« VorigeDoorgaan »
views. So John vi. 66. "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”
If our Lord speaks to his disciples, others also are instructed in what he says, and designed to be so. I find this text paraphrased by a judicious expositor after this manner. "And he ⚫ said unto his disciples, or followers:" "the day will come, when ye," of this nation,” shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it."
III. Which brings us to the last inquiry: how we are to understand this warning and prediction. "The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it."
If this relate chiefly to the Jewish nation and people, or a large part of them, who now were, and still continued unbelieving: our Lord may be supposed, affectionately, and earnestly, to warn them of the sad circumstances which they were falling into. As if he had said: The time would be, when all the gracious means, afforded them by the Divine Being, having proved to be in vain, their ruin would be near, and their condition very calamitous. They would ' eagerly look for deliverance, and pretended leaders would offer themselves to their assistance in order to draw followers after them. But they would not be able to perform any thing to 'their advantage. The blessings offered by me in this mean form are despised. I set before you heavenly blessings, things of the greatest value. And I am able to perform what I promise. But they are not relished. The time will come, when with the utmost impatience you will wish for the appearance of the Messiah, to work out the temporal salvation which you desire. But the days will then be more calamitous and afflictive than those of the present season, under which you are now so uneasy. And they who will then offer themselves to you in that character, as they will not bring with them a doctrine like mine, so will they absolutely fail in every attempt for your advancement, and your earnest expectations of deliverance will be utterly disappointed.'
And I cannot see, but that this may be reckoned the more direct design of our Lord, that is, to set before his disciples, in the hearing of others, the sad and deplorable circumstances of the Jewish people, if they did not improve the means afforded them by himself, and his apostles after him.
But if it be supposed, that our Lord here speaks to his own disciples chiefly, and to such others as sincerely believed in him: I apprehend, he must have had a respect to some prejudices, which still had too great an influence upon them. And what he says is to this purpose.
whereas they looked for great things in this world, and, with too many others, waited for a temporal salvation for the Jewish people, together with spiritual privileges, they would be disappointed. The time would come, when they would esteem these happy days. Such would soon be the calamitous state of things in the land of Judea, that they would be glad to see a time ' of so much ease and quiet as the present. You will wish to see again one of these days of mine. But you will not. No! Your profession of my name, if your are faithful to me, will cost you dear. At that time you will mourn. The circumstances of things will call you to weeping and fasting, and every instance of self-denial. Improve then the present time: content yourselves with it: be thankful for it, and rejoice therein. For a better state of things is not to be expected in this land, and among those who dwell in it.'
IV. Having now in some measure explained this text, I would add a thought or two by way of reflection.
1. We perceive that every method was taken for saving the Jewish people, that could be used in the way of moral persuasion.
For our Lord, and his forerunner, and his apostles after him, preached among them the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven. They confined their preaching to them entirely, or chiefly, for a good while and many miraculous works were done among them. They were called to repentance, and the joys and glories of a future life were set before them. Beside this, they were again and again informed of the judgments hanging over their heads: and with earnest concern and affectionate tenderness they were warned to take heed to themselves. They were assured, for their good, that this was the day of their visitation: if this opportunity should be let slip if they did not now attend to the things of their peace, it would be afterwards too late. And moreover all expectations of another Messiah, and of temporal salvation by him, would • Whitby upon the place. See also Doddridge's Family Expositor, vol. ii. p. 188.
prove vain and delusive, and the disappointment would be most grievous and vexatious. The only way of saving themselves was to hearken to those who now, in the name of God, and with evident tokens of divine authority, invited them to repentance, with the great and sure promises of forgiveness and eternal life.
2. We also may hence learn our own duty, and consider this warning as delivered to us. If what is here said did more especially relate to others, yet the disciples were not altogether unconcerned therein, and our Lord thought best to say it to them. "And he said to the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall not see it." If we are not in any immediate danger of losing our temporal, or our spiritual privileges; yet, certainly, the best way to secure them is to value and improve them: to be thankful for them, and rejoice in them; and not to be uneasy and discontented for want of some greater things. The time may come when we shall wish, in vain wish, for such days as these: for a liberty of thought and inquiry, profession and practice: for freedom to unite together in the worship of God, though a few only, and those of low condition and mean appearance: to hear the Old and New Testament read and explained, and the truths of religion recommended and enforced by rational arguments, though without the ornaments of eloquence, in a plain manner and to be exhorted to virtue by the consideration of its real excellence, the Divine command, and the consequences of it in a future state, though no worldly honours and preferments are now annexed to it.
Is there nothing agreeable, nothing satisfying in such entertainments as these? If such an advantage be despised and neglected, for want of worldly splendour and greatness, may there not be danger of an alteration for the worse? And if it should happen, a recovery of lost privileges may be very difficult. When once our portion is come to be unintelligible mystery, with numerous and showy, but empty rites and ceremonies, imposed by mighty and awful authority: we may desire to see one of these despised, unimproved days of reason and liberty, scriptural worship, and pure ordinances, but not be able to see it.
JESUS THE SON OF GOD.
Go to my brethren, and say unto them: I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God. John xx. 17.
