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suited only to the mortality and imperfection of it, let us moderate our regards to them, and cultivate those higher entertainments with the most solicitous care, which will be transplanted into the paradise of God, and ever flourish for the delight of his immortal children.
Christ, we see, argues a very important point of doctrine from premises, in which, perhaps, we might not have been able to have discovered it without such a hint. Let us learn to judge of scripture-arguments, not merely by the sound, but by the sense of the words. And as our Lord chose a passage from the Pentateuch, rather than from the prophets, for the conviction of the Sadducees, let us be engaged to stu. dy the tempers, and even the prejudices, of those with whom we converse ; that we may, if possible, let in the light of divine truth on their hearts on that side by which they seem most capable of receiving it.
In a word, let us with pleasure think of the blessed God under that gracious title by which he manifested himself to Moses at the bush. Still he is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; the God of our pious ancestors, the God of all our departed friends who are now sleeping in Jesus : for all their souls now live unto him, and their bodies shall ere long be awakened by him. In like manner, if we are followers of them who through faith and patience are now inhes riting the promises, when we are gathered to our fathers, and cur names perhaps, forgotten among succeeding generations, he will still be our God. He will shew us, by the blessed experience of eternity, that when he treated with us by that title, and admitted us into the covenant by which he bears it, he intended for us something far nobler and better than the transient scenes of earth and of time could admit.
Christ discourses of the first and great command of the law, and confounds
the Pharisees with a question relating to David's calling the Messiah his Lord. MATT. xxii. 34, &c. MARK xii. 28-37.
Luar XX. 41-44
UT when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees,
expose him to the people. And one of the scribes, who tvas a doctor of the law, came with the rest, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him a furiher question, to make trial of him ; and said, Master, which is the first and great commandment of all in the law?* And Jesus answered him, Surely the first of all the commandments is that ( Deut. vi. 4, 5. X. 12.) 66 Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love “ the Lord thy God, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and « with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” This is the first and great commandment And the second is like unto it, even this ( Lev. •xix. 18.) “ Thou shalt love thy ncighbour as thyself:” There is no
* This was a point that was often disputed by the Jewish doctors. It is chservable that Christ answers the scribe out of a sentence which was written in the phylacteries.
other commandment greater than these. All the law and the prophets depend upon these two commandments. And the scribe said to him, Truly, Master, thou hast spoken weil: for there is one God, and there is no other beside him: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength ; and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all burntofferings and sacrifices. And Jesus, seeing that he answered wisely, said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.
And while the Pharisees were gathered together, as he was teaching in the temple, Jesus asked them a question, saying, How say the scribes that the Messiah is the Son of David? What think ye concerning the Messiah? Whose Son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then does David himself, by the Holy Spirit, in the book of Psalms, call him Lord? saying, (Psal. cx. 1.) “ The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right
hand till I make thine enenies thy footstool.” If David himself therefore call him Lord, how is he then his Son ? And the common people heard him with pleasure. And no man could answer him a word ; neither did any one presume, from that day forward, to ask him any more such ensnaring questions.
REFLECTIONS. Whatever might be the design of the scribe in putting this question to Christ again, which was in effect the same with what another had proposed before, ( Luke x. 25. 9 cvii.) we have reason to rejoice in the repetition of so inportant an answer. Oh that it might be inscribed on our hearts as with the point of a diamond !--The first and great commandment requires us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength; and the second, which is like unto it, to love our neighbour as ourselves. But, alas, what reason have we to complain of our own deficiency on both these heads! and how much need of being taught again even these first principles of the oracles of God! Can we say, with regard to the first, that the blessed God has the whole of our hearts? Is the utmost vigour of our faculties exerted in his service? Do we make him the end of all our actions, of all our wishes, of all our pursuits? Or are we indeed such equitable judges between ourselves and others as the second of these great commandments would require; so as to seek our own particular interests no further than they may be subservient to, or at least consistent with, the good of the whole ? Do we make all those allowances for others which we expect or desire they should make for us ?-Surely we must own we are far from having yet attained, or from being already perfect. But if this be not in the main the prevailing and governing temper of our minds, in vain are our burnt-offerings and our sacrifices ; in vain are all the soleinnities of public worship, or the forms of domestic and secret devo. ticn; and by all our most pathetic expressions of duty to God, and friendship to men, we do but add one degree of guilt to another. Let us then most ear
arnestly entreat that God would have mercy upon us, and by his Holy Spirit write these laws in our hearts.
On these subjects let scribes instructed to the kingdom of heaven insist, lest they be condemned by this expositor of the Jewish law. And let those whose notions are thus wisely regulated, take heed, lest, while they seem near to the kingdom of God, by resting in mere notions, they come short of it, and sink into a ruin aggravated by their near approach to the confines of salvation and glory.
As for that question of Christ with which the Pharisees were perplexed, the gospel has given us a key to it. Well might David, in spirit, call him Lord, who according to the flesh was to descend from his loins : for before David or Abraham was, he is. Let us adore this mysterious union of the divine and human natures in the person of our glorious Emmanuel; and be very careful that we do not oppose him, if we would not be found fighters against God. Already is he exalted at the right hand of the Father : let his friends rejoice in his dignity and glory, and with pleasure wait the day of his complete triumph, when all his enemies shall be put under his feet, and even [death] the last of them be swallowed up in victory.
Christ discourses with the Pharisees in the temple, repeating the charges
and cautions which he had formerly advanced. Matt. xxiii. 1-22. MARŘ xii. 38–40. LUKE XX. 45, &c.
