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984 The persecutors of Christ would have slain any Prophet.
HOMIL. then;""Behold," He saith, " I send servants also to you, 1. prophets likewise themselves, and neither will ye spare them." But these things He saith, shewing that it was nothing strange, that He should be murdered by those sons, being both murderous and deceitful, and having much guile, and surpassing their fathers in their outrages.
And besides what hath been said, He shews them to be also exceedingly vain-glorious. For when they say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them, they spake out of vain-glory, and were practising virtue in words only, but in their works doing the contrary.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, that is, wicked sons of wicked men, and more wicked than those who begat them. For He sheweth that they are committing greater crimes, both by their committing them after those others, and by their doing much more grievous things than they, and this, while positively affirming that they never would have fallen into the same. For they add that which is both the end and the crown of their evil deeds. For the others slew them that came to the vineyard, but these, both the son, and them that were bidding them to the wedding.
But these things He saith, to separate them off from the affinity to Abraham, and to shew that they had no advantage from thence, unless they followed his works; wherefore also He adds, How can ye flee from the damnation of hell, when following them that have committed such acts?
And here He recalls to their remembrance John's accusation, for he too called them by this name, and reminded them of the judgment to come. Then, because they are nothing alarmed by judgment and hell, by reason of their not believing them, and because the thing is future, He awes them by the v.34-36. things present, and saith, Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets and scribes, and some of them shall ye kill and crucify, and scourge; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, that all these things shall come upon this genera
Former examples should have amended them.
[2.] See by how many things He has warned them. said, Ye condemn your fathers, in that ye say, We would not have been partakers with them; and this is no little thing to shame them. He said, While ye condemn them, ye do worse things, even ye yourselves; and this is sufficient to cover them with disgrace. He said, These things shall not be without punishment; and hence he implants in them fear beyond words. He hath reminded them at least of hell. Then because that was to come, He brought home to them the terrors as even present. For all these things shall come, He saith, upon this generation.
He added also unspeakable severity to the vengeance, saying, that they shall suffer more grievous things than all; yet by none of these things did they become better. But if any one say, And why do they suffer more grievously than all? we would say, Because they have first committed more grievous things than all, and by none of the things that have been done to them have they been brought to a sound mind.
Heardest thou not Lamech saying, 'Of Lamech vengeance 'Gen.4, shall be taken seventy times sevenfold; that is, "I am deserving of more punishment than Cain." Why could this be? Yet he did not slay his brother; but because not even by his example was he brought to a better mind. And this is what God saith elsewhere, 'Requiting the sins of fathers Exod. upon children for the third and fourth generation for them 25. that hate Me. Not as though one were to suffer punishment for the crimes committed by others, but inasmuch as they who, after many sin and have been punished, yet have not grown better, but have committed the same offences, are justly worthy to suffer their punishments also.
But see how seasonably he also mentioned Abel, indicating that this murder likewise is of envy. What then have ye to say? Know ye not what Cain suffered? Did God hold His peace at his deeds? Did He not exact the severest penalty? Heard ye not what things your fathers suffered, when they slew the Prophets; were they not delivered over to punishments, and inflictions of vengeance without number? How then did ye not become better? And why do I speak of the punishments of your fathers, and what they suffered? Thou who thyself condemnest thy fathers, how is it
2. declared that He will miserably destroy those wicked men1. Matt. What favour then will ye have after this, committing such 41. things after such a sentence?
God's care to forbid bloodshed.
HOMIL. thou doest worse? For moreover even ye yourselves have
But who is this Zacharias? Some say, the father of John; some, the Prophet; some, a priest with two different names, whom the Scripture also calls, the son of Jehoiada".
But do thou mark this, that the outrage was twofold. not only did they slay holy men, but also in a holy place. And saying these things, He did not only alarm them, but also comfort His disciples, shewing that the righteous men also who were before them suffered these things. But these He alarmed, foretelling that like as they paid their penalty, even so should these too suffer the utmost extremities. Therefore He calls [His disciples] prophets, and wise men, and scribes, even hereby again taking away every plea of theirs. 66 For ye cannot say," He saith, "Thou didst send from among the Gentiles, and therefore we were offended;" but they were led on unto this by being murderous, and thirsting for blood. Wherefore He also said beforehand, "For this cause do I send prophets and scribes." This did the Prophets also lay to their charge, saying, They mingle blood with Hosea blood, and that they are men of blood. Therefore also did LXX. He command the blood to be offered to Him, shewing that
if in a brute it be thus precious, much more in a man. Which He saith to Noah likewise, I will require all blood
3 Gen. 9, that is shed3. And ten thousand other such things might one find Him enjoining with regard to their not committing murder; wherefore He commanded them not even to eat that which was strangled.
