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nothing shall be impossible unto you.” The image re-appears with some modifications, Luke xvii. 6; and St. Paul probably alludes to these words of his Lord, 1 Cor. xiii. 2. Many explain “faith as a grain of mustard seed” to mean lively faith, with allusion to the keen and biting powers of that grain.” But it certainly is not upon this side that the comparison is to be brought out; rather, as Maldonatus rightly remarks, it is the smallest faith, with a tacit contrast between a grain of mustard seed, a very small thing, and a mountain, a very great. That smallest shall be effectual to work on this largest. The least spiritual power shall be potent for the overthrow of the mightiest powers which are merely of this world.
* Augustine (Serm. 246): Modicum videtur granum sinapis; nihil contemtibilius adspectu, nihil fortius gusto. Quod quid est aliud, nisi maximus ardor et intima vis fidei in ecclesiás
THE STATER IN THE FISH'S MOUTH.
Mart. xvii. 24–27
This miracle finds a place only in the Gospel of St. Matthew, ard a nearer contemplation of its features will show why we might even be. forehand have expected to meet it, if in one only, then in that which is eminently the theocratic Gospel. But its significance has oftentimes been wholly missed, and the entire transaction emptied of its higher meaning, robbed too of all its deeper lessons, by the assumption that this money which was demanded of Peter was a civil impost, a tribute owing, like the penny of a later occasion, (Matt. xxii. 19,) to the Roman emperor; and the word “tribute” used in our translation, rather upholds this error, and leads men's thoughts in the wrong direction,-and to consider it this civil impost, instead of what it truly was, a theocratic payment, due to the temple and the temple's God. And this error has brought in with it and necessitated another: for, as the only means of maintaining any appearance of an argument in our Lord's words, it has been needful to understand the kingly dignity, the royal birth, on the ground of which Christ here exempts himself from the payment, to be his Davidical descent, and not, as it is indeed, his divine. It is true that this erroneous interpretation has been maintained by some, I may say by many expositors, ancient and modern, of high authority; yet rather, it would seem, in most cases, from not having the true interpretation, which carries conviction with it, before them, than from deliberately preferring the other. Thus Augustine adduces this passage in connection with Rom. xiii. 1–7, “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers . . . . Render, therefore, to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due,”—and finds in it a motive for a willing obedi
ence on the part of the faithful to the civil power;" and Clement of Alexandria draws from it the same lesson. Origen, too, supposes it a civil payment; and Jerome, also, throughout takes this wrong standing point from which to explain this miracle; so too, in modern times, Maldonatus, who is aware of, but distinctly rejects, the correcterinterpretation, —being here, for once, at one with Calvin, the great object of his polemical hatred. The last, however, upholds this view in a modified form, —he supposes that the money claimed was indeed the temple dues, but yet which now had been by the Romans alienated from its original destination, they compelling the Jews to pay it into the Roman treasury.f This, however, as will be seen, is historically incorrect, that alienation not having taken place till a later time.f The arguments for the other interpretation, both external and internal, are so prevailing, as hardly to leave a residue of doubt upon any mind before which they are fairly brought. For, in the first place, this didrachm was exactly the sum$ which we find mentioned Exod. xxx. 11—16, as the ransom of the soul, to be paid by every Israelite above twenty years old, to the service and current expenses of the tabernacle, or, as it afterwards would be, of the temple. It is true that there it
* De Catechiz. Rud, c. 21: Ipse Dominus ut nobis hujus sanae doctrinae praeberet cxemplum, pro capite hominis, quo erat indutus, tributum solvere non dedignatus est. Clemens of Alex. (Paedag. l. 2, Potter's Ed., v.1, p. 172): Töv graripa roic režávar dodo, rā Kataapoc dirodoúc to Kataapt. # Ita quasi alienati essent Judaei à Dei imperio, profanis tyrannis solvebant sacrum censum in Lege indictum. # Add to these Wolf (Curae, in loc.), who has the wrong interpretation; and Petitus (Crit. Sac., 9, 2566): Corn. A Lapide; and only the other day, and after any further mistake seemed impossible, Wieseler (Chronol. Synopse, p. 265, sqq.) has returned to the old error. The true meaning has been perfectly seized by Hilary (Comm. in Matth., in loc.) by Ambrose (Ep. 7, ad Justum, c. 12), and in the main by Chrysostom (In Matth., Hom. 54) and Theophylact, who yet have gone astray upon Num. iii. 40–51; and in later times by Cameron (Crit. Sac., in loc.), by Freher (Crit. Sac., v. 9, p. 3633), by Hammond, who has altogether a true insight into the matter, Grotius, Lightfoot, Bengel, Michaelis, and last of all by Olshausen, and Mr. Greswell (Dissert., v.2, p. 376). § It is true that in the Septuagint (Exod. xxx. 13) it is hutov rod didpáxuov. But this arises from their expressing themselves, as naturally they would, according to the Alexandrian drachm, which was twice the value of the Attic. (See HAMMond, in loc.) | The sum there named is a half shekel. Before the Babylonian exile, the shekel was only a certain weight of silver, not a coined money: in the time, however, of the Maccabees, (1 Macc. xv. 6,) the Jews received the privilege, or won the right, from the kings of Syria of coining their own money, and the shekels, half shekels, and quarter shekels now found in the cabinets of collectors are to be referred to this period. These growing scarce, and not being coined any more, it became the custom to estimate the temple dues as two drachms, (the díópaxuov here required,) a sum actually seems only to have been ordered to be paid on the