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do to others only as a sort of merchandize, trading for our own advantage. Those who really love their neighbor, have a constant calm within, and are not disturbed with passion, jealousy, envy or ill-nature. They observe and rejoice in the happiness of others; they are glad to see them easy, and share with them in their joy and felicity; not fretting or complaining though they enjoy less than their neighbors. The good man, by the overflowings of his love, is sure that he is a favorite with his Maker, because he loves his neighbor. His soul dwells at ease, and there is sweetness in all his thoughts and wishes. This makes him clear and easy in his views of every kind, and renders him grateful to all around him.
When the Scribe heard the answer our Blessed Lord gave to the question put to him, he was astonished at the justness of his decision, and answered, That he had determined rightly, since there is but one supreme God, whom we must all adore; and if we love him above all temporal things, and our neighbor as ourselves, we worship him more acceptably than if we sacrifice to bim all the cattle upon a thousand hills. Our Lord bighly applauded the piety and wisdom of this reflection, by declaring that the person who made it was not far from the kingdom of God.
As the Scribes and Pharisees had, during the course of our Saviour's ministry, proposed to him many difficult questions, in order to prove his prophetical gifts, he now, in his turn, thought proper to make a trial of their knowledge in the sacred writings. For this purpose he asked their opinion of a difficulty concerning the Messiah's pedigree. What think ye (said he) of Christ? Whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. Our Lord then asked them in what sense the Messiah could be David's son, when David himself called him Lord. If David, then, call him Lord, how is he his son? The Jewish doctors did not imagine that their Messiah would be endued with any perfections greater than those that might be enjoyed by human nature: for though they called him the Son of God, they had no notion that he was divinity itself, and therefore really the Lord of David. In consequence of these their imperfect ideas, they were not able to give an answer to the question propounded. And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
After these disputes with the Scribes and Pharisees (which were the last he had with them) our Lord left the temple, and, in the evening, retired again with his apostles to Bethany.
As our Blessed Lord was returning the next morning to Jerusalem, his apostles, observing that the fig-tree, on which he had the day before denounced a judgment on account of its barrenness, was withered away, and dead to the very root, took notice of it to him as a thing very strange and surprizing. In consequence of this observation, our Lord exhorted them to have a steadfast faith in God, and to preserve a fervency and perseverance in their prayers, in doing of which they would not fail, in the course of their ministry, to perform as great, or greater miracles, than what he had done in causing the unfruitful fig-tree to wither and die away.
As soon as our Blessed Lord returned to Jerusalem, he immediately repaired to the temple, and began to teach the people as he had done the day before; and, to raise an aversion in his disciples, and in all that heard him, to the principles and practices of the Scribes and Pharisees, he took the freedom to expose their vices without reserve; their pride, their hypocrisy, their covetousness, their hardheartedness to parents, their impiety to God, and their cruelty to his faithful servants. The Scribes and the Pharisees (said he) sit in Moses's seat. All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. While they teach the doctrines before delivered by Moses, observe all they say; but by no means imitate their practices; for they impose many precepts on their disciples, which they never perform themselves. For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men. The difficult precepts they impose on others are never regarded by these bypocrites, and any good action that they may happen to perform is vitiated by the principle from whence it proceeds. They do it only with a view to gain popular applause, and not from a regard to God, far less from a love of goodness. They are proud and arrogant to excess, as is plain from their affected gravity in their clothes; from the anxiety they discover lest they should not obtain the principal seats in the public assemblies, and from their affecting to be saluted in the streets with the sounding titles of Rabbi, and father. They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greet. ings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rab. bi. Matt. xxiii. 5, 6, 7.
The word Rabbi signifies, properly, great, and was given to those men who had rendered themselves remark. able for the extent of their learning; it is therefore no wonder that the proud and supercilious Pharisees were fond of a title, which so highly complimented their understandings, and gave them great authority with their disciples. But the followers of the Blessed Jesus were to decline this title, because the thing signified by it be. longed wholly to their master, in whom are placed all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and because they did not owe any part of their knowledge to themselves, but derived it entirely from him. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your father, which is in heaven. Life, with all its blessings, come from God, and men wholly depend upon him; all praise and thankfulness, therefore, should ultimately be referred to him; so that if any one teacheth rightly, not the teacher, but the wisdom of God, is to be praised.
