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mit to the claim; and proposed to Peter the following miraculous method of raising the money : Go thou to the sea, said he, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up, and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt.find a piece of money; that take and give it unto them for me and thee.
Our Lord, by this miraculous manner of paying that tribute, which he was under no obligation to pay, teachesus, that in all common cases, we should avoid giving offence to the civil power; and rather submit to a demand, which may seem burdensome and oppressive in a small degree, than offend our brethren, or disturb the tranquility of the state. And sure it becomes the children of the Prince of peace to avoid all occasions of contention and discord, and rather give up some small part of their property, than give the rulers of the state any reason to complain. It may further be observed, that this miracle is a manifest proof of the omnipresence of the Son of God; no less a person than he, who knows all things and is present in alf places, could know that the fish had the piece of money in its mouth, while it was covered with the rolling surges of the sea; and that this same fish, still holding the piece of money, would come to Peter's hook. These are most surprising events, and with the rest of the miracles wrought by our great Redeemer, blaze out like a light bright constellation, adorn his royal crown, and proclaim him the great King of the universe, the supreme Lord of heaven and earth.
CH R1st reproves his Disciples for their foolish Contention about Superiority: He answereth the Petition of the mother of 26 bedee's Children, and checketh the Indignation of the other Disciples thereat : He teacheth how to treat an offending Brother, and how oft to forgive him, by the parable of a King, who punished one of his Servants for refusing that Mercy to his Fellow, which he had experienced from his Lord in a larger Degree: He then goeth to Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles, where he teacheth in the Temple: The Rulers send Officers to apprehend him, who being struck with his discourse, return without him, and are rebuked by the Pharisees, who chide Nicodemus for taking his part. CHRIST afterwards letteth go, uncondemned, the Woman taken in Adultery.
THOUGH our blessed Saviour had lately given his
disciples an affecting account of his sufferings and
death; and though their minds seemed to be very
much cast down and dispirited at the expectation of events, so mournful and distressing in themselves, and
so contrary to their expectations; yet their grief seems
to be of no long continuance, nor had they yet given
up their favourite notion of the Messiah's temporal
kingdom: for, not many days after, they had so far
forgot the predictions of their Master, that they were engaged in a warm dispute concerning the posts of honour in that kingdom. On what grounds several of
the disciples advanced their pretensions to be greatest
is not related by the evangelists; but it is very plain,
that those claims did not originate from any intima
tions given them by their Master, of his design to ad
vance any of them above the rest; for he very se
verely rebuked them for their pride and folly, and they
were fearful of letting him know what subject they
had been disputing about.
Our Lord did not directly proceed to reprimand his disciples on account of the above conversation, but first asked them, what they were disputing about by the way? They were confounded at the question, and, as they knew it would be in vain to attempt either to evade a discovery, or to conceal the truth, they feared to return an answer. Jesus, perceiving their confusion, soon gave them to understand, that he well knew the subject of their debate, and that he highly disapproved it: having commanded their particular and earnest attention to what he was going to advance, he said, if any man desires to be first, the same shall be last, and servant of all. And then, to teach them the useful lesson of humility, he took a little child, and set him in the midst of them ; Verily, I say unto you, said he, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. JP hosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
As our Lord, at this time, thought proper to discountenance all pretensions to superiority amongst his disciples, it is evident, that he had given no supremacy to Peter, when he declared his approbation of his declaration of faith, as before related. Had he, when he told that disciple, that he gave him the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, designed to exalt him above the rest of the disciples: or had they understood his words in that sense, they could not possibly have been at any loss to know who was to be the greatest; nor is it likely they would have contended about an affair which had in the presence of them all, been finally settled by their Master: neither is it possible to suppose, that, if our great Redeemer had given the pre-eminence to Peter, he would have blamed his disciples for talking about it, and not on this occasion have confirmed his former grant.
The justice of this remark is further confirmed by the answer which our great Redeemer gave to the wife of Zebedee, when she presented a petition to him in behalf of her sons; she had strongly imbibed the national error of the Jews, respecting the Messiah's kingdom; and, as she supposed that her sons, from their near relation to our Lord, might claim a peculiar share in his favour, she presented her request, that one might sit on his right hand, and the other on his left, in his kingdom. To this petition, our Saviour replied, To sit on my right hand, and on my left hand is not nine to give ; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
The rest of the disciples having heard the request, and remarked our Redeemer's reply were much of fended at the pride and vanity of the brothers, and could not see any reason, why they should expect so peculiar and distinguished a mark of favour. To put an end to all contention on so weak and frivolous an account, our Lord called his disciples in such a manner as to engage and fix their attention, and said unto them, P'e know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles, erercise lordship over them ; and their great ones erercise authority upon them; but so it shall not be amongst you, but whosoever will be great amongst you, shall be your minister; and whosoever of you will be the chief, shall be the servant of all.
Such is the language of our great Redeemer, who is sole king and lawgiver in his church; and may we not justly conclude, that the pretences of the church of Rome to infallibility and supremacy, which she would have us believe have descended from the apostle Peter to the pope, as his successor, have no foundation in scripture or reason, but are unjust and arbitrary usurpation, designed to advance and enrich the priesthood, and impoverish, abuse, and enslave man
The exalted Saviour of mankind, having thus gently
rebuked his disciples for their eager and unabating desires after worldly grandeur, John, one of the sons of Zebedee, perhaps to give a turn to the conversation, informed his Master, that they had seen one casting out the devils in his name, and had forbidden him, because he had not joined himself to their company. To which our Lord replied, that they ought not to have forbidden him, because no person would attempt to work miracles in his name, who did not entertain a very just conception of his divinity. Forbid him him not, said he, for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
By this language our Redeemer exhorted them to consider, that whosoever did not oppose him, may be considered as his friends; and the casting out devils in his name, would advance his reputation; and promote his interest, though the devils themselves, and the persons who rejected them, might design the contrary: he further informed them that the least degree of friendship and respect shewn to his cause, though it was no more than a cup of cold water given to his disciples, when they stood in need of such a favour, was acceptable to him, and would certainly find its full reward hereafter. Whosoever, said he, shall give 3you a cup of cold water in my name, because you belong to Christ ; verily, I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. At the same time, our Lord gave them to understand, that the least discouragement to his servants in their duty, would be remarked, and punished with the greatest severity: And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better ..for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
From hence our great Redeemer took occasion to remark, that it was better and more advantageous to us, to deny ourselves the enjoyment of those things which are most pleasing to our sense, and which our corrupt affections might be as loth to part with, as with