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power were absolutely unlawful. A doctrine so pleasing to the worldly-minded Jews could not fail of friends, especially among the lower class, and therefore must have many partizans among the multitude that then surrounded the Son of God. The priests therefore imagined, that it was not in his power to decide the point, without rendering himself obnoxious to some of the parties : if he should say it was lawful to pay the taxes, they believed that the people, in whose hearing the question was proposed, would be incensed against him, not only as a base pretender, who, on being attacked, publicly renounced the character of the Messiah, which he had assumed among his friends, but also as a flatterer of princes, and a betrayer of the liberties of his country, one who taught a doctrine inconsistent with the known privileges of the people of God; but if he should affirm that it was unlawful to pay tribute, they determined to inform the governor, who, they hoped, would punish him as a fomenter of sedition.
Having laid this diabolical plan, the enemies of our Lord immediately repaired to the temple, where he was then preaching to the people, not doubting but the scheme they had formed would be amply carried into execution. Accordingly, after passing an encomium on the truth of his mission, his courage and impartiality, they asked him this question: What thinkest thou? Is it law. ful to give tribute unto Cæsar? But the Blessed Jesus saw through their secret intentions; and accordingly called them hypocrites, to signify, that though they made con. science, and a regard for the Divine will, their pretence for proposing this question, he saw through the thin veil that concealed their design from the eyes of mortals, and knew their intention was, to ensnare him. He, however, did not decline answering their question, but previously desired to see a piece of the tribute money. The piece was accordingly produced, and proved to be coined by the Romans; upon which our Lord gave them this answer: Render, therefore, unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God, the things that are God's. As if he had said, “ At the same time that you discharge your duty to the civil magistrate, you sbould never forget
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the duty you owe to your God; but remember, that as you bear the image of the great, the Omnipotent King, you are his subjects, and ought to pay him the tribute of yourselves, serving him to the utmost of your power."
An answer so unexpected quite disconcerted and silenced these crafty enemies of Christ. They were astonished, both at bis having discovered their design, and his wisdom in avoiding the snare they had so artfully laid for him. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. Matthew xxii. 22.
After our Lord had thus defeated the two conjunctive parties, the Sadducees attacked him separately, by starting a question which they thought insurmountable. They denied the doctrine of a future state, together with the existence of angels and spirits; and therefore proposed to him their strongest argument against the resurrection, which they deduced from the law given by Moses, with regard to marriage.“ Master, (said they) Moses wrote “ unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and *" he die without children, that his brother should take his “ wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. There were, “ therefore, seven brethren; and the first took a wife, and 6 died without children. And the second took her to 6 wife, and died childless. And the third took her; and « in like manner the seven also. And they died and left 66 no children. Last of all the woman died also. There“ fore, in the resurrection, whose wife of them is she? for 6 seven had her to wife.” Luke xx. 28, &c.
The Sadducees, who believed the soul to be nothing more than a refined matter, were persuaded, that, if there was any future state, it must resemble the present; and that being in that state material and mortal, the human race could not be continued, nor the individuals rendered happy, without the pleasures and conveniencies of mar. riage. And hence they considered it as a necessary con. sequence of the doctrine of the resurrection, or a future state, that every man's wife should be restored to him.
But this argument our Blessed Lord soon confuted, by telling the Sadducees they were ignorant of the power of God, who had ereated spirit as well as matter, and who
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could render man completely happy in the enjoyment of himself. He also observed, that the nature of the life ob. tained in a future state made marriage altogether super. fluous, because in the world to come, men, being spiritual and immortal, like the angels, there was no need of natural means to propagate or continue the kind. Ye do err (said the Blessed Jesus) not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Matth. xxii. 29, 30. Neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Luke xx. 86. Hence we may observe, that good men are called the children of the Most High, from their inheritance at the resurrection, and particularly on account of their being adorned with immortality.