Nor were the disciples of our Blessed Saviour to accept of the title of master, or leader, which the Jewish doctors also courted, because, in point of commission and inspiration, they were all equal, neither had they any title to rule the consciences of men, except by virtue of tbe inspiration which they had received from their Master, to whom alone the prerogative of infallibility belonged. Weither be ye called masters; for one is your master, even Christ. The Divine teacher, however, did not intend by this to insinuate that it was sinful to call men by the stations they held in the world; he only meant to reprove the weakness of the common people, who loaded their teachers with praises, and forgot to ascribe any thing to God; and to root out of the minds of his apostles the Pharisaical vanity, which decked itself with honor belonging solely to the Creator of the universe. Accordingly, that he might instil into their hearts a proper principle to dispose them to do good offices one to another as occasion offered, he assured them that humility was the only road to true greatness; for by assuming what did not properly belong to them, they would be despised both by God and men; whereas, if they did not disdain to perform the meanest offices of love to their brethren, they would enjoy a very high degree of the Divine favor. : . Among the great multitude that at this time heard our Lord's discourses, were many of the Scribes and Phari. sees, who were greatly offended at bis doctrine, and particularly as the subject matter was principally levelled at them. This, however, did not lay any restraint on the Divine teacher. He had hitherto used the most mild per. suasions to bring them to a sense of their wickedness without effect; and as this was to be the last sermon be was ever to preach in public, he thought it necessary that he should now treat them with some severity. He there. fore denounced, in the most solemn manner, dreadful woes against them, on account of their excessive wickedness. They were public teachers of religion, and there. fore should have used every method in their power to recommend its precepts to the people, and to have been themselves shining examples of every duty it enjoined; but on the contrary, they abused every mark and character of goodness, and, under the cloke of a severe and sanctified aspect, were malicious, implacable, covetous and rapacious. In a word, instead of being reformers, they were the corrupters of mankind, and consequently their wickedness deserved that rebuke which was justly given them by the great Redeemer of mankind. “ Wo 6 untoy ou, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye shut
66 up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go 66 in yourselves, neither suffer them that were entering to 6 go in. Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; 6 for ye devour widows' houses, and, for a pretence,
make long prayer; therefore ye shall receive the greater 66 damnation. Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypou crites; for ye compass sea and land, to make one 6 proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two“ fold more the child of hell than yourselves.” The punishment you shall suffer will be terribly severe, because you have given a wrong interpretation of the ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah, and done all that is in your power to hinder the people from repenting of their sins, and believing the Gospel; because you have committed the grossest iniquities, and under the cloke of religion, have devoured the substance of widows and orphans, hoping to hide your villainies by long prayers; because ye have expressed the greatest zeal imaginable in making proselytes, not with a view to render the Gentiles more wise and virtuous, but to acquire their riches, and a command over their consciences; and instead of teaching them the prccepts of virtue and the moral duties of religion, you confine their duties to superstitious and ceremonial institutions; and hence they often relapse into their old state of Heathenism, and become more wicked than before they were converted, and consequently liable to a more severe sentence.
Having said this, our Lord next proceeded to their doctrine concerning oaths. He declared, in opposition to their abominable tenets, that every oath, if the matter of it be lawful, is obligatory; because when men swear by any part of the creation, it is an appeal to the Creator himself; for in any other light an oath of this kind is absolutely ridiculous, the object having neither knowledge of the fact, nor power to punish the perjury. 6 Wo unto you « ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by 6 the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by 66 the gold of the temple, he is a debtor. Ye fools, and 6 blind; for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple 66 that sanctifieth the gold? and whosoever shall swear by “ the altar it is nothing, but whosoever sweareth by the