« PreviousContinue »
shew them the only foundation of true love, and the extensive relation they and all mankind stood in to eachi other, our Blessed Lord answered the scribe's last question by delivering the following most beautiful and instructive parable.
A certain person in his journey from Jerusalem to Jericho, had the misfortune to fall into the hands of robbers, who not content with taking his money, stripped him of his raiment, beat him in a deplorable manner, and left him for dead. While he continued in this miserable condition, utterly incapable of assisting himself, a certain priest happened to travel the same road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed on the other side. So little compassion had these ministers of religion for a brother in the most deplorable circumstances of distress, that they continued their journey, without offering to assist so miserable an object, notwithstanding their sacred characters obliged them to perform, on every occasion, the tender offices of charity and compassion. It was a brother, a descendant of Abraham in distress; and therefore those hypocrites could offer no reasons to palliate their inhumanity. Their stony hearts could behold the affectionate Israelite, lying in the road naked and cruelly wounded, without being the least affected with his distress.
Though these teachers of religion were hypocrites, and wholly destitute of grace and charity, compassion glowed in the heart of a Samaritan, who, coming to the spot where this helpless object lay, ran to him; and though he found bim to be a person of a different nation, and one who professed a religion opposite to his own, yet the hatred which had been instilled into his mind from his earliest years, and every objection arising from the animosity subsisting between the Jews and Samaritans, were immediately silenced by the tender sensations of pity, awakened by the sight of such complicated distress; bis bowels yearned towards the miserable object; though a Jew, he flew to him, and assisted him in the most tender manner.
It was the custom in these eastern countries for travel. ·lers to carry their provisions with them: so that this compassionate Samaritan was enabled, though in the desert, to give the wounded man a little wine to recruit his spirits. He also bound up his wounds, pouring into them wine and oil, placed him on his own beast, and walked him. self on foot to support him. In this manner he conducted him to an inn, took care of him during the night; and in the morning, when business called him to pursue his journey, recommended him to the care of the host, left what money he could spare, and desired that nothing might be denied him; for whatever was expended he would repay at his return.
Having finished the parable, Jesus turned himself to the lawyer, and asked him, Which now of those three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? The lawyer, struck with the truth and evidence of the case, replied, without the least hesitation, He that shewed mercy on him. Upon which Jesus replied, Go, and no thou likewise. Perform all the good actions in thy power, extend thy kindness to every one, who stands in need of thy assistance, whether he be an Israelite, an Heathen, or a Samaritan. Consider every man as thy neighbor in respect to works of charity, and make no enquiry with regard to his country or religion; but only with regard to his circumstances.
A short time after this our Blessed Lord, accompanied by his apostles, left Jerusalem in order to return to Gali. lee. In the evening of the first day's journey, he stopped at a small village called Bethany, where he was joyfully received by a woman named Martha, who, with her sister Mary, and her brother Lazarus, were highly in favor with him. Martha was desirous of expressing her regard for the Divine guest, by providing for him and his disciples the best entertainment in her power: but her sister, who was of a inore contemplative disposition, sat quietly at the feet of Jesus, listening, with the utmost attention, to his doctrine and heavenly instructions. Mar. tha, being greatly fatigued with the burthen of the service, complained to Jesus of the little care Mary took to assist her. Lord (said she) dost thou not care that my
sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her, therefore, that she help me. But Martha's officiousness incurred a reproof from our Lord, who, at the same time, commended Mary for her attentive application to his instructions. Martha, Martha, (said be) thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful. And Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke x. 41. 42.
Soon after our Blessed Lord had returned to Galilee, as he was one day praying with his disciples in a private place, they, taking it into consideration how necessary it was for them to be directed in the right performance of their duty, begged of him to compose a form of prayer for their use, as John the Baptist had done for his dis. ciples. In compliance with this request, our Lord not only gave them the same excellent form (called the Lord's Prayer) which he had given them in his Sermon on the Mount, but encouraged them likewise, from the consideration of God's goodness and fatherly affection (far more indulgent to his children than any earthly parents were to theirs) to be constant in their petitions to him, telling them, that if they solicited with fervor, im. portunity, and an indefatigable perseverance, they need not doubt of a most gracious answer to their humble requests.
