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the great depository of the worship of God; of the true God. “ In Jewry was God known; in Salem was his tabernacle." And here the pretence of the worship of God was kept up. Here was a show of leaves, but no fruit; here was the pretence, but not the reality of prayer.
And nothing could be more injurious to the Divine honour. Suppose a Gentile, who had learnt from the Jewish Scriptures the being and unity of God; who “had joined himself to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servant;" $ suppose him to have visited Jerusalem, for the purpose of fulfilling the duties of his faith ; like the chamberlain of the Ethiopian Candace, who, with the Scripture in his hand, had “come up to Jerusalem to worship.” (Acts viii. 27.) What a disappointment to his feelings, and what a contrast to his expectations, would be the sight of this temple, in which the sacrifices which were to be offered on the altar, had been made a pretext for buying and selling; for placing there the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves. How disgusting and how injurious to his rising faith it would prove, to find that the business of profit and loss was pursued, and the tumult of worldly transactions, continued even there, where most particularly the thoughts ought to be carried beyond this world, and lifted above it!
We cannot then wonder that the zeal of our Lord was excited ; that he saw it a fit opportunity to express vehement indignation against all who showed such a proof of the prevalence of this present world in their hearts beyond the love of God.
6 See Isaiah lxvi. 6.
And all, we see, were so struck with the justice of his feelings, as to offer no opposition to him. The scribes and chief priests, however, when they find the people astonished at his doctrine, sought how they might destroy him. Their enmity, instead of being directed against Him who would have reformed it, and reconciled them to God, whose temple they had so shamefully profaned.
Such is too often the course of the corrupt heart. But the event will manifest the truth of what is written, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
POWER OF FAITH.-A FORGIVING SPIRIT EN
JOINED. THE SCRIBES AND ELDERS SELF-
MARK xi. 20—33.
20. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the Matt. xxi. fig-tree dried up from the roots.
20—27. 21. And Peter calling to remembrance, saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig-tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Huve faith in God.
9 Prov. xxix. 1
23. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea ; and shall not doubl in his heart, but shall beliere that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24. Therefore I suy unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
By the example before their eyes, of the fig-tree withered, our Lord takes the opportunity of pointing out the efficacy of faith, and of the prayer which is offered in faith. As much as to say, You seem surprised that the fig-tree is so soon withered away. The same power which has blasted the fig-tree, shall be committed to yourselves. Only believe, “all things are possible to him that believeth.”
On the strength of this promise, the apostles, to whom it was given, said confidently to the cripple who had been lame from his birth, (Acts iii. 6,) “ In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise
up and walk.” Peter spake, not doubting in his heart, but believing that he should receive ; and he was not disappointed. The cripple“ leaping up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.”
It is obvious that this promise, in its full and literal sense, was confined to the apostles; confined to the time, which required evident and striking miracles as a testimony to the divinity of him from whom the power proceeded.
St. John, however, writing fifty years afterwards, when the power of working miracles was gradually declining, likewise speaks of the
of faith. The limit to which he confines its power, makes the promise applicable to every age. “ This is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”I
Such a measure of wisdom was given to the apostles, that they could not ask except according to the will of God. Succeeding Christians must limit their petitions to "what may be expedient for them.”
Then follows a precept which belongs to all ages
25. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your
Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
There must be a right spirit in the heart which offers prayer; otherwise, let no man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. Our reason and our conscience must subscribe to the just declaration of the prophet, “ If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” There may be much remaining corruption in the heart which makes acceptable prayer; but there must be no iniquity reigning and prevailing. Therefore when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any. Forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian spirit. The parable of the unmerciful servant, (Matt. xviii. 33,) is expressly introduced to show, that harshness in resenting the errors of others, or 11 John v. 14.
9 Ps. Ixvi. 18.
the offences committed against ourselves, must betray a temper wholly inconsistent with Christian faith. “O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest thou not also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee ?”3 The Christian is one who lives by mercy; and who cannot be spi. ritually alive at all, if he is not habitually sensible of this. Therefore he must habitually show mercy, and feel compassion.
27. And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes and the elders,
28. And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things and who gave thee this authority to do these things ?
29. And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
30. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
31. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
32. But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
33. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
The men of that generation had received sufficient proof, by what authority Jesus did these things. So Nicodemus candidly acknowledged." Luke xx. 1-8.
* John üïi. l.