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the quiet submission of those men to corporeal chastisement. They were many in number; they had a common interest to bind them to each other ; they were in hitherto unquestioned possession of the ground; their property was concerned ; they had the conni. vance at least, if not the permission of the higher pow..
He was alone, unknown, unconnected, unsupported. But they cannot stand the lightning of his eye, his voice strikes horror into their guilty consciences. They presume not to reason or to resist, but tamely give up their gainful traffic abashed and confounded. Thus the multitude that came with Judas to take Je. sus, though furnished “ with lanterns, and torches, and weapons,” were so overwhelmed by the majesty of his appearance, that “as soon as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward and fell to the ground.” And if such were the glory with which he sometimes invested himself, in his state of humiliation, what must be the glory of his second coming “ with clouds,” when “every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him ?”
What a severe reproof was this action of our Lord, of the carelessness and indifference of the high priest, and of the other ministers of religion? To them it be. longed to guard the sanctity of the temple and of its worship. The dignity of their own station and character suffered, when the house of God was violated. Is it doing them injustice to suspect that they partook of the profits of this illicit trade? If this suspicion be well founded, the grossest enormity is immediately accounted for. When the love of money has once taken possession of the heart, no tie of religion and morality is binding Conscience, sense of honour, sense of de. cency, sense of duty, all, all is sacrificed at the shrine of this insatiate demon, which never says “it is enough.” At those seasons the demand for cattle to be offered in sacrifice must have been very great. Jose, phus, in his Wars of the Jews, informs us, that no
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less than two hundred and fifty-six thousand and five hundred victims were presented at one passover.
А small share of the gains upon such an extensive consumption, must therefore have amounted to a very large sum. What a confederacy, then, had the zeal and intrepidity of Christ to encounter! a whole host of inhuman, unfteling dealers in flesh, actuated by the tasest and most unrelenting of human passions, and leagued with a time-serving priesthood who put every thing up to sale.
We have before us a striking and encouraging instance of the power and influence of one person of inflexible integrity, in a corrupted state of society. He may singly and successfully oppose a torrent of iniquity. Vice is timid when directly attacked.
" The wicked flee,” saith the wise man, “when no one pursveth, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Irresistible is the force of truth and conscience. my word like as fire ? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces ?” “ The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” This is the weapon which our Master wielded, together with the “ scourge of small cords." Smitten at once in their persons and in their consciences, they retreat with shame from the field, acknowledging, feeling the superiority of real goodness. Thus then learn, Oman, to arm thyself, and say, “the Lord God will help me: therefore shall I not be confounded : therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." From the inexhaustible store of Scripture draw thy resources for the warfare, and thou shalt find thy self invincible. What has he to fear, who is conscious of the goodness of his cause, who employs “the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God," and who goes
forth conquering and to conquer in full confidence of divine conduct and support.
It is evident from the censure pronounced upon the violators of the temple, that their trade was every way unlawful. This transaction is recorded by all the four evangelists with little if any variation. And by com. paring them together we shall find, that the abuse exposed and condemned was a horrid mixture of impi. ety and dishonesty, of contempt of God, and robbery of man.
Not only was “the house of prayer for all nations" abominably polluted by what fell from the flocks and herds for sacrifice, but it was literally perverted into “a den of thieves,” who had entered into a wicked combination to prey upon the public, by enhancing the price of an article which was at once a ne. cessary of life and of religion. These two enormities, however, generally go hand in hand. If there is no fear of God before a man's eyes, his neighbour has but a slender hold upon either his veracity or integrity, when the falsehood may be uttered, or the fraud com- . mitted without danger of detection. And, on the other hand, he who deliberately practises deceit upon “ his brother whom he had seen," cannot have a very high degree of reverence for “God whom he hath not seen.”
While we contemplate with shame and sorrow the corruptions which disgraced the Jewish church, is it possible to refrain from lamenting the equally deplorable corruptions which have disfigured the hallowed form of christianity ? Did not all history attest the truth of it, who would believe that there was a long period, not yet quite expired in sonie parts of christendom, and that there was a succession of priests, called christians, who presumed, for a piece of money, to grant a man indulgence to commit every species of wickedness, which his corrupt heart might suggest, and for any given period, with complete impunity ? Who could believe that this priest, in consideration
of something cast into his treasury, would take upon him to issue a pardon of the most attrocious offences, and thereby screen the vilest of offenders from punishment; nay, confer the power of pardoning on stone walls and lifeless altars? The murderer who smote his brother to death in the open street, in broad day, had but to step into the next church, and it stood always open on purpose, to be protected from the vengeance of the law. Who could believe that a present or bequest to the church was considered as a full compensation for all the crimes of a life of violence, and rapine, and blood, and as a fair passport to the kingdom of heaven? That such things should ever have existed is most wonderful ; that they should have maintained their ground over all Europe for many centuries together is most wonderful. But the scandalous usurpation is hastening to a close. And with the downfall of popery, may every remaining error in the doctrine, discipline and practice of the churches of the reformation finally terminate.
The disciples of our Lord possessed one great preparatory qualification for the exercise of their fu. ture ministry, acquaintance with the Scriptures of the Old Testament, Struck with this display of their master's zeal for the honour of God, and for the purity of temple worship, they call to renembrance a text from the psalms of David, which appeared to them a pre figuration of what had just passed. “And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." We pretend not to affirm that the words of the psalmist amount to a prediction of what Christ felt, and said, and did upon this occasion. David unquestionably uttered his own feelings, though there was as yet no temple at Jerusalem dedicated to the most High God. But the expression amounts to this: Whatever affects the character and worship of Deity, I make my personal concern.
" The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up:” ardent regard for the honour of thy sanctuary, like a secret fame pent up in my breast, must either have vent or consume me: and the sequel is in the same spirit, " and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” But though we may not have here a direct prophecy of a future event, we have a powerful assimilation between two most eminent personages, at very distant periods, breathing one, and the same spirit, aiming at one and the same end; and this similitude partakes of the nature of prophecy. And the whole leads us to this conclusion, that there may be predictions, resemblances, analogies in Scripture, hitherto concealed even from the wise and prudent, to be hereafter unfolded, or perhaps reserved for the instruction and delight of the kingdom of heaven, when there shall be in Scripture nothing obscure, or hard to be understood. What a motive is this, now to listen to the command of Christ. “ Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life : and they are they which testify of me.
In this passage of our Lord's history, as in all Scripture, we have many things “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteous
1. We have a humiliating view of the treachery and deceitfulness of the human heart. The very persons who considered it as a crime to " eat bread with unwashen hands,”, could quietly digest the profanation of the temple and of the worship of God. Such selfdelusion do men practise every day. They treat their own infirmities as some mothers do very homely, wayward, or even deformed children, who not only shew them all possible indulgence themselves, but are offended if others adopt not their fondness and partiality. At the same time, the slightest blemish in the character of another is quickly seen and severely censured. The