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are dull of hearing, and their eyes hate SERM. they closed; lest at any time 'they should see with their eyes and hear with their m ears and understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal themo.-But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many Prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
This part of our Lord's discourse may suggest a wider range of observation. It is worthy of remark that his design, in speaking to the Jews in parable, corresponds with that of God himself, in speaking to their fathers under the types and shadows of the Mosaic law. After being long immersed in the gloom of Egyptian bondage, the children of Israel were not able to endure the full light of heavenly truth; and therefore he revealed himself to them only partially and through a cloud. They were not competent to receive a pure and spiritual law supported by the promise of better things
SERM. to come: and therefore he typified the II. principles of moral duty under a num
ber of rites and ceremonies which had no intrinsic moral worth, and he shadowed forth the promise of a future life under the prospect of a temporal inheritance. In no deeper light did these communications appear to the carnal apprehensions of the common people: amused with the form of godliness they had no disposition to inquire into the power thereof; and fed to the full with the good things of the land of Canaan, they did not set their hearts on a better and more enduring substance : hence they were not prepared for the acceptance of a new covenant, which would establish a correcter rule of duty and cominunicate a fuller prospect of reward.
Yet while the common people in their attention to the letter, overlooked the spirit of these institutions, there were many prophets and righteous men, who desired to see and to hear the secret things of God. Ind because they were solicitous to receive the truth, and shewed a disposition to improve it, a greater measure of light was imparted to them from the source of light; in
consequence of which they regarded SERM. these ceremonial institutions as emblems II. of moral duty, and their temporal inheritance on earth as a pledge and assurance of an eternal inheritance in heaven. But though they lived under a sense of this valuable truth, they were far from partaking in the fulness of that, light which was afterwards to dawn upon the world . Yet from a series of prophetic intimations they were taught to understand, that a Prophet greater than any of themselves was to appear at an appointed time, who should open heaven to the view of earth, and manifest the Father unto the world in his fairest and brightest attributes of grace
and truth. To this divine Personage, emphatically called the light and the life of men P, they solicitously turned their eyes; but though they desired to see, they were not admitted to
Such fulness of communication was reserved for the Disciples: it was their superior privilege to see with their eyes and to hear with their ears the Jřord of life! While the Prophets only saw him through the veil of distant
SERM. time, the Disciples saw him face 'to II. face: while the Prophets only saw him
in the doubtful twilight of the Mosaic dispensation, the Disciples saw him risen on the world, the Sun of righteousness with healing in his wings '.
The whole economy of revelation, from the first of the Patriarchs to the last of the Prophets, seems in union to have pointed to some extraordinary Personage, to rise in later times for the consolation of his people, who should bear the united characters of a Prophet, a Priest, and a King. Prophet, he was to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound As a Priest, he was to yield his soul an offering for sin, to bear the sin of many, and to make intercession for the transgressors. As a King, he was to have the government upon his shoulders, to be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace: of the increase of his
govern-ment and peace there should be no si John i. 1.
r Mal. iv. 2. Isa. Ixi. l.
Ifa. liii. 10, 12.
end; upon the throne of David and serm. upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice henceforth even for ever".
Of this great Minister of Heaven the Jews had long entertained a hope. But though, they were nearly accurate as to the time of his coming, yet they had very erroneous conceptions both of his mission and character. pliance with the customary language and opinions of the Jews the Prophets had frequently described him under all such images, as belong to worldly dignities and opulence. But the passions of the people led them to accept in a literal sense, what unbiassed reason might have taught them to understand in a figurative. Their avarice was engaged by the description of that plenty, which would accompany his steps; their ambition was inflamed with a picture of those honours, which would attend his dominion. Hence when our Saviour came in the garb of poverty and humility, his appearance was totally at variance with their carnal and worldly prejudice.
4 Ifa. ix. 6, 7.