Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

6

son ?

6

ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.' And again : • Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy one; To him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship.'

Now that Jesus appeared thus in a poor, servile, and despicable condition, we need not for to prove ; for as his followers avow it, so his adversaries are most ready to grant it; in the haughtiness of their conceit taking it for an advantage against him, it proves a scandal to them. Is not this the carpenter's

· Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? said they : and they were offended at him.' Hence was it that, as the prophet foretold, 'He was despised and rejected of men, and they esteemed him not.' Thus all the circumstances of the Messias's coming were answered by those of Jesus.

Now concerning the qualities and endowments of the Messias, which constitute his personal character, they are, as was expedient, such as should dispose and fit him for the discharge of his great employment and duty with utmost advantage, and especial decency: in general, he was to be endued with supereminent piety and sanctity, with perfect innocence and integrity; so it is implied in all the descriptions of his person and performances : • The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre : thou lovest righteousness, and hatest iniquity ; wherefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows,' said the psalmist of him; and, · Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins,' said Isaiah of him, (denoting the ready disposition of his mind to do whatever was good :) and, 'He had done no violence, neither was there any deceit in his lips,' saith the same prophet of bim again. Some particular virtues and abilities are also ascribed to him in an eminent degree : excellent wisdom and knowlege in spiritual matters, thus represented by Isaiah : • The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowlege and fear of the Lord ; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.' Eloquence also, skill and aptitude to instruct men ; which that most evan

6

6

6

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

6

gelical prophet thus sets forth: The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.' That he should be meek, and gentle, and compassionate toward men, in regard to their infirmities and afflictions ; mild and lowly in his conversation, the prophets also signify : He shall,' saith Isaiah, feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young :' A bruised reed shall he' not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench :' and, Behold,' saith Zechariah, thy King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on an ass.' That he should be of a quiet and peaceable disposition, nowise fierce or contentious, turbulent or clamorous, Isaiah declares, thus saying of him, (as St. Matthew cites bim ;) · He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.' To his admirable patience in bearing afflictions and contumelies, Isaiah thus renders express testimony: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so be opened not his mouth.' And, 'I gave my back to the smiter, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair : I hid not my face from shame and spitting.' His invincible courage and resolution in God's service, together with his strong confidence in God and intire submission to God's will, is thus described by the same prophet : • The Lord God,' saith he,' will help me, therefore I shall not be confounded; therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.' • The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.' His general goodness and boundless charity toward men, the nature of his office and design, together with the whole course and tenor of his practice, such as they are represented, do suppose and imply.

Now that Jesus (our Lord) did in his person fully correspond, and did by his practice thoroughly make good this moral high character; the story of his life with admirable simplicity and sincerity, without any semblance of disguise or artifice, represented by persons who most intimately were acquainted and long conversed with him, (or by persons immediately informed

[ocr errors]

1

[ocr errors]

by them,) and with greatest constancy attested to and maintained by them, doth plainly show; wherein his incomparable piety toward God, his readiness to fulfil all righteousness, his intire submission and resignation of himself to God's will, the continual fervency, (devotion of all kinds, prayer, thanksgiving, fasting, practised in the most intense degree and in the most reverent manner,) his pure and ardent zeal for God's glory, his steadfast resolution, and indefatigable industry in God's service (making it his meat to do the will of him that sent him, and to perform his work.)

Wherein an unspotted innocence, not only exempted from the vices and defilements, but raised above the vanities and impertinences of the world; secured by a magnanimous contempt, or neglect and abstinence from all worldly grandeur and splendor; all secular wealth and profit, all bodily delight and ease, wherein an admirable wisdom and prudence, expressed in all his demeanor and his discourse; in his discerning the secret thoughts and dissembled intentions of men; in his declaring and defending truth, detecting and confuting errors; in baffling learned and wily opposers; in eluding captious questions, and evading treacherous designs; in not meddling with the secular affairs and interests of men ; in not incumbering himself with the needless cares and occupations of this life, nor intangling himself in the snares of this world; in dexterously accommodating his behavior and his speech to the dispositions, the capacities, the needs of men ; to the circumstances of things and exigences of occasion, so as did best conduce to the promoting his great design and undertaking; so that the people observing his proceedings, could not but be astonished, and ask, “Whence hath this man this wisdom ? so that they could not but acknowlege, He hath done all things well.'