Not long after this, upon our Lord's curing a demoniac that was dumb, the Pharisees renewed their old senseless cavil of his ejecting devils by Beelzebub, which he confuted by the same arguments he had formerly used on a like occasion; and when they again demanded of him a sign from heaven, he again made them the same reply, namely, that no greater sign should be given them than the sign of the prophet Jonas, alluding to the time when he was to remain three days and three nights in the chambers of the tomb.
The next day, after our Lord had been preaching to the people, he sat himself down, with his disciples, to eat, without previously using the Jewish ceremony of washing the hands. This gave great offence to the Pharisees, upon which our Lord took occasion from thence (as he had before done) to speak severely against their ridiculous superstition, in affecting outward neatness in their manner of living, while they neglected to cleanse their souls from internal pollution. He then proceeded to reproach both them and the Scribes, the teachers of the law, with their pride and prevarication, their hypocrisy and spirit of persecution, at which they were so exasperated, that they used all possible methods to ensnare bim in his discourse, and to find some accusation, whereby they might destroy him.
One of the company, seeing with what authority our Lord reproved, and determined among the people, besought him to arbitrate between him and his brother concerning an estate which had lately fallen to them; bat this office he chose to decline, and from thence took occasion to preach against covetousness, or placing our felici. ty in worldly possessions; and, to enforce this, he propounded the parable of a certain rich man, who, when be had acquired a very considerable estate, proposed indulging himself in voluptueusness, but was disappointed of his design by the intervention of sudden death.
He therefore exhorted his disciples not to be too anxious about the things of this world, but to place their dependence on God's Providence, who, having promised them a kingdom in heaven, would not fail of supplying them with what was necessary here. He then exhorted them to charity, to watchfulness, to preparation against the day of judgment, or the arrest of death, and (under the emblem of stewards, or governors, in great men's houses) recommended gentleness and temperance, and particularly cautioned them against indulging themselves in any kind of excess.
While our Lord was thus discoursing to his disciples and the multitude, news was brought him that Pilate, the Roman governor, had caused a great number of Galileans, to be massacred while they were offering thưir sacrifices at the altar;* as also that another sad accident had hap
• It is generally imagined that this piece of history relates to the sedition which Judas Gaulonites raised against the Roman governor in Judea, when he, and one Sadducus, à Pharisee, possessed the people with a notion, “ that taxes were a badge of their slavery; that they ought to acknowledge no sovereign but God himself, por
pened at Jerusalem, where, by the falling of the tower of Siloam* no less than eighteen persons were killed. The Jews thought these were Providential punishments on the sufferers for their having been greater sinners than their neighbors; but our Lord told them that was not the case, and that their sufferings tended only to lead others to repent, which if they did not do, they would, in all probability, meet with the like or worse judgments. He then, to engage them all to a speedy repentance, related to them the parable of the fig tree, which the master of the vineyard ordered to be cut down, because, for three years, it had not borne any fruit; but, upon the gardener's promising to use a more than ordinary care and diligence about it, he was prevailed on to let it stand one year longer, bạt, with this determination, that, if it still continued unfruitful, he would not then fail to cut it down.
By this parable our Blessed Lord represented the goodness of God towards the Jews, in giving them the outward dispensations of religion, and informed them of the improvements they should make of these advantages, and the punishment that would be inflicted on them, in case they slighted such benevolent offers. He also reprešented by it, in a very beautiful manner, the unbounded mercies of the Almighty in sparing them at the interces. sion of his Son, and giving them a farther time of trial, and still greater advantages, by the preaching of him and his apostles; concluding with an observation, that if they
pay any tribute, but to his temple.” It was very probably in Gali. lee, where this Judas first broached these sentiments, and there acquired such a multitude of followers and abettors, as made Josephus call him Galileus, as well as Gaulonites. And, indeed, his followers in general, though they were of different provinces by birth, ob. tained the same name. But when they came to Jerusalem, at one of the great festivals, and began to spreall these seditious notions against Csesar, Pilate, who was then the Roman governor, caused a considerable number of them to be slain in the teinple, while they were sacrificing at the altar.
* The fountain of Siloam rose at the foot of the wall of the east part of the city of Jerusalem. The tower, called after its name, was, doubtless, built upon the wall, not far from it; and, being now become ancient, might fall upon such a number of people, either passing by, or standing under it.
VOL. ii. S I