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cheerfully towards the scene of his final passion ; and especially fortifies us against such sufferings, as more directly tend to the service of the truth, and to the spiritual benefit of the brethren,
III. In considering the circumstances of our Saviour's solemn entry into Jerusalem, the time of it is very remarkable, viz. the fifth day before his crucifixion. The passover was on the fourteenth day of the month : and this was the tenth; on which day, the Mosaic law enjoined, that the Paschal lamb should be drawn out from the rest of the flock, and set apart for its holy destination. On that day, therefore, Christ, who was to be sacrificed for us as our true passoyer, was publickly manifested: and the acclamations, which attended his manifesa tation, exactly accord with the shouts, processions, and other marks of joy, which the Jews observed in leading their victims to the altar.
IV. From the time, let us proceed to consider the manner of the entrance. Events were so admirably disposed, by the wise providence of God, to fulfil his purposes, that the minutest circumstances, relative to Christ, were described beforehand not only to show the truth of prophecy in general, but to designate Christ as the object intended by prophecy. Thus the apparently mean circumstance that the Messiah should enter Jerusalem, seated upon the foal of an ass, had been foretold by the prophet Zechariah (ix. 9.]: • Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, thy king cometh unto thee, riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass. If Zechariah, in that prophecy, did (as the Jewish teachers themselves confessed) designate the promised Messiah, then the Messiah must visit Jerusalem in such form, as corresponds to the description: but no person whatever, Jesus excepted, ever distinguished himself by coming to Jerusalem in this manner: and therefore, Jesus, and no other, is the true Messiah, whom Ze chariah had in view.
This circumstance of our Saviour's riding upon an ass, has been placed in a very just and beautiful light by Bishop Sherlock ; the sum of whose observations is briefly this: God had given the Israelites an express law, f not to multiply horses to themselves' [Deut xvii. 16]: promising at the same time, that he would himself be their protection against all their enemies. While this law was observed, the troops of Israel, though few in number, were every where victorious: but as their kings, declining in confidence towards God, began to multiply horses and chariots of war, their military successes gradually declined, until, in process of time, the whole nation sunk under foreign jurisdiction. When therefore the king, expressly promised by God, had at length arrived in Judea ; ought he to appear in the pomp of war, surrounded with horses and chariots, in direct opposition to the law of God? The prophet Zechariah himself resolves this question: for, immediately after the description of the promised king, he adds [ix. 10], I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem : plainly showing that the character given of the Messiah, that he should ride upon an ass, was in direct opposition to the pride of their warlike kings, who, by their strength in chariots and horses, had ruined themselves, and the people committed to their care. Nor are we to imagine, from prejudice in favour of our own national customs, that there was anything ridiculous, or inconsistent with the gravity of our Blessed Lord. The Eastern asses are a much larger and more beautiful animal than ours: and it plainly appears from various passages in the Old Testament (Gen. xxii. 3; Exod. iv. 20; Judges v. 10, and x. 4], that the Jewish patriarchs, judges, and magistrates, thought it no disgrace to ride upon them. If, therefore, any ridicule be attached to this action of Christ, it ought to be retorted on the ignorance of those, who undertake to censure what they do not understand. Our Saviour was pleased to be seated on the unbroken colt, and, by his miraculous energy, to render it tractable and steady amidst the acclamations of the multitude, which were sufficient to have rendered unruly even an animal „well accustomed to the road. This seems to have been an emblem of his power, in rendering the hearts of sinners submissive to his will, in the midst of the temptations of this world, and notwithstanding their natural pride, obstinacy, and carnal affections.
But what reception did our Lord experience? When he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?' Some, perhaps, were moved with curiosity at the novelty of the circumstance; some, with laughter, at the supposed meainess of it; some, as the Pharisees, with envy and indignation; and some, as faithful Simeons, with joy and gratitude. The advent of Christ's kingdom cannot but excite a great variety of emotions: but the greatest disgrace is to be moved with
stupid wonder, and to say, in a spiritual ignorance, · Who is this?' What! is the Holy One unknown in the Holy City ? is the glory of Israel a stranger in Israel? It is a melancholy consideration, that, in the places where the clearest light shines, and the greatest profession of religion is made, there is often more ignorance than we are aware of. Christ is taught in our temples: and yet multitudes are ignorant of him. Many of us are strangers to the true motives of Christian conduct, to the peculiarities of Christian doctrines, and to a Christian purity of heart. In all these respects, we ourselves must say with the men of Jerusalem, while Christ was still before their eyes, • Who is this?
But if the question “Who is this,'—be asked by any of us from a desire of instruction, which of all the prophets will not afford an answer? Ask Moses, and he shall reply, · The seed of the woman, who shall bruise the serpent's head.' Ask Jacob; he will reply, · The Shiloh, of the tribe of Judah. Ask David; he will reply, · The King of Glory.' Ask Isaiah ; he will reply, ' Emmanuel, Wonderful, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.” Ask Jeremiah; he will reply, · The righteous Branch.' Ask Daniel ; he wilt reply, • The Messiah? Ask John the Baptist; be will reply, '. The Lamb of God." - If we ask the God of all the prophets, he will reply, · This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.? Even reprobate spirits are compelled to confess, ' I know thee, who thou art, the Holy One of God.' On no side, is Christ left without testimony: witnesses innumerable are ready to join in the reply, .This is Jesus, the prophet, of Nazareth in Galilee.'
