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understood him of the temple at Jerusalem; and it was never rightly construed, till it was accomplished.
2. At this public convention of the Jewish nation, Jesus did' many miracles, published himself to be the Messias, and persuaded many disciples, amongst whom was Nicodemus, a doctor of the law, and a ruler of the nation : “ he came by night to Jesus,” and affirmed himself to be convinced by the miracles which he had seen ; no man could do those miracles, except God be with him.” When Jesus perceived his understanding to be so far disposed, he began to instruct him in the great secret and mysteriousness of regeneration, telling him." that every production is of the same nature and condition with its parent; from flesh comes flesh and corruption, from the Spirit comes spirit, and life, and immortality; and nothing from a principle of nature could arrive to a supernatural end ; and therefore the only door to enter into the kingdom of God, was water, by the manuduction of the Spirit; and by this regeneration we are put into a new capacity, of living a spiritual life, in order to a spiritual and supernatural end."
3. This was strange philosophy to Nicodemus; but Jesus bade him not to wonder: for this is not a work of humanity, but a fruit of God's Spirit, and an issue of predestination. Por the Spirit bloweth where it listeth,' and is, as the wind, certain and notorious in the effects, but secret in the principle and in the manner of production. And, therefore, this doctrine was not to be estimated by any proportions to natural principles, or experiments of sense, but to the secrets of a new metaphysic, and abstracted, separate speculations. Then Christ proceeds in his sermon, telling him there are yet higher things for him to apprehend and believe; for this, in respect of some other mysteriousness of his Gospel, was but as earth, in comparison of heaven. Then he tells of his own descent from heaven, foretells his death and ascension, and the blessing of redemption, which he came to work for mankind; he preaches of the love of the Father, the mission of the Son, the rewards of faith, and the glories of eternity; he upbraids the unbelieving and impenitent, and declares the differences of a holy and a corrupt conscience, the shame and fears of the one, the confidence and serenity of the other.” And this is the sum of his sermon to Nicodemus, which was the fullest of mystery and speculation, and abstracted senses, of any that he ever made, except that which he made immediately before his passion; all his other sermons being more practical..
4. From Jerusalem, Jesus goeth into the country of Judæa, attended by divers disciples, whose understandings were brought into subjection and obedience to Christ, upon confidence of the divinity of his miracles. There his disciples did receive all comers, and baptized them, as John at the same time did; and by that ceremony admitted them to the discipline and institution, according to the custom of the doctors and great prophets among the Jews, whose baptizing their scholars was the ceremony of their admission. As soon as John heard it, he acquitted himself in public, by renewing his former testimony concerning Jesus; affirming him " to be the Messias, and now the time was come that Christ must increase, and the Baptist suffer diminution; for Christ came from above, was above all, and the sum of his doctrine was, that which he had heard and seen from the Father, whom God sent to that purpose, to whom God had set his seal, that he was true, who spake the words of God, whom the Father loved, to whom he gave the Spirit without measure, and into whose hands God had delivered all things; this was he, whose testimony the world received not.” And that they might know, not only what person they slighted, but how great salvation also they neglected, he sums up all his sermons, and finishes his mission with this saying: “ He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him a."
5. For now that the Baptist had fulfilled his office of bearing witness unto Jesus, God was pleased to give him his writ of ease, and bring him to his reward upon this occasion. John, who had so learned to despise the world, and all its exterior vanities and impertinent relations, did his duty justly, and so without respect of persons, that as he reproved the people for their prevarications, so he spared not Herod for his; but abstaining from all expresses of the spirit of scorn and asperity, mingling no discontents, interests, nor mutinous intimations with his sermons, he told Herod," it was not
. John, iii. 36.
lawful for him to have his brother's wife b." For which sermon he felt the furies and malice of a woman's spleen, was cast into prison, and about a year after was sacrificed to the scorn and pride of a lustful woman, and her immodest daughter; being, at the end of the second year of Christ's preaching, beheaded by Herod's command, who would not retract his promise, because of his honour, and a rash vow he made in the gaiety of his lust, and complacencies of his riotous dancings. His head was brought up in a dish, and made a festival-present to the young girl, who gave it to her mother: a cruelty that was not known among the barbarisms of the worst of people, to mingle banquetings with blood and sights of death; an insolence and inhumanity, for which the Roman orators accused Q. Flaminius of treason, because, to satisfy the wanton cruelty of Placentia, he caused a condemned slave to be killed at supper; and which had no precedent but in the furies of Marius, who caused the head of the consul Antonius to be brought up to him in his feasts, which he handled with much pleasure and insolence.