IN discoursing on these words I shall first endeavour to show, in what respects God is peculiarly the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And secondly, the design of this message of Christ to his disciples, and in what sense God is also their and our God and Father.
1. That God is in an especial and peculiar manner "the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," may be inferred from the frequent use of that title and character in the epistles of the apostles. In this text our Lord's style is remarkable. He does not say: "Go to my brethren, and say: I ascend to my Father and God:" but "I ascend to my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God." In the gospels our Lord is often styled "the only begotten Son of God," and "the well-beloved Son of God." And the apostle to the Hebrews begins that epistle thus: "God who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." Though therefore others also are called "sons of God," the Lord Jesus is "the Son of God" in a sense peculiar to himself, transcendent and superior to all others.
Father and son are relative. If I show in what respects and on what accounts Jesus is the Son of God, it is at the same time shown, in what sense God is his Father. And I shall now mention these several respects, which, I think, are plainly expressed in scripture.
* Rom. xv. 6; 2 Cor. i. 3; xi. 31; Eph..i, 3. 17; iii. 14; Col. i. 3; 1 Pet. i. 3.
1. Jesus is the son of God upon account of his miraculous conception and birth.
Luke i. 31-35. An angel appeared to Mary, and said to her: "Fear not. For, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David." When Mary asked, "how that could be: the angel answered, and said unto her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore that holy thing, that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." Here our Lord is expressly said to be the Son of God on account of his miraculous conception and birth. A like history of our Saviour's nativity may be seen in the first chapter of St Matthew's gospel.
St. Luke, who carries up our Lord's genealogy to the first man, concludes it saying: "Who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of God." Adam, as seems to me, is here said to be the Son of God, as he was immediately formed by God out of the earth. So Jesus was formed of the substance of the virgin Mary by the power of God, or the special operation of the Holy Ghost.
2. Jesus is the Son of God, or the well-beloved Son of God, upon account of the most plentiful measure of the gift of the Holy Ghost conferred and bestowed upon him.
St. John having spoken of the "word" as "with God," and "God," and that "all things were made by him," says, ver. 14, "And the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." It was not the word, which John and others beheld, but Jesus, in whom the word dwelled. Him they beheld, and his greatness, or glory was conspicuous: so that he appeared, and they knew him to be, "the only begotten of the Father," or the Messiah.
In other places of St. John's gospel this is expressed in other words. Ch. iii. 34. John the Baptist bears this testimony to Jesus: "He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God. For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him."
John x. 36. Our Lord himself argues with the cavilling Jews: "Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?" That is as a learned expositor paraphrases that verse: "Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified (by the Holy Ghost essentially dwelling in, or without measure imparted to him. John iii. 34.) and sent into the world, thou blasphemest because I (after this unction, and commission to make known his will to you) said, I am the Son of God ?" Or, as another Expositor: "Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified," that is, consecrated, designed, separated from the rest of men by a supernatural birth, and by a communication of the Spirit without measure, and by a special commission and authority to declare his will, "that he blasphemeth," because he has thus spoken?'
John xiv. 10. "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself. But the Father that dwelleth in me, he doth the works." Which in other gospels is expressed by doing miracles by the finger, or spirit, or power of God. Luke xi. 20. "If I by the finger of God cast out dæmons, no doubt the kingdom of God is come unto you." Matt. xii. 28. "But if I cast out dæmons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.' Which should be compared with John x. 38. "If ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.”
Matt. i. 22, 23, in the history of our Lord's nativity. "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying: Behold a virgin shall conceive, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us."
Col. ii. 9. St Paul: "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily:" that is, really. In the temple of Jerusalem there was a glory, which was a symbol of the divine presence. But in Jesus Christ God dwelled really. Or, as St. John's expression is: "The word was made flesh, and dwelled amongst us.'
By virtue of this indwelling of the Father, or this most plentiful and extraordinary communication of the Spirit, without measure, Jesus knew the whole will of God concerning the salvation
b Sanctifie.] C'est à dire, consacré, destiné, separé, du commun des hommes par une naissance surnaturelle, par une com
munication d'esprit sans mesure, et par un pouvoir tout divin pour exercer la charge de Mediateur. Voyez le mot de sanctifier pris dans ce sens. Jer. i. 5. Lenfant.
of men, and spake the words of God with full authority, and wrought miracies of all kinds, at all times, whenever he pleased, and had the knowledge of all things; even the thoughts and characters of men, and things at a distance, and things to come.
With regard to this it is, that St Paul says of our Lord, that he "was in the form of God," Philip. ii. 6. Which also answers to those expressions: "The brightness of the divine glory," or majesty, "and the express image of his person." Heb. i. 3.
This consecration, this sanctification of Jesus, this plentiful communication of the gifts of the Spirit to him, is sometimes expressed by anointing, and answers to the character of Messiah. So Acts iv. 27. "For of a truth against thy holy child," or servant, "Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate,-were gathered together." And Acts x. 37, 38. "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. For God was with him."
