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An exposition of the four Gospels (Volume 2) online

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the name of the Lord :

The kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the
Holy Ghost, of salvation by Jesus Christ, promised to
David, — what he saw and longed for, and preached in so
many of his psalms. The kingdom of David cometh in

VER. ] — 11.] ST. MARK. 101

the name of the Lord, in whose name only it docs come ;
none else having a power to forgive sins, or give us a right
to heaven ; and make us fit for it. Christ's kingdom is a
complete one, every way suited to our case, and worthy of
all men to be received, as coming from him.

10. Hosannu in the highest.

Praise to God from the blessed angels for joy of our
deliverance. O poor soul ! thou art dead indeed, if thou
canst not join with them.

1 1 . And Jesus entered into .Tenisalera, and into the temple :
and when he had looked round about U])ou all things, and now the
eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

Who knows what Jesus felt within himself, when he
considered the lioliness of the temple, — the spirituality and
end of the service performed in it, — the blindness and hy-
pocrisy of the Jews, and the destruction which was about
to fall upon it, and themselves ! Who knows how near we
Britons are to destruction for what things he sees in us !
He is always looking round about upon all things, and
chiefly viewing them in their moral aspect. What does he
now see in us, and in the temples of our bodies ?

Ver. 1 — 1]. When we read these verses, we should
think with ourselves, what can it signify to us that Christ
came into the world, to be the Saviour of it, — that he
wrought his miracles upon the bodies of men, — that he
made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, as the king of
the Jews, and together with them of all nations, if he does
not enter into our heaits, if we do not gladly receive him as
our Saviour, if we do not put ourselves into his hands to
be cured of the deadly plague of sin which cleaves to our
nature, if we do not take him for our Lord and king to
reign over us ? This is the right knowledge of scripture,
this is putting aside the veil, and discovering the spiritual
meaning of the liiblc; — this is the way to have oiu- hearts
burn at the reading of it. If we read it barely as a history,

102 ST. MARK. [chap. XI.

and go no farther than the letter of it, it can do us no
good. It must come home to us, it must be applied to our
own case, it must lay us open to ourselves, and put all in
motion within us. The scripture, indeed, has not that life
in itself that we want, but it sends us to Christ for it, and
to him we must go ; and till then, whatever we pretend, we
have no faith in him. The same Spirit which gave it,
must work with it, and lay every one of us dead at Christ''s
feet, that he may raise us up again to a new life of faith in
him, and obedience to his commandments. And the Bible
then does its office in us, when it brings us to hira, with
his prayer of the blind man, " Lord, that I might receive
my sight."


Chap. xi. ver. 12—20.


12. And on the morrow when they were come from Bethany,
he was hungry :

13. And seeing a fig-tree afar off having leaves, he came, if
liaply he might find anything thereon : and when he came to it,
he found nothing but leaves ; for the time of figs was not yet.

14. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of
thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

We must not for one moment suppose that Christ
blasted the fig-tree, or cursed it, from any passionate feel-
ing, as men in anger imprecate curses on objects of inani-
mate nature : it was with love to us, and with divine sweet-
ness in his heart. In all God's curses upon things inani-
mate, there is nothing but grace and goodness to man.
They are intended to make us tremble at our unfruitful-

VER. 1 — 20.] ST. MARK. 103

ness, and to know our doom if wc die in it. As sure as the
fig-tree withered away, so surely shall we die eternally, if
we are not alive unto God, and in a fruit-bearing state, by
being joined to Christ : God will not be put off with leaves

15. And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into tlie
temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the
temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the
seats of them that sold doves ;

16. And would not suller that any man should carry any vessel
through the temple.

Christ, in this act of seeming severity, showed a be-
coming regard to the place of God's worship, and he teaches
us to do the same.. The Jews were guilty of a sad profa-
nation of the temple ; let not us be guilty of a like disre-
gard to the places in which we assemble to worship God,
and partake of Christ's sacraments, by bringing our worldly
thoughts into them.

17. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, ]My
house shall be called of all nations the house of jnayer ? but ye
have made it a den of thieves.

When you go to church, thus think with yourselves,
this is the house of prayer. I am now about to appear
solemnly before God, to acknowledge my dependence upon
him, and lay open all my wants before him, spiritual and
temporal. See that you make it a house of prayer to
yourselves, by coming to it whenever you are able. Make
opportunities. Think it a duty so to do. Think what
your state is, if your heart does not draw you to the house
of God, and to his worship.

18. And the scribes and cliief priests heard it, and sought how
tliey might destroy him : for they feared him, because all the jieo-
plc was astonished at his doctrine.

They could not bear to have that done by him, which
they knew in their consciences they should have done for
themselves ; and this cut them to the heart because they

104 ST. MARK. [chap. XI.

saw that by so conducting themselves, they were lowered in
tlie estimation of the people.

