Wright - BT300 W8 1788

LORD and SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST. 1053 performances, anti, therefore, it is no won- der that they were ready to join them in . their refentment, and oppofe and per- fecute a perfon whohad fpoken lightly of things which they elteemed fo facred ; the great men and leaders of the Jews, had alto a notion, that a falfe prophet had the power of working figns and wonders, and received this power from, and exerted it by, the affiflance of wicked fpirits ; and, therefore, they were very ready to believe that our Saviour was in league with hell, and performed his miracles by the affiflance of the prince of darknefs, with defign to (educe the people with lying wonders, and turn them from the worfhip of the true God. And what induced them the more readily to embrace this opinion, was the teflimony of the devils themfelves, who, when they were cart out, very frequently and without hefitation confeffed that Jesus was. the Son of God ; which the Pharifeesfuppofed they would not have done, except it was to carry on the deception: the blinded rulers of Ifrael, not perceiving that the devils were forced to confefs the Meffiah, and tofubmit to fuperior power. Howab- furd and ridiculous foever 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 furprifed that fuch weak reafons fhould have any effea, confidering what multitudes were witneffes to the many miracles which the bleffed Jesus performed, and confidering the na- ture of thofe miracles was fuch, as it is not eafy to fuppofe the Devil would have any hand in performing; yet experience hath abundantly convinced us, that fuch kindof arguments, joinedwith theirown prejudices and fuperftitious opinions, had a great in- fluence in fixing that obftinate people in their infidelity. But though fome amongfl the multitude of fpeaators were content to afcribe this miracle to the power of the Devil, others No. 13. were not-willing fo ,haftily and inconfider- ately . to form fo . bare a conclufion, but de- fired to fufpend their opinion till other proofs might be próduced, or our Re- deemer might have an opportunity to ella- bu lb his charaller by a different kind ofevi- dence ; and, therefore, they defired him to prove himfelf the Meffiah, bygiving them a fign from heaven. But Jefus knowing their thoughts, and being privy to the ran- cour and wickednefs of their hearts,refufed to grant their requefl ; but told them that they were a wicked race of mortals, and difcovered a very obflinate and perverfe difpofition, by Peeking a fign from heaven, after filch a number of miracles had been performed, as were fufficient to convince any impartial and unprejudiced mind. He therefore informed them that no fign fhould be given them, but that of the prophet ,Jonah, This, Paid he, is an evil generation: they feel a fign ; and there hall nofign be given it, but thefign of Jonas theprophet. When Jesus had ended his difcourfe, one of the Pharifees prefent invited him to dine with him ; our Lord accepted the in- vitation, though probably it was not love and good-will _ which excited the Pharifee to make it; he accompanied the inviter to his houfe, and fat down at the table with- out performing the ceremony of wafhing, fo carefully obferved by the other. guefts ; an omiffion of this kind could not fail of furprifing the Pharifee, as JEsus thereby (hewed- an open contempt of their tradi- tions. Our Lord, who well knew the thoughts of this bigotted felf-conceited Pharifee, Paid unto him, you Pharifees are remarkably careful to keep every thing clean which touches your food, left, by eating it, your bodies fhould be polluted; but you take no care to cleanfe your minds from the pollution of wickednefs. You cannot be ignorant that he who created the body, alto formed and infpired the foul; and can you imagine that the Almighty, whoapproves of purity ofbody, becaufe it is the work of 'his hands, and becaufe it conduces to the health thereof, will not P p alto