« AnteriorContinuar »
therefore returned to Bethany, where he was received, not by Lazarus who had perhaps been obliged to save himself on account of his being concerned in such an imposture, but, as St. Matthew affirms, by Simon the leper. Lazarus after his resurrection appeared no lon yer on the stage*.
This rejection and desertion of Christ threw the apostles into consternation. To re-animate their confidence, Jesus caused a fig-tree to die in twenty-four hours to punish it for not producing figs at a season when it was physically impossible for it to carry any, that is about the month of March 7.-As all the actions of the Messiah, even when they appear foolish to or. dinary men, have an important signification in the eyes of devotees illuminated by faith, we ought to perceive in the miracle of this fig-tree one of the fundamental dogmas of the Christian religion symbolically represented. In this point of view, the fig-tree cursed is the mass of mankind, whom, according to our theologists, the God of mercy curses, and condemns to eternal flames, for having neither had faith nor grace which they could not possibly acquire of themselves, and which God does not seem to have been willing to give them. Thus we shall find that the ridiculous passage of the fig.tree in the gospel, is intended to typify one of the most profound dogmas of the Christian religion [.
* A legend, according to Baronius, affirms that Lazarus went afterwards to preach the faith to the Provençals, and was the first bishop of Marseilles. As for Magdalane, she went to bewail her sins and the death of her lover in a desart of Provence, called la Sainte Baume (the Holy Balm). Martha, as every body knows, lies interred at Tarascon.
+ St. Mark, xi. 20.
# For maintaining the dogma, that this as well as other pretended miracles of Christ were merely allegorical, the vir,
Whilst Jesus in this manner instructed his apostles by figures and ingenious parables, they were labouring hard against him at Jerusalem. It appears, that the Sanhedrin was divided on his account. They perhaps wished much to punish him, but not to put him to death. All were of opinion that he should be arrested without noise, and that they should consider after. wards on the punishment to be inflicted on him. The most fiery of the priests wished that he should be seized in the capital, and assassinated during the hurry of the festival. This establishes that they did not consider themselves certain the people would not interest themselves in his behalf. Perhaps they had great reason : What a part of the populace did in his favour when he approached Jerusalem, evinced that it would have been very dangerous to act openly. In pursuance of this plan, they secretly promised a reward to whoever should deliver up Jesus, and we shall soon find one of his apostles betray his master for a very trifling sum.
There is sufficient reason to believe that before en. tering Jerusalem, Jesus caused his approach to be announced by his friends in that city. His adherents la
tuous Woolstan so far excited the indignation of the clergy, that they persecuted him even unto death. Having been a prisoner in the King's Bench for eight years, as a punishment for publishing his 6 Discourses on the Miracles;" the most powerful interest used for his release proved unavailing, when opposed to the rancour of the priesthood ; till at last he became a martyr to the cause of truth, leaving behind him a character which for striet probity and benevolence cannot be surpassed, if even equalled, in the whole Christian church. Yet we find that the opinions avowed by Woolstan, were those which were strenuously held by the most celebrated and orthodox of the ancient fathers.
boured to render his entry into the capital somewhat brilliant. As for himself, affecting to display modesty in the midst of his triumph, or unable to do better, Christ chose for his steed a young ass that had never been rode on, which his disciples, by his order, had seized with its mother. In place of a saddle, some of the disciples laid their clothes on the back of the ass*. The company advanced in gond order. The people, ever fond of a spectacle, ran to see this ; and we may believe that if some at this time paid sincere homage
* At Verona are the remains of this ass, preserved in the belly of an artificial ass. It was the will of Jesus that the beast he used, should pass the rest of his days in quiet and liberty. Weary with having so long gnawed on the pastures of Palestine, the ass resolved to visit foreign countries, and to undertake a voyage by sea; he had no need of a ship; the waves became smooth, and the liquid element as hard as crystal. After he had visited the islands of Cyprus, Rhodes, Candia, Malta, and Sicily, he passed over the Gulph of Venice, and staid some days in the place where that famous city has since been built : but feeling the air to be unhealth. ful, and the pasturage bad, among the salt and marshy isles, Martin continued his voyage, mounted the river Adige dry shod, and coming up to Verona, he made choice of that city for his last residence. After he had lived there some years, like an ass of estate and quality, he died to the great grief of the confraternity. So lamentable and universal a braying made the echoes resound through the country, and never was so sad a melody heard at the funeral of such an animal even -in Arcadia itself! But they quickly found a way to alleviate their grief ; for all the honours imaginable being rendered to the blessed deceased, the devotees of Verona carefully preserved the reliques, and put them into the belly of an artificial ass made for that purpose, where they are kept to this day, to the great joy and edification of pious souls ! -Misson and Keysler's Travels.
to the triumpher, the greatest number laughed at him and shouted at the ridiculous farce *.
The chief magistrate, fearing an uproar, endeayoured to quiet the populace, to whom the disciples had set the example. He accordingly addressed Jesus himself, who answered that “ the stones would speak rather than his friends should be silent."--This seemed to insinuate an insurrection in case they should attempt to employ authority; and the magistrate understood very well that this was not the moment to provoke Jesus.
As soon as Christ had entered Jerusalem, he betook himself to weeping and predicting its ruin. The an. Rouncing of calamities was, and will ever be, a sure method to excite the attention of the vulgar. Some persons of consequence who knew not the cause of the riotous assemblies of the people around Jesus, on enquiry were answered, It is Jesus of Nazareth-it is a prophet of Galilee. St. Mark assures us that in this transaction, decisive in behalf of the Son of God, Jesus once more gave to the people the pillage of the merchandize exposed to sale in the court before the porch of the temple +. This is very credible; it was indeed wiser and more necessary at present than at the former period:
Profiting by the tumult, Jesus cured a great many blind and lame people. Whilst these wonders were performing on one side, they exclaimed Hosannah on the other f. Some besought the author of these ex
* St. Matt. xxi. St. Mark, xi. St. Luke, xix. and St. John, xii.
+ St. Mark, xi. 15.
clamations and of this tumult to stop them ; but the Nessiah had no longer measures to observe-He perceived it was necessary to gain over the popular enthusiasm, and that it would be silly to appease it. Besides, the uncertainty of success had thrown him into distress, which hindered him from seeing or understanding any thing. A child, frightened or too much pressed in the crowd, began to cry while Jesus was speaking, “ Father, save me from this hour." They took the child's voice for a voice from heaven. St. John, moreover, informs us that the disciples had passed on the people the famous miracle of Lazarus's resurrection, 'which, attested by eye-witnesses, must have made a great impression on the astonished vulgar. They did not entertain a doubt that the voice from heaven which they had heard, was that of an angel who bore testimony to Jesus; and the latter, profiting dexterously of the occasion, said to them, “This voice came not because of
but for He afterwards took occasion from thence to harangue the people, and announce himself as the Christ; but he spoiled his sermon by expressions which shewed the trouble into which his apprehensions had thrown him, and not knowing how to draw from the circumstance all the advantage it seemed to promise, he left the city and retired to Bethany where he passed the night with his disciples.
In general our hero was subject to low spirits ;we constantly find in him a mixture of audacity and pusillanimity. Accustomed to strike his blows in the country, and among rude and ignorant people, he did not know how to conduct himself in a city, or to succeed against vigilant and intelligent enemies.