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on an ass's colt. We shall easily see the propriety of applying Zechariah's prophecy to this transaction, if we remember that, in the East, riding on horses was antiently reckoned the greatest ostentation of magnificence. It was, therefore, becoming the meekness of the lowly Jesus, that, in his most public entry into the capital city, he chose to ride on an ass. At the same time, there was nothing mean or ridiculous m it, asses being the beasts which the Easterns commonly made use of in riding. It seems, the disciples did not at that time form a just notion of what their Master designed by this entry, or by any of the circumstances of it. Probably, they considered it as the first step of his exaltation to the throne. However, after his ascension, recollecting the prophecies concerning Messiah, they remembered how exactly they had been fulfilled in him, and found their faith greatly strengthened thereby. These thing's understood not his disciples at first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. But because the forwardness which the multitude now shewed to acknowledge Jesus the Messiah was altogether extraordinary, the evangelist assigns the cause thereof. The witnesses of the resurrection of Lazarus zealously bestirred themselves on this occasion; they had published the miracle far and near, they were many in number, and persons of reputation. Hence their report gained universal belief and drew out an innumerable multitude to meet Jesus; a circumstance which, as the historian observes, gave great credit to the miracle, as it proved what sense the people of the age and country where it was performed had of it. [John xii. 17.] The people, therefore, that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record., The inhabitants of Bethany and Jerusalem, who were so happy as to be present at Lazarus's resurrection, by attending on Jesus at this time, and joining with the multitude in their acclamations, bare record to the truth of that astonishing miracle. For this cause the people also met him; for that they heard that he had done this miracle. In the mean time, the Pharisees and great men were exceedingly enraged, because every measure they had taken to hiuder the people from following Jesus had proved ineffectual. The Pharisees, therefore, said among themselves, perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold the world is gone after him.
As Jesus drew nigh he looked on the city; and notwithstanding he had already met with much ill usage from its inhabitants, and was at this very juncture to be put to death by them, yet, with a divine generosity and benevolence which nothing can equal, he wept over it in the view of the surrounding multitude, lifting up his voice, and lamenting aloud the calamities which he foresaw were coming upon it, because its inhabitants were ignorant of the time of their visitation. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least, in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. Here Jesus foretold particularly the principal circumstances of the siege of Jerusalem; and to his prophecy the event corresponded most exactly. For when Titus attacked the city, the Jews defended themselves so obstinately, that he found there was no way to gain his purpose but to compass the city round with a trench and mound. By this means, he kept the besieged in on every side, cut them off from all hope of safety in flight, and consumed them by famine. The work which he undertook was indeed a matter of extreme difficulty; for the wall measured thirty-nine furlongs, or almost five miles, and the towers were thirteen in number, every one of them ten furlongs in compass. Nevertheless, the whole was finished in three days; for, to use the expres
sion of Josephus, the soldiers, in performing this work, were animated by a divine impetus. [Luke xix. 44.] And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee, and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another. This circumstance is taken notice of in the larger prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, [Mark xiii. 1.] Our Lord mentioned it likewise in one of his prophetic parabies, [Mat. xxii. 7.] The description which Josephus has given of the taking of Jerusalem by Titus, may be considered as a comment upon these prophecies. [Bell. vii. iv.] Thus was Jerusalem taken in the second year of Vespasian's reign, on the eighth day of September; and having been already five times surprised, it was again finally destroyed. Such was the end of the besieging of Jerusalem, when there was none left to kill, nor any thing remaining for the soldiers to get. Cæsar commanded them to destroy the city and temple. only leaving certain towers standing that were more beautiful than the rest, viz. Phaselus, Hippicos, and Mariamuc, and the wall that was on the west side, meaning there to keep a garrison; and that they should be a monument of the prowess of the Romans, who had taken a city so well fortified, as by them it appeared to have been. All the rest of the city they so levelled," answering to our Lord's phrase, lay thee even with the ground, "that they who had not seen it before would not believe that ever it had been inhabited." And, in the prece ding chapter, he says, "they destroyed the wall, and burned the outward part of the city." Our Lord, upon this occasion, assigns the true cause why the Jews were given up by divine providence, to experience such dreadful sufferings, namely, because they knew not the time of their visitation, and therefore rejected the only Messiah of God. That Christ should weep the destruction of his enemies while thus surrounded with the acclamations of his friends, affords a most delightful instance of the benignity of his disposition.
