John 12:19
Then the Pharisees said to one another, "You can see that this is doing you no good. Look how the whole world has gone after Him!"
Sermons
The Failure of InfidelityW. B. Stewart, D. D.John 12:19
The Triumph of ChristianityGibbon.John 12:19
The World is Gone After HimDean Vaughan.John 12:19
Why Christianity TriumphedGibbon.John 12:19

I. JOURNEY FROM JERICHO. Jerusalem is at an elevation of three thousand six hundred feet above Jericho in the Jordan valley. The distance between the two cities is upwards of fifteen miles. Travel-stained and weary with this uphill journey, gradually ascending all the way, our Lord stayed over sabbath with the family of Bethany, where he got rested and refreshed. Bethany, which St. John calls "the town of Mary and her sister Martha," is fifteen furlongs, or nearly two miles, from Jerusalem, and gets its name from the fruit of the palm trees that once flourished, there, signifying "house of dates." It is now called Azariyeh, from the name of Lazarus, and in memory of the miracle wrought in raising him from the dead. Next day, being the 10th of Nisan, or 1st of April - the day on which the Paschal lamb was set apart - was the day chosen by him, who is our true Paschal Lamb, for his public entry into Jerusalem, there to be sacrificed for us. Of the caravan of pilgrims that accompanied our Lord and his disciples in the journey from Jericho, some had proceeded onward direct to the holy city; others had pitched their tents in the wooded vale of Bethany; and others, again, on the western slopes of Olivet, opposite to and in full view of the city. Those who bad advanced to Jerusalem had, it is probable, brought word thither of the approach of the Prophet of Nazareth.

II. PUBLIC PROCESSION. The life and ministry of our Lord were fast drawing to a close. The time of his departure was at hand. There is no longer need of enjoining secrecy with regard to his miracles, or of concealment in respect of his office, lest public excitement might ensue, or lest his work might be interfered with or interrupted by the opposition of enemies, before the seed of truth, which he had sown by his discourse's and parables, should get time to take root in the public mind. Publicity rather than secrecy is now needed. The great Passover Lamb is to be sacrificed, and so the Priest is on his way to the place of sacrifice; the Prophet is going up to the house of God to renew the work of reformation, to rectify abuses, to restore, or at least exhibit, the purity befitting the service of the sanctuary, and to teach daily, as he did, in the temple. Above all, the King is going up to his capital; the daughter of Zion is to receive her King with rejoicing. Hitherto he had indeed gone about continually, doing good, yet with little or no outward show; save by the crowds that followed for healing or hearing, and on some rare occasions and with some signal exceptions, he had been little recognised, being rather "despised and rejected of men." Now the time has come for him to announce his kingdom and claim the honor of a King. The public avowal of his dignity, the official declaration of his Messiahship, and the formal proclamation of his kingdom, now behoved to be made. He was now going to assert his right to reign. Now, for the first and only time, he assumes somewhat of royal state in entering his metropolis. Nor yet was there anything very great or very garish in this exhibition of royalty; the whole was carried out in lowly guise. Christ was indeed a King, but King of the realm of truth; and his entrance into Jerusalem was a royal procession - a right royal one, though in a spiritual sense. He was King, but not such a King as the multitude, and even his disciples, expected. He was not a King coming with chariots and horses, with battle-bow or weapons of war, as earthly rulers and worldly conquerors; but "just, and bringing salvation." He was the spiritual King of an unworldly, but universal and unending kingdom.

III. OMNISCIENCE APPARENT IN HIS ORDERS. In the directions which our Lord gives his disciples, probably Peter and John, to go to the village over against them - perhaps Bethphage, which means "house of figs" - there are several particulars so precise, minute, and striking, that they imply superhuman knowledge. How else could he tell them beforehand

(1) that immediately on entering the village they would find an ass and her colt;

(2) that they were not loose, but tied, and so ready to be employed by their owner;

(3) that that colt had never been tamed, or broken in, and that no man had ever sat on its back;

(4) the exact position in which the colt would be found - not in the courtyard, but outside; at the door, yet not in the public street, but on a road that ran round (ἀμφόδου) the rear of the house or village;

(5) that in case of any demur on the part of persons standing by, they should reform them for whose use it was required; and

(6) that the ready consent of the owner would be obtained - "and straightway he will send them"? Another reading of this latter clause has the future, and adds πάλιν, so that the sense is, "He [Christ] will send it back again."

