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787[76] Mark i. 24. “Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” The devils were exceedingly jealous of Christ; they understood of old that the Son of God was to come into the world to destroy them, and they dreaded that destruction. It is probable that Christ came in a manner very unexpected to them, as well as to the Jews; but yet they were sensible who he was, they seemed to think that Christ appeared in so low and obscure a manner, out of some secret design against them; that he came in disguise that they might not know of it, that he might some way or other be under better advantage to overthrow them; they therefore are willing to let him know that they knew who he was.

[23] Mark iv. 5. “And immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth.” The weakest minds, and persons of the least solidity, soonest receive a thing that is new and externally plausible, and at first receive it with most lively emotions of their spirits, being guided by fancy only; but the more solid and substantial mind is more slow and deliberate, and weighs matters in an even balance, and comes to it by degrees; but when once it is fixed, it is lasting and immovable, and grows stronger and stronger, and brings forth substantial fruit.

[24] Mark iv. 25. “For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath.” Spiritual and heavenly gifts are not given merely in proportion to a person’s improvement of what he has, in such a manner that he that has but little, if he improves it as well in proportion to what he has, shall receive as great a reward as he that has a great deal; for then the additional talent should with equal reason be given to him who at first received the two talents, as to him who received five; Matt. xxv. 28.; but it was not; and the reason is given in the 29th verse,. “For to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.” It is so with respect to advantages and privileges: he that improves great advantages well shall receive a greater reward than he that improves small ones; otherwise they could be no advantages; therefore glory, honour, and peace is given to every man that worketh good, but “to the Jew first.” Rom. ii. 10.

[25] Mark iv. 26, 27, 28. “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” So the kingdom of God comes without observation, without noise and tumult, but goes silently and calmly, but irresistibly, on. So it increased gradually from Christ’s disciples, till, in about three hundred years, it filled the world, and yet grew nobody knew how, being promoted by an invisible hand, without war, noise, and clamour; by operating on men’s understandings and wills. So the kingdom of God often in the same manner grows in men’s hearts, being at first only as an invisible seed, but afterwards as the blade, then the ear, then the full corn.

[26] Mark vi. 44. “And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men;” not that the multitude that was about him now was more numerous than very frequently at other times; whereby we know how publicly Christ’s miracles were wrought.

[27] Mark vi. 52. “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves, for their hearts were hardened.” By hardness of heart here, and in other places, is intended so largely as to take in blindness of mind, and the depravation of the faculties of the mind in general, and the prevention of their exercises.

[29] Mark ix. 29. This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.” Wherefore fasting, that which is here so called, is acceptable to God, now, under the New Testament.

[30] Mark ix. 38, 39. “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followed not us, and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not.” Hereby is the justice of many in these days condemned, who will not suffer others to do good, and use their endeavours to save men’s souls and dispossess Satan, because they follow not them.

[31] Mark ix. 42. “Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believeth in me,” &c. Christians are but babes and infants in this world, especially were Christ’s disciples so at that time; and the primitive church was an infant, they are called by the apostle John, little children. Christians must become as little children in humility, innocency, tender-heartedness, &c. By offend, in Scripture, is intended to cause to offend. We hereby learn how dangerous and dreadful a sin it is to endeavour to make weak Christians go against their consciences.

[148] Mark x. 29, 30. “There is no man that hath left house or brethren, &c. but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, with persecutions, and in the world to come, eternal life.” We may be helped to understand this place by Matthew’s account of the same thing, Matt. xix. 27., &c. where we have an account that Christ told his disciples upon John’s asking this question at the same time, that they should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, i. e. they should be the means of the conversion of the world, the world should be given into their hands, should be brought to embrace their doctrine, and their word should be the standard of their faith, and rule of their worship and practice, and thus they had houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, an hundred-fold. They had the houses of all the Christians to receive them, and at their service; they had brethren and sisters, for all Christians were such in Christ; they had mothers, for so were the churches of Christ. We may observe in the foregoing verse, their forsaking fathers is mentioned, the fathers are not put in here as being restored an hundred-fold, but only mothers, but one Father, even their heavenly Father; they were to have children, for so were those they converted, and lands, for most regions of the earth were to be given to them. The meek shall then inherit the earth. This is especially fulfilled in the glorious times of the church, after the fall of antichrist.

