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A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoaking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It was early in the morning, before the hour at which the Temple-service began, that our SAVIOUR walked with his disciples through the field. The Pharisees deemed his rubbing the ears of corn a profanation, because it was customary for the Jews to fast till the public offices of the day were performed; but in this particular they carried the observance of the Sabbath-day to a superstitious length and our SAVIOUR, by justifying the conduct of his disciples, meant to teach them that they did so; and that God, by enjoining the Sabbath-day to be kept holy, never intended to forbid any one from satisfying the necessary calls of hunger; on the contrary, we read, that in the wilderness he sent his people a miraculous supply of manna for this purpose, and prevented the corruption of it on this day alone. They might also judge, from the actions of the priests, that there were cases which admitted of exemption from the command, Thou shalt do no manner of work; for they killed the beasts, and performed whatever was requisite for sacrifices on that day as well as on any other: and the priests certainly understood, that they might, for charitable uses, dispense to other persons the provisions designed to be appropriated to themselves, as in the case of David, who undoubtedly honoured the ordinances of GoD as much as any one, and would not have required Abimelech to break a positive precept of the law.
The MESSIAH (as we lately read) was prophesied of by Daniel, under the title of the Son of Man, which our
* Sect. xxvii.
LORD very properly assumed: for the Jews understood the SAVIOUR to be meant by it. It seems to signify one eminently distinguished above the rest of the human species, that SON OF MAN who was peculiarly separated by the FATHER, to be in union with His ETERNAL WORD, and to have a dominion of eternal duration. Such a Being certainly was greater than the Temple. If the priests in the service of the latter might deviate from the law of the Sabbath, surely the MESSIAH might give his disciples leave so to do, while they were engaged in his immediate service. Had the Pharisees reflected on the merciful disposition of the SUPREME BEING, and his declarations by the mouths of his Prophets, that he prefers acts of humanity to the mere ceremonials. of religion, they would not have been so severe in their censures. As the Sabbath was designed for the good of man, that he might rest from his labours, and renew his strength, while his soul was engaged in religious exercises, the Divine Lawgiver never could intend that he should hurt his health in the observance of it.
The Pharisees, thus defeated, resolved to watch for an opportunity of bringing JESUs before the Sanhedrim, for a more direct violation of the Law of Moses; and we find that they attended him on the next Sabbath.
According to the law of traditions, it was unlawful to cure any man on the Sabbath-day; yet the Pharisees made no scruple of saving animals. This was so ab. surd, that they could not attempt to justify it; but instead of acknowledging their error, they listened to our LORD with silent maliciousness. He, knowing their secret designs, and that their hearts were so hardened that neither words nor miracles would make any impression, cast a look of hely indignation on them; and forbearing to waste his discourse to no purpose, procecded,
ceeded, in defiance of them, publicly to restore to the poor afflicted man the use of his hand, and then with drew, as he had yet much to perform, before he submitted himself to their malice.
The Herodians are supposed to have been a sect among the Jews, distinguished by their zeal for the family of Herod.
The prediction here quoted by the Evangelist is in the book of Isaiah *. This is a very plain prophecy of the MESSIAH, and cannot be justly applied to any other person or character whatever. The description which the Evangelist gives of our LORD's conduct, is the best comment on it; we will therefore only observe, that the word judgment means the Law to be published by the MESSIAH: that is, the institution of the Gospel.
By every action our SAVIOUR testified his humility and meekness, avoiding, as much as possible, all contention with those who opposed the Gospel, and preach. ing it even to the meanest of the people; not causing himself to be proclaimed with noise or magnificence as a king, but proceeding with gentleness as a Divine teacher; and so far from discouraging by severity those in whose mind a sense of religion was almost extinguished, hes revived by his divine doctrine the flame of devotion, as a fresh supply of oil revives an expiring lamp.
In this manner did our Lord invite even persons of the distant nations, who soon began to attend his steps, that they might learn the will of GoD. Our SAVIOUR's discourse concerning the Sabbath was addressed to the Pharisees, with a view to correct their false constructions of the divine lary. We must be cautious net to infer from it, that our LORD intended to instruct his followers to disregard this institution; on the con
trary, he observed it himself with great piety, and constantly attended the public service. Neither has he any where given a licence to Christians to pass the day in the common employments of life. Let us, therefore, before we presume to violate the Sabbath, recollect; that it is the Lord's Day, and not our own; and let us con. sider, whether we are furnished with such an excuse for profaning it as will be acceptable in his sight,
JESUS HAVING SPENT THE NIGHT
IN PRAYER, CHOOSES HIS TWELVE APOSTLES,
AND AFTER. WARDS PERFORMS MANY MIRACLES,
From Luke, Chap. vi.-Mark, iii. And it came to pass in those days he went up into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
And when it was day, he called to his disciples, and of them he chose twelve, whom he named Apostles:
That they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sick. nesses, and to cast out devils.
And Simon he surnamed Peter. And James the Son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The Sons of Thunder):
And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Is. cariot, which also betrayed him.
And he came down with them, and stood in the plain ; and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the sea.coast of Tire and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases, arid they that were vexed with unclean spirits : and they were healed.
And they went into a house, and the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Whether our LORD retired into an oratory (or house of prayer built for the accommodation of pious persons), or only chose a place of secret retreat, that he might avoid interruption, is uncertain ; neither is it material to be ascertained: but the piety of his behaviour demands our most serious attention. " When he had no infirmities to heal, no errors to correct, no vices to rė. prove, he withdrew from the busy scenes of life to pray to the FATHER."
By thus retiring from the world before all important undertakings, our LORD has left us an example, which those who follow it will certainly find productive of the highest benefit and satisfaction. Such intense and longcontinued acts of devotion as are recorded of our Sa. VIOUR, are not required of us ; but as it is the noblest privilege of man, in his earthly state, to be thus ad. mitted to a communion with the ETERNAL FATHER, we should embrace every opportunity that is consistent with our other duties of enjoying it.
We read formerly, that our Lord had selected Peter, James, and John, to be his immediate companions, and that he afterwards called Matthew from the receipt of custom ; but as he was willing that the world should have a sufficient number of witnesses to his holy life and conversation, he increased the number to twelve;