« PreviousContinue »
another in thee* ; because thou didst not know the season of thy visitation.
And Jesus entered into Jerusalem amidst the acclamations of the people ; and as he made his entrance, the whole city was in a commotion, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the Propbet of Nazareth in Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God.
And when he had looked round about upon all things there he began (as he had done three years before) to drive out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the exchangers of money, and the seats of them that sold doves. And he said to them, It is written, My house shall be called an house of
prayer for all people ; but you have made it a den of robbers.
And the blind and lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes beheld the wonders he performed, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, Hosannah to the Son of David, they were filled with indignation ; and they said to him, Dost thou hear what these children say? And Jesus says to them, Yes : have you never read what David says (Psal. viii. 2.) “ Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise ?” And he was teaching daily in the temple : but the chief priests and the scribes, and the rulers of the people, sought opportunity to destroy him, and yet could not find what they might do for that purpose ; for all the common people listened to him with great attention. They hung as it were on his lips while he spake. GR.
REFLECTIONS. · Next to the sight of a bleeding and dying Redeemer there can surely be none in the whole world more affecting than this which is here represented ; even the Son of God weeping over perishing sinners ; yea, over the sinners of Jerusalem. We might, perhaps, have been ready to think that, foreseeing so circumstantially, as we know he did, all the ungrateful and inhuman treatment he was to meet with in this nest of murderers, with the scene of his sufferings, and the very house of Caiaphas in his full view, he should rather have taken up a proverb against it, and have anticipated the triumphs of that awful day when God would plead his cause with irresistible terror, and avenge the quarrel of his sacred blood. But behold, he seems to forget himself, and all his wrongs, great and cruel as they were ; and in the midst of a procession intended for his honour, he melts into tears, as if it were for the calamity of a friend, or a brother; and says in the most genuine language of undissembled grief, Oh that thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace!
Behold, O our souls, with wonder and with awe, at once the goodness and severity of God: The sinners of Jerusalem wept over, and yet abandoned to ruin! We have our part in all this : the tidings of the gospel are the things which belong to our peace ; the things on
* The accomplishment of every part of this prediction is recorded by Juses phus in so affecting and particular a manner, that I cannot but recommend the perusal of it to every one who has opportunity.
which our everlasting happiness depends. Let us remember that the time will come in which, if we do not attend to them, they will be hid from our eyes. There is a limited day of mercy and grace ; and therefore to-day, while it is called to-day, let us hear his voice, and not harden our hearts, lest slighted mercy at length retire, and vengeance take its turn; a vengeance which will fall the heavier, and pierce the deeper, in proportion to all the long-suffering and goodness which have been exercised towards us in vain. Let all, and especially the ministers of Christ, learn compassion to souls by such an example; and when the strongest efforts of love prove ineffectual for their recovery, let us at least be mourning for them before the Lord, and weeping over the ruin which we cannot prevent.
Though Christ had cleared the temple from the profanations of these traders at the beginning of his ministry, he found the same pollutions returned at the close of it. And, alas, how often do we find it thus with respect to our hearts ! How soon do those weeds spring up again which we had been endeavouring with a resolute hand to root up; and how often are efforts for reformation forgotten, even when the attempt appeared at first to be most necessary! Let us learn of Christ not to be weary of well-doing, but with continued zeal renew our endeavours again and again.
The Scribes and Pharisees envied Christ; but the children surround him with their Hosannahs ; and he graciously accepts their feeble accents of praise, as ordained by God out of the mouth of babes and sucklings. Nor will he now despise the day of small things. Oh that we might have the pleasure to see little children pronouncing the name of Christ with reverence and love! And surely we who are parents must add, with a peculiar accent, Oh that our own may join in the choir! May they learn the song from our lips; and may our whole lives be one continued visible proof of the devotion and anlection with which we present it! Amen.
