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of mystery and speculation, and abstracted senses, of any that he ever made, except that which he made immediately before his passion; all his other sermons being more practical.
4. From Jerusalem, Jesus goeth into the country of Judæa, attended by divers disciples, whose understandings were brought into subjection and obedience to Christ, upon confidence of the divinity of his miracles. There his disciples did receive all comers, and baptized them, as John at the same time did; and by that ceremony admitted them to the discipline and institution, according to the custom of the doctors and great prophets among the Jews, whose baptizing their scholars was the ceremony of their admission. As soon as John heard it, he acquitted himself in public, by renewing his former testimony concerning Jesus; affirming him “ to be the Messias, and now the time was come that Christ must increase, and the Baptist suffer diminution; for Christ came from above, was above all, and the sum of his doctrine was, that which he had heard and seen from the Father, whom God sent to that purpose, to whom God had set his seal, that he was true, who spake the words of God, whom the Father loved, to whom he gave the Spirit without measure, and into whose hands God had delivered all things; this was he, whose testimony the world received not.” And that they might know, not only what person they slighted, but how great salvation also they neglected, he sums up all his sermons, and finishes his mission with this saying: “ He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him a.”
5. For now that the Baptist had fulfilled his office of bearing witness unto Jesus, God was pleased to give him his writ of ease, and bring him to his reward upon this occasion, John, who had so learned to despise the world, and all its exterior vanities and impertinent relations, did his duty justly, and so without respect of persons, that as he reproved the people for their prevarications, so he spared not Herod for his; but abstaining from all expresses of the spirit of scorn and asperity, mingling no discontents, interests, nor mutinous intimations with his sermons, he told Herod," it was not
a John, iii. 36.
lawful for him to have his brother's wife b." For which sermon he felt the furies and malice of a woman's spleen, was cast into prison, and about a year after was sacrificed to the scorn and pride of a lustful woman, and her immodest daughter; being, at the end of the second year of Christ's preaching, beheaded by Herod's command, who would not retract his promise, because of his honour, and a rash vow he made in the gaiety of his lust, and complacencies of his riotous dancings. His head was brought up in a dish, and made a festival-present to the young girl, who gave it to her mother: a cruelty that was not known among the barbarisms of the worst of people, to mingle banquetings with blood and sights of death; an insolence and inhumanity, for which the Roman orators accused Q. Flaminius of treason, because, to satisfy the wanton cruelty of Placentia, he caused a condemned slave to be killed at supper; and which had no precedent but in the furies of Marius, who caused the head of the consul Antonius to be brought up to him in his feasts, which he handled with much pleasure and insolence.
6. But God's judgments, which sleep not long“, found out Herod, and marked him for a curse. For the wife of Herod, who was the daughter of Aretas, a king of Arabia Petræa, being repudiated by paction with Herodias, provoked her father to commence a war with Herod; who prevailed against Herod in a great battle, defeating his whole army, and forcing him to an inglorious flight : which the Jews generally expounded to be a judgment on him, for the unworthy
b Montanistæ, et cum his Tertul. adv. Marcion. lib. iv. c. 34, aiunt Philippnm defunctum fuisse, et indè probare satagunt secundas nuptias illicitas esse. Sed hoc tam apertâ fraude, ut agens adv. Catholicos Tertullianus abstineat abs tam iniquâ recitatione. Marcioni autem Evangeliuni neganti hoc obtrudere in facili erat. • Senec. cont. lib. v. Livius, lib. xxxix. Plut. in Mario.
1 “Οστις δε θητών μέμφεται τα Θεϊ”, ότι
Theodect, Grot, Stob. p. 123. VOL. II.
and barbarous execution and murder of John the Baptist; God, in his wisdom and severity, making one sin to be the punishment of another, and neither of them both to pass without the signature of a curse. And Nicephorus reports, that the dancing daughter of Herodias, passing over a frozen lake, the ice brake, and she fell up to the neck in water, and her head was parted from her body, by the violence of the fragments, shaken by the water and its own fall, and so perished; God having fitted a judgment to the analogy and representment of her sin. Herodias herself, with her adulterous paramour, Herod, were banished to Lyons, in France, by decree of the Roman senate, where they lived ingloriously, and died miserably; so paying dearly for her triumphal scorn, superadded to her crime of murder: for when she saw the head of the Baptist, which her daughter, Salome, had presented to her in a charger, she thrust the tongue through with a needle, as Fulvia had formerly done to Cicero. But herself paid the charges of her triumph.