19. And when even was come, he went out of the city.

20. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw ihe fig-
tree dried up from the roots.

Dead for ever, as we shall one day appear to ourselves
to be, when the breath goes out of our bodies, if we
do not accept of life from Christ.

Chap. xi. ver. 21—33.


21. And Peter calHng to remembrance saith unto him, Master,
behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.

22. And Jesus answering saidi unto them. Have faith in God.

Do you who profess yourselves to be Christians, believe
steadfjastly, that he will do everything for you, of which
you stand in need, and trust in nothing else, but in the

23. For verily I say unto yon, That whosoever shall say unto
this mountain. Be thou removed, and be ihoii cast into the sea ;
and shall not doubt hi his heart, but shall believe that those thhigs
which he saith shall come to pass ; he shall have whatsoever he

He shall attain to that which is so utterly impossi-
ble to man. The sight of our impure hearts, and defiled
nature, is enough to daunt us. But consider it is God's
work ; and he both can, and will cleanse them, and renew
them for himself. This mountain stands between God and
us, and must be removed.

24. Therefore I say unto you. What things soever ye desire

VEU. 21—33.] ST. IVJARK. 105

when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and yc shall have

How many never pray ! How many pray without ask-
ing ! that is, they scarcely know what they want, nor do
they earnestly desire to receive. Prayer is, however, the
proper work of a Christian ; let us do that in faith, and
certainly God will do his part, in answering our requests.
You may rest assured that he will give such an answer to
your prayers as he knows to be best. Leave that to him,
or else there is no faith, no prayer.

2-5. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought
against any : that your Father also which is in heaven may for-
give you your tres])asses.

26. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is
n heaven forgive your trespasses.

The flesh complains that to forgive is hard ; but God
can work us to it; and if we are not thus disposed, we
have read our doom. O how little have we to forgive, and
how much to be forgiven !

27. And ihcy come again to Jerusalem : and as he was walking
in the temple, there came to him the chief priests, and the scribes,
and the elders,

28. And said unto him. By what authority doest thou these
things ? and who gave thee this authority to do these things ?

29. And Jesus answered and said unto them, 1 will also ask of
vou one question, and answer me, and 1 will tell you by what au-
thority 1 do these things.

30. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men ? an-
swer me.

31. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say
From heaven ; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him ?

32. But if we shall say. Of men : they leared the people : for
;dl men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.

33. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell.
And Jesus answering saith unto them. Neither do T tell you by
what authority I do these things.

Christ's design in this |)assage was to convuice his advcr-

106 ST. MARK. [chap. XII.

saries, that he might, with as much probability, have his
authority from heaven, as John the Baptist, which they
could not, or durst not deny, and that they might see the
finger of God in what both did. And farther, we may
observe, he would not give a direct answer to their question,
because he knew they were unworthy, and would make an
ill use of it. No one can learn of him, but he who is pos-
sessed of humility, and a sincere desire to profit by Jesus

Chap. xii. ver. 1 — 9-


1. And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain
man planted a vineyard,

This vineyard served to point out the Jewish church
then ; and it serves to point out the Christian church
now. We must chiefly keep our thoughts to the latter.

1. And set a hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat,
and built a tower.

He did all that was necessary on his part. And has he
not done so by us ? Has he not planted the gospel among
us, prepared everything to our hands, and put us into a
condition to render him the fruits of it in due season.

1. And let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far coun-

We may possibly think that he is at a distance from us,
and on this account neglect our charge ; but we may rest
assured that he has his eye always upon us, and upon his
own time of rctkoninff with us.

VER. 1 — 9.] ST. MARK. 107

2. And at the season lie sent to the husbandmen a servant, that
he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vine-

Christ sends his ministers, year by year ; he sends to us
now, even at this season. If he was here present to require
our fruit, what should we say to him ? Where is it ?

3. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away

It is trouble enough to the true servants of God to be
sent away empty ; they need not be beaten also. And yet
this is generally their lot ; ill usage of some kind or other
they must look for. Such is the nature of men, that all who
are not wrought upon, and converted by them, will hate
them. Think how dreadful your case will be, if you do
no more than send your minister empty away.

4. And again he sent unto them another servant ; and at him
they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent liim away
shamefully handled.

5. And again he sent another ; and him they killed, and many
others ; beating some and killing some.

Behold here God's patience with men, notwithstanding
their great provocations ; and let it lead you to serious con-
siderations of your state. For he must have some fruit
from us sooner or later. He will indeed wait long for it ;
but woe be to us, if he find us empty at last.

6. Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he sent
him also last unto them, saying, Tiiey will reverence my son

O what goodness ! What love was here ! How dear are
the souls of men to God ! This Son, you know, Jesus Christ,
has been sent, and is continually preached to us. And if
we do not reverence him, receive him gladly into our hearts,
and bring forth fruit under him, mercy is at an end with us
for ever. God can do no more for us.

