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SECT. cxlviii.

John

Reflections on the happy fruils of the death of Christ.

173 come, he went] [out thence to a retired place : and when now it was of the city unto Beth; late in the evening, he privately went out of the the twelve ;) [and he city to Bethany, with none to attend him but lodged there, and did the twelve apostles ; and, knowing that his ene- X11.30. [MAT. XXI.

mies were watching to destroy him, and might 17. MARK XI.-11.) have attempted to seize him by night if he had

tarried at Jerusalem, he lodged there at Betbany,
and concealed himself from them, to avoid the
assaults of their deliberate malice till his hour

bimself

from

hide them.

was come,

IMPROVEMENT.

Who can wonder at the desire these Greeks expressed to see so Ver. celebrated a Person as Jesus was! We hope there was something 20, 21 more than mere curiosity in it, and that at length they saw him with believing eyes, and, according to his prediction, glorified 23 him by a cordial acceptance of his gospel.—His disciples, we see 22 were ready to introduce them : and surely every faithful minister of Christ will undertake the task with pleasure when he sees souls awakened by Divine grace, and inquiring after Jesus with affectionate concern.

Blessed be God, it has already, in many instances, been seen that
by the death of Christ an immortal seed was sown, which has mul- 24
tiplied in all ages, and is still multiplying : Oh that it might have
a greater increase! One would think that words so gracious as
these should promote that increase, and operate upon every heart 25
to produce a love to him sufficient to conquer every danger and
opposition which may be met with in his cause: behold the promise
wbich he has left

upon
record ;

If any man, be he ever so 26
mean and unworthy, will but faithfully serve and follow me, what-
ever his former wanderings and rebellions may have been, where
I am, there shall also my servant be.” Happy state indeed !
not only, like these Greeks, to have a transient sight of Christ,
but to be for ever with him !

How admirable is the love and stedfastness of our Redeemer, who procured so great a happiness for us at so dear an expence and even when his innocent soul was troubled in the view of bis 27 sufferings, instead of declining them, met them with joy! How should it animate us to renew that general comprehensive petition, than which none can be more suitable to us with regard to all the divine dispensations; Father, glorify thine own name ! Glorify thy- 28 self, O Lord! and to that great end dispose of us as thou pleasest; for we should abhor ourselves if we had

any

interest separate from thine ! We may be assured, as certainly as by a voice from heaven, that Y 2

tbis

174

The Jews are hardened and will not believe.

cxlviii.

SECT: this great end shall be answered ; and in this we should rejoice.

Behold, the prince of this world is cast out! Behold, Satan, is van. 31, 32 quished by Christ! and Jesus is lifted up on the cross for a stand,

ard to all the nations. Behold the attractive magnet by which all men are to be drawn, by which all his chosen people shall be brought to him, and so raised up to heaven itself! Let us look unto him from the ends of the earth, and labour with our cold hearts to awaken them to that lively and ardent affection which

we owe to himn who was crucified for us. 35, 36 For ever adored be Divine grace for this gospel light which

discovers to us so excellent an object! May we use it to saving purposes, and so walk in it, as that we may appear to be the children of light ! Let us think of that last distribution of mankind, when the children and heirs of light and darkness are once for all to be separated. Let us think of the gloom of eternal night, which will shortly overtake those by whom the gospel is now despised ; and remember how much it will be aggravated by the light we have so long seen. Do thou, O God, at whose word light arose out of darkness, send forth by thine influences on our hearts thy light and thy truth, that they may lead and bring us to thine holy hill, (Psal. xliii. 3.) and that we may have the satisfaction of knowing whither we go, even when we walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death. (Psal. xxiii. 4.)

SECT. CXLIX.

John's reflection on the infidelity of the Jews. As Christ was return

ing the next morning to Jerusalem, he curses the barren fig-tree. John XII. 37-43. Mat. XXI. 18, 19. Mark XI. 12–14.

SECT. cxlix.

JOHN XII. 37.

