Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

kingdom of God : verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein."

Mark i. 16, 17. “ Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers : and Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Luke xi. 27. And it came to pass as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked: but he said, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it."

Luke xiii. 1-3.°“ There were present at that season, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices; and Jesus answering, said unto them, Suppose ye, that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things ? I tell you, Nuy; but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Luke xiv. 15. “And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many,'' &e. This pa rable is rather too long for insertion, but affords a striking instance of Christ's manner of raising a discourse from the occasion. Observe also in the same chapter two other examples of advice, drawn from the circumstances of the entertainment and the behaviour of the guests.

We will now see, how this manner discovers itself in Saint John's history of Christ.

John vi. 25. “And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them, and said, Verily I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you."

John iv. 12. "" Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle ? Jesus answered, and said unto her (the woman of Samaria,) Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst ; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.

John iv. 31. In the mean while, his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat; but he said unto ihem, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him aught to eat ? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."

John ix. 1-5. “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth; and his disciples asked him, saying, Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind ? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

John ix. 35–40. “ Jesus heard that they had cast him (the blind man above mentioned) out: and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? And he answered, and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe; and he worshipped him.

And Jesus said, For judgment I have come into this world, that they which see not, might 'see ; and that they which see, might be made blind."

All that the reader has now to do, is to compare the series of examples taken from Saint John, with the series of examples taken from the other evangelists, and to judge whether there be not a visible agreement of manner between them. In the abovequoted passages,

the occasion is stated, as well as the reflection. They seem, therefore, the most proper for the purpose of our argument. A large, however, and curious collection has been made by

different writers,* of instances, in which it is extremely probable that Christ spoke in allusion to some object, or some occasion, then before him, though the mention of the occasion, or of the object, be omitted in the history. I only observe, that these instances are common to Saint John's Gospel with the other three.

I conclude this article by remarking, that nothing of this manner is perceptible in the speeches recorded in the Acts, or in any other but those which are attributed to Christ, and that, in truth, it was a very unlikely manner for a forger or fabulist to at. tempt; and a manner very difficult for any writer to execute, if he had to supply all the materials, both the incidents and the observations upon them, out of his own head. A forger or a fabulist would have made for Christ, discourses exhorting to virtue and dissuading from vice in general terms. It would never have entered into the thoughts of either, to have crowded together such a number of allusions to time and place, and other little circumstances, as occur, for instance, in the sermon on the mount, and which nothing but the actual presence of the objects could have suggested.t

II. There appears to me to exist an affinity between the history of Christ's placing a little child in the midst of his disciples, as related by the first three evangelists,f and the history of Christ's washing his disciples' feet, as given by Saint John.|| In the stories themselves there is no resemblance. But the affinity which I would point out consists in these two articles : First, that both stories denote the emulation which prevailed amongst Christ's disciples, and his own care and desire to correct it; the moral of both is the same. Secondly, that both stories are specimens of the same manner of teach. ing, viz. by action; a mode of emblematic instruction extremely peculiar, and in these passages, ascribed, we see, to our Saviour, by the first three

Newton on Daniel, p. 148, note a. Jortia, Dis. p. 213. s bop Law's Life of Cbrist. † See Bisbop Law's Lise of Christ.

Mait. xviii. 1. Mark ix. 33. Lusę ix. 46. || Chap. xiii. 3.

*

Bi

evangelists, and by Saint John, in instances totally unlike, and without the smallest suspiciou of their borrowing from each other.

III. A singularity in Christ's language, which runs through all the evangelists, and which is found in those discourses of Saint John that have nothing similar to them in the other Gospels, is the appel lation of “the Son of man;" and it is in all the evangelists found under the peculiar circumstance of being applied by Christ to himself, but of never being used of him, or towards him, by any other person. It occurs seventeen times in Matthew's Gospel, twenty times in Mark's, twenty-one times in Luke's, and eleven times in John's, and always with this restriction.

IV. A point of agreement in the conduct of Christ, as represented by his different historians, is that of his withdrawing himself out of the way, whenever the behaviour of the multitude indicated a disposition to tumult.

Matt. xiv. 22. “ And straightway. Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitude away. And when he had sent the mul

he went up into a mountain apart to pray.”

Luke v. 15, 16. “But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him, and at multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities : and he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed."

With these quotations, compare the following from Saint John :

Chap. v. 13. " And he that was healed wist not who it was; for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.”

Chap, vi. 15. * When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a moun. tain himself alone."

In this last instance, Saint John gives the motive of Christ's conduct, which is left unexplained by the other evangelists, who have related the conduct itself.

V. Another, and a more singular circumstance

titude away,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

in Christ's ministry, was the reserve, which, for some time, and upon some occasions, at least, he used in declaring his own character, and his leaving it to be collected from his works rather than his professions. Just reasons for this reserve have been assigned.* But it is not what one would have expected. We meet with it in Saint Matthew's Gospel : (chap. xvi. 20.) “ Then charged he his disciples, that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ." Again, and upon a different occasion, in Saint Mark's : (chap. iii. 11.) “ And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God : and he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.' Another instance similar to this last is recorded by Saint Luke, (chap. iv. 41.) What we thus find in the three evangelists, appears also in a passage of Saint John, (chap. x. 24. 25.) “ Then came the Jews round about him, and şaid unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt ? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.” The occasion here was different from any of the rest ; and it was indirect. We only discover Christ's conduct through the upbraidings of his adversaries. But all this strengthens the argument. I had rather at any rate surprise a coincidence in some oblique allusion, than to read it in broad assertions.

VI. In our Lord's commerce with his disciples, one very observable particular is the difficulty which they found in understanding him, when he spoke to them of the future part of his history, especially of what related to his passion or resurrection. This difficulty produced, as was natural, a wish in them to ask for farther explanation ; from which, however, they appear to have been sometimes kept back, by the fear of giving offence. All these circumstances are distinctly noticed by Mark and Luke upon the occasion of his informing them (probably for the first time,) that the Son of man should be delivered into the hands of men. understood not,” the evangelists tell us, “ this say, ing, and it was hid from them, that they perceived

* See Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity.

" They

« ZurückWeiter »