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solitary, and wlicn to be sociable; when to be alone, and when to converse in company. In his passage to the city, he espied a fig-tree; and being an hungred (to show the truth of his humanity) he goes, to the fig-tree, and finds it full of leaves, but without any fruit. Displeased with this disappointment, he curses the tree which had deceived his expectation. This action of our Saviour, in cursing the barren figtree, was typical; an emblem of the destruction of Jerusalem in general, and of every person in particular, that satisfies himself with a withered profession, bearing leaves Only, but no fruit . As this fig-tree was, so are they nigh, unto cursing. Learn hence, That such as content themselves with a fruitless profession of religion, are in great danger of having God's blasting added to their barrenness.
40 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig-tree withered away! 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do thisttrAicA is done to the fig-tree, but also, if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done. 22 And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
The disciples being filled with admiration at the sudden withering of the figtree, thereupon our Saviour exhorts them to have faith in God; that is, firmly to rely upon the power of God whereby he is able, upon the goodness of God whereby he is willing, to fulfil his promises to us. Learn, 1. That faith is a necessary ingredient in prayer. Praying without faith, is like shooting without a bullet: it makes a noise, but does no execution. 2. That whatsoever good thing God has made the matter of a promise, shall be given to good men, praying in faith. Whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Yet note, That the faith here promised to root up mountains, must be restrained to that age of miracles, and to the persons to whom this was spoken, namely, the apostles and first propagators of the gospel; it being certain from experience, that this is no ordinary and perpetual gift of christians.
23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? 24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask. yon one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven: he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. 27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell 1 you by what authority I do these things.
The Pharisees having often questioned our Saviour's doctrine before, they call in question his mission and authority now; although they might easily have understood his divine mission by his divine miracles. Almighty God never empowered any to work miracles that were not sent by him. When the adversaries of Christ can object nothing against his doctrine, they then quarrel with him about his commission and calling, and demand by what authority he doth teach and work miracles. Our blessed Saviour, well understanding their drift and design, answers them one question by asking them another. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men . * Was it of divine institution, or of human invention? Implying that the calling of such as call themselves the ministers of God, ought to be from God. No man ought to take this honour upon himself, but he that is called of God, as rras Aaron,}leb.v. 4. The Pharisees reply, they could not tell whence John had his mission and authority. This was a manifest untruth: by refusing to tell the truth, they fall into a lie. One sin ensnares, and draws men into the commission of more. Such as will not speak exact truth, according to their knowledge, they fall into the sin of lying against their consciences. Our Saviour answers them, Nritber tell I you by -what authority I do these things. He doth not say, 1 cannot, or, I will not tell you; but I do not, I need not tell you, because the miracles which I work before you, are a sufficient demonstration of my divine commission, that 1 am sent of God amongst you ; for God never set the seal of his omnipotence to a lie, or empowered an impostor to work real miracles.
28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons? and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went.
30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir; and went not.
31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
The design and scope of this parable is to show, That publicans and harlots, that is, the vilest, the profanest, and worst of sinners, who, upon the hearing of Christ's doctrine and miracles, did repent and believe, were in a much better condition than the proud Pharisees, who though they pretended to great measures of knowledge, and high degrees of holiness, yet did obstinately oppose Christ, disobey his doctrine, deny his miracles, and set at nought his person. Learn hence, That the greatest, the vilest, and the worst of sinners, upon their repentance and faith in Christ, shall much sooner find acceptance with God, than proud .Pharisaical judiciaries, who confidently rely upon their own righteousness: Publicans and harlots, says Christ here to the Pharisees, shall,go into the kingdom of God before you. Publicans were the worst sort of men, and harlots the worst kind of women; yet did these repent sooner, and believed in Christ
before the proud Pharisees. The reason was, because their hearts lay more open to the strokes of conviction, than those that were blinded by vain hopes and presumptuous confidence. Security frustrates all means of recovery.
33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 27 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying. They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew Aim.