John XII. 37. Now such was the perverseness of the Jews BUT though he had

and such the prejudice they had conceived racles before them, yet John

against our Lord, that though he had sufficiently they belicved not on Xil. 37. declared himself to be the true Messiah, and him :

though he had done so many undeniable and glo-
rious miracles at this and other times before them,
in their most public places and most numerous
assemblies, yet the greater part of them were
hardened in their infidelity, and, notwithstand-
ing all that he had said and done, they were in

general so obstinate, that they did not believe on
38 him as the Messiah.

So that the saying of 38 That the saying Isaiah the prophet was plainly fulfilled and veri- of Esaias the prophet

fied

might

The prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in them.

175 might be fulfilled which fied in them?, which he spake in the name of Sect. he spake, Lord, who Christ and of his servants, referring expressly to

cxlix. hath believed our report? and to whoin the gospel times (Isa. liii. 1 ) " Lord, who hath

John hath the arm of the believed our report? and to whom hath the arm xii. 38. Lord been revealed ?

of the Lord been so effectually revealed or made
bare, as to conquer those strong prejudices
which men have entertained against thine ap.

pointed method of salvation?"
59 Therefore they And, for this reason, they were now in a man- 39
could not believe bez ner utterly incapable of believing, because many
cause that Esaias said
again,

of them having long wilfully opposed the most
sufficient and proper methods of conviction,
were at length given up by God to a judicial

hardness and blindness; (as) the same prophet 40 He hath blinded Isaiah says elsewhere (Isa. vi. 10.) “ Having 40 their eyes, and har. refused tý hearken to the voice of God, he has dened their heart; that they should not see in righteous judgment blinded their eyes, and with their eyes, nor hardened their heart, lest they should (as he understand with their adds in the name of God) see with their eyes, heart, and be convert. ed, and I should heal and understand with their heart, and be convert

ed, and I should heal and save them, which,
after such obstinate perverseness, I am deter-
mined that I never will.” (Compare Mat. xiii.

14, 15. Vol. VI. p. 343. and Acts xxviii. 27.) 41 These things said These things Isaiah spake when he saw his glory', 41

them.

Esaias

even

a So that the saying of Isaiah roas fulfil their heart.) As God is said to harden the ed.] It is apparent (as the late judici- heart of Pharaoh in one place, while in an. ous Mr. Jeffrey has observed in his True other it is said he hardened his own heart Grounds, &c. p. 110) that the accom (Exod. ix, 12. and viii. 15, 32); and as plishment of this prophecy could not be the we ought to be very tender of ascribing 10 end they proposed to themselves in their God any thing that looks like a necessiunbelief; and consequently that the ex- tating influence to impel men to sin, I appression eva wanpuhou must be rendered as prehend that all we are here to understand it is here : which may be applied to se. by God's blinding and hardening these Jews veral other passages; and shews, by the is, that he permitted them to grow more way, how precarious that remark of Mr. and more prejudiced against the gospel, Pierce is by which he would make that and, for wise reasons, acted in such a manphrase an argument, that the scripture ner as he knew would in fact be abused by introduced by it is quoted, not in any them to an increase of those prejudices. instance by way of accommodation, but The learned, by consulting the originals of always according to its original design and the places helow, may sec instances of a literal meaning.

phraseology nearly resembling and illustrato b Hath the arm of the Lord been reveal. ing this. Compare Lev. xiii. 3. Ezek. ed?) I apprehend this phrase may allude xii. 19, 22. xiv. 9. xx. 25. Gen. xli. 13. to the habit generally worn by the easterns, Jer. i. 10. iv, 20. and Acts x. 15. where a and especially by persons of rank, wbich person is said to do what he permits, or was a long robe without sleeves; so that what he declares or foretells. ---The evangelist when the arm was stretched out to perform in this quotation has not confined himself any action which required strength, it would exactly to the words of the prophet, but the appear uncovered. (Compare Isa. lii. 10.) sense is plainly the same; and nothing was In this connection it seems strongly to im- more usual with the Jews than to quote ply, that whenever true faith is produced scripture in this way. See Surenhusius, de in the mind, it is to be considered as the Formulis allegandi, p. 367. effect of a Divine energy. See Eph. i. 19. d When he saw his glory.] These words and Col. ii. 12.

seem so plainly to refer to Christ, that I * He has blinded their eyes, and hardened cannot but approve the argument which the

learned

bim.

176

The rulers that believe, are afraid to confess him. SECT: even the glory of Christ, who was then the Me- Esaias when he saw exlix. divm of the Divine manifestation, and spake of his glory, ayd spake of John

him and of his times in the awful words menXII. 41, tioned above, which had their terrible accom

plishment in the men of this generation. 42 Nevertheless, at this very time there were many 42 Nevertheless, a.

even of the rulers themselves who were inwardly mong the chief rulers convinced that he was the Messiah, and believed him: but because of the on him as such, still expecting that he would Pharisees they did not by some surprising providence be raised to the confess him, test they

should be put out of the throne of Israel; but they did not think it con- synagogue. venient as yet to confess the convictions of their own hearts concerving shim, ] on account of the declared enmity of the Pharisees against him, lest by them they should be cast out of the synagogue, and be exposed to the great ignominy and secu

lar detriment which necessarily attended such a
43 sentence. For they were such thoughtless and 43 For they loved

mean-spirited creatures, that they loved the praise than the praise of God.
of men more than the praise of God; and durst
not face the contempt of their fellow-mortals,
even to secure the approbation of their Maker.
(Compare John v. 44. Vol. VI. p. 265.) This
was the state of things at Jerusalem, and this the
effect of Christ's entrance into it, as related

above, Mark But though the malice of bis enemies was MARK X1. 12. And X1. 12 known to Jesus, and he was sensible they were

on the morrow [in the

morning] when they contriving to destroy him, yet on the morrow- were come from Betha morning he again set out with his disciples for any, [as he returned Jerusalem:

and when they were come from hungry: (MAT. XXI. Bethany, as he returned into the city, he was very is.] hungry; having come out early without cating, that he might neither incommode his friends, nor break in upon bis secret or public devotions":

And

learned Bishop Pearson draws from Isa. vi. the hospitable and most sensibly obligeil 1. to prove that Christ was the Jehovah family of Lazarus would otherwise have that spoke to the prophet. (Pearson on the suffered Jesus to come out without eating; Creed, p. 125.) Dr. Clarke indeed explains or that if he had eaten that morning he it of seeing the Father's glory: (Script. would have been so hungry, before he had Duci, of the Trin. p. 58.) But it is difficult to walked tuo miles, as to go out of the way to say on that supposition what the evangelist gather figs. To me there appears an inexintended by adding that clause (and spake of pressible charm in this oblique hint; it him]: and it would be quitc unexampled shews bow little the evangelists were into suppose that arlo bas two such different clined to enter into panegyrics or reflecsignifications in the same line as that the tions on the excellent character of their meaning should be, he saw the Father's Master; and is a specimen of that simpliglory, and spake of the Son. See Vitringa city and modesty which might, indepen. on Isa. vi. 1. p. 142, & seq.

dent on other arguments, almost compel e Might neither incon mode his friends, the assent of persons of a like temper to nor break in upon his devotions.] This the wonderful story which they relate in must certainly have been the season of our so geouine aud unaffected 3 manner, Lord's hunger; for none can imagine that

f Seeing

cxlix.

