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Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

THEY who are not familiar with the universal extent of God's revelation, with that peculiar mark of its divine original, its providing against opposite dangers with equal earnestness, although not always at equal length, inasmuch as one, though not less fatal than the other, may be less common; they may be surprised to find in the New Testament such words as those which I have just read. It may seem strange that the Founder of a religion, which was, in one sense, to owe its whole existence to proselytism, should thus strongly condemn the zeal of making proselytes; that he, whose disciples were to labour to convert every soul,

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and bring it into Christ's family, should speak of persons converted from one religion to another, as being made worse than their teachers; or, as it may be implied, worse than they themselves had been before. But these words of the text, this condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees for their spirit of proselytism, contain one of the most useful of lessons, standing, as they do, along with so many others in praise of the spirit of proselytism. We should bear in mind together the two sayings of our Lord, which so beautifully accompany one another: " Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" and, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."

Now, if we were to put these two passages so close together before some interpreters, and many readers of Scripture, they would find nothing at all remarkable in them. They would say, that Christ enjoins Christians to make proselytes to Christianity, because it is the truth; and that he condemns the Scribes and Pharisees for making proselytes, because

they brought them over to a system of error. And, accordingly, they would regard the warning as having nothing to do with themselves, nor with any one who is endeavouring to spread the belief of the great truths of the gospel.

It is by this method of interpretation, this catching at names and losing the substance, that we deprive ourselves of half the benefits of the Scripture. And it is remarkable, that it was the very system of interpretation actually adopted by those very Scribes and Pharisees whom our Lord is in the text condemning. They condemned their fathers for killing the prophets, and supposed that the judgments denounced in their Scriptures upon the sins. of their fathers, had no relation to them. For, they argued, our fathers worshipped idols, and neglected the service of God, and profaned his Sabbaths; and then, in conclusion, they shed the blood of those holy men who warned them of their sin and danger. God, therefore, cast them out of their place by a most just sentence, even as he had threatened them. But what is their case to us? we have turned from idols and serve only our fathers' God; we honour his name and reverence his sanctuary, and his Sabbaths

we observe with most scrupulous care. Those of his saints whom our fathers disobeyed or persecuted, we sincerely honour. We know that God spake to Moses; we hope to hear his voice ourselves through the mouth of his faithful servant Elijah, whom he has promised to send to us again. All the prophets, from Samuel, and those that come after, we reverence their name, we believe their words : the judgments which they speak of came upon our guilty fathers; the blessings which they promise, may be looked for by us, who serve the Lord in truth and earnestness.

Such was their language, and such the way in which, taking hold of names, and not thinking of the spirit and substance, they lost for themselves the use of that word of God which they daily studied. And Christ tells them, that they may well speak of those who killed the prophets as having been their fathers, seeing that they were in heart, as well as blood, their true children. With different words in their mouths, there was the same spirit; and they who built up the tombs of the prophets, were but filling up the measure of the sins of their fathers, by whom the prophets were slain.

So exactly it is with us, if we think that the

substance and spirit of our Lord's words is to be found, on the one hand, in the names of baptism, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; or, on the other hand, in the names of Scribes and Pharisees. We may proselytize to truth, and they may have proselytized to error, and yet it may be a woe to us no less than to them, that ever we did proselytize; nay, our proselytes, though made proselytes to the holiest truth, may yet become, by the very act of their conversion, in a worse state than they were before.

But when I speak of the Scribes and Pharisees having proselytized to error, I am needlessly weakening my own argument. They made proselytes to truth, in the same sense in which I used the word just now, when speaking of the proselytizing of Christians. For what does Christ say of them, but that sitting in Moses' seat, their instructions were to be observed, though not their actions? These Scribes and Pharisees taught their proselytes to believe in God, to hope for eternal life, to flee from idolatry, to believe in the Scriptures, and to keep the Law. What we call the truths of religion, so far as they were then revealed, were all taught by them. It is not correct, therefore,

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