7. But those husbandmen said among themselves. This is the
heir ; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be our's.

108 ST. MARK. [chap. XII.

The Jews said, and did this, indeed ; we do it in effect,
when we reject Christ and his salvation : and all such per-
sons, if they had been alive then, would have joined with
them in what they did. If Christ is not precious to us, if
he does not teach us to crucify our sins, the scripture itself
informs us, that we are of that number, of whom St. Paul
writes, Heb. vi. 6, " Who crucify to themselves the
Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."" We
may talk of our good hearts, and good meanings : but we
do not rightly consider what guilt he has to lay to our
charge, if we will not suffer him to bring us to God,

Do not some say in their hearts, let us rid ourselves of
Christ, and of his doctrine, and then we may do as we list.
Does not this thought lie lurking at the heart of every one
of us, so long as we stand off from Christ, and his salva-
tion, through our unbelief.'^

8. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the

As we do when we cast him from our hearts.

9. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do ? he will
come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto

God miserably destroyed the Jews, and gave their vine-
yard to the rest of the world. But is God the same now
as he was then, or not ? As surely as he destroyed the
Jews, so surely shall we perish, if we neglect the vineyard,
and do not live worthily of the gospel. He has granted
us repentance unto life, and given us a Saviour ; but if we
do not bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and honour
the Saviour in our conversion, we here read our doom.
We know not how soon this nation may be ruined on ac-
count of sin ; but whether it is or not, every sinner will
perish eternally on account of his own transgression.

This parable, though it immediately concerned the Jews,
is applicable to men at all times; and we may see in this
glass, how God deals with us for our unfruitfulness, under

VEIL 10—17.] ST. MARK. lOQ

the means of reformation, and for our contempt and rejec-
tion of Christ. May God give us grace to search our
hearts by it, and enable us to take what is here said to


Chap. xii. ver. 10 — 17.


10. And have ye not read this scripture ; The stone which the
builders rejected is become the head of the corner :

Here learn, that we may read the scripture and yet not
understand it. The understanding the scripture comes to
us by a spiritual gift, and is imparted to every honest and
good heart, which desires to profit by what it reads and
hears. If you would understand the scripture, let it not
be a dead letter to you ; it will be your own fault if it is.
Pray over it, that God would help you so to profit by the

Learn, again, that, just as a builder throws aside a stone
which he judges to be unfit for use, so we throw aside
Christ, till a sense of sin makes us feel a want of him. It
will, however, be a happy effect of our reading, if Christ is
■made a chief corner-stone to us, elect, precious to us, 1
Peter ii. 6, that we may say from our own conversion
by him,

11. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our
eyes ?

12. And they sought to lay hold mi hiin, but frarcd the peojdo :
for they knew that he had spoKcn the parable against them :

Behold, here, tiie root of men's aversion to Christ, con-

110 ST. MARK. [chap. XII.

tempt of his word, and hatred towards all who truly
preach it : they speak against them. It is a hopeful sign,
when you can bear to have the truth told you, and are
willing to be laid open to yourselves. And it is, also, mat-
ter of absolute necessity, for in the want of this disposition
you cannot take one step towards your salvation.

12. And they leO, him, and went their way.

They feared the people, and durst not do what they
would. So the providence of God at all times checks a
great deal of evil that would otherwise appear. Bad as the
world is to live in, it would be a thousand times worse, if
men had nothing but the restraint of conscience and their
own hearts, to keep them from acting all the wickedness
which they conceive.

13. And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the
Herodians, to catch him in his words.

The Pharisees were against paying tribute to Caesar :
the Herodians, as being courtiers, were great sticklers for
it. So betwixt them, they thought that they should en-
tangle him, let him answer which way he would. But
Christ was not to be caught in this snare. We may ob-
serve from hence, that a man who knows and loves the truth,
has always an answer ready according to godliness.

14. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we
know that thou art true, and carest for no man : for thou rcgardest
not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth :

They said, "We know that thou art true," but did not
think it in their hearts. We both say and think so, and yet
generally we are but little better for Christ. In this testi-
mony, we have an excellent character of Christ from his
enemies, worthy of every Christian"'s imitation, and one
which should especially be the pattern of all his minis-

14. Is it lawful to give tribute to Csesar, or not ?

15. Shall we give, or shall we not give ? But he, knowing their

VER. 18 27.] ST. MARK. Ill

hypocrisy, said unto them, Wliy tempt ye me ? hring me a penny,
that I may see it.

Take notice that Christ cannot be imposed upon by fair
words, or fine speeches.

16. And they brought it. And he saith unto them. Whose is
this image and superscription ? And they said unto him, Caesar's.

