Imágenes de páginas

unlike to Naaman's Folly is theirs, who take offence at the Poverty and Meanness of the Author of our Redemption. His Sentiments and theirs agree: He expected to have seen some surprizing Wonder wrought for his Cure; and, when he was bid only to wash, he thought there could be nothing of God in so trifling a Remedy. And is not this their Sense, who think that so obscure, so mean a Person as Jesus could never be the Messenger of God upon so great an Errand as the Salvation of the World ? who thus expostulate, Why came he not in a Majesty suitable to his Employment, and then we would have believed him; but how can we expect to be raised to the Glory of God by him who was himself the Scorn and Contempt of Men?

If we search this Prejudice to the Bottom, we shall find that it arises from a false Conception of the Power and Majesty of God, as if the Success of his purposes depended upon the visible Fitness of the Instruments he made choice of. With Men we know the Case is so; they must use Means which they can judge to be adapted to the End they aim at, if they intend to prosper in what they undertake: But with God it is otherwise. To stop the Current even of the


DISCOURSE III. ior smallest River, Banks must be raised, and Sluices cut, when the Work is done by Man: But in the Hand of God the Rod of Moses was more than fufficient to curb the Rage of the Sea, and force it to yield a Passage to his People. The Foolishness of God, says the Apostle, is wifer than Men, and the Weakness of God is stronger than Men: Teaching us that we should not presume to fit in Judgment upon the Methods of Providence; since, how foolish or how weak soever they may seem to us, they will be found in his Hand to be the wisest and the strongest. And this Reasoning the Apostle applies to the Case now before us: The Cros of Christ was a Stumbling-block to the Jews, and to the Greeks Foolishness; but unto all thorn that are called, the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God; because the Foolishness of God is wifer than Men, and the Weakness of God Stronger than Men. However the Jews, or however the Greeks conceived of the crucified Jesus, yet to every Believer he is the mighty · Power of God to Salvation, because God ora dained him so to be; and this Ordination gives full Efficacy to the Cross of Christ, however in itself contemptible, and to all human Apa pearance unfit for the Purpose. The Waters of Jordan had no natural Efficacy to cleanse

H3 a Leper;

a Leper; in the Rod of Mofes there was no Power to divide the Sea: But, when ordained by God to these purposes, the Sea filed back at the Touch of Moses's Rod, and the Leprosy of Naaman was purged by the so much despised Waters of Israel. If we would judge truly, the more simple and plain the Methods of Providence are, the more do they speak the Power of the Almighty, When God said, Let there be Light, and there was Light, his uncontroulable Power more evidently appeared, than if all the Angels of Heaven had been ,employed to produce it. When our Lord said, I will be 'thou clean, and the Person was cleansed, his Divinity Thone forth more brightly, than if he had commanded all the Powers above visibly to assist him. So likewise, when God committed the Redemption of the World to Jesus, a Man of Sorrow and Affliction, and of no Form or Comeliness, and gave him the Power of doing such Works as never Man did, in confirmation of his Commission, he appeared as plainly in him, as if he had clothed him with visible Majesty and Power, If we consider him afflicted and tormented, and given up to a cruel Death, it proves indeed that he was weak and mortal; but Still God is strong, and not the less able to


establish the Word which he spoke by this weak, this mortal Man.

As to this Part of the Offence then, so far as the Majesty and Power of God are concerned, it proceeds from very wrong Notions in both Cafes, and supposes that the Majesty of God wants the fame little Supports of outward Pomp and Grandeur as that of Men does, and that his Power depends upon the Fitness of instrumental or material Causes, as human Power plainly does ; whereas the Majesty and Power of God are never more clearly seen, than when he makes choice of the weak Things of the World to confound the Things which are mighty.

Let us then in the next Place consider, with respect to Men, whether the Advantages on their Side would have been greater, had Christ appeared in greater Splendor and with more visible Power and Authority.

How far the Imaginations of some Men may rove - upon such Inquiries as these, or what Degrees of Splendor and Glory they would judge sufficient for their Purpose, I cannot tell. This we are sure of, That the Majesty of the Almighty is not to be approached by human Eyes; that therefore, whenever it descends to treat with Men, it must be veiled and obscured under such

H4 Representations

[ocr errors]

Representations as Men can bear. This is
true, you'll say; but is there no Medium
between the immediate Presence of God,
and his appearing in the Form of a Servant,
and dying, not as the Children of Men
commonly die, but as the vilest and most
profligate Criminal ? Many Degrees there
are, no doubt, of visible Glory, in any of
which Christ might have appeared, but in
none with greater Advantage to Religion
than that in which he came. Suppose he
had come, as the Jews expected, in the
Form of a mighty Prince, and in that Situa-
tion had propagated his Faith and Doctrine;
what would the Unbelievers then have said ?
How often should we have been told before
now, that our Religion was the Work of
human Policy, and that our Prince's Doctrine
and Dominions were extended by the same
Sword? Was ever any Religion the better
thought of for having been preached at the
Head of an Army? This is certain, That,
to make Religion a rational Act of the
Mind, it cannot be conveyed to us in too
easy and familiar a Manner: The less Awe
we have of our Teacher, the more Freedom
we shall exercise in weighing and examining
his Doctrines. And upon this Account our
Saviour's Appearance was in the most proper


« AnteriorContinuar »