« הקודםהמשך »
gether at the saine mill; the one shall be taken, and the other dis36 missed. Two men shall be together in the field ; the one shall be 37 taken, and the other dismissed.—And they answered and said to
him, Where, Lord, shall this destruction happen? And he said to them, Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together* : wherever the impenitent and unbelieving Jews are, the vengeance of God will pursue them, and the Roman eagles shall fly upon them as a helpless prey.
REFLECTIONS. May our minds be formed to a true taste and relish for the kingdom of God! and may we learn wherein it consists ; not, like the kingdoms of this world, in external pomp and splendour, but in righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost, and that inward subjection of soul to the divine, government which is the essence of religion, and the grand security and felicity of our natures! Many are, like the Pharisees, talking of it, and expecting it, while it is among them, and they know it not ; and, perhaps, despise the humble Christians in whom it resides, and most eminently triumphs. May they who think most lightJy of it never have cause to wish at last for the return of those days of the Son of man, which are now their burden, rather than their pleasure, while they hear vital and inward religion in vain recommended and enforced !
What our Lord says of his coming to the destruction of Jerusalem, may be applied, as it is elsewhare, to his appearance at the final judgment, of which the former was a figure. Thus shall the men of that generation be immersed in business and pleasure ; and that tremendous day shall come upon them, even as a thief in the night ; so that they shall find themselves overwhelmed with irrecoverable ruin, while they cry, Peace and safety. And thus doth the awful hour of death, which consigns men over to judgment, surprise the generality of mankind, while they are thoughtless of it, and unprepared for its approach, amidst all the solemn warnings of it which they daily receive. May we be always in a prepared posture, and daily live as on the verge of eternity! And if once we are engaged in a course of serious preparation, let us remember Lot's wife, and take heed that we turn not back again. We fiee as for our lives ; let us not look behind us. Whatever is to be left, whatever is to be lost, it is enough if our life be given us as for a prey. If we have any just hope that it will be so given us, we have a great deal of reason to own and adore the riches of divine grace to us, of that distinguishing grace which has taken us when others are left; some, perhaps, employed in the same business, and dwelling in the same place; and, may not I add, some lying in the same bed too!
In a word ; let all seriously bethink themselves, and flee from the wrath to come. God spared not Judea, that favourite country, when they rejected his gospel, and his Son : let us fear, lest he also spare not us. In this respect also, wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles
* A common proverb, particularly applicable on this occasion, as there seems to be an allusion to the eagles on the Roman standards.
be gathered together. The same causes will produce the same effects ; and when we, in particular, of these happy, but sinful nations, consider our numerous and aggravated provocations, we shall see much greater reason to wonder that the judgments of God have been so long delayed, than that they should at last fall upon us with an insupportable weight.
Christ recommends perseverance in prayer by the parable of the impor.
tunate widow; and humility by that of the Pharisee and Publican. LUKE xviii. 1-14.
1 A ND for the encouragement of his disciples under those hardships
A which they might expect, he spake a parable to them, intended to inculcate upon them this great truth, that they ought always 2 to pray, and not to faint : Saying, There was a judge in a certain 3 city, who neither feared God, nor reverenced man. And there was
a widow in that city who had been greatly injured ; and she came to 4 him and said, Do me justice against mine adversary. And he
would not for a time : but as she persevered in her petition, he
afterwards said within himself, Though I neither fear God nor 5 reverence man, Yet because this widow gives me trouble I will 6 do her justice, lest coming perpetually she weary me out. And 7 the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not
God vindicate his own elect, that cry to him day and night, under
the cruel oppression of their enemies, though he bear long with 8 them? I say unto you, He will vindicate them; and when he once
undertakes it, he will do it speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes for this purpose will he find faith in the land* ? The persecution will be so severe, as almost to bear it down : but let what
I have now'spoken be a comfort to my people. g He also spake this parable to certain who trusted in themselves 10 that they were righteous, and despised others. Two men went up
to the temple to pray ; the one a Pharisee, and the other'a PubliIl can. The Pharisee standing by himself, as more holy than others,
prayed in this manner, “O God, I thank thee, that I am not as
other men ; rapacious, unjust, adulterous; or even like this Pub12 lican. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I possess." 13. But the Publican stapding afar off, would not so much as lift up his
eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “O God, be 14 merciful to me a sinnert."-I say unto you, this man went down
to his house justified rather than the other ; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased ; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
* The word ym, often signifies, not the earth in general, but some particular land or country: as in Acts vii. 3, 4, 11,
+ The word sinner often signifies an abandoned profligate, or as we commonly express it, a wicked wretch.
