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on their sons, by hiding a girdle in the banks of Euphrates", by breaking a potter's vessel, by putting on fetters and yokes, by binding a book to a stone, and casting them both into Euphrates, by besieging a painted city by dividing their hair into three parts“, by making a chain", by carrying out household stuff like a captive and trembling? By such kind of types the prophets loved to speak. And Christ, being endued with a nobler prophetic spirit than the rest, excelled also in this way of speaking ; yet not so as to speak by his own actions, that was less grave and decent, but to turn into parables such things as offered themselves. On occasion of the harvest approaching, he admonishes his disciples once and again of the spiritual harvest a. Seeing the lilies of the field, he admonishes his disciples about gay clothing b. In allusion to the present season of fruits, he admonishes his disciples about knowing men by their fruits. In the time of the Passover, when trees put forth leaves, he bids his disciples learn a parable from the fig-tree : when its branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh', &c. The same day, alluding to both the season of the year, and to his passion, which was to be two days after, he formed a parable of the time of the fruits approaching, and the murdering of the heir , Alluding at the same time both to the money-changers whom he had newly driven out of the temple, and to his passion at hand, he made a parable of a nobleman going into a far country to receive a kingdom and return, and delivering his. goods to his servants, and at his return condemning the slothful servant, because he put not his money to the exchangers. Being near the temple, where sheep were kept in folds to be sold for the sacrifices, he spake many things parabolically of sheep, of the shepherd, and of the door of the
Isai. viii, Hos. i. T Jer. xiii. s Jer. xix. t Jer, xxvii, u Jer. li. w Ezech. iv. * Ezech. v.
y Ezech. vii. VOL. I.
2 Ezech. xii.
sheep-fold; and discovers that he alluded to the sheepfolds which were to be hired in the market-place, by speaking of such folds as a thief could not enter by the door, nor the shepherd himself open, but a porter opened to the shepherd 5. Being in the mount of Olives, a place so fer. tile that it could not want vines, he spake many things mystically of the husbandman, and of the vine and its branchesh
Meeting a blind man, he admonished of spiritual blindness. At the sight of little children, he described once and again the innocence of the electk. Knowing that Lazarus was dead and should be raised again, he discoursed of the resurrection and life eternal'. Hearing of the slaughter of some whom Pilate had slain, he admonished of eternal deathm. To his fishermen he spake of fishers of men, and composed another parable about fishes". Being by the temple, he spake of the temple of his body". At supper he spake a parable about the mystical supper to come in the kingdom of heaven P.
On occasion of temporal food, he admonished his disciples of spiritual food, and of eating his flesh and drinking his blood mystically”. When his disciples wanted bread, he bade them beware of the leaven of the Pharisees?. Being desired to eat, he answered that he had other meats. In the great day of the feast of tabernacles, when the Jews, as their custom was, brought a great quantity of waters from the river Siloah into the temple, Christ stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me and drinkt. He that believeth in me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. The next day, in allusion to the servants who by reason of the Sabbatical year were newly set free, he said, If ye continue in my word, the truth shall make you free: which the Jews understanding literally with respect to the present manumission of servants, answered, We be Abraham's seed, and were neyer in
8 John X. 1.3. h Matt. xxvi. 30. Joh. xiv.31.xv. 1 John ix. 39. * Matt. xviii.2. xix. 13. 1 John xi. 25, 26. m Luke xiii. 1. # Matt. iv, 10. xiii. 47.
o John ii. 19.
See also Grotius.
bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free And 'I doubt not but diverse other parables were formed upon several occasions, the history of which we have not. Sir Isaac Newton ".
Observing the fruits of the earth, he instructs them to judge of men by their fruits, and not to be themselves unfruitful under all the means of grace*. Taking notice of their behaviour at a feast, he first gives general advice therein both to the master and his guests, and from thence brings them to the consideration of a better entertainment, to which they were all invited, but of which few amongst them would render themselves worthy y. From outward washing he leads them to the purifying of the heart, and cleansing the affections. From tasiing of the fruit of the vine after the Paschal supper, to the celebration of an eternal festival of freedom, rest, and happiness in another world a. From salt he takes occasion to acquaint them with the nature of their office, which was, to season the minds of men, and keep them from the contagion of this world, as well as give them a true taste and relish for the enjoyments of his kingdom; and at the same time reminds them of the absolute necessity for their duly executing this their office: otherwise, instead of being the best, the purest, and most useful, they would become the most worthless, and incurable, and contemptible among mankind b. Those that were fishers he teaches how to catch men, and shows them how far this would resemble their former employ
u John viii.
