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« doctrines that are merely human injunctions." For leaving the commandment of God, you maintain the tradition of men, relating to the washing of pots and cups ; and many other such like things you do.
REFLECTIONS. How miserable is the case of those who, while they earnestly contend for the forms of divine worship, are losing both the improvement and reward which might be expected from a regular attendance upon it ! This is the case of all who draw near to God with their lips, while their hearts are far from him. May we abhor the vanity of such hypocritical behaviour in the presence of Him who searches the heart, and tries the reins of the children of men.
Let us learn from this just and severe sentence which our Lord passes on these superstitious Pharisees, to avoid the temper he condemns in them. It much less becomes us as Christians, and especially as Protestants, to impose on our brethren with rigorous severity those doctrinal decisions, or those ritual observances, which have not their express foundation in the word of God, to which we so constantly appeal as to our common rule. Happy had it been for the church in all ages and nations, had men exerted that zeal for the truths and the institutions of God in the beauty and glory of their native simplicity, which has carried them on to defend and propagate their own inventions, till religion itself has almost sunk under the weight of the ornaments in which they have dressed it, and the unwieldy armour which they have hung about it!
Let children learn from the command which Christ has vindicated, to honour their parents by a tender care of them in their declining days ; remembering, that as no filial duty and gratitude can ever fully repay our obligations to such friends, so an affectionate regard to them is a proper and necessary expression of our filial piety to the great Father of our spirits. Justly may he esteem his temples profaned, rather than adorned, by the most costly gifts, which are the spoils of nature, and the trophies of inhumanity.
Christ pursues his discourse against the Pharisees, and inculcates the necessity of inward purity. MATT. xv. 10–20. MARK vii. 14-23.
HEN our Lord had thus condemned the Pharisees to their face,
he took this opportunity to undeceive the people. And having called all the multitude together to him, he said to them, Let every one of you hearken to me, and understand. There is nothing which enters into a man from without that can pollute him. It is not that which goes into the mouth ; but the things which come out of a man, are those that defile him, even that which comes out of his mouth. If any one has ears to hear, let him hear.
And when he was come into the house apart from the multitude, his disciples came, and asked him concerning the meaning of this parable. And they said to him, Knowest thou, that the Pharisees, who heard this saying, were offended ? But he answered and said, Every plantation which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up
Let them alone ; they are blind guides of the blind : and if the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into a ditch. But Peter answering said unto him, We desire thee, however, to explain to us this parable more clearly. And Jesus said to them, Are you likewise still so void of understanding, as not to apprehend the sense of what I raid? Do you not yet perceive that whatsoever enters from without into a man, cannot defile him? Because whatsoever enters in at the mouth enters not into his heart, but goes into the belly, and is thrown off into the vault, which cleanses, as it were, all the food that a inan eats. But, said he, that which comes out of a man really defiles him r : for the things proceeding out of the mouth, come forth from llie heart ; and these are they that defile a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil reasonings, adulteries, fornications, murders ; thefts, insatiable desires, malevolent affections ; false witnessings, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, folly. All these evils come from within ; and these are the things which do indeed pollute a man, and render him odious to the purity of the divine nature : but to eat with unwashed hands, which has no moral impurity in it, does not, and cannot defile a man : and it must have a very bad tendency to teach people to place religion in things 80 entirely foreign to it.
REFLECTIONS. May we be all taught of God to maintain a constant watch over our own hearts, as remembering that from thence are the issues of life, and from thence the sources sin and death! All the secret motions and sentiments of them are open to the divine examination and inspection. There then may we begin our cares, to purify ourselves from all filthiness both of the flesh and spirit, as ever we would perfect holiness in the fear of God. We see what secret abominations our Lord has here discovered and marked out. It is a matter of much lamentation, that our corrupted nature abounds with such poisonous productions : let us earnestly pray that they may be rooted out by divine grace, lest we ourselves be rooted out of God's vincyard, as at once incumbering and deforming it !-May the blessed Spirit of God create in us a clean heart, and implant in our souls a temper opposite to all these enormities ! may candour and purity, integrity and tenderness, piety and generosity, humility and wisdom, prevail in our hearts, and shine in our conduct! And, in a word, whatsoever things are true and honest, just and pure, lovely and of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, let us think on these things, and practise them!
Let those who are employed to guide others be especially solicitous to know and pursue the right way themselves ; lest, instead of saving themselves, and those that hear them, they both of them at last perish together. We are in danger of it if, like these Pharisees, we inculcate on our hearers a zeal for the circumstantials and appendages of religion, while its essentials are neglected ; and perhaps some of the greatest enormities of the mind are consecrated under an honourable name, and profanely listed under the banner of the God of holiness and love.
Jesus expels a demon from the daughter of a Canaanitish woman ; and
cures a man who was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech.Matt. xv. 21-29. Mark vii. 24, &c.
ND Jesus arose from thence, and withdrew to the o coasts of
a have had no one know it, but he could not long be concealed. For behold a.Canaanitish woman, out of those coasts, whose young daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, having heard of him, came, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy upon me, O Lord, thou Son of David ; my daughter is grievously tormented by a demon.
