صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

rits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and devell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. See on Matt. xii. 43, 44, 45. § 48.

While Jesus thus reasoned in confutation of the Pharisees, a woman of the company, ravished with his wisdom and eloquences and perhaps believing him to be their long expected Messiah, expressed her admiration of his character in a manner suitable to her sex. She brake forth in an exclamation upon the happiness, of the woman who had the honour of giving him birth. Luke xi. 27. And it came to pass as he spake these things, a certain uge man of the company lift up her voice and said unto him, Blessed is the womb thot bare Thee, and the paps which thou hast -sucked. But Jesus not at all moved with her praise, gave her an answer, which at the same time that it shewed his humility, did the greatest honour to virtue. The blessedness, said he, which you prize so much, and which could be enjoyed by one woman only, however great, is far inferior to a blessedness which is in every one's power, namely, that which arises from the knowledge and practice of the will of God. 28. But he said, yea, rather blessed äre they that hear the word of God and keep it.

On this occasion, the multitude gathered round in a great crowd, and pressed upon him, in expectation that he was going to shew them the sign from heaven, which some of them had required from him. But he repulsed them, by telling them, that they were an evil race of men, who discovered a very perverse disposition in seeking signs, after so many miracles had been wrought by him ; for which reason no greater sign should be given them, than those they were daily beholding, except the sign of the prophet Jonas. Luke xi. 29. And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation; they seek a sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. 30. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation : You shall have the miracle performed before you, which was prefigured by Jonah's preservation in the belly of the whale. See on Matt. xii. 40. Ø 48. 31. The queen of the South shall rise up (saya notrao) in the judgment with the men of this generation, and rondemn them; for she came from the utmost part of the earth 10 hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold a greater than Sulomon is here. 32. Tie men of Niniveh shall rise up in the judgment with (resta, along with this generation, and shall condenin it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and behild a greater than Jonas is here. See on Matt. xii. 41, 42, § 48.

Withil, to make these men sensible of the great evil they were guilty of, in overlooking the evidences which he had already given of his mission, and in resisting the dictates of their own consciences, he spake a parable to them, in which he shewed


them the end for which God had given them the faculty of reason, and pointed out to them in what manner they ought to use it. Luke xi. 33. No man when he hath lighted a candle, pulteth it into a secret place, neither under a bushel; but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light: As he who lights à lamp, does not put it under a bushel, but on a stand, that it may give light to all in the house; so God who has lighted up the faculty of reason in the human mind, that it may illuminate and direct all the faculties, does not mean, that men should suffer it to lie hid and useless ; much less does he mean that they should extinguish it. He wills them to keep this light always burning, to attend to it carefully, and to guide all their actions by it. The Pharisees, therefore, and their adherents were greatly to blame in not following the light of reason; and much more in suffering their passions to extinguish that candle of the Lord. And that they might understand his parable, and be excited to make à proper improvement of the noble faculty whose use he had been describing, he put them in mind that reason performs for the soul of man the office which the eye does for his body. 34. The light of the body is the eye ; therefore when thine eye is songle, thy whole body is full of light: but when thine eye is evil, thy whole body also is full of darkness. See on the sermon on the mount, Matt. vi. 22. $26. 35. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness : Keep thy reason as free as possible from the influence of prejudice, pride, tevenge, lust, covetousness, and other evil passions, for they will hatch swarms of vain and foolish thoughts, by which thy reason will be perverted, and the light that is in thee be turned into darkness. 36. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of i candle doth give the light: If thy mind is so completely enlightened by reason, that no evil passion or aff ction interrupts the émanations of its light m any degree, the whole faculties of thy soul shall be as much enlightened, enlivened, and assisted, as the members of thy body are, when the bright shining of a cana dle gives thee light, and puts thee in a capacity of using them. Wherefore, thus comparing the direction of reason to the shining of a candle, he shewed that by the parable of the lighted candle, he had intended to explain wherein the proper use of one's reason consists. LXXXVII. Jesus dines with Pharisees a second time. · See

43, 92. He denounces heavy woes against the Scribes and Pharisees. See $ 121. Luke xi. 37,--54.

