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of that prohibition or caution, on the other: the former expressed in verse 1, the latter in verses 2 and 3. As to the prohibition or caution itself, it is as concise and simple, as every injunction, whether positive or negative, on a point of duty or question of practice, ought to be: “ Take heed to
yourselves from the leaven of the Pharisees, which “ is hypocrisy.” The parties addressed by this injunction are of course the disciples of our Lord, to whom he began first to speak. The reasons assigned for it are twofold; first, a general reason, applicable to all who might be guilty of the breach of the injunction, that is, of the act prohibited by it, in general; which reason is assigned in verse 2: and secondly, a special reason, applicable to the persons addressed, if they should be guilty of the act, in particular; which reason is contained in verse 3.
Now, in what particular capacity the persons addressed by such an injunction as this, that is, our Lord's disciples—must be supposed to stand, to make it applicable to their case; can be determined only by considering first the meaning and restriction of the injunction, which is doubly qualified; first as a caution to beware not merely of leaven in general, but of the leaven of the Pharisees in particular; and secondly, not of that leaven itself, except as constituting in some sense, and being equivalent to hypocrisy. That the term leaven is here used metaphorically, there can be no doubt; that the intention of the metaphor is to describe by the leaven in question the daxn, teaching or doctrine—of the Pharisees, may be rendered probable by the following considerations.
The same caution to beware of the leaven of the
three principal sects, including that of the Pharisees, was given to the disciples on a former occasion, recorded by St. Matthew and St. Mark, but not by St. Lukeb. Were there any doubt of the proper meaning of the word here, as defining the object of the required caution, it must be removed by what passed upon that occasion; the very misconception of its signification, which the disciples at first formed, by its simplicity serving to render the explanation afterwards given of the word only the more remarkable, and the import of the term as metaphorically to be understood, only the more intelligible. There might be an apparent ground in the customs of the time, as regulating the intercourse of the different sects, even for that mistake; which would tend in some degree to excuse the disciples for falling into it. But whether with any foundation in the peculiar usages of their countrymen or not, the disciples it seems, were wrong in understanding the allusion to leaven, of the leaven of bread; for which the word was not intended, but for the doctrine of the Pharisees, and of the other sects. St. Luke's omission of what passed upon that former occasion, in reference to this prohibition, is presumptively an argument, (founded on the principle usual with him, of relating nothing of the same kind in his own Gospel twice,) that the caution which he records to have been delivered on the present occasion, was virtually one to the same effect with the other ; merely repeated on a later occasion, to the persons who had heard the former.
We may take it for granted, then, that to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees in this instance as well in the former, is to beware of their didaxù, or doctrine. But what must we understand by the Sidaxr, or doctrine of the Pharisees ? Both in the classical, and also in the common or popular sense of the term, it is capable of standing for each of two things; either for the things taught by the Pharisees; or for the mode and manner of teaching them. The command, then, to beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees, per se, may be understood here as a command to beware either of what they taught, or of the mode and manner in which they taught it; but it cannot be understood of both : and it will make a considerable difference as to the final end of the caution, and the supposed situation and character of the parties addressed by it, in which of these two senses particularly, we conceive it to be here intended.
h Matth. xvi. 4-12; Mark viii. 13-21. Harm. P. iv. 6.
A caution to beware of what the Pharisees taught, could be necessary for persons placed in the situation of hearers only; but a caution to beware of the mode and manner with which they taught it, might be applicable to persons who were teachers themselves. As hearers too, such persons would be addressed by the caution as those who must otherwise have been required to depend for instruction on the Pharisees; but as teachers, as those who would have hearers to instruct themselves; in the former capacity, as liable to be misled by the authority of the Pharisees, to receive and believe what they taught amiss; and in the latter, as liable to be seduced by their example, to teach something themselves and to inculcate it for belief on others, amiss. That the caution in question is addressed to our Lord's disciples in the latter sense, not in the former, and as liable to the last mentioned of these dangers, not to the first, may be shewn as follows.
First; though there might have been a time when even the disciples of our Lord, as well as the rest of the people, were obliged to depend for instruction on the Scribes and Pharisees, and required to believe implicitly as they were taught by them; yet from the moment that they became his followers and were taken immediately under his tuition, this could not be the case with them any longer, whatsoever it might be with the rest of their countrymen. As being all his disciples, and all so far scholars or learners in common; as being all to be taught by him; as all acknowledging, or bound to acknowledge no master but himself—it was, that our Saviour said to the disciples, not long after this very time; “ That they must not themselves be call“ ed Rabbi, as having all one and the same Master,
(or Rabbi,) Christ, and being all themselves equals “ and brethren; nor call any other teacher, Father, as
having all one and the same Teacher or Father, in “ heaven.”c It would be inconsistent with the supposition of a peculiar, exclusive relation to himself in this respect, if our Lord had considered them still dependent on any master but himself; or in danger of being misled by the authority of any teachers, whose teaching might differ essentially from his own.
When we were explaining the parable of the leaven, we had occasion to enter at length upon the consideration of this metaphor; and it was then determined that, as the designation of a proper moral cause in connexion with its proper moral effect, the notion of leaven was just as natural, and just as much of regular occurrence, as that of the grain of mustard-seed, to represent a proper physical or sensible cause, in reference to its proper physical or sensible effect d. To the idea of a metaphor so intended, the mode or manner of teaching, the use of a medium or process of instruction, purposely calculated to mislead the learners — to create and perpetuate error-and much more the motives which must actuate the teacher to the adoption of such a mode of teaching—the personal views and principles in which his teaching must be founded; are better calculated to answer, than his doctrine itself, or the nature and description of the things taught by him. These last are themselves effects and consequences of the personal motives and predilections of the teacher. They may be used instrumentally by him, as the means of deceiving and misguiding others; but they are not themselves the reasons which prompt to that use. They may account for the ultimate effect produced by the neglect and dereliction of the proper duty of the teacher, in corrupting the faith or perverting the practice of those whom he is bound to teach ; but they are not the first causes of the neglect and dereliction itself.
c Matth. xxiii. 8-10.
There are several passages in the Gospels, in which the same word didaxs or doctrine occurs, where the sense requires it to be understood not of the things taught, but of the mode or manner of teaching them. Thus Mark i. 22, and Luke iv. 31°, when our Lord had been teaching for the first time in the
synagogue of Capernaum, at the beginning of his