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against the word of God. But there are many upon whose ruling passion we are not able to lay our finger, and thus point out the principle of error. Ignorant of the windings of the human heart, we must leave the scrutiny of such men's motives to Him who is the Searcher of hearts, and their condemnation to the Judge of all, satisfied with the comfort of being persuaded that the claims of Christianity for our reception and reverence, stand unaffected by the number and nature of her enemies. Conscious then of the manifold infirmities which beset the understandings and affections of men, let us remember the double duty we owe to others and ourselves-to others, in lamenting that so many of those who might have been, who perhaps still are, amongst the brightest ornaments of the human race, should have sullied their glory by the sin of unbelief-and to ourselves, by praying that God would direct us aright in the exercise of our own faculties, and preserve us alike from the guilt of deceiving and the danger of being deceived.
JOHN V. 39.
"But I have a greater witness than that of John, for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me."
THE Jews sent unto John, and he bare witness to the truth. He pointed to Jesus as the promised Messiah. We turn to the pages of the New Testament, and there find the Apostles and the Evangelists bearing witness to the same. But Jesus hath a greater witness than any of these, in the works which the Father had given him to finish. His pretensions are, in part at least, grounded upon the wonders he performed, and, so far, therefore, are to be tried by an examination into their nature and effects. These works the Jews had an opportunity of viewing with their own eyes and in their own persons, and were consequently capable, from their own
individual experience, of at once deciding for themselves as to the propriety or impropriety of our Saviour's appeal to his miracles. Christians and men of later ages, on the other hand, have only an opportunity of learning their nature and number from the testimony of the first disciples, and, of course, the credit due to those disciples becomes a previous question, which it is absolutely necessary to our faith to determine. For, if they be liars, both your hope and our preaching are in vain. If the things to which the Evangelists have borne record be not true, our assurance of salvation rests only upon the airy basis of conjecture and uncertainty. When once, however, we have become convinced of the credibility of their testimony, as we must undeniably be by the various arguments which I laid before you in my two last Discourses; when once the truth of the facts detailed in the Gospel has been admitted, we, who are here assembled, are as capable, as any men in any age, of sitting in judgment upon the great controversy, and determining whether the pretensions are justified by the actions of Jesus; whether he was really that Prophet "that should come, or we are to look for another;" whether we have already been freed from the dominion of sin and the powers of darkness, or are still liable to the sentence of heavenly condemnation, and must look for
redemption, only through the merits of a greater and more worthy Saviour.
But farther, it is extremely necessary, not only to be assured of the reality, but also to distinguish with accuracy that particular portion of the whole burthen of Christianity, which the miracles of our Lord, when considered simply as miracles, were intended and calculated to bear; neither attributing too much nor too little to their power-not too much, by maintaining them to be alone sufficient to convince us that " Jesus was the Christ"-not too little, in excluding them from any influence at all, and attributing every thing either to the prophecies or the doctrines of Scripture. To point out this relative importance of our Saviour's works, shall, therefore, be the object of the present Discourse; and may God Almighty bless its weakness.
Under the character of the Messiah, as applied to Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary, are comprehended these two particulars; first, that he was a prophet, and secondly, that he was the prophet; first, that he was a prophet sent from God, and secondly, that he was that special and predicted prophet, whose coming had been promised in the law, and whose doctrines and actions, whose sufferings and circumstances,
the holy men of old had so accurately de
For a proof of the former of these propositions-that he was. A PROPHET sent from God -our Saviour refers, in the words of my text, to a consideration of the works, which the Father had given him to accomplish. "The same works that I do," says he, "bear witness of me that the father hath sent me." Nor is this a solitary instance. He uses the same argument upon a variety of occasions and in numerous other passages. Take the following as an example. When the Jews, exasperated by his repeated and explicit claims to a divine commission, took up stones to cast at him, for what they conceived to be his blasphemy, in making himself the Son of God, and therefore equal with God, the only way in which he attempted to defend himself was by a recapitulation of what he had done. "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do-though yę believe not me-believe the works." Such also appears to have been the general idea prevalent among the Jews. For when Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, and one, who, as a Pharisee and a teacher in Israel, was, of course, intimately acquainted with the doctrines of his church and
John x. 37, 38.