After our Lord had thus pointed out to the Sadducees their great folly and unbelief, he proceeded to shew them that they were also ignorant of the scriptures, and particularly of the writings of Moses, from whence they had drawn their objection, by demonstrating, from the very law itself, the certainty of a resurrection, at least that of just men; and consequently quite demolished the opinion of the Sadducees, who, by believing the materiality of the soul, affirmed that men were annihilated at their deaths, and that their opinion was founded on the writings of Moses. Now (said our Lord) that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. Luke xx. 37, 38. As if he had said, The Almighty cannot properly be called God, unless he has his people, and be Lord of the living. Since, therefore, Moses called him the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, long after those venerable patriarchs were dead, the relation denoted by the word God still subsisted between them; consequently they were not annihilated as you pretend, but are still in being, and continue to be the servants of the Most High.
This argument effectually silenced the Sadducees, and the multitude were agreeably surprized to see the objection, hitherto thought impregnable, totally abolisbed, and the sect they had long abominated folly confuted. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. Matth. xxii. 33.
arguments of the Sadducees, than he was attacked by one of the Scribes, who desired him to give his opinion on a question which had been often debated among them, namely, which was the great commandment of the law? It is to be observed that some of the most learned among them had declared that the law of sacrifices was the great commandment; some that it was the law of eircumcision; and others, that it was the law of meats and washings.
But our Blessed Lord, in the answer he gave to the question, clearly pointed out to them that they were all mistaken; for that the great commandment of the law was the duty of piety, as one proof of which he particularly mentioned that comprehensive summary of it given by Moses. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord : and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first command ment. Mark xii. 29, 30.
The first and chief commandment is, to give God our hearts. The Divine Being is so transcendently amiable
in himself, and hath, by the innumerable benefits con· ferred upon us, such a title to our utmost affection, that no obligation bears any proportion to that of loving him. The honor assigned to this precept proves, that piety is the noblest act of the human mind; and that the chief ingredient in piety is love, founded on a clear and extensive view of the Divine perfections, a permanent sense of his benefits, and a deep conviction of his being the sove. reign good, our portion, and our happiness. But it is essential to love, that there be a delight in contemplating the beauty of the object beloved, whether that beauty be matter of sensation or reflection; that we frequently, and with pleasure, reflect on the benefits conferred on us by the object of our affections; that we have a strong desire
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of pleasing him, great fear of doing any thing to offend him, and a sensible joy in thinking we are beloved in return. Hence the duties of devotion, prayer and praise, are the most natural and genuine exercises of the love of God. Nor is this virtue so much any single affection, as the continual bent of all the affections and powers of the soul: consequently to love God is, as much as possible, to direct the whole soul towards him, and to exercise all its faculties on him as its chief object. Accordingly, the love of God is described in scripture by the several operations of the mind, a following hard after God; that is, by intense contemplation, a sense of his perfections, gratitude for his benefits, trust in his goodness, attachment to his service, resignation to his Providence, the obeying his commandments, admiration, hope, fear, joy, &c. not because it consists in any of these singly, but in them altogether; for to content ourselves with partial regard to the Supreme Being, is not to be affected towards him in the manner we ought to be, and which his perfections claim. Hence the words of the precept: 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.
Our Blessed Lord having thus answered the question put to him by the Scribe, and clearly pointed out the first great commandment of the law, added, And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. This, indeed, had no relation to the lawyer's question concerning the first commandment; but our Blessed Lord thought proper to shew him which was the second, prob. ably because the men of his sect did not acknowledge the importance of love to their neighbors, or because they were remarkably deficient in the practice of it.
The love of our neighbor was very justly represented by our Lord as the second grand commandment of the law. It is one of the principles of our love to God, and must be productive of every good work. All the best things we can do, if destitute of this principle, will ap. pear to be either the effect of hypocrisy, or done to procure the esteem of men. Without love, a narrowness of soul will shut us up within ourselves, and make all we