Oh the love of God towards man! that though He foreknew they would profit nothing, He still doeth His part. For I will send, He saith, and this knowing they would be slain. So that even hereby they were convicted of saying vainly, We should not have been partakers with our fathers. For these too slew prophets even in their synagogues, and reverenced neither the place, nor the dignity of the persons. For not merely ordinary persons did they slay, but prophets
Or, "calls Jehoiada." 2 Chron. may be read in the nominative or 24, 21. The name being indeclinable genitive.
Our Lord's merciful grief for Jerusalem.
and wise men, such that they had nothing to lay to their charge. MATT. And by these He meaneth the Apostles, and those after them, 37. for, indeed, many prophesied. Then, willing to aggravate their fears, He saith, Verily, verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation; that is, I will bring all upon your heads, and will make the vengeance sore. For he that knew many to have sinned, and was not sobered, but himself hath committed the same sins again, and not the same only, but also far more grievous, would justly deserve to suffer a far more grievous punishment than they. For like as, if he had been minded, he would have gained greatly, had he grown better by their examples, even so, since he continued without amendment, he is liable to a heavier vengeance, as having had the benefit of more warning by them who had sinned before and been punished, and having reaped no advantage.
[3.] Then He directs His speech unto the city, in this way too being minded to correct His hearers, and saith, O v. 37. Jerusalem, Jerusalem! What meaneth the repetition? this is the manner of one pitying her, and bemoaning her, and greatly loving her. For, like as unto a woman beloved, herself indeed ever loved, but who had despised Him that loved her, and therefore on the point of being punished, He pleads, being now about to inflict the punishment. Which He doth in the Prophets also, using these words, I said, Turn thou unto Me, and she returned not1.
Then having called her, He tells also her blood-stained deeds, Thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not, in this way also pleading for His own dealings; not even with these things hast thou turned Me aside, nor withdrawn Me from my great affection toward thee, but it was My desire even so, not once or twice, but often to draw thee unto Me. For how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not. And this He saith, to shew that they were ever scattering themselves by their sins. And His affection He indicates by the similitude; for indeed the creature is warm in its love towards its brood. And every where in the Prophets is this same image of the
1 Jer. 3,
Our Lord's warning was for correction.
HOMIL. wings, and in the song of Moses and in the Psalms, indi
3. cating His great protection and care.
But ye would not, He saith. Behold your house is left desolate, stripped of the succour which cometh from Me. Surely it was the Same, Who also was before protecting them, and holding them together, and preserving them; surely it was He Who was ever chastening them. And He appoints a punishment, which they had ever dreaded exceedingly; for it declared the entire overthrow of their polity. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. And this is the language of One That loves earnestly, earnestly drawing them unto Him by the things to come, not merely warning them by the past; for of the future day of His second Coming doth He here speak.
What then? Did they not see Him from that time? But it is not that hour which He meaneth in saying, Henceforth, but the time up to His crucifixion.
For since they were for ever accusing Him of this, that He was a kind of rival God, and a foe to God, He moves them to love Him by this, namely, by shewing Himself to be of one accord with His Father; and He indicates Himself to be the Same that was in the Prophets. Wherefore also He uses the same words as did the Prophets.
And by these He intimated both His Resurrection, and His second Coming, and made it plain even to the utterly unbelieving, that then most surely they should worship Him. And how did He make this plain? By speaking of many things that were first to be, that He should send prophets, that they should kill them; that it should be in the synagogues; that they should suffer the utmost extremities; that their house should be left desolate; that they should undergo things more grievous than any, and such as never were undergone before. For all these things are enough to furnish even to the most senseless and contentious a clear proof of that which should come to pass at His Coming.
For I will ask them, Did He send the prophets and wise men? Did they slay them in their synagogues? Was their house left desolate? Did all the vengeance come upon that generation? It is quite plain that it was so, and no