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53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

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53. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father? Now follows that special reason which I mentioned a little ago; for Christ reminds them, that he would have at his command a better and more legitimate kind of defense, were it not that he must obey the decree of the Father. The substance of what he says is this. “As he has been appointed by the eternal purpose of God to be a sacrifice, and as this has been declared by the predictions of Scripture, he must not fight against it.” Thus Peter’s rashness is condemned on another ground, that he not only endeavors to overturn a heavenly decree, but also to obstruct the path of the redemption of mankind. Not only did Peter draw his sword unlawfully, but the disciples were foolish and mad; for—though they were few in number, and feeble—they attempted to make some resistance to a band of soldiers and a very great multitude. On this account, the Lord, in order to make their folly more manifest, employs this comparison. “If he wished to have a guard to defend his life, he would immediately obtain not eleven angels, but a large and invincible army, and since he does not implore that angels may be sent to assist him, much less would he resort to ill-considered means, from which no advantage was to be expected; for the utmost that could be effected by the disciples would be of no more service than if a few rooks were to make a noise.”

But here some commentators labor to no purpose in inquiring how Christ could have obtained a commission of angels from his Father, by whose decree it was that he had to suffer death. For the two things are inconsistent: that he exposed his Son to death naked and defenseless, because it was necessary that it should be so, and because it had been appointed; and yet, that he might have been prevailed on by prayer to send him relief. But Christ speaks conditionally, that he has a far better method of defending his life, were it not that the will of the Father was opposed to it. This takes away all contradiction, for Christ refrained from presenting such a request to his Father, because he knew that it was contrary to his decree. Yet from this we draw a useful doctrine, that those who resort to unlawful means on the plea of necessity pour dishonor on God. If a man is destitute of lawful aid and support, he runs headlong to wicked schemes and sinful undertakings; and the reason is, that few look for the secret protection of God, which alone ought to be sufficient to set our minds at rest. Are we threatened with danger? Because no remedy can be discovered according to the flesh, we make this or the other contrivance, as if there were no angels in heaven, who — Scripture frequently tells us — are placed as guardians for our salvation, (Hebrews 1:14.) In this way we deprive ourselves of their assistance; for all who are impelled, by their restlessness and excessive anxiety, to stretch out their hands to forbidden remedies for evils, do unquestionably renounce the providence of God.




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