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fulfilled, when Tumus Rufus, with his plough, ploughed up the very foundationstones upon which the temple stood. Lord, how has sin laid the foundation of ruin in the most flourishing cities and kingdoms!
45 And he went into the temple, 1 began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought. 46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. 47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests, and the scribes, and the chief of the people, sought to destroy him; 48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.
No sooner was our blessed Saviour entered Jerusalem, but his first walk was to the temple, and his first work was to purge and reform it from abuses, not to ruin and destroy it because it had been abused. But what was the profanation of the temple, that so offended our Saviour } Answer. In the court of the Gentiles, the outward court of the temple, there was a public mart or market kept, where were sold oxen, sheep, and doves, for sacrifice, which otherwise the people must have brought up along with them from their houses: as a pretended ease therefore to the people, the priests ordered these things to be sold hard by the altar; but our blessed Saviour being justly offended at this profanation of his Father's house, cast tlie buyers and sellers out of the temple: teaching us, that there is a special reverence due to God's house, both for the Owner's sake, and for the service sake: nothing but holiness can become the place where God is worshipped in the beauty of holiness. The reason is added, My house is the house of prayer; where by prayer is to be understood, the whole worship and service of God, of which prayer is an eminent and principal part. That which gives denomination to an house, is most certainly the chief work to be done in that house; now God's house being called an house of prayer, implies that prayer is a chief and principal work to be performed in this house; yet take we heed, that we set not the ordiuances of God at variance one with another; we must not idolize one ordinance, and vilify another, but reverence them all, and pay an awful respect to all
divine institutions. Our blessed Saviour here in his house of prayer preached daily to the people, as well as prayed with them; and all the people were as attentive to hear his sermons, as he was constant at their prayers. Prayer sanctifies the word, and the word fits us for prayer. If we would glorify God, and edify ourselves, we must put honour upon all the ordinances of God, and diligently attend them upon all occasions.
A ND it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders, 2 And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, By what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? 3 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: 4 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? 5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? 0 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. 7 And they answered, That they could not tell whence it was. 8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
The Pharisees having often quarrelled at our Saviour's doctrine before, they call in question his mission and authority now: although they might easily have understood his divine mission by his divine miracles; for Almighty God never impowered any to work miracles that were not sent by him. Our blessed Saviour, understanding their design, gives them no direct answer, but replies to their question by asking them another: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? that is, was it of divine institution, or of human invention? plainly implying, that the calling of them who call themselves the ministers of God, ought to be from God: JVo man ought to take that honour upon him, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron, Heb. v. 8. Tlie Pharisees reply, that tliey could not tell wltcnce John liad his mission and authority; which was a manifest untruth: tliey knew it, but durst not own it. By refusing to tell the truth, they fall into a lie against the truth; thus one sin ensnares and draws men on to the commission of more: such as will not speak exact truth according to their knowledge, they fall into the sin ot lying against their knowledge and their conscience. Our Saviour answers them, Seither tell I you by what authority I do these things; he did not say, I cannot, or I will not tell you, but I do not, 1 need not tell you; because the miracles which I woik before you are a sufficient demonstration of my divine commission, that I am sent of God among you; because God never set the seal of his omnipotency to a lie, nor i in powered any impostor to work real miracles.
t) Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. 10 And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty- 11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated I tint shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. 13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him, when they see him. 14 But when the husbandmen 6aw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed Aim. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them f 16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard if, they said, God forhid. '17 And he 'beheld them, and said, What is this then
that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and tbey feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
In the parable before us, the jewish church is compared to a vineyard, God the Father to an householder, his planting, pruning, and fencing his vineyard, denotes his care to furnish his church with all needful helps and means to make it fruitful; his letting it out to husbandmen, signifies the committing the care of he church to the priests and Levitt*, the public pastors and governors of the church; tm servants are i he prophets and apostles whom he sent from time to time, toadmooish them to bring forth answerable fruits to the cost which God had expended on them; his son is Jesus Christ, whom the rulers of the Jewish church slew and murdered. So that the design and scope of the parable is, to discover to the Jews, particularly to the Pharisees, their obstinate impenitency under all the means of grace, their bloody cruelty towards the prophets of God, their tremendous guilt in crucifying the Son of God ; for all which God would unchurch them finally, ruin their nation, and set up a church among the Gentiles, that should bring forth much better fruit than the Jewish church ever did. From the whole, note, 1. That the church is God's vineyard ; a vineyard is a place inclosed, a place well planted, well fruited, and exceeding dear and precious to the planter, and the owner of it. 2. That as dear as God's vineyard is unto him, in case of barrenness and no fruilfulness, it is in great danger of being destroyed and laid waste by him. 3. That the only way and course to engage God's care over his vineyard, and to prevent its being given to other husbandmen, is to give him the fruits of it; 'tis but a vineyard that God lets out, it is no inheritance: no people ever had so many promises of God's favour as the Jews; nor ever enjoyed so many privileges whilst they continued in his favour, as they did ; but for rejecting Christ and his holy doctrine they are a despised, scattered people throughout the world. See the note on Matt. xxi. 39,40.
