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richo, to meet with the misfortune of falling in with some of these robbers: nor if he did, to suffer such usage at their hands, as is supposed to befall the wayfaring man in the parable. The frequency of these accidents was such as to make this high-road infamous for robberies, violence, and murder. Josephus, I believe, informs us, it passed proverbially in his time by the name of the bloody road; so that unless people were well armed and travelled in bodies, it could scarcely be passed with safety. Jerome, who by his personal residence at Bethlehem in Judæa, was well acquainted with the vicinity of Jerusalem, tells us it retained its old character in his time; being infested by bands of Arabian, if not of native robbers, and being as infamous for bloodshed and violence as evert.
If there is any circumstance in the account, which at first sight appears improbable; perhaps it is the particular coincidence that brought a priest and a Levite, and afterwards a Samaritan, to the spot where the unfortunate traveller was lying, time enough to afford him relief; which must necessarily have been soon after he came to require it. But this coincidence is attributed to what is ordinarily called chance, (Kaтà σvуkupíαv): and chance, as it will
s Adommim, quondam villula nunc ruinæ in sorte tribus Judæ, qui locus usque hodie vocatur Maledomim: [et Græce dicitur áváßaois Túppwv: Latine autem appellari potest, ascensus rufforum sive rubentium, propter sanguinem qui illic crebro a latronibus funditur: est autem confinium tribus Judæ et Benjamin] descendentibus ab Ælia Jerichum, ubi et castellum militum situm est [ob auxilia viatorum.] Hujus cruenti et sanguinarii loci, Dominus quoque in parabola descendentis Jerichum de Hierosolyma, recordatur. Hieronym. De nominibus et locis sanctis. t III. 541. ad calc. in Jerem. iii.
be allowed, might account for a more extraordinary combination of circumstances than this. The three parties, the traveller, the priest, and the Levite, were all journeying by the same road, and in the same direction; and therefore must pass by the same localities in general, and might do so not very long after each other ". All these three individuals, or if not the wounded man, yet the priest and the Levite in particular, might have been up to Jerusalem to attend some solemnity in common, or the latter two, to officiate in the weekly order of their course; and might be now returning to their own homes, at Jericho or any where else, provided the road thither lay through Jericho.
As to the Samaritan, it is not said whether he was journeying to Jericho, or from it; nor is it material, which he was doing. It suffices to know that he was travelling on his own business; on a road which was the principal thoroughfare, and most general line of communication, between the metropolis of Judæa, and other parts of the country; especially that part of it called Peræa, or beyond Jordan. Had he been there, or was he journeying thither, the usual road for travellers to take, even between his own country and that part, might have required him to be on the
u The language of the original supposes that the priest was in the same way, journeying or going down, at the very time when the misfortune happened to the traveller; though he did not come to the spot where the robbers had left him, until after that occurrence. Now this was very possible; for the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was an ordinary day's journey in length; and many things might pass and be over, in some parts of it, affecting those who were on it there—which others who were in a different and a distant part of it, could know nothing about, till they came to the spot.
highway to or from Jericho, when accident brought him to the spot, where the wounded man lay, in time to relieve his distress.
With regard indeed, to the most material circumstance of all, as connected with the moral of the story, the difference of the conduct attributed to the three parties respectively; we may admit that antecedent probability was in favour of the reverse of the actual state of the case; that a Priest or a Levite was more likely to have granted, and a Samaritan to have withheld, the relief in question. But the moral effect of the narrative turns altogether on the disappointment of this antecedent presumption, reasonable as it is; and it may still be shewn that under the circumstances of their situation, the act of the Priest and the Levite could scarcely fail to take place. In the mean time, if we only believe it to be real; we have nothing to do with its propriety, or its probability, beforehand. It must be admitted to be matter of fact.
Nor is it any objection to this supposition, that if the parable contains the history of an actual event, it shews our Lord to have been acquainted with a transaction which passed, apparently, in secret. There is many a good, as well as many an evil deed, performed in private or with very few witnesses, yet nevertheless equally well known to God; whose eyes are in every place, beholding both the evil and the good. Nor is it more extraordinary that our Saviour should have shewn himself acquainted with the unobserved actions of men, than with their secret thoughts; which he often did: nor that he should have been aware of the particulars of their past conduct, however private, than
of their future behaviour, though still to come: which is equally true of him *.
MATERIAL CIRCUMSTANCES, MORAL, AND
The circumstances of the parabolic history are so few and simple, that what has been said might almost suffice in explanation of them. If any thing more remains to be observed on the same subject, it will find a place under the consideration of the moral of the narrative, and its application. With respect however to this moral, we may premise, that the parable is capable of one construction, regarded as an independent narrative, yet possessing an use and meaning derived from itself; and of another, considered as returning an answer to the question, Who is my neighbour? For the rest of our remarks upon it, we shall regard it in each of these points of view.
It is not distinctly stated that the man who fell among robbers, and whose subsequent treatment at the hands of the different parties equally quali
* Dr. Paley has observed upon the parable, that it could be the composition of none but a man of humanity. He made the remark, conceiving it to contain a fictitious representation. But the proof which it supplies of our Saviour's habitual benevolence, is equally strong, if we suppose it to contain a reality. The selection of the instance by which he thought proper to inculcate the moral of universal charity, was his; and the manner of narrating it was peculiarly his; the one, as perfect an example of the tendencies and effect of the principle itself, as could have been produced; the other, as lively and touching, as simple and exquisite a description of its mode of operation, as could have been given, to do justice to it, consistently both with nature and the truth of history.
fied to have given him relief, is the subject of the history, was a Jew; yet it is strongly implied that he was, and it is absolutely necessary to the moral effect of the transaction, that we should consider him to have been so. The contrast of the difference of conduct, under the sameness of circumstances, which forms the point of the parable, turns upon this anomaly; that Jews are seen to withhold relief from the very person, under circumstances of the most urgent need, to whom a Samaritan, placed in the same situation as they, is seen to extend it. This person therefore, must be regarded as a Jew. There would have been nothing extraordinary in the fact of Jews' shewing kindness to a Jew; or of a Samaritan's shewing kindness to a Samaritan: any more, than in Jews' being seen to relieve a countryman of their own, and a Samaritan's having refused to do so. It would not have been more than otherwise was to be expected-had Jews been represented even as willing to relieve a Samaritan, knowing him to be such; while his own countryman as knowingly might have left him to perish. But that Jews, not to say a Priest and a Levite among the Jews-should be the persons to refuse, and a Samaritan the party to give relief to a Jew in distress and in urgent need of relief, was something beforehand improbable, and in the event surprising; which therefore, we cannot doubt that the history intended purposely to bring forward and to represent. Besides which, as the traveller in the parable had set out from Jerusalem, and was going to Jericho, when he met with his misfortune; he was probably a native of one or other of those places. Perhaps, not only he, but the Priest and the Levite,