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is preached. (Matthew, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.) passage may either be designed to display the disinterested condescension of our Lord, in devoting so much of his attention to the poor, or, if translated actively, (as the words may easily be thus taken,) the poor preach the gospel, points out the character of those who were the most distinguished instruments in propagating our holy religion. And, as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes con-cerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken with the wind? that is, a man of an unstable disposition, and cowardly behaviour? In this question, which implies a strong negation, the invincible courage and constancy of the Baptist is applauded. But what went ye out for to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing (Luke, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts,) are in kings' houses. In this question, the austere and mortified life of the Baptist is praised, and the spiritual nature of Messiah's kingdom insinuated. His forerunner did not resemble any of the officers who attend the courts of earthly princes, and, consequently, he himself was in no respect to be like an earthly prince. But what went ye out for to see? a prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more (Luke, much more) than a prophet. John Baptist justly merited to be called a prophet, because he excelled in every thing peculiar to a prophet. He was commissioned by God, and had an immediate communication with him. [John i. 33.] He foretold that the kingdom of heaven, spoken of by Daniel, was at hand. He pointed out the Messiah by revelation. He declared the terrible judgments that were to befal the people on account of their impenitence, their disbelief, and their rejecting the Messiah. [Luke iii. 17.]
To conclude: he was more than a prophet, inasmuch as he was Messiah's harbinger, sent to prepare the way before him, an office which clothed him with a dignity superior to that of a simple prophet, not to mention that he had the honour of baptizing Messiah himself. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. In this and the foregoing verse, Jesus signified to the people, that as they had gone out to John, under the character of a prophet, and had believed him on the best grounds, it was their duty to retain his doctrine in their minds, and to put it in practice during the whole course of their lives. Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater (Luke, prophet,) than John the Baptist; notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. The least inspired teacher, under the gospel dispensation, is a greater prophet than John. And from the days of John the Baptist uutil now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come. The meaning of the whole passage is this Gentiles, tax-gatherers, soldiers, harlots, and others of the same stamp, persons of the most abandoned characters, whom ye look upon as having no right to become members of the Messiah's kingdom, enter into it. And this ye think a violence done to the kingdom of heaven, but, in reality, it is not so; because the law and the prophets, the dispensation which makes a distinction between. men, was virtually set aside at the coming of John, in whose ministry the gospel began, the dispensation which admits all persons equally upon their faith and repentance. It is probable, also that the violence here alluded to may refer to the zeal with which they embraced the gospel, a fervour equal to that with which they had engaged in the service of sin. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, we have piped unto you, and ye have not danced, we have mourned unto you, and ye have
not lamented. The allusion is to Jewish children, who, having seen their parents and friends at their festivals and weddings, some playing upon the pipe, and others dancing to them, mimicked the same in their diversions; and, also, having observed at funerals the mourning women making their doleful ditties, and others answering to them, acted the part of these persons, expecting their fellows would make the responses, but did not: hence the complaint, we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. The different characters of John and Christ are set forth by his piping and mourning. The character and ministry of Christ and his disciples by piping, by which is meant the clear, comfortable, and joyful ministry of the gospel, which is delightful music to an awakened sinner, whom it animates, allures, and charms. The character and ministry of John is signified by mourning; his life was very austere; he and his disciples fasted often; he appeared in a very coarse habit; his speech was rough; his voice thundering; his doctrine was the doctrine of repentance and he used very severe threatenings in case of impenitence. On the other hand, by the fellows to whom they piped or ministered, in their different ministrations, are meant the scribes and Pharisees, who were not affected with either of them. As for John, he was too austere for them; they did not like his garb, nor his diet, nor did his doctrine nor baptism please them, nor were they wrought upon, nor brought to repentance, by his ministry; they did not lament or shed one tear, but sat unmoved like stocks and stones, under those awful and striking discourses, on mournful subjects, delivered by him. Nor were they pleased with the free conduct and pleasant conversation of Christ; nor did they dance or rejoice at the glad tidings of salvation which were brought by him: of such froward spirits they were, that neither John nor Christ could please them: they were a true picture and emblem of many persons who like neither law nor gospel, but are morose, sullen, and quarrelsome, let them hear what they will; as Solomon says, If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest. [Prov. xxix. 9.]
