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that is, from all the different corners of the country; nay, that the report of them was spread even through the neighbouring heathen countries, particularly Syria, in so much that they brought the sick from thence also to be cured by him. Wherefore, since the transactions of this tour were noised so far abroad, it must have taken up a considerable space of time, although there is but little said concerning it by the evangelists. Matt. iv. 23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people. 24. And his fame went throughout all Syria. Pliny 5. 12. tells us, that Syria contained several provinces, Comagene to the north, Phoenicia to the west, Colosyria to the south, Palmyrene, and the province of Seleucia, in the middle part. If by all Syria the evangelist means all these different provinces of Syria, our Lord's fame must at this time have been exceeding great. Nor is there any thing incredible in the evangelist's affirmation, taken in the largest sense. For considering the number and greatness of the miracles which he performed, it would not have been beyond belief, had the historian told us that the fame of them reached as far as the communication of the Jews with the rest of the world extended. And they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy, and he healed them. 25. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan * Vol. I.
. • It was autumn when Jesus passed through Samaria in his way to Galilee, after the Baptist's imprisonment, 22. Soon after his arrival in Ga. lilee, he went to Cana, where he cured the nobleman's son that was ly. ing sick in Capernaum. Tlaen he came to Nazareth, and was expelled the town. From Nazareth, he went down to Capernaum, where on the Sabbath days he preached regularly in the synagogue. Sir Isaac Newton thinks he staid at Capernaum till the passover approached ; so that by add. ing this one to the number, he makes the passovers in our Lord's ministry to have been five in all. Immediately after this second passover, he brings in the journey which spread Christ's fame through Syria. Whai confirms Sir Isaac's conjecture is, that in the sermon delivered at the conclusion of this journey, we meet with several things which shew it to have been preached in the spring, or about the beginning of summer; and by consequence, that the passover had been celebrated. For instance, he mentioned so ving, and reaping, and gathering into barns, the work probably of the season; and hade them consider or looks attentively to the lilies of the field, (Matt. vi. 26,---28.) which might be then in full bloom: it being our Lord's custom to raise moral instructions from such sensible objects as were nearest at hand. In this place of the harmony, therefore, Sir Isaac isas fixed the second passover in Christ's ministry. See however the sea cond Prelim. Observ.
♡ XXVI. At the conclusion of his first tour through Galilee, Jesus
preaches the sermon on the mount. Matt. v. 1,-48. vi. 1,
Our Lord's fame being now very great, a vast concourse of people attended him, some with their sick to obtain cures, (for he never rejected any who applied to him) some out of curiosity and the love of novelty, some with a design to find fault, and some to hear his doctrine, which seldom failed to make a deep impression on those who had any share of good sense or piety, Such a vast multitude of men bewildered in the darkness of ig. norance, excited the compassion of the Son of God : he looked on them, was sensible of their sad condition, and felt in himself a strong desire to give them more particular instruction than ever. For this purpose he went up into a mountain, and sitting down on an eminence where he could be heard, he inculcated many important points of religion, which in general were contrary to the opinions then received, and which without miracles would have been but coldly received by his hearers. Whereas the multitude having seen him freely and instantly restore health to the diseased, than which there is no gift more god-like, more acceptable, or which strikes men with a higher admiration of the giver, they could not but entertain the greatest good will towards him, and must have been sensible that the spirit and power by which he acted were divine. Mat. v. I. And seeing the multitudes he went up into a mountain; and when he was set, liis disciples came unto him. 2. And he opened his mouth,phrase used by the Jewish writers, when they introduce a person speaking gravely on any subject of great importance. For instance, Job i. “ After this opened Job his mouth and cursed his day, and Job spake and said."--and taught them : he explained to them the great doctrines of religion and morality.