20 And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. 21 And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayestand teaehest rightly, neither acccptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Cesar, or no? 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? 24 Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Cesar's. 25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Cesar the things which be Cesar's, and unto God the things which be God's. 20 And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
Both St. Matthew and St. Mark tell us, that these spies, sent forth to ensnare our Saviour about paying tribute to Cesar, were the Pharisees and Herodians: the former were against paying tribute, looking upon the Roman emperor as an usurper; the latter were for it. These two opposite parties concluded, that, let our Saviour answer how he would, they should entrap him; if, to please the Pharisees, he denied paying tribute, then he is accused of sedition; if, to gratify the Herodians, he voted for paying tribute, then he is pronounced an enemy to the liberty of his country, and exposed to a popular odium. But observe with what wisdom and caution our Lord answers them: he calls for the Roman penny, and asks them, Whose superscription it bare? they answer, Cesar s. Then says he, Bender to Cesar the things that are Cesar's. As if. lie had said, " Your admitting the Roman coin amongst you, is an evidence that you are under subjection to the Roman emperor; because the coining and imposing of money is an act of sovereign authority; therefore you having owned Cesar's authority over you, by accepting of his coin
amongst you, give unto him his just dues, and render to Cesar the things that are Cesar's." Learn hence, 1. That our Saviour was no enemy to magistracy and civil government; there was no truer paymaster of the king's dues, than he that was King of kiugs; he preached it, and he practised it, Matt. xvii. 27. 2. Where a kingdom is in subjection to a temporal prince, whether by descent, election, or conquest he derives the title, the subjects ought from a principle of conscience to pay tribute to him. 3. That as Christ is no enemy to the civil rights of princes, and his religion exempts none from paying their civil dues, so princes should be as careful not to rob him of his divine honour, as he is not to wrong them of their civil rights. As Christ requires all his followers to render to Cesar the things that are Cesar's, so princes should oblige all their subjects to render unto God the things that are God's.
27 Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him, 20 Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 29 There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second took her to wife, and he died childless. 31 And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also. And they left no children, and died.
32 Last of all the woman died also.
33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. 34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. 37
Now that the (lead are raised, even Moses shewed at the hush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him
Our blessed Saviour having put the Pharisees and Hetodians to silence in the foregoing verses, here the Sadducees encounter him. This sect denied the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body, and as an objection against both, they propound a case to our Sav iour, of a woman that had seven husbands ; they demanded whose wife of the seven this woman should be at the resurrection? As if they had said, " If there be a resurrection of bodies at the great day, surely there will be a resurrection of relations too, and the other world will be like this, in which men will marry as they do here; and if so, whose wife of the seven shall this woman be? they all having an equal claim to her." Now our Saviour, for resolving of this question, first shows the different state of men in this and in the other world: The children of this world, says Christ, marry and are given in marriage; but in the resurrection they do neither. As if our Lord had said, " After men have lived a while in this world, they die, and therefore marriage is necessary to maintain a succession of mankind; but in the other world, men shall become immortal, and live for ever; and then the reason of marriage will wholly cease; for when men can die no more, there will be no need of any new supplies of mankind." Second ty, Our Saviour liaving got clear of the Sadducees' objection, by taking away the ground and foundation of it, he produces an argument for the proof ot the soul's immortality, and the body's resurrection, thus: "Those to whom Almighty God pronounces himself a God, are alive; but God pronounces himself a God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, many hundred years after their bodies were dead ; therefore their souls are yet alive, otherwise God could not be their God." For he is not the God of the dead, but of the living. From the whole note, 1. That there is no opinion so absurd, no en or so monstrous, that having had a mother will die for lack of a nurse: the oeastly opinion of the mortality of the soul, and of th« annihilation of the body, finds
Sadducees to profess and propagate it. Learn, 2. The certainty of another life atter this, in which men shall be eternally happy, or intolerably miserable, according as they behave themselves here: though some men live like beasts, they shall not die like them, neither shall tlieir last end be like theirs. Note, 3. The glorified saints, in the morning of the resurrection, shall be like unto the glorious angels; not like them in essence and nature, but like them in their properties and qualities, namely, in holiness and purity, in immortality and incorruptihility; and also like them in their way and manner of living. They shall no more stand in need of meat or drink than the angels do , but shall live the same heavenly and immortal lives that the angels live. Note, 4. That all those that are in covenant with God, whose God the Lord is, their souls do immediately pass into glory, and their bodies at the resurrection shall be sharers in the same happiness with their souls. If God be just, Hie soul must live, and the body must rise; for good men must be rewarded, and wicked men punished. God will most certainly, one time or other, plentifully reward the righteous, and punish the evil doers; but this being not always done in this life, the justice of God requires it to be done in the next.