The respect, which the people evinced towards Christ, evidently denotes their belief in him as the promised Ruler. The strewing of garments, flowers, and branches, before monarchs, was a usual ceremony in the East. It being also a custom of the Jews, at the feast of tabernacles, to sing Hosannas, and to carry branches in their hands, to celebrate their expectation of the Messiah's advent; by now using the rites, customary at that feast, they virtually acknowledge Jesus for this Messiah ; and wish prosperity to him and his kingdom, from Him who dwelleth in the highest. Christ, therefore, by accepting of this homage, proclaims himself to be that King, whom ancient prophets had foretold. But as this solemn entry was a declaration of Christ's kingdom, so the attending circumstances very plainly denote its peculiar nature. Instead of the kings of the earth, who, reigning by the King of kings, might well have formed his retinue; his heralds are a few fishermen; his carpets and tapestry are the garments of the lower people; and those palms, which bind the heads of sanguinary conquerors, are trampled beneath the feet of the animal, which bears the Prince of peace. By thus abandoning all worldly magnificence, he confirms his own declaration, My kingdom is not of this world.' Christ came to erect his throne in the hearts of men : and therefore its excellence on earth will consist not in the rank and splendour, but in the holy dispositions of his followers. Our Lord could not have adopted a more effectual method of contradicting the worldly expectations of his countrymen, than by thus appearing in a manner, the most opposite to the inaugurations of temporal monarchs. How ill, then, does it become Christians to be inordinately solicitous about their own ease and dignity, when their Master had so little of either. Once indeed, he rode in triumph: but it was now, when he was entering Jerusalem, to suffer and to die; as if his real grandeur commenced in the bitterness of his humiliations. If, then, meekness and external poverty distinguished our King, and even marked his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem ; how inconsistent must avarice, ambition, and the pride of life, be with the character of his subjects! Even when God has raised us into honour, fame, and greatness, we should do well to cultivate a spirit of humility, by contemplating, from the pinnacle of our elevation, our Saviour riding into Jerusalem, amid the acclamations of the surrounding multitude. Like him, we are moving towards death; like him, we may be exciting the envy and malice of our enemies; like him, we may soon experience the instability of popular applause : for who can build upon external honours, when · Hosanna to the son of David' was so soon converted into · Crucify him, crucify him.'
But lowly as this procession of Christ may appear, the eye of Christian faith may discern many a circumstance of grandeur. Then was the triumph of humility over pride; of poverty, over affluence; of meekness, over rage; and of gentleness, over malice. To a Christian ear, more welcome songs,
that recount the mercies of the Messiah, than those which tell of countries, desolated by fire and sword. But if visible pomp be required, let us look forward to that future day, when He who is now entering Jerusalem in the guise of a suffering Redeemer, shall issue forth from the chambers of his celestial glory, as becometh a universal Lord. These meditations our Church is anxious to impress upon our minds, by introducing the season of Advent with the narration of an event, which prefigures our Saviour's second coming. It is a type, in which we all may find material for imitation. Those multitudes came out to meet Jesus, riding upon an ass: but the same Jesus shall, one day, make the clouds his chariot, and ride upon the heavens, as it were upon a horse. They sang the praises of the Son of David, to a city who would not receive him as such: but he who hath already demonstrated himself to be that promised Son of David, shall then come to convince an unbelieving world, that he is the very Son of God. And we, like them, should all
, go forth to meet him; like them, with the sincerity of disciples, and with the innocence of children. Let us, like them, cut down the branches from our trees, those worldly vanities and carnal affections, which, like luxuriant boughs, must be lopped off, and cast under the feet of this heavenly King, by stooping to his holy discipline. Let us too spread our hearts, as they their garments; that every faculty and every thought may be subject to his dominion. So shall we be qualified to bear our part, in the most exalted sense of these hymns and acclamations; and in that day of salvation, shout forth with gladness and thanksgiving unspeakable, Blessed be the King, that cometh in the name of the Lord.' Yea, blessed be he that cometh, not to suffer, but to reign; not to redeem, but to recompense. Hosanna to the meek Son of David! Hosanna to the glorious majesty of the Son of God! Blessed be the kingdom, which is come to rule our hearts by grace! Blessed be the kingdom, that cometh to reward our obedience with glory! Blessed be our peace, who died unto sin once ! Blessed be our righteousness, who liveth for ever unto God! Hosanna to him, who came to Jerusalem, to be judged, in great humility! Hosanna to him, who cometh, with terrible pomp, to judge both the quick and dead! Hosanna in the highest !
[COMPILED BY THE EDITOR.]