IV. THE HUMBLE YET HEARTY PAGEANT. All was done as had been directed. The colt was brought and led quietly along, its mother by its side, accompanying it. Then the disciples cast their abbas, or outer garments, on them, and set Jesus upon them - ἐπάνω αὐτῶν being either on the garments, or on one of the animals. The former view is that of Theophylact, who refers the pronoun to the garments, saying, "Not the two beasts of burden, but the garments;" so also Euthymius, Beza, and many others. Many explain the pronoun of the beasts of burden, but understand it variously - some supposing our Lord to have mounted them alternately; others supplying τινός, as Krebs and Kuinoel; and others, again, having recourse to an enallage of number; while some copyists have ventured to substitute αὐτοῦ or αὐτῆς. The intention of the disciples was to do their Master royal honor in the true Eastern style of improvising, and just as in Old Testament times, a throne had been extemporised for Jehu, as we read in 2 Kings 9:13, "Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him [Jehu] on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king." Scarcely had the disciples prepared the housing and got their Master mounted on the colt thus caparisoned, when the very great multitude, or rather the most part of the multitude, not to be outdone in devotion and loyalty, strewed some their garments, while others cut down branches off the trees or out of the fields (ἀγρῶν, read by Tischendorf and Tregelles), and spread them in the way. Thus the streaming multitude from Galilee, from Bethany - some before, some behind the central figure of the Savior - tapestried the line of march with their garments, or strewed it with fronds (στοιβάδας, a rare word, as if στειβάδας, from στείβω, to tread; and thus, that which is trodden on, a litter of leaves or bed of small leafy branches, then the material of such, viz. young branches). It may perhaps be worthy of note, that in the former case the aorist (ἔστρωσαν) is used to denote the throwing down of their garments as a thing done readily and at once; while the cutting of the branches and the spreading of them in the way, as requiring mere time, are expressed in the imperfect; that is, they kept cutting them and continued strewing them as they proceeded. Many similar tokens of honor and respect are on record, and practiced even to the present day. Thus, when Mordecai issued from the palace of Ahasuerus, the streets (Targum on Esther) were strewn with myrtle; like honor was shown to Xerxes by his army before crossing the Hellespont; so also, as we are informed by Robinson, in his 'Biblical Researches,' the Bethlehemites threw their garments under the feet of the English consul's horses at Damascus, when they had come to implore his aid. In the 'Agamemnon' of AEschylus, too, we read that the doomed monarch, when entering the palace on his return to Mycenae, was, in imitation of the barbaric pomp of Eastern kings, tempted to walk on costly carpets.

V. A PEACEFUL THOUGH TRIUMPHAL PROCESSION. The lowliness of the animal was in keeping with the character of the procession. It was humble, yet right royal. The ass in the East is stately, sprightly, sleek, and shiny; it is highly esteemed, and employed alike for work and riding. Persons of rank used it commonly for the latter purpose. Thus we read of Balsam, of Caleb's daughter, and of Abigail riding on asses. Moses' wife rode on an ass, as she went down with her husband from Midian into Egypt. At a still earlier period it was the same animal that Abraham rode on that eventual day, when, rising early in the morning, he saddled his ass and went to offer his son Isaac in sacrifice. It was, moreover, the animal on which the judges of Israel rode, as we learn from such passages as the following: - "Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment;" so also Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel two and twenty years, "had," as we read, "thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities." We have evidence of the same in Jacob's blessing of his sons, when he says of Issachar that he is "a strong ass, couching down between two burdens." Animals unyoked or unused were employed for sacred purposes; thus, in Numbers 19:2, it is written, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke;" again, in 1 Samuel 6:7, "Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke." Thus it was every way suited to the procession, sacred and solemn, peaceful and royal, that advanced on this occasion towards Jerusalem. The horse, on the other hand, would have been unbecoming in such a procession, since the horse was the emblem of war from an early to a late period in Hebrew history; thus, in Exodus 15 we read, "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea;" and also in Jeremiah 8:6, "Every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle."

