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by which their servile work was that day double of what it was on the other days of the week. This, though really no profanation of the sabbath, might, according to the common notion of the Jews, be so termed, and therefore, in speaking of it, our Lord calls it so. But I say unto you, that, in this place, is one greater than the temple. If you reply that the priests were not culpable in those actions, because they were undertaken for the temple service, I must acknowledge it; but, at the same time, I must observe, that, if the temple, with its service, is of such importance as to merit particular dispensation from the law of the sabbath, I and my disciples, whose business of promoting the salvation of men is a matter of more importance, may, on that account, with more reason, take the same liberty, in a case of the like necessity. According to this interpretation, the reading a greater work, instead of a greater person, which is authorized by so many MSS. will have a peculiar elegance. There is, here, a much more noble work carrying on, than the temple service. Or the common reading may be retained thus; if the servile work, done in the temple on the sabbath, is not reckoned an offence, because it is undertaken on account of the temple worship, the rubbing of the ears, for which you blame my disciples, cannot be any, seeing they do it in order to support their life, while they are employed in the service of one who is greater than their temple. For his human nature was a much more august temple, in respect of the essential inhabitation of the divinity, than that at Jerusalem. Hence he himself called his body a temple, at the first passover. [John ii. 21. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. I delight in mercy more than in sacrifice, for this is the Hebrew form of comparison. Besides, it is not to be supposed that God would say to the Jews he had no pleasure in sacrifice, which was his own institution. Thus our Lord plainly proved it to be God's will that works of mercy should not be left undone, though attended with the violation of the most sacred ceremonial institutions.
[Mark ii. 27.] And he said unto them, the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath the sabbath was contrived for the benefit and relief of man, being instituted in commemoration of the creation of the world, finished in six days; and to perpetuate, unto latest ages, the knowledge of this grand truth, that the world was made by God, in opposition both to atheism and idolatry, the sins which mankind have ever been apt to run into. It was instituted, also, that men, abstaining from all sorts of labour but such as are necessary to the exercises of piety and charity, might have leisure for meditating on the works of creation, wherein the perfections of God are fairly delineated; and that, by these meditations, they might acquire not only the knowledge of God, but a relish of spiritual and divine pleasures, flowing from the contemplation of God's attributes, from the exercise of the love of God, and from obedience to his commandments. It is thus that men are prepared for entering into the heavenly rest of which the earthly sabbath is an emblem.
To conclude; the sabbath, among the Israelites, was appointed to keep up the remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt, and for the comfort of their slaves and beasts, humanity to both being especially incumbent upon a people who had once groaned under the heaviest bondage. From all this it is evident, that to burden men, much more to hurt them, through the observation of the sabbath, which has no intrinsic excellency in itself, is, to all, quite contrary to the design of God in appointing [Mark ii. 28.] Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. Since the sabbath was instituted for the man, the observation of it, in cases of necessity, may be dispensed with by any man whatsoever, but especially by me, who am lawgiver of the Jewish commonwealth, and can make what alterations in its institutions I think
fit. This argument, drawn from the consideration of his own dignity, our Lord largely insisted on when he was persecuted for a pretended profanation of the sabbath, by the cure which he performed at Bethesda. [John v. 17..30.]
At this time, Jesus continued awhile at Jerusalem, teaching, not only the inhabitants of that city, and of the neighbouring villages, but the people who had come from all quarters to the feast, and who, in all probability, tarried, on this occasion, longer than usual, in order to hear the sermons, and see the miracles, of a prophet, concerning whom they had heard such astonishing reports. We may, therefore, suppose, that, during his abode in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, our Lord was constantly attended by great multitudes, and consequently, that every sermon he preached had many hearers, and every miracle he performed many witnesses. In examining the following passage of the history, these observations deserve attention. For we are told that, on another sabbath, perhaps, the sabbath immediately following the first second-day sabbath mentioned above, Jesus entered into a synagogue near Jerusalem, and taught the people. Luke, who alone mentions our Lord's teaching on this occasion, has not told us what the subject of this sermon was. He only observes, that there was in the synagogue a person whose right hand was withered, and gives an account of the miracle which Jesus so kindly performed for the recovery thereof. On this occasion, there were present scribes and Pharisees, persons of the greatest character and learning, who had either mixed with the crowd that followed Jesus, or were in the synagogue before he came. These men, ever unfriendly to the Saviour, carefully attended to every thing he said or did, with an intention to find some matter of blame in him, by which they might blast his reputation with the people. Wherefore, when they saw Jesus, after he bad ended his sermons, fix his eyes on the man whose right hand was withered, they made no doubt but he would essay to cure him, and resolved to charge him directly with the sin for which they blamed the disciples the sabbath before, hoping, at least, to raise prejudices in the minds of the people against him. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, "Rise up, and stand forth in the midst." He ordered him to shew himself to the whole congregation, that the sight of his distress might move them to pity him, and that they might be the more sensibly struck with the miracle, when they observed the wasted hand restored to its former dimensions and activity in an instant. And he arose and stood forth [Mat. xii. 10.] And they asked him, saying, is it lawful to heal on the sabbath-days? "that they might accuse him. When the Pharisees saw Jesus going to perform the cure, they put this question to him, by which they declared, in the strongest terms, their opinion of its unlawfulness. But, in so doing, they had no intention to prevent the action which they knew he was resolved upon, but to render him odious to the common people, expecting that he would openly declare such things lawful, in opposition to the designations of the doctors, who had all determined, that to perform cures on the sabbath was a violation of the holy rest. Or, if he should give no answer to their questions, as it implied an affirmation of the unlawfulness of what he was about to attempt, they thought it would render him inexcusable, and give the better colour to their accusation. [Luke vi. 9.] Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-days, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? (Mark, to save life, or to kill?) That he might expose the malice and superstition of the Pharisees, he appealed to the dictates of their own mind, whether it was not more lawful to do good on the sabbaths than to do evil, to save life than to kill. He meant, more lawful for him, on the sabbath, to save men's lives, than for them to plot his death without the least provocation. This was a severe, but just rebuke, which, in present circumstances, must have been sensibly felt. Yet the Pharisees, pretending
not to understand his meaning, made him no answer. [Mark iii. 4.] But they held their peace. Wherefore, he answered them with an argument which the dullness of stupidity could not possibly overlook, nor the peevishness of cavilling gainsay. The Jews, it seems, at that day, contrary to what was afterwards their practice, thought it proper, if a sheep fell into a pit on the sabbath-day, to lay hold of it and He, therefore, very properly, asked them whether the same regard ought not to be extended to a man as to a sheep; and, receiving no reply, he saith to the man, Stretch forth thine hand; and he stretched it out, and his hand was restored hole as the other.
lift it out.
All this, however, could neither conquer the malice nor the unbelief of the Pharisees; for they immediately went forth, and took counsel with the Herodians to destroy him. Christ, as his hour of suffering was not yet come, and it was not his business to make any resistance to their power, withdrew with his disciples to the sea; and was followed by a vast multitude of hearers, who were collected, not only from different parts of the Jewish land, but also from the heathen countries of Idumea, Phenicia, and Syria. And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him, because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.
For he had healed
many, insomuch that they pressed upon him to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, thou art the Son of God. And he straightway charged them that they should not make him known. By this mild and submissive conduct of the Son of God, was fulfilled the following passage in the forty-third chapter of Isaiah. Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, or cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets: A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
The calumnies with which the Pharisees persecuted Jesus, though most malicious, did not irritate him, nor make him leave off those good offices to men which they interpreted so basely. On the contrary, he, the more earnestly, endeavoured to promote the prosperity and salvation of all. For he immediately left Capernaum, and travelled through the country in quest of opportunities of doing good. [Mat. ix. 35.] And Jesus went about all the cities and villages teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness, and every disease among the people. Probably, our Lord was now going up to some of the festivals; for it is thus the evangelists describe his journies to Jerusalem.
In returning home, Jesus was attended with great multitudes of people, who began to have a more than ordinary relish of his doctrine. And, as they were utterly neg lected by the scribes and Pharisees, the appointed public teachers, who ought to have instructed them, the indefatigable zeal, with which our Lord spread the knowledge of divine things, was most seasonable and acceptable. The teachers, just now mentioned, were blind, perverse, lazy guides, who every day discovered their ignorance. and wickedness more and more. They neglected the office of teaching altogether, or they filled the people's minds with high notions of ritual observances and traditions, to the utter disparagement of moral duties, which, in a manner, they trampled underfoot; so that, instead of serving God, they served their own glory, their gain, and their belly. Wherefore, an appearance of religion, which they had, was wholly feigned and hypocritical, insomuch that they rather did hurt by it than were of real service to the interests of virtue. Besides, the common people, being distracted by the disagreeing factions of the Pharisees and Sadducees, knew not what to choose of
refuse. Their case, therefore, called loudly for the compassion of Jesus, which, indeed, was never wanting to them at any time; for he always cherished the tenderest affection towards his countrymen: but it flowed particularly on this occasion, when he considered that they were in great distress for want of spiritual food. [Mat. ix. 36.] But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Being either deserted or misled by their spiritual guides, they had strayed from the pastures of the law and the prophets, and were in the greatest danger of perishing. Hence they are called the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [Mat. x. 6.] Jesus, therefore, deeply touched with a feeling of their distress, resolved to provide some remedy for it. Accordingly he directed his disciples to intercede with God, who, by his servants the prophets, had sowed the seeds of piety and virtue in the minds of the Jews, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Then saith he unto his disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but labourers are few: there are multitudes of people willing to receive instruction, but there are few able to give it. Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. Pray God to send out into the world skilful and faithful ministers, who shall convert all such as are capable of being made virtuous.