17. And Jesus answering said unto them. Render to Caesar the
things that are Csesar's,

This was for the conviction and instruction of the Pha-

17. And to God the things tliat are God's.

This was in like manner for the Herodians, who were
loose in their notions of religion. Hear what Christ says,
witli respect to both, Meddle not with uncustomed goods.
This is one of the worst kinds of stealing, and not the less
sinful for being connuon. With respect to God, ii you
know Avherein you do not give him his due, do so no more.
Remember that Christ will suffer none of his words to fall
to the ground.

17. And they marvelled at him.

Let Christ and his gospel, not only excite our wonder,
but let them win our hearts.

Chap. xii. ver. 18 — 27.


18. Then come unto him the Sadducees, wiiich say there is no
resurrection ;

Let us not be as one of those Sadducees, by forgetting
the resurrection of the dead, by neglecting the proper

112 ST. MARK. [chap. XII.

use which we should make of it, or by regulating our
life according to that belief.

18. And they asked him, saying,

19. Master, Moses wrote anto us. If a man's brother die, and
leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother
should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

20. Now there were seven brethren : and the first took a wife,
and dying left no seed.

21. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed :
and the third likewise.

22. And the seven had her, and left no seed : last of all the
woman died also.

23. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose
wife shall she be of them ? for the seven had her to wife.

24. And Jesus answering said unto them. Do ye not therefore
err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of

Ignorance of the scriptures, when wilful, is not only a
wicked contempt of one of God's best gifts, but the worst
of all blindness. If we do not know tiiem, whatever else
we know, we shall not be profited by our knowledge. The
power of God in Christ is fully manifested in the scrip-
tures, to the end that it may be sought unto, and trusted
in, for our salvation.

25. For when they shall rise from the dead, tbey neither marry,
nor are given in marriage ; but are as the angels which are in

26. And as touching the dead, that they rise ; have ye not read
in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him,
saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the
God of Jacob ?

His being their God, implies his being so in a way of
blessing, and favour. But they were dead when these words
were spoken to Moses: therefore tliey must rise again. If
it should be said that he might nevertheless be their God,
whether they rose from the dead or not, as their souls were
in bliss ; the answer is, that the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and

VER. 28 — 34-.] ST. MARK. 1]3

Jacob, without their bodies, could not with strict propriety
be called Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

27. He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the Hviii"- :
ye therefore do greatly err.

He is the God of those wlio are to live in a perfect state,
which can only be, when tlie soul and body are united. No
evidence can be drawn from hence for the souPs sleeping
till the resurrection, unless it can be proved that the soul is
the man. Our Saviour's argument would be indeed equally
valid, if the soul were quiescent till the resurrection.

AVeare, in this passage, clearly instructed, that there will
be a resurrection of the body, and that our new body will
be a glorious, and never-dying one, and that it will there-
fore be greatly changed from what it is now.


Chap. xii. ver. 28—34.


28. And one of the scribes came, and having heard them rea-
soning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well,
asked him, Which is the first commandment of all ?

29. And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments
is. Hear, O Israel ; The Lord our God is one Lord :

30. And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all ihy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy
strength : this is the first commandment.

It is the first in God's account, and in Christ's ac-
count, but is it so in ours ? Perhaps some of us never asked
ourselves in our whole lives, what it is to love God, and


114 ST. MARK. [chap. XII.

whether vvc love him or not. What answer shall we make,
when the question is asked us at the day of judgment .''

31. And the second is like, namely this. Thou shall love thy
neighbour as thyself.

" Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," to serve
him cordially in all his interests of soul and body ; and not
the less for his faults and infirmities, or even offences against
ourselves ; any more than we cease to promote our own, for
anything that we know of ourselves. But who does this .''
Where is the man who loves God and his neighbour as he
ought ? If none are to be found, where are our hopes aris-
ing from our duties ? And what enemies are those persons
to our peace and hope ; — how ignorant of the demands of
the law, its extreme rigour, and fearful malediction, who
would rob us of Christ''s atoning blood and perfect righte-
ousness, and send us to the works of our hands, in whole, or
in part, before or after faith, for justification unto life?

Mr. Adam's prayer on these words: — O Lord, thou
knowest that I think these two commandments greats that
I desire to have them always in my eye, think myself un-
ha|)py in coming short of them, and ask it of thee now, as
I do continually, to write them in my heart.

31. There is none other commandment greater than these.

32. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said
die truth : for there is one God ; and there is none other but

33. And to love him with all the heart, and with all the under-
standing, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to
love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings
and sacrifices.

34. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said
unto him. Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.

He was not, however, yet in it. lie must be first in
Christ, or else all his knowledge and discretion would stand
him in no stead. He had one eye of the mind opened to
see the excellency and necessity of these commands ; he only

Online LibraryThomas AdamAn exposition of the four Gospels (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 39)