« AnteriorContinua »
a den of thieves, as they really did, for they practised great impositions in their different trades.
The Scribes and Pharisees were greatly alarmed at our LORD's proceedings; for being conscious that they also were guilty of profanation, by abusing their power, and that they committed a variety of extortions, they naturally expected that he would attack them, and re solved more than ever to put him to death: but this was impossible for them to effect; and, though they thought themselves intimidated by the people only, they were overawed by divine power, for our LORD's hour of suffering was not yet come.
AS JESUS, on this occasion, appeared to act in a manner inconsistent with his usual meekness, his disciples would have been at a loss to guess the motives of his conduct, had they not recollected a verse in the lxixth Psalm, which was applicable to him.
For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee, are fallen upon me.
From this scripture they inferred, that JESUS, like David, was actuated by zeal for the honour of God's house, and that he took this method of vindicating it.
When our LORD had driven the buyers and sellers out of the temple, he invited the blind and the lame into it: his healing them was a real answer to the question which was asked when he entered Jerusalem, Who is this? his works testified of him more than the Hosannas.
The Jews accustomed their children at an early age to carry boughs of palm-trees at the feast of tabernacles'; and, it is likely, they had done the same in the proces sion which attended our LORD's triumphant entry into Jerusalem; therefore, when they saw him return, they followed him, again repeating their Hosannas. This gave great offence to the chief priests, &c. ; but JESUS. justified himself for permitting the children thus to
honour him, by quoting a text from the viiith Psalm; thus intimating, that it was not displeasing to God the FATHER to receive praises even from little children, and that the Son of GOD might with great propriety accept them.
As the Scribes and Pharisees could make no reasonable objection to the cleansing of the temple, they questioned our LORD's authority, and required a sign to prove that he had a divine mission. The very act itself proved that GOD was with him, for nothing less than the PRESENCE of the LORD could have enabled his single arm to drive out such numbers. He would not work another miracle at the requisition of his professed enemies, but gave them an obscure prophecy. They took his words in a literal sense, and cavilled at them, though there was the greatest reason to believe that he, who had formed so many wonderful miracles, could have caused the temple to rise again from its ruins, had it been necessary for the glory of Gon. But the prophecy had another meaning, and the Evangelist has explained it, that Christians might not mistake it also. The temple at Jerusalem was but a type of CHRIST's body: both were prepared of GoD for the habitation of the EVERLASTING WORD; both were designed as means of intercourse between GoD and his people. It is supposed, that our LORD either pointed to his body, or laid his hand on it, when he spake the prophecy.
Since our LORD took such pains to cleanse the temple, we should be very careful not to profane any place appropriated to public worship by improper behaviour in it. When we enter a church, we should leave all worldly cares behind us, and give up our minds entirely to the service of God; for wilfully employing our thoughts upon worldly business in GoD's house is a crime of the şame nature as carrying our goods thither to sell.
As our LORD encouraged children's Hosannas, and intimated that their praises are acceptable to his FATHER, and even conducive to perfecting the Divine glory, parents should make it their earnest endeavour to "impress devotional feelings as early as possible on the infant mind; they cannot be impressed too soon; and a child, to feel the full force of the idea of Gon, ought never to remember the time when he had no such idea." It is true that children, till they are capable of reasoning, can offer up only lip service, as dictated by the parents; yet even that, in their years of innocence, tends to the glory of GoD, and naturally leads to the worship of the heart; especially, if they have the advantage of observing an example of piety in their instructors.
THE DISCOURSE OF JESUS ON VIEWING THE WITHERED FIG TREE.
From Mark, Chap. xi.
AND in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots.
And Peter calling it to remembrance, saith unto JESUS, Master, behold, the fig-tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
And JESUS answering, saith unto them, Have faith in Gov.
For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but
* Preface to Mr. Barbauld's Hymns in Prose for children.
shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
And when ye stand, praying, forgive if ye have aught against any; that your Father which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Our LORD having, as we read in the last Section, silenced his enemies, left them, and withdrew to Bethany, where he could be more retired, and have leisure for his devotions; but as his work lay at Jerusalem, thither he went again the next morning. When his disciples observed the fig-tree withered to the roots, they were struck with amazement; but our LORD told them, that if they continued faithful, they should be enabled to perform greater works than this; and should be endued with a miraculous power, on condition that they prayed for Divine assistance, and were in charity with all men.
The withering of the fig-tree afforded a proper emblem of the hypocrisy of the Jewish teachers; they professed great sanctity, but were destitute of real piety.When our LORD came amongst them, he earnestly wished to find some truth and sincerity amongst them, but they had none; therefore he denounced a heavy doom against them, and a short time after his death their place and nation were brought to destruction.
PART OF THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH*.
From Chap. liii, lvi.
1. WHO hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of JEHOVAH been manifested?
For he groweth up in their sight like a tender sucker, and like a root from a thirsty soil: he hath no form, nor any beauty, that we should regard him: nor is his countenance such that we should desire him.
Despised nor accounted in the number of men: a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; as one that hideth his face from us: he was despised, and we esteem, ed him not.
H. Go and say then to this people: Hear ye indeed, and understand not; see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Make gross the heart of this people; make their ears dull, and close up their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I should heal them.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The first of these predictions implied, that notwithstanding the strong proofs which the MESSIAH would. give that he was possessed of Divine power, the people would not perceive the ARM of the LORD working miracles through him. It has been repeatedly explained in the course of this history, what is meant by GOD'S hardening the hearts and blinding the understanding of obstinate sinners; therefore, we need not repeat, that it
Bishop Lowth's translation.