« EdellinenJatka »
This great man died of a fever in London, May 4, 1677, and his remains were deposited in Westininster Abbey, where a monument was erected to .bis menory, but his best inemorial will be found in his valuable works.
He was a man of uncommon modesty, extensive charity, and strict virtue, regulated by the soundest principles of religion. Notwithstanding the gentleness of his manners, his personal strength and courage were very great, of which the following instance is a proof. The Dr. going one morning before day out of a friend's house in the country into the garden, a fierce inàstiff dog, that used to be let loose at night, flew upon him, when he caught the dog by the throat and threw him on the ground, where he kept himn till the servants arose rand freed him from his troublesome companion. i Br. Barrow's mathematical works are too well known to need an enumeration, and of his theologicał writings we may observe that they are rarely equalled and not surpassed by any in the English langnage. In his sermons he has said every thing that the respective subjects would admit of; and it were to be wished that all students in Divinity, would take him for a mode!.
As to his person he was low of stature, lean, of a pale complexion, and negligent of his dress to a fault. He was of a healthy constitution, and very fond of tobacco, which he used to call his panpharmacon or universal, medicine, and imagined it helped to compose and regulate his thoughts. He slept litile, generally rising before day in the winter. His conduct and behaviour were the most amiable; for he was always ready to assist others, open and communicative in his conversation, in which : he generally spoke to the importance, as well as truth, of :: any question proposed; facetious in his talk upon fit : occasions, and skilful to accommodate his discourse to different capacities; of indefatigable industry in various studies, clear judgment on all arguments, and steady virtue under all difficulties; of a calm temper in factious times, and of large charity in mean estate; he was easy and contented with a scanty fortune, and with the same decency and moderation, maintained his character under the temptation of prosperity.
ESSAY ON JOHN iii. 3, 5, 6.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN's
OBSERVING that much use is made by those whose
errors your work is calculated to correct, of the third chapter of St. John's gospel, I determined to examine that part of holy writ, as impartially as I was able: if you think the result of my examination worthy to be inserted in your Collection, it is much at your service,
I am, Sir,
Whenever any one undertakes to investigate the true sense of any expressions of scripture, his first endeavour should be, to ascertain the circumstances in which they were originally delivered. These may regard either perSons or things. And the more artless and the less scientific any expressions are, the more will the right interpretation of them depend upon circumstances; (amongst which connection is to be included); and the less dependence is to be had on the letter, The Christians who make the most use of our Lord's declaration with regard to being born again, (John iii. 3, 5.) understand it to mean, that except a man feel in himself some change, or revolution, to which they give the name of conversion and regeneration, he cannot enter into heaven ; hę cannot be a partaker of that happiness which is laid up for those who shall receive a favourable sentence at the judginent seat of Christ. I believe many worthy and sincere Christians have adopted this notion ; but I must confess, that it does not agree with the sense which the passage suggests to my understanding. The passage is contained in a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. We should consider who these persons were; or rather in what light they appeared to each other; for what we know of Jesus is very different from what Nicodemus knew of him, when he went to converse with him in private. At that time Jesus had but lately entered upon his ministry ; his first miracle is recorded only fourteen verses before the account of Nicodemus's visit. Yet he had performed other iniracles, as appears by Nicodemus's manner of introducing himself, as well as by John ii. 23. Jesus was at the passover, but it was his first passoyer. He had driven out of the temple those that sold beasts for sacrifices, and the changers of money, (John ii. 15, &c.), but he had not claimed the Messiahship. “Many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did; but Jesus did not cominit himself unto them.” He used great reserve; and it is possible to be too hasty in believing, as well as “ too slow of heart to believe." Some enquired, "What sign cruelov, miracle, shewest thou unto us?” And we may conceive that those who were of the highest rank amongst the Jews would require the strongest evidence before they owned Jesus to be the Messiah. Nicodemus was a "ruler of the Jews:" one well inclined, and joining in the general expectation of the coming of the Messiah promised by the prophets; but not convinced that Jesus was that Messiah. He believed Jesus to be " a teacher come from God;" but such was every prophet; such was John the Baptist. At that time every teacher who performed miracles would occasion the question, Can this be the Messiah?_but prejudice, in the case of Jesus, would answer in the negative: the Rabbis expected a different sort of personage. Nicodemus, however, was candid and attentive; he was determined he would converse with this teacher and worker of miracles; he would use every endeavour to learn what was his real character. In this disposition Nicodemus “came to Jesus by night:" but he came with all his habitual prejudices, which would be the same with those of the learned Jews in general. What these were, it is of great importance to recollect, because a dialogue would contain many allusions to them, and would express thing's very briefly which were familiar to both parties.
