« הקודםהמשך »
16, this is shown to be its meaning, where it for our justification. This great sign was is said that “others, tempting him, sought called “the sign of the prophet Jonas," beof him a sign from heaven.” Probably the cause the remarkable history of that prophet Scribes and Pharisees specified this kind of was typical of the death and resurrection of sign, as one in the production of which Satan Christ. could have no power or influence, as he has We may observe, in reflecting upon this none in Heaven.
verse, that men have no right to demand 39. But he answered and said of God such proofs in support of religion unto them, An evil and adulterous man compromises the dignity of truth, who
as they may capriciously require. That generation seeketh after a sign ; suffers the proud and baughty effrontery of and there shall no sign be given to infidelity to influence him in his manner of
proving it. God, who made the human unit, but the sign of the prophet Jo- derstanding, is the best judge of what amount nas:
and description of evidence is necessary and The expression “ adulterous” may be un- sufficient to produce conviction. More than derstood in different senses. It
this can do no good; for if men believe not taken literally, as there is abundance of his Moses and the Prophets, neither will they torical evidence that the Jews, in our Sa- believe though one should rise from the dead. viour's time, were much addicted to this The sign which was demanded on this occavice. Or, as the relation of the Jewish sion by the Scribes and Pharisees was not people to God was frequently represented for the confirmation of their faith, but as an under the figure of a marriage-contract, Is. excuse for their unbelief, and therefore Jesus lvii. 3; Hos. iii. l; Ezek. xvi. 15; so
would not grant it when they sought it. every instance of unfaithfulness and disobe
40. For as Jonas was three days dience on their part may be expressively represented as adultery, as it was a proof of and three nights in the whale's their hearts being estranged from him. Or belly; so shall the Son of Man be by the words “ a wicked and adulterous ge- three days and three nights in the neration,” Christ may have intended to represent them as the spurious and degenerate heart of the earth. descendants of Abraham, whose legitimate The original expressions here do not nechildren they boasted themselves to be, cessarily signify a "whale's belly;" they may whilst by their wicked conduct they gave be rendered “in the cavity of a great fish," evidence that they were unworthy of being Jonah i. 7. The throat of a whale is too called so.
This latter explanation is sug- small to admit a man, and it is probable that gested by John viii. 39, in which the Jews it might have been a fish of the shark speare described as saying, “ Abraham is our cies that is here alluded to, as sharks hare Father ;" on which Jesus said unto them — been often known to bave swallowed men “ If ye were Abraham's children, ye would entire. The situation of Ponas is here said do the works of Abraham."
to have been typical of the state of Christ in The import of the Saviour's answer is the interval between his death and resurrecthis — that the sign which they particularly tion, which is represented as a period of referred to was intended, not for that, but “ three days and three nights." Strictly for another generation, even for the genera- speaking, this interval consisted of only one tion which should be alive at the time of the whole day and a part of two others, but it is second advent. Jesus was not at that time usual to speak of this length of time in round to manifest himself as coming in the clouds numbers as “three days;" and from the peof Heaven, but had appeared in the flesh to culiar nature of the Hebrew language, the put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and Jews were obliged to use the periphrasis of therefore the proper signs to be then given “ three days and three nights” to express were such as afforded evidence of his having what others would speak of by the simple accomplished this great work of mercy. phrase of “ three days.” Such a sign was exhibited in his death and The declaration which is here made of resurrection. He was put to death on ac-Christ being “ in the heart of the earth" count of our offences, and was raised again during the period referred to, is very important. His body, when taken down from the Hell must be under the surface of the earth. cross, was laid in a sepulchre; but this could Again, in 1 Pet. iii. 18-20, it is said, that not be what is meant by the “ heart of the as soon as Christ was put to death in the earth.” It is clear that by this phrase we Aesh, he went in the spirit (for so the orimust understand some place which was as ginal may be rendered) and preached to the much in the interior of the earth, as the spirits which were in prison : by which pricavity of the fish was in the interior of the son we can understand no other place than fish, and in which Jesus remained in a state Hades. And that this occurred after his death of as conscious existence as Jonah was in and before his ascension, is evident from the during his remarkable confinement. The position which the statement occupies; for place, then, which is here referred to, can be it occurs immediately after the Apostle had no other than that which is elsewhere called made mention of the Saviour's suffering on Hell or Hades, which literally denotes an the cross in verse 18, and immediately beinvisible place, and is the allotted mansion fore he makes mention of his going into for departed spirits to dwell in during