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Jesus attended on John's miniftry-called certain difci
ples---went to a marriage-feast at Cana, where he turned water into wine-celebrated the pallover at Jerusalem--purged the temple—did not trust himself with
some profelfed converts.
It may be difficult to assign to the various incidents in the history of Jesus their proper time and place; nor is it of any consequence to our plan. We shall touch upon the principal of them, and nearly according to the order, wherein they occurred, as far as that can be ascertained. But we attend not to any critical inquiries, for settling the chronology, Let us be most anxious, while we are studying the character of the Saviour, that we may know him, as “the way, the truth, and the life,” and that he may 6 be formed in us, the hope of glory!”.
We have beheld him, at his baptisin, publicly anointed and set apart for his great work, on which, after his temptation in the wilderness, he prepared to enter. He did not, however, open his ministry, at once, or display his glory by a sudden blaze, but in a gradual manner, as men could bear it.
His familiar companions were few, and those few of no considerable rank in life, taken from common, and not the most creditable, occupations, fishermen, tax-gatherers, &c. In the calling and uniting of these to himself he discovered his power and his grace, and exhibited a specimen of his general conduct through the succeeding ages of the church. Notwithstanding all the wonders he performed, and that fulness of evi. dence, by which he proved his mission and divinity, he would have been universally despised and rejected, had not an Almighty influence been exerted, by which the hearts of some were inclined to receive and follow him *. He might have commanded the services of more than twelve legions of Angels; and therefore his condescension was the more remarkable, in selecting a few obscure persons for his intimate associates and principal agents.
After his temptation, it should seem that he took up his abode for some time, near to the place where John was baptizing, probably with the view of attending upon his ministry; for it is evident that he appeared among his audience one day after another. Thus he became more publicly known, while John attested the miracle, which had been wrought at his baptism, and repeatedly directed the regard of his hearers to him, declaring his high character and office, as the propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of a guilty world t.
This occurred before Jesus had begun to preach, or had attached so much as a single follower to himfelf. But such a testimony foon engaged two of John's disciples, Andrew the brother of Peter, and probably John the Evangelist (who frequently forbears to niention his own name) to fix their regard on só extraordinary a person. In the same manner, many have been induced to seek the acquaintance of the Saviour, through the report of others, especially through the information of those who have truly be held his glory. Nor do any seek in vain. He obferves the first motions of their hearts, when they fincerely turn to him, and affords them the most gra'cious encouragement. He will even prevent their enquiries, by revealing himself to them; as he did in
* Newton's Ecclef. Review, p.
† Jolm i: 28,
the case before us. He marked the attention of the disciples, who were watching his steps; with great condescension he invited them to accompany him home, and admitted them to a free and delightful in. tercourse with himself.
And who, that have obtained the knowledge of Jesus, will not burn with a desire to recommend him to the notice and esteem of their friends? Have we not a brother or a filter, whom, through a plain and faithful testimony of our experience, we may introduce to the Saviour? Thus it was, by the declara
ions and influence of Andrew, that Peter was Arought to him, and immediately taken into his fervice, under a new and significant name. Every vilttant met with a kind reception from him; nor will any at this time be rejected, who fincerely apply to him.
But a!l his disciples do not come to him in the fame way. Some, we have observed, owe their knowledge of him, and their first good impressions, to their connections in life; while others are called, not through any previous acquaintance with religious persons, but by an immediate, and, as it were, vi. fible exertion of divine grace. In various inftances he is " found of them, who fought him not *.” He speaks suddenly, not to their ears only, but to their hearts, prevents their objections, overi ules their purposes and desires, and makes them “ willing in the day of his power ti" to alter their course, and follow a new matter. Thus, upon his removal to Galilee, he no fuoner met with Philig than he said unto him, “ Follow me," and instantly constrained him to forfake his former occupation, and become his attendant. What joy and pious exultation will a discovery of
Saviour excite in the true believer! No wonder,
* Ifa. lxv. I.
if Psal. cx: 3.
that he feels the warmest affections of gratitude, love, and zeal, and hastens to spread the influence around him. Philip was unable to contain the rapturous delight, now produced in his soul, and withing others to be as happy as himself, he took the first opportunity of telling his friend Nathanael, that he had found the promised Mefliah.
Here a different character is presented to us. Nathanael, probably, as a sincere worshipper of God, like many others, " waited for the consolation of Israel;" but, though an upright man and under the .best impressions, he was still kept back by the strength of popular prejudice. He could not admit, that any good thing, much less fo illustrious a person as the Saviour of the world, could arise from the infamous town of Nazareth. He was induced, however, by the mild expoftulation and advice of Philip, to examine and judge for himself. On this occasion we admire the compassion and tenderness of Jesus to the weakness and folly of those, who truly desire to know him. Upon Nathanael's first approach, so far from upbraiding him with his ignorant and rash conclusions, he expressed the warmeft approbation of his integrity, and proposed him to the notice of others, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Such a declaration from one, whom he had considered as an entire stranger, could not but astonish Nathanael : and, being referred to a particular place of rutirement, where probably he had been engaged in devout meditation and prayer, and where Jesus assured him that his eye was upon him, an irresistible conviction broke in upon his mind. At once he saw his whole heart exposed to view, he felt his doubts and scruples to be removed, and he acknowledged the presence and the glory of the divine Saviour: “Rabbi,” said he, “thou art'the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.” This honest and bold profession of his futh.obtained a gracious acceptance. Jesus rep?
u Thou shalt see greater things than these," adá. ing, that from that hour he ihould behold such a train of miracles, as if heaven itself were opened, in attestation of his million. Thus likewife, in all cases, the sincere convert shall be favoured with increasing light, and strength, and comfort: “ for unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance *."
We perceive through the whole of this history, that the grace of God operates in a sovereign manner. Here were two of a family, three of a city, called to the knowledge and the love of Christ, while the greater part, perhaps of their friends and neighbours, remained strangers and enemies to him. Ever so it is now. He is confefled, loved, and glorified by a few persons in a town, and frequently by fuck as were previously connected together by kindred or acquaintance. These, too, are so opposite to the rest in sentiments, principles, and practice, that “ther are men wondered at +.” If any should be disposed to ask, why these are selected rather than others, we have nothing to answer, but cry out in devout admiration, “ Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy fight 1." He may, doubtless, bestow his grace, where and how he pleases. Hence also we observe a variety in the cases of his people: and therefore we should not be forward to condemn any one, merely because his religious experience differs from that of another. Let us not arrogantly prescribe unto God, but bow before him, and acknowledge, that “the Judge of all the earth will surely do right.” Instead of censuring the “diversities of his operations,” let us adore the riches of his mercy. If the most difobedient and rebellious be willing to submit unto Jesus, he will graciously receive them. Their mis
prehensions, fears, and unbelief, may for
t Zech, iji. 8.
I Mat. xi. 26.