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ties, while he healed all his diseases. This was a blessing that would render the cure yet incomparably more valuable ; and this reviving declaration had the Son of God a power to add and to pronounce. The Scribes and Pharisees, ignorant and prejudiced as they were, considered such a declaration as blasphemy. Their principle indeed was right, that God alone lias fíower to forgive sins, and it is impious for men to claim it; but their application was evidently wrong. The miraculous effect plainly shewed the divine authority of the blessed Jesus. And he has still the key of David ; he openeth and no man shutteth ; and shutteth and no man openeth. Almighty Saviour, may we each of us receive from thee forgiveness of our sins ; and we will not complain though our sicknesses should not immediately be removed ! Let us glorify God, who has given this power to his Son ; and thankfully acknowledge that we are ourselves, in many respects, the monuments both of his pardoning and healing mercy,

To conclude ; let us view with humble wonder and pleasure this further instance of condescension and grace of the Redeemer in the call of Matthew : his condescension in calling to So near an attendance, and so intimate a friendship, a man who was a publican, infamous as that employment was ; and his grace, which could immediately inspire him with so firm a resolution of quitting all the profits of it, that he might reduce himself to circumstances of life as precarious as those of his Divine Master. Many, no doubt, censured hint as a rash enthusiast, or lunatic, rather than a sober convert ; but he is even now reaping the abundant reward ; his loss is gain, and his contempt glory.

SECTION XLVI.

Christ goes up to a feast at Jerusalem, and cures an impotent man at the

pool of Bethesda. JOHN v. 1-16.

A

FTFR this there was a feast of the Jews ; and Jesus went 2 up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem, near the

sheep-{market,] a pool, which is called in the Hebrew language, 3 Bethesda, having five porticos.* In these were laid a' great num

ber of sick persons, blind, lame, withered ; waiting for the moving 4 of the water.

For at a certain season, an angel descended in the pool and stirred the water; the first therefore that went in after

the stirring of the water was cured, whatever the distemper was 5 that he was seized witht. And a certain man was there, who had 6 been thirty-eight years disabled. Jesus seeing him as he lay, and

knowing that he had been now a long time [in this condition) says 7 to him, Dost thou desire to be cured? The disabled man an

swered him, Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when

the water is stirred ; and while I am coming another descends bes' * Three of them are said to be standing to this day. Maund. Trav.

† The anthor pronounces this account of the l'ool of Bethesda “the greatest' of difficulties in the evangelical history."

8 fore me. Jesus says to him, Arise, take up thy couch and walk. 9 And the man immediately became well, and took up his couch

and walked. 10 Now on that day it was the sabbath : The Jews therefore said

to him that was cured ; It is the sabbath-day ; it is not lawful for 11 thee to carry a couch. He answered them, He that made me well,

even he said to me, Take up thy couch, and walk. They asked him 12 then, Who is the man that said unto thee, Take up thy couch and 13 walk? Now he that was healed did not know who it was: for as there 14 was a crowd of people in the place, Jesus had slipped away. Af

terwards, Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him,

Behold thou art recovered ; sin no more, lest something worse 15 befall thee. The man went away and told the Jews, that it was 16 Jesus who had restored him to health. And the Jews prosecuted

Jesus on this account, and endeavoured to put him to death, because he had done these things on the sabbath-day.

REFLECTIONS. What reason have we humbly to adore that Almighty Being who kills and makes alive, who wounds and heals ! If the Jews had cause of thankfulness for this miraculous interposition, surely those virtues. which God has in a natural way bestowed on medicines, and that sagacity which he has given to inen for the discovery of those virtues, are matter of much greater acknowledgment, as the blessing is so much more extensive and lasting. But how much greater still are our obligations to him for the blessings of his gospel and the ordinances of his worship, those waters of life by which our spiritual maladies are healed, and vigour restored to our enfeebled souls! Let us humbly attend them ; yet during that attendance let us look beyond them; for surely the efficacy of this pool of Bethesda did not more depend upon the descent of the angel, than the efficacy of the noblest ordinances depends on that blessed Spirit which operates in and by them.

Multitudes were continually attending at thi spool : and why then is the house of God forsaken? where not one alone, but many, at the same moment, may receive spiritual sight and strength ; yea, and life from the dead? Yet, alas! under the diseases of the soul, how few desire to be made whole ! Blessed Jesus! if thou hast awakened that desire in us, we would adore thee for it as a token for good ; and would lift up our believing eyes to thee, in humble expectation that thou wilt graciously fulfil it.

The man who was lately languishing on his couch we quickly after find in the temple : and where should they be found who have been raised up from beds of weakness, and brought out from chambers of confinement but in the sanctuary, rendering their praises to the God of their mercies? How reasonable is the caution which our Lord gave him there ! Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. May we see sin as the root of all our afflictions; and, by the bitterness of them, may sin be embittered to us, and our hearts fortified against relapsing into it, especially when we have been chastised, and restored again!

One would have expected that, when this grateful creature pub. lished the name of his Benefactor, crowds should have thronged about Jesus, to have heard the words of his mouth, and to have received the blessings of his gospel ; and that the whole nation should have gloried in the presence of such a person, as far more valuable than the descent of a heavenly spirit at some particular seasons for the cure of their diseases, or even the abode of an incarnate angel among them would have been. But instead of this, behold the malignity of our fallen nature, and the force of stubborn prejudice ! They surround him with an hostile intent; they even conspire against his beneficial life; and for an imagined transgression in a point of ceremony, would have put out this light in Israel. Let us not wonder then if our good be evil spoken of. Let us not wonder, if even candcur, benevolence, and usefulness, do not wholly disarm the enmity of some ; especially of those who have been taught to prefer sacrifice to mercy ; and who, disrelishing the genuine contents of the gospel, naturally seek occasion to slander and persecute the professors, and especially the defenders of it.

