Imágenes de páginas

above the course and power of nature, requiring it; but caluminy, prompted by infidelity, is not to be satisfied with any evidence. No character ever had a more watchful guardian, than that of Mary in a husband, so thoroughly alarmed by her pregnancy before marriage, that nothing but miracle and divine revelation, repeated, could have induced him to marry her, and afterward to prefer the safety of her and her child to his own life. What but the divine foreknowledge could bave predicted, before conception, that Mary and Elizabeth should each of them have a son, and not a daughter? or that their sons should prove to be persons of such extraordinary characters, and do so great things, when they were yet in their cradles, as is found in the prophecies of Zacharias, Simeon, and Anna, all so many additional reasous with Joseph for acting as he did? It will be in vain for the Jews and infidels to allege, that the evangelists might write what they pleased about persons so low in the world, and transactions done in a corner; for certain it is, that nothing was ever introduced into the world with a greater degree of notoriety than the birth of Christ and his precursor. The shepherds spread it every where, and the eastern wise men carried the alarm to Herod and his court; and two thousand innocents were slaughtered to come at the body of Christ, in the very country, and at the very time, foretold by the prophecies, for the advent of the Messiah, when and where every Jew was in high expectation of that event. Nay the alarm had, at that juncture, seized the whole Roman empire. Was there no notoriety in all this? or was Judea, and the Roman empire, but a corner? See what reasons, among many others, Joseph had for his faith in the virtue of Mary, and we have for ours !

Many passages of Scripture there are, which have been so miserably perverted by artful expositors, as to be vended among the unwary for proofs of the very opinions they were intended to prevent or refute. Others there are, the true sense whereof the commentators seem not to have reached at all, or to have touched, as it were, but with the point of a hair. Of these I shall note but a few here, and mean, God willing, to do the same by more, as they may happen to occur in my course of reading the New Testament, which I pursue daily in a regular manner.

33. Matth. v. 17. (Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil the law.) Our Saviour means by (law) in these words, not only, or so much the law by Moses, as that true and right rule of obedience, to which the Mosaic was but introductory; and by (ful

filling) he means, carrying on to perfection that rule of obedience, which had been rather exemplified in outward ordinances, as a national law, than inwardly in holiness of heart. This outward obedience he fulfilled by bringing in everlasting righteousness among his followers, and in himself offering up the true and efficacious sacrifice, which had been but typified and shadowed by the sacrifices of beasts. For the former, he substituted the latter, in both respects.

34. Ibid. vii. 3. (Mote) here is put for Kappos which Athenæus uses for a splinter or twig, here opposed to a beam, which seems to sharpen and enliven the passage.

35. Ibid. ix. 16, 17. My disciples are poor men, who fare hardly at all times, and stand in little need of fasting. Besides, they have always lived under the influence of the old law, whereof fasting makes little or no part. As to your practices in this behalf, they are but traditionary, ostentatious, and new-fangled, not even intended by you as mortifications of the flesh. Now that I am present with them to govern their appetites, I will not patch up their worn principles with shreds of your unpurged and undressed cloth, nor pour your new fermenting wine into such old vessels, lest the ill effects should follow which I see among yourselves, and, in tenderness to them, shall not expose them to a danger of the like nature, I have espoused them to myself, and they shall rejoice for the short time of my abode with them; but when I leave them, they shall not only fast from meats and drinks, as you do, but from every other sort of pleasure, which you, when you please, indulge yourselves in with unbridled appetites. Then shall the iron hand of persecution from you, and the rest of this world, be let loose upon them; and then shall they fast indeed from every comfort of life, properly so called.

36. Ibid. xvi. 22. For (be it far from thee), the literal sense (well be it to thee, Lord) is to the same effect.

37. Ibid.xix. 24.(It is easier for a camel, &c.) Who then can be saved ? said the disciples, for if all are not rich, all would be, which comes to very near the same thing. Our Saviour

answers, with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. The salvation of any man is a miracle, for he is saved as by fire, and only as a new creature, which God alone can make. There is here therefore no hyperbole. A man must be made

very little, at least in his own eyes, before he can enter in at the strait gate. Sin, but especially pride, swells him to the size of a camel; and


none but the Holy Spirit, can reduce him to the thickness of a thread.

