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portunity, how reasonable is it to suppose that God will see justice done to his own elect, from the benevolence and rectitude of his own nature. This mode of reasoning was common with Jesus. We find an instance of it in the sermon on the mount, when he was endeavoring to inspire men with confidence in God, assuring them that, if they asked, they should receive; " for every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Matt. vii. 8. Then comes the argument.
6. What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone ?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent ?” Matt. vii. 9, 10. There is no such father on earth. Well, if imperfect and sinful men are so ready to give favors to their children, how much more ready is God to bestow blessings on those who ask him ? Or to give the argument in the language of the evangelist, “if ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven, give good things to those who ask him?" Matt. vii. 11. If then the unjust judge heeded the importunity of the widow, how much more reason. able was it to suppose, that God would “
"avenge his own elect, which cry every day and night unto him, though he bear long with them.” ver. 7. The elect here spoken of were the early christians, who are often called the elect in the scriptures. Hence it is said, that at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus would “gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” Matt. xxiv. 31. See also Mark xiii. 20, 22, 27. These elect God would avenge, he would see justice done to them although he bore long with them, i. e. delayed it for some time. “I tell you,” says Jesus, in closing the application of the parable, " that he will avenge them speedily,” to which Arch Bishop Newcome adds, by way of explanation, “by bringing the Roman armies upon the Jews their persecutors" (Newcome's Observations.) And it is rendered more certain that the true application of the passage is to the destruction of Jerusalem, by the questions which Jesus asks, as follows : “ Nevertheless, when the son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?” or in the land (of Judea) as some translate the passage. Whitby remarks here, “when the son of man comes to exercise this vengeance on the Jewish nation, how few shall he find in the Jewish nation that will believe it? As for the unbelieving Jews, though Christ and his forerunner had told them so frequently and plainly of their approaching ruin; and though they had so many signs of it recorded in Josephus, he tells us they were still expecting deliverance from God. And they among them who believed and professed the christian faith, being pressed with continual sufferings, began to grow weary and faint in their minds, and ask where is the promise of his coming? Yea, some of them began to forsake the assembling of the saints, Heb. x. 25, and many of them became apostates, and fell back to their old Judaism; so that all the epistles directed to them, are manifestly designed to keep them stedfast in the faith.” (Paraphrase and Annot. Note on Luke xviii. 8.) Matthew represents Jesus as saying, that on account of the afflictions which should precede the destruetion of Jerusalem, many should be offended, and the love of many should wax cold. At the time of Christ's coming, he found but little faith on the earth. This coming of Christ, it should be remembered, was not his personal ap
pearance, but his gracious interposition in favor of his followers, and for the destruction of his enemies.
Parable of the Pharisee and Publican.
LUKE XVIII, 10-14.
“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publi
I fest twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the pu’lican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful tome a sinner. I tell you, This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased ; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
This passage is called by the evangelist a parable, although it partakes but little of the character of a parable, being rather a literal relation of the supposed conduct of the Pharisees and publicans. The object in stating it is explained in ver. 9. “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” There is a remarkable consistency in the characters of these men ; for nothing could be more reasonably expected, than that those should despise others, who had a vain conceit of their own goodness. Jesus designed to draw the real character of the Pharisees, to contrast them with such as they regarded as sinners, and to show that God -approved the latter in preference to themselves.
“Two men went up into the temple to pray." This is a s pposed case-not a real one. The temple at Jerusalem was the place where prayers were offered. One of these men was a Pharisee, the other a publican. The Pharisees were a very numerous and influential sect among the Jews. They were the principal opposers of Jesus Christ, who rebuked them with great familiarity, and pointed out their vices in a fearless and faithful manner. Although they were supposed by the common people to possess great sanctity, they were grossly hypocritical, and vain, and they did the greater part of their religious acts to be seen of men. This was their greatest fault. They loved the praise of men, and affected a righteousness they did not possess, to obtain it. Many of them probably supposed themselves to be truly righteous, like those mentioned in ver. 9, "who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” The publicans, as we have shown in another place, were those who collected the public taxes. They were the objects of universal abhorrence among the Jews, and were supposed frequently to be guilty of great extortion in their exactions from the people. These were the characters of the two men who went up to the ternple to pray. The Pharisee stood by himself, not stood and prayed by himself, as it is the common version. Dr. Campbell renders the expression, “the Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus.” This is in perfect agreement with the character of a Pharisee. He was afraid of being polluted by the touch of the publican; and for this reason the Jews performed their frequent washings when they came from the markets, and other places of public resort. Mark vii. 4. They objected strongly to Jesus, who eat and drank with
the publicans and sinners, undoubtedly supposing that from a respect to his character he ought to have declined their company.
The seuse we have put on the phrase here, is justified by ver. 13, where we read that the publican stood afar off.
Let us observe the prayer of the Pharisee, which in fact, is not a prayer at all, but merely a declaration of his own goodness. Instead of praying, he boasted. In the first place, he mentioned those sins of which he said he was not guilty, as follows: “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers." Here the spirit of the Pharisee is fully displayed. He could not think of the publican, without drawing a contrast between him, and himself. For in these words, “extortioners, unjust,” he evidently alluded to the well known character of the publicans for extortion and injustice; and then he immediately adds, " or even as this publican.” Now whether the Pharisee was not guilty of these sins, must depend solely on his own testimony, as no one else haih cver assured us that they were not " extortioners and unjust.” From the description of the Pharisees which Jesus gave, we should conclude they were guilty of the highest rapacity and injustice, since he distinctly charges them with devouring widows' houses, and binding heavy burdens and grievous to be borne and laying them on men's shoulders. This was their real charactur; but the Pharisee, in the parable, like all other Pharisees, while he could see the failings of others with the keenest vision, could not see his own. We will now listen to his positive description of himself, and see what virtues he has actually performed. Hark! “I fast twice in the week, I give tythes of all that I possess.” His prayer, if such it can be