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,. Matthew xi. 6.
Blessed is he whosoever Jhall not be offended in me.
]^>&>#<5M-^ N the Beginning of this Chapter ti*g Jtftf we reaa"> ^at the Baptist sent %5 I *& two of his Disciples to Christ, g^^^J to inquire of him whether he was indeed the great Prophet so long expected by the People, and foretold by the Prophets, or whether they were still to expect and wait the Coming of another. Our Saviour detained the Disciples of John, till he had made them Eye-witnesses of the mighty Power that was in him. They saw,
at the Command of his Word, the Blind receive Sight, the Lame walk, the Lepers cleansed, the Deaf restored to Hearings 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 preferred 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 flew John those "Things which ye do hear and fee: 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. Then follow immediately the Words of the Text: And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me:
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
2 Eye, Eye, when he spoke of the Offence takerl at him in the World: The Poor, says he, have the Gospel preached to them: And blessed is he whosoever Jhall 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 come.
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 j 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,
$6 DISCOURSE III.
the Obscurity of his Country, or the present Necessity of his Circumstances: Is not this the Carpenter s Son? says one; Can any Good come out of Nazareth? says another; or any Prophet out of Galilee f says a 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 destroy ejl the Temple, and buildefl it in three Days, save 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 Corinthianspreached C'hrifl crucified; but he was to the sews a Stumbling" block, and to the Greeks Foolishness: For the jfews required a Sign, & visible temporal Deliverance, and had no Notion, much less any Want, as they could apprehend, of such a Saviour as Jesus. The Greeks fought after Wisdom, and thought that, if God were indeed 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
DISCOURSE III. 97
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 abc/ut 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 ejieemedJlricken, 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?
Vol. I. H Would