Wherein particularly an excellent faculty of speaking and teaching, of interpreting and applying the holy Scriptures, of proving and persuading God's truth, whereby he drew the people after liim, converted many of them to amendment of life, convinced the most averse and incredulons ; so that • all that heard him were amazed at his understanding and answers ;' so that all bare witness, and wondered at the gra

BAR,

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

VOL. V.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

cious words which proceeded out of his mouth;' so that the officers sent to apprehend him did confess, • Never man spake like this man.'

Wherein an invincible fortitude and gallantry, expressed in his most constant profession and undaunted maintenance of truth and goodness ; in his encountering the prejudices, detecting the frauds, reproving the vices of the age, though upheld by the greatest persons and by prevalent factions; in his plain dealing and free speaking with all sincerity and all authority, in his zealous checking and chastising profane abuses; in his disregarding the rash and fond opinions of men, their spiteful obloquies, harsh censures, slanderous imputations, and unjust reproaches ; in his foreseeing the greatest of dangers and worst of mischiefs that could arrive to man, yet cheerfully encountering and firmly sustaining them; sustaining all the violent oppositions and assaults which the most virulent malice and envy inflamed with superstition and blind zeal could set against him.

Wherein a most quiet and peaceable disposition, apparent from his never attempting any resistance, or any revenge on provocation of frequent great affronts and injuries; from his never raising any tumults, nor fomenting any quarrels, nor meddling with any litigious matters, nor encroaching on any man's right or office ; by his ready compliance with received customs, by his paying tribute, although not due from him, to prevent offence; by his frequent instructions and exhortations to peace, to innocence, to patience, to due obedience, to perforining due respect to superiors, and paying customs to governors; to the yielding a docile ear, and an observance to those who sat in Moses's chair.'

Wherein an exceeding meekness and gentleness, demonstrated in all his conversation ; in resenting very moderately, or rather not resenting at all, most unjust hatreds, outrageous calumnies, bitter reproaches and contumelies from his adversaries; very perverse neglects and ingratitudes from multitudes of people; many infirmities, stupidities, distrusts, basenesses and treacheries from his own nearest friends and followers. In his passing over and easily pardoning the greatest offences

[ocr errors]

committed against him, yea sometime extenuating and excusing them. In the mildness of his censures, expostulations, and reproofs ; in his tempering the fierce zeal, hard censure, and rigorous proceeding against persons unhappy, or faulty ; in his tender pity of all persons in any want, distress, or trouble ; in his earnest commiseration and bewailing the vengeance he foresaw impendent on his persecutors, and in his praying for their pardon.

Wherein a marvellous humility and lowliness of mind expressed by his not seeking honor or applause from men, but shunning and rejecting it; his not assuming to himself, but ascribing all to God, and referring all to his glory, by his making no ostentation of his miraculous power and high endowments, but, so far as would comport with the prosecution of his main purpose, (the glory and service of God, the good and welfare of men,) carefully suppressing and concealing them; in his without dissatisfaction or discouragement bearing scorn, and contempt, and obloquy; in his willing condescension to the meanest offices and employments ; in his free and familiar conversation with all sorts of people, with the lowest and most despicable, with the worst and most odious, for their good ; he not despising the poorest or vilest wretch, who seemed capable of receiving any benefit from him; in his easiness to be in treated, and readiness to comply with the desires of any man imploring succor or relief from him; in his being ready, not only to oblige, but to be obliged and receive courtesies from any man; to answer the invitation of a pharisee or of a publican ; to accept favorably the well-intended respect of a poor woman; in the softness and sweetness of his language to all men, particularly to his disciples; • Be of good courage, daughter;" Son, be of good cheer ;' •I say unto you, my friends ;' • Little children, I am a little while with you.' Such was his style and conversation toward his inferiors.

Wherein an unparalleled patience is contentedly and cheerfully, through all the course of his life, undertaking and undergoing whatever by God's will and providence was imposed on him, how grievous and distasteful soever to human apprehension or sense ; the extremest penury, the hardest toil, the vilest disgraces, the most bitter pains and anguishes incident to body

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »