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Now is the judgment of this world: the time of the destruction of wickedness is come. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. The devil, who has so long reigned in the hearts of the children of disobedience, is about to be dethroned. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, we have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou the Son of man must be lift up? who is this Son of man? What sort of a Messiah must he be that is to die. Jesus replied, that the light, meaning himself, would continue with them but a little while longer; for which reason they would do well not to cavil at, but to believe what he said. Then said Jesus unto them, yet a little while is the light with you walk while ye have the light. Improve by my instructions, who am the light of the world, lest darkness, i. e. spiritual blindness, come upon you by the just judgment of God. [Rom. xi. 25.] If that should happen to you, ye will be in a miserable condition; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth; so is in danger of perishing while ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light: while you enjoy the benefit of my doctrine and miracles, which clearly prove my mission from God, believe on me; for it is thus alone you can become the children of God. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them he retired privately with his disciples, perhaps, to Bethany.
As the ministry of our blessed Redeemer was now drawing near a conclusion, the sacred historian, John, thought it proper to make some remarks on the effect of his preaching. He observes, that though Christ had performed so many miracles, the greater part of the Jews did not believe in the divinity of his mission and character; thus fulfilling the lamentation of Isaiah, Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed. Yet this was not wholly without exception; for some of the members of the Jewish sanhedrim admitted his pretensions, but were afraid openly to avow their sentiments, lest, through the influence of the Pharisees, they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of mer more than the praise of God. Wherefore, to strengthen the faith of such, and to inspire them with courage, Jesus, on some occasion or other soon after this, cried and said, probably in the temple, [John xii. 44..50.] He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent ́me. And he that seeth me, sceth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness; and if any man hear my words, and believe not, Ijudge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what should say and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak, therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so Ispeak.
Though every part of the life of Jesus had been employed in doing good, he now appeared uncommonly assiduous in communicating divine instruction, preaching daily in the temple to very numerous and attentive auditories. This made the chief priests more determined than ever to accomplish his destruction; and, as a step which" might be important to the execution of their designs, they deputed some of their number to request that he would inform the sanhedrim whence he derived that authority to which he laid claim, by working of miracles, instructing the people, and baptizing such as acknowledged his character. But Jesus, in whom was all the meekness of wisdom, declined to answer, unless they would first inform him whence John the Baptist received his commission. Perplexed, on the one side, by the dread
of the people, who venerated the character of John, and actuated, on the other, by the most violent hatred to the proceedings of that holy man, they replied, we cannot
While, however, they yet staid, he said unto them, [Mat. xxi. 28..32.] What think you, A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first and said, son, go work to-day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not, but afterward he repented and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go sir, and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, the first. Jesus saith unto them, verily I say unto you, that the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you, For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and harlots believed him; and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not, afterward that ye might believe him. Thus has it been found wherever the gospel has been preached, that self-righteousness has opposed a more formidable barrier to the spread of truth than the strongest attachment to the most vicious.
