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THE LIFE AND DEATH
a John, v. 1, &c.
BEGINNING AT THE SECOND YEAR OF HIS PREACHING UNTIL HIS
Of the Second Year of the Preaching of Jesus.
1. WHEN the first year of Jesus, the year of peace and undisturbed preaching, was expired, "there was a feast of This feast was the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem'.' the second Passover he kept after he began to preach; not the feast of Pentecost, or Tabernacles, both which were past before Jesus came last from Judea: whither when he was now come, he finds an "impotent person lying at the pool of Bethesda, waiting till the angel should move the waters, after which, whosoever first stepped in was cured of his infirmity." The poor man had waited thirty-eight years, and still was prevented, by some other of the hospital that needed a physician. But Jesus, seeing him, had pity on him, cured him, and bade him "take up his bed, and walk." This cure happened to be wrought " upon the Sabbath," for which the Jews were so moved with indignation, that they "thought to slay him" and their anger was enraged by his calling
b Iren, lib. ii. c. 10.
himself "the Son of God," and "making himself equal with God."
2. Upon occasion of this offence, which they snatched at before it was ministered, Jesus discourses upon "his mission, and derivation of his authority from the Father; of the union between them, and the excellent communications of power, participation of dignity, delegation of judicature, reciprocations and reflections of honour from the Father to the Son, and back again to the Father. He preaches of life and salvation to them that believe in him; prophesies of the resurrection of the dead, by the efficacy of the voice of the Son of God; speaks of the day of judgment, the differing conditions after, of salvation and damnation respectively; confirms his words and mission by the testimony of John the Baptist, of Moses' and the other Scriptures, and of God himself." And still the scandal rises higher: for "in the second Sabbath after the first," that is, in the first day of unleavened bread, which happened the next day after the weekly Sabbath, the disciples of Jesus pull ripe ears of corn, rub them in their hands, and eat them, to satisfy their hunger: for which he offered satisfaction to their scruples, convincing them, that works of necessity are to be permitted, even to the breach of a positive temporary constitution; and that works of mercy are the best serving of God, upon any day whatsoever, or any part of the day, that is vacant to other offices, and proper for a religious festival.
3. But when neither reason nor religion would give them satisfaction, but that they went about to kill him, he withdrew himself from Jerusalem, and returned to Galilee; whither the Scribes and Pharisees followed him, observing his actions, and whether or not he would prosecute that which they called profanation of their Sabbath, by doing acts of mercy upon that day. He still did so: for, entering into one of the synagogues of Galilee upon the Sabbath, Jesus saw a man (whom St. Jerome reports to have been a mason) coming to Tyre, and complaining that his hand was withered, and desiring help of him, that he might again be
e John, v. 19, &c.
d Suidas, voc. σάββατον,
Evangel. Naz. quod S. Hieron. ex Hebr. in Græcum transtulit.
Σωσόν μου, βασιλεῦ, μουσικὸν ἡμίτονον.
restored to the use of his hands, lest he should be compelled, with misery and shame, to beg his bread. Jesus restored his hand as whole as the other, in the midst of all those spies and enemies. Upon which act, being confirmed in their malice, the Pharisees went forth, and joined with the Herodians, (a sect of people who said Herod was the Messias, because, by the decree of the Roman senate, when the sceptre departed from Judah, he was declared kingf;) and both together took counsel how they might kill him.
4. Jesus therefore departed again to the sea-coast, and his companies increased as his fame; for he was now followed by new "multitudes from Galilee, from Judea, from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond Jordan, from about Tyre and Sidon;" who, hearing the report of his miraculous power, to cure all diseases by the word of his mouth, or the touch of his hand, or the handling his garment, came with their ambulatory hospital of sick and their possessed; and they pressed on him, but to touch him, and were all immediately cured : the devils confessing publicly that he was "the Son of God," till they were upon all such occasions restrained, and compelled to silence.
