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Our Lord describes the nature of his coming---exhorts his disciples to constancy in prayer by the example of the importunate widow, and instructs them in the proper spirit in which to address the Deity by the parable of the Pharisee and publican---the Pharisees enquire Christ's opinion concerning divorce---Jesus blesses little children---the young man whom Jesus loved--Christ points out the difficulty of a rich man's entering the kingdom of heaven--the parable of the labourers in the vineyard---Christ foretels his own sufferings the sixth time---teaches Zebedee's children that they must expect to suffer for his sake, and exhorts his disciples to beware of worldly ambition---passes through Jericho, where he cures blind Bartimeus, and visits Zaccheus the publican--the parable of the nobleman's servants who had received every one a pound---Christ is anointed by Mary when he sups at her house at Bethany---he makes his public entry into Jerusalem,. and laments the fate of that city.

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WHILE Christ resided in the little city of Ephraim, the Pharisees pressed him with enquiries concerning the coming of the kingdom of God, of which they entertained very high but mistaken opinions. Without enquiring into their motives, he informed them that Messiah's kingdom does not consist in any pompous outward form of government, to be erected in this or that particular country with the terror of arms and the confusion of war; but that it consists in the subjections of men's wills, and, in the conformity of their minds to the laws of God; to be effected by a new dispensation of religion which was already begun.

Having thus spoken, he addressed his disciples; and, in the hearing of the Pharisees, prophesied concerning the destruction of the Jewish state, whose constitution, both religious and civil, was the chief obstacle to the erection of his kingdom; for the attachment which the Jews had to their constitution was one great spring of their opposition to Christianity, and of their cruelty to its abettors. He told them first of all, that before this event took place, they and the whole nation should be in the greatest distress, and that they should passionately wish for Messiah's personal presence to comfort them under their affiiction, but should not receive such a favour. [Luke xvii. 22.] And he said unto the disciples, the days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. He next cautioned them against certain deceivers, who should pretend to be Messiah, and promise do


liverance to the people; and that they might the better distinguish between these wicked men and the Christ of God, he intimated that, after having lurked awhile in private, they would endeavour to collect forces by the diligence of their emissaries. And they shall say to you, see here, or see there; go not after them, nor follow them. My coming will be sudden and powerful. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth to the other part under heaven: so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And such shall be the dreadful stupidity of your countrymen, that as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heeven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. The Jewish people shall be sunk in the same carnal security, and shall suffer the like exemplary punishment, at the time when God reveals to the world, by the more public diffusion of his gospel, the person who was foretold by Daniel under the denomination of the Son of man. In that day he that shall be on the top of one of those flat-roofed houses which have two staircases, one within, and the other without the house, and shall have his stuff in the house, let him descend by the outward staircase in the most expeditious manner; and not come down into the house to take his property away; and he that is in the field, let him likewise remember not to return back to his house to recover any article of property. Remember Lot's wife. Whoever shall seek to save his life, by remaining in the city, shall lose it; and whosoever, by fleeing to the country, shall seem as if he wished to lose his life, shall preserve it. And the whole of this awful affair shall, be so especially directed by the providence of God, that I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken away captive by the conquerors, and the other shall be left in the possession of his liberty. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord, shall all these dreadful calamities take place; and he said unto them, wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be galliered together. As eagles find out and gather round a carcase, so wherever wicked men are, the judgments of God will pursue them; and, particularly, in whatever part of the land any number of the unbelieving Jews are, there will the Romans, the executioners of divine vengeance, be collected together to destroy them. The expression appears to be proverbial, and in this instance very beautifully applied; as the Romans bore in their standards the figure of an eagle, and as a species of fowl that fed upon carcases was reckoned, by the antients, as belonging to the family of eagles.

