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33 fathers' sins. Ye serpents, ye brood of vipers, how can you es34 cape the damnation of hell? Therefore, behold I send unto you
prophets and wise men and scribes; and some of them ye will kill,
and crucify ; and some of them ye will scourge in your syna35 gogues, and persecute from city to city; so that upon you may
seem to come all the righteous blood which has been poured forth on the earth from the blood of Abel, that righteous man, to the
bloood of Zechariah * the son of Barachiah, whom ye [Jews] 36 murdered between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto
you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and
stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gath
ered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens 38 together under her wings, and ye would not. Behold your house 39 is left desolate to you. For I say unto you, Henceforth ye shall
Bot see me till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
REFLECTIONS. May we ever remember how necessary it is that our righteousness should exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, if we desire to enter into the kingdom of heaven! May our zeal be employed on the great essentials of religion, justice, mercy, and fidelity, and not be laid out merely or chiefly on the circumstantials of it! May we be concerned about the purity of our hearts, and not merely attend to the decency of our external behaviour! May we be, not like painted sepulchres, fair and beautiful without, and full of all uncleanness within ; but rather like the vessel laid up before the Lord, whose outside shone with polished gold, while within it was replenished with heavenly manna!
How many, like these Pharisees, condemn persecution, and yet themselves are chargeable with the guilt of it! May that never te our character, lest we be judged out of our own mouths, and lest we thereby fill up the measure of our iniquities ! -Behold the repeated tenderness of our compassionate Redeemer even towards that guilty city that killed the prophets, and stoned the messengers of God! He would with the gentlest and most solicitous care have gathered them, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings. Thus does he still call and invite perishing sinners. Oh that the obstinacy of their own perverse and rebellious wills may not finally withstand all the overtures of his grace ; lest eternal desolation be their portion, and they in vain wish for the repetition of those calls which they once so wantonly despised!
* Though learned men have interpreted this of four different persons, I scruple not to explain it of him mentioned 2 Chron. xxiv. 20, 21. There is no proof that Zechariah who was one of the minor prophets was murdered. He was indeed the son of Barachiah, but this might here be the officious addition of some early transcriber, who confounded the one with the other. [Or Jehojaduh might also be called Barachiah, as the signification is similar, Henry.]
Christ upplauds the poor widow who cast her two mites into the treasury.
MARK xii. 41, &c. LUKE xxi. 1-4.
A ND Jesus, having ended his discourse to the Scribes and Pharisees,
A sat down over-against the treasury; and he looked up and beheld how the people cast their money and their gifts into the treasury. And many rich nen cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she cast in there two mites, which make a Roman farthing. And he called his disciples to him, and he says to then, Assuredly I say unto you, That this poor widow has cast in more than all they who have thrown into the treasury : for all these threw in of their redundancy into the offerings of God; but she of her poverty has cast in all that she had, even all her living.
REFLECTIONS. Our Lord Jesus Christ had his eye on those who were bringing their gifts unto the sacred treasury. Let us remember his eye is also upon us, to observe in what degree we are ready, on proper occasions, to contribute for the glory of God and the good of mankind ; and in what proportion to the ability which God has given us. Let not the poorest be discouraged from doing something for these good purposes, however little they may have it in their power to perform ; since Christ may acknowledge the noblest charity in the smallest gift, as wherever there is a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not.
Let us imitate the candour of our blessed Redeemer, and be ready to be pleased with little services. The circumstances of mankind are such, that few have it in their power to do great matters frequently for the service of others : but the desire of a man is his kindness. The principles and circumstances of an action recommend it more than The appearance it may make; and a multiplicity of little kind offices, in persons frequently conversant with each other, are the bands of so. ciety and friendship. We ought therefore to preserve an habitual tenderness and generosity of mind, and be mutually willing to oblige and to be obliged by them.
