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SECTION X. Of the Transactions at the first Passover. Having considered every thing of a more general nature relating to the duration of our Lord's ministry, I am now ready to attend to what your Lordship has observed relating to some more particular incidents in our Saviour's history; especially what you suppose to have passed at Jerusalem during the first passover, in Judea afterwards, and then in Galilee.
Your Lordship objects to my supposing that our Lord did not stay at Jerusalem during the whole eight days of the feast of passover ; * observing very justly from Grotius, that it was usual with devout Jews to continue there during the whole of the feast. This, however, your Lordship, who supposes our Saviour to have been absent from Jerusalem many entire feasts, cannot say was absolutely necessary; the evangelist does not say that he attended the whole feast, and the same writer expressly says, that he did not go up to another of the feasts, till the middle of it.
But your Lordship asserts, that at this particular time Jesus did not leave Jerusalem before the expiration of the eight days of the feast. “My reasons,” your Lordship says, “ for this assertion are, because our Lord wrought miracles during the feast, because he did not then trust himself to the many who believed in him, and because at that time a Jewish ruler visited him by night, and referred to his miracles, as sufficient to prove him a teacher sent from God.”+
But, as your Lordship acknowledges, part of this business, viz. the preaching, working miracles, and consequently gaining disciples, might have been done before the feast, and a very short time will suffice for the rest. I am sensible, however, that the antecedent probability is, that, like other pious Jews, he would continue at Jerusalem the whole eight days of the feast. But since, as your Lordship acknowledges, this was not absolutely necessary, where can be the great improbability of his leaving Jerusalem about the middle of this first feast, when he might have found himself exposed to so much notice from the miracles he had wrought, as might be inconvenient to him, especially at the opening of his ministry? * Reply, p. 19. (P.)
† Ibid. p. 17. (P.)
“ Another probable argument,” your Lordship says, “ for the continuance of Jesus at Jerusalem all the time of the passover, is this, that it seems suitable to his wisdom and goodness, as a heavenly messenger." But, then, why did he not attend all the feasts, and every day belonging to them? Your Lordship, however, refers to the propriety of his intimating his commission at this first passover. this feast,” you say, “our Lord gave a plain intimation of his Messiahship, by calling the temple his Father's house." You add, “The bolder his action of purging the temple was, the greater is the praise of his fortitude." But then, the less must have been his prudence, which, according to the whole tenor of his conduct, was equally distinguished, especially at the opening of his ministry.
It is, I think, extremely improbable that our Lord should choose to give any such plain intimation of his being the Messiah so early ; though he did there things from which, assisted by the testimony of John, they might have inferred that he must be the Messiah. It is said, indeed, (John ii. 23,) that “ many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.” But it is not said that they believed him to be the Messiah, but only, in general, “ a teacher come from God.” This is all that Nicodemus intimates ; John iii. 2: “ We know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” And what our Lord says of his pretensions, to this Jewish ruler, is very obscure and reserved.
We deceive ourselves, and are apt to be misled in the interpretation of the Gospel history, by not sufficiently considering what kind of a Messiah the Jews expected. Now our Saviour, notwithstanding his working miracles, was a person so exceedingly unlike him that they expected, that it was not at all probable that they would soon suppose him to be the Messiah. It does not appear that even John the Baptist ever expressly called him the Messiah. spoke of him (Luke iii. 17) as one greatly his superior, and who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Our Lord himself appears to have been remarkably cautious on this subject. Indeed, there is no evidence of his giving any plain intimation that he was the Messiah, till much later in his ministry; and the first open declaration he made of it was to the apostles only, accompanied with an
· Reply, p. 9. (P.)
+ Ibid. p. 19. (P.)
express charge, (Matt. xii. 16; Mark iii. 12,) " that they should not make him known.” It is indeed remarkable that he expressly told “the woman of Samaria,” (John iv. 26,) that he was the Messiah, and consequently, we may suppose all the people of Sychar. But from a town in Samaria it was not likely to spread and gain much credit among the Jews.
Is this conduct, my Lord, consistent with his having given a plain intimation of his Messiahship, to all the Jews so early, and so openly as at the first passover, or, as your Lordship expresses it, * with his having publicly declared his office at the first passover?
