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a small one.
He saw with satisfaction this poor widow, whom some would have overlooked, or treated with contempt. Her offering however was not beneath His notice. It was indeed the only one He deigned to notice. Of her two mites she did not keep even one for herself, though her poverty might have exempted her, so it might be thought, from giving even one. But see now how the Lord estimated her offering. In His sight it was greater than that of all the rest put together. They gave of their over and above, of what cost them nothing,2 of what put them to no inconvenience, of what procured them credit or applause. She gave what she could ill spare, what men would make no account of, out of her deep poverty, depending upon the providence of God. She would have given more if she had had more to give. Would they, in her position, have given this? "It should be a matter of consolation to the poor thus to be able to give even more than the rich. . . . This alms has enough in it to humble both the rich, who, by reason of covetousness, give but little, and the poor, who, through a distrust of Providence, give nothing at all.”+ People who might give much more sometimes talk of giving their mite, which shows how completely they have misread this passage, and is an instance of the loose way in which people quote and misapply the Scripture. It was not one mite this poor widow gave, but two; and these two were her all. Those who talk of giving their mite do not mean that they are giving their all, or even half of it.
THE SIGNS OF THE END.
St. Matthew xxiv. 1-3.
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the
God judges of the greatness of the gift, not by the gift itself, but by the heart which offers it."-Quesnel.
2 2 Sa. xxiv. 24.
temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
The Temple was at this time under repair. The Disciples, men of Galilee, were naturally much impressed by this centre of their worship on this visit to Jerusalem. One of them calls His attention to it," Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!" And it seems to have been a general topic of admiration among them, "how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts." 2 The Jewish historian tells us of these stones that the length of each was twenty-five cubits, their height was eight, and their breadth about twelve. The kings of the earth had brought their glory and honour into it. Of one of these gifts, the golden vine, the same historian says, "the largeness and fine workmanship of which was a surprising sight to the spectators, to see what vast materials there were, and with what great skill the workmanship was done."3 We need not wonder therefore at the Disciples' admiration, akin to that of countrymen who should come from a distant province to the metropolis to inspect our grandest Cathedral. Hereupon our Lord utters that prophecy of its downfall which seemed so unlikely to come to pass. They saw these things, saw them building up, laying one stone upon another; 5 He saw with prophetic eye the days drawing nigh when there should be pulling down, not leaving one stone upon another. The Disciples seem to have been revolving these things in their mind during their return, and by and by they ask their Master further of it. He was sitting down on the Mount of Olives in full view of the Temple," "covered with plates of gold, and of a dazzling whiteness;" for "this Temple appeared to strangers, when they were at a distance, like a
1 St. Mark xiii. 1.
2 St. Luke xxi. 5.
Josephus, Antt. xv. xi. 3.
5 Hagg. ii. 15.
6 St. Mark xiii. 3.
A Plain Commentary.
mountain covered with snow." His most favoured three, Peter and James and John, with Andrew now added to their number, approach to ask Him in private concerning that prophecy which He had publicly uttered. They knew Him by this time to be the Messiah, but supposed He was reserving Himself for a more glorious coming. And indeed if such a Temple is to be destroyed, it must be co-eval with the end of the world. They could not imagine how the one should outlast the other. The Lord, without now correcting all their mistakes, tells them so much as is needful for the practical guidance of their conduct. And He takes occasion to utter that double prophecy which speaks now of the coming judgment of Jerusalem, now of the final judgment of the world, which that catastrophe foreshadowed. His words refer sometimes to the one event, sometimes to the other.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. Matthew xxiv. 4-14.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earth
1 Josephus, B. J. v. v. 6.
2 St. Mark xiii. 3.
3 St. John ii. 18-22.
4 "It is to be observed that several future events, however distant from each other, seem to be represented by prophecy as contemporaneous, till one of those events is near, and detaches itself from the others, and then the true sense of the prophecy becomes more clear. Future events in time may be compared to distant objects in place. In a mountainous country,
two ridges of hills, rising the one above the other, are seen in the horizon almost as one, although there may be many miles between them; and it is only when the spectator arrives at the summit of the first ridge, that he is aware of the chasm between it and the second... The Prophets of the Old Testament pass rapidly from describing the First Advent of Christ to the Second Advent, so that the two Advents seem to be blended together in one."-Bp. Wordsworth
quakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
From the history of the Jews we find that many impostors appeared about that time, who took advantage of the general expectation of Messiah's coming to advance themselves. Many deceivers were entered into the world." The Lord pointed out certain signs which should precede the fall of Jerusalem in the world around; pestilence which ever follows at the heels of famine, and earthquakes in divers places, and fearful sights and great signs from Heaven.3 He points out certain signs which should precede it among themselves. They need not be troubled about what was going on in the world, but let them take heed to themselves, that they be not moved by any of those coming afflictions He enumerates, and to which they are appointed." They must testify of Him even before kings. Their arraignment will give them this opportunity. Let them rejoice even to be indicted as malefactors if it turn out to the furtherance of the Gospel. But let them beware of what is far more dangerous, dissensions among themselves, corruptions of Christianity, the false teachers that should arise.10 Abounding iniquity should, it is predicted, cause the decay of Christian charity. The once fervent flame which arrested the heathen mind should wax cold, and there should be less
1 St. Luke xxi. 8.
21 St. John ii. 18; 2 St. John 7.
3 St. Luke xxi. 11.
St. Mark xiii. 9.
St. Luke xxi. 12.
1 Thess. iii. 3.
"Acts xxiii. 11; Ps. exix. 46.
This seems to be the sense of that clause of St. Mark xiii. 9 (where it is rather to than against them) and St. Luke xxi. 13.
Phil. i. 12, 13. 10 Acts xx. 30.
reason for that exclamation of the wondering pagans, "See how these Christians love one another!" This is the greatest trial of all; not opposition from without, but disappointment from within; when those within the citadel prove unfaithful. Let them not suppose because they have surmounted one trial they are safe. In the furnace of this affliction there is test after test. He that stands this final degree of the fiery trial shall be brought out unscathed.3 The Lord in leaving repeats and recalls to their minds warnings and expressions they had heard from His lips before, when He first despatched them upon their mission. No real harm shall happen to them in doing His work. As in the proverb, not a hair of their head should finally perish. All shall be more than made up to them. Let them patiently abide alway. The soul is more precious than the body. And He predicts that even before that coming judgment on Jerusalem, which is a type of the consummation of all things, this good news of the Church and Kingdom He came to set up should be proclaimed, as we know it was, in all the then known world."
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. Matthew xxiv. 15-19.
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe
'Ps. lv. 12-14.
2 1 St. Pet. iv. 12.
3 Rev. ii. 10. The Lord turns from the singular number to the plural to show that this is an individual thing, and to signify the comparative rarity of such endurance.
4 With St. Matt. xxiv. 9, 13, com
pare ch. x. 22. With St. Mark xiii. 9, 11, 12, compare St. Matt. x. 17-21. With St. Luke xxi. 14, 15, compare ch. xii. 11, 12.
St. Luke xxi. 18. Compare ch. xii. 7 and St. Matt. x. 30. 6 Rom. i. 8; Col. i. 6.