W See Mr. Whiston's Remarks on Sir Is. N. ch. ix. in his Six Dissertations. * Matt. vii. 16. Luke vi. 43.
y Luke xiv. 7. 16. z John xiii. 8.
a Matt. xxvi. 29. Luke xxii. 17, 13. Ex occasione vini conspicui et proprie dicti Christus docet discipulos se non amplius celebraturum cum iis ullam liberationem, nisi postremam illam qua ex omnibus malis resurrectione liberabuntur. Describit cælestem illam hilaritatem
potione vini,' non tantum quia hujus rei incidit mentio, paullo postquam vinum bibisset; sed quia bibere vinum' in Scriptura perinde est ac convivari, felicitas vero sub imagine convivii describitur. Addit • vizium' hoc fore“ novum,' quia apostoli antea nunquam hanc felicitatein gustaverint. Sæpe Christus a rebus corporeis ad spirituales transiens eas iisdem vocibus exprimit. Clericus in Matt, xxvi. 2y. Mark ix. 50. Luke xiv. 34.
ment, in taking of all kinds, both bad and good, which were at first inseparable, but would at length be carefully distinguished from each other c. Seeing the money changers, 'he exhorts his disciples to lay out their several talents to the best advantaged. Upon the appearance of summer in the trees before him, he points out as evident signs of his approaching kingdom
At the season of fruits, he puts the Jews in mind that the time was come when some would be expected from them, in return for all the labour that liad been bestowed upon them; and intimates the judgment that would shortly overtake all such among them as were found unprofitable'. Upon hearing of some that were killed by the fall of a tower, and others put to death by the Roman governor in the midst of their sacrifices, he guards thein against all misconstruction and rash censure in such cases, exhorts them all to take warning by these punishments, and foretells the general de struction of such as would not be persuaded to it; and which should be the more distinguishable, as coming with the very same circumstances 5. From the temple before him, he points to that of his body, which was most properly so cailed from the Divinity residing in him h. In like manner I conceive him laying his hand on Peter, when he spake these words, Upon this rock', &c. From Herod's unadvisedly leading his army out to meet the king of Arabia, who came against him with superior forces, and defeated him, a lesson is laid down to all who entered on the Christian warfare, that they should first well weigh and carefully compute the difficulties that attended it, before they were engaged in a matter of such consequencek From the robberies which were more particularly frequent in that age, he forms a beautiful story of a certain traveller, who fell among thieves',' &c. Dr. Law's Discourse on the Life of Christ.
c Luke v. 10.
Mark i. 17. Matt. xiii. 47. d Matt. xxv. 27. Luke xix. 23. 45. e Luke xxi. 29. Matt. xxiv. 32. f Matt. xxi. 33. Luke xiii. 6. g Luke xiii. 1. John ii. 19.
i Matt. xvi. 18. k Luke xiv. 31. 1 Luke x. 30. Vid, Cleric. ib. ver. 36.
Of these observations concerning the style and genius of our Saviour's discourses, the following uses may be made. We
may conclude that the writers of the gospel have given us always the substance, often the words, of our Lord's sermons. They did not invent discourses, and ascribe them to him; as Plato, who is justly supposed to have often given his own thoughts and words to his master Socrates; and as Greek and Latin historians never scrupled to do, who introduce the great men of whom they write, making long harangues, of which they never uttered one word. If they had followed this method, they would probably have made for him discourses exhorting to virtue and dissuading from vice, in general terms; it would not have entered into their thoughts to have crowded together so many allusions to time and place, and to other little occurrences, which nothing besides the presence of the objects could suggest m.
We may also plainly see in the discourses of Jesus Christ his great design, which was to instruct. Therefore he conveys knowledge in a familiar way; he adapts his language to his hearers : he speaks to their eyes, and to their ears; he chooses images and comparisors which would strike them most powerfully, and make a lasting impression upon their minds.
The words of Jesus Christ being thus supposed to be genuine, we may from them not unreasonably conclude that he was a prophet sent from God for the benefit of mankind.
In his discourses appear a profound veneration of Almighty God, an earnest desire of promoting his honour, noble and just sentiments of his power, wisdom, goodness,
m Mr. Huber remarque fort bien, qu'il paroit, par toutes les circonstances du jugement de Pilate, que toutes les regles du droit Rumain y furent exactement observées ; et que cela peut nous convaincre de la vérité de cette histoire. Des gens du petit peuple parmi les Juifs, tels qu'étoient les évangelistes, ne pouvoient pas être si bien instruits de cela; et s'ils n'avoient vû la chose, ou s'ils ne l'avoient apprise de témoins oculaires, ils n'auroient jamais pu la raconter, comme ils ont faits, sans dire quelque chose qui se trouveroit contraire à l'usage des gouverneurs, dans les provinces Romaines. Le Clerc, Bibl. Auc, et Mod. tom. xiii, p. 100. See also Huber. Dissertat.