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report ? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart ; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him ; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue : for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
The Prophet Isaiah,'— so the Evangelist interprets him,is by anticipation viewing this time, and marvels that so few believed what the Prophets had spoken; marvels that though Christ displayed such power, the people would not acknowledge it to be Divine. “It was designed that the fulfilment of these various predictions should form a part of the evidence of the Divine authority of the Gospel. . . . They did not happen because they were foretold; but they were for the wisest purposes foretold, because it was foreseen that they would happen.”3 The Evangelist, continuing his comment on the apparent failure of the Lord's ministry, proceeds to make another citation from the same Prophet. Before he had said, “They did not believe;" here he adds, “They could not believe.” For this is the exact order of the Divine judgment. If a man wilfully shuts his eyes to
The words are cited also in Rom. prophecy depended on the event; it xi. 8. Bp. Wordsworth reminds us did not make it."-A Plain Comthat St. John here applies to the Son mentary. Concerning however the what St. Paul (Acts xxviii. 25) refers questions which have been raised here, to the Spirit; while the original pas. we must content ourselves with resage of the Prophet (Is. vi. 1 ff. with membering, as South says (Ser. lxvii.) which compare Rev. iv. 8 1.) com- “that they are in the number of those memorates the Holy Trinity.
mysterious things, which it surpasses 2 St. John v. 36; X. 25, 36–38; the wisdom of man to give an account xiv. 10, 11 ; xv. 24.
of.” But as Chalmers (Lectures on 3 Bp. Tomline in D'Oyly and Mant. Butler's Anal. ch. i.) observes, “ There “Utterly absurd, of course, would be is no danger of a conflict between the supposition, that an inspired writer reason and revelation, when reason could wish to imply that a spirit of keeps within her proper sphere, and unbelief had been enforced upon the proceeds aright on the knowledge and Jews in order to save the credit of one observation of her own limits." of God's ancient Prophets. ... The
the truth, God may seal those rebel eyes in a confirmed blindness. First the man will not see; afterwards it may be he can not. Pharaoh hardens his heart wilfully, before God hardens it judicially. The words “refer not to the cause of their unbelief, but to the event. For it was not because Isaiah spake that they believed not; but it was because they were not about to believe that he spake. What Isaiah foretold fell not out otherwise but as he said . . . . So in many places he is wont to term choice, power .. Because they will not, therefore they cannot.”ı The Prophet tells us it was the glory of the Lord, Jehovah, that he saw in heavenly vision. The Evangelist tells us it was the glory of Christ. The conclusion is inevitable, that Christ is God. Isaiah's vision of God's glory, St. John's testimony to our Lord's divinity, here meet. That the people were not restrained by any unalterable decree from believing in the Lord is clear from what the Evangelist is careful to add, the fact, namely, that some of them actually did believe in Him; some even of the rulers; though their belief indeed was not worth much, as it did not lead them to confess Him.2 Already we have heard that impious decree of the Jewish Council, that they should be excommunicated who acknowledged Him to be the Christ. The short-lived breath of human applause prevailed with these men more than the approving voice of God." · Chry. in S. Jo. Hom. lxvii
. Como people themselves would do. So too pare Aug. Tr. liji. 4, 7. The latter from a comparison of those places chapter is full of wise counsels, anti- where we find the substance of this cipating what has been called of late prophecy quoted by our Lord and by the Philosophy of the Conditioned, St. Paul (St. Matt. xüi. 14, 15; Acts alluded to in the previous note. “I xxviii. 25-27) it is plain that “this recognize my limit,” he humbly says; people” is, at least in the first ina motto which a modern spirit of stance, the agent here. inquiry would do well to have before ? Augustine (De cat. rud. c. xxiv.)
speaks of those who fruitlessly and in In the original passage of the Pro- vain believed on Him. phet (Is. vi. 8-10) he is represented as 3 St. John ix. 22. doing what it was thus foretold the 4 St. John v. 44; 1 Thess. ii. 4, 6.
THE POWER OF FAITH.
St. Mark xi. 20-26.
And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea ; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass ; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and
shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any : that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
His Disciples had heard what their Lord had said to the fruitless, leafy tree, but they returned that evening to Bethany at too late an hour to note the effect that followed. St. Matthew, connecting cause with effect, “concerned for the inner idea,” 2 tells the whole story at once, and hastens on to the end, “omitting circumstances which came between.” 3 From his account we learn what followed, while the Lord with His Disciples pursues the path to Jerusalem. The sentence is passed. The Judge leaves the judgment seat. The Court is cleared. Straightway “a shuddering fear”4 runs through all its leaves. They drop as in the end of autumn; those leaves it put forth so bravely, as though this
l were all that was required of it. It is smitten root and branch; "at Thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blasting of the
St. Mark xi. 14, p. 194 above. . Abp. Trench.
