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Our blessed Lord added, I tell you, however ye may judge from external appearances, and whatever preference ye may give to this haughty Pharisee; I, who know and see the heart, declare unto you, that the publican retired from the temple accepted by his God, and blessed with the mercy which he implored, while the proud Pharisee was disregarded. The present parable sufficiently indicates, that all the sons of men stand in need of mercy; both the strict * Pharisee and the despised publican, with the whole race * of mankind, are sinners; and consequently all must * implore pardon of their bencyolent Creator: we must all ascend to the temple, and there pour forth our prayfers before the throne of grace; for there he has promised !ever to be present, to grant the petitions of all who ask *with sincerity and truth.
-These parables were spoken in the town of Ephraim; and during our Lord's continuance in that city, the Pharisees asked him, Whether he thought it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? Our Saviour had twice before declared his opinion of this particular, once in Galilee, and once in Perea: it is therefore probable, that the Pharisees were not ignorant of his sentiments, and that they asked the question then, to find an opportunity of incensing the people against him, well knowing that the Israelites held the liberty which the law gave them of divorcing their wives as one of their chief privileges: but however that be, JESUS was far from fearing the popular resentment, and accordingly declared the third time against arbitrary divorces. The Pharisees then asked him why they were commanded by Moses to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? Insinuating, that Moses was so tender of their happiness, that he gave them liberty of putting away their wives, when they
saw occasion. To which J Est's answered, Because of "
the hardness of your hearts, Moses suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so:
as unlimited divorces were not permitted in the state of innocence, so neither shall they be under the gospel dispensation.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, eccept it be for fornication, and shall sharry another, committeth adultery; and whoso marrieth her which is put away, doth commit adultery.
At which decision the disciples were greatly surprised; and though they held their peace while the Pharisees were present, yet they did not fail to ask our Lord the reason on which he founded his determination, when they were returned home: And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery,’
Unlimited divorces being prevalent among the Jews, gave great encouragement to family quarrels, were very destructive of happiness, and hindered the education of their tender offspring; besides, it greatly tended to make their children lose that reverence for them which is due to parents, as it was hardly possible for the children to avoid engaging in the quarrel. Our Saviour’s prohibition, therefore, of these divorces is founded on the strongest reasons, and greatly tends to promote the welfare of society.
Our Lord having, in the course of his ministry, performed innumerable cures in different parts of the country, several persons thinking, perhaps that his power would be as great in preventing as in removing distempers, brought their children to him, desiring that he would put his hands upon them and bless them. The disciples, however, mistaking the intention, were angry with the persons, and rebuked them for endeavouring to give this trouble to their Master. But Jesus no sooner saw it,
than he was greatly displeased with his disciples, and ordered them not to hinder parents from bringing their children to him : “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the kingdom of God.” That is, the church militant on earth, and that triumphant in heaven, are composed of persons who resemble little children in humility and meekness. Accordingly, taking them up in his arms, he blessed them with his usual benevolence. * ,
CHR 1st departs from Ephraim, and, in his Journey to -Jerusalem by the J/ay of Jericho, he instructeth a ayoung Man how to attain eternal Life, and how to become perfect: He sheweth how hard it is for a rich Man to enter into the Kingdom of God; and promiseth great Rewards to his Disciples, and to all who have forsaken ought to follow him : He delivers the Parable of the Labourers, who were hired at different Hours to work in the Pineyard. He fore
telleth his own Death, and Resurrection; and putteth by the ambitious Suit of the Sons of 2 ebedee.
THE time of our dear Lord's passion drawing near, he departed from Ephraim, and repaired by the way of Jericho, towards Jerusalem: but before he arrived at Jericho, a ruler of the synagogue came running to him, and kneeling down before him, asked him, ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Matt. xix. 16. Though this young ruler pretended to pay great honour to our dear Redeemer, yet the whole was no more than a piece of hypocrisy: for though he styled him good, yet he did not believe that he was sent from God, as sufficiently appears from his refusing to observe the counsel given them by JEsus; nor could his artful insinuations escape the piercing eye of the great Saviour of the world; he well knew his secret intentions, and beheld the inmost recesses of his soul; and accordingly rebuked him for his hypocritical address, before he answered his question: Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God. But as he had desired the advice of our blessed Saviour, who never refused it to any of the sons of men, he readily answered his question, by telling him, that he must observe all the moral precepts of the law; there being a necessary connection between the duties of piety towards the Almighty, and of justice ; and temperance towards men, the latter of which, were much more difficult to counterfeit than the former; ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? JEs Us said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?’
These commandments were, doubtless, understood by the young ruler, in the vague sense put upon them by the doctors and interpreters of the law; and, therefore, the character he here gave of himself might be very just: for, though he was far from being a person of true probity and virtue, he might have appeared, in the sight of men, as a person of a very fair character: and having maintained that character, notwithstanding his great riches, he certainly deserved commendation; and therefore, might be loved by that benevolent person who left the bosom of his Father, to redeem lost mankind: but he was, at the same time, very faulty with regard to his love of sensual pleasures, a sin which might have escaped even his own observation, though it could not escape the all-seeing eye of the Son of God. Our blessed Saviour, therefore, willing to make him sensible of this secret desire of possessing the riches of this world, told him, that if he aimed at perfection, he should distribute his possessions among the poor and indigent, and become his disciple: If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow 7/7 (?.
The young man did not expect this condition, he was astonished at it, and without making the least reply, retired, filled with sorrow, being very unwilling to part with his large estates: But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sororowful, for he had great possessions. - *