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Reflections on our being called to the Gospel-Feast. 339

rate habitual Sinners from the Number and the Sect. 153* Blessings of his People, and deliver them over to O*~v-n^> perpetual Darkness and Misery.

IMPROVEMENT.

HOW rich are the Provisions of the Gospel! a Feast indeed becom-^^-xxii.2. ing the Bounty and Majesty of the King of Heaven; and proportionable even to the Love which he bears to his own Son, in Honour of whom it is made!

How wonderful is the Grace, which calls us to the Participation of Ver. 9,10. these Provisions; us, who were originally Sinners of the Gentiles, Aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and Strangers to the Covenant of Promise! (Eph. ii. 12 J Yet has he graciously sent his Messengers to us, and invited us to his House, yea, to his Table, with the additional Hope of yet nobler Entertainments in Reserve. May none of us rejeB so conde- Ver. 4,-6. scending a Call, lest we turn his Goodness into righteous Indignation, and treasure up to ourselves Wrath against the Day of Wrath I (Rom. ii. 5.)

Let us also remember, that it is not every one who professes to accept the Entertainment, not every one who talks of Gospel Blessings, and seems to desire a Share in them, that will be admitted to it. No: In order to our partaking of an Inheritance among the Saints in Light, it is necessary that we be made meet for it by the Holiness both of our Hearts and Lives. (Col. i. 12.) This is the Wedding-Garment, wrought by the Ver. ir. Spirit of GO D himself, and offered to us by the Freedom of his Grace. And it is so necessary, that without it we must be separated from the Ver. 13. Number of his Guests and Friends, and even tho' we had eaten and drank in his Presence, must be cast out into outer Darkness. (Luke xiii. 26.)

Frequently let us think of that awful Day, when the King will come in to fee his Guests; when God will take a most exact Survey of every Soul under a Christian Profession. Let us think of Xhzt speechless Confu-Vcr. 12. sion, which will seize such, as have not on the Wedding-Garment, and of that inexorable Severity, with which they will be consigned to weeping Ver. 13. and gnashing of Teeth. To have seen fora while the Light of the Gospel, and the fair Beamings of an Eternal Hope, will add deeper and more sensible Horror to those gloomy Caverns; to have heard those glad Tidings of great Joy, and to hear them, as it were, echoed back in Accents of final Dispair, how will it wound the Ear, and pierce the very Heart! May God prevent it, by fulfilling in us all the good Pleasure of his Goodness, and the Work of Faith with Power; that the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in us, and we in him, (iThesf.u 11, \2.) when the Marriage-Supper of the Lamb shall be celebrated, and all the Harmony, Pomp, and Beauty of Heaven shall aid its Solemnity, its Magnificence, and its Joy!

U u 2 SECT.

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Sect.

Mat. XXII. 15.

THEN went the Pharisees, and took Counsel how they might intaugle him in his Talk.

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Luke XX.

20.

The Pharisees and Herodians try to insnare himy

SECT. CLIV.

Oar Lord confounds the Pharisees and Herodians, when they hoped to have infrared him by their $$ueJlion, relating to the Lawfulness of paying the Roman Tribute. Mat.

XXII. 15, 22. Mark XII. 13, 17. Luke XX.

20, 26.

Mat. XXII. 15.

'T"77EN the Pharisees, stung with the severe 54" J. but just Rebukes he had been giving them in Mat. XXII. the foregoing Parables, went out from his Presence,. and retiring took Counsel together, bow they might insnare him in [his] Discourse, and find something on which they might ground an Accusation or Complaint against him. And they narrowly

watched him in all his Motions that Day, and sent out Spies to try if they could take him at an Advantage, who should pretend themselves to be righteous Men, that were come, for the Ease of their Consciences, to propose a Scruple to him on an Affair of great Importance. Now those that were sent on this Errand were Persons of opposite Sects; [even] some of the Disciples of the leading Menamong the Pharisees, who were very solicitous for the Freedom of their Country from every Mark of Slavery; and [some] of the Sect of the Herodians, a Party of Men (as was before observed,) peculiarly attached to the Family of Herod, and consequently zealous in the Interest of the Roman Government, which was the main Support of the Dignity and Royalty of that Family. (See Note (s) on Mark iii. 6. Vol. i. pag. 312.) And these, different as their Principles were, com< bined together in an Attempt upon Jesus, that if an Opportunity offered, they might lay hold on his Words (a), either to render him obnoxious to the

