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the whole earth. The true disciples shall be rewarded with the honors and pleasures of immortality, the hypocrites stripped of all the advantages they so often boasted, and loaded with eternal infamy, and the open enemies of CHR 1st, in proportion to the degree of their guilt, shall suffer severe punishment.
Although this be the general sense of the parable, yet it has also a particular relation to the time when it was spoken; and was intended to teach the disciples, that though they might imagine that the Messiah’s kingdom was speedily to be erected, and they were soon to partake of its happiness, yet this was not to happen before the death of their Master; that they themselves must perform a long and laborious course of services, before the received their eternal reward. That after his resurrection, when he had obtained the kingdom, he would return from his seat of majesty, and reckon with all his servants, and reward every one according to the improvements he had made in the trust committed to his care; and that he would execute, in an exemplary manner, his vengeance on those who refused to let him reign over them, and did all in their power to hinder the erection of his kingdom among others. After speaking this parable JEsus left the house of Zaccheus the publican, and continued his journey towards Jerusalem, where he proposed to celebrate the passover; and was earnestly expected by the people, who came up to purify themselves, and who began to doubt whether he would venture to come to the feast. This delay, however, was occasioned by the proclamation issued by the chief priests, promising a reward to any one who would discover the place of his retirement; Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any knew where he were, he should thew it, that they might take him. John xi, 57.
JESUs arrived at Bethany, six days before the passover, and repaired to the house of Lazarus, whom he
had raised from the dead : “there they made him a supper; and Martha served; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of JESUs, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said JEsus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”
Bethany being not above two miles from JerusaJem, the news of our Lord's arrival was soon spread through the capital, and great numbers of the citizens came to see Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead, together with the great prophet who had wrought so stupendous a miracle; and many of them were convinced both of the resurrection of the former, and the divinity of the latter: but the news of their conversion, together with the reason of it, being currently reported at Jerusalem, the chief priests were soon sensible of the weight so great a miracle must have on the minds of the people, and therefore determined to put both Lazarus and JESUs to death, if possible.
Our dear Lord was not ignorant of what the chief priests and elders had determined against him, but was so far from declining to visit Jerusalem, that he even entered it in a public manner. When they “were come to Bethpage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, the Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophet, saying, tell the daughter of Sion, behold thy king cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as JESUs commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way, others cut down branches from the trees, and strewed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David : Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this 2 And the multitude said, this is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.’ Matt. xxi. 1–1 1.
This circumstance of our Lord has given more occasion for prophane wit and ridicule, than any before: we reckon an ass to be a contemptible creature, and a man, especially a man of character, riding upon an ass, a ridiculous figure. These are prejudices of our own times and country. And when they, who look no further than the manners and customs before them, examine this part of the sacred story by the standard of modern prejudices, they see, or think they see, something quite inconsistent with the gravity and dignity of the person, pretending to be the king of the Jews, when Christ is represented, entering in triumph into Jerusalem sitting on anass. But however contemptible an ass, or a man riding on that creature, may be at present, it was not so from the beginning. In many countries, and particularly in Judea, persons of the highest distinction usually rode upon asses. The goverrors of Israel are described in the song of Deborah, as riding on white asses, Judg. v. 10. , And the thirty sons of Jair, who was judge and prince over Israel twenty-two years, are said to ride on thirty asses,
ch. x. 4. And another judge is recorded to have had forty sons, and thirty nephews, that rode on seventy ass colts.-ch. xii. 14.
However it may be asked, that supposing it was an usual thing to ride on an ass, why should this common practice be mentioned in relation to the Messiah, as a mark of distinction? Might not the prophet, upon this supposition, as well have said, he shall come walking on foot? And would he not have been as well known by one character as by the other? Besides, if we turn to the book of Zachariah, where this prophecy is to be found, we shall see the person, there described, to be a king, a just king, and one having salvation: and what is there in this character, of riding on the foal of an ass, that is peculiar to a king, to a just king, and to one who was to bring salvation and deliverance to his people? ' ' ' ' ' '
However difficult these questions may at first sight appear, they are easily answered; not by considering the state and condition of kings in general, but that peculiar to a king of Israel, on which is founded the propriety of his character.
We shall generally find, if we look into the history of the rise and fall of nations, that their prosperity and success were proportionable to their É. and power, and to the conduct and ability of their leaders. But with the Jews, who from slaves in Egypt became a powerful people, the case was very different. The best and greatest of their kings, and he who carried their empire to its greatest height, has left us another account of their affairs: The people, says he, got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but this right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them. Psalm xliv. 3.
We are apt to ascribe these and other similar pas
sages, to the piety and devotion of the Psalmist; to consider them only as acknowledgments of God's general providence in the affairs of the world; and hence are apt to overlook, or not sufficiently consider the historical truths they contain. It is true, indeed, that all success, in the strictest sense, may be ascribed to God; that it is he who giveth victory unto kings; but he generally maketh use of natural means, and it is no offence to his providence that kings list their thousands of horse and foot to secure themselves and their dominions. But with the Jews it was very dif. ferent: they were never so weak as when they made themselves strong; never so certainly ruined as when their force was great enough to create a confidence in themselves. For God had taken the defence of Israel upon himself: and, the people were sure to be undone whenever they took it out of his hands, to place it in their own.
God was so tender of his honour in this respect, and so concerned to justify his promise to protect Israel in the eyes of the world, that he would not always permit natural causes to interfere in their deliverance, lest the people should grow doubtful to whom they ought to ascribe their victories. And for the same reason it was, that he commanded the people to have neither horses nor chariots of war for their defence: not because they were thought useless in war; for it is well known that they were the strength of the ancient kingdoms; but because God himself had undertaken their defence, and he wanted neither horse nor foot to fight their battles.
It is evident from the Jewish history, that this law was observed for near four hundred years; namely, till about the middle of Solomon's reign. And when David swayed the sceptre of Israel, when the kingdom was carried to its utmost height, he himself rode on a mule, and provided no better equipage for his son, on the day of his coronation: Cause Soloman, my