the Heaven in verse 22. So that from these interval between their death and resurrec- and other texts, it follows that Christ was tion. This word “ Hell” does not neces- in this point also made like unto his brethren, sarily signify a place of suffering, but includes and that he conformed his humanity to ours under it both the place of the wicked and of during every stage of its being. the good, which are separated from each But Jesus remained for a very short time other by a great gulph or chasm between in Hades, and this is the chief import of his them. That this place is in the interior or assertion in the text. The sign consisted cavity of the earth, is clear from many ex- in this— that he remained in the heart of pressions in the Word of God. It is said the earth for no longer a period than Jonas that men “ descend” into Hell, Is. v. 14; remained in the cavity of the fish, so that they are said to be “ brought up again,” this sign included his resurrection from out when they are restored to life, 1 Sam. xxviii. of the heart of the earth. This was the 11-15; and the expressions, "rising again" grand climax of proof, and the consummaand being “ raised up," are constantly used ting evidence which the Saviour afforded in to denote the restoration of men to a state support of his claims; it was this which conof existence upon the earth. It was into tained an assurance for all men that God Hell or Hades that Christ descended after had appointed him to be the Judge of the his crucifixion—not into that part of it which quick and of the dead. was assigned to the wicked, but into that in which the souls of the righteous are in joy
41. The men of Nineveh shall and felicity, which is called “ Paradise,” as rise in judgment with this generais evident from bis reply to the thief, recorded in Luke xxiii. 43. This is clearly stated in tion, and shall condemn it: because several passages of Scripture ; amongst the they repented at the preaching of most remarkable of which are the following: Jonas; and, behold, a greater than In Acts i. 27, we find the Apostle Peter
Jonas is here. quoting the words of the Psalmist in Psal. xvi. 10, as applicable to the resurrection of This should certainly be rendered, “ Men Jesus—“ Thou wilt not leave my soul in of Nineveh shall rise." Hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine boly One Nineveh was one of the most ancient and to see corruption," - which he plainly ex- distinguished cities in the world, the capital pounds in the 31st verse as having a double of the Assyrian empire. The wickedness reference -- to the soul of Christ, which de- of its inhabitants was so great, that God sent scended into Hell, and to his body, which the prophet Jonas to denounce temporal was laid in the sepulchre; and applies the judgments against them unless they repented. word “ resurrection” to his soul, as well as Our Saviour here alludes to the success or to his body; so that it is right to say that Jonah's mission, and states that the conduct his soul was raised up as well as his body, of the men of Nineveh shall so reflect upon and therefore his soul must have been under the hardness and impenitency of the Jews, the surface of the earth to which he was as to place it in the strongest light. The raised : but it was in “ Hell,” and therefore I justness of this observation will appear at once by contrasting the ministry of Jonas tenth chapter of the first book of Kings. with that of the Saviour. Jonas was sent Sheba or Saba was either in Arabia or Ethito a people brought up in heathenism, and opia, but to the south of Judea. The prinwho had no knowledge of the true God: ciple contained in this verse is the same as Jesus was sent to the Jews, who regarded that which is contained in the preceding, themselves as God's peculiar people. Jonas that the goodness of those who have small went to a people who had no previous in- advantages shall condemn those who have struction or preparation for his coming : great advantages which they neglect. But Jesus came to a people who had been fore- the illustration is stronger. The Ninevites warned by numerous extraordinary intima- did not go to Jonah, but Jonah went to them. tions of his advent. Jonas was a total stran- On the other hand, Solomon did not go to ger to the Ninevites: whereas Jesus was the Queen of Sheba, but she came to him recognised by the Jews as one of their own from “ the uttermost parts of the earth.” nation and country. The message of Jonas The original of this last phrase is used to referred entirely to judgment and destruc- indicate a very great distance. The contion: the message of the Saviour was fraught trast, also, between the conduct of the Jews with mercy, tenderness, and love, and con- and that of the Queen of Sheba is necessary tained repeated invitations and promises to to be observed in order to see the force of returning and repenting sinners. Jonas per the Saviour's declaration. She came withformed no miracles, nor did the people of out invitation on a long journey; the Jews Nineveh demand any sign of him, but re- had no journey to take, for Jesus came to pented at his simply preaching: Jesus per- them with many invitations that they should formed innumerable works of the most sur- put their trust in him. Jesus, also, had disprising nature, sufficient to convince those played more glorious attributes than Solowho would candidly examine them, of the mon. He had repeatedly proved his posdivinity of his mission. Jonas preached only session not only of greater wisdom, but of for the short period of forty days: Jesus for the most unlimited power. We learn from about three years.