People

(a) That they might lay hold on his Words.] They hoped to have insnartd him, whatever Answer he could have returned. If he asserted, on the one hand, that Tribute was to be paid to Casar, the Pharisees, who generally maintained, (as Judas Gauknites had done,)

that that such a Subjection to a foreign Power was inconsistent with the Privileges of G o Dv peculiar People, would have endeavoured to expose him to popularResentment, as betraying, the Liberties of his Country. On the other hand, had he denied the Lawfulness of this Tribute, the Herodians would have had a very plausible Pretence of accusing him to the Roman Power, as a seditious Person, which his Persecutors had afterwards the Assurance to do; Luke xxiii. 2. Se£t. 186. (Compare Acts xvii. 7.) Nay, perhaps, the very Circumstance of taking upon him to determine such a Question, might, by these invidious Enquirers, be construed as a Pretence to Sovereignty. See Vojf. Harmon. Evang. pag. 54, 55.

Luke XX. 20. And they watched him, and sent sorth [unto him] Spies, which should feign themselves just Men, [mar. even certain [Disciples] of the Pharisees and of the Herodians,] that they might take hold of his Words, that so they might deliver

ajking if it was lawful for them to pay Tribute to Cæsar. 341

deliver him unto the Power People as an Enemy to theiF Liberties, or to deli- Sect. 154.

and Authority of the Go- j- p ag seditious person to fa Power md ^^j

vernour. [mat. XXII. . , . * _ _ . _., , . . jukeXX

,$. Mark XII. 13.] Authority of Pontius Pilate, who was then tbe^r

Roman Governour of that Province. 21 And [mar. when And when they were come to him, in order to 21

h5W?iTl,%ffiaflw2 accomPlilh their Design, they craftily accosted him

know tS"tnou [art 'true! with an Air of 8rea^ ^P*®* and with flattering

and ] fayest and teachest Expressions of the highest Esteem, and asked him,

rightly, [neither carest thou faying, Mas er, we know and are well satisfied, that

|anteftrnotanthe°PersoUnrof thou art true and uPright i and as thou COmest asMen,] [mar. but teachest a Messenger from God, so after the Example of the Way of God in Truth.] th0fe faithful and couragious Prophets who were XU? JS in Israel in its better Ages, thou fayest and teachest

rightly, and act impartial and sincere in every thing that thou declarest; neither carest thou for the Censure or Applause of any Man-, for thou regardeft not the Person of Men, so as to be influenced by Complaisance or Fear, or any private Views whatever,, to deviate from the strictest Integrity and Veracity; but plainly teachest the Way of GOD and the Mat. XXII. 17. Tell Path of Duty in Truth. We are come there- Mat. XXuX us- therefore, What thinkest fore to propose a Question to thee, about which l7thou? Is it lawful [luk. thou knowest that We Pharisees and Herodians, for us] to give I ribute unto j- •» 1 j ■ • L n 1 *>r

Cesar, or not? [mark are divided, and to which an interested Man

XII.—14. Luke XX. 22.J who was governed by Principles of human Policy might, perhaps, be unwilling to answer: Tell us, we pray thee, (for we have determined to submit our Judgment and Practice to thy Sentiments in the Matter,) what thinkest thou, Is it lawful for us Jews, who are the peculiar People of God, and are many of us in Conscience tender of acknowledging any King but him, or one of our Brethren appointed by his immediate Delegation (b), to pay the usual Tribute to Ccefar

the

(b) One of our Brethren &c] We are told, that the grand Argument, which the Gau-Unites, and others inclined to their Party, urged, as decisive against the Authority of the Romans, was that Text which prohibited their Jetting a Stranger to be King over them. Deut..

xvii..

Mark XII. 15

342 He lids them render to Cæsar the Tilings

Sect. 154.the Roman Emperor, or not? What dost

J thou advise in this Cafe? Shall we give it to the
Collectors, or fiall we not give it? We must
beg an immediate Answer, for the Tribute is even
now demanded of us. And here they ceased, as
thinking they had him in an inextricable Snare,
and that he could return no Answer, which
would not expose him to the severe Resentment,
either of the Jewish People, or of the Roman
Officers.

