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Matthew 11:

16. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,

17. And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

18. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.

19. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of Publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

HILARY. The whole of this speech is a reproach of unbelief, and arises out of the foregoing complaint; that the stiff-necked people had not learned by two different modes of teaching.

CHRYSOSTOM. Whence He puts this question, shewing that nothing had been omitted that ought to be done for their salvation, saying, To whom shall I liken this generation?

GLOSS. (ap. Anselm.) By this generation He means the Jews together with Himself and John. As though He had said; John is thus great; but ye would believe neither him nor Me, and therefore to whom shall I liken you?

REMIGIUS. And straightway He answers Himself, saying, It is like unto children sitting in the market-place, crying unto their fellows, and saying, We have played music to you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned, and ye have not lamented.

HILARY. By the children are meant the Prophets, who preached as children in singleness of meaning, and in the midst of the synagogue, that is in the market-place, reprove them, that when they played to those to whom they had devoted the service of their body, they had not obeyed their words, as the movement of the dancers are regulated by the measures of the music. For the Prophets invited them to make confession by song to God, as it is contained in the song of Moses, of Isaiah, or of David.

JEROME. They say therefore, We have flayed music to you, and ye have not danced; i. e. We have called on you to work good works to our songs, and ye would not. We have lamented and called you to repentance, and this ye would not, rejecting both preaching, as well of exhortation to virtue, as of repentance for sin.

REMIGIUS. What is that He says, To their fellows? Were the unbelieving Jews then fellows of the Prophets? He speaks thus only because they were sprung of one stock.

JEROME. The children are they of whom Isaiah speaks, Behold I, and the children whom the Lord has given me. (Is. 8:18) These children then sit in the market-place, where are many things for sale, and say,

CHRYSOSTOM. We have played music to you, and ye have not danced; that is, I have shewed you an unrestricted life, and ye are not convinced; We have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented; that is, John lived a hard life, and ye heeded him not. Yet does not he speak one thing, and I another, but both speak the same thing, because both have one and the same object. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a dæmon. The Son of man came &c.

AUGUSTINE. (Cont. Faust. xvi. 31.) I would that the Manichæans would tell me what Christ ate and drank, who here speaks of Himself as eating and drinking in comparison of John, who did neither. Not indeed that John drank nothing at all, but that he drank neither wine nor strong drink—but water only. Not that he dispensed altogether with food, but that he ate only locusts and wild honey. Whence then is it said of him that he came neither eating nor drinking, except that he used not that food which the Jews used? Unless therefore the Lord had used this food, He would not have been said to have been, in comparison of John, eating and drinking. It would be strange that he who ate locusts and honey, should be said to come neither eating nor drinking, and that he who ate only bread and herbs, should be said to come eating and drinking.

CHRYSOSTOM. He says therefore, Jesus came, as much as to say, I and John came opposite ways, to do the same thing; as two hunters chasing the same animal from opposite sides, so that it might fall into the hands of one of them. But all mankind admire fasting and severity of life; and for this reason it was ordained from his infancy that John should be so brought up, that the things that he should say should receive credit. The Lord also walked in this way when He fasted forty days; but He had other means of teaching men to have confidence in Him; for it was a much greater thing that John who had walked in this way should bear witness to Him, than that He Himself should walk in that way. Again, John had nothing to shew besides his life, and his righteousness; whereas Christ had also the witness of His miracles. Leaving therefore to John the representation of fasting, He Himself walked in a contrary way, entering to the table of the publicans, and eating and drinking with them.

JEROME. If fasting then pleases you, why were you not satisfied with John? If fulness, why not with the Son of man? Yet one of these ye said had a dæmon, the other ye called a gluttonous man, and drunkard.

CHRYSOSTOM. What excuse then shall be given for them? Therefore He adds, And wisdom is justified of her children; that is, though ye were not convinced, yet have ye nothing whereof to accuse me, as also of the Father the Prophet speaks, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings. (Ps. 51:4.) For though nought be effected in you by that goodness which is extended to you, yet He fulfils all His part that you may not have the shadow of excuse for your ungrateful doubt.

JEROME. Wisdom is justified of her children, i. e. The dispensation or doctrine of God, or Christ Himself who is the power and wisdom of God, is proved by the Apostles, who are His children, to have done righteously.

HILARY. He is wisdom itself not by His acts, but by His nature. Many indeed evade that saying of the Apostle’s, Christ is the wisdom and power of God, (1 Cor. 1:24) by saying, that truly in creating Him of a Virgin the Wisdom and Power of God were shewn mightily. (e.g. Paul of Samosata, &c.) Therefore that this might not be so explained, He calls Himself the Wisdom of God, shewing that it was verily He, and not the deeds relating to Him, of whom this was meant. For the power itself, and the effect of that power, are not the same thing; the efficient is known from the act.

AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. Ev. ii. 11.) Or, Wisdom is justified of her children, because the holy Apostles understood that the kingdom of God was not in meat and drink, but in patient enduring; such persons neither does abundance lift up, nor want cast down, but as Paul spoke, I know how to abound, and to suffer want. (Phil. 4:12)

JEROME. Some copies read, Wisdom is justified of her works, for wisdom does not seek the witness of words, but of works.

CHRYSOSTOM. You should not be surprised at His using trite instances, such as that respecting the children; for He spoke to the weakness of His hearers; as Ezekiel spoke many things adapted to the Jews, but unworthy of the greatness of God.

HILARY. Mystically; Neither did the preaching of John bend the Jews, to whom the law seemed burdensome in prescribing meats and drinks, difficult and grievous, having in it sin which He calls having a dæmon—for from the difficulty of keeping it they must sin under the Law. Nor again did the preaching of the Gospel with freedom of life in Christ please them—by which the hardships and burdens of the Law were remitted, and publicans and sinners only believed in it. Thus, then, so many and so great warnings of all kinds having been offered them in vain, they are neither justified by the Law, and they are cast off from grace; Wisdom, therefore, is justified of her children, by those, that is, who seize the kingdom of heaven by the justification of faith, confessing the work of wisdom to be just, that it has transferred its gift from the rebellious to the faithful.


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