WHEN Jesus, in his doctrine, spåke to his disciples in the audience
of all the people, as he had forinerly dong,* 10 caution them against the pride and hypocrisy of their leaders, saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in the chair of Moses: All therefore whatsoever they shall charge you to observe, observe and do; but practise not according to their works: for they say, but do not practise. Beware of the scribes; for they bind grievous and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with a finger of theirs. And all their works they do to be viewed by men. They make their phylacteries broad, trand make the fringes of their garments large. These are the vain-glorious men, who affect to walk in long garments, and love the uppermost places at feasts, and the highest seats in the synagogues; and salutations the markets, and to be called by men, Rabbi, Rabbi, al every word. But be not you, my disciples, called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ ; and ye are all brethren. And call not any one on earth your father; for one is your Father, even he in heaven. Neither be ye called Masters; for one is your Master even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself, shall be abased; and whosoever shall humble himself, shall be exalted.
* Luke xi. 39, &c. § 110.
† The Jews (inderstanding Deut. vi. 8. xi. 18. in a literal sense) used to wear little scrolls of parchment, on which those passages were written, bound to their foreheads and wrists. They were called phylacteries in Greek, as being looked upon as a kind of amulet to keep them from danger. Vol. I,
Then Jesus, turning to those crafiy enemies who stood around him, said, Wo unto, you, ye Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men ; for you neither go in yourselves, nor permit them that are entering, to go in. Wo unto you, ye Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you devour the houses of widows, and for a pretence make long prayers: therefore shall you receive greater damnation. Wo unto you, ye Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for you compass the sea and the land to make one proselyte, and when he is become 80, you make him doubly more a child of hell than yourselves. Wo unto you, ye blind guides! who say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is obliged by it. Ye foolish and blind creatures : for which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And ye also say, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever shall swear by the gift which is upon it, he is obliged to the performance of his oath. Ye foolish and blind wretch's : for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the sist? Therefore he that swears by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all tirings that are upon it. And he that swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him also that dwells in it. And he that swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him who sits upon it.
REFLECTIONS. As an ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. Christ was indeed a wise and faithful Reprover; but the ears of these Pharisees were disobedient and uncir. cumcised. Let us, however, who are his disciples, attend to these instructions of our heavenly Master, and avoid every thing which has the remotest tendency to'what he here condemns with so just a severity.
Let not our zeal spend itself upon the externals of religion. Let us not impose heavy burdens upon each other ; nor lay down rules for the conduct of others, by which we do not in like circumstances think fit to govern ourselves. Let us not impose our own decisions in a magisterial manner on our fellow Christians, nor affect to be called fathers, masters, and teachers ; remembering that Christ alone is our Master, and God our Father, and that it is a dangerous presumption and folly to set ourselves in the place of either. Let us be upon our guard against that vain ostentation that would lead us to place any part of our happiness in precedence, and to value ourselves upon our rank, or upon any airy titles of honour, by which, perhaps rather by accident than merit, we are distinguished from others; and which to a truly wise man, and especially to an humble follower of Jesus, will appear to be a very little matter. Let us desire that honour which arises from condescending to others, and serving them in love ; that honour which springs from the divine approbation, which it will be impossible to secure without unaffected piety.
God forbid that our devotions should ever be intended as a cloak of maliciousness, or as the instrument of serving any mean and vile purpose, ! Such prayers would return in curses on our own heads, and Eraw down on them were rater damnation. God forbid that we should spend that time, and that ardency of spirit, in making proselytes to our own peculiar notions and party, which ought to be laid out in making them the servants of God through Christ! God forbid that we should delusle ourselves or others by such idle distinctions in matters of conscience, as these which our blessed Redeemer has with so much reason and spirit exposed !-Let us retain the greatest reverence for an oath, and not accustom ourselves to trifle with any thing which looks like it. Let us consider heaven as the throne of God, and often think of the majesty and glory of that illustrious Being that sits thereon ; for a sense of his continual presence will form us to a better temper, and engage'us with a righteousness far exceeding that of the Scribes and Pharisees, to walk before him in all his commandments and ordinances blameless.
Christ continues his discourse with the Pharisees, reproving them for
their hypocrisy, and threatening them with approaching judgments. Matt. xxiii. 23, &c.
23 UR Lord proceeded in his discourse and said, Wo unto you,
ye Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier mat
ters of the law, justice, and mercy, and fidelity*: these ye ought 24 to have practised, and not to have omitted the other. Ye blivit
guides, who strain outt a gnat from your drink, and yet can swa)25 low down a camel : Wo unto you, ye Scribes and Pharisees, hypo
crites ! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, but the 26 iuner parts are full of rapine and intemperance. Thou blind
Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the dish, that 27 the outside of them may be clean also.-Wo unto you, ye Scribes
and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye resemble whited sepulc!res,
which indeed appear beautiful without, but within are full of the 28 bones of the dead, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also do
indeed outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within you are 29 full of hypocrisy and iniquity.-Wo unto you, ye Scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites ! for you build up the sepulchres of the 30 prophets, and adorn he monuments of the righteous : And ye
say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not 31 have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. So
that you bear witness to yourselves, that ġou are the sons of those
that murdered the prophets, and your conduct sjicans you to be 32 their genuine offspring. Fill ye up then † the measure of your
* The word risiv has undoubtedly this signification in many places, as in Tit. ii. 10. Gul. v. 20. Rom. iii. 3.
† An allusion to the custom, where there were swarms of insects, of passing liquor through a strainer that none which might have fallen into it should remain ; which grew into a proverb for exactness about liile maiters.
I “ And do you then till up.-" D. Tais change of expression is pot only needless, but it makes the sense rather ambiguus. Suine render it " and will fill up.” Cambell retains the common translation.