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poses alone. Or after finishing the parable, he might as on former occasions of this kind, (Luke v. 1, 3.) order his disciples to thrust out a little farther from the land, that the people might have time to consider what they had heard. And the disciples embracing this opportunity, might speak to him in private concerning the manner of his preaching. Either of these suppositions, if I am not mistaken, fully comes up to the import of Mark's phrase, “ And when he was alone, they that were about him," &c. See Luke ix. 18. for a similar expression. The answer which Jesus returned to the disciples, who blamed him for teaching the people by parables, is very remarkable. Matt. xiii.' 10. And the disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou to them in parables? 11. He answered and said unto theit, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them (Mark, that aré without, 1015 s'kw, the people out of the vessel, the multitude on the shore. See stes used in a similar sense in the history of Peter's denial of his master, Mat. xxvi. 69. “ 136.) it is not giverlo (Mark, All these things are done in parables.) I may explain to you the nature of the Messiah's kingdom, and the other difficult doctrines of the gospel, because you are able to hear them, but I may not deal so with the multitude, who are obstinate to such a degree, that they will not hear any thing contrary to their prejudices and passions. For I must act agreeably to the rule by which the divine favours are dispensed. Matth. xiii. 12. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance : * but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away, even that he hath. Our Lord did not mean that he was by any direct and immediate agency of his, going to deprive the people of the knowledge they had al. Teady obtained, because they had misimproved it. But that as persons who despise the advantages bestowed on them, are often deprived of those advantages, so the Jews having misimproved and misunderstood the revelation of God's will already made to them, were on that account deprived of such a full and plain de claration of the doctrines of the gospel, as they might otherwise have enjoyed. They were altogether unworthy of such a favour. Besides, they had rendered themselves incapable of it. This sense of the passage is confirmed by the subsequent clause. 13. Therefore speak I to them in parnbles: because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand. I speak to them in parables, because their stupidity is so gross, and their prejudices so numerous, that though they have capacities proper

for

Ver. 12. But whosoever bath not, from him shall be taken away, even that he bath.] We have an expression in Juvenal parallel io the later claust of this verse, Cat. ii. ver. 208, 209.

Nil habuit Codruset tamen illud
Perdidit infelix nil-

for understanding and receiving my doctrine, they will neither understand nor receive it, if I speak in plain terms. Here therefore our Lord declares, that the blindness of the Jews was the reason of his teaching them by parables, and not his teaching them by parables the reason of their blindness.

Having thus shewed his disciples what it was that made him give the people instruction in an indirect way by figures, he added, This needs not be a matter of surprise to you, for Isaiah has long ago predicted it, chap. vi. 9. 14. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. Axon AXSTUTI, “ Ye shall hear with hearing” is a well known Hebraism, signifying the certainty of the matter to which it is applied. For this kind of repetition, according to the genius of the Jewish language, is the strongest manner of affirmation *. The prophet's meaning therefore is, that the Jews should certainly hear the doctrines of the gospel without understanding them, and see the miracles which confirined these doctrines without per. ceiving the finger of God in them; not because the evidences of the gospel, whether external or internal, were insufficient to establish it, but because the corruption of their hearts hindered them from discerning those evidences. 15. For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. In the prophecy, this passage is somewhat differently worded. “Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not, and see ye indeed, but perceive not; make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, ard be healed.” In the original language, a fat heart is a metaphorical expression, denoting a proud, sensual, stubborn disposition. Thus, Deut. xxxii. 15. « Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked." Psal. cxix. 70. “ Their heart is as fat as grease.” In like manner, heavy ears and blind eyes signify the strongest aversion to hear or see what is contrary to one's inclination. But the difficulty lies principally in the form of the expression : “ Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears," &c. This form is peculiar to the prophe

tical

* Thus, Gen. ii. 17. In the day thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die, i. e. shalt surely die. See the marginal translation. Acis iv. 17. ATEN arannwu:&c, ale svill severely threaten them. Acts v. 28. 8 Tapegyenes Tagnyvesharev, did we not straitly charge you ? Luke xxii. 15 Witb desire have I desired, i. c. I have greatly desired to eat this passover with you, before I suffer.

tical writings, implying no more but an order to the prophet, simply to foretel that the Jews should make their own hearts hard, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and be converted and healed. They would shut their eyes against the miracles, and their ears against the doctrines of the gospel, as if they were afraid of being converted and healed. I prove this to be the true solution, by Jer. i. 9. « Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said unto me, Behold I have put my word in thy mouth; see I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out and pull down, and to destroy and throw down, and to build, and to plant.” That is, I have appointed thee to prophesy concerning nations and kingdoms, that they shall be root. ed out, pulled down, destroyed, &c. Thus also, Ezek. xliii. 3. "According to the vision that I saw, when I came to destroy the city,” i. e. came to prophesy that the city should be destroyed, as it is in the margin of the English Bible. And to mention no more examples, the chief butler giving Pharaoh an account of Joseph's interpretation of his dream, and of that of the chief baker, says, (Gen. xli. 13.) “ Me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged." This prophecy therefore, and its citation, are exactly the same ; only the prophecy represents the thing as to happen, make the heart of this people fat; whețéas the citation represents it as already come to pass, this people's heart is waxed gross, &c. This people have made themselves so wicked and proud, that they will neither hear nor see any thing opposite to their lusts, in so much, that they look as if they were resolved not to be converted *. But it must not be concealed, that Mark