Our Lord did not rest satisfied with shewing the rulers the heinousness of their sin in rejecting the Baptist. He judged it proper, likewise, publicly to represent the crime of the nation, in rejecting all the messengers of God from first to last, and, among the rest, his only begotten Son; and in misimproving the Mosaical dispensation under which they lived. At the same time, he warned them plainly of their danger, by reason of the punishment which they incurred, on account of such a continued course of rebellion. The outward economy of religion, in which they gloried, was to be taken from them; their relation to God, as his people, cancelled; and their national constitution destroyed. But because these were topics extremely disagreeable, he couched them under the veil of a parable, which he formed upon one made use of long before by the prophet Isaiah v, 1. [Mat. xxi. 33.] Hear another parable. There was a certain householder which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-press in it, and built a tower, that is, a house for lodging the wine-dressers, and watching the vineyard, for which reason it was built so high, as to have a prospect of the whole vineyard. The vineyard, with its appurtenances, represents the Mosaical dispensation of religion, a dispensation that was attended with great personal advantages, and had many promises of future blessings ;-and let it out to husbandmen: bestowed this excellent dispensation of religion on the Jewish people; and went into a far country; gave them the enjoyment of this dispensation of religion for a long time. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. He sent the prophets to exhort the Jews to entertain just sentiments in religion, and to lead holy lives, these being the returns due from persons who enjoyed so clear a revelation of the divine will. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Mark gives this branch of the parable more fully xii. 2..5. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant, and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another, and him they killed. In this passage Mark and Luke agree. The meaning is, that the Jews, extremely irritated at the prophets for the freedom they used in reproving their sins, and exhorting them to a holy life, persecuted and slew them with unrelenting fury. Again, he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did unto them likewise. The, wicked
ness of the Jews in killing the prophets did not provoke God instantly to pour down tengeance on them; but, being very merciful and patient toward the nation, he sent more prophets to exhort and reclaim them. However, they met with no better treatment than the former. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, they will reverence my son. That no means might be left untried, God sent unto them his own son, whose authority, clearly established by undeniable miracles, ought to have been acknowledged with cheerfulness by wicked men. [Mat, xxi. 38.] But when the husbandmen saw the Son, they said among themselves, this is the heir, come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. From this it would seem the Jews knew Jesus to be the Son of God. Yet Peter says, both of the rulers and of the people, that they crucified the Lord ignorantly. [Acts iii. 17.] Perhaps, therefore, like the other circumstance of their seizing on the inheritance, it may have been added, for the sake of completing the parable, without any particular design. Matthew and Luke say the husbandmen cast the son out of the vineyard and slew him. And they caught him, laid hands on him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. Mark says, they first killed him, and then cast him out. xii. S. But his meaning may have been this they so beat and bruized him before they cast him out that he could not live, and after having cast him out, they completed the murder, killing him out-right. The manner in which Mark has expressed it, insinuates that, after they had killed him, they threw out his body, without burial, to the dogs; a circumstance which does not seem to have any particular meaning, but is formed to shew the greatness of the rebellion of these husbandmen.
What, therefore, shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He will come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. Comparing the different evangelists with each other, it appears, that the chief priests approved of this decision, as agreeable to justice but rejected it with abhorrence when applied to themselves. Christ then directed their attention to that which was written in the scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner; a passage in the hundred and eighteenth Psalm, which is plainly predictive of the rejection of Messiah by the Jews, and the introduction of a new dispensation. [Mat. xxi. 43, 44.] Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken. But on whomsoever it shall fall it shall grind him to powder. Our Lord seems here to have had in view Dan. ii. 34, 35, where the destruction of all the opposers of Messiah's kingdom is thus described: "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut without hands, which smote the image upon his feet, that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor, and the wind carried them away that no place was found for them, and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and
filled the earth."
The chief priests, perceiving the drift of our Lord's parables, were highly incensed, and would have immediately apprehended him, had they not dreaded the fury of the surrounding multitude.
Christ then proceeded to repeat with a few variations, a parable which he had already delivered, concerning the marriage supper of a king's son. He made, upon this occasion, the following important addition. [Mat. xxii. 6..14.] And the remnant, not contenting themselves with rejecting the kind invitation, took his servants, the prophets, the Messiah, and the apostles, and intreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth, and he sent forth his armies, the
Roman legions who were employed as the executioners of his vengeance, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, the wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye into the highways, and as mary as ye shall find bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good, and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king, designing to do them honour, came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment, though a large store of them had been provided for the service of the company; and to refuse them was the highest affront that could be offered to the giver of the feast. And he saith unto him, friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment? and he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, into a dark prison, where many criminals were confined, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. The parable is concluded in this manner to shew us, that the profession of the Christian religion will not save a man, unless he experiences that great and essential change of heart which our Saviour denominates regeneration. Wherefore, to use the words of Dr. Doddridge, let those who have obeyed the call, and are by profession the people of God, think often of that awful day, when the king will come in to see his guests; when God will, with the greatest strictness, view every soul laying claim to the joys of heaven let us think of the speechless confusion that will seize such as have not on the wedding garment, and of the inexorable severity with which they will be consigned to weeping and gnashing of teeth; and let us remember, that to have seen for a while the light of the gospel, and the fair beamings of an eternal hope, will add deeper and more sensible horror to these gloomy caverns. On the other hand, to animate and encourage us, let us think also on the happy time when the narriage supper of the Lamb shall be celebrated, and all the harmony, pomp, and beauty of heaven, shall add to its solemnity, its magnificence, and its joys.