In this manner did our blessed Lord prove the truth of his mis.. sion against the malicious cavils of his enemies. When he had made an end of speaking, one of the Pharisees present invited

him to dinner. It is not told, whether he gave him the invitation as a mark of his respect for him, or with an insidious design. The severity with which Jesus reproved che superstition of the Pharisees while he sat at meat with them, and the malice which they discovered in urging him to say things offensive to the magistrate or to the people, make it probable that the latter rather was the case. Nevertheless, he accepted the invitation, and went along with the Pharisee, and sat down at table, but without washing, as all the other guests had done. When the Pharisee who · invited him observed this, he expressed great surprise at his shew. ing such an open contempt of their traditions. Luke xi. 37. And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him ; and he went in and sat down to meat. 38. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. 39. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter ; but your inward' port is full of ravening and wickedness: Ye are at great pains to keep every thing clean that touches your food, lest your body should be defiled in eating; but ye are at no pains to keep your mind clean from pollutions that are incomparably worse, the pollutions of rapine, and covecousness, and wickedness. 40. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without, make that which is within also ? Did not he who made the body, make the soul also? Wherefore, ye are grossly stupid and foolish, not to see that if God requires purity of body, because it is his workmanship, he will much more insist on purity of mind, which is the nobler part of human nature. And, therefore, instead of that scrupulousness with respect to meats and washings, which engrosses so much of your attention, you ought to apply yourselves to the duties of charity, and then it will not be in the power of any external thing to defile you, but ye shall at all times be acceptable to God. 41. * But rather give alms of such things as you have, and behold all things are clean unto you : We are not to imagine that alms-giving was particularly mentioned by Christ in his exhortation to the Pharisees, because it is of greater value and necessity than the other virtues. He recommended it to that

sect, * Ver. 41. But rather give alms, &c.] admy toe gyo!TO COTE. Edenpeerven supple xxide Tu kyorld, give as much alms as you can : so we find the phrase used by Epictetus, who advises his discipks to abstain from oaths, fu TONE LYONTOY, as much as they could, Raphelius indeed afirms, that Tu EVAXT* is a different phrase from £x TWY EYOYTHY. He thinks it refers to the meat in their cups and platters, because, Matt. xxiii. 26. we have to svortos Ty 7677ery xut Taroyidos. According to this interpretation, our Lord told the Pharisees, that they needed not be at a great deal of pains about the ceremonial cleanness of the dishes in which their meat was served up, provided they made the meat and drink itself clean, by giving libcrally of it to the poor.

sect, because they were generally remarkable for their covetous ness and extortion, (see ver. 39.) vices which must be repented of, by making restitution to those who have been injured by them. And when these cannot be known or found, the compensation must be made to the poor, as having the next right; because what is given to them, is lent to God.

The Pharisees were of an incorrigibly stubborn disposition, which no instruction, however mild or persuasive, could sway: Wherefore, our Lord on this occasion wisely treated them with a kind and wholesome severity, denouncing most dreadful woes against them, for being so zealous in the ceremonial institutions of religion, while they utterly neglected the precepts of morality. Luke xi. 42. But wus unto you, Pharisees, for ye tythe mint, and rue, and all manner of herbs, ye pay tythes of these things, and pass over judgment and the love of God. Ye shew such care and exactness in performing ceremonial precepts, that ye do not neglect even the least of them; but the great duties of morality, the duties of justice, and truth, and charity towards men, and of love to God, which are of absolute and eternal obligation, ye utterly neglect as things of no importance in comparison. Nevertheless, these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone : The duties of morality ought to have been the principal object of your care, while at the same time the other should not have been left undone. Next, he denounced the judgment of God against them for their pride, which was so excessive, that it appeared in their carriage in the streets, and at all public meetings. 43. Woc unto you, Pharisees, for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. In the third woe he joined the Scribes with the Pharisees, and condemned the hypocrisy of both. 44. Woe unto you, * Scribes and Pha