a fine

Jesus coming from Bethany, goes to a fig-tree for fruit. 177 13 And seeing a fig- And as he was now on the way, seeing a single fig- SECT. tree (in the way] afar treef at a considerable distance, which had otf, baving leaves, he came [to it ], if haply spread of teaves upon it, and therefore appeared Mark he might find any thing to be one of the earlier kind, he went up to it, XI. 13. came to it, he found [lo see ] if he could

find any thing upon it to satisfy nothing (thereon] but his hunger ; and when he came to it, he found noleaves (only); for the thing thereon but leaves only; for there was not time of fiy was not so inuch as any fruit in the bud; by which it yet. (MAT.XXI, 19.-]

plainly appeared that, though it looked so beau-
tiful, it was a barren tree. Now it is to be ob-
served that our Lord turned out of the way, be.
cause, as it was yet but early in the summer, , the
time of gathering figs was not (yet) comes; so
that had this tree produced any, it might have

been

f Seeing a single fig-tree.] Thoigh in therefore at this timne might well expect the first edition I bad only followed Mark, to find fruit on this trec, since the line and renilered it, seeing a fig-tred, I think of gathering even these carly figs was not upon farther consideration, that our juicy, yet come, which if it had, there would have which is the expression Matthew uses here been no room for the expectation, or the (though our translators make no difference) curse which followed it.-That xa.coç 01204 should have been rendered a single fig-tree, does not signify, as some have fancied, a which I have now inserted in the version. kindly season for fius, but the time of gathura

$ The time of figs .was not [uel] comc.) ing them in, I think the learned Bishop I snall not trouble the reader with an ac Kidder has abundantly proved. (See his count of all the strange solutions which have Demonstration of the Messiah, sii. p. 38, been given to the difficulty whirbimine. 39.) Compare Mat. xxi. 34. Mark xii. diately arises in the mind on reading this 2. and Numb. xii. 25 —It is true this clause; nor with the particular reasons interpretation of the story, though incomwhich inay be offered against each. The parably casier than any other I know, will best view of them all, that I can recollect, require a transposition of the clause belore may be had by consulting Witsius, in his us, as if it had been said, He came, if Meletomata; and I think the best solution haply he might find any thing thereon; for may be seen in Mr. Hullet's Notes and Dis the time of dus was not yet ; und when he courses, Vol. II. p. 114--124. It is cer. came to it, he found nothing but leaves. But tain, as he has there prored from incon. no interpretation whatever can make the testable authority, and we bave observed last clause, as we read it, a reason for what elsewhere i noteb, on Luke vi. 1. Vol. VI. stands imrnediately before it, that he found p. 267), that the climate of Judea being nothing but leaves; for it is well known, abundantly warmer than ours, the passover, that is our common fiu-trees have no young though never later than April, commonly figs on them in March or April, they can fell at the beginning of their harvest, that produce none that year. None can deny is, of their summer, which is there vche another transposition of the like kind in the mently hot, not only in May, but in March same evangelist, Mark xvi. 3, 4. (sect. and April (in which last this passover pro. cxciv.) both of them probably being occabably fell): compare josh. iii. 15. iv. 19. sioned by an accidental interlineation in the v. 10, 11. and i Chron. xii. 15. (See also original, and a mistake of some early tranLev. xxiii. 15–17. compared with Exod. scriber, who did not bring in the interlined ix. 31, 32. and Ruth ii. 23.) Now it is clause exactly in its due place. See instances equally certain that one, and that the most of the like kind, Gen. xiii. 10. and Josh. delicate kind of figs, was ripe in Judea at xxii. 22.-And if with Heinsius, Knatchthe beginning of summer (as we have a fine bull, and Gataker, we should here read sort in England which are ripe before our instead of y, and render it, where he tous barvest, having put out the autumn before, it was the season of figs, we must admit of and stood the whole winter): see Hos. ix. the same transposition, and consequently 10. Mich. vii. 1. Nah, iji. 12. Jer. xxiv. should gain no advantage at all, by a ver2. Cant. ii. 11-13. and Isa. xxviii, 4. sion which (as all learned men know) is And the fig-tree opening its leaves, which very harsh, and attended with an inele. ever body kuows do not appear till after gancy and impropriety which this would the fruit, is spoken of as a sign of approach. bc no proper place to examine. ing summer, Mat. xxiv. 32. Our Lord

h And

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