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The Gospel. Matt. xi. 2. “ he (1) that should come, or do Now when (1) John had heard in “ we look for another ?” 4. Jesus the prison (i) the works of Christ, answered and said unto them, “Go he sent (k) two of his disciples, “ and shew John again those things 3. and said unto him, “ Art thou " which


do hear and (m) see :

(h) 0.2. “ John," i. e. “the Baptist.” Mark, a friend and companion of Peter's ;

(1) “The prison,” where he was confined and to Luke, a companion of St. Paul's. by Herod. See Mark vi. 17. Luke iii. 20. The accounts of the Apostles' miracles are

(k) “ Sent." It is probable John sent this ascribed to Luke and Paul, the former remessage not for his own sake, or to satisfy ferring to those of many of the Apostles, any doubts he had, but for the sake of his the latter to his own only. Is then the Apostles; he had seen the Spirit of God supposition that these accounts were writ. descending on our Saviour at his baptism, ten by these persons, a safe and warrantand had heard the voice from heaven, say. able supposition? What is the evidence ? ing, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I The earliest writers refer to these accounts * am well pleased. Matt. iii. 16, 17.” The and refer to them as the works of those only doubt he could have, would be, persons. Celsus, one of the earliest oppowhether this was the person on whom he sers of Christianity, speaks of the affairs of had seen the Spirit descend.

Jesus as written by his Disciples. The (l) v. 3. “He that should come.” There accounts bear the strongest internal marks was a general expectation at this time of of having been written near the times to the Messiah's coming : Daniel had stated which they relate ; and though Christianity expressly (Dan. ix. 25.) that from the go- has ever met with able, acute, and virulent ing forth of the commandment “to restore opponents, they have never been attributed “ and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah

to any other age or to any other authors. “the Prince, should be seven weeks, and If they were not written at these times, " threescore and two weeks," and this when were they written ? If they be not time (reckoning a day for a year, which the accounts of these persons, whose are is the method in the calculation of pro- they? Is it possible a fraud on this point phetic times) was nearly, if not fully ar- could have been practised ? From the rived. This expectation, with the mistake time of the crucifixion, Christians have that the Messiah's kingdom was to be of met weekly for religious purposes. These this world, probably occasioned the well meetings were wherever Christians dwelt. known passages in Suetonius, Tacitus, and How could any spurious or questionable Josephus, that “the sacred books of the account be introduced so as to obtain uni" Jews foretold, that at that time some one versal adoption ? Could all the churches " from Judæa slıould obtain the empire of have been deceived ? Could the deception " the world.” There are also passages in have been concealed from all the enemies Virgil, which probably owe their origin to of Christianity ? Impossible ! Could, then, this cause. See Note on John i. 21. post, the writers of these accounts have been 38. and Virgil's 4th Eclogue.

deceived, or could they have deceived (m2) v. 4. “ See.” According to Luke vii. others ? Many of the miracles were pal21.whilst John's Disciples were with Jesus, pable to the senses. They could see " lie cured many of their infirmities and whether the 5000 were fed with the five “plagues, and of evil spirits, and unto barley loaves and the two small fishes, or " many that were blind he gave sight,” so the 4000 with the seven loaves; whether that he might properly refer to what they the lepers were cleansed, and the sick saw as well as what they might have heard. healed; whether devils were cast out; The miracles of our Saviour and his Apos- whether Lazarus and the widow's son were tles, and the effect they produced upon the raised from the dead ; whether the Apospersons who witnessed them, are amongst tles cast out unclean spirits, and healed the foundations of a Christian's faith. diseases; whether, after our Saviour's death, Are the accounts then which the New the power of speaking new languages, Testament gives of them true accounts ? and the other gifts of the Holy Ghost, were The accounts of our Saviour's miracles are conferred. In these particulars could the ascribed to Matthew and John, two con- Evangelists have been deceived? Could stant attendants upon our Saviour ; to the multitudes present at the miracles have


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“ 5. The (n) blind receive their Behold, they that wear soft

sight, and the lame walk, the clothing are (q) in kings' houses.

lepers are cleansed, and the * 9. But what went ye out for to “ deaf hear, the dead are raised “ see? a prophet? yea, I say unto up, and the poor have the Gos

you, and more than a prophet. “pel preached to them.