38. Ibid. xxiii. 35. Commentators have been extremely puzzled about this Zecharias. He could not have been the son of Jehoiada, for this was the son of Barachias; neither was the son of Jehoiada the last of the prophets slain by the Jews for reproving their idolatry and wickedness, as our Saviour begins with Abel, and seems to enumerate all of that character, from first to last, even to the consummation of that judgment, wherewith he was, in this passage, threatening the apostate Jews. The person therefore pointed to here could, I think, be no other than that Zecharias, son of Barachias, whose death between the temple and the altar, inflicted for similar reproofs, Christ includes as the last, prophetically foreseen. Of this man by name, of his father also by name, and of his death, circumstantially described, as here referred to, Josephus makes mention in his Jewish war. The only objection to this interpretation lies in the word (εφονευσατε) which is translated (whom ye slew), whereas the death of this man was seven or eight and thirty years after the uttering of these words by our Saviour. This, to me, is no objection, for I insist that the Greek word just now repeated, being the first aorist, formed from the first future, points at the time to come, as well as the past, and should be translated (whom ye shall have slain), the same tense being thus, of necessity, translated in this evangelist, c. x. 23, (Teleonte) shall bave finished or gone through, in Luke xvii. 10, ye shall have done, for (TTOINOnte), and in other places, not at present occurring to me. They are certainly but clumsy granımarians who give precisely the same time to this aorist which they give to the præter tense. The same may be justly said of those who give a precisely neuter sense to the second aorist, which, as well as the first, hath an indefinite or mised sense in regard to time. In Luke, we translate the second aorist by the words (hath been or was destroyed) in speaking of the same Zecharias's death, which I apprehend should be, shall have been destroyed, before the general destruction of the Jews. It is true, this man is called by St. Matthew the son of Baracbias, and by Josephus, the man I point to, is called the son of Baruch; but then Baruch and Barachias appear to be the same name, nearly in the letter, and precisely in the meaning, which is, one blessed, or kneeling. Zecharias, the son of Jehoiada, could hardly be the man intended by onr Saviour, because the son of a different father, and by no means the last prophet, or righteous person massacred by the Jews for reproving their departure from God, and the true religion.

39. Ibid. xxvii. 3. (When he saw that he was condemned ;) that is, in the determination of the Jews, and their interest with Pilate.

40. Ibid, ssiv. 28. (Eagles) ravenous birds, and the standards of the Roman armies, ready to devour a people reprobated and given up as a dead carcase, by Providence.

41. Ibid. xxvii. 9. The prophecy here quoted is found in Zechariah, not Jeremiah. If this simple misnomer is not a mere error of some ancient amanuensis, the quotation by St. Matthew must have made a part of Jeremiah in the time of our Evangelist. Some have thought, and not without grounds, that some part of the prophecy, ascribed to Zechariah, was taken from that of Jeremiah, which they ground on an idea of similitude in the style. It is certain, that the prophecy of the latter, in the several copies of it, as well while he lived, as after, underwent, as to its matter, several transpositions, in which some part of his work might have been given by mistake to Zechariah, when Judas Maccabæus was revising and collecting the Jewish canon of Scripture. It is also observable in the eleventh chapter of Zechariah, that the Babylonian captivity appears therein to be predicted, which could not have been by him, who survived the seventy years of that captivity. Be this however as it may, the matter of this extraordinary prophecy, or its credit as such, admits of no suspicion. The thirty pieces of silver, at which the Saviour of mankind was valued, and the potter's field, purchased with these pieces, stand so precisely specified in the prophecy, and in the transaction, four hundred years after, that, assign the prophecy to whom we will, no evidence of this sort, or indeed of any other sort, can be more satisfactory. St. Matthew cites the prophecy in the face of Jews and Christians, any one of whom might easily see, whether his citation was just or not; that is, whether he had cited a prophecy acknowledged on all hands to be genuine, whether as found in Jeremiah or Zechariah.

42. Mark ii. 17. (I came, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.) Christ could not mean, that he did not come to call the righteous to a repentance of their righteousness, but that they needed no repentance, which he spoke ironically in regard to the hypocritical Pharisees, who called themselves the righteous, for in reality, all men were included under sin, and stood in need of that repentance, which he came to inculcate the universal necessity of.

43. Ibid. xi. 13. It was not the season for figs, that is, for cultivated figs; why then did Christ look for figs on this tree? It was a wild fig-tree, that bore an ordinary kind of fruit at all seasons, was the property of no man, and grew, as a thorn among us, on the highway side. From such, fruit of an inferior kind might be expected; but on this none of any sort was found. The whole species, with this in particular, represents a numerous class of mankind, so that the transaction is beautifully parabolical.

44. Ibid. xii. 29. (Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord;) the one God is the one Lord, and the one Lord is the one God, both to Jews and Christians. Who is God save the Lord ? Psal. xvii. 31. This is perfectly consistent with 1 Cor. viï. 6, where the Father is called the one God, and the Son the one Lord, not in contradistinction to each other, as is evident from the two texts just quoted, and from one hundred and twelve other passages of Scripture, wherein the Lord God is jointly mentioned as one only being; and Christ himself saith, my Father and I are one, one Being év eguev.

45. Ibid. xiii. 32. In the beginning of this chapter our Saviour having foretold the destruction of the temple, was asked by four of his apostles, when that event should come to pass, and with what sign it should be accompanied ? In regard to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, he gives them several signs, such as preserved the lives of all his disciples on that occasion ; and then proceeds with a circumstantial prophecy of the melancholy event, prefiguring a still more dreadful prediction of a destruction, to come on the world, wherein the two predictions are sometimes so purposely intermixed, that it is not easy for us to perceive, when the one or the other is pointed out. But he adds, of the day and hour (not contained in the inquiry of the apostles) knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father; and this he saith, that they may be the more attentive to his warning, and to the necessity of being always on their guard. Take ye heed, watch, and pray, for ye know not when the time is. As to the very day and hour of either event, he speaks as a man, who had grown in wisdom and stature; as a man, who afterward prayed that the cup of death might pass from him ; as a man, who in suffering death cried out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me; and as St. Paul said to

« AnteriorContinuar »