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a Bible passage
20. Forty and six years. The computation of Daniel agrees with this passage, (Daniel 9:25;) for he reckons seven weeks, which make Forty-nine years; but, before the last of these weeks had ended, the temple was finished. The time described in the history of Ezra is much shorter; but, though it has some appearance of contradiction, it is not at all at variance with the words of the Prophet. For, when the sanctuary had been reared, before the building of the temple was completed, they began to offer sacrifices. The work was afterwards stopped for a long time through the indolence of the people, as plainly appears from the complaints of the Prophet Haggai 1:4; for he severely reproves the Jews for being too earnestly engaged in building their private dwellings, while they left the Temple of God in an unfinished state.
But why does he mention that temple which had been destroyed by Herod about forty years before that time? For the temple which they had at that time, though it had been built with great magnificence and at a vast expense, had been completed by Herod, contrary to the expectation of men, as is related by Josephus, (Ant. Book 15. chapter 11.) I think it probable that this new building of the temple was reckoned as if the ancient temple had always remained in its original condition, that it might be regarded with greater veneration; and that they spoke in the usual and ordinary manner, that their fathers, with the greatest difficulty, had scarcely built the temple in Forty-six, years
This reply shows plainly enough what was their intention in asking a sign; for if they had been ready to obey, with reverence, a Prophet sent by God, they would not have so disdainfully rejected what he had said to them about the confirmation of his office. They wish to have some testimony of divine power, and yet they receive nothing which does not correspond to the feeble capacity of man. Thus the Papists in the present day demand miracles, not that they would give way to the power of God, (for it is a settled principle with them to prefer men to God, and not to move a hair’s breadth from what they have received by custom and usage;) but that they may not appear to have no reason for rebelling against God, they hold out this excuse as a cloak for their obstinacy. In such a manner do the minds of unbelievers storm in them with blind impetuosity, that they desire to have the hand of God exhibited to them and yet do not wish that it should be divine.
When therefore he was risen from the dead. This recollection was similar to the former, which the Evangelist lately mentioned, (verse 17.) The Evangelist did not understand Christ when he said this; but the doctrine, which appeared to have been useless, and to have vanished into air, afterwards produced fruit in its own time. Although, therefore, many of the actions and sayings of our Lord are obscure for a time, we must not give them up in despair, or despise that which we do not all at once understand. 5252 “Il ne faut pas pourtant quitter la tout par desespoir, ne mespriser ce que nous n’entendons pas tout incontinent.” We ought to observe the connection of the words, that they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken; for the Evangelist means that, by comparing the Scripture with the word of Christ, they were aided in making progress in faith.