Now the woman was a Greek, a native of Syrophænicia*; and she besought him to cast out the demon from her daughter. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and entreated him, saying, Dismiss her with the grant of her request; for she crieth after
But he replying said, I am not sent, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then she came, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him, saying, Lord help me. But Jesus said to her (yet further to exercise and illustrate her faith) Let the children (the Jews) first be satisfied ; for it is not proper to take the children's bread, and throw it to the dogs (as you Gentiles are commonly deemed by our nation). And she replied and said to him, True, Lord; yet the dogs under their master's table, eat the children's crumbs which fall from it. Then Jesus answering said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith; for this saying, go thy way, and he it unto thee even as thou wilt : the demon is gone out of thy daughter. And her daughter was cured from that
very hour. And returning back to her house, she found the demon was gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed composed.
And Jesus departed again from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and came near to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis ; and he went up to a mountain, and sat down there. And they brought him one who was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him that he would lay his hand upon him. And, taking him aside from the multitude, he put his fingers into his ears, and, spitting on his finger, touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he groaned, and said unto him, Ephphatha ; that is, Be opened. And immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke distinctly. And he charged them that they should tell no one ; but the more he charged them, the more abundantly did they proclaim the cure : And they were struck with exceeding astonishment, and said, He hath done all things well ; in the most amiable and graceful manner, making both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
* This part of Phænicia was so called, as it had been formerly conquered by the Syrians. Vol. I.
REFLECTIONS. If there be any thing in the whole history of our Lord which might have a tendency to discourage and terrify the humble penitent, it would surely be his treatment of this poor
Canaanitish woman, when she made so humble and so affectionate an application to him ; first keeping silence ; then intimating in words a coldness, not to say an aversion ; and at last representing her but as a dog in comparison of the Jews. Surely such an answer had almost broke her heart, had it not been secretly supported by his grace, while his conduct seemed $0 unkind. Happy are they that, like her (who, though a Gentile, did in this instance approve herself a true daughter of Abraham) can against hope believe in hope! Happy they who can thus extract arguments even from discouragements! They will finally conquer and triumph, as this pious woman did ; and the honours of their faith will be commemorated even by Christ himself, who soon indulges the overflowing tenderness of his heart in the applause he bestows upon her, and the ampie grant he makes her of all that she asked in its utmost extent. 1
The story of the deaf man, whose 'ears were opened and his tongue loosed,
one additional instance, among many more, of Christ's humility, as well as of his power. He retired from the admiring multitude ; he used means, when he could easily have wrought without them; le solemnly addressed his heavenly Father, virtually acknowledging, while he
looked up to heaven, that as man, he derived his miraculous power from above ; and he was so far superior to the sentiments of vanity, that he commanded men to conceal the most glorious and benevolent actions. May all his followers, and especially his ministers, learn of him who was thus meek and lowly ! neither acting as in their own strength, when they attempt a spiritual cure ; nor proclaiming their own praises when they have effected it. Then will they likewise do all things well ; and there will be that beauty in the manner, which no wise man would entirely neglect, even in those actions which are in themselves most. excellent and great.
Our Lord, after many miracles, feeds above four thousand with seven loaves and a few small fishes. Mart. xv. 30, &c. MARK viii. 1-10.
ND while Jesus was seated on the mountain, there came to him, A А
great multitudes, having brought with them persons who were lame, blind, dumb, or maimed, and many others; and they cast them at the feet of Jesus, and he healed them : So that the multitude was amazed when they beheld the dumb speaking; the maimed made whole ; the lame walking ; and the blind seeing: and they glorified the God of Israel.
In those days, the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus having called his disciples to him, says unto them, I
have compassion on the multitude ; for they have continued with me now three days, and have nothing to eat : And I will not send them away fasting to their own houses, lest they should faint by the way: for several of them came from a considerable distance. And his disciples answered him, From whence can any one satisfy these men with bread here in this desart country? And whence should we, whose stock is 80 small, have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude ? And he asked them, How many loaves have you ? and they said, seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground ; and having taken the seven loaves, and given thanks, he brake them and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and they set them before the people. And as they likewise had a few small fishes, he took them also, and having blessed them, he commanded his disciples to set them also before the muliitude. So they did all eat, and were satisfied : and they took up seven baskets full of what remained of the fragments. And they who had eaten, were about four thousand men, besides women and children. And he dismissed the multitude : and immediately entering into a ship with his disciples, he came into the parts of Dalmanutha, in the coasts of Magdala.
REFLECTIONS *. With what a circle is our blessed Lord surrounded ! Let us pause a little, and endeavour to paint him to our imagination on this moun. tain, where the astonished inultitudes so justly extolled all these mingled wonders of power and of grace. Let us reflect on the dumb speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, the deaf hearing, and the blind seeing, that with them we may glorify the God of Israel. But who can describe the sentiments of these happy creatures, who, without any dangerous or painful operation, found themselves, in a moment, restored beyond all the efforts of nature, and beyond all the prospects of hope! With what pleasure did the ear, which had just been opened, listen to the pleasing accents of his instructive tongue ! How did the lame leap around him for joy! and the maimed extend their recovered hands in grateful acknowledgments of his new creating power ! While the voice of the dumb sang forth his praises in sounds before unknown ; and the eye of the blind checked the curiosity which would have prompted it to range over the various and beautiful objects of unveiled nature, to fix its rapturous regards on the gracious countenance of him that had given it the day!
Let us further reflect with what correspondent pleasure must our Lord survey these grateful and astonished creatures, while his benevolent heart took its share in all the delight which he gave ! These trophies of his greatness, how unlike to those of the field, the monuments of desolation and slaughter ! Trophies, for which the hero must have struggled with the man, and might sit down and weep over his own success! Whose heart is so insensible as not to feel an humane well devout pleasure in the history of these and the
* See those on a similar story, $ 78.