Page images

' Yet a

cause came I unto this hour.” John xii. 27. The people, not understanding the force

of this affirmation, replied, We have This should teach us, that prayer is the heard, out of the law, that Christ abideth only method of easing the mind overwhelm. for ever; and how sayest thou, The Son of ed with distress; but at the same time to man must be lifted up?" John xii. 34. be always resigned to the divine will; for Our Lord, in answer, told them, that they though the weakness of human nature may should soon be deprived of his presence and shrink when persecution or sufferings of any miracles; and therefore, they would do kind appear, yet by reflecting on the wisdom, well to listen attentively to his precepts, goodness, and power of God to deliver us, firmly believe the doctrines he delivered, and we ought to support every trial, however wisely approve them to their eternal advansevere, with patience, as he doubtless pro tage; for otherwise they would be soon poses some happy end by these afflictions. overtaken with spiritual blindness, and ren

dered incapable of inheriting the promises Our blessed Lord having made a short of the gospel. That while they enjoyed the prayer to his Father, begged of God to benefit of his preaching and miracles, which demonstrate the truth of his mission by some sufficiently proved the truth of his mission token which could not be resisted.

« Fa

from the Most High, they should believe ther, glorify thy name.” Nor had he hardly on him; for by that means alone they could uttered these words, before he was answered become the children of God. by an audible voice from heaven, “ I have little while is the light with you; walk both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” while ye have the light, lest darkness come The miracles thou hast already performed upon you; for he that walketh in darkness have glorified my name; and I will still con knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye tinue to glorify it, by other miracles to be have light, believe in the light, that ye wrought before the sons of men.

may be the children of light." John xii.

35, &c. This voice was evidently preternatural, re

Having thus addressed the multitude, he sembling thunder in loudness, but sufficient

retired privately from Jerusalem, probably ly articulate to be understood by those who lieard our blessed Saviour pray to his heaven to Bethany. But notwithstanding the many

miracles our great Redeemer had wrought ly Father. And Jesus told bis disciples that

in the presence of these perverse and stiffit was not given for his sake, but to confirm

necked people, the generality of them rethem in their faith of his mission. « This

fused to own him for the Messiah ; being voice (said he) came not because of me, but filled with the vain expectations of a temfor your sake." It came to confirm what

poral prince, who was to rule over all the I have told you relating to my sufferings, kingdoms of the earth, and place bis throne death, resurrection, and the conversion of

in Jerusalem. Some, indeed, even of the the Gentile world to the Christian religion. rulers believed on him, though they thought

it prudent to conceal their faith, lest they Accordingly he communicated this com

should, like the blind man, be excommunifortable reflection to his disciples; telling cated, or put out of the synagogue, valuing them that the time was at hand, when the the good opinion of men above the approkingdom of Satan should be destroyed, and bation of the Almighty. that of the Messiah exalted. « Now is the judgment of this world ; now shall the

Nevertheless, to inspire such as believed prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I

on him with courage, he cried in the tembe lifted up from the earth, will draw all

ple, “ He that believeth on me, believeth men unto me.” John xii. 31, &c.

not on me, but on him that sent me." He considered, on the one hand, that if it was that acknowledges the divinity of my mis- from God, it would oblige them to acknowsion, acknowledges the power and grace of | ledge the authority of Jesus. John having God, on whose special errand I am thus more than once publicly declared him to be sent. Adding, he that seeth the miracles the Messiah : and on the other, if they peI perform, seeth the operations of toat remptorily denied the authority of John, Omnipotent Power by which I act. I they would be in danger of being stoned by am the Sun of righteousness, whose beams the people, who in general, considered dispel the darkness of ignorance in which him as a prophet. They, therefore, thought the sons of men are involved, and am come it the most eligible method to answer, that to deliver all who believe on me out of that they could not tell from whence John's bappalpable darkness. You must not, however, tism was. expect, that I will at present execute my judgment upon those who refuse to embrace · Thus, by declining to answer the questhe doctrines of the Gospel ; for I am not tion asked them by Jesus, they left him at come to condemn and punish, but to save the liberty to decline giving the council the world, and consequently to try every gentle satisfaction they had sent to demand. At and winning method to reclaim the wicked the same time they plainly confessed, that: from the error of their ways, and turn their they were unable to pass any opinion on feet into the paths of life and salvation. Jobn the Baptist, notwithstanding he claimThey shall not, however, escape unpunish ed the character of a messenger from God, ed, who neglect the instructions and offers and they had sent to examine his pretenof salvation now made to them ; for the sions. This was, in effect, to acknowdoctrines I have preached shall bear witness ledge that they were incapable of judging against them at the awful tribunal of the 1 of any prophet whatsoever. Well, therelast day : and as it has aggravated their fore, might the blessed Jesus say, “ Neither sin, so it shall then heighten their punish- tell I you by what authority' I do these ment.

things.” You have no right to ask, since

you have confessed you are unable to judge: While Jesus was thus preaching in the

and, therefore, I shall not satisfy your imtemple, a deputation of priests and elders

pertinent enquiry. was sent from the supreme council, to ask him concerning the nature of the authority

