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was not yet; but that, not having, they so boastfully gave out that they had, not that they were not healed, but that, being unhealed, they counted themselves whole. The Law would have done its work, the very work for which God ordained it, if it had stripped them of these boastful leaves, or rather had prevented them from ever putting them forth. Here, then, according to this explanation, there is no difficulty either in the Lord's going to the tree at that unseasonable time;-he would not have gone, but for those deceitful leaves which announced that fruit was there, nor in the (symbolical) punishment of the unfruitful tree at this season of the year, when according to the natural order it could not have had any. It was punished not for being without fruit, but for proclaiming by the voice of those leaves that it had such,-not for being barren, but for being false. And this was the guilt of Israel, a guilt so much deeper than the guilt of the nations. The attentive study of the epistle to the Romans supplies the true key to the right understanding of this miracle; such passages especially as ii. 3, 17–27; x. 3, 4, 21; xi. 7, 10. Nor should that remarkable parallel, Ezek. xvii. 24: “And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord ... have dried up the green tree and made the dry tree to flourish,” be left out of account.” And then the sentence, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever,” will be just the reversal of the blessing that in them all nations of the earth should be blessed—the symbolic counterstroke to the ratification of the Levitical priesthood, through the putting forth, by Aaron's rod, of bud and blossom and fruit in a night. Henceforth the Jewish synagogue is stricken with a perpetual barrenness; it once was every thing, but now it is nothing, to the world; it stands apart, like a thing forbid; what little it has, it communicates to none; the curse has come upon it, that no man henceforward shall eat fruit of it for ever.]
* It is possible, and some have thought, that our Lord has another allusion to what here he had done in those other words of his, “If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry " (Luke xxiii. 31;) if God so dealt with him “a green tree,” full of sap, full of life, if he thus bruised and put him to pain, how should he deal with Israel after the flesh, a “dry” tree, withered and dried up under the power of that curse which had been spoken against it?
# Witsius (Meletem. Leiden., p. 415): Parabolica ficós maledictio significavit, futurum esse ut populus Israéliticus, justa Dei indignatione, omni vigore et succo spiritualis foecunditatis privetur, et quia fructus bonorum operum proferre isthoc tempore noluit, dein nec possit. Ac veluti maledictionis sententiam ficts arefactio protinus excepit, sic et Judaeorum natio, mox post spretum protervé Messiam, exaruit.
# Augustine brings out often and very strikingly the figurative character of this miracle;—though, with most other expositors, he misses what seems to me the chief stress of this tree's (symbolic) guilt, and that which drew on it the curse, namely, its And yet this “for ever” has its merciful limitation, when we come to transfer the curse from the tree to that of which the tree was as a living parable; a limitation which the word itself” favors and allows; which lies hidden in it, to be revealed in due time. None shall eat fruit of that tree to the end of the present aeon, not until these “times of the Gentiles” are fulfilled. A day indeed will come when Israel, which now says, “I am a dry tree,” shall consent to that word of its true Lord, which of old it denied, “From me is thy fruit found,” and shall be ar. rayed with the richest foliage and fruit of all the trees of the field. The Lord, in his great discourse upon the last things (Matt. xxiv.) implies this, when he gives this commencing conversion of the Jews under the image of the re-clothing of the bare and withered fig-tree with leaf and bud, as the sign of the breaking in of the new aeon, which he does, saying, “Now learn a parable of the fig-tree. When his branch is yet? tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” (ver. 32, 33.)
It would appear from St. Matthew that some beginnings of the threatened withering began to show themselves, almost as soon as the word of the Lord was spoken; a shuddering fear may have run through all the leaves of the tree, which was thus stricken at its heart. But it was not till the next morning, as the disciples returned, that they took note
running before its time, and by its leaves proclaiming it had fruit, when its true part and that which the season would have justified, would have been to present itself with neither. He, in the following quotations, otherwise so admirable, makes its barrenness, contrasted with its pomp of leaves, to be the stress of its fault, putting out of sight the untimeliness of those leaves and of that pretence of fruit which is the most important element in the whole. Thus (Serm. 77, c. 5): Etiam ipsa quae à Domino facta sunt, aliquid significantia erant, quasi verba, si dici potest, visibilia et aliquid significantia. Quod maximè apparet in eo quod praeter tempus poma quaesivit in arbore, et quia non invenit, arbori maledicens aridam fecit. Hoc factum nisi figuratum accipiatur, stultum invenitur; primö quaesisse poma in illā arbore, quando tempus non erat ut essent in ulla arbore: deinde sipomorum jam tempus esset, non habere poma quae culpa arboris esset? Sed quia significabat, quaerere se non solūm folia, sedet fructum, id est, non solòm verba, sed et facta hominum, arefaciendo ubi sola folia invenit, significavit eorum poenam, quiloqui bona possunt, facere bona nolunt. Cf Serm. 98, c. 3: Christus nesciebat, quod rusticus sciebat? quod noverat arboris cultor, non noverat arboris creator? Càm ergo esuriens poma quaesivit in arbore, significavit se aliquid esurire, et aliquid aliud quaerere; et arborem illam sine fructu foliis plenam reperit, et maledixit; et aruit. Quid arbor fecerat fructum non afferendo? Quae culpa arboris infecunditas? Sed sunt qui fructum voluntate dare non possunt Illorum est culpa sterilitas, quorum fecunditas est voluntas. * El: röv alajva. + Or rather “is now,” #ón.
of the utter perishing of the tree, which had followed upon that word spoken, so that it was “dried up from the roots,” and called their Lord's attention to the same: “Master, behold the fig-tree which thou cursedst, is withered away.” The Lord will not let the occasion go by without its further lesson. What he had done, they might do the same and more. Faith in God would place them in relation with the same power which he wielded, so that they might do mightier things even than this at which they marvelled so much.
