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which we have now, or at any other time, heard with our outward ears, may, through his grace, be so grafted inwardly in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, to the honour and praise of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
THEN JESUS ANSWERING, SAID UNTO THEM, GO YOUR WAY, AND TELL JOHN WHAT THINGs YE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD ; HOW THAT THE BLIND SEE, THE LAME WALK, THE LEPERS ARE CLEANSED, THE DEAF HEAR, THE DEAD ARE RAISED, TO THE POOR THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED.
OU will immediately recollect the occa
sion on which these words were spoken. They make a part of the answer which our Saviour gave to the two disciples whom John the Baptist sent to him, to ask whether he was the Great Deliverer that was to come, or they were to look for another. The whole passage is a remarkable one, and affords ample matter for observation; but the particular circumstance to which I mean to draw your attention at present, is the last clause of the text, in which we are told, that “ to the poor the Gospel is preached.” That our Lord should appeal to the miracles which he had wrought before the eyes of the two disciples, as an incontestable proof that he was the Messiah, will be thought very natural and proper; but that he should immediately subjoin to this, as an additional proof; and a proof on which he seems to lay as much stress as on the other, that “ to the poor the Gospel was “ preached,” may appear, at the first view, a little extraordinary. We shall, however, soon be satisfied that in this as well as in every other instance, our Divine Master acted with consummate wisdom. He was speaking to Jews. His object was to convince them, that he was the MEssiah. The obvious way of doing this was to show, that he corresponded to the description which their own prophets gave of that great personage. Now they speak of him as one, who should not only give eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, feet to the lame, and speech
* Preached at the Yearly Meeting of the Charity Schools, in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, May 2. 1782.
to the dumb, but should also " preach good "tidings to the meek and the poor."* These were two distinct and separate marks by which he was to be known, and it was therefore as proper and necessary for our Saviour to refer to the one as to the other. Whoever pretended to be the Messiah, must unite in himself these two great discriminating peculiarities, which, taken together, form one of the most illustrious and beneficent characters that can be imagined; a character distinguished by the communication of the greatest of all earthly blessings to two descriptions of men, who stood most in need of assistance, the diseased, and the poor. To the former, the promised Saviour of the world was to give health; to the latter, spiritual instruction. In this manner was the great Redeemer marked out by the prophets, and this glorious distinction did Christ display and support in his own person throughout the whole course of his ministry.
That he was infinitely superior to every other teacher of religion, in the number, and the benevolent nature of his miracles, is well known; and that he was no less distinguished by the circumstance of “preaching “ to the poor;” that there was no one either before or after him, who made it so much his peculiar business to instruct them, and paid such constant and condescending attention to them as he did, is equally certain. The ancient prophets were usually sent to kings and princes, to the rich and the great, and many of their prophecies were couched in sublime figurative language, beyond the comprehension of the vulgar. There were, indeed, other parts of the Jewish scriptures sufficiently plain and intelligible, and adapt— ed to all capacities; but even these the rabbies and the scribes, the great expounders of the law among the Jews, contrived to perplex and darken, and render almost useless by their vain traditions, their absurd glosses, and childish interpretations. So far were they from showing any particular regard or tenderness to the common people, that they held them in the utmost contempt; they considered them as accursed “,
* Isaiah xxix. 18, 19.; xxxv. 5, 6.; lxi. 1 VOL. II. S