« PreviousContinue »
your master that the very miracles the prophet Isaiah so long since foretold should be wrought by the Messiah, you have yourselves seen perfornred.
It is certain the Baptist well knew who Jesus was, and consequently, he did not send his disciples to ask this question in order to solve any doubt in his mind concerning the Saviour of the world. But.it may be asked, what else could induce him to ask such a question? To this it may be answered by some, that he had no other intention than to satisfy his disciples that Jesus was the Messiah so long expected among the Jews, and to engage them to follow a more perfect master, especially as he himself was now about leaving the world.
This solution is, doubtless, in a great measure, right, but to remove the whole difficulty, it will be necessary to pay attention to the following observations. The Baptist, on hearing that Jesus had chosen twelve illiterate people to preach the gospel, and furnished them with powers to perform so great a work, while he was suffered to remain in prison, began to think himself neglected, and his services disregarded. He therefore sent two of his disciples to ask him this question, Art thou he that should come; or, look we for another? Not that he entertained any doubt of his being the true Messiah, intending nothing more, by making the demand, but to complain, that Jesus had not acted the part which he thought the Messiah should have done; and that this was really the case seems sufficiently plain from the caution added by our Blessed Saviour himself. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me. As if he had said, “ When you have informed your master of what you have seen and heard, tell him that he would do well not to be offended, either at the choice I have made of the Apostles, or that no miracle has been wrought for his release.
From this circumstance it appears evident, that im. patience on account of his long confinement, was the true reason for the Baptist's sending his disciples with this question to Jesus; and that the purport of the answer was, to teach him submission in a case that was highly above the reach of his judgment.
imstance long comis discipof the anishly
But, lest the people, from what they had heard, should imbibe any opinion prejudicial to the character of the Baptist, our Blessed Saviour thought proper to place it in a proper point of view. He praised his invincible courage and constancy, which was not to be overcome, or like a reed to be shaken by the winds. He described his austere and mortified life: for he was not clothed in fine raiment, like those who wait in the palaces of kings: adding, that he was a prophet, nay, more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Having said thus much in favor of the Baptist, our Blessed Saviour next proceeded to upbraid the people of the several cities, where his most wonderful works had been wrought, for their perverseness and impenitence. Though they had heard him preach many awakening sermons, and seen him perform the most astonishing miracles, yet so great was their obstinacy, that they persisted in their wickedness notwithstanding all he had done to convert them from the evil of their ways. In consequence of this their great impiety, our Blessed Saviour denounced on them the following judgment: 6 Wo unto « thee, Chorazin! Wo, unto thee Bethsaida! for if the 6 mighty works which have been done in you, had been 66 done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented, a long ago, in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, 6. It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, at the 6 day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, 66 which art exalted unto heaven, sbalt be brought down " to hell; for if the mighty works which have been done 66 in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have re6 mained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall 66 be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of 6 judgment, than for thee.”
After our Blessed Saviour had denounced these judgments on the cities which had neglected to profit by his mighty works, he addressed himself to the multitude, and having declared that the mysteries of the Gospel Revelation were better adapted to the humble and mod. est, than to the proud and worldly-wise, he concluded
his discourse with the following heavenly invitation: Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I'will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. · Here is an invitation that surely cannot fail engaging the most serious attention of every reader; if the greatness of the speaker, the importance of his request, or the affectionate manner of his address, have any weight, have any force, to affect the soul. The person who invites is Christ, the son of the Most High; he into whose hands, as our mediator, all things are delivered of his Father; he unto whom all power is given in heaven; even he who shall come in the clouds of heaven to judge all the in. habitants of the earth. It is this wonderful person who speaks, declaring at once his great willingness to receive, and his own supreme power to give, that rest and peace to the soul, which is the pursuit of every son of Adam, and is the gift only of the religion of Christ.
That nothing may prevent our accepting this benevo. lent offer, the Great Redeemer of mankind invites, with. the most affectionate tenderness, not the great, the powerful, the merry-hearted, and the sons of joy, but all that labor and are heavy laden, all that are under affliction and the bondage of sin; and those he calls, not with a desire to expose their miseries, to punish their offences, or to display his own glory, but solely with a view to render them bappy. Come, says he, come to me; I entreat you to come; I will give you rest. I myself will release you from your heavy burdens: come to me, and you shall find perfect rest and peace to your souls. Take my yoke upon you, for it is easy; and my burden, for it is light.