Your Lordship, in giving reasons why you suppose our Lord wrought no miracles in Judea, (though I can see no reason why he should not, after having wrought many in Jerusalem immediately before,) in order to account for the three first evangelists not noticing this period of our Lord's preaching, says, that “though the Jews had no prejudices about the forerunner of their Messiah ; the true Messiah, of humble birth and station, the erector of a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men, could not have run his destined course without the highest degree of prudence.”ť
Now, my Lord, I do not see the perfect consistency of his publicly declaring himself to be the Messiah at the passover, which inust have been the extreme of boldness, (I should think of indiscretion,) and his passing immediately after to such an extreme of caution, as to preach during his long stay in Judea without working any miracles ; a thing very unusual, to say the least, with our Lord, whenever an opportunity offered. Indeed, my Lord, the methods you take to make this long stay and preaching of Jesus in Judea pass unnoticed by the three first evangelists, is not, I think, suffciently consistent with what you suppose to have been transacted at the passover immediately preceding; and it satisfies me that his preaching in Judea could not have taken so much time as your Lordship imagines.
Your Lordship conjectures, that “the miracles wrought at Jerusalem during the first passover were of that most benevolent; conciliating kind, which consisted in removing human sicknesses and infirmities," I which I think very probable. But were not these of a very different nature from his violent cleansing of the temple ? How is this consistent with what your Lordship says, of " his not choosing, during his conti
• Reply, p. 15. (P.)
+ Ibid. p. 49. (P.)
1 Ibid. p. 17. (P.)
nuance in Judea, to attract general notice, and to gather multitudes about him?" * The buying and selling in the outer court of the temple, for the convenience of those who came to sacrifice, was probably an immemorial custom, and had the sanction of the Scribes and Pharisees; and therefore could not have been interrupted in so violent a manner as that in which our Saviour did it, with a whip, and overturning of the tables and seats, &c. without setting all the then subsisting authority at defiance. Mr. Mann therefore thinks, that this cleansing of the temple (which none of the evangelists says was done more than once) was done by our Lord only at the last passover, immediately after his entering the city in triumph, and with such a popularity as no power of the Jewish rulers could oppose. +
Your Lordship insists upon it, that this remarkable action was performed at the first passorer, as well as at the last; and you think, that you can observe soine difference between the first cleansing mentioned by John, and the second, of which there is an account in the other evangelists; because on the former occasion the Jews only say, s. What sign she west thou, seeing thou doest these things” and on the latter occasion, “they sought how they might destroy him.” 1
Now, considering that our Lord, at the time that I lay the scene for this transaction, entered Jerusalem with a crowd of attendants, singing, (Mark xi. 9,) “ Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord,”(that is, the Messiah,) it may easily be conceived that the Pharisees and high-priests durst not openly oppose him; so that, though they considered him as assuming a high tone of authority, they did not venture, at that time, any farther than to ask him (ver. 28] by what authority he acted. But how is this inconsistent with their privately resolving, from that moment, to eut him off ? In all other respects, the transaction, as described by all the evangelists, is the very same ; and I cannot help thinking the scene of it to be, on many accounts, more properly laid at the last, than at the first passover.
Besides, if our Lord had acted with this authority at the first passover, he would have been under a kind of necessity of enforcing his orders every time that he had gone to Jerusalem ; and if it had been repeated with proper effect, as we may
Reply, p. 40. (P.) +" li was a high, authoritative act of prophetic zenl, exercised upon a multitude of knaves, like which nothing had been seen in the second temple." Mann, p. 180. See Appendix, No. VII.
1 Reply, p. 24. (P.)
be well assured it would have been, if it had been done by our Lord at all, the custom would have been discontinued, and it would not have been to do again at the last passover. At least, if the Jews had ventured to resume the custom, we might expect some reference to former injunc. tions, and to a similar conduct of his own, the next time that our Lord acted the same part over again. But all the evangelists relate the transaction without giving the least intimation that it had ever been done before.
Some commentators have given so little attention to the nature of this remarkable transaction, as to imagine that our Lord performed it both on the evening of the day in which he entered Jerusalem in triumph, and again the next morn. ing ; because Matthew says it happened on one of the days, and Mark on the other. But is it not more probable that one of these historians, and especially Mark, might be mistaken with respect to the particular day, than that the same persons who quietly submitted to a violent expulsion in the evening, should have so far recovered themselves as to have replaced their seats, &c. and have resumed their business early the next morning, the populace at the same time favouring our Lord and his authority?
Of the Stay that Jesus made in Judea after the first Passover.
On the subject of this Section I do not intend to trouble your Lordship long. You do not pretend that my distribution of the events relating to our Saviour's tarrying in Judea before his journey to Galilee is physically impossible, * and the probability of it must be determined by an attention to all the circumstances.
The circumstance on which I laid the principal stress, in urging the shortness of that stay, was the total silence of the three first evangelists respecting it, and their uniformly representing the preaching of the Gospel as having begun in Galilee, and afterwards to have extended to Judea. I therefore said, "the thing was not so considerable as to have been even noticed by any other evangelist than John, though it was prior to any thing that they (the other evangelists) have related of the ministry of Jesus, when it was least likely
Reply, p. 26. (P.)