* In the tone in which this observation was made, an interrogation was implied; they would observe that it was so, and ask of him how it was so. This is yet more evident in St. Matthew’s “How soon is the fig-tree withered away!” by many made an interrogation; thus in Bishop Lloyd's edition, who prints trä; trapaxpilua #mpávón # ovki; ; but in that ord; there is not an express question, only an interrogative exclamation.
THE cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest by one on the disciples, who would fain have fought for his Master that he should not be delivered to the Jews, is related by all four Evangelists, (Matt. xxvi. 51; Mark xiv. 47; Luke xxii. 50; John xviii. 10;) but the miracle belongs only to St. Luke, for he only tells how the Lord made good the wrong which his disciple had inflicted. And we may trace, perhaps, in this Evangelist a double interest which might have specially moved him to the including in his Gospel this work of grace. As a physician, this cure, the only one of its kind which we know of our Lord's performing, the only miraculous healing of a wound inflicted by external violence, would attract his special attention. And then, besides, there was nothing nearer to St. Luke's heart, or that cohered more intimately with the purpose of his Gospel, than the portraying of the Lord on the side of his gentleness, his mercy, and benignity; all which so gloriously shone out in this gracious work in favor of one who was in arms against his life. The Evangelist, no doubt, knew very well, but has not thought good to tell us, who it was that struck this blow, whether the deed might still have brought him into trouble, though that appears an exceedingly improbable explanation, or from some other cause. St. Matthew and St. Mark equally preserve silence on this head, and are content with generally designating him, Matthew as “one of them who were with Jesus,” Mark as “one of them which stood by.” And it is only from St. John that we learn, what perhaps otherwise we might have guessed, but could not certainly have known, that it was St. Peter, who in this way sought to deliver his imperilled Lord. He also alone gives us the name of the high priest's servant who was smitten; “the servant's name was Malchus.” The last may easily have been unknown to the other Evangelists, though it very naturally came within the circle of St. John's knowledge, who had, in some way that is not explained to us, acquaintance with the high priest, (John xviii. 15,) and with the consti. tution of his household; so accurate an acquaintance, as that he was aware even of so slight a circumstance as that one of those, who later in the night provoked Peter to his denial of Christ, was kinsman of him wnose ear Peter had cut off (ver. 26.) The whole circumstance is singularly characteristic; the word. bearer for the rest of the apostles proves, when occasion requires, the sword-bearer also—not indeed in this altogether of a different temper from the others, but showing himself prompter and more forward in action than them all. While they are saying, “Lord, shall we smite with the sword?” perplexed between the matural instinct of defence and love of their perilled Lord, on the one side, and his precepts on the other, that they should not resist the evil, he waits not for the answer, but impelled by the natural courage of his heart,” and taking no heed of the odds against him, aims a blow at one, probably the foremost of the band,-the first that was daring to lay profane hands on the sacred person of his Lord. This was “a servant of the high priest's,” one therefore who, according to the proverb, “like master like man,” may very probably have been especially forward in this bad work,+himself a Caiaphas of a meaner stamp. Peter was not likely to strike with any other but a right good will, and no doubt the blow was intended to cleave down the aggressor, though by God's good providence the stroke was turned aside, and grazing the head at which it was aimed, but still coming down with sheer descent, cut off the ear-the “right ear,” as St. Luke and St. John tell us, of the assailant who thus hardly escaped with his life. The words with which our Lord rebuked the untimely zealf of his
* Josephus characterizes the Galilaeans as Maxiuovo.
# Modern expositors are sometimes a good deal too hard upon this deed of Peter's. Calvin, for instance, who has a great deal more in this tone: Stulto suo zelo Petrus gravem infamiam magistro suo ejusque doctrinae inusserat. The wisest word upon the matter (and on its Old Testament parallel, Exod. ii. 12) is to be found in AugusTINE, Con. Faust, 1.22, c. 70. He keeps as far from this unmeasured rebuke as from the absurdity of the Romish expositors, who many of them exalt and magnify this act as one of a holy and righteous indignation. Stella, for instance (in loc.), who likens it to the act of Phinehas, (Num. xxv. 7) by which he won the high priesthood for his family for ever. Leo the Great, (Serm. 50, c. 4) had already spoken of it in the same way: Nam et beatus Petrus, qui animosiore constantia Domino cohaerebat, et contra