To conclude: let us not despise the poor, since there are many of them who will in Christ's computation be found eminently richin good works; many whose mite will, in the treasury of God, have the value of a talent, and will condemn the sordid parsimony with which many of the rich and great have cast their presents into it; while what the latter part with out of their abundance bears no proportion in the account of God to what the former freely spare from their necessit;:. Happy is it for every truly pious and benevolent mind that it is to give up its final account to him who searches the heart, and who is willess to those devout and charitable purposes which will always stretch themselves out beyond the limit of actions, and engage the charitable soui to wish more good than the power and revenues even of kingdoms could effect
SECTION CLX. Our Lord foretells the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, and insists
on the remoter signs of its approach. Mat. xxiv. 1-14. MARK xiii. 1-13. LUKE xxi. 5–19.
A ND Jesus going out from the treasury departed from the temple.
And his disciples came to him to shew him the buildings of the temple : and some speaking how it was adorned with beautiful stones and costly gifts, one of them says unto him, Master, behold what stones and what edifices are these! And Jesus replying, said unto them, As for these things which ye behold with so much admiration ; * all these great buildings which are the pride of the Jewish nation, verily I say unto you, The days will come, in which there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be demolished.
And when he had left the city, as he sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, the disciples, Peter and James, and John and Andrew, came to him privately, saying, Master, tell us when these things shall happen? and what shall be signs of thy coming, and of the end of the present agent when all these things shall be accomplished. And Jesus answering them, began to say, See to it that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Messiah, and shall deceive many. And the time is now (almostt] come. Go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars, and seditions among the Jews against the Romans, see that you be not troubled and terrified, for all these things must first come to pass, but the end is not yet. -Then he further said to them, Nation shall rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom ; and there shall be famines and pestilences, and great earthquakes in various places, and troubles. There shall also be dreadful sights and great signs from heaven.ll All these things are only the beginnings of sorrows. But take ye heed to yourselves; for before all these things shall happen, they shall lay their hands upon you, and persecute you, and shall deliver you up to the councils, and to the courts in the synagogues, and into prisons to be scourged and afflicted; and they shall kill some of you; and ye shall be hated by all nations, and shall be brought before rulers and kings for my name's sake, for a testimony against them. And it shall turn to you for an honourable testimony. And yet the gospel must first be preached among all nations, subject to the Roman empire.
* MATTHEW, “Do you not se all-?”
+ So dlwy may be rendered here, as in various other places. Matt. xii. 32. 1 Cor. x. 11, &c.--Josephus, who was an eye-witness, has transmitted to us a collection of facts which exactly illustrate this prophecy.
I The common translation is, “the time draweth near,” which seems preferable; I have therefore inserted the word almost, and transposed this clause, as this and the following are both connected in Luke xxi. 8. Ed.
ll Josephus mentions such sights, particularly a comet like a flaming sword over Jerusalem, and the appearance of contending armies in the air. I. vi. c. 5.
3. See also Tacitus. Hist. 1. v. S 13.
But when they shall bring and deliver you up to the officers of justice, settle it in your hearts not to premeditate what answer you shall make, and be not solicitous beforehand what you shall speak; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye boldly ; for it is not you that speak but the Holy Spirit. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to contradict or withstand.
And many shall then be offended at the gospel, and shall betray one another, and hate one another. And one brother shall betray another to, death, and the father his son ; and children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And you yourselves shall share in these sufferings, for you shall be betrayed even by parents, and brethren, and kindred, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be slain. And ye shall be hated by all ranks of men for the sake of my name. But in the midst of all your sufferings be courageous and cheerful, kr.owing that you are the care of a peculiar providence, and not a hair of your head shall perish unregarded. In your patience therefore possess ye your souls.
And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many profrssing Christians will grow cool. But he that endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the [known] world, for a witness to all nations,* and then shall the end of the Jewish state come.
