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and to convey,
“ not hear or understand." Their pride revolted at the application of it to themselves, and their perverseness determined them to resist its purpose. He, therefore, spake unto them in parables : to awaken their attention,
without their immediately perceiving it, moral and spiritual truths. By their improvement under this mode of teaching, it might be judged whether they would bear more explicit declarations of the “ things “ pertaining to the kingdom of God.” For “ whosoever hath,” saith our Lord,“ to him “ shall be given, and he shall have more abun6 dance;" whosoever retains and cultivates the good instruction he has received, will more readily improve by further instruction; but “ whosoever hath not ;" whosoever is indifferent to instruction, and regardless whether he retains it or not; " from him shall “ be taken away even that he hath;" he will lose the little he may have acquired, and in punishment of his heedlessness or ingratitude, will be left in that state of ignorance in which his disposition inclines him to remain.
The blessedness, then, which our Lord pronounces upon the chosen few who faithfully adhered to him, was the reward of that disposition which led them to make a right use of the opportunities they enjoyed. They were That many
willing to see, and hear, and understand ; and they were “ blessed" in so doing. They daily profited by what they saw and heard. They were confirmed in the faith; and their diligence was amply recompensed by continual accessions of light and information from the Fountain of Truth.
But to impress his disciples with a still deeper sense of the transcendent value of the special advantages they enjoyed, our Lord adds, “ For verily I
you, Prophets and righteous men have desired " to see those things which ye see, and have “ not seen them; and to hear those things “ which ye hear, and have not heard them.”
The Prophets and righteous men here adverted to, were those who lived under the Jewish and Patriarchal dispensations; many of whom were Divinely inspired to foretell the coming of Christ, and the glories of his kingdom. To Adam the promise of the Redeemer was originally made. Righteous Abel testified his faith in the promise by the Sacrifice of Atonement which he offered, a sacrifice accepted by the Almighty with tokens of especial favour. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of the judgments to be inflicted on the disobedient and impenitent at the coming of our Lord. Noah was a preacher
of righteousness to the same effect. Abraham, through the distant ages of futurity,“ rejoiced " to see the day" of our Lord; “ and he saw “ it, and was glad.” Moses spake of Him as the Prophet like unto himself, whom the Lord would raise up from among his brethren the Jewish people, and to whom they were to hearken. A continued succession of Prophets in later times more fully set forth the personal character and dignity of the Messiah, and the most remarkable circumstances which were to precede or accompany his appearance. For “ to Him gave all the Prophets witness;" and so distinctly were many of these circumstances foretold, as to prove that those“ holy “ men of God spake as they were moved by “ the Holy Ghost,” being favoured with immediate revelations from Heaven, respecting the Divine 5 Author and Finisher of our 66 Faith.”
But great and extraordinary as these privileges were, our Lord says to his disciples,
many” of these “ desired to see those things “ which ye see, and have not seen them, and “ to hear those things which ye hear, and have “ not heard them.” It was not possible that they who lived before our Lord's coming in the flesh could have such clear conceptions of the personal character of the Messiah, or such convincing proofs even of their own predictions. The great scheme of man's redemption, however confidently they might rely on its accomplishment, could not be presented to their view in such ample detail, could not be contemplated in connection with the marvellous events by which it was at length effected. They took heed to the word of Prophecy, as “ unto a light that shineth in a dark place, “ until the day should dawn, and the day-star “ ariseb.” By this light they saw enough to assure them that “ in the fulness of time” all these things would be accomplished. But it was natural that they should “ desire,” if it were possible, themselves to witness that accomplishment. The more thoroughly persuaded they might be of the certainty of what was to come to pass, the greater this desire would necessarily be. To such a state of anxious expectation, the situation of our Lord's immediate disciples presented a striking contrast. They saw his miracles; they heard his discourses; they knew the extraordinary circumstances attending his birth and ministry; they had opportunities of comparing these with what Moses and the Prophets had written concerning him: and they had the further benefit of continual
access to our Lord himself for the interpretation of whatever related to the great mystery of our Redemption. They were “ bless“ ed,” therefore, above the Prophets and righteous men of preceding times, in the opportunities of forming such conceptions of our Lord's kingdom as none who lived before them could have so fully apprehended.
But the observation thus addressed by our Lord to his own disciples is not to be restricted to their peculiar circumstances. It extends to the obligations incurred by all who since that time have been made partakers of the Christian covenant.
Why did our Lord pronounce this blessedness upon the disciples more immediately in his presence ? Not merely because such special opportunities were offered to them, but because they gladly opened their eyes to see the wonders that he wrought, and did not turn a deaf ear to his instructions. And in this respect, all, like them, are now blessed, who, living under the Gospel dispensation, shew the same desire of improvement, the same teachable disposition, in matters pertaining to their salvation. The Apostles, indeed, were eye and ear-witnesses of what was done or said by their blessed Master.
6 That “ which they had heard, which they had seen