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Augustine Marlorate on Matthew 23:37

October 31, 2008

Marlorate:

37 O Hierusalem, Hierasulem, thou that
killest the prophetes, and stonest them that are sente unto thee: howe
often wolde I have gathered thy children together, even as a henne
gathereth her chickens vnder her, and ye wolde not.

{O Hierusalem, Hierusalem.}

C. [Calvin] By these words our savior Christ does more plainly declare how just occasion he has to be angry, because Jerusalem (which God had chosen to be a holy and heavenly house, as it were to himself) did not only show itself to be unworthy of such honor, but as though it were a den of thieves, it had used and accustomed a long time to drink the blood of the prophets. Christ therefore cries out pitifully against so monstrous behavior, because the holy city of God was fallen into such madness, that it went about daily to extinguish the wholesome doctrine of God, by the blood of the prophets. B [Bucer] This bewailing therefore of Christ was a token of his great and exceeding love towards this people. It is a token of great affection, that names the city itself, and that he does double the appellation or name of the same, saying Jerusalem, Jerusalem.

{Thou which killest the Prophetes.}

Because the Evangelist Matthew uses the participle of the present tense, and the words of Christ seem to have respect unto both times, the deed may be taken or understood without any certain limiting of time: as if thou should say, “Thou killer of the prophets, which hast killed, do kill, and will kill.”

C. [Calvin] Thou I say which should be the faithful keeper of God’s word, the mistress of heavenly wisdom, the light of the world, the wellspring of true doctrine, the place of the sincere worship of God, and the example of the faith and obedience, art the killer of the prophets, in so much that thou has gotten now a habit and custom of drinking blood.

Hereby therefore it appears that they were worthy of all kinds of reproach, which had so filthy profaned the sanctuary of God. E. [Erasmus] Many think that by the name of Jerusalem, which was the head of Jewry, is understand the whole country or region of the Jews .

{And stonest them which are sent unto thee.}

A [Marlorate] Namely to bring thee from the error and obstinacy. He says that prophets are sent, as he did before, saying, “Behold I send unto you Prophets, and Scribes, and wise men,” &c. C. [Calvin] It was also the purpose of Christ, to prevent the offence which was nigh at hand: lest the faithful seeing him to be slain so unworthily at Jerusalem, should be troubled at this new and strange sight. For they were admonished by these words, that it was no marvel if the city, being accustomed in killing and stoning the prophets, did kill also the redeemer. But hereby it appears how much it is meet to attribute unto places.

There was no city in the whole world truly, which God adorned and beautified with such excellent titles, or which be exalted to such honor: yet notwithstanding we see how it cast itself down headlong through ingratitude. Now let the Pope compare the seat of robbery and theft, in the which he sits, with that holy city, and what shall he find therein worthy of the like honor? His hired flatters boast unto us, that says faith once flourished there. The which thing let us grant to them, yet if it be well known at this day, that the same is alien and fallen from Christ and filled with abominations, how foolishly do they contend to have the honor of the supremacy tied to the same?  But let us rather learn by this worthy example, that the more any place is
extolled, and set aloft by the benefits of God, and exempt from the common state of other places, if the same do degenerate, or decline, it shall not only be despoiled of the ornaments appertaining to it, but also so much the more shall it be odorous, opprobrious, & execrable, because filthily it defiled the glory of God, in polluting the honor of his grace. A. [Marlorate] To which end also horribly threatenings do pertain, the which the Lord used again Chorazain, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.

{Howe often tymes wolde I have.}

C. [Calvin] This is rather a displeasure taken, then a putting. He does as yet (truly) show mercy on that city, over the which he wept a little before, but he is more sharp and severe against the Scribes the authors of destruction, even as they deserved. Howbeit he does not spare the rest, all the which were guilty, accessories, and fellows of the same fault: But drawing all into the like guiltiness of the fact, he does specially inveigh against the captains themselves, which were the cause of all evil. Now let us note the vehemency of the speech, “If the grace of God had been simply forsaken at Jerusalem, the ingratitude was now in no point to be excused: but seeing that God did seek to win the Jews to himself lovingly and gently, and did profit nothing at all by so great clemency, the fault of so proud contumely and contempt was a great deal the more heinous. To this also was adjoined willful and unruly obstinacy: because God did not seek to gather them once or twice only, but he sent continually from time, one prophet after another, which were rejected for the most part every [one] of them, and of the greater part.