When times of awful calamity approach, God is the refuge of his people; and it is by prayer that they commit their cause to him, and claim his gracious protection, Christ, therefore, now delivered to his disciples a parable, to teach them that they ought not to desist from praying, though the blessing might be long delayed. There was, said he, in a certain city, a powerful and wicked magistrate, who paid no regard to the approbation of God or of man. A poor widow in the city, having been grievously oppressed, came and related her story to him, and often entreated him for justice in vain. However, she continued her applications, and at length, by mere importunity, prevailed. And shall not God avenge his own elect who cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? He will; as many of you will witness who shali

survive the destruction of Jerusalem, and as will be more fully seen in the resurrection of the last day. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? This question is understood to imply, that before the second coming of Christ, infidelity should greatly abound. And that many shall say, where is the promise of his coming; for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

In the company of Jesus there were certain vain persons, who were confident in their own righteousness and despised others. To these he delivered a parable, in which he represented two men of very different characters going up to the temple to offer their adorations to the Deity. The first was a Pharisee, a man of the strictest sect of the Jews, and in the highest reputation for sanctity. He advanced beyond the crowd of common worshippers, and in a tone of voice which evidently indicated his self-sufficiency, began with thanking God that he was free from the vices of other men, especially of a publican who was at that time in the temple; and concluded by enumerating the many virtues which adorned his character, the frequency and severity of his fasts, and the strictness with which he applied the tenth of his property to the support of the Mosaical establishment. The other character whom our Lord pointed out, was that poor publican whom the Pharisee had insulted, even in his prayers. He, conscious of innumerable imperfections, remained at a greater distance from the most holy place; and, without presuming so much as to lift up his eyes to heaven, smote upon his breast, in unaffected agony, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. God, who knows the secrets of the heart, and who delights in a broken and a contrite spirit, looked down upon this man with approbation; he received the blessing which he desired, and went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

This parable teaches us, among other things, the wonderful subtilty with which pride insinuates itself into the mind: so that, whilst we express our gratitude to God for having kept us from the practice of open and notorious sins, we must take an especial care, lest, by ascribing any thing to ourselves, we offer before him the sacrifice of fools.

A very prevalent disposition among the Jews in the time of our Lord was that to indulge themselves very freely (in vice, whilst they pretended a great regard for the commandments of God: thus while, in conformity with the injunctions of Moses, they abstained from commerce with abandoned women, they equally gratified their sensual appetites by frequently divorcing their wives on the most trivial pretexts, and marrying immediately to those who had more strongly attracted their regard. For this species of perfidious debauchery they were more infamous than any of the surrounding nations. The Pharisees hoped that on this subject they might ensnare our Lord, so that either he should irritate the people by condemning one of their favourite vices, or else should expose himself to reproach as a friend of dissolute manners, When, however, they asked him concerning the lawfulness of this kind of divorce, he referred them to the early history of the human race, and said unto them, have ye not read that he which made them (the Creator) at the beginning made them male and female. And said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother; anu shall leave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together by this indissoluble bond, let no man put asunder. They say unto him, why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away. He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it

was not 80. The hardness of the heart evidently means their passionate stubborn temper, which, had they not been permitted to divorce their wives, would have excited many of them to murder or ill treat them; as, therefore, the dispensation of Moses was intended only to prepare the way for a better, he suffered a loss evil in order to prevent a greater. He then proceeded to repeat what he had before observed in the sermon on the mount, that whosoever should put away his wife, except it were for fornication, and should marry another, would be guilty of adultery; and that he who should marry her that was thus dismissed should become a perpetrator of the same crime.


The disciples, it appears, were surprised at the decision of their Master; and, after having enquired of him further, when they had returned to the house, could not help remarking, that since the law of marriage was thus rigid, that unless the woman breaks the bond by going astray, her husband cannot dismiss her, but must bear with her, whether she be quarrelsome, petulant, prodigal, deformed, foolish, barren, given to drinking, or, in a word, troublesome by numberless vices, a man had better not marry at all. Jesus answered, it is not in every one's power to live con tinently; yet if any man has the gift, whether by natural constitution, or by the injury of human force used upon him, which has rendered him incapable of the matrimonial union, or by an ardent desire of promoting the interests of religion, animating him to subdue his natural appetite, and enabling him to live in voluntary chastity, unencumbered with the cares of the world: such a person will not sin, though he leads a single life.