First, then what the Jews principally valued themselves upon was having been born of Abraham : to him the promises had been made ; and these promises were so understood as if the benefits of them were to be inherited as a matter of course, whatever was the conduct of Abraham's descendants. The Jews on this head ran into great folly and extravagance. It appears also from St. Paul's man
ner of speaking, Phil. iii. 3,---7. that it was accounted a great thing to be born of Jacob, and of Benjamin. In order to stop the boasting of his Jewish, couverts he tells thein, that he himself was “ of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews." John Baptist, Matt. iii. 7-9, calls the Pharisees and Sadducees a “ generation of vipers ;" warns them“ to flee from the wrath to come;" tells them to “ bring forth fruits meet for repentance;" and then obviates their favourite excuse for neglecting repentance. “ Think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our futher : for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” In the latter part of John viii. there is a long dialogue between Jesus and the Jews, which is much to the present purpose, and should be read with attention. I will content myself with quoting one verse. Our Lord plainly accuses the Jews of neglecting sirtue on pretence of being descended from Abraham, or born of Abraham, when he says, ver. 39. “ If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." St. Paul also Rom. ix. 7.- has the same idea : “ Neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all chil. dren.” When therefore Nicodemus came to Jesus to confer with him on religion, his mind must have been full of this pride of descent, or of being born of the great patriarch ; to a degree, which would make him underva. Jue any excellencies merely moral and spiritual.
Secondly, the Jews frequently and habitually attended not only to their descent from Abraham in particular, but to descents and hereditary qualities in general, so as perpetually to refer to them; and so as to account for men's virtues and vices by them. Wicked men were “ sons of Belial;" children of the devil : good men were children of light; and so on. Our Saviour lays down a very useful observation in terms complying with this custom, Luke xvi. 8. “ The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." I do: not mean that this referring to ancestors is so Jewish as to have no foundation in nature. Man propagates man, and a lion propagates a lion; some diseases descend from parent to child; and not improbably some dispositions ; but the Jews by tracing their descent from the patriarchs, and by attending to their several tribes, and perhaps by other means, were more ready than other men to fall into expressions implying a transmission of qualities,
good and bad, as a sort of inheritance. Hence when Nicodemus entered upon a conference with the new authorized teacher, he would have such habitual ideas and feelings as would make any allusions to birth appear natural, easy, familiar; such as would require no preface or previous explanation, whether used by Jesus or himself.
Thirdly, the Jews expected the Messiah, but they had - Frong notions of his condition. They conceived him to
be worthy of the title of the Son of God, as coming in some way from heaven ; and to have a kingdom, so that they could willingly call his government, the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of hearen; but they took for granted that his authority would be exercised in freeing God's peculiar people from their subjection to a heathen emperor; if not to raise them as much abore other kingdoms as Jehovah was above other gods. They had no idea that it would be exercised in uniting them with other nations in the profession of a new and spiritual religion, It was not till Jesus was near his death that he said (John xviii. 36.) “ Vy kingdom is not of this world.” When therefore Jesus and Nicodemus met lo confer on the prea tensions of the new teacher, who had shewn by his miracles (onusia, soinetimes translated miracles, soinetiines signs) that he came from heaven, they would be ready to use the same expressions, “ Kingdom of God," and • Kingdom of Heaven; but they would have different ideas annexed to them: Nicodemus would wean a worldly or carnal kingdom, Jesus a spiritual one.
Fourthly, The Jews expected their ceremonial law to be perpetual, and they annexed the greatest nerit to the punctilious performance of it; their Auxx105, or righteous man, seems to have been one, who rigidly observed every ceremonial rite, whether enjoined by Moses hinself, or arising out of the traditions of the Rabbis, St. Paul de. scribes his own merit as a Jew (Gal.i. 14.) in these words, “And profited in the Jews religion above many my equals in minė own nation, being more exceedingly zealpus of the traditions of my fathers,”. Such a notion of the high merit of ceremonials would naturally draw their at'tention from moral or spiritual excellence; and we find 'that this was actually the case, by our Saviour's expostulations with the Pharisees. Let any one who doubts of the extent of this, read the lwenty-third chapter of St, *Matthew's gospel. “ Ye devour widow's houses,” says our Lord, " and for a pretence make long prayers.” “ Ye