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force. The main part of the life, and even of the ministry, of their Master they have paffed over in filence.
One grand and leading defign governed each of them, and they have taken care to record and perpetuate a fufficient number of the inftructions and actions of CHRIST to answer that purpose. They wrote not for the amusement, but for the falvation of mankind. They wrote not to fet off their Master's character with all poffible luftre and pomp, but to exhibit it without art or flattery, and to place it in such a point of view as would command an attention to its excellence, and produce a conviction of its divine authority; while they waved throwing upon their picture all the light it was in their power to give it. The evangelift John, in the text and preceding verse, and in ch. xxi. 25, hath well expreffed their defign, and accounted for their conduct; while he hath alfo intimated the great compass of the fubject which he treated. "And there are many other things which "Jesus did; and many other figns truly did JESUS in the prefence of his difciples, which are not written in this book; the which,
"if they should be written every one, I sup
pose that even the world itself could not "contain the books that fhould be written:" i. e. 'the fize of the volumes would necef'farily prevent the generality of mankind 'from procuring or reading them.’* "these are written, that ye might believe that Jefus is the CHRIST, the Son of God; and "that believing, ye might have life through "his name."
Thus, though curiofity be not gratified, a more valuable end is fufficiently provided for. Though not half of the wonderful deeds and admirable words of CHRIST are told us, yet enough hath been faid to convince us of his divine character, and to fecure the great end of faith in his miffion. They who will not receive him as their Mafter and Saviour, upon the evidence of the records with which we are furnished, would not be perfuaded, though the detail of his miracles and teaching had been more particular; or the history of them had extended through many volumes. They who are fatisfied with the evidence which this concise history lays before * See Doddridge in loc.
them, have no need of a fuller and larger work, either to produce faith in their minds, or to lead them to the great end of faith, the falvation of their fouls. "These are written, "that ye might believe that JESUS is the "CHRIST, the Son of GOD; and that believing, ye might have life through his "name." The evangelist here expreffeth the end proposed by his writings, and the great benefit which this end would fecure to those, with respect to whom it was obtained. The end which the hiftorian had in view, was to convince men that JESUS was the Meffiah:-and the benefit arising from this conviction to those who should feel it, would be life through his name. I would now dif course on each point: fome useful and important reflections will offer themselves from the difcuffion of both.
I. The end for which the evangelist John wrote his gospel :-it was to convince his readers that JESUS was the Meffiah. "These are written, that ye might believe that JESUS is the CHRIST, the Son of God; and "that believing, ye might have life through "his name." As the words are immediately
connected with an account of the appearances of CHRIST after his refurrection, and of the evidences which he afforded to his difciples of his being alive again, fome would limit the text, not only to the gofpel of John, but even to that particular part of it, in which the figns that Jesus did in the prefence of his difciples, for that special purpose, are related. But the words are full as just and pertinent a conclufion to the four gofpels, and to that of John in particular, as to this peculiar narrative. Under this extenfive application would I confider them, as referring to the figns and miracles wrought by CHRIST before, as well as after, his refurrection; and as descriptive of the design of the other evangelifts, as well as that of John.
The four gofpels fet beforé us the temper and deportment of JESUS of Nazareth on a variety of occafions, and through different fcenes of his public miniftry. They relate his converfations with his friends, his remonftrances with his enemies, and his fermons to the people. They record his decisions on nice queftions, his anfwers to intricate cafes which were referred to his judgment, his
excellent fayings and remarks on particular occurrences, and his various striking and pertinent parables. They alfo record numerous miracles which he wrought, with all the circumftances, of time, place, and perfons, that can authenticate a narrative. They particularly give a full account of his laft fufferings, of his refurrection from the dead, and of his fubfequent appearances to his difciples. Such are the contents of these concise, but valuable, hiftories.
The evident tendency and defign of all is to produce in the mind of the reader a conviction of the divine authority of him whose memoirs they give us. There is not an action, there is fcarcely an incident, which they relate, but is connected with this end: and, in fome degree or other, contributes to it. John expreffeth this end by saying, "these were written, that ye might believe "that JESUS was the Chrift, the Son of God."
The terms, Christ, and Son of God, were words very familiar to the Jews, and of the meaning of which there was, in that age, no difpute or doubt. It appears from the gof