REFLECTIONS. How hateful is the character of this unjust judge, who neither feared God nor reverenced man, but centered all his regards in himself! How hateful, and how contemptible, in any circumstance of life; especially in a magistrate, the guardian of the public interest, in comparison of which he ought to forget his own! Yet even he was prevailed upon by importunity ; and our Lord mentions it to encourage the fervour of our addresses to the throne of grace. What then, is the blessed God, like this unjust judge, to be wearied out with a peal of words, and thereby weakly induced to do what would otherwise have been contrary to his designs ? Far from us be so absurd and so impious a thought! Our condescending Lord only intended to intimate, that if the repeated, importunate cries of the afflicted may at length prevail even on an inhuman heart, they will be much more regarded by a righteous and merciful God, who is always ready to bestow his favours when he sees we are prepared to receive them.” We may be sure that God will vindicate his elect : let this encourage them, though the rod of the wicked may for a while rest on their back; and let it intimidate the proud oppressors of the earth, who, in the midst of all their pomp and power, are so wretched as to have the prayers of God's people against them.
How instructive is this parable of the Publican and Pharisee ! and how well connected with the former, to teach us that humility, without which repeated prayers will be repeated insults and affronts to heaven! Let us not trust in ourselves that we are righteous, and despise others ; but rather be severe to our own faults, and candid to theirs. Behold this arrogant Pharisee, standing apart from the Publican, but as near as he could to the seat of the divine Majesty! And hear him boldly celebrating his own praises rather than those of his Maker ! God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men. We see a man may acknowledge it is the grace of God which makes the difference between him and others ; and yet while he professes that humbling doctrine of the gospel, may be blown up with pride : yea, he may nourish and express that pride by the words in which he declares his faith. Mistaken creature ! that imagined this encomium on himself was a prayer, and trusted in this defective morality, and these cere. monies of human device, while an utter stranger to real, vital religion. Happier, a thousand times happier, the poor Publican, when abasing himself in the dust ; when smiting on his breast ; when owning himself a sinner, and imploring the divine mercy as his only hope ! Lord, we equally need it : may we with equal humility seek it! May we habitually maintain those views of ourselves which may promote that humility so necessary in order to the acceptance of our addresses, and therefore to the happiness of our souls. And indeed, if in our approaches to God we can place our confidence in any righteousness of our own, whatever we may imagine of our own knowledge or holiness, we have need to be taught again the first principles of both, and are strangers to the essentials of religion.
Christ opens the eyes of a man who was born blind ; and the sanhedrim
examine strictly into the evidence of the miracle. John ix. 1 23.