Some Greeks that came to the passover are introduced to Christ, who
suitably addresses them, on his approaching death, and retires in the evening to Bethany. JOHN xii. 20-36..
among those that came up to Jerusalem to worship at the
feast, there were sonie Greeks: persons descended from Gre. cian parents, but had forsaken their idolatry, and devoted themselves 21 to the God of Israel. These therefore came to Philip who was of
Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him saying, Sir, we desire to see 22 Jesus. Philip comes and tells Andrew ; and then Andrew and 23 Philip told Jesus. And Jesus, ordering them to be brought to him, . answered them saying, The hour is come, the appointed time is at
hand, that the Son of man must be glorified ; and the approach of
these Grecks is an earnest of the flowing in of the Gentiles. But 24 wonder not if my death is to precede it. Verily, verily I say unto
you, Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die, it remains VOL. I.
alone ; but if it die it brings forth much fruit.-A8 my servants 25 must expect difficulties, I must inform these strangers that, he who
loves his life shail lose it; but he that hates * his life in this world 26 shall preserve it to everlasting life. If any man would serve me,
let him follow me, and where I am there shall also my servant be ;
and if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. 27 Now is my soul troubled : and what shall I say or ask ? Shall I
say Father, save me from this hour? Nay, but for this cause I came 28 to this hour.-Father, glorify thine own name.-Then there came
a voice from heaven which said, I have both glorified it, and I will 29 glorify it again. The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard 30 it, said that it thundered : others said, An angel spake to him. Je
sus answered and said, This voice came not chefly for my sake, but 51 for yours. Now is the judgment of this world, which I am going
to conquer and condemn: now shall the ruler of this world be cast 32 out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all 33 men to me. Now this he spake signifying by what death he should 34 die.—The multitude answered him, We have heard out of the law
that the Messiah abides for ever ; and how then dost thou say that
the son of man must be lifted up. Who is this Son of man? Then 35 Jesus said to them, Yet a little whi's the light is with you; walk
while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you ; for 36 he that walks in darkness knows not whither he goes. While
you have the light, believe in the light and follow it, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spake when the Greeks applied to him, and he left them and departed. And when pow it was late in the evening, he went out of the city to Bethany, with the twelve, and he lodged there, and concealed himself from them (that lay in wait for him] Matt. xxi. 17. Mark. xi. 11.
REFLECTIONS. Who can wonder at the desire these Greeks expressed to see so celebrated a Person as Jesus was ! We hope there was something more than mere curiosity in it, and that at length they saw him with believing eyes, and, according to his prediction, glorified him by a cordial acceptance of his gospel. His disciples, we see, were ready to introduce them: and surely every faithful minister of Christ will undertake the task with pleasure when he sees souls awakened by divine grace, and inquiring after Jesus with affectionate concern.
Blessed be God, it has already, in many instances, been seen that by the death of Christ an immortal seed was sown, which has multiplied in all ages, and is still multiplying : Oh that it might have a greater increase! One would think that words so gracious as these should promote that increase, and operate upon every heart to produce a love to him suficient to conquer every danger and opposition which may be met with in his cause. Behold the promise which he has left upon record : If any man, be he ever So mean and unworthy, will but faithfully serve and follow me, whatever his for.
*See $ 128, p. 220.
mer wanderings and rebellions may have been, where I am, there shall also my servant be. Happy state indeed ! not only, like these Greeks, to have a transient sight of Christ, but to be for ever with him! How admirable is the love and stedfastness of our Redeemer, who procured so great a happiness for us at so dear an expense! and even when his innocent soul was troubled in the view of his sufferings instead of declining them, met them with joy ! How should it, animate us to renew that general, comprehensive petition, than which none can be more suitable to us with regard to all the divine dispensations ; Father, glorify thine own name! Glorify thyself, O Lord! and to that great end dispose of us as thou pleasest ; for we should abhor ourselves if we had any interest separate from thine!
We may be assured, as certainly as by a voice from heaven, that this great end shall be answered ; and in this we should rejoice. Behold, the prince of this world is cast out ! Behold, Satan is vanquished by Christ! and Jesus is lifted up on the cross for a standard to all the na, tions. Behold the attractive magnet by which all men are to be drawn, by which all his chosen people shall be brought to him, and so raised up to heaven itself! Let us look unto him from the ends of the earth, and labour with our cold hearts to awaken them to that lively and ardent affection which we owe to him who was crucified for us.