Having entered the city, he immediately proceeded to the temple; and having looked round upon all things which it contained, retired that same evening to Bethany, no doubt to the great mortification of his followers, who expected that he should now restore the kingdom to Israel.
THE DISCOURSES AND TRANSACTIONS OF OUR LORD, FROM HIS PUBLIC ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM TILL JUDAS COVENANTED WITH THE CHIEF PRIESTS TO BETRAY HIM.
Christ curses the fig-tree, and purges the temple---the power of faith---certain Greeks desire to see Jesus---he refuses to explain the nature of his authority--the parable of the vineyard let out to husbandmen---the marriage supper---the lawfulness and duty of paying tribute---the objection of the Sadducees to the resurrection confuted---which is the greatest commandment---how David called the Messiah Lord, though he was to be of his posterity---woes denounced against the Pharisees---the widow and her two mites---Christ foreteis the destruction of Jerusalem---the parable of the ten virgins and of the talents---the last judgment described---Christ again foretels his own sufferings---he is anointed the third time---Judas agrees to betray his Master.
JESUS and his disciples having lodged all night in Bethany, departed next morning for Jerusalem. By the way, they happened to see a fig-tree that looked green, was full of leaves, and, at a distance, promised abundance of fruit. To this tree Jesus went, in expectation of finding figs thereon, for he was hungry, and the season of gathering them was not yet come. But finding that, notwithstanding these promising appearances, it had no fruit, addressing himself to this fig-tree, he said, let no man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever, and it immediately began to wither away. This, like some other of our Lord's actions, was evidently emblematical, and its meaning the same as that of the parable of the barren fig-tree recited in a former chapter, each of them being intended to point out the approaching ruin of the Jewish nation.
It appears, that the Jews in our Lord's time carried their disdain of the Gentiles so far, that they accounted the outer court of the temple, which was allotted for the accommodation of the proselytes as a place of no great sanctity, and therefore kept there a daily market of such things as were necessary for the offering of sacrifices. But as these abuses occasioned great disturbance to the proselytes, Jesus, on the same day that he had struck the fig-tree with barrenness, reformed them a second time, telling the people that were standing by, that the Gentiles worshipped there by divine appointment as well as the Jews, the temple being ordained of God as a house of prayer for all nations, and that such as had trafficked there, by their covetous practices, had turned it into a den of thieves. The offenders, it is likely, were either supernaturally awed by a secret energy of Christ's omnipotence, or induced to retire from the number of those who had declared themselves his friends and supporters.
It seems, the opinion that Jesus was Messiah prevailed generally now; for while he was in the temple, the blind, and the lame, and other diseased persons, were brought to him in great numbers, from all quarters, to be healed; and the very children, when they saw the cures which he performed, proclaimed him the Son of David, so wonderfully were they struck with his miracles. Indeed, the chief priests and doctors, finding him thus universally acknowledged, were highly displeased; yet they durst not do any thing to put a stop to it, standing in awe of the multitude. They only asked him if he heard what the children said; insinuating that it was his duty to stop their mouths, by refusing the praises which they offered without understanding what they said. Jesus answered them out of the eighth Psalm, whore David observes, that though all should be silent, God has no need of other heralds to proclaim his praise than infants who hang at their mother's breasts; because, notwithstanding they be dumb, the admirable providence of God, conspicuous in their preservation, is equal to the loudest and sublimest eloquence. By applying the Psalmist's words to the case in hand, Jesus signified that the meanest of God's works are so formed as to de clare the greatness of his perfections; and that as the Father does not refuse the praise which arises from the least of his creatures, so the Son did not disdain the praise that was offered him by children. In the present instance, their praise was peculiarly acceptable, because it implied that his miracles were exceedingly illustrious, inasmuch as they led minds, wherein there was nothing but the dawnings of reason, to acknowledge his mission. The Messiah's praise, therefore, might, with remarkable propriety, be said, on this occasion, to have been perfected out of the mouths of babes and sucklings. [Mark xi. 18.] And the scribes and Pharisees heard it they heard the rebuke which he had given them for allowing the temple to be profaned: they heard likewise the application which he had made of the eighth Psalm to the case of the children in the temple, wishing him all manner of prosperity; And sought how they might destroy him; for they feared him, because all the people were astonished at his doctrine. The authority which Jesus now assumed, and the honours which were paid to him, galled the scribes and Pharisees; for they began to be afraid of him, suspecting that he might raise some popular commotion, and the rather that all the common people were wonderfully struck with his doctrine. They durst not, however, attempt any thing against him openly; they only consulted among themselves how they might destroy him with as little noise as possible. When the evening was come, Jesus left the city, and went to Bethany, the resurrection of Lazarus having procured him many friends in that village, among whom he was always in safety.