Abp. Trench, who seems to have in mind the sensation of Sinon, Vir. Æn. ii. 120.
breath of Thy displeasure.” And “yet this barren fig-tree, withered by Christ's word, bears fruit for ever in the garden of Holy Scripture, by the warning it gives." As this figtree which failed of fruit presently lost even its leaves, so shall all hypocrites be unmasked. There shall not be left so much as a leaf to hide their lack of fruit. So was it with that Jewish Church of old. They had no fruit to show, and so the fig-leaves in which they gloried, and with which, Adam-like, they sought to cover their spiritual nakedness, even these were withered. All the glories of their state fell like autumn leaves. Their religion was thus represented. It was foliage without fruit. It all went to leaf. Like this tree “beguiling the hungry passer-by to quit the road and come and look for fruit, and then baulking him with barrenness.”The Disciples, we find, marvelled that a tree they had lately seen looking so luxuriant should so soon be withered away. But Peter calls to remembrance what all had heard the day before, and seems to ask his Master for explanation. The Lord leaves the parabolic miracle to speak for itself. It proclaims its own moral.* This former lesson of faith is the only one He now expressly draws from it; adding those words concerning prayer so closely connected Bp. Wordsworth.
selves able to bear. They have in? Henry, who contrasts the miracle quired how such wonders are wrought? of Aaron's dry rod that budded in a and He answers them, as He virtually night (Num. xvii. 8) with this of the did on a former occasion, by bidding green tree which was dried up in a them have faith in God.' Then day. In our Lord's words (St. Luke because Prayer is the very language xxiii, 31) some bave seen an allusion of Faith, He makes the lesson yet to this present miracle.
more practical by straightway dis3 St. Matt. xxi. 20.
coursing concerning Prayer."- A Plain * “ His followers were evidently pro- Commentary. foundly unconscious of the symbolic 5 St. Matt. xvii. 20. If the Lord's character of the transaction . . . and words here had been recorded only by beheld in it simply an act of wondrous St. Mark, there are not wanting critics power. The Holy One, ever conde- who would not have failed to charge scending to the infirmity of His crea- him (seeing St. Mark does not add tures, is therefore silent concerning the saying after the miracle of healing the typical character of His recent the lunatic child) with having misact, (which He leaves for the Divine takenly inserted them here. Happily Illumination of a subsequent day to however St. Matthew (xxi. 21) also explain ;) but in the meantime proceeds records this repetition of His former to impart to His Disciples as much of saying, showing in the same words heavenly wisdom as they show them- what the Disciples still had need of,
with it, and concerning a forgiving spirit of which He saw they had reason to be reminded. He pointed, it might be, to the Mount of Olives, at whose foot they then were, as before to the Mount of Transfiguration. The all things ? we ask in faithful prayer must of course, from the analogy of Scripture, be understood with this limitation, that they are according to the wise will of God.
TEACHING IN THE TEMPLE.
St. Mark xi. 27; St. Luke xix. 47, 48; St. John xii. 14-50.
St. Mark xi.- And they come again to Jerusalem :
St. Luke xix.-And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, and could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.
St. John xii.-Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save
i St. Matt. vi. 14, 15 ; xviii. 35. truly, one time I was going to say so
» Bunyan in his Grace Abounding indeed &c.” These confessions of an (p.51) narrates of himself, “ The temp- evidently morbid mind, and the way ter came in with his delusion, That in which Scripture (with which he there was no way for me to know I takes strange liberties) was made a had faith, but by trying to work some snare to him, may well remind us of miracles;' urging those Scriptures that question and answer in Acts viii. that seem to enforce and strengthen 30, 31. God has not given us a Bible bis temptations. Nay, one day as I without a Church, to help us to a right was between Elstow and Bedford, the understanding of the same. Into what temptation was hot upon me, to try if errors may those fall who overlook I had faith, by doing some miracle; either of His gifts! John Bunyan's which miracle at this time was this, I ordeal of water may call to mind must say to the puddles that were in Savonarola's ordeal of fire. “ Les the horse-pads, Be dry; and to the extrêmes se touchent.” dry places, Be you puddles. And