תמונות בעמוד
PDF

“ye, and believe the Gospel.” According to St. Luke, “When Jesus returned, in the power of the “Spirit, into Galilee, from the scene of his tempta

“tion, he came to Nazareth, where he had been

“brought up; and, as his custom was, he went into “the synagogue on the Sabbath-day, and stood up “ to read. And there was delivered to him the book “ of the prophet Esaias; and, when he had opened “ the book, he found the place where it is written, “ the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath “anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor, he “ hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach “deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight “ to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised; “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord; ” and this passage of the prophet, he applied to himself. No Christian can be ignorant, that, in this first preaching of our Lord and his faithful forerunner, there is at least one very important truth, which was wholly unknown to the Gentiles, and very little understood by the generality of the Jews. It is contained in these words of the Baptist—“Behold the Lamb “of God which taketh away the sin (row apatríaw), “ not the sins, of the world.” What is the sin of the world? Evidently the transgression of our first parents, which brought death and many other miseries on themselves, and all their posterity; and to take away these consequences of that sin, was the purpose for which a redeemer was first promised to the fallen pair, and from which the “Word, which was in the “ beginning with God, and was God,” condescended to take upon him human nature, and, with the patience of a lamb led to the slaughter, to die on a cross. Controversies have been agitated in the church from a very early period, concerning the nature of that death, which was brought upon the human race by the fall of our first parents. This is not a proper place for discussing such topics; but, whatever more may be included in the signification of the words nyon no, it is evident from the

whole scope of the Christian revelation, that the death incurred by the first transgression was absolute, without any reason to hope for a resurrection from the dead, but through the interposition of that seed of the woman, which was to bruise the head of the serpent. Our Saviour says expressly—“I am the resurrec“tion and the life: he that believeth in me, though “he were dead, yet shall live; and whosoever liveth, “ and believeth in me, shall never die; ” and, in another place, he says—“I am he that liveth and “was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore; “ and have the keys of hell (hades) and death.” In perfect conformity with this, St. Paul taught the Corinthians, and, through them, the whole Christian world, that “Christ is risen from the dead, and “become the first fruits of them that slept ; for, “since by man came death, by man came also the “resurrection of the dead : and, as in Adam all die, “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” That these salutary truths were not wholly unknown to the ancient prophets, and such other Israelites as could look through the shadows of the law to the substance of the Gospel, is indisputable; but that they were not fully comprehended by any Jew, in the days of our Saviour's sojourning on earth, is evident from a variety of passages in the New Testament, as well as from the unquestionable fact, that the Sadducees, “who said that there is no resurrection, nei“ther angel nor spirit,” were not only in communion with the other Jews, but capable even of executing the office of high-priest. The people therefore were not prepared, at our blessed Lord's first appearance, to receive these truths in all their lustre; but, as it would have been improper—and too like the common practice of impostors—to conceal entirely the great object of his mission even for a moment, he proclaimed in the words of the prophet Isaiah, that he was sent to preach the Gospel to the poor, and ‘deliverance to the captives, and to “set at liberty them

“ that were bruised,” which can mean nothing but deliverance from the curse of death, brought on man

kind when the serpent bruised Adam's heel.

As these truths are wholly discovered by revelation, they could not be left to make their way in the world, like the dogmas of philosophy, by the diseussions of human reason; for, by the philosophers of that age, a resurrection from the dead was deemed impossible. Accordingly both our Lord and his forerunner declared that a kingdom was at handeven the kingdom of heaven or of God, in which all obstacles to their reception were to be taken away; which should comprehend the Gentiles here called the blind", and in which “all flesh should see the “ salvation of God.” That by the kingdom of Heaven was meant the church of Christ, will be seen more clearly in the sequel. At present it is sufficient to observe that, though at hand, it was not yet COIsle,

Our Saviour, however, began to lay the foundation of it immediately after his baptism, by preaching the Gospel, by inviting all the Jews to become his disciples, and by working miracles to prove the truth of his mission. By these means he attracted many disciples, whom he baptized, not, as John had done, in the name of “one to come after him *,” but probably in general terms unto faith in the Messiah, declaring that without his baptism no man should enter into the kingdom of Gody or the church. Of these disciples, after continuing all night in prayer to God, “he chose twelve, that they should be with “him, and that he might send them forth to preach, “whom he named apostles”; ” and some time afterwards “he appointed other seventy also, and sent

..". That such is the meaning of the word blind, in this passage of St. Luke's gospel, appears unquestionable, when it is compared with other parts of Scripture, more especially with St. John, chap. x. 16, and Rom. ii. 17, 21. * Acts xix. 4. y John iii. 5. * St. Luke vi. 12, 13.

“ them two and two before his face into every city “ and place whither he himself would come".” That the seventy were subordinate to the twelve, and that they were all subject to their divine Master, is evident from every passage in the Gospels, in which any mention is made of these two orders of ministers; and in this arrangement for laying the foundation of the Christian church, there is a striking resemblance to the means employed for conducting the Israelites to the land of promise. The Israelites were delivered from Egyptian slavery by Moses the servant of God; the members of the Christian church, who walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called, are delivered from slavery infinitely more intolerable by Jesus Christ the Son of God. The twelve tribes of Israel were conducted under Moses through the wilderness, by twelve officers, the heads of their respective tribes; and, on the foundation of the Christian church, Christ appointed twelve apostles, who, when he should sit on the throne of his “Glory, should also sit on twelve thrones, judging “ the twelve tribes of Israel.” And to complete the analogy, as the Lord commanded Moses to gather unto him seventy men of the elders of Israel, who, partaking of the spirit that was upon him, should bear the burthen of the people with him”; so Christ appointed the like number of disciples to go before his face to every place, whither he himself should COrne. An analogy so striking could not escape the observation of the apostles, after their divine Master had “opened their understandings, that they might “understand the Scriptures",” and perceive the close connexion between the Mosaic and Christian dispensations. But, if the analogy between what may be called the civil polity of the Israelites in the wilderness, and the subordination established among

* St. Luke x. 1. b Numbers xi. 16. • St. Luke xxiv. 45.

our Lord’s immediate followers, be thus evident, the analogy between the polity of the Jewish church and the same subordination is surely not less evident. In what relates to religion, the disciples could not but perceive that the station of Jesus himself resembled that of the high-priest; that the twelve held a place in the little flock similar to that of the priests among the Jews; and that the seventy answered to the Levites in the temple service. The twelve were sent out to preach the Gospel to all the Jews; to baptize" the converts to the Christian faith; and, a little before the death of their Master, they were authorised to administer the rite commemorative of his sacrifice on the cross. To the seventy no other commission was given than to go before the face of Christ, and prepare the people for his reception, as “ the Levites were given to Aaron and his sons, to “wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the con“gregation “.” But neither the twelve nor the seventy had yet power to admit a single laborer into the vineyard, or to cast an individual out of the flock. The church indeed was not yet built , though its foundation was laid, and a model exhibited for its future superstructure. As it is the purchase of Christ's blood, who gave himself for it s, the building could not be completed till after his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven; and therefore the apostles were from the beginning intended to be the builders", as soon as they should, for that purpose, be endowed with power from on high. It has accordingly been justly observed by an eminent prelate of the church of England', that they were gradually raised to their high office in a manner strikingly analogous to that in which their blessed

d St. John iv. 1, 2. * Numbers iii. 9. viii. 24. * St. Matth. xvi. 18, 19. & Gal. v. 25. * 1 Cor. iii. 10, 11. *Archbishop Potter.

« הקודםהמשך »