But because this deputation had said that by which he acted, whether it was a pro

they were ignorant from whence the baptism phet, priest, or king, as no other person had

of John was, our blessed Saviour sharply a right to make any alterations, either in

rebuked them, conveying his reproof in the church or state ? And if he laid claim to

parable of the two sons commanded to work either of those characters, from whom he

in their father's vineyard, and asking their received it? But our blessed Saviour, instead

opinion of the two, made them condemn of giving a direct answer to the questions

themselves. of the Pharisees, asked them another ; promising, if they resolved his question, he

“ A certain man, (said he) had two sons, would also answer theirs. "I also will

and he came to the first and said, Son, go work ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in

to-day in my vineyard.” But this upgracilikewise will tell you by what authority I do

ous youth very roughiy answered the kind these things.' The Baptist of John, whence

command of his father, and without the was it ? from heaven, or of men.” Matt.

least preface or appellation of respect, anxxi. 24, &c.

swered, “I will not." However, after reThis question puzzled the priests. They flecting on the impropriety and indecency

[ocr errors]

of such behaviour to his kind and indulgent The blessed Jesus did not only rebuke. father, he repented of what he had done, them for rejecting the preaching of the bapand went to work in the vineyard. The fa tist, but represented the crime of the nation, ther having met with so sharp a reply from in rejecting all the prophets wbich had been the former son, had recourse to the other, sent since they became a nation, among the and in the same manner ordered him to work rest, the only begotten Son of the Most that day in his vineyard.

High ; warning them, at the same time, of

their danger, and the punishment that would This son was very different from the for inevitably ensue, if they continued in their mer, and in a very dutiful manner, said, " I rebellion. The outward economy of rego, Sir.” But notwithstanding this seeming ligion, in which they gloried, would be taken obedience, he delayed to do as his father from them, their relation to God as his desired; he did not go to work in the vine people, cancelled, and the national consti yard. The temper and behaviour of bis se tution destroyed; but because these topics cond son were exactly conformable to that of were extremely disagreeable, he delivered the Pharisees. They gave the Almighty the

them under the veil of the following parable : most honourable titles, and professed the “ There was (said he) a certain householder utmost zeal for his service, in their prayers which planted a vineyard, and hedged it and praises ; but at the same time refused to round about, and digged a wine press in it, do any part of the work that he enjoined and built a tower, and let it out to husband. them. In the character of the other son, men, and went into a far country." the disposition of the publicans and barlots is well described. They neither professed or The comparison of the church to a vinepromised to do the will of their Creator yard is frequent in the sacred scripture, but but when they came to reflect seriously on this particular parable, for the fuller convictheir conduct, and the offers of mercy which tion of the Jews, is expressly taken from the were so kindly made them, they submitted fifth chapter of the prophet Isaiah, with to our Saviour, and in consequence of their which they could not fail of being well acfaith amended their lives.

quainted, nor ignorant of its meaning, as

the prophet, at the end of it, adds, " The Having thus finished the parables, our vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of

Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant

plant: and he looked for judgment, but be. unto him, The first. They did not im hold oppression: for righteousness, but behold mediately perceive, that by this answer they a cry.” Our Saviour, therefore continued the condemned themselves, till our Saviour metaphor, telling them, “ that when the time made a just application of the parable, in this of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to sharp but just rebuke, “ Verily, I say unto the husbandmen, that they might receive the you, that the publicans and the Charlots fruits of it. And the husbandmen took bis go into the kingdom of God before you. servants, and beat one, and killed another, For John came unto you in the way of righ and stoned another." The Almighty sent teousness, and ye believed him not,” nor en the prophets to exhort the Jews to entertain tered into your Father's vineyard, though, just sentiments of religion, and tread the like the second son, promised in the most paths of virtue; but the Jews, irritated at fait and candid manner; " but the publicans ihe prophets for the freedom they used in re. and the harlots believed him," repented of proving them for

em for their sins, persecuted their former disobedience, and entered into and slew them with unrelenting fury. the vineyard.

Their wickedness, however, in killing

Lord asked the Pharisees, " Whether of them Isra

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

these messengers, did not instantly provoke accordingly, he delivered another parable, the Almighty to pour down his vengeance

wherein he described on the one hand, the apoi them; he sent more prophets to exhort bad success which the preachi. g of the gosand reclaim them, but they met with no bet pel was to meet with among the Jews; and, ter fate than the former. His mercy, how on the other, the eheerful reception given ever, still continued, and that no means it auiong the Gentiles. This gracious design might be left untried, he sent unto them bis of the Almighty, in giving the gospel to the own Son, whose authority being clearly esta children of men, our blessed Saviour illusblished by undeniable miracles, ought to have trated by the behaviour of a certain king, been acknowledged cheerfully by these wick who in honour of his son, made a great ed men ; but how different was the conse feast, to which he invited many guests. "The quence:

“ When the busband men saw the kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain Son, they said among themselves, This is king, which made a marriage for his son.” the heir, come, let us kill him, and let us This marriage supper, or great feast, signi. seize on his inheritance. And they caught fies the joys of heaven which are properly him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and compared to an elegant entertainment, on slew him. When the lord, therefore, of the account of their exquisiteness and duration; vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those and are here said to be prepared in honour husbandmen ? They say unto bim, He will of the Son of God, because they are bemiserably destroy those wicked men, and let stowed on men in consequence of his sufferout his vineyard unto other husbandmen, | ings in their stead and behalf . which shall render him the fruits in their seasons." Matt. xxi. 38, &c.