6. But God's judgments, which sleep not long", found out Herod, and marked him for a curse. For the wife of Herod, who was the daughter of Aretas, a king of Arabia Petræa, being repudiated by paction with Herodias, provoked her father to commence a war with Herod; who prevailed against Herod in a great battle, defeating his whole army, and forcing him to an inglorious flight: which the Jews generally expounded to be a judgment on him, for the unworthy
b Montanistæ, et cum his Tertul. adv. Marcion. lib. iv. c. 34, aiunt Philippum defunctum fuisse, et indè probare satagunt secundas nuptias illicitas
Sed hoc tam apertå fraude, ut agens adv. Catholicos Tertullianus abstineat abs tam iniquâ recitatione. Marcioni autem Evangeliumi neganti hoc obtrudere in facili erat. e Senec. cont. lib. v. Livius, lib. xxxix. Plut, in Mario.
1 “Οστις δε θνητών μέμφεται τα Θεϊ, ότι
Ουκ ευθύς, αλλά το χρόνο μετέρχεται
Theodect. Grot. Stob. p. 123. VOL. II.
and barbarous execution and murder of John the Baptist; God, in his wisdom and severity, making one sin to be the punishment of another, and neither of them both to pass without the signature of a curse. And Nicephorus reports, that the dancing daughter of Herodias, passing over a frozen lake, the ice brake, and she fell up to the neck in water, and her head was parted from her body, by the violence of the fragments, shaken by the water and its own fall, and so perished; God having fitted a judgment to the analogy and representment of her sin. Herodias herself, with her adulterous paramour, Herod, were banished to Lyons, in France, by decree of the Roman senate, where they lived ingloriously, and died miserably; so paying dearly for her triumphal scorn, superadded to her crime of murder: for when she saw the head of the Baptist, which her daughter, Salome, had presented to her in a charger, she thrust the tongue through with a needle, as Fulvia had formerly done to Cicero. But herself paid the charges of her triumph.
Considerations upon the first Journey of the Holy Jesus to
Jerusalem, when he whipped the Merchants out of the Temple.
1. When the feast came, and Jesus was ascended up to Jerusalem, the first place we find him in-is the temple; where not only was the area and court of religion, but, by occasion of public conventions, the most opportune scene for transaction of his commission and his Father's business. And those Christians who have been religious and affectionate, even in the circumstances of piety, have taken this for precedent, and accounted it a good express of the regularity of their devotion, and order of piety, at their first arrival to a city, to pay their first visits to God, the next to his servant, the president of religious rites. First, they went into the church, and worshipped ; then to the angel of the church, to
e Jos. Ant. lib. xviii. c. 7. lib. i. Hist, c. 20.
the bishop, and begged his blessing: and having thus commenced with the auspiciousness of religion, they had better hopes their just affairs would succeed prosperously, which, after the rites of Christian countries, had thus been begun with devotion and religious order.
2. When the holy Jesus entered the temple, and espied a mart kept in the holy sept, a fair upon holy ground, he, who suffered no transportations of anger in matters and accidents temporal, was borne high with an ecstacy of zeal, and, according to the custom of the zealots of the nation, took upon him the office of a private infliction of punishment in the cause of God, which ought to be dearer to every single person than their own interest and reputation. What the exterminating angel did to Heliodorus, who came into the temple upon design of sacrilege, that the meekest Jesus did to them who came with acts of profanation; he whipped them forth. And as usually good laws spring from ill manners, and excellent sermons are occasioned by men's iniquities; now also our great Master, upon this accident, asserted the sacredness of holy places, in the words of a prophet, which now he made a lesson evangelical : “ My house shall be called a house of prayer to all nations.”
3. The beasts and birds there sold, were brought for sacrifice; and the banks of money were for the advantage of the people that came from far, that their returns might be safe and easy, when they came to Jerusalem upon the employments of religion. But they were not yet fit for the temple; they who brought them thither, purposed their own gain, and meant to pass them through an unholy usage, before they could be made “ anathemata,” vows to God: and when religion is but the purpose at the second hand, it cannot hallow
lay design, and make it fit to become a religious ministry, much less sanctify an unlawful action. When Rachel stole her father's gods, though possibly she might do it in zeal against her father's superstition, yet it was occasion of a sad accident to herself. For the Jews say, that Rachel died in child-birth of her second son, because of that imprecation of Jacob, “ With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live.” Saul pretended sacrifice, when he spared the fat
a Gen. xxxi. 32.