In this parable God compares the Jewish church to a vineyard! himself to an householder: his planting, pruning, and fencing his vineyard, denotes his care to furnish his church with all needful helps and means to make it spiritually fruitful. His letting it out to husbandmen, signifies his committing the care of his church to the priests and Levites, the public pastors and governors of the church. His servants are the prophets and apostles, whom he sent from time to time, to admonish them to bring forth fruit answerable to the cost which God had expended on them. His son is Jesus Christ, whom the rulers of the Jewish church slew and murdered. The scope of the parable is to discover to the Jews, particularly to the Pharisees, their obstinate impenitency under all means, their bloody cruelty to the prophets of God, their tremendous guilt in crucifying the Son of God; for all which, God would unchurch them finally, and ruin their nation, and set up a church among the Gentiles that should bring forth better fruit than the Jewish church ever did. From the whole note, 1. That the church is God's vineyard, exceeding dear and precious to the Planter and the Owner of it. 2. As dear as God's vineyard is unto him, in case of barrenness and unfruitfulness, it is in great danger of being destroyed and laid waste by him. 3. That the only way and course to engage God's care over his vineyard, and to prevent his giving it to other husbandmen, is to give him the fruits of it. It is but a vineyard that God lets out, it is no inheritance. No people ever had so many promises of God's favour as the Jews had, nor ever enjoyed so many privileges, whilst they stood in his favour, as the Jews did; yet though they were the first, and the natural branches, they are broken off, and -we Gentiles stand by faith: let us not be high-minded, but fear, Jtom. xi. 20.
40 When the Lord, therefore, of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Observe here, At the first mentioning of the parable, the Pharisees express a hitter indignation against such wicked servants, not considering what a dreadful sentence they passed upon themselves and their own nation. Little did they think, that thereby they condemned their temple to be burnt, their city to be destroyed, their country to be ruined; but in these words they vindicate God, they condemn themselves, and own the justice of God in inflicting the severest punishments on them.
42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
Which words are the application that our Saviour makes of the foregoing parable concerning the vineyard: which the chief priests and Pharisees did not appre
hend themselves to be concerned in, till he brought the application of it home unto them. Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, Sec. Note, 1. The greatest mercy that God can bestow upon any people, is his giving his kingdom to them; that is, all gospelordinances and church-privileges, leading to the kingdom of heaven. 2. Observe the terms upon which God either gives or continues his kingdom to a church and nation; and that is, upon bringing forth the fruits thereof. Learn, 3. That the greatest judgment which can befall a people, is the taking away the kingdom of God from them. The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given, Sec.
44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
These words are taken out of the cxviiith Psalm, which the Jews understood to be a prophecy of the Messiah, and accordingly Christ applies them to himself. The church is the building intended, Christ himself the Stone rejected; the rejecters, or the builders rejecting, were the heads of the JewisU church; that is, the chief priests and Pharisees. God, the great MasterBuilder of this church, takes this precious foundation-stone out of the rubhish, and sets it in the head of the corner. Nevertheless, there are some who stumble at this stone. Some through ignorance, others through malice, stumble at his person, at his doctrine, at his institutions. These shall be broken in pieces, but on w homsoever this stone shall fall, it will grind him to powder. That is, Christ himself will fall as a burdensome stone upon all those that knowingly and maliciously oppose him; and particularly upon the Jews, who not only rejected him, but persecuted and destroyed him. Thus Christ tells the chief priests and Pharisees their own particular doom, and also declares what will be the fatal issue of all that opposition which is made against himself and his church, h will terminate in their inevitable and irreparable destruction. Whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken; and on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. That is, " He that stumbles on this stone, while Christ is here on earth, being offended at his doctrine, life, and miracles, shall Ix; broken by his fall upon it; as the person stoned' is by the sharp stone which he falls upon. But he on whom this stone shall fall, when Christ is elevated to his throne of glory, shall be more violently shattered by it, as is the person stoned, by the great stone as hig as two men can lift, thrown down violently upon his breast."
45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceivedj that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
When the chief priests came to understand that these parables were all applied to them, that they were the murderers of the King's Son, that they were the builders that rejected the chief corner-stone, they were enraged at the close application made to themselves; and had not fsar restrained them, would have laid violent hands upon him. Learn thence, That nothing doth more provoke and exasperate unsound hypocrites, than the particular application, and close coming home, of the word of God unto their hearts and consciences. So long as the truths of God are generally delivered, sinners are easy, looking upon themselves as unconcerned; but when the word of God comes close to them, and says, Thou art the man, this is thy wickedness; they are angry at the message, and rage at the messenger.