6. And

“ 10. For this is he of whom it “ blessed is he, whosoever shall (o) “ is written, (r) Behold, I send my « not be offended in me.” 7. And, messenger before thy face, as they departed, Jesus began to “ which shall prepare thy way say unto the multitudes concern- before thee." ing John, “What went ye out into “ the wilderness to see ? a (p) reed « shaken with the wind ? 8. But

Fourth Sunday in Advent. “ what went ye out for to see ? a

The Collect. “ man clothed in soft raiment? O Lord, raise up (we pray thee) been deceived ? Had one questionable and perhaps also with the characters in miracle been recorded, would none of their Psalm cxlvi. 7. &c. In Isaiah xxxv. 4, 5, opponents have exposed them ? would the

6. the Prophet, (alluding to the times of attempt have been passed over in silence ? the Messiah,) says, “ Behold your God will Look at St. Paul's 1st Epistle to the Cor- come with vengeance, even God with a rinthians, an Epistle noticed by Clement, a recompence :

he will come and save companion of St. Paul. He tells them,

you :

: then the eyes of the blind shall be c. i. v. 5. 7. that they are in every thing opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be s enriched by Jesus Christ, in all utter- “ unstopped, then shall the lame man leap “ance and in all knowledge ; so that they "as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb “ come behind in no gift.” And in

хіі. .

And in Isaiah Ixi. 1. he says, v. 8, 9, 10. he enumerates these gifts : The “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, be“ word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, "cause the Lord hath anointed me to

faith, the gifts of healing, the working of preach good tidings unto the meek.And “ miracles, prophecy, the discerning of is not this a strong, but indirect proof, of " spirits, divers kinds of tongues, the inter- Christ's Divinity ? Isaiah had 'foretold “pretation of tongues." Could he have " Your God shall come, &c. and then the made this statement to them, had they not “ eyes of the blind shall be opened, &c.” received such gifts? How would they have The question here is, “ Art thou he that treated him, his epistle, and his religion, “ should come, &c." What is the answer ? had no such gifts been conferred! And yet “ The blind receive their sight, &c." The the church of Corinth continued to regard prophecy then is fulfilled, Your God is him with the greatest respect and vener

come, &c. and I am He. ation. Why? because they knew he spoke (0) v. 6. “ Shall not be offended in," i. e. true : they did possess these gifts. It may “ shall boldly and firmly adhere to me, be added, that the Apostles, and the early " without being deterred by persecution converts, could have had no motive but “ or danger." conviction for professing Christianity ; for (p) v. 7. “ A reed,” that is, “a mere it led, not to worldly benefits, but to perse- " trife.” cution and death ; and many of them gave (9) v. 8. “In kings' houses," and therethe strongest test of their conviction. fore not in the wilderness. They suffered death, rather than disavow (r) v. 10. Behold, &c.” This is the protheir belief. Dr. Chalmers has pressed phecy in Mal. iii. 1. post, 69. See an able these topics with great force in his work Commentary upon it, Chandler's Defence upon the Evidence and Authority of the of Christianity, first ed. p. 63. The way Christian Kevelation, and so has Bp. Marsh was prepared by reforming their lives, and in his Divinity Lectures.

by that means fitting them to receive the (n) v.5. “ The blind, &c." Our Saviour precepts of Christianity, and to undergo refers them to his works because of their all dangers and persecutions in adhering agreement with two prophecies in Isaiah,

to it.


" sing."

thy power, and come among us, nothing; but in every thing by and with great might succour us; prayer and supplication, with that whereas, through our sins and thanksgiving, let your requests be wickedness, we are sore let and made known unto God: 7. And hindered in running the race that the peace of God, which passeth is set before us, thy bountiful all (v) understanding, shall keep grace and mercy may speedily your hearts and minds through help and deliver us, through the Christ Jesus. satisfaction of thy Son our Lord; to whom with thee and the Holy

The Gospel. John i. 19. Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

This is the record of (w) John,

when the Jews sent priests and The Epistle. Phil. iv. 4.

Levites from Jerusalem to ask REJOICE in the Lord alway: and him,

him, “Who art thou?" 20. And again I say, Rejoice. 5. Let he confessed,

he confessed, and denied not; your moderation be (s) known but confessed, “I am not the unto all men: The Lord is at “ Christ.” 21. And they asked him, hand. (t) 6. Be careful (u) for “ What then? Art thou (x) Elias ?”

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(s) v.5. “ Known unto all men,” not for ostentation, but to advance the interests of Christianity, by bringing it into good repute. It casts the highest credit upon religion, when its professors make a con. science of all their ways, and act as if they had God in all their thoughts - when they abstain from every appearance of evil, and