Moreover, he went up privately by himself into a mountain, and spent a whole night in prayer, to the same effect, as may be gathered from the transactions of the following day. [Luke vi. 12.]And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. This some, and he continued all night in a prayer-house of God; for the Jews had many houses on mountains, and by the sides of rivers, set apart for prayer. See Dr. Benson on Acts xvi. 13. This translation does not alter the sense of the passage; for, as Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, we cannot avoid supposing that he spent the greatest part of the night in acts of devotion. And, when it was day, he called unto him (Mark, whom he would,) his disciples; and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. Early in the morning he called such of his disciples as he thought proper, and chose twelve of them to attend him constantly. [Mark iii. 14.] And he ordained twelve, (Luke, whom also he named apostles) that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach. And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils. He ordained them to be with him always, that they might, from his mouth, learn the doctrine which they were, in due time, to preach through the world, that they might see his glory, [John i. 14.] the transcendant glory of the virtues which adorned his human life, and that they might be witnesses to all the wonderful works which he should perform, [Acts x. 39..41.] and by which his mission from God was to be clearly demonstrated. The twelve were thus to be qualified for supplying the people with that spiritual food which their teachers neglected to give them, and that both before and after their Master's death. Accordingly, when they had continued witn Jesus as long as was necessary for this end, he sent them two by two into Judea, on the important work of preparing the people for his reception, who was the true shepherd. Hence he named them apostles, that is, persons sent out. But their name was more peculiarly applicable to them, and their office was raised to its perfection after Christ's ascension, when he sent them out into all the world with the doctrine of the gospel, which he enabled them to preach by inspiration, giving them power, at the same time, to confirm it, by the most astonishing miracles. That this was the nature which the new dignity which Jesus now conferred on the twelve disciples, is evident from John xx. 21, where we find him confirming them in the apostolical office: As my Father hath sent me, so send I you; I send you upon the same errand,
and with the same authority; I send you to reveal the will of God for the salvation of men, and bestow on you both the gift of tongues, and the power of working miracles, that you may be able to preach the doctrine of salvation in every country, and to confirm it as divine, in opposition to all gainsayers. Perhaps, the number of twelve apostles was fixed upon rather than any other, to shew that God intended to gather the scattered remnant of the twelve tribes by their ministry. After their election, the twelve accompanied Jesus; constantly lived with him, on one common stock, as his family; and never departed from him, unless by his express appointment.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke, have, each of them, given us a catalogue of the names of the apostles; and their exactness, in this particular, is greatly to be praised. For, as the apostleship clothed the person on whom it was conferred with the high authority of directing the religious faith of mankind, it was of no small importance to the world to know who they were, to whom this dignity belonged. [Mark iii. 16.] And Simon he surnamed Peter (Luke, Simon, whom he named Peter); And James the son of Zebedec, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them boanerges, which is, the sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, (Matthew, Matthew the publican,) and Thomas, and James the son of Thaddeus, and Alpheus, (Luke, and Judas the brother of James. Matthew, Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus,) and Simon the Canaanite, (Luke, Simon called Zelotes,) and Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him.
In the catalogues given by Matthew and Luke, Simon and Andrew, the sons of Jonab, are named first, not because they were greater in dignity than their brethren of the apostolical college, but because they had become Christ's disciples before them. With respect to Andrew, this is plain from John i. 40, 41. And as for Peter, he may have been the second disciple, notwithstanding it was another person who accompanied Andrew when he first conversed with Jesus. That person is supposed to have been John, the son of Zebedee, and the author of the gospel; because he is there spoken of in the manner that John usually speaks of himself. But, whoever he was, Peter may have been a disciple before him; because it by no means follows from Andrew being convinced, that his companion was convinced also. The foundation of his faith may have been laid at that meeting, though he did not acknowledge Christ's mission till afterwards. Now as some one of the disciples was to have the first place in the catalogue, the earliness of Peter's faith might be a reason of conferring that honour on him. But he takes place even of his brother Andrew, who was converted before him, perhaps, because decency required it, being, as is generally believed, the elder brother. In like manner, James, the son of Zebedee, being elder than John his brother, is mentioned before him, though it is probable that he was the younger disciple. Whatever was the reason of ranking the apostles in the catalogue, we are certain they are not ranged according to their dignity; for, had that been the case, the order of names would not have been different in the different evangelists; neither would the apostle Paul, in speaking of the pillars of the church, [Gal. ii. 9.] have mentioned James the Less before Peter.
Further, on supposition that the apostles are ranked in the catalogues according to their dignity, it will follow that John and Matthew, whose praise is in all the churches, on account of their writings, were inferior to apostles, who are scarce once named in the Gospel or Acts, except in the catalogues. Add to this, if Peter was the chief apostle, how came it that James, the son of Alpheus, presided in the first council at Jerusalem? [Acts xv. 19.] as is plain from his summing up the debate, and wording the decree. Or, if Peter was the greatest in point of activity and courage, how came Herod to kill James the son of Zebedee before he laid hold on Peter, whom, indeed,