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Jewish nation, on account of its unfruitfulness, under all the advantages it then enjoyed, has, by the enemies of revelation, been represented as an action unbecoming the Redeemer of mankind : but, if they had fully considered its intention, they would have been convinced, that, like the rest of his miracles, it was done with a gracious intention; namely, to awaken his countrymen from their lethargy, and prevent the total ruin of their church and nation, by repentance.
Our blessed Saviour, being disappointed in finding fruit on this fig-tree, pursued his journey to Jerusalem; and, on his arrival, went straightway to the temple, the outer court of which he found full of merchandise. A sight like this, vexed his meek and righteous soul : so that having made a small scourge of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, overturned the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and would not suffer any vessel to be carried through the temple : saying unto them, Is it not written, my house shall be called of all nations, a house of prayer ? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
This is considered by St. Jerome as one of the greatest of all our Saviour's miracles, and it must be own. ed that the circumstances are very extraordinary, that one man should undertake so bold, and execute so hazardous a task; one man, without a commission from Cæsar, without any countenance from the Jewish rulers, without any arms, either to terrify the multitude, or defend himself; that he should cast out the whole tribe of mercenary trafficers, wrest from those worshippers of wealth their darling idol, and trample under foot their great Diana; and all this without tumult or opposition : not one of the sacrilegious rabble daring to move the hand or open the mouth.
According to tradition, a certain bright and dazzling lustre Hashed from his eyes, which the people were unable to bear, as they formerly could not behold the face of Moses, for the glory that surrounded him : but as the scriptures take no notice of his transcendent lustre, we must only adore the greatness of the fact, and, at the same time so improve this miracle to our spiritual advantage, as to secure by accepting his grace, the power of this mighty Reformer on our side, that when he shall come in glory, we may be safe under the shadow of his almighty wings, while he takes fearful vengeance on those who have defiled his holy temple, and made it a den of thieves; and those who have robbed omnipotence of his due, will then find their souls deprived of their everlasting rewards in the happy mansions of a blessed eternity.
The temple being thus cleared by our blessed Lord of this avaricious tribe of dealers, the people brought unto him the blind, the lame, and the diseased, who were all-healed by the Son of God; so that the very children proclaimed him to be the great Son of David, the long expected Messiah, when they saw the many miraculous cures he performed.
The Pharisees were highly provoked at these transactions, but they feared the people, and therefore only asked him, if he heard what the children said ? insinuating that he ought to rebuke them, and not suffer them thus to load him with the highest praises. But Jesus, instead of giving a direct answer to their question, repeated a passage out of the eighth Psalm: Have ye never read, said the blessed Jesus, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, thou hast perfected praise ? Giving them to understand, that the meanest of God's works are so formed, as to declare the greatness of his protection; and that if the Father does not refuse the praise which arises from the least of his creatures, so the Son did not disdain that offered him by children. In the present juncture, praise was peculiarly acceptable, as it implied, that his miracles were so exceedingly illustrious, that they led the tender minds of children, illuminated only with the dawning of reason, to acknowledge him for the Messiah so earnestly desired, and so long expected, by all the descendants of Jacob.
In the evening, our Lord with his disciples, left the city and retired to Bethany, were bis benevolent miracle, in raising Lazarus from the dead had procured him many friends, among whom he was always in safety. The next morning, as they were returning to Jerusalem, the disciples were astonished at beholding the fig-tree that had been but the morning before declared barren, dried up from the roots : they had, in all probability, forgotten what our Saviour had said to this fig tree, till its dry and withered aspect brought it again to their memory. Peter, on seeing this astonishing phenomenon, said unto Jesus, Master, behold the fig-tree which thou cursedst is wither. ed away! To which Jesus answered, that whoever had faith in the Almighty, or thoroughly believed in his miracles, should be able to do much greater things than the withering of the fig-tree : 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 seeth shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.' Mark xi. 22, 23.
He also added, that whatsoever they should ask by faith, they should receive; and concluded, by giving them directions concerning prayer, which was necessary to increase the faith he mentioned : ' 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.
During our dear Redeemer's continuance in the temple, certain proselyted Geeks, who came up to worship at Jerusalem, desired to see him, having long cherished expectations of beholding the promised Messiah. Accordingly, they applied to Philip, a native of Bethsaida, who mentioned it to Andrew, and he, told it to Jesus. Upon which our blessed Saviour told his disciples, that he should soon be honored with the conversion of the Gentiles : The hour is come, said he, that the Son of man should be glorified. But declared, that before this glorious event happened, he must suffer death; illustrating the necessity there was of his dying, by the similitude of casting grain into the earth : Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die, it abideth alone ; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. John xii. 24. Adding, that since it was absolutely necessary for him, their Lord and Master, to suffer the pains of death before he ascended the throne of his glory; so they, as his followers, must also expect to be persecuted and spitefully used for his name sake; but if they persevered, and even resolved to lose their lives in his service, he would reward their constancy with a crown of glory. And at the same time he tacitly insinuated, that the strangers, if their desire of conversing with him proceeded from an expectation of obtaining temporal preferments, would find themselves greatly disappointed : • If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.'
Thus having surveyed his own sufferings, and proposed them as an example to his disciples, the melancholy prospect so greatly moved him, that he uttered in a very pathetic manner his grief, and addressed his heavenly Father for succour in his distress: Nord is mny soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, suve me from this hour : but for this cause came I unlo this hour.
We should learn by this example of our Lord, that prayer is the only method of easing the mind overwhelmed with distress; but at the same time, to be always resigned to the divine will: for though the weakness of human nature may shrink when persecutions or sufferings of any kind appear in all their hideous forms; yet, by reflecting on the wisdom, goodness, and power of God to deliver us, we ought to support every trial, however severe, with patience, as he doubtless proposes some happy end by these afflictions.
Our dear Redeemer, having given vent to his melancholy reflections, and made a short prayer to his heavenly Father begged of God to demonstrate the truth of his mission, by some token which could not be resisted: Father, glorify thy name.
Nor had the great Saviour of mankind hardly uttered these words, before he was answered by an audible voice from heaven, I have both glorified, and will glorify it again.-The miracles thou hast already performed have glorified my name ; and, by other miracles to be wrought before the sons of men, I will still continue to glorify it.
This voice was evidently preternatural, resembling thunder in loudness, but sufficiently articulate to be understoood by those who heard our blessed Saviour pray to his heavenly Father. And Jesus told his disciples, that it was not given for his sake, but to confirm them in their faith of his mission : This voice, said he, came not because of me, but for your sakes. It came to confirm what I have told you relating to my sufferings, death, resurrection, and the conversion of the whole Gentile world to the Christian religion.
A prospect like this, could not fail of being agreeable to that compassionate Being, who came down from heaven to redeem lost and undone mankind, and of removing the melancholy thoughts that afflicted his spotless soul : and, accordingly, he communicated