5. But now Jesus, having commanded a ship to be in readiness against any inconvenience or troublesome pressures of the multitude, "went up into a mountain to pray, and continued in prayer all night," intending to make the first ordination of apostles; which the next day he did, choosing out of the number of his disciples these twelve to be apostles: Simon Peter and Andrew; James and John, the sons of thunder; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James, the son of Alphæus, and Simon the Zelot; Judas, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot. With these, descending from the mountain to the plain, he repeated the same sermon, or much of it, which he had before preached in the first beginning of his prophesyings; that he might publish his Gospel to these new auditors, and also more particularly inform his apostles in "the doctrine of the kingdom :" for now, because
Sic Tertullianus, Epiphanius, Chrysostomus, et Theophylactus, et Hieron. Dialog. advers. Lucif. uno ore affirmant.
Sic et apostolici semper duodenus honoris
he "saw Israel scattered like sheep having no shepherd," he did purpose to send these twelve abroad, to preach repentance and the approximation of the kingdom; and therefore first instructed them in the mysterious parts of his holy doctrine, and gave them also particular instructions together with their temporary commission for that journey.
6. "For Jesus' sent them out by two and two, giving them power over unclean spirits,' and to heal all manner of sickness and diseases; telling them they were the light,' and the eyes,' and 'the salt of the world,' so intimating their duties of diligence, holiness, and incorruption; giving them in charge to preach the Gospel, to dispense their power and miracles freely, as they had received it, to anoint sick persons with oil, not to enter into any Samaritan town, but to go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,' to provide no viaticum for their journeys, but to put themselves upon the religion and piety of their proselytes: he aims them against persecutions, gives them leave to fly the storm from city to city, promises them the assistances of his Spirit, encourages them by his own example of long-sufferance, and by instances of Divine providence, expressed even to creatures of smallest value, and by promise of great rewards, to the confident confession of his name; and furnishes them with some propositions, which are like so many bills of exchange, upon the trust of which they might take up necessaries; promising great retributions, not only to them who quit any thing of value for the sake of Jesus, but to them that offer a cup of water to a thirsty disciple." And with these instructions they departed to preach in the cities. 7. And Jesus, returning to Capernaum, received the address of a faithful centurion of the legion called the Iron Legion, (which usually quartered in Judea,) in behalf of his servant, whom he loved, and who was grievously afflicted with the palsy; and healed him, as a reward and honour to his faith. And from thence going to the city Naim, he raised to life the only son of a widow, whom the mourners followed in the street, bearing the corpse sadly to his funeral. Upon the fame of these, and divers other miracles, John the Baptist, who was still in prison, (for he was not put to death
Dio, Hist. Rom. lib. Iv.
till the latter end of this year,) sent two of his disciples to him by Divine providence, or else by John's designation, to minister occasion of his greater publication, inquiring if he was the Messias. To whom Jesus returned no answer, but a demonstration taken from the nature of the thing, and the glory of the miracles, saying, "Return to John, and tell him what ye see; for the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk, the dead are raised, and the lepers are cleansed, and to the poor the Gospel is preached';" which were the characteristic notes of the Messias, according to the predictions of the holy prophets.
8. When John's disciples were gone with this answer, Jesus began to speak concerning John; "of the austerity and holiness of his person, the greatness of his function, the divinity of his commission, saying, that he was 'greater than a prophet, a burning and shining light, the Elias that was to come,' and the consummation or ending of the old prophets adding withal, that the perverseness of that age was most notorious in the entertainment of himself and the Baptist for neither could the Baptist, who came neither eating nor drinking,' (that, by his austerity and mortified deportment, he might invade the judgment and affections of the people,) nor Jesus, who came both eating and drinking,' (that, by a moderate and an affable life, framed to the compliance and common use of men, he might sweetly insinuate into the affections of the multitude,) obtain belief amongst them. They could object against every thing, but nothing could please them. But wisdom and righteousness had a theatre in its own family, and is justified of all her children.' Then he proceeds to a more applied reprehension of Capernaum, and Chorazin, and Bethsaida, for being pertinacious in their sins and infidelity, in defiance and reproof of all the mighty works, which had been wrought in them. But these things were not revealed to all dispositions; the wise and the mighty of the world were not subjects prepared for the simplicity and softer impresses of the Gospel, and the downright severity of its sanctions. And therefore Jesus glorified God for the magnifying of his mercy, in that these things, which were hid from the great ones,' were 'revealed to
i Isa. xxxv. 4, 5.