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in this infinitely greater concern ! and while others contend about places and forms of worship, may we pour out our hearts before him, and feel the love of God and man shed abroad in them by his Spirit given unto us !
Christ's discourse with his disciples at Jacob's well ; his visit to the Sa
maritans. John iv. 27-42.
ND upon this, his disciples came back ( who were gone to buy
inan ; yet no one of them said, What dost thou seek, or why dost 28 thou talk with her ? Then the woman left her water pot, and went 29 away to the city, and says to the men of her, acquaintance, Come
see a man who has told me all that ever I did : is not this the 30 Messiah? They therefore went out of the city, and came to
him. 31 In the mean time the disciples entreated him to refresh himself, 32 saying, Rabbi, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat that ye 33 know not of. The disciples therefore said one to another, Has any 34 one brought him [any food) to eat ? Jesus says to them, My food 35 is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.Do
not you say, that there are yet four months, and harvest cometh ? Behold, I say
you, Lift up your eyes and survey the fields ; for 36 they are already white unto the harvest. And he that reaps re
ceiveth wages, and gathers in the fruit unto eternal life : so that 37 both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together. For 38 herein is that saying true, One soweth and another reapeth. I
sent you to reap that on which you have not laboured : others have
laboured, and you are entered into their labour. 39 Now many of the Samaritans from that city believed on him by
reason of that saying of the woman who testified, He told me all 40 that ever I did. When therefore the Samaritans were come to
him, they entreated him to tarry with them ; and he continued 41 there two days. And many more believed on account of his own 42 discourse ; and said to the woman, Now we believe, not on
count of what thou hast spoken ; for we ourselves have heard him, and know that this is really the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
REFLECTIONS. Let us behold with pleasure the glorious example of our blessed Redeemer, and learn to imitate his zeal. It was his meat and drink to pursue his Father's work, to glorify God, and to do good to souls : and ought it not to be curs ? Let us bless God for every opportunity of applying to it, and every field of se:vice which Providence opens
Let gospel ministers especially be thankful for all that hatlı been done to introduce their services, not only by the ministrations of the prophets under the Old Testament, but by the apostles also under the New, and by succeeding servants of Christ in every age of the church. In this sense, with regard to us, is that proverb, true, One soweth and another reapeth. We have entered into the labours of others: may others in time enter into ours ! May the work be delivered over from one faithful hand to another, and be carried on by each with growing zeal and success! Blessed time, when all the workmen shall meet and join their songs; and each of the souls gathered into eternal life shall be, to all concerned in their conversion or edification, an ornament of glory and a source of pleasure !
Surely, if we know Christ ourselves, we shall, like this woman of Samaria, be solicitous to communicate the knowledge to others, and shall sometimes forget our little worldly interests to attend to this vastly superior care. May we believe in him, not merely on the report and testimony of others, but on our own experience; that, having tasted that the Lord is gracious, we may bear a more lively and effectual testimony to him! Let us watchfully observe the leadings of provi. dence, and whatever our own schemes may have been, let us still adjust our conduct by the intimations of present 'duty; and, especially where we have reason to believe that God is by his Spirit beginning to work on men's hearts, let us be ambitious of being workers together with him. A word spoken in such a season is remarkably good, and it is a great part of Christian and ministerial prudence to observe and improve those tender times.
Christ comes into Galilee, and cures a nobleman's son in Capernaum.
MARK i. 14, 15. MATT. iv. 12. Joun iv. 43, &c.
OW after John was cast into prison, and Jesus had heard (of it,]
he withdrew [and] came into Galilee, preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is near ; repent, and believe the gospel.
And (having been prevailed upon to stop at Sichar in his way) after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee ; for Jesus himself testified, that a prophet has no honour in his own country. When therefore he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem during the feast (for they also came to the feast.) Jesus, therefore, came again to Cana of Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was ill at Capernaum; (Who] when he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, went to him and entreated him that he would come down, and cure his son, for he was just ready to die. Jeaus said therefore unto him, unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe. The nobleman says to him, Sir; I beseech thee come down before my child die. Jesus says to him, Go thy way, thy son is recovered. And the inan believed the word that Jesus spoke unto him, and went away.
Tow as he was going down to Capernaum, his servants met him and told [him) saying, Thy son is recovered. Therefore, he inquired
of them the hour when he began to mend : and they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was at the very hour in which Jesus said to him, Thy son is recovered : and he and his whole family believed. This is again the second miracle which Jesus performed at Cana, when he came out of Judea into Galilee.
REFLECTIONS. How unreasonable are the passions and prejudices of mankind, and this in particular, that a prophet should have no honour in his own country! One would have imagined that Jesus at least, free as he was from all the follies of childhood and youth, should have been an exception; nay, indeed, that he should have been peculiarly honoured there, where his early wisdom and piety could not but be observed. Our Lord however intended them a visit, even at Nazareth ; and it is the duty of his ministers to bear their testimony, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear. Yet should they learn of their great Master to study as much as they can to obviate those prejudices which might prevent their usefulness, and should use the most prudent and gentle methods to vanquish them. Such was this beneficial miracle of our Lord ; which
may many particulars worthy of our notice. With what affection and zeal does this tender parent apply to Christ on the sickness of his child! Let us not be less importunate when soliciting spiritual blessings in behalf of our dear offspring ; and so much the rather as their lives are so precarious, and we know r.ot how soon these lovely flowers may be cut down, and all further petitions for thein be for ever superseded. Our Lord, while at a distance from the patient, wrought and perfected the cure. And has he not still the same divine
power, though he does not exert it in the same miraculous way? Let not his bodily absence abate our faith, while praying for others or for ourselves.