and

* This interpretation nf the prophecy, and of its application made by Matthew', is confirmed by the prophet himself. “Then said ), Lord, how long?" How long am I to make the heart of this people fat? To what length of time shall I foretel that their blindless will continue? “ And he answered, Till the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desclate.” They are to continue from this time forth blind and hardened, till God's judgments destroy them as a nation. This happened about forty years after Christ's death, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, burnt the temple, and put an end to the constitution And though in the prophecy it be foretold that the blindness of the Jews was to continue tell that period, the expression does not imply that it was then to end. See on Matt. I. 23. 07. p. 33. Their blindDess still continges as before, and it proceeds too from the same cause ; namely, their obstinate aitachinent to the institutions of Moses, which has ever filled their minds with incongrerable prejudices against the gospel. The interpretation of the prophecy offered above, is confirmed also by the subjects of the parables, to which our Lord applied this prophecy. For had he told the Jews plainly, what he told them in an obscure manner by the parable of the sower, namely, that a principal part of the Messiah's office was to instil the doctrines of true religion into the minds of men, and hat the chief effect of his power on earth should be, to set them free from

the

and Luke have given our Lord's answer a seemingly different turn from what it has in Matthew. Luke's words are, viii. 10. And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables, that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. The difficulty however arises principally from Mark's representation, iv. 11. But unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables. 12. That seeing they may see, and not perceive, and hearing they may hair, and not understand ; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them: words which at first sight seem to import, that Jesus spake to the people obscurely in parables, on purpose that they might not understad what he said, for fear they should have been converted and pardoned. Nevertheless, it is evident from Mark himself, that our Lord cannot be branded with a sentiment of this kind ; for at the conclusion of the whole he says expressly, verse 33. “ With many such parables spake he the word unto them as they were able to hear it.” But if Jesus spake to the people in parables as they were able to hear, his answer to the disciples record. ed by Mark, who makes this observation on his preaching, cannot reasonably be understood in any sense inconsistent therewith. For which reason, the gloss put upon this observation by Dr. Clarke, must fall. “Jesus (says he) chose to deliver his doctrine in such a manner, that it might be received by those who were sincerely desirous to know and obey the will of God, while the wilful and incorrigible remained deaf to all his instructions.” Serm. on 2 Thess. ii. 11. Indeed, that on some occasions men are hardened, as a just punishment of their abusing the means of grace

bestowed the tyranny of their lusts, that thev might become fruitful in goodness ; had he plainly declared what he insinuated in the parable of the grain of mustard, which gcew so great as to shelter the fouls of heaven under its branches, that the Gentiles were to be governed by the Messiah, not as slaves but free born subjecis, and to enjoy all the privileges of his kingdom, on an equal footing with the Jews; had he taught them plainly, what he insinuated obscurely by the parable of the sown seed which sprang up silently, and by the parable of the leaven hid in a quantity of meal, I nieun, that the kingdom of the lessiah was neither to be erected, nor supported by the violence of war, but by the secret force of truth, whose opesation, though strong, is altogether imperceptible ; I say, had our Lord taught his hearers these things in plain terms, they would have rejected them, and been greatly offunded, and pro' ably have forsak: n him altogether; so oprosite were the doctrines mention d, to their favourite notions aid expectations. In the inean time, if it shall be asked, why he troubled his hearers with these subjects at all, since he delivered then in such ob$cure terms; the answer is, it was expedient for the confirmation of the gospel, that he himself in his own life-time should give some hints of the diame thereof, and of the reception it was to meet with ; because the

scomparing the events with these parabolical predictions, would be disposed Jereby to acquiesce more peaceably in the admission of the Cen. uiles into the church, without subjecting them to the Mosaical institutions, a thing they were not brought to do but with the utmost difficulty.

bestowed on them, I do not at all deny. But though this doctrine be true, it does not seem to be contained in the passage under consideration. The true interpretation depends on a just view of Mark's scope, which, if I mistake not, our translators have missed. For remembering that in the parallel passage, Mat. xiii. 14. the words of Isa. vi. 9, 10. are quoted, and finding some of the phrases of that prophecy in Mark, they never doubted but Isaiah was cited there likewise, and interpreted the passage accordingly. For they gave the Greek pertots in Mark, the signi. fication of the Hebrew is in the prophecy, supposing it to be the corresponding word, and by that means made Mark contradict what he himself has told us in verse 33. “ With many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.” Nevertheless, if it shall be found, that properly speaking there is no citation here, but only an allusion to a citation which our Lord made in the beginning of his discourse, and which a precedent historian had recorded, we may allow that though 10 in the prophecy signifies lest peators in our Lord's answer recorded by Mark may have a different, but equally natural signification, viz. If so be, if peradventure, agreeably to its use in other passages. That Isaiah is not cited in the branch of Christ's answer recorded by Mark, is evident, because there is not the least hint of any citation. Besides, the slightest comparison of the passages themselves will shew them to be different. In the prophecy, God orders Isaiah to declare concerning the Jews in after-times, that they should hear the Messiah preach, but not understand him ; and see his miracles, but not conceive a just idea of the power by which they were performed; and to prophecy of them that they should harden their hearts, and deafen their ears, and close their eyes, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert and be healed. In Matthew, our Lord assigns the completion of that prophecy, as the reason why he spake to the people by parables. They were become so stupid and wicked, that they could not endure to hear the doctrines of the gospel plainly preached to them. In Mark he added, that because this was the state of their mind, he wrapped up his doctrine in parables, with an intention that they might see as much of it as they were able to receive, but not perceive the offensive particulars which would have made them reject both him and his doctrine ; and that they might hear as much as they were able to hear, but not understand any thing to irritate them against him; and all with a design to promote their conversion and salvation. Mark iv. 11. Unto them thut are with. out, all these things are done (delivered) in parables : 12. That seeing they may see, and not perceive, and hearing they may hear, and not understand, (untote) * if peradventure they may be con

verted, * Ver. 12. If peradventure they may be converted.) This signification VOL. II.

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