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Peter had made this noble confession that he was the Messiah inor rather from the time when he charged them to tell no man that he was THE MESSIAH, began Jesus to shew to his Disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, from the Elders and Chief Priests and Scribes, and be killed and raised again the third day.
When our Lord, as hath already been noticed at large, in the examination of the tenth chapter of this Evangelist, had førewarned his Disciples, of the great troubles, to which they would be exposed, in the execution of their commission, to announce the glad tidings of the near approach of the Messiah's kingdom-there is not the slightest intimation, of their having expostulated with him upon the subject, though he, at the same time, particularly informed them, that they were such as awaited himself--and, for this reason probably, that they could not, even upon their own principles, have expected that the great purposes of the Messiahship, could be completely attained, without both themselves and their beloved Master, being exposed to some difficulties. But, no sooner did Jesus enter into farther particulars, and foretel, in the closest connection, with an acknowledgement made by themselves, and with Jesus's decided approbation of that acknowledgment, that he was the Messiah--that such sufferings awaited him, as would terminate in a violent and ignominious death, and that, from the hands of his own countrymen from the Elders--the Chief Priests and the Scribes, whom they had been accustomed to look up to with, almost a superstitious reverence, than they immediately took the alarm. And, well they might ; for sufferings like these, and from such a quarter too, were so totally incompatible, with all the ideas which they had previously affixed to the Character of the Messiah, that they could, no longer, keep silence. Indeed, if they had, the Gospel History, would have wanted one most essential and important internal evidence of its genuine authenticity; for nothing, it must be allowed by every one, who considers the matter impartially, can be more satisfactory to the human mind, than to find the conduct of the Disciples in perfect unison with the sentiments which they are, on all hands, admitted to have possessed! And, such was the fact, upon this truly interesting and important occasion ; for the Evangelist relates that • St. Peter, who seems, generally, to have been the most forward, in expressing his attachment to his beloved Master, took him and began to rebuke him saying be it far from thee Lord this shall not be unto thee! Nor have the Evangelical Historians failed to mark, with peculiar emphasis and energy, the extreme astonishment of the Disciples, at this deeply affecting, and to them, at that period, more especially, most unwelcome intelligence ; for, in the next chapter, upon the same subject being renewed, St. Matthew says, V. 25. they were filled with extreme grief at the news ; for so the original word properly signifies. St. Mark's expression is, if possible, still more forcible, chap. ix. 32. for it, very strongly expresses, the extreme perplexity into which they were thrown, in consequence of this prediction, They knew not what to make of the matter, And St. Luke has, precisely, the same sentiment with St. Mark, with this very expressive and remarkable addition, that it was hid from them or so wrapt up in darkness and mystery, that they could not tell what it could mean ; i. e. their prejudices concerning the nature of the Messiah's Character, plainly prevented them from comprehending, how such a prediction could possibly be compatible with his being the Messiah.
The evidence that the prejudices of the Disciples of Jesus, were the real causes, of their extreme astonishment at his prediction, and indeed, from the very nature of things, could not but be so; it would be utterly impossible for any one, who reflects with impartial attention upon the circumstances of the case, to entertain a doubt of, even if our Lord had not himself particularly pointed it out
but, his reply to Peter's exclamation, that no such sufferings, as he had predicted, should befal him, renders it absolutely decisive. Chapter xvi. 23. Get thee behind me Satan--for thou art an offence-or rather as Bishop Pearce has translated and paraphrased itşu an adversary unto me, in throwing difficulties in my way, ** by urging the motive of self-preservation against my going
on, with what I am to accomplish”----for thou savorest not the things of Godmor spiritual things, but the things of men or temporal things; most evidently alluding, in this latter expression, to their expectation that the Messiah should be a temporal Prince, and in the former to THE REAL NATURE of the Messiah's Kingdom. St. Luke likewise gives, a very strong, and, as it should seem, an unequivocal proof that prejudice was, the real cause, of their not understanding our Lord; for, upon his saying, as has already been noticed, that
they understood not this saying--or this prediction, concerning his death--that it was hid from them, and that they perceived it not he adds, in the verse immediately following, that Then there arose, a reasoning among themselves, which of .them should be greatest, i. e. which of them should fill the most exalted stations, in the kingdom of the Messiah ; whicli is a demonstrable proof, not only that they did not understand his prediction, but likewise, that they did not even imagine, that it would at all take place. A like contention is recorded, .by the same Evangelist, upon another occasion, near the close of our Lord's life.~Chap: xxii. 24. There was also, says he, a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven-or of the Messiah ; nor is it, a little remarkable, that this contention is mentioned, in the closest connection, with our Lord's prediction, that one of their own number, should betray him; and it is not unlikely, that this plan of treachery, was conceived, at this very meeting, and, probably, arose from disappointed ambi.tion. *
But, however this may be all these circumstances must be admitted, as authentic and unequivocal evidences of the truth of the History, presenting to the mind of the judicious and intelligent Reader, as fair a claim to credit as any History, antient or modern can possibly produce !
