Page images

none knoweth; neither the angels who are in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” And, again, in the garden of Gethsemane he began with declaring to the chosen witnesses of his agony that his “I soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death :" and he then commanded them to “ remain in that place, and watch with him.” He might have drawn a veil over the whole scene : but he was at an infinite distance from dissimulation and disguise.

Nothing can more strongly illustrate our Lord's ingenuousness and sincerity in his intercourse with his disciples, than those striking words, “ In - my Father's house are many mansions : IF IT WERE not so, I WOULD HAVE TOLD You.” My Father's heavenly residence may be compared to a glorious and spacious palace: it is indeed infinite in extent as well as glory: if it had been incapable of admitting you, I would have plainly told you so, as my manner is ; I would not have fed you with vain expectations. .

In regulating the common discourse of Christians our Lord's precept is,“ Swear not at all : but let o your communication be Yea, Yea; Nay, Nay : for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Common swearing leads to perjury, and is highly irrev. erent towards God. Every mode of vehement asseyeration, in the usual intercourse of men with each other, proceeds from mutual distrust : but plain affirmation and denial argue a sacred and habitual attention to truth.


See Grotius in loc. and

| Matt. xxvi. 38. John xiv. 2. Harwood's Life of Christ, p. &c.

• Matt. v. 37,

When our Lord commissioned the twelve apostles to preach the gospel, this was part of his instructions; “p Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and simple as doves.” He recommended to them a prudent simplicity and sincerity : and taught that the mind of a Christian must have no foreign and base mixture of cunning, hypocrisy, or falsehood.

That false words must be ranked in the class 9 of idle words condemned by our Lord, is what every judicious critic will allow : and it is also plain that he brands falsehood when he says, “ If I should say that I know not the Father, I' should speak falsely, like you."

There are some parts of our Lord's conduct, connected with the present subject, which have been usefully discussed by critics and moralists.

After Jesus had cleansed the temple at the first passover, the Jews said, “ . What sign shewest thou unto us, since thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” His hearers understood this literally : but our Lord alluded to the temple of his body; and probably intimated his true meaning by the action of pointing to himself. Here the words would be explained by the event: and their intended obscurity subjected them to examination, and impressed them on the memory. Veracity and every

? Matt. x, 16. Bochart thinks that our Lord had in view Gen. jjj. 1, Hos. vii. 11. He observes a like opposition, Rom. xvi. 19. and that the Hebrew word ind, simplex, is used in a good sense Psal. cxvi. 6. De animal. p. ii. 19, &c. 9 Matt. xii. 36. * John viii. 55. Isouar fév57. : ib. ii. 18, 19.

virtue must be governed by prudence. A plain reference to his death and speedy resurrection, would have been unwise and dangerous before ' malignant hearers. Had he directly asserted to them, as he afterwards did to his disciples, that he should be put to death and be raised again on the third day, we have reason to think that he must instantly have preserved his life by miracle.

There is no difficulty in the passage which Grotius next alleges : “Our a friend Lazarus sleepeth: but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.” Our Lord used an easy, unostentatious figure ; and, when his disciples misinterpreted his words, he said to them plainly, “ Lazarus is dead.”

Other instances, referred to by the same learned writer, are the following: When Jesus said to the apostles, “ I * appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel;” and when he said soon afterwards, “ I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom;" he seems to have sufficiently known that they would apply his words to some kingdom of this life, the hope of which they entertained to the very ' moment of his ascension.

In the former of these places, our Lord certainly described heavenly pre-eminence under earthly ideas. But he had told his disciples ? immediately before, that they did not resemble kings and potentates of this world. It was plain therefore that his kingdom was not a temporal one. On another occasion he had promised them honour ; a but it was in the regeneration, when he should sit on his glorious throne. And what was the time of this event ? The final judgment; when all nations should be gathered before him. And even during the paschal supper he explained how he would manifest himself to those who loved him: his Father and he would come, and make their abode with them by the Spirit. Teachable and attentive minds might therefore have understood him as speaking of that honour and power which he was to bestow on the apostles in his future spiritual kingdom.

· See Grotius in loc. and de jure belli et pacis l. iii. c. 1, S x. 2. * John xi. 11.

w ib. v. 14. * Luke xxii. 29, 30. y Acts 1.6

And when he asserted that " he should not drink thenceforth of the fruit of the vine, until that day when he should drink it new with his apostles in his Father's kingdom,” or, in other words, “ until the e kingdom of God came ;” they might have recollected that he had often foretold his resurrection on the third day, and had assured them at the very time that, after he was risen, he fwould go before them into Galilee. And therefore whatever ideas they first conceived, they saw this prediction fulfilled when they ate and % drank with him “after " he had been declared the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead," and had entered upon his metliatorial · kingdom. And it should be well observed with respect to both these instances, that, shortly after, “the Spirit of truth guided the apostles into all truth,” and not only “brought to their remembrance all our Lord's words,” but enabled them to understand their true meaning.


Luke xxii. 25, 6. John xiv. 21-26. Matt. xxvi. 32.

* Matt, xix. 28.

bib, xxv. 31. d Matt. xxvi. 29.

e Luke xxii, 18. & Acts x. 41.

h Rom. i. 4.

Our Lord's reasons for using parables have been given at large. They covertly expressed truths which it was not wise to deliver directly and publicly ; or which could be more forcibly delivered under that form. And in private our Lord was open and explicit, as his nature led him to be; "and explained every thing to his disciples.”

To this mode of instruction, and to the strong figures which often occur in the scripture, the obser. vation of moral writers is applicable; that nothing is advanced which is designed to mislead, and which differs from the intention of the speaker. They are subject to known laws of interpretation, according to which they are true; and we should always recollect that the easterns delighted in the parabolical and figurative style.

in Puffendorf has observed that it is quite unexceptionable to address those ambiguously or obscurely whom we wish to instruct, or whose proficiency we mean to discover. And he has illustrated his assertion by our Lord's words to Philip, “° Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?” Which he spake, as the evangelist observes, to try what degree of faith

i 1 Cor. xv. 20–24. Acts i. 3. k John xvi. 13. * Mark iv. 34. * De jure nat. I. iv. c. 1.9 13. 4to.

lib. xiv. 26. • John vi. 6, 7.

« PreviousContinue »