Thus Jesus is the Son of God, on account of his having the Spirit without measure. hence we see the reason, why the Christ, or the Messiah, and the Son of God, are equivalent expressions. That they are so, is evident from divers texts. John i. 34. John the Baptist says:: "And I saw, and bare record, that this is the Son of God." And, as it follows in the same context, two of John's disciples heard the testimony, which he bore to Jesus. "One of those two was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him: We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ:" or the anointed, and is plainly equivalent to what John the Baptist said: "this is the Son of God." Afterwards "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him: We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." When Nathanael is convinced of the same thing, how does he express himself? It is in this manner: "Rabbi, thou art the Son: of God, thou art the king of Israel:" two expressions, equivalent to that of Messiah.
The great article of faith in Jesus is sometimes expressed by believing him to be the Christ, at other times believing him to be the Son of God. John iv. 25, 26. "The woman saith unto him: I know that Messiah cometh, who is called Christ. When he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her: I that speak unto thee, am he:" or the Christ. Our Lord meeting the man, whom he had cured of blindness, says to him, John ix. 35, 36, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 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." Once more, 1 John v. 1, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God" Then at ver. 5, "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" To all which texts let me add here one or two more. Matt. xii. 17, 18. "That it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying: Behold my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles." And what follows, taken from Isa. xlii. 1-4. And Heb. i. 8, 9. "But unto the Son he saith:-Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity. There-fore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.'
3. Jesus is the Son of God, on account of his resurrection from the dead, on the third day, so as to die no more.
So the apostle says. Rom. i. 3. 4, "Concerning his son Jesus Christ, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Col. i. 18. "Who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence." Heb. i. 6. "And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world he saith: And let all the angels of God worship him." Which indeed some have understood of our Lord's coming into the world at his nativity. But more generally interpreters have understood it of our Lord's entering into his glory, and taking possession of his kingdom, after his resurrection from the dead. Which brings us to one thing more.
4. Jesus is the Son of God, on account of his exaltation to God's right hand, and being invested with authority and dominion over all flesh, and constituted the judge of the world, by whom God will pass sentence upon all mankind.
John iii. 35. "The Father loveth the Son, and hath put all things into his hands.” 21, 22. "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.'
Philip. ii. 9, 10. “Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which
is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow." Eph. i. 19, 20. "According to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. Heb. i. 2. "God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has made heir," or Lord," of all things.' “of all things." Ch. iii. 5, 6. "Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant.But Christ as a son over his own house."
Some now by the Son of God understand an intelligent being, or emanation, begotten by the Father in an ineffable manner from all eternity, and of the same essence or substance with the Father. Others, a mighty spirit or angel, begotten or formed by the will of the Father, in time, before the creation of the world, and of a different substance from the Father. Which Son of God, eternally begotten, or in time, became incarnate; that is, united himself to the human nature, consisting of soul and body, or to human flesh, so as to supply the place of a human soul. But it does not appear to be any where used in that sense in the gospels, where it frequently occurs. We find it in the professions some made of their faith in him, or their acknowledgments, of the great character which he sustained, and which they supposed he had fully proved by the great works wrought by him, and the demonstrations of wonderful knowledge.
Simon Peter's confession before taken notice of, for which he was so much applauded, as recorded in Matt. xvi. 16, is: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." That this confession implies an acknowledgment of his Master's being the Messiah, the great person who was to come, according to the predictions of the prophets, is manifest from the sequel. For hereupon, our Lord not judging it prudent that the disciples should as yet, with all their prejudices about them, declare that character every where: "charged them that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ," ver. 20; with which agrees the account in Mark viii. 29, 80. "But whom say ye that I am? and Peter answered, and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him:" that is, that they should not publish that. their persuasion concerning him to others. To the like purpose in Luke ix. 20, 21. “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering, said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing."
Persons possessed by dæmons likewise bore their testimony to Jesus, that he was the Son of God, plainly intending thereby, that he was the Christ. Luke iv. 41. "And dæmons came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them, suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was the Christ." The same must be the meaning of all others who make the same confession.
All these persons, then, when they confessed Jesus to be the Son of God, meant no more than that he was the Christ. And if this be the meaning of the phrase in the gospels, it is likely to be the meaning of it in the epistles.
But by the Christ, or Messiah, the Jewish people meant a man, who had the Spirit without measure, or in a greater measure than any of the prophets: a man, endowed from above with power, wisdom and understanding superior to all others, knowing the whole will of God, and appointed by the Father to reveal it, and capable of accomplishing all the great designs for which, he should be sent.
II. I am now to shew in the second place the design of this message of Christ to his disciples, and in what sense God is also their and our God and Father. "Go to my disciples, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."
1. The meaning of these words is this: I am now about to leave this earth, and am going to heaven, the place of the more especial presence and residence of God, and where are the brightest manifestations of his glory.' This, I say, appears to be the obvious and direct sense of the words, that Jesus was now shortly to ascend to the blessed abode, the regions of the heavenly world.
2. Our Lord intends by this message to his disciples, to carry their thoughts to the things of another world, even to things spiritual and heavenly.
Upon our Lord's revival, and coming again among them, their fond expectations of a kingdom in this world might again take place. But our Lord, before he shews himself to them (as he necessarily must do to give them evidences of his resurrection) desires to prevent such low conceptions and false imaginations.