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trary to their nature, in subserviency to his ends; yet his wisdom is not usually at the expense of miracles, (if I may so say) but only in cases that require them, for the evidencing of some revelation or mission to be from him. He does constantly (unless where the confirmation of some truth requires it otherwise) bring about his purposes by means operating according to their natures. If it were not so, the course and evidence of things would be confounded, miracles would lose their name and force, and there could be no distinction between natural and supernatural.
There had been no room left to see and admire the wisdom, as well as innocence of our Saviour, if he had rashly every where exposed himself to the fury of the Jews, and had always been preserved by a miraculous suspension of their malice, or a miraculous rescuing him out of their hands. It was enough for him once to escape from the men of Nazareth, who were going to throw him down a precipice, for him never to preach to them again. Our Saviour had multitudes that followed him for the loaves; who barely seeing the miracles that he did, would have made him king. If to the miracles he did, he had openly added, in express words, that he was the Messiah, and the king they expected to deliver them, he would have had more followers, and warmer in the cause, and readier to set him up at the head of a tumult. These indeed God, by a miraculous influence, might have hindered from any such attempt: but then posterity could not have believed, that the nation of the Jews did, at that time, expect the Messiah, their king and deliverer ; or that Jesus, who declared himself to be that king and deliverer, showed any miracles amongst them, to convince them of it; or did any thing worthy to make him be credited or received. If he had gone about preaching to the multitude, which he drew after him, that he was the " Messiah, the king of Israel,” and this had been evidenced to Pilate; God could indeed, by a supernatural influence
his mind, have made Pilate pronounce him innocent, and not condemn him as a malefactor, who had openly, for three years together, preached
sedition to the people, and endeavoured to persuade them, that he was “ the Messiah, their king,” of the royal blood of David, come to deliver them. But then I ask, Whether posterity would not either have suspected the story, or that some art had been used to gain that testimony from Pilate? Because he could not (for nothing) have been so favourable to Jesus, as to be willing to release so turbulent and seditious a man ; to declare him innocent, and to cast the blame and guilt of his death, as unjust, upon the envy of the Jews.
But now, the malice of the Chief Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees; the headiness of the mob, animated with hopes, and raised with miracles; Judas's treachery, and Pilate's care of his government, and of the peace of his province, all working naturally as they should ; Jesus, by the admirable wariness of his carriage, and an extraordinary wisdom, visible in his whole conduct; weathers all these difficulties, does the work he comes for, uninterruptedly goes about preaching his full appointed time, sufficiently manifests himself to be the Messiah, in all the particulars the Scriptures had foretold of him; and, when his hour is come, suffers death: but is acknowledged, both by Judas that betrayed, and Pilate that condemned him, to die innocent. For, to use his own words, Luke xxiv. 46, “ Thus it is written, and thus it behoved the Messiah to suffer.” And of his whole conduct we have a reason and clear resolution in those words to St. Peter, Matt. xxvi. 53, “ Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels ? But how then shall the Scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be ?"
Having this clew to guide us, let us now observe, how our Saviour's preaching and conduct comported with it in the last scene of his
life. How cautious he had been in the former part of his ministry, we have already observed. We never find him to use the name of the Messiah but once, until he now came to Jerusalem, this last Passover. Before this, his preaching and miracles were less at Jerusalem, (where he used to make but very short stays) than any where else. But now he comes six days
before the feast, and is every day in the temple teaching; and there publicly heals the blind and the lame, in the presence of the Scribes, Pharisees, and Chief Priests. The time of his ministry drawing to an end, and his hour coming, he cared not how much the Chief Priests, elders, rulers, and the Sanhedrim were provoked against him by his doctrine and miracles : he was as open and bold in his preaching, and doing the works of the Messiah now at Jerusalem, and in the sight of the rulers, and of all the people, as he had been before cautious and reserved there, and careful to be little taken notice of in that place, and not to come in their way more than needs. All that he now took care of was, not what they should think of him, or design against him (for he knew they would seize him), but to say or do nothing that might be a just matter of accusation against him, or render him criminal to the governor. But, as for the grandees of the Jewish nation, he spares them not, but sharply now reprehends their miscarriages publicly in the temple; where he calls them, more than once, hypocrites," as is to be seen, Matt. xxiii. And concludes all with no softer a compellation than “serpents,” and “a generation of vipers.