Some time before the supper was ready,

the servants were sent forth to call the guests Shocked at this awful representation, the to the wedding; i. e. when the fulness of Pharisees exclaimed, and said, "God for time approached, the Jews, as being the bid ;” surely these husbandmen will not pro- peculiar people of God, were first called by eeed to such desperate iniquity; surely the John the Baptist, and afterwards by Christ vineyard will not thus be taken from them. himself; but they refused all these benevoBut to coufirm the trutb of this, Our Savi. lent calls of mercy, and rejected the kind our added a remarkable prophecy of bim invitation of the gospel, though pressed by self, and his rejection, from the 118th Psalm. the preaching of the Messiah and his fore

.“ Did you never (said he) read in the runner. After our Saviour's resurrection scriptures, the stone which the builders re and ascension, the apostles were sent forth fused, the same is become the head of the to inform the Jews, that tbe gospel covenant corner; this is the Lord's doing, it is marvel was established, mausions in heaven preparlous in our eyes ?”

ed, and nothing wanting but the cheerful

acceptance of the honour designed them. The rejection of the Messiah by the Jews, “Again be sent forth other servants, saying, and the reception he met with among the Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have Gentiles, all brought to pass by the provi prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatdence of God, are wonderful events; and lings are killed, and all things are ready ; therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of come unto the marriage.” But these mesGod shall be taken from you, and given to sengers were as unsuccessful as the former. a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. The Jews, undervaluing the favour offered

them, mocked at the message; and some of The chief priests and Pharisees being them more rude than the rest, insulted, afraid to apprehend Jesus, he was at liberty beat, and slew the servants that had been the proceed in the offices of his ministry: sent to call them to the marriage supper

No. 12.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]


of the lamb. “ But when the king heard 1 caverns. On the other hand, to animate thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his and encourage us, let us anticipate the armies, and destroyed those murderers, and joyful hour which will consign us to bliss burnt up their city.” This part of the para immortal. ble plainly predicted the destruction of the Jews by the Roman armies, called here the armies of the Almighty, because they were appointed by him to execute vengeance on that once favourite, but now rebellious

CHAP. XXX. people.

The Jews having rejected the benevolent The blessed Jesus wisely retorts on the calls of the gospel, the king again

sent forth Pharisees and Sadducees, who prohis servants into the countries of the Gen

pound an intricate Question to him. tiles, with orders to compel all that they Settles the most important Point of the met with to come to the marriage. This Law. Enforces his Mission and Docwas immediately done, and the wedding trine : and foretels the Judgment that was furnished with guests; but when the would fall upon the Pharisaical Tribe. king came into the apartment, “ he saw there a man which had not on a wedding THIS representation of the state of the garment'; and he saith unto bim, Friend, finally impenitent, appearing to he how camest thou in hither, not having a levelled at the Pharisees, they immediately wedding garment? And he was speech concerted witb the Herodians and Sadduless. Then said the king to the servants, cees, on the most proper method of putting Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, Jesus to death. It was sufficiently evident, and cast him into outer darkness; there that their batred was now carried to the shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, highest pitch, because the most violent enFor many are called but few are chosen." mity which had so long subsisted between Matt. xxii. 11, &c.

the two sects was, on this occasion, sus

pended, and they joined together to exeBy the conclusion of the parable we

cute their cruel deterinination on the Son of learn, that the profession of the christian God. They, however, thought it most religion will not save a man, unless he acts eligible to act very cautiously, and endeafrom christian principles. Let us there vour, if possible, to catch some hasty expresfore, who have obeyed the call, and are by sion from him, that they might render him profession the people of God, think often odious to the people, and procure someon that awful day when the king will come thing against him that might serve as a basis in to see his guests, when the Almighty will, for a persecution. Accordingly, they sent with the greatest strictness, view every soul some of their disciples to him with orders that lays claim to the joys of heaven. Let to feign themselves just men, who mainus think of the speechless confusion that tained the greatest veneration for the divine will seize such as have not on the wedding law, and dreaded nothing more than the garment, and of the inexorable anxiety doing any thing inconsistent with its prewith which they will be consigned te weep. cepts; and, under this specious cloak of ing and gnashing of teeth : and let us re hypocrisy, to beg his determination of an member, that to have seen for a while, affair that bad long lain beavy on their the light of the gospel, and the fair beam consciences : namely, the paying tribute to ings of an eternal hope will add deeper Cæsar, which they thought inconsistent with and more sensible horrors to these gloomy | their zeal for religion.

« PreviousContinue »