« FöregåendeFortsätt »
the miracles which he wrought“ by the finger of God,” as the surest testimony of his truth; yet desiring that men might by any means be saved, he appeals likewise to the witness of John the Baptist, “in whose light they ere willing for a season to rejoice.” He refers them also to the Scriptures, which they professed to believe, and which testified of him, in whom all the law and the prophecies received their accomplishment. But Jesus Christ came not“ to receive honor from men," but to glorify God, and to execute his gracious designs; while the Jews, on the contrary, were worldly-minded, and sought" honor of one another, not the honor that cometh from God," neither loved they God in sincerity and truth. Hence it arose that they rejected the doctrine of Christ, and refused “to come to him that they might have life.” They would sooner entertain one who should come in his own name," seeking to glorify himself, and to advance his own worldly interests by flattering their prejudices.
The performance of works evidently beyond the power of man in his natural capacity, is not only the most convincing proof of divine authority, but is more than any thing else calculated to excite the attention of all classes of people. Such awakening of the attention is the first step towards the acquisition of information, especially towards the reception of any new doctrine. Should one preach to the multitude (as many impostors and enthusiasts have done) pretending to deliver doctrines derived from heaven, it may reasonably be asked, “By what authority sayest thou these things ? or what sign shewest thou unto us, that we may believe thee?” The authority of Jesus is confirmed indeed by many other proofs besides miracles; but these are the most obvious, and the most open to common apprehension. But then, to bring conviction to a sound understanding, they must not be done in a corner, nor explicable by any prepossession of the mind, or any cunning deception of the senses. See the miracles of Jesus, how many and various they were, exhibited before multitudes, before enemies, and consisting in facts,
of which the multitudes were competent judges. Accordingly we find that “a great multitude followed him.”
Ver. 4. “And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.” For what reason is this inserted ? To account, I imagine, for the number of people, who are said to have been present at the following miracle. For at the Passover, and two other festivals, it is well known that all the males were commanded to present themselves before the Lord in Jerusalem *. For this purpose, therefore, it is probable they may now have assembled, as the time approached. And the miracle would be the more seasonable, that the people might spread abroad the fame of it in their progress through the country, and thereby prepare the minds of men for the reception of the Gospel. The relation which follows, only differs from that which we read in St. Matthew, and St. Mark, by the insertion of the names of Philip and Andrew. But an acquaintance with such particulars has the effect of bringing the history more immediately before
us, making us, as it were, present at the transaca-tion, not merely hearers of the report. The reasoni however of St. John's repeating the history of this
* Exod. xxxiv. 23.
transaction may not improbably be found in the confession it drew from those who had seen the miracle that Jesus did; “ This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.”
Ver. 15. In the fifteenth verse we read that Jesus departed again into a mountain himself alone.” St. Matthew has added * that he withdrew to pray;" and this was no doubt his real purpose. It affords a striking example of the propriety of occasional retirement, reflexion, and prayer. For if this was practised by the blessed Jesus, whose whole life was a service to God; how much more is it requisite for us, who are immersed in the business, the cares, the distractions, , and, it may be, the sins of the world? And what, but such occasional intervals of consideration and prayer, can recall us to a sound mind, and save us from being utterly overwhelmed by the “ deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of the flesh ?" Of such essential use is the observance both of the ordinary, and extraordinary seasons of devotion; both of public, and of private prayer; to which is moreover annexed the promise of the Holy Spirit, and the blessing of God. every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that
* Matt. xiv. 23.
seeketh, findeth ; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened *.” And again t, “ Your heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." Any one, who is not lost to all sense of duty, and all expectation of a judgment to come, must surely acknowledge the importance of these things; and acknowledging them, must wish to practise them. At least he must wish that he had practised them, when that day approaches, which must close this earthly scene to him for ever. At that time, what is to become of the man, who has been so engrossed by the affairs of this world, as to give no thought to that which is to come? Yet come it must, and must continue beyond all conception of duration.
Ver. 19. The next particular recorded of Jesus is his presenting himself to his chosen disciples, walking upon the sea. For it was peculiarly necessary that they, who were to be the lights of the world, and to “ teach all nations,” should themselves be in an especial manner grounded and rooted in faith. Therefore upon this, as upon several other occasions, their Lord displayed before them certain evidences of his divine power,
* Luke xi. 10.
+ Ver. 13.