VI. THE PROCESSION FROM THE CITY. Another crowd of persons, passing out of the city gates, crossed the Kedron, and advanced in one long continuous line up the opposite side of Olivet till it met the procession that accompanied our Lord. The persons that composed this crowd had been attracted by the miracle of the raising of Lazarus, and they bore their willing testimony to that stupendous fact, as St. John informs us (John 12:17), where we read ὁτι, that, instead ὁτε, when, " The people therefore that was with him bare record that he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead." The people from the city bore in their hands palm branches, the emblems of victory. In the ancient games the crowns were various - olive, laurel, pine, or parsley; but in every game the victor bore in his hand the palm branch of victory. Accordingly, with these palm branches in their hands, they welcomed him as victorious over death and the Conqueror of the king of terrors. Soon the crowd from Jerusalem and the multitude from Bethany met and mingled; and now all united formed one grand triumphal procession, the like of which had never climbed or crossed that hill. before.

VII. THE ENTHUSIASM. The enthusiasm had reached its height. Hitherto the acknowledgment of the Savior's kingly power was confined to actions - those of himself and his disciples; now the multitudinous voices of the united crowd made the welkin ring with shouts of triumph. The proclamation, no longer limited to action, now found utterance in words - words in which the men of Bethany and the people from Jerusalem all took part, saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" as we have it in the Gospel by St. Matthew. This term "Hosanna! "was originally a supplication, signifying "Save now!" and thus some understand it here, "Grant salvation to the Son of David!" as the Hebrew verb from which it comes is sometimes followed by a dative. It would in this way be nearly equivalent to "God save the king!" It may, however, be better understood as a joyful acclamation of welcome to the Savior-King long promised, but now present, like the Io triumphe of the Romans or the paean of the Greeks. "Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord!" Here we have one of the designations of Messiah, who was spoken of as the Coming One; ages had passed, but still his arrival was a matter of expectation; centuries had roiled away, but his advent was still future. And now that he has come, it is in the name, invested with the authority and bearing the commission, of the great Jehovah. He came as the Vicegerent of God on earth, and as the Mediator for man with heaven. On the occasion here referred to, the crowd accorded him a most cordial welcome and received him with truly regal honors. So enthusiastic were they in the reception of their Messiah, that they did not confine themselves, in expressing their gratulation, to the well-known words of the familiar psalm; carried away with the outburst of general joy, they expressed in their own spontaneous utterances their fond anticipation of his Messianic reign, saying, "Blessed is the kingdom that cometh, the kingdom of our father David!" for David was the great theocratic king, and eminently typical of Messiah's kingly power. "Hosanna in the highest! that is, the highest places or the highest strains. So difficult did they find it to express their exuberant joy, and to vent their feelings of jubilation, that they appealed to Heaven itself to give its sanction, and called as it were on the heavenly hosts to join them and take part in their exultation, heaven and earth being presumed of one accord and in perfect unison on the subject. Another explanation makes the words mean in the highest degree," in order to convey still greater intensity of feeling; while a third regards it as an address to the Most High, equivalent to "O thou that dwellest in the heavens, save, we pray; for all salvation owns thee as its Source!"

VIII. FULFILMENT OF OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE. The fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy is here noticed by St. Matthew. "Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass," is the prediction in Zechariah 9:9; or the exact rendering of the last clause may rather be, "and sitting upon an ass (chamar), even a colt (air), son of she-asses (athonoth)," the ve being exegetical. The evangelist, in quoting the prophet's words, informs us that the purpose of what now transpired was their fulfillment. The meaning of ἵνα here, as in other similar passages, is either telic, or final, "in order that;" or ecbatic, that is, eventual or consecutive, "so that." If the word be taken in the former sense, it marks the Divine purpose, and with God purpose and result are coincident; if in the latter sense, it is a consequence, or the evangelist's reflection on the circumstance of what had been foretold being duly fulfilled. That ἵνα had acquired in later Greek a weakened or modified meaning, so as to stand midway between purpose and result, or even to denote the latter, is pretty generally admitted.