Is it possible that creatures of a day like us; can it be possible that “mortals who have but a short time to live, and are full of misery, who come up and are cut down like a flower, who flee as it were like a shadow, and never continue in one stay;" can it be possible that they should reject and disregard a call, so full of love, so full of affection, of so much infinite consequence, of such unspeakable advantage? Can they reject the love of him
$ who had a day liks light.
who gave them rest, took their burthens upon himself; and who, after all his sufferings, desires them only to come, to exchange their own oppressive burthens for his lightsome yoke; to abandon their sins and sorrows, and become his disciples; to love and obey him, and thence to be happy? Can we possibly despise such grace, refuse such offers, fly from such rest, thus freely proposed to us, and prefer the heavy yoke of sin, and the cruel pangs of a wounded conscience?
No sooner had our Lord finished his discourse, than a rich Pharisee, named Simon, went up to him, and desired he would eat with him. The Blessed Jesus, accepted the invitation, and, accompanying Simon to his house, after the necessary preparations were made, sat down to refresh himself. He had not been long at the table, when a woman, who had left the paths of vice for those of virtue, placed herself behind him, and, from a deep conviction of her former crimes, and the obligation she owed the Saviour of mankind for bringing her to a sense of them, shed such quantities of tears, that they trickled down on his feet, which, according to the custom of the country, were then bare. But observing that her tears had wet the feet of her beloved instructor, she immediately wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed them with the most ardent affection, and then anointed them with precious ointment.
Simon (who still retained something of the censorious spirit of his sect) seeing the woman thus busy in expressing her love and veneration for the Blessed Jesus, began to think within himself that he could not possibly be a prophet; otherwise, he would have known the woman to be infamous, and, consequently, not suffered her to touch him. But our Lord, who well knew Simon's thoughts, in order to convince him that he was a prophet, and that he was acquainted not only with the characters of men, but knew even the secret thoughts of their hearts, immediately conversed with him on the very subject he had been revolving in his mind. He did not, indeed, expose him before the company, by relating what he had thought in secret, but with remarkable delicacy pointed out to him, by way of parable, the unreasonableness of his thoughts.
therefore, « I suplessed
6. Simon (said he) I have something to say to thee. 6. There was a certain creditor who had two debtors: the « one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And
when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them 66 both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love bim só most?" Simon answered, “I suppose that he to whom 6 he forgave most.” To this our Blessed Lord replied, thou hast rightly judged. He then applied this short parable to the subject of the woman, on which the Pharisee had so unjustly reasoned with himself, and commend. ed the conduct of the woman in the following words: 6 Simon (said he) seest thou this woman: I entered into 65 thine house, and thou gavest me no water for my feet; 66 but she hath washed my feet with her tears, and wiped «« them with the hair of her head. Thou gavest me no 66 kiss; but this woman, since the time I came in, hath 6 not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou “ didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet 66 with ointment."
Our Blessed Lord, having thus commended the conduct of the woman to the company, and rebuked, with great delicacy, the unjust suspicions of Simon, turned himself to the woman, and, in the kindest manner, assured her, that her sins were forgiven. But the power he took upon himself of forgiving sins greatly offended the principal part of the company, who, not being acquainted with his divinity, considered the expression he had last used as derogatory to the honor of God. The Blessed Jesus, however, contemned their malicious murmurs, and repeated his assurance to the woman that her sins were forgiven, telling her that her faith had saved her, and bidding her depart in peace.
Soon after this our Blessed Lord took a tour into different parts of Galilee, accompanied by his apostles, and several devout women, whom he had cured of sundry diseases, and who, in gratitude for the benefits received, attended his person, and, out of their own substance, administered to his earthly necessities. After an excursion of some months, our Lord returned to Capernaum, which was no sooner known than such multitudes of people resorted to him, that neither he, nor his disciples, could