This sermon Jesus began with the doctrine of happiness, a subject which the teachers of wisdom have always considered as the principal thing in morals, and for that reason they have laboured to give their disciples a true idea of it. Most of the Jews seem to have considered the enjoyments of sense as the sovereign good. Riches, mirth, revenge, women, conquest, liberty, fame, and other things of the same kind, afforded them such pleasures, that they wished for no better in the Messiah's kingdom, which they all considered as a secular one. Even the disciples them
notion of the kingdom; having followed their Master first with a view to the honours, profits, and pleasures, attending the posts which they expected under him. Therefore, to shew his hearers in general, and his disciples in particular, the grossness of their error, our Lord declared that the highest happiness of men
consisteth in the graces of the Spirit, because from the possession and exercise of them, the purest pleasures result, pleasures which satisfy the great God himself, and constitute his ineffable felicity. Said the Wisdom of God, The rich, the great, and the proud, are not happy, as you imagine, who covet the pleasures of high life, and consider prosperity as a mark of God's favour; but they are happy who rest contented with their lot, whatever it is, discharging the duties well that belong to it, and particularly if, while they fill high stations, they are perfectly humble and more tified, having their affections as much weaned from sensual pleasures as the poor, who, because they are deprived of the means, have, in a great measure, lost their taste for such enjoyments. Saying, 3. Blessed are the poor in spirit--for, though they be excluded from the honours and pleasures of earthly kingdoms, theirs is the kingdom of heaven: they have a peculiar title to the honours and privileges of the Messiah's kingdom. The merry and the gry are not happy, but the afflicted, if they improve their afflictions aright, being excited by them to mourn for their sins, to amend their lives, and seek a better country. 4. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted; they shall have consolation here in the hope of forgiveness, and hereafter in the fruition of eternal joys. There can be nothing more true than this aphorism, because if any thing brings a man to virtue it is affliction, the natural tendency thereof being to give him a feeling of the vanity of the world, and consequently to convince him how necessary it is, that he seek his happiness in things more solid and durable than the greatest of its joys. Affliction awakens serious thoughts in the mind, composes it into a grave and settled' frame, very different from the levity which prosperity inspires. Moreover, it gives a man a fel. low-feeling of the sorrows of others, and makes him sensible of the evil of departing from God, the source and centre of his joys. The passionate are not happy, but they who having subdued themselves can patiently bear great provocations, being of a mild spirit, and not easily stirred up to anger. 5. Blessed are the meeko for they shail * inherit the earth: they shall enjoy the protection of civil government, with all the blessings of the present life, the greatest and best which flow from
Ver. 5. Inherit the earth.] By inheriring the earth, the blessing of the meek, Chrysostom understood their having a title to wha:ever enjoyment they possess, in opposition to the wicked, who have no right to them, but possess chem as robbers do those goods which they have unjustly acquired. Yet I should rather think that the words, being a citation from Ps. xxxvii. were produced to shew of how great a price the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God; for they put us in mind, that under the dispensation wherein God rewarded virtue with temporal advantages, he annexed the highest blessing, e vec chat of inheriting the promised land, to the lovely grace of meekness,
meekness itself. Meekness, consisting in the moderation of our
* The description which Erasmus gives of merciful men is beautiful. « Qui e pro charitate fraterna alienam miseriam suam esse ducunt: qui calamitatibus " aliorum illachrymant, qui de suo pascunt egencem, vestiunt nudum, monent era " rantem, docent ignorantein, condonant peccanti, breviter, qui aliquid habent es dotis id aliis sublevandis ee[refucillandis in pendunt."
the mind, are favoured with peculiar manifestations of God here, and hereafter shall see him face to face, perhaps by some new unknown faculty, and in him shall contemplate all truth and goodness; for truth and goodness subsist in him substantially: blessed privilege ! and by that contemplation shall be raised to high degrees of illumination, perfection, and happiness.- Warriors and conquerors, the disturbers of the peace of mankind, are by no means happy in their victories, nor they who love to involve others in quarrels for their own ends; but they are happy who loving peace promote it to the utmost of their power. 9. Blesse ed are the peace-makers; for they shall be called the children of God. Having rendered themselves like to God by imitating his greatest perfection, they shall be acknowledged by God as his children, and admitted to a participation of his happiness; an honour which those who take pleasure in war, however eminent they may be for courage, shall certainly miss, though it be the aim of their ambition; because they pursue it not by the god. like disposition of diffusing happiness, but by spreading desolation and death among their fellows; so that having divested themselves of the nature of God, they have no title to be called the sons of God.-External ease and liberty do not make men happy, if obtained at the expence of virtue, but persecution for conscience sake is far more desirable. 10. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness suke; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: having on earth undergone the severest trial which human virtue is capable of, they shall be honoured with the highest rewards of heaven.-Fame, or the applause of the world, does not give solid contentment by satisfying true ambition; but to be reviled falsely in the ways of righteousness, and to share in affronts with God, is a dignity that yields infinitely greater joy, and is that by which the saints and prophets have been distinguished in all ages. 11. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shali say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. 12. Rijoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: (see on ver. 10.) for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.-Thus spake the Son of God: and it may easily be believed, that the persons whom he thus described shall be blessed ! as he declared; for reason itself shew eth that the poor in spirit, the mourners for sin, the meek, those who hunger after righteousness, the merciful, the pure, the peace-makers, the reviled and persecuted for righteousness sake, and such like, are beloved of God. But they who are beloved of God must be supremely happy. None of the sensations of pleasure which now enter the human mind, properly speaking, are produced by the objects which occasion them, but by the power of God, who uses these objects only as instrumenis. Therefore, without mention. •