The people of Nine- these verses, that the real state of men in a veh repented at the preaching of Jonas: the moral and religious point of view shall not Jews persecuted, rejected, and at length cru- be fully seen until the general judgment, and cified the Saviour. Well might he say that that impenitency and unbelief must ultimately men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judg- involve men in irretrievable ruin. ment against the generation of his time, and The event which is referred to here, of condemn it, because a greater than Jonas the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon, was there.
This last sentence might be derives, however, its chief importance from rendered, “ Something more than Jonas is its typical character. It was typical of that here,” even He of whom Jonas was only the homage which shall be paid to Christ heretype. There is much delicacy in the use of after, when he shall take to himself his great the neuter gender in this phrase "something power, and reign-when the prophecies remore," which shows the humility of Christ corded in Ps. lxxii. 10, 11, and in Isaiah lx. when thus speaking of himself.
3-6, shall receive their accomplishment,42. The Queen of the South and when all that is noble and all that is ex
cellent in our redeemed and renovated world shall rise up in the judgment with shall be presented as a cheerful and a gratethis generation, and shall condemn ful tribute to the commanding majesty of the it: for she came from the utter with him in glory shall cast their crowns
Saviour, -- and when those who shall reign most parts of the earth to hear the before him, saying — “ Thou art worthy, o wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and a greater than Solomon is here.
power; for thou hast created all things, and
for thy pleasure they are and were created." This should be, “a Queen of the South," The Queen of Sheba was also a type of as there is a parallelism between this phrase the glorified Church of the Redeemer, bendand that of “ an evil and adulterous genera- ing in grateful homage before his throne, in tion” in verse 39. The reference is to the his everlasting kingdom of righteousness and Queen of Sheba, who is mentioned in the peace and joy.
The Parable of the Unclean Spirit.
Psalmist, when contemplating another sub43. When the unclean spirit is wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain
ject, could say — " Such knowledge is too gone out of a man, he walketh unto it,”—we need not hesitate to say that through dry places, seeking rest, subject of satanic agency. And, indeed, it
we cannot fully understand the mysterious and findeth none:
is well that we meet with difficulties in the 44. Then he saith, I will return scriptures, and with subjects which are beinto my
house from whence I came yond the grasp of man's understanding; for and when he is come, he find the Bible is the production of an intellect
in these we have presumptive evidence that eth it empty, swept, and garnished. superior to our own — as it is in truth 45. Then goeth he, and taketh the word of the living God, given by the
inspiration of the Holy Ghost. with himself seven other spirits Yet although we cannot explain all the more wicked than himself, and they details of this mysterious parable
, we have enter in and dwell there and the a distinct clue given to us by the Saviour
himself at the conclusion of it, by the aid of last state of that man is worse than which we can perceive its immediate scope, the first. Even so shall it be also and understand the moral of it ;– for the unto this wicked generation.
scope and moral of a parable may be ascer
tained without our being able to understand This is an extremely difficult and myste- all the principles and circumstances that are rious parable, and one which we, who know referred to in it. Indeed, the use of a paso little about spiritual beings and their rable, such as this, for moral instruction, is operations, cannot expect to understand in not much, if at all, interfered with by the our present state. Our present senses, or- fact of its mysteriousness. The bee may exgans, and mental faculties, are more adapted tract honey from the flowers of spring, withfor holding converse with visible and mate- out having the intellect to understand their rial objects, and for contemplating the things origin and their structure ;— the husbandof earth rather than those which belong to man may derive aid from the sun, the trathe invisible and spiritual world. This pa- veller from the useful light of the moon, or rable was spoken by one who knew what the sailor from the silent indications of the was in devils as well as what was in man, stars, and yet know nothing of the moveand who was well acquainted with the na- ments or the mechanism of the heavenly ture and operations of spiritual beings. To bodies. And it is thus with Scripture : understand it, therefore, in all its details, we there is much that is mysterious, much should have such an exposition of it, given that is wonderful, much that is incompreby the Lord himself, as he gives in the hensible in the word of God, and yet all 13th chapter, of the parable of the Sower : Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for rebut this it has not pleased him to give; nor proof, for correction, for instruction in righthave we enough of information afforded to eousness. There is much, in short, in the us in Scripture on the subject of satanic Bible, which the head cannot comprehend ; agency, to enable us to understand all that but there is nothing which does not, either is referred to in these verses.