Incapable of hearing any more of the reproofs of Jesus, the chief priests and elders now left him, and went their way.
But though the adversaries of Jesus were silenced and confounded, their malice continued unabated, and they immediately determined to ensnare him in a question concerning the tribute. Some of the Pharisees and Herodians, though not at all friendly with each other, united, at the request of the sanhedrim, for performing this design. Their business was to feign themselves just men, men who had a great veneration for the divine law, and dread of doing any thing inconsistent therewith; and under that mask, to beg him, for the case of their consciences, to give his opinion whether they might pay taxes to the Romans consistently with their zeal for religion. It seems, this question was much debated in our Lord's time; one Judas of Galilee having taught the unlawfulness of paying the taxes, and gathered a numerous faction, especially among the common people. The priests, therefore, imagined it was not in his power to decide the point, without making himself obnoxious to some of the parties who had divided upon it. If he should say it was lawful to pay the taxes, they believed the people, in whose hearing the question was proposed, would be incensed against him, not only as a base pretender, who, on being attacked publicly. renounced the character of the Messiah that was expected to deliver the people from foreign servitude, but as a flatterer of princes also, and a betrayer of the liberties of his country, one that taught doctrines inconsistent with the known privileges of the people of God. But if he should affirm that it was unlawful to pay, the Herodians resolved to inform the governor of it, who they hoped would
pumsh him as a fomenter of sedition. [Mat. xxii. 18..22.] Jesus, however, perceived their wickedness, and said, why tempt ye me ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, whose is this image and superscription? they say unto him, Cæsar's. Then saith he unto them, since, by the use of Cæsar's coin, you acknowledge his authority, render unto Casar the things which arc Caesar's, and unto God the things which are God's. When they had heard these things, they marvelled at his wisdom, and left him, and went their
The Pharisees and Herodians being thus repulsed, the Sadducees resolved, the same day, to try the success of their subtilty.
[Luke xx. 27..33.] And they asked him, 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. There were therefore sevem brethren; and the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her to wife and he died childless. And the third took her and in like manner the seven also. And they left no children and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, (here the word evidently signifies a future state simply) whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. As the Sadducees believed the soul to be nothing but a more refined kind of matter, they thought if there was any future state, it must resemble the present; and that men being in that state material and mortal, the human race could not be continued, nor the individuals made happy, without the pleasures and conveniencies of marriage. Hence they affirmed it to be a necessary consequence of the doctrine of the resurrection or future state, that every man's wife should be restored to him. This argument Jesus confuted by telling the Sadducees, that they were ignorant of the power of God, who has created spirit as well as matter, and who can make men completely happy in the enjoyment of himself, He observed farther, that the nature of the life obtained in the future state makes marriage altogether superfluous; because, in the world to come, men, being spiritual and immortal like the angels, there is no need of procreation to propagate or continue the kind. [Mat. xxii. 29.] Jesus answered and said unto them, ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. [Luke xx. 34.] The children of this world, the inhabitants of this world, marry, and are given in marriage. But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage 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. They, in some degree, partake of the felicity and immortality of God himself, blessings which they obtain by being raised from the dead. From this latter clause it is plain that our Lord is here speaking of the resurrection of the just, who are called God's children on account of the inheritance bestowed on them at the resurrection and particularly on account of their being dignified with immortality.
Having thus demonstrated that they were ignorant of the power of God, Jesus shewed the Sadducees that they were ignorant of the scriptures likewise, and particularly of the writings of Moses, from whence they had drawn their objection; for out of the law itself he demonstrated the certainty of a resurrection, at least, of just men, aud thereby quite overturned the opinion of the Sadducees, who, believing the materiality of the soul, affirmed that men were annihilated at death, and that the writings of Moses supported their opinion. His argument was this: as a man cannot be a father without children, nor a king without subjects, so God cannot properly be called God, unless he has his people, and be Lord of the living. Since, therefore, in the law he calls himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, long