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his question concerning an expression in the cxth Psalm, exposed the ignorance of the Scribes and Pharisees, proceeded to caution the people who were present against their delusions; he enjoined them to pay proper respect to the Scribes and Pharisees, as teachers of the Law of Moses, and to practise the duties which they taught from that law, but by no means to imitate their actions. Our Lord then enlarged on the hypocrisy, pride, arrogance, and superstition of the Pharisees, and strongly recommended a contrary behaviour to all his disciples, particularly those who were to preach the Gospel; "teaching them not to spend their zeal on the externals of religion, and make their devotion a cloak for maliciousness and fraud; nor lay down rules for the conduct of others, by which they could not govern themselves; nor yet to affect superiority over each other, but to live like brethren. He also cautioned them to retain the greatest reverence for an oath, and not to use evasions in a matter which, however expressed, was in effect a solemn appeal to God himself."
From our LORD's description of the Pharisees, we discover the justice of his severe denunciations against them. The crimes for which they were notorious are so particularly enumerated, that we cannot fail of perceiving the enormity of them. It was very evident, from their strenuous opposition to our LORD himself, that they exactly resembled their forefathers, who persecuted the prophets; and the sequel of the history will shew, that our LORD's prediction respecting their treatment of the Apostles was, after his death, exactly verified.
It was certainly consistent with our LORD's character as MESSIAH, to denounce these woes against the Jewish teachers; and his indignation was very just, as they so
highly dishonoured the name of the FATHER: for CHRIST had repeatedly offered them salvation, which they disdainfully rejected. All their personal malice to himself, our LORD bore with astonishing meekness; and even at this time he expressed the utmost grief, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem (amongst whom the Pharisees were the chief) would not listen to his tender and affectionate invitations, so often repeated, but repaid his love with contempt, hatred and persecution.
Our LORD's declaration, that from henceforth, they should see him no more, &c. may be understood to mean, that this would be his last visit to Jerusalem, and that the unbelieving Jews should see him no more till he came in his glory to judge the world.
The present Section appears to contain a recapitulation of all the woes formerly denounced by our LORD against the Scribes and Pharisees, with some additional ones. We may observe great resemblance between this discourse, and that uttered when he dined at the house of a Pharisee, which justifies the opinion, that our LORD sometimes repeated the very things he had publicly uttered before, and reconciles many seeming contradictions in the writings of the different Evangelists. We may, however, suppose, that our LORD did not make these repetitions to the same audience, nor in instances where his instructions were local. It was a part of the office of the MESSIAH, to warn the Jewish teachers of the judgments they would bring on themselves, by persisting in their spirit of persecuting the prophets, and other righteous men. Some or other of the Scribes and Pharisees perpetually watched him; yet, as they were numerous, we cannot think that all followed him wherever he went; therefore, had our LORD omitted to warn any of them, they might have pleaded ignorance
of GoD's impending judgments: and it appears more consistent with the character of a Divine Teacher (who in respect to his public instructions, professed to speak agreeably to the impulse of the in-dwelling GODHEAD) to make use of the same form of words, as far as the occasion agreed, than to affect a variety of expression, according to the custom of men, since the dictates of infinite wisdom could not be improved; and the sentiments of the Deity (if it may be so expressed) must be invariable and impartial. Let us, then, never suffer our faith to be shaken by those who reject the Gospels, because one Evangelist sometimes relates a discourse as having passed at one period of our LORD's ministry, which another refers to a different one; since we find an argument may be drawn from this very circumstance, that JESUS spake the words of the LORD GOD.-Let us consider how awful they are on the present occasion; and be careful not to draw down upon ourselves the woes denounced against the SCRIBES and PHARISEES!
THE WIDOW'S MITE.
From Mark, Chap. xii.
AND JESUS sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury.
For they all did cast in of their abundance: but she of her want did cast all in tl at she had, even all her living.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The treasury was a part of the temple, where the chests stood which contained the contributions of the people. At this public time, they brought their offerings and gifts towards the expences of that holy edifice. The money thus collected was expended in wood for the altar, salt, and other necessaries, not provided for in any other way. The poor widow saw the rich cast in a part of their superfluities, and had she been possessed of abundance, she would have exceeded many of them in liberality; for her heart was filled with gratitude to God, nor could she be contented without giving some testimony of it; she, therefore, resolved to cast in all she was worth. This shews, that her mind was habituated to trusting in Divine Providence; and that she had none of those anxious fears of future want which so often add to the bitterness of poverty. It is to be supposed, that this woman had no family at home, who stood in need of any provision, for in that case she would have been reproved and not commended by our LORD; as he had repeatedly declared, that his FATHER preferred mercy to sacrifice. His commendation of her pious action shews, that the smallest services are acceptable to GoD: and teaches us not to despise the poor, since many of them are rich in good works; and it is the principle and circumstances of an action which recommend it, more than the outward appearance of it.
JESUS FORETELS THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM.
From Matthew, Chap. xxiv.-Mark, Chap. xiii.-
AND as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones, and what buildings are here.
And JESUS said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us when these things shall be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am CHRIST: and shall deceive many.
And ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places.
But before all these they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers, for my name's sake.
And it shall turn to you for a testimony.