It being then, indisputably evident, from our Lord's own account, that his Disciples were chiefly influenced, by views of worldly ambition, when they so strongly remonstrated with him, upon the subject of the sufferings which he had predicted
* A similar contention is mentioned in Matt. xviii. 1. and it appears to have been occasioned by our Lord's working a miracle to satisfy the demand of the gatherers of the Tribute-money; for it is said, in the verse immediately following that relation--- At that time came the Disciples unto Jesus, saying--who is, or rather who shall be, the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven? It seems as if this exertion of the power of Jesus, had fired their imagination with the prospect of the splendid scenes which they should enjoy, when the time came, that he should declare himself as the Messiah; having in this instance, as well as in many others, shewn that he had all nature at is command! Who
can refrain from admiring the reply which our Lord, upon this occasion made to their question ? And Jesus called unto him a little child and set hin before them and said---verily I say unto you---except ye be converted ; i. e. as Bishop Pearce appears, very properly, to have expressed it, except ye be " changed from this state of pride and ambition and become as' little * children”---ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever there. fore shall humble himself, as this little child-the same is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.
to them, he should have to undergo-what line of conduct was it natural for him, upon such an occasion, to pursue ? What line of conduét did he actually pursue? Why, precisely that which he had, with so much firmness and intrepidity, already pursued, when he gave them their commission to preach the glad tidings of the near approach of the Messiah's Kingdom; for, as, in that instance he did not shun to declare to them, what sufferings they would have to encounter, in the faithful discharge of the duties of their commission--so he said here, v. 24. if any man will come after m', i. e. if he will be my Disciple-It him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. As if he had said ; " the troubles and so sufferings, which I have told you, are coming upon me, .“ have given you great offence, as opposing your views of “ worldly prosperity, in your expectations of the coming of " the Messias--but I now tell you, again, that, if you follow “ me with fidelity--you must deny yourselves, by giving up so those worldly gratifications, which have obtained such a
strong ascendancy in your minds, and you must take up
your cross, as I do mine, and must expect to meet with " the same, or similar sufferings, in the faithful discharge of
your duty.” He then adds, nearly in the same language which he had used in chap. 8. 25. whosoever will save his life, by meanly shrinking from his duty, on account of any such sufferings, shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life, for my sake, shall find it! In the two following verses the superior advantages of preferring duty to interest, however extensive, are set, in the strongest light, which it is in the power of language to convey; for says our Lord what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soubor .what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?' * No equivalent for it, can be found, in the whole universe of God. He then concludes the argument, by telling them, that their conduct, in the discharge of their duty would be the subject of a future reckoning : for, says he, v. 27. the Son of
* It seems to be not inprobable that our Lord here alludes to the senti ments which were universally entertained by the Jews that their Messiah's Empire would be extended over the whole world. Now, says our Lord, should your utmost wishes be gratified, what will the obtaining them profit you, if you lose your own soul? This reference to the sentiments of the Disciples gives an additional beauty and force to our Lord's language. And such references appear to be particularly deserving of notice, as they add to the fyidence of the authenticity of the History.
Alan shall come in the glory of his father, with his Angels and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Nothing can be more evident to an attentive Reader, than that the Disciples of Jesus, are here directed to a state of happiness, in a future world, as the reward of any sufferings, to which they might be exposed, in consequence of their faithful adherence to him, as the Messiah, as infinitely more worthy of their regard, than any acquisitions, however splendid and extensive, of a merely worldly nature.
No reasoning can be imagined more closely connected--or better calculated to enforce his injunction, of not making him known under the Character of the Messiah and of directing their views to the spiritual Nature of his Kingdom, than the whole of this dis
None could possibly have been better fitted to reconeile them to the troubles, which they might have to encounter, in consequence of their attachment to him; for it shewed them, in the strongest manner, his own determined contempt of danger, even though it should terminate in the loss of his life, under circumstances the most degrading, which can be imagined--and consequently, it must have had, a powerful tendency, to fortify their own minds, to meet the calamities, which they might have to share, in common with him. No reasoning could possibly have been more just, in every possible case, which might happen, than what he had formerly, and upon a similar occasion, made use ofthat the Disciple was not above his Master---nor the Servant above his Lord, and that it was enough for the Disciple to be as his Master-o upon the same fasting with him. In a word-nothing could have been more admirably calculated to answer all the purposes, which the peculiar circumstances of things, at the time, required, than the whole of this reasoning of our Lord!
Had his address to his disciples, upon this occasion, ended here---all would have been perfectly clear and intelligible, to the plainest understanding ---but however much to the purpose, it might have been, to fortify their minds against any sufferings which might happen, to him, or to them yet it was not, of itself, sufficient to satisfy them, of what they most wanted to be informed, and, more particularly, after SO remarkable a predi&ion of his own death, and that by the hands of his own countrymen. They knew perfectly well that the Messiah was not yet come in their sense of his coming, and they still continued to expect his coming, with all the