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có gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind; 66 for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sancti. 66 fieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the & altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And “ whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and cí by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear 6 by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him " that sitteth thereon."
After this, our Lord reprehended their superstitious practices, in observing the minutest parts of the ceremonial precepts of the law, and at the same time utterly neglecting the eternal and indispensable rules of righteous. ness. “ Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; “ for ye pay tythe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and " have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, “ mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not (6 to leave the other outdone." Our Lord then censured them for their hypocricy. They spared no pains to appear virtuous in the eyes of the world, and maintain all external conduct that should acquire the praises of men, but at the same time neglected to adorn their souls with the robe of righteousness, which was the only ornament that could render them conspicuous in the sight of their Master. 6 Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypo“ crites; for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the 66 platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 66 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within 6 the cup and the platter, that the outside of them may be 66 clean also.” Cleanse first the mind, thy inward man, from evil dispositions and affections, and the outward be. havior will, of course, be virtuous and praise-worthy.
Having thus pointed out their hypocricy, our Lord next animadverted on the success that had attended it. They deceived the simple and unthinking part of mankind with their pretended sanctity, appearing like whited sepul. chres, beautiful on the outside, while their internal parts were full of uncleanness. “ Wo unto you, Scribes and 6 Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye are like unto whited sepul. 66 chres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are “ within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. $ Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men,
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66 but within ye are full of hypocricy and iniquity.” He also reproved the pains they had taken in adorning the sepulchres of the prophets; because they pretended a great veneration for their memory, and even con. demned their fore-fathers, who killed them, saying, if they had lived in the days of their fathers, they would have opposed such monstrous wickedness, while, at the same time, all their actions abundantly proved that they still cherished the same spirit they condemned in their fathers, by themselves persecuting the messengers of the Most High, particularly his own begotten Son, whom they were determined to destroy. “Wo unto you, Scribes 66 and Pharisees, hypocrites; because ye build the tombs 6 of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the 66 righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our • 66 fathers, we would not bave been partakers with them in “ the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses 6 unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which 6 killed the prophets." He added, that for their great iniquities they must expect the Divine vengeance, and that it would be inflicted in so terrible a degree, as to be a standing monument of God's displeasure against all the murders committed by the sons of men, from the death of Abel, to that of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the highpriest.
After our Blessed Lord had thus laid before them their heinous guilt, and the dreadful punishment that would follow, he was, at the thoughts of the calamities which were soon to fall upon them, exceedingly moved, and his breast filled with sensations of pity to such a degree, that unable to contain himself he broke out into the same bewailing exclamation he had made use of before. “O Je“ rusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and 56 stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would 6 I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen s gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would 6 not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." By the word house our Blessed Lord meant the temple, wbich was from that time to be left unto them desolate; the glory of the Lord, which Haggai had prophesied should fill the second house, was now departing from it.
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Our Lord, therefore, added, I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. As if he had said, " As ye have killed the prophets, and will shortly put me, who am the Lord of the temple, to death, your holy house shall be left desolate, and your nation totally deserted by me; nor shall you see me any more till ye shall acknowl. edge the dignity of my character, and the importance of a my mission, and say, with all the people of the earth, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Our Blessed Lord, having thus exposed the secret practices of the Scribes and Pharisees, and denounced the judgment that would fall upon them for their iniquit ties, went into the court of the temple called the treasury, from several chests being fixed to the pillars of the portico that surrounded it, for receiving the offerings of those who went to worship in the temple. While he continued in this court, 6 he beheld how people cast money into
" And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw 66 in two mites, which made a farthing. And he called “ unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily, I “ say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, 66 than all they which have cast into the treasury. For “ all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her 66 want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." Mark xii. 41, &c.
Notwithstanding the offering given by this poor widow was in itself very small, yet, in proportion to the goods of fortune she enjoyed, it was remarkably large; for it was all she had, even all her living. In order, therefore, to encourage charity, and shew that it is the disposition of the mind, not the magnificence of the offering, that attached the regard of the Almighty, the Son of God ap. plauded this poor widow, as baving given more in pro. portion, than any of the rich. Their offerings, though great in respect of hers, were but a small part of their estates, whereas her offering was her whole stock. And from this passage of the Gospel we should learn, that the poor, who in appearance are denied the means of doing charitable offices, are encouraged to do all they can. For
how small soever the gift may be, the Almighty, who be. holds the heart, values it, not according to what it is in itself, but according to the disposition with which it is given. On the other hand, we should learn from hence, that it is not enough for the rich, that they exceed the poor in gifts of charity; they should bestow in proportion to their fortune; and they would do well to remember, that a little given, where a little only is left, appears a much nobler offering in the sight of God, and discovers a more benevolent and humane temper of mind, than sums much larger bestowed out of a plentiful abundance.
As our Lord was about leaving the temple, it came strongly into the minds of his apostles, what he had declared at the conclusion of his pathetic lamentation over Jerusalem, namely, that the temple should not any more be favored with his presence till they should say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of tảe Lord. This reflection gave them great uneasiness, and therefore, as he was departing from that sacred structure, they desired him to observe the beauty of the building, insinuating that they thought it strange he should intimate an intention of leay. ing it desolate. Master (said one of them) see what manner of stones, and what buildings are here. In answer to this our Lord told them, that however strong or costly it appeared, yet the whole should be totally destroyed. Seest thou (said he) these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. That noble edifice, raised with much labor, and at a very great expense, shall be levelled to the very surface of the earth,
When the disciples heard their Master affirm that not one of those enormous stones should be left upon another, they thought, indeed, that the temple was to be demolished, but did not suspect that the sacrifices were to be taken away, and a new religion introduced, which would render the temple unnecessary. They therefore flattered themselves that the fabric then standing was too small for the numerous worshippers who would frequent it when all the nations of the world were subject to the Messiah's kingdom, and that therefore it was to be pulled down, in order that another might be erected on a more extensive and magnificent plan, suitable to the idea they had conceived of his future empire. Filled with these pleasing imaginations, they received the intelligence with pleasure, meditating, as they walked along, on the glorious things which (as they thought) were shortly to come to pass.
Our Blessed Lord directed his course to the Mount of Olives, whither he frequently retired to discourse in private with his apostles. When they arrived at the top of the mount, and their Master had taken his seat on an eminence, from whence there was a prospect of the temple, and part of the city, they drew near him with a resolution of satisfying themselves relative to the ideas they had formed concerning the temple; when the demolition of the old structure was to happen, and what were to be the signs of his coming, and of the end of the world. And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world ? It appears, from this request, that they were desirous of knowing what signs should precede the creation of that extensive empire, over which they supposed the Messiah was to reign; for they still expected he would govern a secular kingdom. They, therefore, connected the demolition of the temple with their Master's coming, though they had not the least notion that he was to destroy the nation, and change the form of religious worship. What they meant, therefore, by the end of the world was nothing more than the period of the then political government; and they considered their Master's coming to destroy the constitution then subsisting as a very desirable event. They also thought the demolition of the temple proper, as they expected a larger and more superb building (proportionate to the number of the Mes. siah's subjects) would be erected in its stead. That this
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pear, if we consider that they were highly pleased with their imaginary and worldly prospect; whereas, if they had meant by the end of the world, the final period of all things, the destruction of the temple would have exhibited to them, in their then temper of mind, a melancholy