Considerations upon the first Journey of the Holy Jesus to
Jerusalem, when he whipped the Merchants out of the Temple.
1. When the feast came, and Jesus was ascended up to Jerusalem, the first place we find him in is the temple; where not only was the area and court of religion, but, by occasion of public conventions, the most opportune scene for transaction of his commission and his Father's business. And those Christians who have been religious and affectionate, even in the circumstances of piety, have taken this for precedent, and accounted it a good express of the regularity of their devotion, and order of piety, at their first arrival to a city, to pay their first visits to God, the next to his servant, the president of religious rites. First, they went into the church, and worshipped ; then to the angel of the church, to
e Jos. Ant. lib. xviii. c. 7. lib. i. Hist, c. 20.
the bishop, and begged his blessing: and having thus commenced with the auspiciousness of religion, they had better hopes their just affairs would succeed prosperously, which, after the rites of Christian countries, had thus been begun with devotion and religious order.
2. When the holy Jesus entered the temple, and espied a mart kept in the holy sept, a fair upon holy ground, he, who suffered no transportations of anger in matters and accidents temporal, was borne high with an ecstacy of zeal, and, according to the custom of the zealots of the nation, took upon him the office of a private infliction of punishment in the cause of God, which ought to be dearer to every single person than their own interest and reputation. What the exterminating angel did to Heliodorus, who came into the temple upon design of sacrilege, that the meekest Jesus did to them who came with acts of profanation; he whipped them forth. And as usually good laws spring from ill manners, and excellent sermons are occasioned by men's iniquities; now also our great Master, upon this accident, asserted the sacredness of holy places, in the words of a prophet, which now he made a lesson evangelical : “ My house shall be called a house of prayer to all nations.”
3. The beasts and birds there sold, were brought for sacrifice; and the banks of money were for the advantage of the people that came from far, that their returns might be safe and easy, when they came to Jerusalem upon the employments of religion. But they were not yet fit for the temple; they who brought them thither, purposed their own gain, and meant to pass them through an unholy usage, before they could be made “ anathemata,” vows to God: and when religion is but the purpose at the second hand, it cannot hallow a lay design, and make it fit to become a religious ministry, much less sanctify an unlawful action. When Rachel stole her father's gods, though possibly she might do it in zeal against her father's superstition, yet it was occasion of a sad accident to herself. For the Jews say, that Rachel died in child-birth of her second son, because of that imprecation of Jacob, “ With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not livea.” Saul pretended sacrifice, when he spared the fat
a Gen. xxxi. 32.
cattle of Amalek; and Micah was zealous when he made him an ephod and a teraphim, and meant to make himself an image for religion when he stole his mother's money: but these are colours of religion, in which not only the world, but ourselves also, are deceived by a latent purpose, which we are willing to cover with a remote design of religion, lest it should appear unhandsome in its own dressing. Thus some believe a covetousness allowable, if they greedily heap treasure, with a purpose to build hospitals or colleges; and sinister acts of acquiring church-livings are not so soon condemned, if the design be to prefer an able person; and actions of revenge come near to piety, if it be to the ruin of an ungodly man; and indirect proceedings are made sacred, if they be for the good of the holy cause. This is profaning the temple with beasts brought for sacrifices, and dishonours God by making himself accessary to his own dishonour, as far as lies in them; for it disserves him with a pretence of religion : and, but that our hearts are deceitful, we should easily perceive that the greatest business of the letter is written in postscript; the great pretence is the least purpose; and the latent covetousness or revenge, or the secular appendix, is the main engine to which the end of religion is made but instrumental and pretended. But men, when they sell a mule, use to speak of the horse that begat him, not of the ass that bore him.
4. The holy Jesus “ made a whip of cords,” to represent and to chastise the implications and enfoldings of sin, and the cords of vanity. 1. There are some sins that of themselves are a whip of cords : those are the crying sins, that, by their degree and malignity, speak loud for vengeance; or such as have great disreputation, and are accounted the basest issues of a caitive disposition; or such which are unnatural and unusual ; or which, by public observation, are marked with the signature of Divine judgments. Such are murder, oppression of widows and orphans, detaining the labourer's hire, lusts against nature, parricide, treason, betraying a just trust in great instances and base manners, lying to a king, perjury in a priest : these carry Cain's mark upon them, or Judas' sting, ôr Manasses' sorrow, unless they be made impudent by the spirit of obduration. 2. But there are some sins that bear shame upon them, and are used