occasions, which most probably were rare, of the numbering of the people. But whether from such having been the real intention of the divine Legislator, or from a later custom which arose only after the Babylonian captivity, it had grown into an annual payment. Some have thought they found traces of it earlier, and, indeed, there seem distinct notices of it, 2 Kin. xii. 4; 2 Chron. xxiv. 5, 6, 9; and all the circumstances of what is there described as the collection which “Moses the servant of God laid upon Israel in the wilderness,” seem to make for the supposition.” At Nehemiah x. 32, the circumstance that it is a third part of a shekel, and not a half, which they agree to pay, makes it more questionable, as they would scarcely have ventured to alter the amount of a divinely instituted payment; yet the fact that it was yearly, and that it was expressly for the service of the house of God, would lead us to think that it can be no other payment which is meant; and they may have found an excuse for the alteration in their present distress. Josephusf mentions that it was an annual payment in his time; and Philo, who tells us how conscientiously and ungrudgingly it was paid by the Jews of the Dispersion, as well as by the Jews of Palestine, so that in almost every city there was a sacred treasury for the collection of these dues, some of which came from cities beyond the limits of the Roman empire; and then at certain times there were sacred messengers selected from among
somewhat larger than the half shekel, as those that have compared together the weights of the existing specimens of each have found; thus Josephus (Antt, 1.3, c. 8, §2): 'O 6e aikāoc, vöutaua ‘E3patov ov, 'Arruküç 6éxeral épaxuāc régaapac. As the produce of the miracle was to pay for two persons, the sum required was four drachms, or a whole shekel, and the grario found in the mouth of the fish is just that sum. It indeed often bore the name of respáðparuoc. Jerome: Siclus autem, id est stater, habet drachmas quatuor. It is almost needless to say that this stater is not the gold coin that more accurately bears that name, which would have been equal not to four, but to twenty, drachms; but rather, as is said above, the silver, tetradrachm, which in later times of Greece, came to be called a stater. That other stater, equal to the Persian daric, would have been worth something more than sixteen shillings of our money, this three shillings and threepence. (See the Dict of Gr. and Rom. Antt. s. v.v. Drachma and Stater, and WINER's Real Wörterbuch, s. v. Sekel.) It is curious that Theophylact should seem ignorant of what this stater is. Some think it, he says, a precious stone which is found in Syria.
* So Dathe; Michaelis (Mos. Recht, v. 8, p. 202) questions or denies it.
+ Antt, l. 18, c. 9, § 1. The time appointed for the payment was between the 15th and 25th of the month Adar (March), that is, about the feast of the Passover. Yet no secure chronological conclusions in regard to our Lord's ministry can be won from this; as, through his absence from Capernaum, the money might have been for some time due. Indeed, in all probability, the feast of Tabernacles was now at hand.
the worthiest to bear the collected money to Jerusalem.” It was only after the destruction of that city, that Vespasian caused this capitation tax to be henceforward paid into the imperial treasury, instead of the treasury of the temple, which now no longer existed.
The words of Josephus on this matter are as explicit as can be; these words I will quote, as the only argument produced against this scheme is, that it was before the present time, and as early as Pompey, that these moneys were diverted from their original destination, and made payable to the Roman treasury. Of Vespasian he says, “He imposed a tribute on the Jews wheresoever they lived, requiring each to pay yearly two drachms to the capitol, as before they were wont to pay them to the temple at Jerusalem.” But of Pompey he merely says, that “he made Jerusalem tributary to the Romans,”f without any mention whatever of his laying hands on this tax, of which we have already seen that abundant evidence exists that it continued long after his time to be rendered to the temple. Not otherwise indeed could Titus, when he was reproaching the Jews with the little provocation which they had for their revolt, have reminded the revolters how the Romans had permitted them to collect their own sacred imposts.S
We may observe again that it is not the publicans that are said to come demanding this tribute, which would have been the natural appellation of the collectors, had they been the ordinary tax-gatherers, or this the ordinary tax. And the tone again of the demand, “Doth not your master pay the didrachm o' is hardly the question of a rude Roman taxgatherer, who nad detected any one in the act of evading, as he thought, the tax; but exactly in keeping, when the duty of paying was a moral one, which yet if ary declined, there was scarcely at hand any power to compel the payment."
* De Monarch, l.2: ‘Iepotropirot rôv xpmuárov, douarívöm, Arukpubévrer. The whole passage reminds one much of the collection, and the manner of the transmission, of the gifts of the faithful in Achaia to Jerusalem by the hands of Paul. We find from Cicero's oration Pro Flacco, (c. 28,) that one accusation made against the latter was that he prevented the transmission of these temple dues to Jerusalem. He bears incidentally witness to the universality of the practice: Cúm aurum, Judaeorum nomine, quotannis ex Italia et ex omnibus vestris provinciis Hierosolymam exportari soleret, Flaccus sanxi edicto, ne ex Asia exportari liceret. + Bell. Jud, l. 7, c.6, $6. # Antt., l. 14, c. 4, §4. Tà u2v ‘Iepoo.62vua intore?? 6pov Popatoto &roinaev. § Aaguoãoyeiv tuiv Art to 6ej &nwrpépauev. | Tadićpaxua, with the article, as something perfectly well known: in the plural the first time, to mark the number of didrachms that were received, being one from each person; on the second, to mark the yearly repetition of the payment from each. T Kuinoel (in loc.) who may be numbered among the right interpreters of this