39 Then certain of the scribes answering, said, Master, thon hast well said. 40 And after that they durst not ask him any question at all. 41 And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David's son?
42 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
43 Till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 44 David therefore calleth him Lord; hnw is he then his son?
The design of our blessed Saviour m propounding this question to the Pharisees, [how Christ could be David's son, when l)avid by inspiration called him Lord] was two-fold: 1. To confute the people's enoneous opinion touching the person of the Messias, who they thought should be a mere man, of the stock and lineage of David only, and not the Son of God. 2. To strengthen the faith of his disciples touching his Godhead, against the time
-that they should see him suffer and rise again: the place Christ alludes to is, Psal. ex. 1. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit l/iou on my right hand. The Lord, that is, God the Father, said to my Ijird, that is, to God the Son; who was to be incarnate, whom David calleth his Lord, both as God, and as Mediator, his Lord by a right of creation and redemption also: now the question our Saviour puts to the Pharisees is this, How Christ could be both David's Lord, and David's Son? no son being lord of his own father; therefore if Christ were David's Sovereign, he must be more than man, more than David's son. As man, he was David's son; as God-man, was David's Lord. Note hence, 1. That though Christ was truly and really Man, yet he was more than a mere man; he was Lord unto, and the salvation of, his own forefathers. Note, 2. That the only way to reconcile the scriptures which speak concerning Christ, is to believe and acknowledge him to be both God and Man in one person. The Messiah, as man, was to come forth out of David's loins; but as God-man, was David's Lord, his Sovereign and Saviour: as man, he was David's Son; as God-man, he was Lord of his own father.
45 Then, in the audience of all the people, he said unto his disciples, 46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; 47 Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.
Observe here, What it is that our Saviour condemns; not civil salutations in the market-place, not the chief scats in the synagogue, not the uppermost rooms at feasts, but their fond affecting of these things, and their amhitious aspiring after them; it was not their takiug, but their loving, the uppermost rooms at feasts, which our Saviour condemns. God is the God of order, there may and ought to be a precedency among persons; God commands us to give honour to whom honour is due, but pride and amhition are detestable and hateful vices, especially in such as are preachers, and ought to be patterns of humility. Observe,
2. How our Saviour condemns the Pharisees for their gross hypocrisy, in colouring over their abominable covetousness with a specious pretence of religion, making long prayers in the temple and synagogues for widows, and thereupon persuading them to give bountifully to Corban, that is, the common treasury for the temple; some part of which was employed for their maintenance. Whence we learn, That it is no new thing for designing hypocrites to cover the foulest transgressions with the cloak of religion: thus the Pharisees made their prayers a cloak and cover for their covetousness.
A ND he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And he saw also a certain poor widow, casting in thither two mites. 3 And he said, Of a truth 1 say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
At the door of the temple, through which all the people passed in and out, who came up three times a year at the solemn feasts, to worship Almighty God in his own house, there was a chest set, (like the poor man's box in some of our churches,) into which all ptrsons cast their free-will offerings and oblations, which were employed either for the use of the poor, or for the service of the temple; and what was thus given, our Saviour calls an offering to God, ver. 4. These of their abundance have cast in unto the offerings of God. Thence learn, That what we rightiy give to the relief of the poor, or for the service and towards the support of God's public worship, is consecrated to God, and as such is accepted of him, and ought to be esteemed by us. Observe, 2. With what pleasure and satisfaction our Saviour sets himself to view those offerings, He beheld the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. Thence note, That our Saviour sees with pleasure, and beholds with delight, whatever we have hearts to give unto him; whether for the relief of his members, or for the support of his service. O blessed Saviour, while now thou sittcst at