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Would any Prince, who had a mind to reclaim his rebellious Subjects to Obedience, not rather chuse to fend a Person of Honour with a suitable Retinue, whose Appearance might command Respect and Credit, than van 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 slow to discern the Hand of God in the ordinary Course of Nature, where
Things, Things, being familiar to us, do not strike with Wonder and Admiration.
When Naaman the Syrian came to the Prophet of Israel to be cured of his Leprosy, Eli/ha sent a Messenger unto him, saying, Go and wajh in Jordan seven Times, and thy Flesh shall come again unto thee, and thoufialt be clean. The haughty Syrian disdained the easy Cure, and scorned the Prophet: Is this your Man of God, and this his mighty Power to send me to a pitiful River of Israels Behold, says he, I thought he will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the Name os the Lord his God, and strike his Hand over the Place, and recover the Leper. Are not Abana and Pharphar, Rivers of Damascus, better than all the Waters of Israel % may I not wajh in them, and be clean? So he turned, and ivent away in a Rage. But his Servants, not a little wiser than their Master, thus reason the Case with him: My Father, if the Prophet had bid thee do some great Thing, woiddjl thou not. have do?ie it? how much rather then, when he faith unto thee, Wajh and be clean? Upon this gentle Rebuke his Stomach came down, and he condescended to follow the Prophet's Direction; and his Flejh came again, like the Fle/h of a young Child, and he was clean. Not H 2 unlike
158613A ioo DISCOURSE III.
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 surprising Wonder wrought for his Cure j 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 Casse 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
smallest 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 sufficient to curb the Rage of the Sea, and force it to yield a Passage to his People. The Foolifness of God, fays the Apostle, is wiser than Men, and the Weakness ofGodisJironger than Men: Teaching us that we should not presume to sit hi 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 Casse now before us: The Cross of Cbrijl was a Stumbling-block to the yews, and to the Greeks Foolishness; but unto all them that are called, the Power of God, and the Wisdom os God; because the Foolishness of God is wiser than Men, and the Weakness of God jtronger 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 ordained him so to be; and this Ordination gives; full Efficacy to the Cross of Christ, however in itself contemptible, and to all human Appearance unfit for the Purpose. The Watersof Jordan had no natural Efficacy to cleanse H 3 a Leper j
a Leper; in the Rod of Moses there was no Power to divide the Sea: But, when ordained by God to these Purposes, the Sea fled 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 An-* gels of Heaven had been .employed to pro-* duce it. When our Lord said, / will be .thou clean, and the Person was cleansed, his Divinity shone 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