Salvation now came to this house, and blessings infinitely more valuable than noble blood, or ample possessions, or royal favour, or recovered health could give ; for the cure wrought on the body of one was a means of producing faith in the hearts of all. Blessed Jesus! thy power was no less employed in the latter than in the former. Oh, may that power work in such a manner on our souls as that we all may be disposed cordially to receive thee, and cheerfully to venture our eternal all upon thee ! May we and our houses con, cur in so wise and happy a resolution ; and not insisting upon evidence beyond what thy gracious wisdom has thought fit to give us, may we candidly receive the light we have, and faithfully improve it so as to be at length entitled to thę blessedness of those who have not seen and yet have believed !
Chrișt preaching at Nazareth is at first admired, but immediately after
rejected. LUKE iv. 14-30.
ND Jesus returned into Galilee, in the power of the Spirit ; A
and his renown went through all the neighbouring region. 15 And he taught in their synagogues with universal applause. And 16 he came to Nazareth, where he was educated ; and, according to
his custom, he entered into the synagogue on the sabbath-day ;
and (being desired by the ruler) stood up to read the scriptures.* 17 And the book of Isaiah the prophet was delivered to him, and
unrolling the book, he found that place of it (Isa. Isi. 1, 2, 3.) 18 where it was written to this effect : “ The Spirit of the Lord is
upon me, for the purpose to which he hath anointed me ; (for] he hath sent me to preach good news to the poor, to heal those whose hearts are broken, to proclaim dismission to captives, even
the recovery of sight to them that are blind in prison,t [and] to set 19 those at liberty who are bruised with fetters : to proclaim that wel20 come year of the Lord (the year of jubilee.") And having rolled
up the book, he delivered it to the servant, and sat down ; and
the eyes of all in the synagogue were attentively fixed upon him. 21 And he began to say to them, To-day this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
And they all bore testimony to him, and were astonished at those graceful words which proceeded out of his mouth, saying, is
not this the son of Joseph ? 23 And he said to them, You will undoubtedly say to me that pro
verb, Physician, cure thyself; [and] do also here, in thine own
country, those works which, we have heard, were done at Caper24 naum. But he further said, Verily I say unto you, that no pro25 phet is acceptable in his own country. But I tell you as a truth,
There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when
the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, so that 26 a great famine prevailed in all the land. And yet Elijah was
sent to none of them, but to a widow woman at Sarepta, [a city] of 27 the Gentiles, of Sidon. And there were also many lepers in Israel
in the time of Elisha the prophet; yet none of them was clean28 sed, but Naaman the Syrian. And all that were in the synagogue, 29 when they heard these things, were filled with fury : and rising
up at once, they cast him out of the city, and brought him to the
very brow of the mountain on which their city was built, that they 30 might cast him down headlong. But he miraculously passed
through the midst of them, and went away.
* Which made a constant part of their worship ( Acts xv. 31.) and any man of gravity and reputation, at the request of the ruler, might officiate. Comp. Acts: xiii. 15.
† Perhaps an allusion to the inhuman custom in Eastern countries of putting out the eyes of prisoners.
Which was a lung scroll of parchment, rolled upon two sticks.
REFLECTIONS. We see that it was the custom of our blessed Saviour to frequent the synagogues every sabbath-day: how well therefore does it become his servants to be constant in their attendance on public ordinances, especially since those of the gospel are in many respects so much nobler than any which the Mosaic institution would admit. In the synagogues the scriptures were constantly read; and it is matter of pleasing reflection that, in all ages of the Christian church, the reading them hath usually been made a part of the service in most of its solemn assemblies. Let it still be so with us for this reason, among others, that so glorious a testimony to the genuineness of scripture may not be impaired in our hands, but transmitted to those that shall arise after us.
And surely the Old Testament, as well as the New, deserves our attentive perusal ; in which, if we are not strangely negligent, or strangely prejudiced, we must ofren meet with remarkable prophecies of Christ shining with a pleasing lustre, like lights in a dark place. How amiable a view of him is given in that which he now opened ! Let us seriously attend to it. It is a moving representation that is here made of the deplorable state in which the gospel finds us! The helpless prisoners of divine justice, the wretched captives of Satan, stripped and wounded, the eyes of our understanding blinded, and the powers of our souls enfeebled, and as it were, bruised with those chains which prejudice and vice have fastened upon them! But in these miserable circumstances Jesus appears to open the doors of our prison, to strike off our fetters, and even to restore our sight. He comes to enrich our impoverished souls, and to preach a far better jubilee than Moses could proclaim; the free forgiveness of all our sins, and the recovery of an inheritance of eternal glory. Surely it should be to us a most acceptable time. Blessed are the people that know this joyful sound ; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance ! In some sense this instructive and comfortable scripture is this day fulfilled in our ears likewise. Let us also bear our testimony to the gracious words of this welcome messenger whom God hath anointed for such happy purposes !
One would have imagined that while the eyes of his auditors were fixed upon him, their souls should have drank in his doctrine as the thirsty earth sucks up the rain, and that every heart should have been open to embrace him. But, O blessed Jesus, while thou art preaching these glad tidings of great joy, what a return dost thou find! Thou art ungratefully rejected, thou art impiously assaulted ; and had their rage and malice been able to prevail, the joyful sound would have died into empty air as soon as it began, and this thy first sermon at Nazareth had been thy last. Thus disdainfully art thou still rejected by multitudes, who still bear the same message echoing from thy word. And is there not a malignity in the hearts of sinners which might lead those of our own days to the outrageous wickedness of these Nazarenes, were their opportunities the same, rather than they would bow their stubborn hearts to the obedience of faith? But while they are crucifying thee a fresh by their sins, and Putting thee,