Page images


How often must he have mourned in secret, like St. Paul over the Corinthians', that he could not speak to them as unto spiritual, but as carnal. How often must he have prayed his heavenly Father to give them the spirit of wisdom and grace, that they might be filled with all spiritual understanding". How must his soul have been vexed from day to day, while they were fools and slow of heart to believe, and filled with perplexities and doubts at all that they saw and heard. How must he have sorrowed at the number of those who were offended at his hard sayings, and desisted from their attendance on him.

Hence it is that Christ frequently complains of the ignorance in spiritual matters with which he had to contend. He saith unto them, are ye so without understanding also?' Why reason ye because ye have no bread ? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes see ye not, and having ears

[ocr errors]

9 1 Cor. iii. 1.

I Col. i. 9.

hear ye not; and do ye not remember? O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you, how long shall I suffer you??' And even after his resurrection, he upbraided the eleven

with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them that had seen him after that he was risen 3.' Their astonishment at every renewed display of Christ's power shewed how little conviction the many signs and wonders they had witnessed had wrought upon their minds. Their prejudices were rather vanquished in spite of themselves by the accumulation of irresistible proofs of his divine authority, than subdued at once by the durable and convincing impression of some individual miracle. On the evening of the very day on which our Lord had fed the multitude of five thousand with five loaves, his disciples were 'sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered? at the manifestation of his power on the winds and the sea. · For, says the Evangelist, they considered not the

2 Mark, vii. 18. viii. 17, 18. ix. 19.

3 Mark, xvi. 14.

miracle of the loaves, for their heart was hardened. 4.'

In particular, the prophetical declarations respecting the Messiah seem to have been a stumbling-block to them; and they were slow to perceive how they received their accomplishment in their master, till, after his glorification, their minds had been gradually opened, according to promises, by the teaching of the Comforter. • These things understood not his disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him

In fact, that very insight which the apostles gained into their master's dispensation after his death, shewed how much they had previously stood in need of being quickened to a spiritual apprehension of the nature of the service in which they had engaged. The true meaning of many actions which they had witnessed in ignorance or misconception, was then cleared up, according to the assurance given to them• What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter 7.

5 John, xiv. 26. xvi. 15.

4 Mark, vi. 52. 6 John, xii. 16.

When our Lord addressed Judas so significantly at the table, after he had dipped the sop, and given it him, “no man' at that time · knew for what intent he spake this unto him ;' but afterwards the full import of those remarkable words occurred to their minds in all its force, as indicative of the perfect knowledge which Christ had of all the sufferings he was to undergo, and of the steady composure with which he contemplated them.

During the transfiguration, when three of the disciples were selected to be the witnesses of this sublime manifestation of the glory to which their Lord was to be exalted, they so far inistook the intention of the display, that Peter, not

John, xiii. 7.

knowing what he said, and ignorant that the sacrifice was not yet offered on which the redemption of the world depended, would have detained our Saviour from going down again to meet the sufferings which it behoved him to bear 8

It was the same defective view of Christ's dignity which induced Philip to ask, after having been so long conversant with his character and pretensions— Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou noť known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father?' The Apostle was enabled to attain a much clearer knowledge of Christ's being the express image of his Father, before he preached Jesus to the Æthiopian eunucho.

Even in one of the last and most affectionate discourses which our Saviour held with his dis

8 Luke, ix. 33.

9 John, xiv. 8, 9. Acts, viii. 35.


« PreviousContinue »