Next morning, as they were returning to Jerusalem, Peter, with the rest of the disciples, could not help expressing their astonishment when they observed how completely the fig-tree, which their Master had cursed, was withered away. Christ assured them, in reply, that if they exercised faith in God, they might not only perform as great miracles as that which had taken place in the fig-tree, but even command the mount of Olives to be removed, and cast into the sea, and it should obey them. He exhorted them to cultivate the duty of prayer for the increase of their faith; and to recollect, that unless they freely forgave every one that trespassed against them, the Lord would not condescend to receive their supplications.
Certain Grecian proselytes, or Jews, residing in heathen countries, having come up to worship at this passover, made an application to Philip, with whom they had probably had some correspondence in Galilee, and intreated him that he would introduce them into the company of Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew, perhaps from some difficulty which he perceived in the case, and again Andrew and Philip told Jesus And Jesus answered them saying, the hour is come that the Son of man should
be glorified by the conversion of the Geutiles. But it is necessary that he should first sutler for verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if at die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant he. If any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
Having taken a view of his own sufferings, and proposed them as an example to his disciples, the prospect moved him to such a degree, that he uttered his grief in the following doleful words: Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say companying them with a prayer for relief, Father, save me from this hour. Some, however, understand these words interrogatively. Shall I say, Father, save me from this hour? supposing that the question implies a negation. But for this cause came I unto this hour. His praying on this occasion shews us what is the best method of easing the mind in deep distress. At the same time, as in his prayer he expressed an entire resignation to the divine will, he has taught us, that although the weakness of human nature may shrink at the first thoughts of suffering, his disciples are not to yield, but ought to fortify themselves by just reflections on the wisdom of God, and on the happy end he promises by their afflictions. Father glorify thy name. This some consider as a farther expression of resignation, importing that he was willing to submit to whatever the Father should judge necessary for the manifestation of his perfections. But the answer that was given to this part of Christ's prayer suggests another meaning, namely, that he begged God to demonstrate, perhaps by an immediate interposition, the truth of his mission, a full proof thereof being altogether necessary for vindicating the honour of God. Accordingly, the words were no sooner spoken, than a voice from heaven was heard answering distinctly to this sense of them. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify st again. I have glorified it by the miracles which thou hast already performed, and will continue to glorify it by other miracles yet to be performed. Accordingly, by the miraculous circumstances which accompanied our Lord's crucifixion, but especially by his resurrection from the dead, by his ascension into heaven, and by the effusion of the Holy Ghost upon his apostles, the truth of Christ's pretensions and mission was demonstrated, and the glory of God was greatly advanced. The sound of this voice was evidently preternatural, being strong and loud as thunder, but, at the same time, so articulate, that all who had heard Jesus pray understood what it said. [John xii. 29.] The people, therefore, that stood by and heard it said that it thundered, others said an angel spake to him: None of them took it for an human voice, it being entirely different from any thing they had ever heard. The reflection which Jesus made upon it was, that the voice had spoken, not to assure hini of the Father's love, but to confirm them in the belief of his mission. The farther glorification of the name of God, promised to Jesus by the voice, signified the honour that should accrue to God from the new proofs wherewith his mission was to be adorned, particularly the great miracles of his resurrection from the dead, of the effusion of the " Spirit ou the first converts, and of the conversion of the Gentile world to the Christian religion.
The subject ofour Lord's prayer, and the answer which he received, naturally led him to meditate on the happy effects of his coming into the world, viz. the destruction of Satan's kingdom, and the exaltation of men with himself into heaven. These grand events afforded a prospect that was very reviving amidst the melancholy thoughts which now afflicted his soul. Wherefore, that his disciples might share with him in the comfort of them, he foretold them as the necessary effects of his sufferings.