A [Marlorate] For thus it is written in the sacred history: Moreover all the rulers, the priests, and the people trespassed more: sinning after all manner of abominations of the heathen, & polluted the house of the Lord, which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord of their fathers sent unto them by his messengers, rising up betimes and sending, for he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, & despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of God rose against his people, and till there was no remedy [2. Paral. 36.]. Bu [Bullinger] Christ therefore does not speak of his time only: but he signifies that he would have brought this thing to pass oftentimes before he was man. We must note this word, together, for they are all dispersed which are alienated from God. But the Son of God came to gather those together in one, which were dispersed [John. 11].

God did this thing also from the beginning of the world, and does it at this day also. This thing he does always that when his are dispersed through sin, he brings them unto him again by Christ, to be engrafted in his body.

{Thy children together.}

He compares Jerusalem to a mother, according to the manner of Scripture, which commonly calls the citizens children.

{Even as the henne gathereth her chickens.}

Consider and weigh these words, and this similitude more diligently, with how earnest affection and burning heart, he propounded the same, and thou shalt know and see in this, how to behave thyself toward Christ, how thou may use him, and what profit he shall bring thee. Only behold and consider the hen and her chickens Thou see that Christ is here cunningly depainted, and more expressly set forth, than any painter by art can bring to pass. There is scarce and other creature to be found, that is so careful diligent, and loving to their young ones, and that seeks which such industry and constancy, in peril to defend them. It is most certain that our souls are the chickens of Christ: the kytes in the air, that seek to set upon them to destroy them, are the devils, which are much more crafty to catch our souls, than are the kytes to take the young chickens from the hen. We are under the wings and protection of Christ, when as with true faith we cleave not to ourselves, or to any other thing, but only to Christ, when we commit ourselves wholly unto him, and get us under his righteousness, which we count our protection and safeguard: even as the chickens, who are neither defended by their own strength, nor by running away, but by hiding themselves under the body and wings of the hen. A [Marlorate] For he which will stand in the judgment of God, let him not say, “I am of sufficient force, I perfectly fulfill the law, I am void of care, I trust to my works”: but let him object the righteousness of Christ to the Father, let him suffer the same to be examined by the judgment of God, and so it shall depart away alone with victory. Let every man therefore get and hide himself under this, which is ordained to salvation, let him trust and believe, that he shall be safe by the same: the which also shall obtain by this faith, and not by his own merit, or by the desert of faith, but for Christ and his righteousness sake.  For it is no true faith which is otherwise gotten. So David speaking of this trust, says: “Who so dwells under the defense of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, [Psalm. 91.].” The same that say unto the Lord: “Thou art my hope and my stronghold, my God in whom I will trust. For he shall deliver me from the snare of the hunter,” &c., all the which things are spoken of the faith of Christ, how we the same consists and abides safe from all peril and destruction of human doctrine and temptations of the devil, as well spiritual as carnal. C [Calvin] Now let us note wherefore Christ compared himself to the person of God to a hen: A [Marlorate] For this case surely, that he might declare the exceeding affection of his mind towards our salvation. C. [Calvin] and also that he might bring more ignominy to this wicked nation, which rejected his sweet and motherly  invitations. This surely was a wonderful and unspeakable document of his love, that he disdained not to humble himself to speak fair, to the end he might win the rebellious and obstinate into his obedience and love. The like reprehension and reproach is to us read in Moses, where it is said, that God as an Eagle spreads forth his wings, to embrace the people [Deut. 32.]. And although God in one manner does not extend and spread out his wings to cherish and defend that people, yet notwithstanding Christ does apply specially this form of speaking to one kind, because he prophets were sent to gather the wondering and dispersed, unto the bosom of God. By the which he declares that the word of God is at no time set forth unto us, but he by his mother-like love opens his lap[?] unto us: & being not content therewith, he humbles himself in descending to the simple study & care of a hen to defend her chickens. Whereupon it follows that our ingratitude were so monstrous, if we would not suffer ourselves to be gathered of him. Certainly if the fearful majesty of God came into our remembrance of the one part, and our filthy and base condition on the other part, we shall be abashed and constrained to shame at so great a miracles of his goodness. For what a thing is this that God should so much abase himself for our sakes. When he put upon by the person of a mother, he abased himself a great deal beneath his glory: but how much more in this that he taking upon him the form of a hen, vouchsafe to account of us as his chickens? Moreover if this thing were worthily offered to the ancient people which lived under the law, it does a great deal more belong unto us. For although it was always true which we cited even now out of Moses, and that the complaints are true, which are read in Isaiah, that God does daily stretch out his arms to an unfaithful