After reproving the Pharisees, Jesus denounced heavy judgments against Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, cities which he had often blessed with his presence. For, though they had heard him preach many awakening sermons, and seen him perform many astonishing miracles, such as would have converted Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, heathen cities infamous for their impiety, contempt of religion, pride, luxury, and debauchery, [see Isa. xxiii. Ezek. xxvi. xxvii. and xxviii. chapters.] yet so great was their obstinacy, that they persisted in their wickedness, notwithstanding all he had done to reclaim them. He therefore intimates, that the punishment of the inhabitants of the cities we have just enumerated, would be more tolerable than theirs, thus giving us to understand that divine justice has established a distinction in its distributions of recompence to the workers of iniquity.
Thus Jesus reproved his countrymen, who would not believe on him. It seems, they were but a few, and those, generally, the lower sort of people, who embraced his doctrine, and assisted him in erecting his kingdom; nor was his religion soon to meet with a better reception in the other countries where it was to be preached, circumstances which, in the eyes of common wisdom, were melancholy and mortifying. But our Lord foresaw that, by the direction of God, these very circumstances would become the noblest demonstrations of his personal dignity, the clearest proofs of the excellency of his religion, and the most stupendous instances of his power, who, by such weak instruments, established his religion in every part of the habitable world, against the policy, the power, and the malice, of devils and men, combined to oppose it. Besides, had the great rulers and learned scribes, the nobles, the wits, and ge-. niusses, been converted, it must have been prejudicial to the gospel in several respectss.
as such converts and teachers might, probably, have made the Gentiles look upon it as a trick of state; perhaps, also, they would have mixed it with things foreign to its nature. Our Lord, therefore, wisely made the rejection of the gospel by the great men of the nation, and the reception of it by persons in lower stations, the matter of especial thanksgiving, both now, and afterwards in Judea. [Luke x. 21. Mat. xi. 25.] At that time, Jesus answered and said. I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things, the doctrine of the gospel, which he had called the counsel of God, [Luke vii. 30.] from the wise and prudent, the chief priests, scribes, and rulers, and hast revealed them unto babes. [Mat. xi. 26] Even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Having given such an eminent proof of his divine wisdom, he reflected on the treasures thereof, which lodged within himself, and rejoiced in the consciousness of his possessing them. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: every thing relating to the salvation of the world is committed to my care by God and no man knoweth the Son, (Luke, who the Son is,) but the Father; no man knoweth his character and dignity; no man knoweth what he hath done, and what he is yet to do for the salvation of the world: neither knoweth any man the Father, (Luke x. 22, who the Father is,) save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him; noue but the Son and his disciples fully know the perfections and counsels of the Father. Then, warmed with the most ardent love to men, he graciously invited all that were weary of the slavery of sin, and desired to be in a state of reconciliation with God, to come to him, or believe on him; not because he expected any advantage from them, but because he both knew how to give them relief, and was willing to do it upon no other motive, however, but merely to satisfy the immense desire he had to do them good. Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, believe on me, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of mc : I impose nothing upon men but what I myself practise; so that you may learn all my precepts by observing my life and conversation: particularly, you may learn of me to be patient, and humble, and ready to forgive injuries :-for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. In my judgment, I condemn the pride of your teachers, who will not vouchsafe to instruct either the poor or the profane; and, in my practice, I recommend both meekness and humility, by condescending to the meanest good offices to the meanest men. Besides, my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. My doctrine and precepts, (for so the word yoke is used, even by the philosophers, as Elsner has shewed) are few, nccessary, and pleasant; in which respect, they are distinguished from the Mosaical ceremonies, [Acts xv. 8, 9.] and also from the traditionary precepts of your doctors, who bind up heavy loads of duty, and lay them on men's shoulders. That Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden light, must be acknowledged, because all his affirmative precepts are as necessary to the souls of men as food is to their bodies; and, for his negative injunctions, abstinence from drink is not more expedient to persons swelled with the dropsy, than they are to all who would preserve the health and vigour of their souls. The obedience, therefore, which he requires, is such a reasonable obedienee as every well-informed mind must rejoice in; and the pleasures which he promises, are the pleasures of goodness, the most extensive, satisfying, and durable, of all pleasures, being to the mind a delicious and continual feast.
When Jesus had finished these discourses, he was invited to the house of a certain Pharisee, whose name was Simon, where a woman of the city, whose character had been before abandoned, placed herself behind the feet of Jesus, and, after washing them with her tears, and wiping them with the hairs of her head, broke up an alabaster box of ointment which she had brought with her, and poured forth its contents so
abundantly upon him, that the room was filled with the odour, and the attention of the guests excited by the transaction. In order to understand this account, it is requisite to depart from the common translation, and adopt one which is more agreeable to the manners of the East. We shall, therefore, insert in this place a note of Dr. Campbell's, with no other alteration than the translation or omission of his greek.
