, and the regard which he had for virtue absolutely demanded.
5. Our Lord's riding into Jerusalem on an ass, amidst the acclamations of his disciples and the people, has been grossly misunderftood, and ignorantly ridiculed by the adversaries of religion. Hitherto Jesus had affumed the title of Mefiah, only in private, and
his disciples. The reason was, if he had declared his intentions publicly in the beginning of his ministry, the rulers would have put him to death before his work was finished. It was necessary, however, both for the more certain information of mankind, who were not to be left to guess who he was, and for the credit of his own character, which was not to be doubtful or ambiguous, that he should openly affume the dignity which really belonged to him. Wherefore, his ministry having continued the time determined, a few days before his death he resolved to receive the titles of Meffiah, Son of David, and king of Israel, publicly; though he knew ir would become the foundation of that accusation by which he was to be cut off. This season was of all others the most proper for his purpose. A great multitude now attended, in expectation that he was to set up his kingdom immediately. He knew that much people was coming from the city, to usher him in with the pomp and state of Messiah. Among the rest, there were to be many Scribes and Pharisees, his enemies, before whom it was proper he fhould acknowledge himself Mefliah. Wherefore, he did not think of thunping the multitude as formerly; but determined to enter Jerusalem amidst the acclamations which he knew they would offer him as Mefliah. And left, in the narrow paflages and lanes leading into the city, he might have been hurt by the croud, he made his disciples bring him an ass to ride upon. Nor in this equipage was there any thing mean or ridiculous; asses being the beafts commonly used by the Easterns, who feldom rode on horses, except they were persons of the first rank, Hence, in the prophecy which foretold this event, it is mentioned as an instance of Meffiah's humility, that when he Thould make his public entry into Jerusalem, he would ride, not upon an horse, after the manner of great kings and princes, but upon an als, because “ he was meek and lowly.
6. The despondency which Jesus fhewed in the garden of Gethfemane at the approach of his trial and death, and the words which he uttered upon the cross, are thought inconsistent with that patience and fortitude, which, as the Son of God, he ought to have possessed. But they can be to only, on supposition that his forrow and trouble in the garden, with his agony and bloody sweat, proceeded from the fear of death. Nevertheless, the prospect of death, though it was in him to be attended with every aggravating circumstance of pain and ignominy, cannot be supposed to have railed any violent perturba
tion in one who on all occasions Thewed the greateft firmness and courage, and whose virtue was of the most perfect kind. His followers, even of the weaker sex, have many of them suffered much greater and longer bodily pains than he, not only without fhrinking, but with triumph. Why then should it be imagined, that the fear of crucifixion so far overcame Jesus, as to put him into an agony, and make the blood issue through the pores of his body? A much more probable account of this matter is given by the Evangelists themselves. They introduce Jesus telling that he gave his life a ransom for the fins of many, and shed his blood for the remiffion of fin. Our Lord's perturbation and agony, therefore, arose from the pains which were inflicted on him by the hand of God, when he made his soul an offering for fin *. In this view, his sorrows were such as no other person in this life ever felt. They arose from causes altogether singular, and from circumstances peculiar to himself. Being
of this fort, they were no greater than the cause merited: and the col expressions by which he uttered them are no argument of his pusilElanimity or weakness. They were suitable to his feelings, and ex
pressed them, as far as it was possible to make them known. For it was agreeable to the counsets of God, and for the benefit of men, that the sorrows which the Son of God felt in that hour should be laid
open to the view of the world. The same account must be to given of his anguish upon the cross, when he cried out, “ My God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” if these words were an expression of anguish, rather than a citation from Psalm xxii. For whatever was the occasion of this exclamation, it proceeded not from the pain of crucifixion, To make such a supposition, is to degrade
* I know some imagine our Lord's distress in the garden arose from the more lively view, which he at chat time had, of the miseries of mankind, occafioned by fin. But the consideradion of these, however lively, could only raise fympathy in the breast of Jefus ; where toa it must have been greatly softened by the certain prospect which he then had of their deliverance, by what he had already done, and was still to do for their
recovery. In the above account of our Lord's agony, I only affirm the faci, that it arose from the pains which were then in Aicted upon him by the immediate hand of God. And I affirm it, because in every page, the scriptures speak of Jefus as having fuffered for the fins of mankind; also because it belt accounts for his behaviour in the garden. To object to the fact, that we
not know how one who knew no fin could suffer for fin, is incompetent, because it may be a matter above our comprehension. It deserves however to be confidered, whether Al mighty God, who by means of second causes conveys into our minds every sensation, whether of pleasure or pain, may not by the direct operation of his power, without the interyention of any second causes, convey precisely the same sensations. If this is admitted, though Jesus knew no fin, God might, by the immediate operation of his power, make him feel those pains which shall be the punishment of fin hereafter, in order that by the visible effects which they produced upon him, mankind might have a juft notion of the greatness of these pains
. In this no injustice was done to Jesus. He freely consented to fuffer in this manner, because it was for so great an end as the salvation of the human species. His bear ing those pains, with a view to thew how great they are, was by no means punishment. It was merely suffering. These pains were not the effects of the divine anger; for at no time Was God better pleased with his Son, than when he made his soul an offering for fin. Lastly; these pains did not arise from God's withdrawing his favour from his Son. Of the divine favour
, Jesus in his sufferings had the fulleft conviction: as appears from the affectionate manner in which he then addressed God; “O MY FATHER, if it be possible," &c.---The abore particulars merit attention, not as matters contained in revelation, but as an explica. tion of facts contained there, which some reasoners reject, I suppose, because they think a proper explication cannot be given of them.