people, that when not the right way, but after their own imaginations [Isaiah 62.]: yet notwithstanding at this day he does a great deal more familiarly, and sweetly invite and call us to him by his Son. Wherefore horrible revenge abides for us, so often as he offers unto us the doctrine of the Gospel, except we quietly cover ourselves under his wings, with the which he is always ready to receive us. And where as we said before, that Christ speaks in the person of God, it must be thus understood, that these words do properly belong to his eternal deity.For he does not reason here what he began to do so soon as he was manifested in the flesh, but he declares how careful he has been, from the beginning, for the salvation of this people.

And we know that God has so governed his church, that Christ has been the head of the same, in respect that he was the eternal wisdom of God [1 Cor 10?.]. In the which sense S. Paul does not say that God the Father was in the desert, but that Christ was tempted in the desert. [Objection] But where as the Papists abuse this place, to prove freewill, and to abolish the secret predestination of God, they do greatly err, and may easily be answered. They make their argument thus: The Lord (say they) will gather all: Wherefore it is free for all to come, neither does their will depend upon the election of God. [Answer] We answer, that the will of God, whereof mention is made here, is to be considered of the effect. For seeing he calls all men without exception, by his word to salvation (and this is the end of the preaching, that all men might seek to believe and keep the same), it is justly said of him, that he desires to gather all men unto him. Therefore the secret council of God is not here described unto us, but the will which is perceived by the nature of the word. For certainly, those whom he means effectually to gather, he draws inwardly by his Holy Spirit, & does not call them only by the external voice of men. [Objection] If any man object and say, that we do absurdly imagine a double will be in God, [Answer] we answer that we believe no otherwise; but that his will is only, and simple: but because our minds do not pierce to the profound depth of his secret election, therefore,
for our infirmities’ sake, a double will is propounded unto us. And we marvel that some have so feeble a brain, and slender judgment, that the Anthropopathian or human affection is often found in the Scriptures offends them nothing at all, only they will not admit it in this part. This therefore we say, that so soon as doctrine, which is the barrier and [word unreadable] of unity, is displayed, & openly published, God straightway seeks to gather all men, that whosoever comes not, might be void of excuse.

{And ye would not.}

Bu [Bullinger] He casts ingratitude in their teeth. As if he should say: “In that ye will perish, ye can not blame me: for I would gather you , but you are so obstinate, that he will not be gathered.” [Question] Some amiss: (yea very wickedly) do object upon this place, saying, “How does he say here that he would? For if God will, why does he it not?” For all things that he would, he did [Psalm. 115.]. Furthermore we cannot be otherwise gathered, than by his Spirit, the which when it is present, it does effectually move the minds of men. [Answer] To which again, we answer, that the secret judgment of God is not to be sought out, or curiously searched for: but his work is to be considered He would have us gathered together so often as he displays his banner, as the captain of the battle: let us have respect unto that and not enter into his secret judgment. He does only work effectually by his Spirit in the elect. Yet notwithstanding he calls all men generally: neither does he say that he did what he could , but what so ever was necessary, and so much as was needful. C. [Calvin] Furthermore, where as Christ says here {And ye wolde not.} it may be referred as well to the whole nation, as to the Scribes: notwithstanding it ought rather to be understood of those, by whom the gathering was chiefly hindered. For Christ altogether inveighed against them, and now he having spoken to Jerusalem in the singular number, seems not without cause by and by to alter the number. For there is an opposition or contrariety of great force, between the will of God, and their unwillingness: because the devilish furor and madness of men is expressed: who are not afraid to contend with God.

Augustine Marlorate, A Catholike and Ecclesiastical Exposition of the Holy Gospel after S. Mathew, gathered out of all the singular and approued Deuines (which the Lorde hath geuen to his Churche) by Augustine Marlorate. And translated out of Latine into Englishe, by Thomas Tymme, Minister, Sene and allowed according to the order appointed (Imprinted at London in Fletestreate near vnto S. Dunstones churche, by Thomas Marshe, 1570), 547-551. [Some spelling modernized.]

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