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of the city, who naturally enquired who this extraord- inary personage could be, who was so highly honoured, and who excited so much joy.
11. And the multitude said, This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Gal
Notwithstanding the extraordinary miracles which Jesus had performed, the people were led to form no other idea of him than that of a prophet; a character which was well known, and very familiar to the Jews, from the ancient history of their country.
12. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple.
It surprises us to find persons of this description in a place which the Jews held in such veneration, even to superstition; but we are to remember that the place where this traffic was carried on was not the house which was called the temple, in the proper sense of the word, but an open court which surrounded it; yet it. was still within the wall which inclosed the whole building, and therefore might justly be deemed sacred ground. Here it was that proselytes to the Jewish religion, and any persons who were worshippers of the God of Israel, were permitted to enter, and to offer up their prayers; whence it was called the court of the Gentiles. As wine, salt, oil, and a variety of other things, were necessary for sacrifices, they were brought into this court, surrounding the temple, and sold there; and, as the evangelist John tells us, (ii. 15.) even sheep and oxen. It was out of this court that Christ turned those who were traffickers for these articles, the demand for which was increased by the approach of the feast of the passover.
And overthrew the tables of the money-changers;
Every Jew, that was twenty years of age, was obliged to pay a piece of money every year, towards defraying the charges of the temple: as this was a small coin, in circulation in Judæa only, it was the business of these money-changers to furnish Jews, who came to Jerusalem from foreign countries, with these small pieces of money, in exchange for larger, upon which traffick they received a profit. These were stationed, as well as the preceding, in the court of the Gentiles.
And the seats of them that sold doves.
Those who were so poor, as not to be able to purchase sheep and oxen for sacrifice, were allowed to offer doves. To furnish the poor with these offerings, these birds were brought into the court of the temple; but Christ drove away all those who were engaged in this, or any other kind of traffick. Being followed by a great multitude, who appeared ready to support him, the traders were prevented from making any resistance.
13. And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, or, “ be a house of prayer ;" but ye have made it a den of thieves, " robbers.”
The passage to which this refers is found in Isaiah lvi. 7. “ for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people:” but prayer could not be offered in a place that was disturbed with the noise of cattle, and the conversation of men who were transacting business. This was, therefore, a gross perversion of a part of the temple which was appropriated to devotion. Christ, by saying that the traders had converted the temple into a den of robbers, refers to the unjust arts which were practised by them in this commerce: they laid schemes for over-reaching and cheating eaeh other, in the same manner as robbers in their caverns lay plots for taking from the traveller his money.
bers in theating each othey laid schemere .. 14. And the blind and the lame
came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
15. And when the chief priests and Scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, “his miracles," and, the children, rather, " the servants,” i. e. his disciples and followers, crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David, they were sore displeased.
The word here translated children signifies, in almost every other place in the New Testament, with only one or two exceptions, servants; and it ought so to have been translated here: for it is not likely that they were only children who sang Hosanna to Christ in the temple, or that the Pharisees would have been so much displeased with children for doing it. Luke (xix. 39.) says that some of the Pharisees desired him to rebuke his disciples for thus crying after him. The retinue of Christ, his followers and disciples, might not improperly be called his servants.
16. And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea, have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.
By babes and sucklings Christ does not here mean those who were so in years, but those who were such in regard to knowledge. In Matt. xi. 25, Christ thanks God that he had hidden things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes, i. e. to such as were ignorant. These are also the babes of whom he here speaks. Those who were literally babes
and sucklings could not perfect praise: for they are not able to speak.
17. And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
He feared that if he continued at Jerusalem, the multitude might occasion some tumult during the night.
1. After the example of this multitude, let us welcome the Saviour who comes in the name of the Lord: we have now attended him through a great part of his ministry, and seen enough of his character to form a just estimate of his worth. We have seen him healing the sick of their diseases, restoring reason to the disordered, limbs to those who had lost them, the faculties of seeing, hearing and speaking, to those who had not the complete use of their senses and members, and raising the dead to life. We have seen him laboriously employed, in instructing an ignorant and vicious nation in the purest principles of piety, moral justice and benevolence, and enforcing his precepts by the clearest assurances of a glorious immortality beyond the grave, or by dreadful denunciations of future misery; and doing all this in the midst of the greatest opposition and danger. We have seen the humility, the piety, the purity, the fortitude, the benevolence, in the practice of which he lived, and we now behold him going up to Jerusalem, to give the last and highest proof of his obedience to God, and the strongest instance of his love to the human race, by laying down his life for them. How high ought such a character to stand in our esteem; how well is it entitled to our gratitude and love! Let us celebrate his virtues in strains of the highest admiration and praise; let us bless God, who has raised up
for us such a benefactor, and congratulate each other, that we are born in an age when we can be witnesses of his actions, and enjoy the advantages of his instructions, example and sufferings. Blessed be he who cometh in the name of the Lord! May God confer upon him the highest honours which he has to bestow; may hę pour out upon his head all the blessings which are lodged in the treasures of infinite mercy; may mankind revere his memory, and celebrate his praises to the lata est generations!
2. Sad is the character which our Lord here gave of a place of merchandise; that it was a den of robbers, a scene of fraud and treachery, where men were dividing the booty which they had unjustly acquired, and laying plots to procure more, like robbers in their cavern. What greatly aggravates their crime is, that this was practised in the precincts of the temple, under the eye of that omniscient Being who was supposed to hold his peculiar residence there. What effrontery in wick, edness! How hardened must their consciences have been! Surely, there was something peculiar in the situation of these men, which could make them all combine in the same unlawful practices; some temptation of peculiar force to which they were exposed, and to which men in the ordinary concerns of trade are not liable. Let all men, however, who are employed in commerce keep the strictest watch over themselves, lest they should be influenced by like principles, and hereby bring upon themselves the same disgrace. Let them guard against a mercenary and avaricious spirit: let them be contented with moderate profits, and em: ploy no unjust arts, to increase the distresses, or to take advantage of the ignorance of mankind. The false weight, the unjust balance, the faithless assurance, the deceitful promise, the artful concealment of defects, are all an abomination to the Lord. Whether men buy or sell, let them remember that golden rule of equity, which ought to be inscribed upon every heart, to do to others as they would that others, in the like circum: stances, do unto them.