But 'Jesus knowing their Hypocrisy, which was indeed their reigning Character, perceived their Craftiness [and] Wickedness in this Address, however pious and respectful it appeared; and therefore said to them, Ye Hypocrites, Why do ye tempt me by such an insnaring Question, and seek to draw me into Danger and Destruction by it? Is this a Proof of your Regard and Friendslrip to a Mat. XXII. faithful and impartial Teacher? But that I

J9- may return a proper Answer to your Question,

Jhew me the Tribute Money which is demanded of you; and bring me hither a Penny, or DenaMark XII. rius, that I may fee it. And they brought him a Roman Penny. And looking upon it, he fays to them, Whose is this Image which is struck upon the Coin, and whose Inscription and Title is this [which] it has round it (c)? And they, without perceiving his Design, immediately answered and said to him, It is Cæsar's: Thereby in effect acknowledging, that they were Tributaries to him, by admitting his Coin as current among them. J 7 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render therefore to Cæsar the Things which are Cæsar's, and to GOD the Things which are GOD's sdj-, and

labour

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xvii. 15. And Grotius (in his Note on Mat. xxii. 16.) seems to think it was this, that engaged them so vigorously to oppose the Chaldeans, and to refuse submitting to their Government, till Jerusalem was destroyed. Sec Note (a) on Luke xiii. l.pag. 129.

(c) IVhose is this Image and Inscription?] Dr. Lightsoot tells us, (in his Hor. Heb. on Mat. xxii. 20.) that the Jews have a Tradition among them, that to admit of the Title of any Prince on their current Coin, was an Acknowledgment of Subjection to him. It is certain, their not daring to refuse this Coin, when offered them in Payment, was in effect a Confession, that they were conquered by the Romans, and consequently that the Empcrsr had a Right to their Tribute.

(d) And to GOD the Things which areGOD's.] Diodate, Raphelius, and some other Commentators, interpret this as a Caution against omitting the Sacred Tribute, on Pretence

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And they are quite confounded at his Answer. 34:3

to God the Things that are labour so to adjust your Regards and Duties to Sect. 154.

both, that you may not under Pretence of Reli- U>^^*vJ
gion injure Cæsar, nor, under Pretence of Duty
to Cæsar, violate any of the Commands of God,
or fail of that Respect to him which he requires:
Whereby he plainly intimated, that Tribute was
to be paid to Cæsar; yet did it in such a Manner,
and with such Restrictions, as prevented the In-
convenience of a more express Declaration.

And when they had heard [his] wife and unex- Luke XX.
ceptionable [Answer,] they plainly found that they 26,
could not take hold of his Words before the People, so
as to incense and stir them up against him j and
they were equally unable to accuse him to the
Romans of Sedition, on Account of any thing
he had then said. They therefore wondered at the
Prudence and Address of his Reply, by which he
had effectually disentangled himself from what
they thought must unavoidably have insnared
him; and were so perfectly confounded, that they
held their Peace, and left him; and deeply sensible
of the Disgrace, as well as Disappointment they
had met with>, they went away amazed and*
ashamed.

Luke XX. 26. And

[when they had heard these ffiirds,] they could not take hold of his Words before the People: and they marvelled at his Answer, and held their Peace, [and left him, and went their Way.] [mat. XXII. 22. Mark XII. -17.]

IMPROVEMENT.

AGAIN does our Lord renew the repeated Lesson he had' before Luke xx. given us, both by Precept, and Example, of uniting Wisdom and 226« Innocence. How admirable was this Mixture of Prudence and Integrity, with which he confounded these Pharisees and Herodians, who, contrary Ver. 20. as their Principles and Interests were, conspired against him! For of a Truth, oh Lord, against thine holy Child fefus, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the People of Israel were gathered together! fAcls iv. zj.) and their Words were softer than Oil, when War and Murther was in their Hearts. (PjaL lv. 21.)

Let

of answering the Demands of Cæsar, who (they fay) had claimed it to himself. But I apprehend our Lord had a more extensive View; and that as he cautions the Pharisees, against using Religion as a Pretence to justify Sedition, so he also warns the Herodians, that they should not, as they were too inclinahle to do, make a Compliment of their Religion to the Romans, by complying with those Things which were forbidden by the Divine Law, that they might ingratiate themselves with Ca/ar's Party. See Pridtaux'i Csnntftion, vol. ii. fag, 366,-368.

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