A ND Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were hidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are hidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and lie sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were hidden were not worthy. 0 Go ye, therefore, into the highways; and as many as ye shall find, hid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding-garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how earnest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The design and scope of this parable ot the marriage-supper, is to set torth that gracious offer of mercy and salvation, which was made by God in and through the preaching of the gospel to the church of the Jews. The gospel is here compared to a feast, because in a feast there is plenty, variety and dainties. Also to a marriagefeast, being full of joy, delight, and pleasure. Andto a marriage-feast made by a king, as being full of state, magnificence, and grandeur. To this marriage-feast, or gospel-supper, Almighty God invited the church of the Jews; and the servants sent forth to invite them, were the prophets and apostles in general, and John the Baptist in particular, whom they entreated spitefully, and slew. The making light o f the invitation, signifies the generality of the Jews' refusal and careless contempt of the offers of grace in the gospel. By the armies which God sent forth to destroy those murderers, are meant the Roman soldiers, who spoiled and laid waste the city of Jerusalem, and were the severe executioners of God's wrath and judgment upon the wicked Jews. The highways signify the despised Gentiles, who upon the Jews' refusal were invited to this supper, and prevailed with to come in. The king's coming in to see his guests, denotes that inspection which Christ makes into his church in the times of the gospel. By the man without the wedding garment, understand such as are destitute of true grace and real holiness, both in heart and life. In the examination of him, Christ says, Friend, how eamcst thou in hither? not, Friends, why came ye along with him > Teaching us, that if unholy persons will press in to the Lord's supper, the sin is theirs; but if we come not, because they will come, the sin is ours. The presence of an unholy person at the Lord's table, ought not to discourage us from our duty, or cause us to turn our back upon that ordinance. The command to bind the unqualified person hand and foot, and to cast him into outer darkness, plainly intimates, that the condition of such persons as live under the light, and enjoy the liberty of the gospel, but walk not answerably to their profession, is deplorably sad and doleful: they do not only incur damnation, but no damnation like it. Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness. From the whole note, 1. That the gospel, for its frecness and fulness, for its varieties and delicacies, is like a marriagi-supper. 2. That gospel-invitations are mightily disesteemed. 3. That the preference which the world has in man's esteem is a great cause ofthe gospel's contempt. They went one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. 4. That such as are careless in the day of grace, shall undoubtedly be speechless in the day of judgment. 5. That Christ takes a more particular notice of every guest that cometh to his royal supper, than any of his ministers do take, or can take. There was but one person without the wedding garment, and he falls under the eye and view of Christ. 6. That i t is not sufficient that we come, but clothed we must be before we come, if ever we expect a gracious welcome to Christ's supper; clothed with sincerity, clothed with humility; clothed with love and charity; if we be not thus clothed, we shall appear naked to our shame, and hear that dreadful charge, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth. See Luke xiv. 17.
14 For many are called, but few
are chosen. This is our blessed Saviour's application
of the foregoing parable to the Jews; he tells them, that many of them, indeed all of them were called, that is, invited to the gospel-supper; but with few, very few of them, was found that sincere faith, and that sound repentance, which doth accompany salvation. Leam hence, That amongst the multitude of those that are called by the gospel unto holiness and obedience, few, very few comparatively, do obey that call, and shall be eternally saved.
15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in A is talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any mem; for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Cesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cesar the things which are Cesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
Here we have another new design to entangle our blessed Saviour in his discourse. Where observe, 1. The persons employed to put the ensnaring question to our Saviour, namely, the Pharisees and the Herodians. The Pharisees were against paying tribute to Cesar; looking upon themselves as a free people, and the emperor as an usurper. But the Herodians were for it. Herod being made by the Roman emperor king of the Jews, was zealous for having the Jews pay tribute to Cesar; and such of the Jews as sided with him, and particularly his courtiers and favourites, were called Herodians. Observe, 2. The policy and wicked craft here used, in employing these two contrary sects to put the question to our Saviour