After this severe reproof of the Scribes and Pharisees, being retired with his disciples into the “ Mount of Olives,” over-against the temple, and there foretelling the destruction of it; his disciples ask him, Matt. xxiv. 3, &c. “ When it should be, and what should be the sign of his coming ?” He says to them, " Take heed that no man deceive you : for many shall come in my name," (i. e. taking on them the name and dignity of the Messiah, which is only mine) “saying, I am the Messiah, and shall deceive many.
But be not you by them misled, nor by persecution driven away
from this fundamental truth, that I am the Messiah ; shall be scandalized,” and apostatize ; “but he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved : and this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world ;" i. e. the good news of me, the Messiah, and my kingdom, shall be spread through the world. This was the great and only point of belief they were warned to stick to; and this is inculcated again, ver. 23—26,
*« for many
and Mark xiii. 21-23, with this emphatical appli. cation to them, in both these evangelists, “Behold, I have told you beforehand : remember, you are forewarned.”
This was in answer to the apostle's inquiry, concerning his “coming, and the end of the world,” ver. 3. For so we translate της συνθελείας τα αιώνος. We must un
. derstand the disciples here to put their question, according to the notion and way of speaking of the Jews. For
they had two worlds, as we translate it, & vũy aiwv, xai ó • μέλλων αιων ;
péna ww aiwv; “ the present world,” and the “world to come.” The kingdom of God, as they called it, or
” the time of the Messiah, they called ouénawr aiwy, “ the world to come,” which they believed was to put an end to “ this world;" and that then the just should be raised from the dead, to enjoy in that “new world”, a happy eternity, with those of the Jewish nation, who should be then living.
These two things, viz. the visible and powerful appearance of his kingdom, and the end of the world, being confounded in the apostles' question, our Saviour does not separate them, nor distinctly reply to them apart; but, leaving the inquirers in the common opinion, answers at once concerning his coming to take vengeance on the Jewish nation, and put an end to their church worship and commonwealth ; which was their • vũy aiwy," present world,” which they counted should last till the Messiah came; and so it did, and then had an end put to it. And to this he joins his last coming to judgment, in the glory of his father, to put a final end to this world, and all the dispensation belonging to the posterity of Adam upon earth. This joining them together, made his answer obscure, and hard to be understood by them then; nor was it safe for him to speak plainer of his kingdom, and the destruction of Jerusalem ; unless he had a mind to be accused for having designs against the government. For Judas was amongst them: and whether no other but his apostles were comprehended under the name of “his disciples,” who were with him at this time, one cannot determine. Our Saviour, therefore, speaks of his kingdom in no other style, but that which he had all along hitherto
used, viz. “the kingdom of God,” Luke xxi. 31, “ When you see these things come to pass, know
ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” And continuing on his discourse with them, he has the same expression, Matt. xxv. 1, " Then the kingdom of heaven shall be like unto ten virgins.” At the end of the following parable of the talents, he adds, ver. 31, " When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all the nations. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left. Then shall the King say,” &c. Here he describes to his' disciples the appearance of his kingdom, wherein he will show himself a king in glory upon his throne; but
; this in such a way, and so remote, and so unintelligible to an heathen magistrate ; that, if it had been alleged against him, it would have seemed rather the dream of a crazy brain, than the contrivance of an ambitious or dangerous man, designing against the government: the way of expressing what he meant, being in the prophetic style, which is seldom so plain as to be understood till accomplished. It is plain, that his disciples themselves comprehended not what kingdom he here spoke of, from their question to him after his resurrection, “ Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom unto Israel ?"
Having finished these discourses, he takes order for the Passover, and eats it with his disciples; and at supper
tells them, that one of them should betray him; and adds, John xiii. 19, “ I tell it you now, before it come, that when it is come to pass, you may know that I am." He does not say out, “ the Messiah ;" Judas should not have that to say against him, if he would ; though that be the sense in which he uses this expression, šyw eiges, “ I am, , είμι,
more than once. And that this is the meaning of it, is clear from Mark xii. 6. Luke xxi. 8. In both which evangelists the words are, “For many shall come in my name, saying, èyw eiget, I am:" the meaning whereof we shall find explained in the parallel place of St. Matthew, chap. xxiv. 5, “ For