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the gospel to the Jews; and he calls them by names which were familiar to his countrymen, to intimate that they would not be inferior in wisdom and divine gifts to those who were most esteemed among their teachers. He foretels, at the same time, how cruelly they would be treated by the Jews; a prediction, which has been fully exemplified by the history of the apostles and firsť preachers of Christianity. In sending these persons to the Jews, Christ was influenced by a desire to exert every possible means for their conversion, or to leave them inexcusable, if, after all, they should remain impenitent.
35. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar,
You shall be permitted to do these things, that you may be punished with a severity which your sins have merited; which shall be so exemplary, that God shall appear to be reckoning with you for all the righteous blood which has been shed from the beginning of the world. The Zacharias here referred to was the son of Jehoiada, the high-priest, who was put to death in the court of the house of the Lord, or between the sanctuary and the altar which stood in a court, in the open air. See 2 Chron. xxiv. 20, 21. The words,“
" son of Barachias," seem to have been the addition of some ignorant transcriber, who knew no other Zechariah than the prophet of that name, who was the son of Barachias. This appears to be confirmed by Luke's not having these words. Luke xi. 51. When Christ speaks of the righteous blood, from Abel to Zacharias, he probably uses a proverbial expression, naturally arising from Abel's being the first person of whom we have an account in Scripture, as unjustly put to death; and from Zacharias, being the last.
36. Verily I say unto you, All these things, rather, "all this blood,” shall come upon this generation.
How dreadfully this threatening was verified, and how well the Jews merited such severity, we may learn from Josephus *, in his history of the Jewish war; who says that, in his opinion, all the calamities which all other nations ever suffered, when compared with those of the Jews, fell far short of theirs'; and that as no nation ever suffered such things, so, no generation was ever more wicked than that; and that if the Romans had stopped their hands from destroying those profligate wretches, the city, he believed, would have been destroyed by some opening of the earth, or by some deluge, or by such a fire as had laid Sodoni in ruin. As there were no more than forty years from the time when Christ delivered these words to the destruction of Jerusalem, he might justly say that the calamities which he had been mentioning should come upon that generation, many of whom would live to see them.
37. 0 Jerusalem ! Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee: how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen, “ a bird,” gathereth her chickens, “ her young,' under her wings; and ye would not !
Christ having in the preceding verses mentioned the guilt of the Scribes, and foretold the punishments which were coming upon them, his heart is melted into compassion at a prospect of the calamities of his countrymen, which they were to endure in the city of Jerusalem; and he breaks out into this pathetic lamentation over them. It does not appear from the three first evangelists that Jesus was more than once at Jerusalem, namely, the time when he was crucified; but John * Joseph. de Bell. Jud. Proem. i. 4. lib. v. 10, 5. lib. v. xiii.
has recorded four visits which he made thither, besides this, (John ii. 23. v. I. vii. 10. x. 22.) On these occasions he had laboured earnestly, by his miracles and public instructions, to bring the inhabitants to repentance, and to induce them to become his disciples, that he might hereby avert the dreadful calamities with which they were threatened: so that his concern to save them might be compared with that of a bird for her young, who, when they are threatened with a storm, or any other danger, shelters them under her wings: but these kind endeavours were rendered ineffectual by the obstinacy of the Jews, and Christ now laments their folly. Jerusalem had so often been the scene of the execution of the prophets, that it had grown into a kind of proverb, that a prophet could not perish elsewhere: hence it is that Jesus says, Luke xiii. 33. “for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.”
38. Behold! your house is left unto
As Christ was now in the temple, it seems' most natural to refer these words to that building, and not, as some have done, to the Jewish commonwealth; and to consider him as saying that the house in which the inhabitants of Jerusalem gloried so much, and to which they looked as their security, was now forsaken by him, and left to its fate, and that he would do nothing more to preserve it.
39. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Christ here explains more fully what he had only intimated in the preceding verse---that he should leave their temple, and that they should never see him any
He alludes here to the acclamations of the multitude, when he came in triumph into Jerusalem; on which occasion they cried, “ Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord;" acknowledging him hereby as the Messiah. (Matt. xxi. 9. xi. 3.) To say, therefore, that they should never see him, until they applied to him that language, was the same thing as saying that they should never see him at all: for he well knew that these Scribes would never acknowledge him as the Messiah. We have a similar mode of expression, Matt. v. 26. “Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the utmost farthing," i. e. thou shalt never come out at all.
1. We see how easy it is for men to profess respect for the dead, while they persecute the living of the same character. The Scribes professed the highest respect for the ancient martyrs to the truth: they did every thing in their power to preserve and perpetuate their memory, by erecting sumptuous monuments over their sepulchres: they condemned their ancestors for putting the prophets to death, and imagined that if they had lived in their time, they should not have joined with them in committing such unjust actions: but their conduct towards Christ and his apostles plainly showed that they were actuated by the same malicious spirit, and that they would have been the most forward to do what they now condemned: so little do men know what is in their own hearts: for how was it that Jesus incurred the implacable hatred of the Scribes, but by exposing the errors and censuring the vices of the age in which he lived, of which they were the principal encouragers and promoters---the very services which the ancient prophets performed in their day, and by which they brought on their own death?
We have occasion to observe, in other men, the same inconsistency as appears in these Scribes. The advocates of the sacred rights of conscience, and the steady opposers of human authority in matters of religion, have their warmest applause: they profess to admire their writings, and to respect the memorial of their persons; but those who act upon the same principles, and tread in the same steps, are deemed men of a proud, obstinate, turbulent, sour spirit, who ought to be discountenanced and opposed. The cause of this inconsistency in both instances is the same. Men profess respect for the dead, not because they feel any, but because they hope to gain applause hereby, by concurring with the sentiments of others: they dislike and censure the living, because they support a cause to which they do not wish success, and because their zeal and earnestness are an indirect reflection upon their own conduct.
2. We learn that there is a certain degree of wickedness, beyond which nations will not be allowed to go unpunished. The Jews were under a particular providence, which rendered them prosperous or afflicted, in exact proportion as they observed the law of God, or neglected it. When they were guilty of great crimes, they were speedily visited with grievous punishment. This they had constantly experienced to be the plan of the divine government towards them, ever since they had been erected into a commonwealth. When, there. fore, the new and extraordinary means which God employed for their reformation were rejected by them; when to all the crimes of their ancestors they added that of persecuting, and putting to death Jesus and his apostles, the divine messengers who were sent to instruct and save them; they discovered the greatest hardness of heart, and as their guilt was enormous, their punishment was severe; their government was overturned, their city was laid waste, and the remnant of the miserable inhabitants driven into every nation under heaven. Let not other nations, who are left to the general conduct of Providence, imagine that they are exempt from similar calamities: it is the invariable law of the divine government, that national vices produce national judg. ments. Wherever there is a corrupt system of religion, or of civil government; where men obstinately refuse to reform both, and instead of listening to those who point out these corruptions, and warn them of their