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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 publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, 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 I went up to the temple 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 sense 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 hath ever 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 character; 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
called, is ended, and these were the virtues which he punctilionsly performed. Did he say, Lord, I love my neighbor as myself I do unto others as I would have them do unto me-I am kind to the distressed and unfortunate? No, the virtues of benevolence were not very precious in his sight. Here was the difference between the religion of the Pharisees and the religion of Christ. Their religion was a mere round of rites and ceremonies— mankind were not happier for it, it did not relieve the distressed; while the religion of Christ, was designed to promote "peace on earth, and good will towards men." The Pharisee unquestionably mentioned what he thought were his best acts; and what were they? Fasting twice in the week, and paying tythes. In these, and other frivolous things, the Pharisees were very punctilious; but they fasted to be seen of men, Matt. vi. 16, and paid tythes that they might omit the weightier matters of the law, "justice, mercy and faith," Matt. xxiii. 23. Their days of fasting were the second and fifth of every week, corresponding to our Mondays and Thursdays.
Let us turn now to the publican. He did not boast, nor think himself better than other men. He "would not lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a Esinner." What a contrast! a contrast which heightens the vanity and ostentation of the Pharisee. In the publican we see a pattern of true humility. Respectful to the feelings of the Pharisee, who he knew would not permit his approach, he stood afar Boff. His is a real prayer. "God be merciful to me a sinner." As though he had said, God, I stand in need of thy mercy. I pray for a sinner, that mercy may be granted him. I am that sinner, O
God, be merciful to me. I pray for the forgiveness of my own offences.
These were the characters of the Pharisee and publican; and now it is an important question, which was justified in the sight of God. Men generally would have supposed the Pharisee to possess the most religion, who declared so solemnly before God that he was not like other men, that he did not commit extortion, nor injustice, but fasted twice in the week, and parted freely of his substance for the support of religion. But Jesus, who knew men's hearts, said of the publican, "this man went down to his house justified rather than the other."
It is evident that Jesus, in this parable, intended to present what men generally regarded as purest holiness on the one hand, and extreme wickedness on the other. The Pharisees were regarded as the most holy people on earth, and the publicans as the most wicked. The object of the parable before us was to show that the religion of the Pharisees was a mere observance of rites and ceremonies, which indeed obtained for thein the praise of men, but not the praise of God, for they were destitute of the spirit of pure religion; while the publican, whom every body despised, sensible of his sins, and crying for mercy, was justified rather than the ostentatious, self-conceited Pharisee. The moral deduced from the parable is this: "for every one that exalteth himself shall be abused; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Those who are proud, who in their own estimation are above others, who assume a rank in society to which their virtues do not entitle them, must be abased; "pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." But they who are