risees, sects, it is natural to imagine, that each sect gave such interpretations of scripture, as best agreed with their peculiar tenetz. Wherefore, it cannot be doubted that the doctors studied and expouoded the sacred writings, with a view to authorize the opinions of the party they espoused. Ac cordingly, (Acts xxiii. 9.) mention is made of the Scribes that were of ike sect of the Pharisees. Os yeast Thus T* 449% Tam Purse., which plainly implies, that soine of the Scribes were of the other sects. It is true, the Scribes are distinguished from the Pharisees in the wocs which our Lord now pronounced, and in several other passages, particularly Matt. v. 20. xxiii. 2. But from the latter of these passages, I think it is evident, that by the Scribes and Pharisees, is commonly meant the Pharisqic Scribes, according to the idiom of the Hebrew language. For as the name Pharisees denoted a sect, and not an office, it could by no means be said of the whole sect, that they sat in Moses' chair. A character of this sort, was applicable only to the doctors or Scribes of the sect. In other instances, where the Scribes are distinguished from the Pharisees, the Sadducean doc. tors may be intended. The badge of a Pharisee was, his placing the tra. dition of the eiders on an equality with scripture; whereas, the Sadducees rejected all the pretended oral traditions, and adhered so close to the text, that they acknowledged nothing as a matter of faith, which was not exo pressly contained in the sacred books. · And in this they were followed by The Karaites or Scripturista, a sect that subsists among the Jews to this day. It is generally sopposed, indeed, that the Sadducece acknowledged the au. thority of none of the sacred books except the writings of Moses. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that they received all these books; for had thev denied the authority of any of them, our Lord, who so sharp: ly reproved their other corruptions, would not have let this escape uncen. sured. Nay, Josephus himseli, who was no friend to the Sadducees, docs not in the whole compass of his writings, charge them with rejecting any of the sacred books. He says they rejected the traditions of the elders, so moch cried up by the Pharisees, affirming that nothing ought to be held as an institution or rule, but what was written. Archäol. xii. 18. See the passage translated, Ang. Disc. i. ch. 2. Ø ;. prefixed to this Harīnony. Al. so see Ant. Disc. i. ch. 3. 3. Le Clerc, Hist. Eccles. Proleg. p. 1. 3. Scaliger, Elench. trihær. contr. Serrar. c. 16. Perhaps, of the sacred writ. ings, the Sadducees preferred the books of Moses. All the Jews did so, and do so still. But whether in this point the Sadducees outstripped the rest of the sects, is hard to say, in the mean time, considering the veneration which the Jews had for the books of the law, it is reasonable to suppose, that some of the doctors of each sect would apply themselve's more especially to the study of these books in private, and to the explication of them in public, and that such as did so might obtain the appellation of lawyers. Accordingly, he is called by Matthew a Pharisee and a lawyer, xxii. 35, whom Mark calls a Scribe. Farther, it is not improbable ihat the Pharisean lawyers, fond of their own particular study, might exalt the law not only above the rest of the sacred writings, but above the tradition of the elders, in which respect they were distinguished from the rest of their sect, paying only a secondary sort of regard to these traditions. It was on this account that one of them was now so displeased, when he heard Jesus join the whole body of Scribes indiscriminately, and conse• quently the lawyers wiih the Pharisees, in the woes which he now de. nounced against them, for the hypocritical shew of piety which they made by their zeal in giving tythes of mint, anise, and cumin, according to the precepts of the elders, whilst they omitted judgment and the love of God, enjoined expressly by the divine law. It seins he thought the rebuke undeserved on the part of the lawyers even of the Pharisean sect, because they did not pay that superlative regard to tradition which the rest were semarkable for.

* Ver. 44. Scribes.] The Scribes were called in the Hebrew language, sopherim, writers, and are often mentioned in the sacred history, as per. sons of great authority in the Jewish commonwealth. They were origiDally secretaries, being employed in the church, the state, the army, the revenue, &c. to which offices those were entitled who could write, because anciently that art was practised by few. When Ezra made the reformation in religion, which has rendered him so famous among the Jewish doctors, he was assisted by the Scribes in revising the canon of scripture, and ordered matters so, that from thenceforth a sufficient number of them should always be employed in multiplying the copies of it. This class o men therefore being much conversant in the sacred writings, acquired a. singular knowledge of them, and in process of time expounded them to the common people (Matt. vii. 39.) with such reputation, that at length they obtained the title of doctors, or teachers, (Luke ii. 46.) and were consulted upon all difficult points of faith, Matt. ii. 4. Hence they are said by our Lord to sit in Moses' chair, (Matt. xxiii. 3.) and to determine what doctrines are contained in scripture, Mark xii. 35. Hence also an able minister of the New Testament is called a Scribe instructed unto the Aingdom of heaven. But as the Jews were divided into several religious


« السابقةمتابعة »