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with which they were invested; can you, therefore, impute to that person whom the Almighty hath sanctified, and sent into the world, on the most important business that ever any person was sent into the world to execute, no less than the salvation of lost sinners; can you, I say, imputę blasphemy to this person, for taking on himself the title of the Son of God? If my own declaration be not sufficient to induce you to believe, consider the works which I have performed, and let them speak for me: is it not abundantly evident, that they must be the works of the Most High, as only omnipotence could perform them? Is it not then fully manifest, that I and the eternal God are so united, that whatever I say or do, is approved by him? Is it not zoritten in your law, said our great Redeemer, I said, Ye are gods. If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.

This argument, however plain and conclusive, was far from satisfying the Jews; their wicked hearts were hardened against the truth, and their deep rooted prejudices were not to be overcome: so that what might have convinced an honest, impartial inquirer after truth, had no tendency but to enrage them the more; and our Lord well knowing that it would be to no purpose to reason with so obstinate and envious a race, either by rendering himself invisible, or casting confusion on their minds, departed imperceptibly from amongst them, and so escaped their evil designs,

The feast of dedication being over, our Redeemer departed from Jerusalem, and retired into the country beyond Jordan, where he was received in a far different manner than he had been at Jerusalem. The people in these parts had attended on the preaching

of John the Baptist, and no doubt remembered the character he gave of the Messiah, who was shortly to appear; and finding the predictions of the Baptist fully answered, and fulfilled in Jesus, great numbers were excited to believe.

Ilow long our exalted Saviour, with his train, continued in this country, cannot be clearly determined; but we have no account of his leaving these parts till he was sent for to Bethany, to raise Lazarus from the dead: perhaps, the inhabitants of this country enjoyed the unspeakable blessing of the presence of the Son of God for a considerable time; and we are informed

a by the evangelists, that while he continued in this country, he prayed with such fervency, that one of his disciples, who was exceedingly affected both with the matter and manner of his address, begged he would teach them to pray. It is probable this disciple was not with Jesus in the beginning of his ministry, when he gave his directions to his disciples concerning their devotions: our Lord, however, gave them the same form of words as he had done before, and gave them some directions respecting their conduct, and exhort, ed them to constancy and fervency in their prayers: And I say unto you, said he, ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh findeth ; and to him that knocketh

; it shall be opened.

And, for their encouragement in the great duty of prayer, he referred to their own feelings with respect to their children, and called upon them to judge by these, of the readiness of their heavenly Father, to hear and grant their petitions: It, said he, a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give

a him a stone? Or, if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion ? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

After these things, our great Redeemer was applied to by the friends of one who was possessed with a devil; he graciously condescended to grant the request and cast out the evil spirit, restoring the disordered person to perfect tranquility of mind: but some of the envious and unbelieving Jews were present, and, as the Pharisees had formerly done, ascribed this stupendous work to the power of the devil. The evangelist informs us, that he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb; and it came to pass, when the devil was gone out the dumb spake; and the people wondered. But some of them said, 'He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils.'

However weak and frivolous this argument may seem, and however inconsistent and absurd it may appear to impartial judges, it had considerable influence and effect on the ignorant and illiterate, especially on such whose prejudices and interests it favoured. The Pharisees were exasperated at our great Redeemer's conduct, in exposing and condemning their foolish traditions, and they indulged a fixed and habitual hatred against him: these traditions were considered, by the learned men and teacher's of the age, as the very essentials of religion ; and by his opposing these, and exposing them to ridicule and contempt, they concluded, that he must be a very wicked person. They had inspired the common people with the highest veneration and reverence for these external ceremonious performances, and, therefore, it is no wonder that they were ready to join them in their resentment, and op: pose and persecute a person who had spoken lightly of things which they esteemed so sacred: the great men and leaders of the Jews, had also a notion, that a false prophet had the power of working signs and wonders, and received this power from, and exerted it by, the assistance of wicked spirits: and, therefore, they were very ready to believe that our Saviour was in league with hell, and performed his miracles by the assistance of the prince of darkness, with design to seduce the people with lying wonders, and turn them from the worship of the true God.

And what induced them the more readily to embrace this opinion, was the testimony of the devils themselves, who, when they were cast out, very frequently and without hesitation, confessed that Jesus was the Son of God; which the Pharisees supposed they would not have done, except it was to carry on the deception: the blinded rulers of Israel, not perceiving that the devils were forced to confess the Messiah, and to submit to superior power. How absurd and ridiculous soever this argument appears to the judicious and impartial, yet as it coincided with the prejudice of the Jews, it had great influence on their minds, and tended to fix them in final unbelief: and however we may be surprised that such weak reasons should have any effect, considering what multitudes were witnesses to the many miracles which the blessed Jesus performed, and considering the nature of those miracles was such, as it is not easy to suppose the Devil would have any hand in performing: yet experience hath abundantly convinced us, that such kind of arguments, joined with their own prejudices, and superstitious opinions, had a great influence in fixing that obstinate people in their infidelity

But though some amongst the multitude of spectators, were content to ascribe this miracle to the power of the Devil, others were not willing so hastily and inconsiderately to form so base a conclusion, but desired to suspend their opinion till other proofs might be produced, or our Redeemer might have an opportunity to establish his character by a different kind of cvidence; and therefore, they desired him to prove himself the Messiah, by giving them a sign from hea: ven. But Jesus knowing their thoughts, and being

privy to the rancour, and wickedness of their hearts, refused to grant their request: but told them that they were a wicked race of mortals, and discovered a very obstinate and perverse disposition, by seeking a sign from heaven, after such a number of miracles had been performed, as were sufficient to convince any impartial and unprejudiced mind. He therefore informed them that no sign should be given them, but that of the prophet Jonas, This, said he, is an evil generation: they seek a sign ; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

When Jesus had ended his discourse, one of the Pharisees present invited him to dine with him; our Lord accepted the invitation, though probably it was not love and good-will which excited the Pharisee to make it; he accompanied the inviter to his house, and sat down at the table without performing the ceremony of washing, so carefully observed by the other guests: an omission of this kind could not fail of surprising the Pharisee, as Jesus thereby shewed an open contempt of their traditions. Our Lord, who well knew the thoughts of this bigoted, self-conceited Pharisee, said unto him, you Pharisees are remarkably careful to keep every thing clean which touches your food, lest by eating it, your bodies should be polluted; but you take no care to cleanse 'your minds from the pollution of wickedness. You cannot be ignorant that he who created the body, also formed and inspired the soul; and can you imagine that the Almighty, who approves of purity of body, because it is the work of his hands, and because it conduces to the health thereof, will not also insist on a greater purity of the soul, which is doubtless the tar noblest part possessed by man. Instead therefore, of that scrupulous care and exactness in washing your hands when you sit down to meat, ye should be careful to cleanse your hearts from all pollution, and fervently pray to the God of Israel to purify your minds; this will render it impossible for any external thing to defile you,

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