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at the Command of his Word, the Blind receive Sight, the Lame walk, the Lepers cleansed, the Deaf restored to Hearing, and the Dead raised up to Life again: They saw likewise, that these mighty Powers were exercised without giving the least Suspicion of any worldly Design ; that no Court was made to the Great or Wealthy by singling them out either for Patients or for Disciples. The Benefit of the Miracles was chiefly the Lot of the Poor ; and as they were better disposed to receive the Gospel, so were they prefered before the Rich and Mighty to be the Disciples of Christ. When the Baptist's Disciples had seen and heard these Things, our Saviour thought them sufficiently enabled to satisfy John in the Inquiry upon which he had sent them: Go, says he, and shew John those Things which ye do bear and fee: The Blind receive their Sight, and the Lame walk; the Lepers are cleansed, and the Deaf bear; the Dead are raised up, and the Poor have the Gospel preached to them. Then follow immediately the Words of the Text : And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended
The close Connection of the Text with the last Words of the fifth Verse shews us what sort of Persons our Saviour had in his
Eye, when he spoke of the Offence taken at him in the World: The Poor, says he, have the Gospel preached to them : And blessed is he whosoever hall not be offended in me, As if he had said, The Poor are ready to embrace the Gospel, and happy are in this, yea happier far, notwithstanding their present uncomfortable Condition, than the Honourable and the Learned, who are too great, and in their own Opinion too wise, to hearken to the Instructions of the Gospel.
The Words thus explained lead us to inquire,
First, What are the Offences which are generally taken at the Gospel of Christ :
Secondly, From what Source these Offences
The Poverty and Meanness in which our Saviour appeared, was the earliest, and may probably be the latest, Objection to the Gospel. He came from God to convert and to save the World, to declare the Purposes and the Commands of the Almighty, and to exact Obedience from every Creature; but he came with less Attendance and Shew than if he had been an ordinary Messenger from the Governor of a Province. · Hence it is, that we so often find him upbraided either with the Meanness of his Parentage,
the Obscurity of his Country, or the present Necessity of his Circumstances : Is not this the Carpenter's Son? says one ; Can апу
Good come out of Nazareth ? says another; or any Prophet out of Galilee? fays à third. And when they saw him oppressed with Sufferings, and weighed down with Afflictions, they openly insulted his Sorrow, and triumphed over his fond Pretences to save the World: Thou, say they, that destroyest the Temple, and buildest it in three Days, fave thyself: If thou be the Son of God, come down from the Cross. And so blinded are Men with the Notions of worldly Greatness, and so apt to conceive of the Majesty of God according to their own Ideas of Power and Dignity, that this Prejudice has prevailed in every Age. The Apostle to the Corinthians preached Christ crucified; but he was to the Jews a Stumblingblock, and to the Greeks Foolishness : For the Jews required a Sign, a visible temporal Deliverance, and had no Notion, much less
any Want, as they could apprehend, of such a Saviour as Jesus. The Greeks sought after Wisdom, and thought that, if God were in-. deed to redeem the World, he would act more suitably to his Power and Wisdom: Whenever they made their Jupiter speak, his Voice was Thunder, and Lightning was
his Appearance, and he delivered Oracles not to be communicated to vulgar Ears. So in the Old Testament, when God speaks, Clouds and Darkness are round about him, and his presence and his Voice are terrible. But here every thing had a different Turn; The Appearance was in the Likeness of a Man, and in the Form of a Servant; and, as he came in like a Servant, he went out like a Slave, he was esteemed stricken, and his Departure was taken for Misery. His Doctrine was framed rather to purify the Heart, and to give Wisdom to the Simple, than to exercise the Head, and furnish Matter for the Curious and Learned; to be a general Instruction and a common Rule of Life to all Men, and not to satisfy the Vanity of worldly Wisdom in Inquiries above its Reach. With Him the Precepts of Virtue are the Principles of Wisdom and Holiness, the greatest Ornament of the Mind of Man.
But these Things the wise and the great Men of the World find hard to reconcile with the Wisdom and Majesty of God, according to their Notions of Wisdom and Power. Why did not Christ, say they, appear in the Power and Majesty of his Father ? Would not the Embassy have been more worthy both of God and of Him?
Would any Prince, who had a mind to reclaim his rebellious Subjects to Obedience, not rather chuse to send a Person of Honour with a suitable Retinue, whose Appearance might command Respect and Credit,, than an Ambassador clothed in Rags and Poverty, fit only to create in the Rebels a greater Contempt both of himself and his Prince ? If it was the Purpose of God, that the World through Faith should be saved, would not the World more securely and readily have confided in one whose very Appearance would have spoke his Dignity, than in one who seemed to be even more miserable than themselves, and not able to rescue himself from the vilest and most contemptible Death ?
But let us now, in the second Place, consider what Foundation there is in Reason for this great Prejudice.
It is no Wonder to hear Men reason upon the Notions and Ideas which are familiar to them. Great Power and great Authority are connected with the Ideas of great Pomp and Splendor; and, when we talk of the Works of God, our Minds naturally turn themselves to view the great and miraculous Works of Providence: And this is the Reason why Men are flow to discern the Hand of God in the ordinary Course of Nature, where