directly or indirectly, appeal to the heart. We should not therefore be ashamed to We shall therefore consider, in the first confess our ignorance of the full meaning of place, what is the scope and object of this this parable, and to acknowledge our sense parable. And in calling it a parable, we of its difficulty. If man is a mystery to should not on that account consider it as himself,—if he cannot even understand how fictitious; for a parable is not necessarily, his mind acts through the organs of his nor always
, fictitious. In this case it is the brain how his will exercises a control over use that is made of the narrative which conthe faculties of his understanding, and over stitutes it a parable, but the narrative itself the muscles and members of his bodily is introduced by such language as would frame,—if he cannot tell how it is that his naturally be employed in relating truth — soul and body are joined together,-if the “ When the unclean spirit is gone out of a
man.” Now the scope and object of this pa-spirit, which had been dwelling in them for rable are to be ascertained from the Saviour's some time, -—-for they had displayed it on a commentary at the end of it—"even so shall previous occasion mentioned in chapter ix. it be also unto this wicked generation.” These 34,—now went out of them, not in conseconcluding words show that it was intended quence of any exercise of candour or reflecto be a prophetic, symbolical illustration of tion on their part, but because it was driven the moral destiny which awaited the Scribes out by the irresistible force of our Saviour's and Pharisees, and the Jewish people who reasoning ; so that they did not again repeat resisted and opposed the Saviour, -as if no- the accusation of his being in collusion with thing connected with the obvious and visible the devil, but for some time afterwards afcircumstances of man could afford him an fected a greater moral propriety and decency adequate illustration of this, and that it was of conduct than they had formerly done. necessary to borrow his imagery from the Thus these persons, who were the house” awful mysteries of the infernal and spiritual in which the unclean spirit dwelt, became world. The comparison employed on this “ empty,” or vacant, for the unclean spirit occasion was probably suggested by the cir- had gone out of them, and the spirit of God cumstance of the Pharisees having displayed had not entered into them,—“swept,” or extheir enmity when Christ had cast out a hibiting an external and superficial, but not devil from a man who had been both blind a thorough reformation, and “ garnished and dumb, thouch we are not to suppose or embellished, not with the fruits of the that the ultimate situation of this man was spirit, but with an outward and hypocritical represented by the return of the evil spirit affectation of sanctity, so that they resembled with seven others, for there is this difference whited sepulchres, to which Christ compared between the case of the man whom the Sa- them in chapter xxiii. 27. But afterwards viour had just relieved, and the case supposed the unclean spirit returned to them, not in the parable, that in the former the devil indeed suggesting the very same accusations was ejected by the power of Jesus, in the against Christ, but manifesting as much latter he is represented as going out of his malignity as before, and bringing with him own accord. Now, as soon as Jesus had cast many other evil spirits, for the number out the devil from this man, the Scribes and seven” may probably be used here for an Pharisees demanded a sign from him, by which indefinite number. The number “ seven" they meant such a proof and evidence of his is frequently used to express the idea of divine authority as would overpower them completeness, and here, probably, denotes with a commanding and irresistible convic- that as many spirits came with the unclean tion. The Saviour, in reply, told them that spirit as would fully and effectually accomsuch a sign as this should certainly be giv- plish his evil designs. It was, perhaps, at en, but not at that particular time, –a sign the very same time when the devil entered which should consist in his resurrection into Judas Iscariot, that the unclean spirit from the dead, by which an assurance would returned with others into the Scribes and be given to all men that he had been ap- Pharisees, and led them to crucify Jesus. pointed to judge the world in righteousness, And thus the last state of these men was
- and a sign which should indeed convince worse than the first ; for the spirit that at them, but when it was too late. He then first displayed itself in verbal calumnies
, illustrates the equity of their foreseen con- when it had afterwards gathered auxiliaries demnation, by contrasting their conduct with from hell, at length led them to crucify the that of the men of Nineveh and of the Queen holy and merciful Saviour, and thus to conof Sheba, and then delivers the solemn pa- summate their dark depravity by an act of ruble before us, in which he traces out the atrocious and deliberate murder, which stands dark outline of their moral history, from the forth on the page of history occupying an time when he was addressing them, to the awful and unparalleled prominency amongst time when their guilt was so fearfully dis- the most desperate records of human crime! played in his crucifixion. Now we think, And, indeed, the moral condition of that ihat in applying this parable to the Phari- wicked generation was black and dismal, like sees, we are to consider the unclean spirit” a darkness that could be felt, at that solemn as that which had led them to attribute the crisis of their nation's history! The spirit miracles of Christ to satanic agency. This from which false accusations spring hard