IX. PRACTICAL REMARKS.

1. A cause of circumspection. This is one practical effect of Christ's omniscience. He had perfect knowledge of the state of matters in and round the village whither he sent his two disciples on the errand we here read of. He told them beforehand where the animal he wanted would be found and how it would be found - the how and where; the inquiry that would be made of them and the answer they were to return, and the readiness with which the desired permission would be granted them. It is a natural and indeed necessary inference that he is equally acquainted with ourselves - our persons, situations, and circumstances. He knows perfectly the great things and the little things of our histories; our condition and conduct in matters the most minute, as well as in those we deem of most importance. From all this we learn the necessity of circumspection. The old Roman wished his house so constructed that all that transpired inside might be seen outside - that to the eye of every passer-by the interior of his dwelling and all that was done in it might be visible. The Savior's eye penetrates not our houses merely, but our hearts. All we think, as well as all we say and all we do, is every moment uncovered to his inspection and open to his cognizance. How circumspect, then, we should be! Who would not shrink from having exposed to the view of neighbor or friend or kinsman every thought that lies deep down in the recesses of his heart? Who would care to have every word he utters in the secret chamber made known to his fellow-man? And who would feel quite at ease if he knew that the eyes of some great man or nobleman or prince rested on all his actions throughout an entire day? How careful we are to have things presented in the best possible light, when we expect the presence of some person of consequence or superior rank for the space of a few hours! Oh, then, how we should feel chastened and subdued by the thought that One greater than even the greatest of the kings of the earth knows all we do, hears all we say, and is cognizant of all we think; and that, not for a few hours of a single day, but every hour of every day! Surely this reflection, if duly realized, would be a powerful help to make us circumspect in thought and word and work, guarding our hearts, "for out of them are the issues of life," "keeping the door of our lips that we offend not with our tongue," and using circumspection in all our works and ways.

2. A source of consolation. The presence of a friend is often most encouraging. The consciousness that a friendly eye is upon us in time of difficulty, or emergency, or at some critical juncture, is a source of strength, inspiring with courage and stimulating to energy. In sorrow or suffering, also, a sympathetic eye goes a long way to give relief, or, where that is out of the question, to sustain us in our sufferings. But to know that from behind the silent blue of the arching heaven a friendly eye is ever on us, a friendly heart ever beats in sympathy with us, a friendly hand is ever stretched forth to wipe away the tear of sorrow, is a source of comfort unfailing as unspeakable. The little things that vex us, the heavy griefs that crush us, our afflictions, whether physical, or mental and more inward, are known alike to that Friend who never changes, and who never fails nor forsakes us.

3. A ground of confidence. The fulfillment of God's Word in the past and at the present is one of the surest grounds of confidence in time to come. St. Matthew, writing in the first instance for Hebrew Christians who had the prophecies in their hand, and were thus in a position to compare prediction with performance, and having, besides, a special propensity in that direction, is careful to note the fulfillment of prophecy, and to draw the attention of his countrymen to the fact. The prediction referred to in this passage had preceded its fulfillment by five centuries and a half; but it did not fail. God's words are "pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times;" not one of them shall ever fail or be falsified.

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!"

4. Human inconstancy. A heathen moralizes on the fickleness of popular favor; it is changeable as the breeze. The psalmist no doubt had experience of it, when he hastily concluded and hurriedly said that all men are liars; but though his generalization was, as subsequent experience taught him, too sweeping, yet he had had sufficient ground for his statement just then. Hence we have the salutary caution in another psalm, "Trust not in princes, nor man's son." Paul upbraids the Galatians with their changeableness, when he says, "I bear you record, that, if possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" A great and good man, now with God, having had a bitter experience on one occasion of the variableness of human favor, wrote down in his diary the cool but cutting words, "Is it strange that men and the moon should change?" Yet never were the fickleness and consequent worthlessness of human popularity so strikingly exemplified as in the case of the crowd that shouted long and lustily, Hosanna. Hosanna in the highest! but just four days after, and before the week was out, cried long and loudly, "Crucify him! crucify him!" What a lesson is thus taught the follower of Jesus! What a warning to set little store by human favor and popular applause!

X. THE TEARS JESUS SHED OVER JERUSALEM.

1. The sight of the city. Of the three roads that led over the Mount of Olives - one between the two northern crests, a second right over the summit, - the third, or southern, then as now the main road, and the one most frequented from Bethany, was that by which the procession was approaching the city. At a spot where it winds round the southern ridge of the hill, the city, by a turn of the road, is at once brought full in view. At the descent from this shoulder of Olivet, "when he was come near, he beheld the city," looking across the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Its temple, its buildings, its dwellings, rising full before him, were all seen in the clear air of a Judaean sky; at the same time, its guilty inhabitants and their future fate were equally open to his eyes.