SECTION XLVII.

Christ vindicates his miracle at the pool on the sabbath, and declares

the dignity of his person and office. John v. 17–30

17 BUT

UT Jesus, being questioned by the Jews for this cure on the

sabbath-day, answered them, My Father worketh even till 18 now; and I also work. For this reason therefore, the Jews en

deavoured the more to put him to death, because he had not only

violated the sabbath, but had also called God his own Father, so as 19. to make himself equal with God. Jesus therefore, answered and

said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do no

thing of himself, unless he see the Father doing it ; for whatso20 ever things he doeth, even these likewise doeth the Son. For the

Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that he him

self doeth ; and he will shew him greater works than these, that 21 you may wonder, For as the Father raises up and animates the 22 dead, so also the Son animates whom he will. For the Father 23 judges no man, but has given all judgment to the Son; that all

may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that ho24 noureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father that sent him. Ver.

ily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth in him that sent me, hath everlasting life : and shall not come

into condemnation; but is passed from death to life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, the season cometh and is now,

when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they 26 that hear it shall live. For as the Father has life in himself, so

he has also given to the Son, that he should have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority also to execute judgment, be28 cause he is the Son of man. Wonder not at this, for the hour is

coming in which all that are in their graves, shall hear his voice, 29 and shall come forth ; they that have done good, to the resurrec

tion of life, and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of 30 damnation. I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge ; and

my judgment is just; because I seek not any will of my own, but the will of the Father who sent me.

REFLECTIONS. With what humble prostration of soul should we bow before the Lord Jesus Christ while we read such words as these ! Though he appeared under the form of a servant ; and as man and mediator, confessed a holy subjection to his father, and his God; yel is he his own, his only-begot en Son, the Son whom he loves, whom he honours; whom he commands all men to honour even as himself, and to whom such power and authority are committed, that he is the principle of life, and administrator of judgment. Let us adore the wisdom of such a contrivance, that he who humbled himself thus low, should be so highly exalted. Let us labour to secure an interest in him ; treating him with that submission, duty, and obedience, which becomes at once the divinity of his nature, and the dignity of his office. May we be enabled by divine grace so to hear the voice of his gospel, that we may arise to a life of holy obedience ; that we may another day hear him with joy calling forth our sleeping dust, and arise to the resurrection of life ; while those that have despised and rejected him, shall find themselves the helpless prisoners of his justice, and with reluctance and terror come forth to the resurrection of damnation!

SECTION XLVIII.

Christ goes' on to represent the proofs of his mission ; and concludes with

proper admonitions and cautions. JOHN V. 31, &c.

31

IF

F I bear witness of myself, my testimony is not (to be admitted 32 as] true. There is another that beareth witness of me ; and I 33 know that the witness which he beareth of me is true. You sent unto 34 John, and he bore testimony to the truth. I do not indeed receive

testimony from man ; nevertheless, I say these things, that you 35 may be saved. He was a burning and a shining light ; and fo: a 36 while you were disposed greatly to rejoice in his light. But I

have a testimony greater than [that] of John ; for the works which the Father has assigned me. that I might accomplish them,

even these works which I perform, bear testimony to me, that the 37 Father hath sent me. And the Father who has sent me, has

himself borne witness to me ; [though} you have never either 38 heard his voice, or seen his form. And you have not his word abid

ing in you': for you do not believe him whom he hath sent. 39 You search the scriptures; because you apprehend that you

have eternal life in them; and these are (the very writings) which40 bear testimony to me. And yet you will not come to me, that 41 may have life. I receive not glory from men. But I know you, that

you

43 you have not the love of God in

you. I am come in my Father's name, and you receive me not : if another should come in his 44 own name, bim you would receive. How can you belive, while

you are receiving honour of each other, 'and seek not that honour 45 which [comes] from God alone ? Do not think that I will accuse

you to the Father; that Moses in whom you trust is your accuser. 46 For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me ; for 47 he wrote concerning me. But if you do not believe his writings,

how shall you believe my words?

REFLECTIONS, How various is the evidence of our Redeemer's mission, and with what pleasure should we trace it in the testimony which Joho bore, the miracles which himself wrought, the testimony of the Father to him, and the predictions which the prophets uttered and recorded ! To confirm our faith in all, let us be daily searching the scriptures, as the oracles of God, and the great fountains of life and salvation. We profess a regard to them : may that regard never be our condemnation! or the blessed penmen witness against us, as Moses did against those who gloried in his writings, and yet wanted a true faith in them!

In proportion to the degree in which we are convinced of the truth of Christ's religion, let us set ourselves to cultivate the temper which he exercised. He sought not glory from men, but made his Father's will the rule of his actions, and his Father's honour the end of them. Let us not greedily catch at human applause, but aim at an infinitely nobler object, even the honour that cometh from God alone, the only true judge of actions and characters, because the only discerner of hearts. May we have not only his word in our hands, but his love remaining in u8 ; that thereby our natural aversion to the methods of his saving grace in the gospel may be subdued, that notwithstanding the obstinacy of our degenerate wills we may come unto Christ that we may have life ! May we receive him with the greatest readiness, as coming to us in the Father's name ; and not only for a season rejoice in his light, but stedfastly continue in his word, as made known to all nations for the obedience of faith ; that the advantages which we enjoy may not be found to aggravate our guilt, and to condemn us with the unbelieving Jews!

Christ shewed the tenderness of his compassion even in the severity of his rebukes, and spoke these awful and awakening words that these his unjust and inveterate enemies might be saved. May they be the power of God unto our salvation as they will be, if we believe in him whom he hath sent.

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