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LECTURE VII.

JESUS DECLARES, AT NAZARETH, THE PURPOSE OF HIS

INCARNATION.

LUKE iv. 16-19.

16. " And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and

as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and

stood up for to read. 17. “ And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias.

And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was

written, 18. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to

preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19. “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”] By the custom of the Jewish law, those designated of God for a high and sacred office were anointed with oil (1 Samuel x. 1). “Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it on the head of Saul, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance ?” Jesus was anointed, not by the type of the Spirit, but by the Spirit himself. The Spirit of the Lord had anointed him. He was THE CHRIST, the Son of the living God.

And he seizes this occasion, at the entrance of his ministry, and in the place where He had been brought up, to declare for what purpose

He

was come. not to give fresh sanction to the laws of God: though He did sanction them, declaring, that whoever should break one of the least commandments, and should teach men so, should be accounted least in the kingdom of heaven. Neither did He come to denounce “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil," and to promise “ eternal life to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immori Isa. lxi, 1-3.

It was

tality.” Though this He also did, and made it the foundation of all his teaching. But this might have been performed by another Moses, or another Samuel, who should speak as the Spirit directed, and prove the truth of their commission, like the apostles, "by signs following.”

But the purpose, for which the Son of God came, was one which He alone could execute. And the message which He brought derives a tenfold importance from the messenger.

He came with a message of reconciliation from God to his guilty creatures. So God loved the world, that He sent his only Son, to reconcile the world unto Himself: nay, to pay the price of reconciliation ; to make a propitiation for sin ; that as many as believe in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life. This preaching the acceptable year of the Lord, would be to the broken and contrite spirit, what the trumpet which proclaimed the year of jubilee had formerly been to the slave, and the prisoner, and the debtor among the Israelites. That proclamation cancelled debts, and gave slaves their freedom. This proclamation would cancel the debt of the ten thousand talents which the sinner owes to God, and so set his heart at ease. It would heal the broken-hearted : deliver the captive : recover sight to the blind : set at liberty them that are bruised. Such was too often the misery under which the captives of old time laboured : their imprisonment was hopeless: their eyes were blinded : they were bruised with fetters ; the iron entered into their soul. And under all these miseries would the captives of Satan labour : blindness was come upon them : they were tied and bound with the chain of their sins : they would look for deliverance in vain. But the Gospel announces to such captives, Be of good cheer: God has found a ransom.

“ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” Continue in his word, “and ye shall know

2 See Levit. xxv. 8.

the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The broken-hearted may rejoice ; God offers them the covenant of peace.

The poor hear glad tidings ; God careth for them. The captives are delivered; for greater is He that is with us, than he that is in the world. The blind recover sight; for he that believes in Christ “ shall not abide in darkness." The bruised are set at liberty; for He “will heal them of their wounds, saith the Lord." The acceptable year of the Lord is come ; for He hath sent his beloved Son, to

a message of mercy to his rebellious children.

This, then, is the purpose for which Christ was anointed, and the purpose which He alone could execute : for He alone could say, 6. Fear not; I am the first and the last ; I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death.”3

announce

LECTURE VIII.

THE DIVINITY OF THE WORD, OR SON OF GOD, DECLARED.

JOHN i. 1-3.

1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and

the Word was God. 2. “ The same was in the beginning with God. 3. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything

made that was made." The disciples of Christ had been already furnished, by the other writers of his history, with a sufficient account of his birth, and ministry, and the various circumstances of his life. These had described His miracles, had related his discourses : not all that He did, nor all that He said ; but all that the Holy Spirit knew to be needful, in order that every sincere inquirer might be satisfied with truth, and instructed in doctrine : might possess all things that pertain to life and godliness.

8 Rev. i. 18.

But it still remained to show WHO HE WAS who had said and done these things. They who believed in Him, considered Him to be the expected Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel. The Apostles had from the first perceived and acknowledged this : “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But who, and of what nature, was THE CHRIST? Was he a created being, like the angel which appeared to Daniel and to Mary? And in what sense is that term to be understood, THE SON OF GOD? For even Adam is so called, as having had no earthly father.'

Here, however, St. John plainly declares, that He, who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, was no created being: is not called the Son of God in any ordinary sense; but was possessed, in his own nature, of all the properties which essentially belong to God. It might have been otherwise, for any thing that appears. The Almighty might have endued with such a spirit as Jesus possessed, or with power like that which He displayed, another being who should be born as Jesus was born :-nothing resembling it ever had been seen, but there is nothing incredible in conceiving it ;-and men might have supposed it, and some probably did suppose it. St. John here assures us in clear terms that it was not so. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In the beginning of all things, in the beginning of time, from all eternity, He was, He existed, who had now taken upon Himself the nature of man. Wherever God was, He was : partaking of the same everlasting, uncreated nature. And therefore He is here described under a new term, the Word. That which passes our comprehension, because we have never seen or known the like, must be expressed to us by some term which is familiar to us, and we do understand. And therefore the Son of God is here represented as the Word of God. The word of a man discloses his thoughts, explains his mind, declares his will. The thoughts, the mind, the will of God and of his " beloved Son,” are one. And accordingly Christ may properly be represented as the Word of God. For it is He who makes known to us God's counsels and purposes, and has been to us as his word.”

1 Luke iii. 38.

But we are told more still. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. All things were made by Him, not independently of the Father, but in union with the Father. We know, from the book of Genesis, that “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." And we are here informed that, in this exercise of his power, the agent, the counsellor, was the Son, the Word, “who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person." 5 The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Failier do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. And so the Apostle understands it: saying to the Ephesians and Hebrews, that “God created all things by Jesus Christ :" whom He hath appointed heir of all things, and by whom also He made the worlds."

Here we can know nothing, beyond what God reveals to us.

Our reason tells us, that there must have been one from the beginning, ONE “ before all things, and by whom all things consist.

Our reason agrees with the words of the Psalmist,

Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy

2 The plainest reason why this essential Son of God is styled the seems to be this : that as our words are the interpretation of our mind to others, so was the Son of God sent to reveal his Father's mind to the world.-WHITBY.

8 Eph. iii. 9. Heb. i. 2.

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