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An incident soon after occurred which contributed to place the character of Jesus in a most amiable point of view. Some persons who had young children brought them to Jesus that they might receive the blessing of so great a prophet, not unreasonably.. believing that many important blessings would follow, in consequence of his prayers for their welfare. The disciples, thinking that this was taking too great a liberty with their Master, rebuked these people, and attempted to dismiss them. But when Jesus knew it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God; a sentiment which he had formerly expressed in teaching his disciples humility after the transfiguration. Then, taking up the children in his arms, he put his hands upon them, blessed them, and departed.

When our Lord had gone forth into the way, probably, setting off in his journey toward Jerusalem, a certain young ruler of great riches, pleasant manners, and respectable character, but as deficient as his brethren in that deep sense of his own depravity which might have led him to an unconditional submission to the instruction of Christ, ran after him, overtook him, and kneeling down before him, said, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life. Jesus replied, why callest thou me good? there is none that is infallibly good but God himself; since, therefore, thou hast not that high opinion of me, to believe that I am sent forth from God, thou hast committed a great crime in bestowing upon me such an appellation. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments, for I find that on these thou hast fixed thy dependance. He saith unto him, which? Jesus said, thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, honour thy father and thy mother, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Christ, probably, intended to intimate, that even these commandments had an extent beyond that to which his morality had attained. The young man said unto him, all these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet? Then Jesus, beholding him, loved him, and said further, if thou wilt attain to that which is really to be perfect, go and sell

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thy possessions, freely distribute the produce to the poor, come to me, take up the cross, and follow me as my disciple, and a teacher of my gospel. Hearing this, he departed exceedingly sorrowful, that he could not obtain a place in the everlasting kingdom without renouncing those delights on which his heart had been fixed.

As soon as he had retired, Jesus looked round upon his disciples and said, children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! You know the nature of the camel, how that it is accustomed, by descending to its knees, to pass through places which it would seem, from its height, impossible that it should ever enter but I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Divine power must be more eminently called forth to humble a rich man to the meek and self-denying spirit of the Christian, than so to compress the matter of a camel as to reduce its enormous bulk to the diminutive size of a litttle insect.. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, who then can be saved? And Jesus, looking upon them, saith, with men it is impossible, but not with God, for with God all things are possible. The energy of divine grace can infuse a new spirit into men, and cause them not only to submit to all my commandments, but to account it all joy when, for my sake, they pass through the severest tribulation.

This answer, however, did not satisfy the disciples, who, no doubt, had often thought with pleasure on the honours and profits of the great offices which they expected to enjoy in his kingdom. Among the rest, Peter was much disappointed, finding that his stewardship was to be of little service to him; the office he supposed his Master had promised to him under the metaphor of "the keys of the kingdom." Wherefore, addressing Jesus in the name of the rest, he begged him to consider that his apostles had all done what the young ruler refused to do; had left their relations, their employments, and their possessions, on his account. And since he was pleased to tell them that rich men could not enter into his kingdom, which was the same thing as to tell them there would be no kingdom, he desired to know what reward tney were to have. Jesus replied, that they should certainly have a peculiar reward even in this life; because immediately after his resurrection, when he ascended the throne of his mediatorial kingdom, he would advance them to the high honour of judging the twelve tribes of Israel; that is, of ruling his church and people, of which the twelve tribes were a type. He further informed them, that every one who had forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or wife, or children, or lands, for his name's sake, should receive an hundred fold, and should inherit everlasting life. Such as are willing to suffer for the sake of his gospel shall be no losers in the issue because God, who designs to admit them into heaven, will give them the comforts necessary to support them in their journey thither, and will raise them up friends who shall be as serviceable to them as their nearest kindred, whom they have forsaken. By the special benignity of his providence, they shall have every thing valuable that relations or possessions can minister to them; and, besides, shall have persecutions, whose heat will nourish virtues in them of such excellent efficacy, as to yield them, even in this present world, joys an hundred times better than all earthly pleasures; so that they shall be fed by the bread of sorrows but above all, in the world to come, they shall have everlasting life. Their afflictions, contributing to the growth of their graces, which are the wings of the soul, they shall, in due time, be raised on them, even up to heaven, leaving all sorrows behind them ; and shall fly swiftly into the bosom of God, the fountain of life and joy, where they shall have full amends made them for all the evils they have undergone on his account. Thus many who, in the eyes of their fellows, are last in this life, by reason of their

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