REFLECTIONS. The whole of this prophecy most evidently shews us, how vain and dangerous it is to trust in external privileges, and to cry out, as these foolish and wretched Jews did, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these buildings; when of this stately and magnificent structure, within less than half a century after it was finished, not one stone was left on another undemolished. So particular a prediction, when compared with the event, must surely confirm our faith in Christ, as the great Prophet which was to come into the world. And we shall see reason to admire the wisdom and goodness of divine Providence in giving us, almost by a miraculous preservation of the author, such a commentary on this prophecy as ás delivered down to us in the works of Josephus, the Jewish historian),
* The accomplishment of this extraordinary prophecy is admirably illustrated by Dr. Arthur Young on Idolatri, vol. ij. p. 216-234. It appears, from the most credible records, that the gospel was preached in Idumea, Syria, and Mesopotamia, by Jude; in Egypt, Marmorica, Mauritania, and other parts of Africa, by Mark, Sinion, and Jude; in Ethiopia, by Candace's eunuch, and Matthias ; in Pontus, Galatia, and the neighbouring parts of Asia, by Peier; in the territories of the seven Asiatic churches, by John ; in Parthia, by Matthew; in Scythia, by Philip and Andrew; in the northern and western parts of Asia, by Lartholomew; in Persia, by Simon and Jude; in Media, Carmania, and several eastern parts, by Thomas ; through the vast tract from Jerusalem round about unto Illyricum, by Paul, as aiso in Italy, and probably in Spain, Gaul, and Britain: in most of whicle places Christian churches were planted in less than thirty years after the death of Christ, which was before the destruction of Jerusalem.
which throw a much stronger light upon it than if they had been written by a Christian on purpose to illustrate it.
Let us bless God that our own eyes have not seen such desolations and ruins, such comniotions in the natural and moral world, such dissentions in civil life, such persecutions and hatreds amongst the nearest relatives, under the pretence of propagating religion ; which, however propagated, is nothing without that love which is so often made the first victim to it. Yet too plainly do we see, in one form or another, iniquity abounding, and the love of many waring cold. Let iis endeavour to revive on our own hearts a deep and lasting impression of divine things; and remember, whenever we are tempted to let go our integrity, that it is he alone who endures 10 the end tliat shall be saved.
Whatever our trials are, let us cheerfully confide in the protection of divine Providence; nor let us despair of those continued influences of the blessed Spirit which may animate us to the most difficult services, and support us under the most painful sufferings. Let us therefore in patience possess our own souls, and maintain that composure and steadiness of spirit, as those that know how much more valuable it is than any enjoyment which can be taken away, or any temporal interest which can be brought into question.
Our Lord describes the nearer prognostications of the destruction of Je.
rusalem, and the extreme severity of those calamities which should then fall on the Jewish nation. Matt. xxiv. 15–28. MARK xiii. 1423. LUKE xxi. 20—24.
UR Lord then proceeded to add some more immediate signs of the
near approach of this terrible event. And when, said he, you shall see Jerusalein compassed with the Roman armies, and the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet ( Ch.ix. 27.) standing where it ought not, in an holy place : when the standards which bear the detestable images of their idols are planted on holy ground (Jerusalem and its environs) then let them that are in Judea flee*, and let them that are in the midst of it ( where Jerusalem stands ) depart immediately out of it ; and let not them that are in the adjaceni countries enter into it. And let not him that is on the top of the house go down into the house, nor enter into it to take any thing out of his houset, and let not him that is at work in the field go back to take his clothes: for these are days of vengeance, that all things
* It is remarkable, that by the special providence of God, after the Romans under Cestius Gallus made their first advance towards Jerusalem, they sudclenly withdrew again, in a most unexpected, and indeed impolitic, manner; at which Josephus testifies his surprise, since the city might then have been easily taken. By this means they gave as it were a signal to the Christians to retire; which, in regard to this admonition, they did, some to Peila, and others to mount Libanus, and thereby preserved their lives.
+ See on Luke xvii. 31. 128.-These are strong expressions to urge the speediest jetreat.