TO UR Lord was now come to Jerusalem, at the feast of dedica
tion ; and as he was passing along he saw a man who had 2 been blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying,
Rabbi, Who sinned to occasion such a judgment? This man himself
in a pre-existent state* ? or had his parents committed some notorious 3 crime, that he was born blind ? Jesus ( waving the curiosity of the
question answered, it is not because either this man or his pa
rents have sinned, as you suppose ; but that the works of God might 4 be manifested in him. I must perform the works of him that
sent me, while it is day; the night is coming, in which no man can 5 work. So long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6 - When he had spoken thus, he spat on the ground, and made
clay with the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay; and then said to him, Go, wash at the pool of Siloam (which being interpreted, signifies Sentt). He therefore went
away and washed, and came back seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they who had seen him before,
and known that he was always blind, said, Is this he that sat and 9 asked charity? Some said, It is he ; and others, it is like him ; 10 but he said, I am the man. They therefore said to him, How 11 were thine eyes opened ? He replied, A man called Jesus, made
clay, and having anointed mine eyes, said to me; Go to the pool of
Siloam and wash ; and I went and washed and received my sight. 12 Then they said to him, Where is he ? he said, I do not know. 13 And they brought him who had formerly been blind to the Phari14 sees in the great Sanhedrim. Now it was the sabbath-day when Je15 sus made the clay, and opened his eyes. The Pharisees therefore
asked him again, how he received his sight. And he said to them, 16 He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed and do now see. Then
said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he observeth not the sabbath. Others said, How can a man that is a
sinner do such miracles ? And there was a division among them, 17 They said again to the man, who had been blind, What sayest thou
concerning him, since he hath as thou declarest, opened thine eyes.
And he said he is a Prophet. 18 The Jews therefore would not believe concerning him that he
had been blind, and received his sight, till they had called the pa
rents of the man, who maintained that he had thus received his 19 sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, of whom 20 you say he was born blind ? How then doth he now see ? His pa
* Most commentators agree that this refers to the notion the Jews had of the transmigration of souls. Perhaps the disciples put this question, to learn our Lord's sentiments on this subject.
Which bears some analogy to the character of Jesus (and his name Shiloh, Gen. xlix. 10.]
rents aswered them and said, We know that this is our son, and 21 that he was born blind : But how he now sees, we know not; or
who has opened his eyes, we know not any more than he has told
us ; he is of age, ask him ; he will speak concerning himself. 22 These things his parents said in this cautious manner, because they
were afraid of the Jews: for the Jews had already agreed, that if
any one should confess Jesus to be Christ, he should be cast out of 23 the synagogue and excommunicated. Therefore his parents said,
He is of age, ask him.
REFLECTIONS. Oh that the zeal of our great Master might quicken us his too negligent servants ! Still he is the light of the world, by his doctrines, precepts, and example. May our eyes by divine grace be opened to see, and our hearts be disposed to love and to follow this light! It was a governing maxim with him, and he meant it also for our admonition, I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day ; the night cometh, wherein no man can work. We are sent into the world on an important errand, to work out our own salvation, and that of others : may we improve the present day ; and so much the rather, as we see the night approaching ! On some the shadows of the evening are already drawing on; and as to others, their sun may go down at noon. Let us therefore, waving the curiosity of unprofitable speculations, apply ourselves seriously to the business of life, and zealously seize every opportunity of usefulness.
Our Lord, as it should seem unasked, and by the person on whom it was wrought unknown, performed this important and extraordinary cure. And the manner in which he did it is worthy of notice : He anointed his eyes with clay, and then commanded him to wash. Clay laid on the eye-lids might almost blind a man that had sight; but what could it do towards curing blindness? It reminds us that God is no further from the accomplishment of any purpose or event when he works with, than without means ; and that all the creatures are only that which bis almighty operation makes them. The blind man believed, and received the immediate benefit of it. Had he reasoned, like Nuaman, on the impropriety of the means, he had justly been left in darkness. Lord, may our proud hearts be subdued to the methods of thy recovering grace! And may we leave it to thee to choose how thou wilt bestow favours, which it is our highest interest on any terms to receive.
It must be a satisfaction to every true Christian to observe the curiosity and exactness with which these Pharisees inquired into the miracles of Christ, and how thoroughly they canvassed every circuma stance of them. A truth like this need not fear any examination. Every new witness which they heard confirmed the case, and confounded the obstinacy of their unbelief.—But surely the weakness of the parents was very pitiable, who, in the midst of the evidence and obligation of such a miracle, were more afraid of incurring a human sentence than of offending God, by failing to own so great a favour, and to confess the blessed Person by whom it was wrought. The fear VOL. I.