« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
following morning. Besides, there was this connection between the same act of cleansing, and each of these visits, that it must have been conceived at the one, though it might not have been executed until the other. In a word, the Anticipation is justified by the necessity of the case, and amounts only to a single day. If St. Matthew intended to relate nothing which transpired on the following day, and yet wished to perpetuate this particular fact, he must relate it out of its place; and next to its own in the order of succession, the place where he has inserted it was clearly the most convenient of any.
On the proceedings of Wednesday in Passion-week, and on the time of the unction at Bethany.
THE transactions of this day, which answers to the morning of the Jewish twelfth of Nisan, and to the Julian third of April, are not only the most diversified in their circumstances, and the most minutely related, but the most interesting in themselves of any which have yet been considered. The day, too, is memorable as the close of our Lord's public ministry: after this time, until the morning of the crucifixion, he never appeared openly again. It was, consequently, a remarkable coincidence, resolvable perhaps solely into the agency of a controlling Providence; that the last and concluding scene of his ministry furnished the clearest indications, which had yet been exhibited, both of the malice, the hypocrisy, and the subtlety of his enemies on the one hand, and of his own wisdom, power, and Divine authority on the other.
The arrangement of its particulars is easy and obvious; since, with one exception which will be noticed in its place, the narratives of the several Evangelists concur in the order of their accounts. The conclusion also of St. John's Gospel, from xii. 37. to 50, will be found to belong to the same day.
The first circumstance is manifestly the renewal of the conversation, in reference to the fig-tree, Mark xi. 20-26 the time and the place of which must consequently have been either the same as those of the original incident the day before, or not much different from them. The sequel of this history is evidently like
the resumption of a former topic; and we have seen too many instances elsewhere of similar repetitions, to be surprised at the recurrence of the same sentiments, and even of the same expressions.
The motive to the renewal of the conversation might obviously be the same as the cause of the original discourse; admiration of the effect produced, and a secret wish to possess the power which produced it. Nor is it of any importance from what quarter, whether one of the disciples or more, the allusion in question proceeded. If the motive to the allusion was the same, or if the allusion was merely an accidental, yet still a natural remark, our Lord might found upon it the same kind of reflections as before. Yet is there a perceptible difference in the account of what he now said, compared with what he had said before; proving the two occasions to be distinct. Mark xi. 22, 23, 24, is not the same with Matt. xxi. 21, 22: and Mark xi. 25, 26, contrary to that Evangelist's usual practice, even supplies something more as said, which is not to be found in St. Matthew.
Nor can it be urged in explanation of this omission by the latter, that the part so left out was irrelevant to the scope and drift of the part recorded. For besides its general use, as prescribing a certain condition to the success of prayer to God in behalf of sins universally; (which is its primary intention;) it is applicable even to the case of prayer for the success of the miraculous faith in particular. Without charitableness and a disposition to forgive, as eminently the qualification of a Christian minister in general, God might no more cooperate with the prayer of faith for the performance of a miracle, than with the prayer of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Nor is this the only occasion a,
a See Luke xvii. 3, 4, 5.
when the doctrine of charity is seen to go hand in hand with the doctrine of the miraculous faith.
The remaining events of the day are to be divided into those which occurred in the temple, before our Lord quitted it for the night; and those which occurred out of it, after he had quitted it for the night.
The particulars of the first division consist chiefly of a series of questions, put to our Saviour one after another, until he had successively foiled the interrogators, or replied to all their inquiries: so that, from that time forward, no man durst ask any more. The two first of these questions turned upon a civil or political, much more than upon a religious or doctrinal point: the two last were purely of the latter description. The final end proposed by them all, except perhaps the last, was sinister; that of the two first, to render our Lord amenable to the spiritual jurisdiction of the Sanhedrim, or to the civil jurisdiction of the Roman governor; that of the third, if not of the fourth, by a perplexing and an apparently insuperable difficulty to lower his credit as a teacher. The parties, from whom they proceeded, were in every instance one or more of the three existing and principal sects, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians; the two former a philosophical or religious denomination; the latter, probably a civil; retaining though covertly the principles of Judas of Galilee; which accounts for the question put by them. In all of them, however, the Pharisees in general, and the leading members of the Sanhedrim in particular, appear to have taken either openly or in secret the most active and the most influential part.
When, therefore, we consider the common antipathy and want of union, prevailing in other respects between these sects, and yet the concurrence of all not
merely simultaneously, but in a regular order of succession, to injure or to criminate our Saviour, we may justly conclude that they did not act at random, nor independently of each other; but upon some preconcerted plan, and with a mutual understanding. They had agreed to forget for the time their preexisting jealousies and differences of opinion; while they aided and supported each other in a common attack upon our Lord. It is true, the method of disputation among the Jews was purely dialectic; that is, by asking questions and receiving answers. But on no occasion, except this, may each of the sects in its turn be seen united in a single endeavour to puzzle or to ensnare the same person, with their most difficult or most dangerous problems; and like so many pedpoi successively entering the lists against him. We may argue, therefore, that they acted on a scheme concerted overnight; and that our Lord's oldest, most inveterate, and most powerful enemies, the Pharisees, were probably the contrivers and abettors of the plan. Nor is this supposition without its use in accounting for the immediate origin of that highly-wrought invective, which will be found recorded as the last event of the proceedings in the temple for the day; and which our Lord, in his turn, levelled against that sect in particular. The present, however, is not the place to enter upon the consideration of any of these questions, further than as concerns the order of their succession in the general arrangement of facts.
First, then, while Jesus, after his return to the temple, as St. Mark informs us, was still walking about therein; and as St. Matthew, or St. Luke tells us, when he was teaching, or beginning to teach, and to preach the Gospel; the entire body of the Sanhedrim, or a deputation from each of its members, the chief of the