put in practice the virtues their religion inculcates. We then glorify God, when in every action we consider how far it is agreeable to his will. Our Saviour, in his Sermon on the Mount, Matt, v. 16., recommends good actions with this view. " Let your light so shine before men, that " they may see your good works, and glorify "your Father which is in heaven. In Tit. ii. 1-5. St. Paul directs Titus to recommend sobriety, temperance, patience, chastity, and other virtues, to this end, " that the word of God (i.e. Christ's reli"gion) be not blasphemed." And he inculcates certain particulars of good conduct in 1 Tim. v. 14. and vi. 1. that “occa“sion be not given to the adversary to "speak reproachfully, and that the name " of God, and his doctrine, be not blasphemed," that is, “evil spoken of." St. Peter also beseeches the believers “to "abstain from Aeshly lusts, which war “ against the soul, and to have their con" versation honest among the Gentiles, " that whereas they speak against you as “evil-doers, they may by your good works

which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Pet. ii. 11, 12. And see 1 Pet. iii. 12. 2 Cor. vi. 3. post. To act from ostentation, with a view to obtain praise of men, and not to advance the glory of God, is a different thing, and is condemned by our Saviour, Matt. vi. 1-5. and Matt. vi. 16. post,

(t) “ The Lord is at hand." Referring probably to that period so often signified by the “ coming of the Lord,” viz. the approaching destruction of Jerusalem. This Epistle is supposed to have been written in the year 59, about eleven years before Jerusalem was destroyed.

(u) v. 6. “ Careful for nothing." So 1 Pet, v. 7. “ Cast all your care upon “ him, for he careth for you.”

(v) v. 7. “ Passeth all understanding," i.e. either is better than all knowledge," or “greater than we can conceive, in“ conceivable.”

Eph. iii. 19. the like expression. 6. The love of “ Christ, which passeth knowledge."

(w) v. 19. “John,” i. e. “ the Baptist.”

(2) v. 21. “Elias." The Jews expected that Elijah the prophet would appear again before the coming of the Messiah, in consequence of the prophecy, Mal. iv. 5. “ Behold I will send you Elijah the pro“phet, before the coming of the great “and dreadful day of the Lord." In Matt. xvii. 10. the disciples noticed this tradition to our Saviour, “ Why then say,

See post,

And he saith, I am not. (x) ing in the wilderness,

« Make “ Art thou that (y) prophet?” straight the way of the (a) And he answered « No. 22. Then Lord,” as said the prophet said they unto him, “Who art thou? “ Esaias.” (6) 24. And they " that we may give an answer to which were sent were of the “ them that sent us. What sayest Pharisees. 25. And they asked “ thou of thyself?” 23. He said, him, and said unto him, “ Why “ I am (2) the voice of one cry

baptizest thou then, if thou be

17. «

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" the Scribes, that Elias must first come?” And our Saviour admits that Elias was first to come, but explains to them that John the Baptist, who, according to Lukei.

was to go before the Messiah in the spirit and power of Elias," was the person to whom Malachi refers.

3) “I am not," i.e. not the Elias of antient times : though he was the person to whom the prophecy referred.

(y) “ That Prophet,” with the article, ó mpoonins; not indefinitely, therefore,

any prophet,” but some prophet in particular. Middleton, 343, 341: probably the prophet foretold by Moses, Deut. xviii. 15. i The Lord thy God will raise up unto “ thee a prophet from the midst of thee, “ of thy brethren, like unto me; unto hin " shall ye hearken." And they might be uncertain whether that might not look forward to some other person than the Messiah.

The Jews certainly expected the Messiah about this time, because the sixtynine weeks mentioned in Dan. ix. 25–27. post, 69. were expiring. Josephus, b. vii. c. 12. says, “That which chiefly excited the " Jews to war with the Romans, about “ forty years afterwards, was a prophecy “ contained in the Holy Scriptures, that " at that time one of their own country, “ should have dominion over the world."

" Percrebuerat oriente “ toto vetus et constans opinio, esse in

fatis, ut eo tempore Judæâ profecti rerum

potirentur;" and Tacitus, b. v. “ Plu“ribus persuasio inerat antiquis sacer“ dotum libris contineri, eo ipso tempore “ fore, ut valesceret oriens, profecti que “ Judæâ rerum potirentur." These passages correspond with the Jewish notion, that this kingdom was to be temporal, not spiritual, but they shew that this was the time it was expected. Josephus considers Vespasian as the person

referred to; but he was not a descendant of Jacob, nor of the tribe of Judah, nor of the seed of David, nor did he answer to many of the

other tests which were to distinguish the Messiah. See Kidder, p. 47–80. In John iv. 25. the woman of Samaria says, “I “ know that Messias cometh ;” and John vi. 14. when the people saw the miracle of the loaves and fishes, their exclamation was,

“ this is of a truth that Prophet “ which should come into the world." In Luke ii. 25. Simeon is said to have been waiting for the consolation of Israel;" and when the infant Jesus was presented in the temple, the Prophetess Anna spoke of him to all them that looked for redemp. tion in Jerusalem. Luke ii. 38. And Joseph of Arimathea is spoken of (Luke xxiii. 51.) as having "waited for the kingdom of God."

