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disciples, and said unto him, art thou He that should come ? or do we look for another?” That is, art thou the messiah, the great Redeemer of Ifrael, whose coming was foretold by the prophets, and is now expected with great impatience by the whole body of the Jews, and before whom I am fent, as his forerunner and harbinger? Jefus answered, and said unto them, go, and shew John again those things which ye do hear and fee. The blind receive their fight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them. And blessed is he, whusoever shall not be offended in me !” As if he had said, “ Judge ye yourselves, by the works “ which I now perform, whether I am the Mefe « fiah or not, or what reason there can be to “ doubt of my divine mission and authority."

This transaction is extremely remarkable, and will afford much useful matter to our reflexions, in relation both to the enquiry made by the Baptilt, and the answer returned by our Lord to that enquiry.

I. And First, as to the enquiry itself, it may be matter of just surprize to us, that the Baptist should, so long after he had continued discharge ing the office of Christ's harbinger, put such a question as this to our Saviour, Art thou He that Mould come ? or do we look for another? For could John be ignorant of our Saviour's character ? Could he entertain the least doubt of it? He, who had formerly baptized Chrift, had seen the Spirit defcend on him in the form of a dove, and heard


the voice from heaven thus testifying concerning hirn, This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I am weli pleifod ? He, who had borne record of our Lord more than once, that he was the Son of God, John i. 34. the Lamb of God, that taketh away the fins of the world ? ver. 29. Could He poflibly afterwards be under any degree of hesitancy or doubt, in relation to our Saviour's character ? Certainly he could not; and therefore we must look out for some other reason of his fending this message, besides the desire of satisfying himself ; and that plainly was the procuring satisfaction to those by whom the message was sent, his disciples and followers, who, notwithstanding all the af. feverations of John to this purpose, continued ftill incredulous :- We may suppose for thesc reasons :

1. Because they saw their master imprisoned, and now likely to be put to death, for preaching up the kingdom of God, and the coming of the Meffiah; and could not apprehend, that, had Jesus been that Meffiah, he should have wanted power or will to employ that power for the Bape tist's deliverance. And yet so far was this from being the case, that our Saviour doth not appear once to have made an honourable mention of John, till after the disciples, who came upon this errand, had left him.

Then indeed, and not before, the evangelist tells us, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes, What went ye out into the wilderness to see ? Matt ix. 7. and to take that occafion of enlarging on the Baptist's character, and the dignity of his office. 2. They might have observed, that our Saviour


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had not himself hitherto affected his right to that title, but declined all occafions that had been gi- : yen him, of directly and openly owning himself to be the Messiah ; which conduct, tho' necessary, in order to carry on, and complete his ministry, without interruption from the Roman powers, was yet what the disciples of John, who had heard their master preaching up the kingdom of the Messiah without any disguise, could not under, ftand; nor account for it any otherwise, than by supposing that Jesus arrogated not that honour to himself, as being conscious, that it did not be long to him. And these suspicions might be rai: fed, by their observing

3. The manner of our Saviour's life and con. perfation, which was so very different from that of their master's, and had so much less an oute ward appearance of sanctity in it. The one came neither eating nor drinking, Matt. xi. 18. delight, ed in solitude, and lived in the practice of the highest rigours and austerities; The Other came puting and drinking, lived in the world, and according to all the innocent customs of it; con Herfing freely and promiscuously with all sorts of men, even with publicans and Gioners. And therefore they were tempted to think, that He, who was so far beneath their master in what they called perfection and holinefs, could not be so far above him in his character and office, as, if he were the Mefliah, he must have been.

These doubts, it is probable, that John had very often endeavoured to remove: But finding that they still stuck with his followers, he cook the last and best way of satisfying them, by fend

ing them on this message to Jefus himself, and giving them, by that means, an opportunity of being eye and car witnesses of his works and of his doctrine, which, he knew, would effectually convince them.

Thus much concerning the enquiry: We are now to contider,

II. Secondly, The Reply, which our Saviour made to it. In which Reply there are two things obfervable, the Manner and the Matter of it.

As to the Manner of it, we fee, it is not direct and positive; but fo ordered only, as to give them an occasion of answering that question themselves, which they had proposed to our bleffed Saviour This method, as it was agreeable to his conduct in other cafes, and requifite to secure him from the accusations of those who watched his words, whenever he taught in publick, fo had it this fura ther use in it; that it imprinted a conviction on the enquirers, after the most gentle, reasonable, and winning way without commanding and extorting their assent by an authoritative declaration of the truth, which he thus invited thein to receive. The proper motives and evidences only were laid before them; and they afterwards were left to frame the conclufion from thence; that fo their faith, which was to entitle them to such glorious privileges, might be a free and voluntary act, arid the teit of an ingenuous and well-disposed mind,

As to the matter of our Saviour's anfver, three things there are which deserve to be weighcd hy us: The remarkable gradation and rise there is in the particulars there mcationed. The apposite VOL. III.




ness of it in relation to the enquirers: And the general force and evidence of the argument contained in it.

1. To begin with the firft of these: “ Go and " shew John again," says our Saviour, “ those “ things which ye do hear and see ;” and then he particularly mentions the bodily cures he wrought on the deaf and blind, the lame and the lepers. He adds beyond this a yet plainer instance of a miraculous and divine power," the dead:

raised up ;” and he seems to advance still somewhat further, when he says, that even “ the “ poor have the gospel preached unto them.” An instance of goodness and condefcenfion, with which the Jews had before been but little acquainted! The prophets of that nation had been fent always to great and mighty perfons, to reclaim their princes and rulers, and to reprove cxemplary wickedness in high places; and, to manifest the authority of their commission to them, were sometimes armed with the power of miracles. But nothing could be more wonderful, than to see a prophet in Jewry preaching to the poor and meek; addressing himself to the lowest and meanest of men ; exhorting them to virtue, removing their prejudices, and rectifying their crrors ! Such applications amidst that people were fo unusual, and exceeding rare, that our Saviour thought fit to conclude the enumeration of the feveral proofs of his miffion with these two particulars, « The dead are raised up," says he, • and the poor have the gospel preached unto " them.” 2. The appofiteness of our Saviour's answer,

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