[226] Mark xi. 13. “And seeing a fig-tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon; and when he came to it he found nothing but leaves, for the time of figs was not yet.” By the time of figs here, seems to be meant the fig-harvest, or the time of the ingathering of figs; as the author of the Reply to Woolston with great probability supposes, agreeably to the manner of expression in Matt. xxi. 34. “When the time of the fruit drew nigh,” Greek or Hebrew, and Ps. i. 4. “Yields its fruit in its season.” This is given as a reason why Christ came seeking and expecting figs on the tree. The time of ingathering of them was not yet come, and therefore he might well expect to find them hanging. The particle (for) has reference not separately to the last words, viz. and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, but it has reference to the whole sentence taken together, signifying that he came seeking and expecting fruit, and was disappointed. Those words, for the time of figs was not yet, contain a reason both why he came, and why it was a disappointment to him to find none, both which are understood and necessarily implied in the words preceding.

If we suppose the particle (for) here has no reference at all to the last words, viz. when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, but look on the words as a parenthesis, this is no difficulty; for we have an instance fully parallel in Luke xix. 24, 2.5, 26. “And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds: for I say unto you, that unto every one that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.” Whence it is most evident that the consecutive particle for has no reference to the words immediately preceding, viz. “And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds;” but to those before. See also a parallel instance, Mark xvi. 3, 4.

And though the fig-harvest was not yet come, or the time of general ingathering of figs, yet it was a time of year, as the fore-mentioned author observes, wherein Christ 788might expect to find some ripe figs fit for eating on the tree; for, as he observes, the more common sort of fig-trees in those parts brings two crops in a year; (see Hosea ix. 10.;) and that the first ripe fruits of the first crop might be expected then; and that Josephus says, that at the time of the passover some Jewish robbers made an excursion from the castle of Mastada, and carried off the ripe fruits belonging to the town of Engaddi; and that he, describing the fruitfulness of the country of Gennesareth, says, “It affords figs and grapes for ten months without intermission;” and that Pliny says, these two crops of figs kept pace with the harvest and vintage; and that, if so, the first crop will be ripe at about the time of the passover; and that the end. of the winter and beginning of spring in Judea was, at latest, about the middle of February, and then the fig-tree began to put forth green figs, agreeably to Cant. ii. 13.; and therefore, that in the words, “the time of fruit is not yet,” is signified, that the barrenness of the tree, and not merely that the fact that the proper time wherein figs used to be ripe was not yet come, was the reason why Christ did not find eatable figs on the tree, since, in the latter case, it never would have been expressed, as it is here, that he found nothing but leaves, but rather that he found nothing but green figs; for, undoubtedly, by what has been observed, there must be green figs on all fig-trees that were not barren long before this time.

[32] Mark xii. 7. “But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” This was really the case with the Pharisees; they were the teachers of this people, and they saw, if Christ was followed, they should be neglected; this greatly startled them; they feared losing their credit, so that they should be unable to rule that nation any longer; but if they could any way prevail to kill him, they doubted not but they should have quiet possession still.

[33] Mark xii. 29. “And Jesus answering, said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scripture, neither the power of God; for when they shall rise from the dead they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels which are in heaven.” We may conclude, therefore, that these doctrine of a future state and the resurrection are taught, and may be heard in the Old Testament, yea, and in general the manner of it may be known by it.

[34] Mark xiii. 22. “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” Let us explain election which way we will, and one of these two doctrine is established. If the election spoken of precedes their calling, the doctrine of predestination is established; if it follows, and they are chosen for their Christianity, then the doctrine of perseverance is established; for it is impossible to seduce such, as is implied.

Mark xvi. See No. 220. Matt. xxviii.

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