For ever adored be divine grace for this divine light which discovers to us so excellent an object ! May we use it to saving purposes, and so walk in it, as that we may appear to be the children of light ! Let us think of that last distribution of mankind, when the children and heirs of light and of darkness are once for all to be separa. ted. Let us think of the gloom of eternal night, which will shortly overtake those by whom the gospel is now despised ; and remember how much it will be aggravated by the light we have so long seen.
Do thou, O God, at whose word light arose out of darkness, send forth by thine influences on our hearts thy light, and thy truth, that they may lead and bring us to thine holy, hill ; and that we may have the satisfaction of knowing whither we go, even when we walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death.
John's reflection on the infidelity of the Jews. As Christ was returning
the next morning to Jerusalem he curses the barren fig-tree. JOHN xii. 37–43. MAATT. xxi. 18, 19. MARK xi. 12–14.
TOW such was the perverseness of the Jews, and such their prejudice
against our Lord, that though he had done so many, miracles before them, yet they did not believe on him : so that the saying of Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled, which he spake in the name of Christ and his servants ( Ch. liii. 1.) “ Lord, who hath believed our report? 6 and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ?” For this reason they were now in a manner incapable of believing, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere (Ch. vi. 10. § 65.) “ He has in righteous " judgment, blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, lest they « should see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and be “ converted and I should heal them.” These things Isaiah ·said r when he saw his glory and spake of him. • Nevertheless, there were many even of the rulers who believed on him as the Messiah ; but they did not coníess him on account of the Pharisees, lest they should be cast out of the synagogue : For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
And on the morrow-morning*, when they were come from Betha, ny, as he returned into the city, he was hungry. And on the way, seeing a single fig-tree at a distance, which had leaves (and there.fore appeared to be of the early kind) he went to it to see if he could find any thing upon it to eat ; and when he came to it he found nothing thereon but leaves only : (though had not the tree been barren, fruit might have been now expecied upon itt] for the time of gathering fig's was not yet come. And Jesus said to it upon this occasion, Let no man from henceforwards ever eat fruit of thee, nor any fruit hereafter grow upon theef. And his disciples heard, and took notice of the words ; and the fig-tree immediately withered away: Christ intending by that significant action to intimate, that the curse of God should thus wither and destroy the Jewish nation, which he had before compared to an unfrui ful fig-tree. See Luke xiii. 6-9.9 116.
REFLECTIONS. How evidently necessary is the operation of divine grace to conquer the prejudices of a sinful heart ! since even the preaching of Christ himself, enforced by all his stupendous miracles, could not overcome those prejudices without it. And how cautious should sinners be that they do not stop their ears to the joyful sound of the gospel, and shut iheir eyes against its glorious light; lest God should leave them to their own c!elusions, and in his righteous judgment seal them up under final blindness and impenitence. Then will they never be converted and healed; but die with that poison in all the faculties of their souls, which will make them for ever restless and miserable.
Can we find words sufficint to express the madness of these Phar.. isees, who, while they were in their consciences convinced that Jesus was the Christ, would not confess that conviction, and publicly pay their homage to him, because they loved the praise of men more than the firaise of God ? Strange infatuation of the human mind! that it should be capable of believing there is a God, and yet of preferring the creatures before him : and should sometimes imagine the vain breath of popular applause or popular censure so considerable, as that God should be offended to please man; and all the honours and rewards of his heavenly presence lost, to secure a little regard from those who are
* This refers to the close of $ 148. ED.
† The above expresses, in a few words, the sense of this passage according 10 ibe author's interpretation, and it appears to remove the difficulty attending it. Tucse who wish to see it detended; are referred to a long and excellent note upon the passage.
# We are to suppose that our Lord blasted this barren tree not from vexation and disappointment, but to convey a useful lesson to his disciples. ED.