2. Jesus weeps. He paused and pondered. The sight of that splendid capital, the knowledge of its crimes, the remembrance of God's mercies, the thought that it might have been spared if, like Nineveh, it had known the day of its visitation and the things that belonged to its peace, - all these considerations awoke the sorrow and called forth the sympathy of the Savior. "Jesus wept over it," as St. Luke informs us. He dropped a tear in silence (ἐδάκρυσεν) at the grave of Lazarus, a departed friend; but in view of the doomed city of Jerusalem he shed a flood of tears, weeping aloud (ἔκλαυσεν). But while his tears testified his love and showed his tenderness, his lips pronounced the city's fearful doom.

3. His affecting apostrophe. "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" Jerusalem had its day, and in vain was that day protracted. "If thou hadst known, even thou," O ill-fated city; even thou, with all thy guilt; even thou, who hast so long abused the forbearance of a long-suffering God; even thou, who hast been so often reproved, and yet ever hardened thyself against reproof; even thou, who hast had so many warnings from the prophets of God and apostolic men; even thou, whose children I would have gathered as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; if thou, oven thou, after so many days of mercy and of privilege have been misspent, after so many days of grace have been lost and for ever; if thou, even thou, hadst known, at least in this thy day, in this thy last day of privilege and of promise, in this thy last day of heavenly ministration, in this day of merciful visitation still thine, though the eleventh hour of thy existence and the eve of thy destruction! Never was apostrophe to place or person so tender, and never was aposiopesis so terrible; for the sentence is suddenly broken off and left unfinished; the clause which should state the consequence is omitted. After this omission the Savior pauses, and then adds, "But now they are hid from thine eyes." The sentence might be taken as the expression of a wish: "Oh that thou hadst known the things that belong to thy peace!" and the sense would have remained the same and the sentiment equally solemn.

4. Application to ourselves. Our Lord's address on this occasion is as practical as it is pathetic. Personally applied, what an appeal it makes to each one of us! Jerusalem had its day, patriarchs and prophets had their day, evangelists and apostles had their day, ancient Jews and early Christians had their day, the apostolic and other Church Fathers had their day, the schoolmen and the reformers had their day, our forefathers and the men of preceding generations had their day; but "our fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?" Now, the present is our day. God says to each of us - This, the present, is thy day! Let conscience re-echo the solemn truth, for the past is gone, and gone for ever; the future is to come, and may never come to us; the present is all we can call our own. This, then, is our day; for "now is the accepted time, and now is the day of salvation."

5. The purpose for which it is vouchsafed. Day is not merely a measure of time, or portion of duration, or period of light, or a unit of a month or of a year, or a fragment of existence, made up of so many hours; it is that season for getting good and doing good which God has given us, and which he has assigned us for accomplishing the work for which he sent us into the world. It is thy day, reader; for God has given it to thee for a great purpose, and that purpose is the securing of thine own eternal well-being and the welfare of thy fellow-creature, and in both the glory of the great Creator. It is thy day; for it is thy property as long as Heaven is pleased to continue the boon. It is thy day; but not thine to waste or misspend; it is not thine to while away, or trifle away, or sin away, at thy option. It is thine; for it is a talent lent, a treasure given you by God, and for which thou shalt have to render an account. It is thy day for imitating the Savior in working the work of him that sent thee: and "This is the work of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent;" "This is his commandment, that we should believe on the Name of his Son Jesus Christ;" this is thy day for attending to the conditions of peace, the things that tend to and make for peace, such as the righteousness of Christ received by faith, repentance of sin, and reformation of life. It is thy day for cultivating personal and practical religion in thine own soul; thy day, moreover, for the discharge of the duties of relative religion, because, in a certain sense, every man should be his brother's keeper, and no man is to live wholly to himself, or to seek entirely and selfishly, and therefore sinfully, his own things only, but to look also upon the things of others. It is thy day to do something for God, something for the Church, something for the world, endeavoring to leave it better than you found it - something useful in thy day and generation. - J.J.G.







Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold the world is gone after Him.
Like the prediction of Caiaphas and the inscription of Pilate, an unconscious prophecy is hidden in these words. What the Pharisee affirmed hyperbolically Christ's friends may now affirm almost literally. Note —

I. THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL. Four important facts concerning this pro-gross are admitted by friends and foes.