(2) v. 23. “ I am the voice, &c." that is, I am the person referred to by that pro“phecy.” It was the practice of eastern monarchs, when they undertook an expedition or journey, to send messengers be. fore to prepare all things for them, and pioneers to open


level the ways, and remove all impediments; and in like manner John the Baptist was to go before our Saviour, to endeavour to prepare men's minds for his reception. Malachi had explained the means by which he should attempt to “make straight the

way of the Lord," viz. by “turning the “ hearts of the fathers to the children, " and the hearts of the children to their “ fathers. Mal. iv. 6.” He was to remove the impediments of sin, pride, and obstinacy; to make men to be “ of one mind “ in a house, Ps. Ixviii. 6. ;" to produce unanimity ; to destroy dissensions, animosities, and ill-will. And accordingly, when he began his ministry, his preaching was, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is " at hand.”

(a) “ The Lord," the word in Isaiah is « Jehovah :” so that “Kupie" is here put for Jehovah; and it is to Christ those terms are applied. See ante, 29. note on Rom. xiii. 14.

(6) “Esaias." The passage is Is. xl. 3. post.

Suetonius says,

“ not that Christ, nor Elias, neither | in thy Son's resurrection : Grant " that prophet ? 26. John answered us so perfectly, and without all "them, saying, I baptize with doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus " water: but there standeth (c)one Christ, that our faith in thy sight among you, whom

ye know not; may never be reproved. Hear “ 27. He it is, who, coming after me, us, O Lord, through the same “ is preferred before me, (d) whose Jesus Christ; to whom, with thee “ shoe's latchet I am not worthy and the Holy Ghost, be all ho“ to unloose.” 28. These things nour and glory,

now and for were done in Bethabara, beyond evermore. Amen. Jordan, where John was baptizing.

The Epistle, Ephes. ii. 19. Saint Thomas the Apostle's Day.

Now therefore ye (e) are no more

strangers and foreigners, but felThe Collect.

low-citizens with the (g) saints, ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, and of the household of God; who for the more confirmation of 20. and are (h) built upon the the faith, didst suffer thy holy foundation of the apostles and Apostle Thomas to be doubtful prophets, Jesus Christ himself

(c) v. 26. “ One among you," that is, “ Baptist: for he had put to death this * Jesus Christ."

“ man, who was endued with all virtue, (d) v. 27. “ Whose shoe's latchet," i. e. “ and who exhorted the Jews to addict "who is so far above me, that I am un- " themselves thereto, and to practise jus" worthy to do even the meanest offices “ tice towards men, and piety towards "for him." Would an impostor, or one “ God; exhorting them to be baptized, who sought his own glory, thus disparage " and telling them, that baptism should at bimself, and aggrandize another ? Can any " that time be acceptable unto God, if motive be ascribed to John's conduct, but " they should renounce not only their sins, that which the Scripture ascribes, “to “ but if to purity of their bodies they " prepare the way for Christ's kingdom ?” According to John iii. 28. he appeals to “ repurified by justice. And whereas it his disciples if he had not told them he came to pass, that divers flocked and was not the Christ, and adds, v. 30. “ He “ followed him to hear his doctrine, Herod "must increase, but I must decrease.” See “ feared, lest his subjects, allured by his Bp. Porteus's Lecture on the Character « doctrine and persuasions, should be and Conduct of John the Baptist. Matt.iii. “ drawn to revolt: for it seemed that they

The gospel account of the Baptist cor- “ would subscribe in all things to his adresponds with what is said of him by the 66 vice: he therefore thought it better to Jewish historian Josephus, born A. D. 37. "prevent a mischief by putting him to We learn from him that John was a very “ death, than to wait till some sudden good man; that he baptized; that his doc- commotion, which he might afterwards trine was, that they should renounce their “ repent. Upon this suspicion, Herod sins, and purify their souls; that divers caused him to be bound, &c." flocked and followed him to hear his (e) v. 19. “ Ye,” i.e. the Ephesian condoctrine; and that he had the greatest in- verts, who were Gentiles, and therefore Auence over them. After mentioning a considered by the Jews as “strangers signal defeat of Herod's army, he says,

and foreigners." (Antiquities, b. 18. c. 7. s. 2.) 66 Divers

(g) “ Saints," i. e. “ the Jews.Be" Jews were of the opinion, that Herod's fore our Saviour's time the Israelites were army was overthrown by the just venge- the only people who worshipped the true "ance of God, who punished him most God, and were called “God's people, the " justly, because of the execution which “ Holy of the Lord.” "he caused to be done on John, sirnamed 1) 7. 20. “ Built." An instance of the

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