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when tempted to make too much of another's comeliness, or to be vain of your own.
And if the contemplation be frightful, and the very terms in which its tokens must be expressed of necessity excite disgust, turn your eyes on Him who can redeem you and your beloved from the grave, rescuing even from corruption; 1 “who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
NEITHER WILL THEY BE PERSUADED THOUGH
ONE ROSE FROM THE DEAD.
St. John xi. 45-48.
Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we ? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take
away both our place and nation.
With that unity of purpose which marks his Gospel, our Evangelist, intent only on his main object in marking the growing enmity of the Jews, makes no comment on the case. Not a word is said as to the effect of the miracle on Martha and her sister and Lazarus. He notes only its varied effect upon the Jews. They were, as ever, divided in opinion. Many, the majority, as it would seem, of those who witnessed
the flames of lust, to abate the heiglits (Act v. Scene i.) which concludes, of pride, to apptase the itch of covet- “Now get you to my lady's chamber; ous desires, to sully and dash out the and tell her, let jier paint an inch dissembling colours of a lustful, arti- thick, to this favour she must come." ficial, and imaginary beauty.” Com- 1 Job xix. 25-27; 1 St. John ii. pare the contemplation in Hamlet,
17. VOL. II.
the wondrous sight, were subdued into believing. Their hostility was at last disarmed. They saw and believed. The Evangelist speaks of them as those which came to Mary. Their regard for her led them to have regard for Him. And, as with those men to whom the woman of Samaria testified concerning Christ, they also saw the things which Jesus did. But some, even of those who had witnessed the miracle, believed not. They could not indeed deny that a notable miracle had been done. They even, like the corrupt Council whose creatures they were, admit and report it. But it does not affect their hearts. It does not disarm their malice. Their faith is less even than that of devils. They believe, in a sense, but tremble not. Here is a miracle proving and enforcing a solemn parable. There is a Lazarus in either case. The very name might have served to remind them of His warning words. The chief priests probably were of the Sadducees. Here we find them leagued with their opponents, the Pharisees. In the work of persecuting Christ these rivals can forget their differences, joining unanimously in the common conspiracy. Their fear was, that if they continued to treat Him with the contempt which they had affected hitherto, the people would proceed to set him up as King; whereupon the Romans, who had annexed their country, would come and put down the revolt by putting an end to their at present permitted authority in that place, and so the people would be again dispersed. Yet had they cared to inquire, they would have learned how He whom they slandered had withdrawn Himself when the people would have taken Him by force to make Him a King, even as He proclaimed before the judgment-seat, “My kingdom is not of this world.” But what was all this to them? Enough for them that His claims threatened to interfere with their schemes of worldly prosperity and selfish advancement. And how vain their reasoning! That very danger to escape which they sinned, was by that act of sin incurred. “What is morally wrong, can never be politically
St. John iv. 39, 41, 42.
* Ps. ii. 2.
THE HIGH PRIEST'S PROPHECY.
St. John xi. 49-54.
And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation, and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
The conduct of the Council was the counterpart of the wicked husbandmen in the parable; carrying out the counsel of Joseph's brethren, those types of a worse fratricide. One of them, Caiaphas, is bolder than the rest, and has even less scruples than his colleagues, whose hands seemed for the present tied by some considerations which were of no force to his bold bad mind. He was the president of their Council, the presiding genius of their assembly, as well by reason of his unscrupulous character as of his official position; being High Priest that same year in which Jesus was to die. The office of High Priest, through the degeneracy of the Jews and the tyranny of the Romans, was no longer as it had been in the days of their fathers. Now it often changed hands. Caiaphas himself, though holding this authority, was not the lawful High Priest. Nevertheless he then held the office;
| Bengel. It was, as Lightfoot says, that great year of the outpouring of the Spirit, such as the world had never seen, nor will see again ; and some drops fall upon this wicked man, as crumbs from the children's table
are gathered by the dogs under it; that even from this enemy of the Redeemer witness may be borne to redemption.
· Caiaphas was high-priest de facto, but Andas de jure.
and God, who formerly spake by Urim and by Thummim, and by the Priest's lips instructed the people, was pleased to make use of this bad man, as of another Balaam, to utter a memorable prophecy concerning Jesus.” Caiaphas unwittingly testified to Christ. He was the unconscious organ of the Holy Ghost, who out of that marred unworthy instrument could fetch heavenly harmony. Better that one man should die, so he argues, and put an end to this disquiet, than that by sparing his life, though innocent, they should permit the people to set him up as King and so destroy a nation.2 Political expediency, “necessity, the tyrant's plea,” 3 was enough in his eyes to justify the sacrifice. Jesus was to be
. a state victim, a scapegoat. Little he knew the deep meaning of his own words, that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for Jews only, but, as our Evangelist is careful to add, for Gentiles also. So He became, in a sense that Caiaphas never dreamt, the Saviour of all who, whether Jews or Gentiles, believe in Him.5 So from henceforth we mark the deliberate malice of these men, the planned process of a judicial murder. But the Lord, though, when His hour was come, “led as a lamb to the slaughter," would not now needlessly expose Himself to their malice. His work was almost done. Many a work of mercy had He shewed them; and now finally a miracle than which there could not be a greater. What more could He do ? 6 If they will not be persuaded though one rose from the dead, it is time that He withdraw Himself. So in that town of Ephraim, on the borders of the wilderness, affording opportunity for meditation and prayer, He will retire with His Disciples and rest awhile. There he calmly views in its prospect, and prepares for, the final conflict.
1 Not tlat we regard Caiaphas as absolutely a prophet, but his words, as Lampe remarks, hare the force of prophecy.
2 Grotius in addition to the often cited sentence of Virgil (Æn. v. 815), of which however he gives another reading, has here some striking illustriations from various sources.
3 It seems strange that Cromwell's
Latin Secretary should be the author
41 St. John ii, 2.
6 But indeed, as Benyel says, dı atlı yields to Christ sooner than unbelief. Lampe remarks on the fatuity of those who sought to conpass the death of Him who had proved His power over death.
OF DIVORCE AND OF CELIBACY.
St. Matthew xix. 3-12.
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joinrd together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives : but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his uife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery : and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, suve they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb : and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of hearen's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
The Pharisees seem to have invaded our Lord's retirement. These questions they asked not for instruction, not with any view to altering their practice in accordance with His decision, but with the base design of making Him commit Himself to some opinion contrary to their traditions, which they might make the groundwork of a charge against
If we render, as we may, “ And the Pharisees," &c., the transition will be less abrupt.