1. That during the first four centuries it was rapid and extensive.

2. That its human instruments were few and feeble.

3. That it was in spite of bitter and persistent opposition.

4. That it was not achieved in the dark, but in the most enlightened age of antiquity, and in the most populous and polished of ancient cities. The company of one hundred and twenty soon became three thousand, then five thousand men alone, then multitudes in Jerusalem only. In less than half a century Christian Churches were planted in all the chief cities of the Roman empire; in less than three centuries more, it was the religion of that empire. And from that day it has continued to spread until the most civilized nations are Christian and become Christian.

II. THE EFFORTS OF INFIDELITY TO STOP THAT PROGRESS. Such was the nature of the opposition to Christianity that if our standpoint had been the first instead of the nineteenth century we should be forced to the conclusion that it would fail.

1. The Jewish world opposed it. The rulers crucified its Author but that effort was unavailing, for Christ rose again. They killed Stephen and James, but the disciples, driven in every direction, spread the gospel. Wherever the apostles went the Jews stirred up the people against them; but being persecuted in one city they fled to another preaching until thousands of Jews, including many priests, became obedient to the faith.

2. The Gentile world opposed it. Polytheism was so firmly enthroned in the hearts of the people, and so completely interwoven with the government, the arts and trade, that Christianity was regarded as treason against religion, the state, common sense and good taste. First, the Christians were slandered and ridiculed, then slaughtered in thousands. But all the efforts of the empire and paganism combined prevailed nothing.

3. The modern world has opposed it. Changing its tactics, infidelity, instead of assaulting men bodily, has assailed their minds and hearts, and marshalled its hosts under the banners of science and literature. But still it prevails nothing.

III. WHY INFIDELITY HAS FAILED. The Christian answer is because the hand of God is in the progress of Christianity. The answer of infidelity — in human instrumentality — refutes itself. Infidelity has failed because —

1. It has dashed itself against the Rock of Ages. There is no successful arguing against such a character as Christ.

2. The evidences of Christianity are too convincing, intelligent people would not continue for nineteen centuries to use a remedy that never cures.

3. Infidelity has no substitute for Christianity.

(W. B. Stewart, D. D.)

It is a confession of defeat, "There has been a long struggle and it has gone against us." The triumphal entry had shown the hold which Christ had on the people.

I. WHAT WAS IT IN CHRIST WHICH SO DEEPLY STIRRED THE ENMITY OF THE PHARISEES?

1. We are in some respects hard on the Pharisees. When Christ called them hypocrites, He meant that sort of doubleness which may be but half conscious, or which may be quite unconscious to the man himself. They were moral men, and it is not hard to reconcile this with their conduct towards Christ. Who are they now, who are most sensitive to the appearance of what they regard as irregular teachers of religion? And who can wonder if the last to give their sympathy to the new doctrine are the established exponents of the old?

2. Doubtless it was the sin of the Pharisees to be prejudiced against Christ, but we lose the lesson if we regard them as monsters of the past, which is the danger of prejudice in things of the soul. We ought not to be so wedded to one form or formula as to be incapable of profiting by any new light.

II. WHAT WAS IT THAT MADE THE WORLD GO AFTER HIM.

1. Reality. We may trifle with Christ; but He never trifles with us. The Pharisees were triflers, as are their modern representatives, whether of wealth, literature, or the Church. Men then, as now, were weary with childish discussions, and were then, as now, ready to follow a real man who meant and lived what he said.

2. Unworldliness. It is a mistake for a religious teacher to court popularity by compromise with the world, "All things to all men." The people see through it all and despise the man who flatters himself that he has won them. The secret of John the Baptist's power was his unworldliness, and it was the incomparable unworldliness of Christ that attracted the world after Him.

3. Wonderful love. It was new to publicans and sinners to be treated with love, and still more strange that with the love of Christ there should be blended such an inflexible righteousness. But the people followed Him because of the love which won them from the sin which purity condemned.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire by what means the Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the established religions of the earth. To this inquiry an obvious but satisfactory answer may be given, that it was owing to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of the great Author.

(Gibbon.)

During the decay of the Roman Empire, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigour from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the Cross on the ruins of the capitol. Nor was the influence of Christianity confined to the period or to the limits of the Roman Empire. After a revolution of thirteen or fourteen centuries that religion is professed by the nations of Europe, the most distinguished portion of the human kind in arts and learning as well as in arms. By the industry and zeal of the Europeans, it has been widely diffused to the most distant shores of Asia and Africa, and by the means of their colonies has been firmly established from Canada to Chili, in a world unknown to the ancients.

(Gibbon.)

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