"But, to shew that even such errors in translating, however trivial they may appear, are sometimes highly injurious to the sense, and render a plain story, not only incredible, but "absurd, I must intreat the reader's attention to the following passage, as it runs in the common version. One of the Pharisees desired Jesus that he would eat with him; and he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him, weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment. Now a reader of any judgment will need to reflect but a moment to discover that what is here told is impossible. If Jesus and others were, in cur manner, sitting together at meat, the woman could not be behind them when doing what is here recorded. She must, in that case, on the contrary, have been under the table. The chairs on which the guests were seated, would have effectually precluded access from behind. It is said, also, that she stood while she bathed his feet with tears, wiped them with the hairs of her head, anointed and kissed them. Another manifest absurdity. Another manifest absurdity. On the supposition of their sitting, she must have been, at least, kneeling, if not lying, on the floor. These inconsistencies instantly disappear when the evangelist is allowed to speak for himself; who, instead of saying that Jesus sat down, says, expressly, that he lay down. And to prevent, if possible, a circumstance being mistaken or overlooked, on which the practicability of the thing depended, he repeats, by a synonymous term, in the very next verse, "when she knew that Jesus lay at table." The knowledge of their manner at meals makes every thing in this history level to an ordinary capacity.
"At their feasts, matters were commonly ordered thus: three couches were set so as to inclose three sides of a quadrangle: the table was placed in the middle, the lower end whereof was left open to give access to the servants, for sitting and removing the dishes and serving the guests. The other three sides were inclosed by the couches, whence it got the name of triclinium. The middle couch, which lay along the upper end of the table, and was therefore accounted the most honourable place, and that which the Pharisees are said particularly to have affected, was distinguished by the name of the first couch. The person entrusted with the direction of the entertainment was called the ruler of the couches. The guests lay with their feet backwards, obliquely across the couches, which were covered, for the better accommodation, with such sort of cloth, or tapestry, as suited the quality of the entertainer. As it was necessary for the conveniency of eating that the couches should be somewhat higher than the table, the guests might have, probably, been raised by them three feet and upwards from the floor. When these particulars are taken into consideration, every circumstance of the story becomes perfectly consistent and intelligible. This, also, removes the difficulty there is in the account given by John of the paschal supper, where Jesus, being set, as our translators render it, at table, one of his disciples is said, in one verse, to have been leaning on his bosom; and, in another, to have been lying on his breast. Though these attitudes are hardly compatible with our mode of sitting at meals, they were naturally consequent upon theirs. As they lay forwards, in a direction somewhat oblique, feeding themselves with their right hand, and leaning
on their left arm; they no sooner intermitted and reclined, than the head of each came close to the breast of him who was next on the left. Now a circumstance, however frivolous in itself, cannot be deemed of no consequence, which serves to throw light upon the sacred pages, and solve difficulties otherwise intricable."
The supposition that this woman was Mary Magdalene, and that Mary Magdalene was, therefore, an harlot, appears to be utterly without foundation. Mary Magdalene appears to have been a lady of the first rank in Judea, out of whom Christ had ejected seven evil spirits, and who, on that account, thought herself bound in gratitude to contribute liberally towards his support. She is mentioned as having united, for this beneficent purpose, with Joanna, Susanna, and many other women, who had experienced similar benefits from Christ's miraculous power.
Our Lord, about this time, healed a demoniac who was both blind and dumb. So extraordinary a miracle, in which the noblest sense, and, likewise, the most useful faculty of the human body, were restored together, astonished the multitude beyond measure; and, therefore, highly extolling the author of the miracle, they called him the Son of David, that is, the Messiah. But the Pharisees, who had come down from Jerusalem, impudently and maliciously affirmed, in the several companies of the spectators who were talking of the miracle, that he performed it purely by the assistance of Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.
Beelzebub was the great idol of the Ekronites. [2 Kings i. 2.] From his name, which signifies the lord or master of flies, it would appear, the Ekronites considered him as having the command of the various insects wherewith, in those warm climates, they were infested, and which oftentimes gathered into such swarms, as proved both a noisome and deadly plague. The Ekronites being near neighbours to the Jews, the great veneration which they had for this idol, made him the object both of the horror and detestation of the devout worshippers of the true God. Accordingly, to express in what detestation they held him, they appropriated his name to the most hateful being in the universe, calling the devil, or the prince of the evil angels, Beelzebub.
Our Lord, in reply, advances two arguments in vindication of his miracles. The first was derived from an expression proverbial among the Jews, that a divided family or kingdom was speedily brought to ruin. He, therefore, says, If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? If evil spirits assist me in working miracles for the confirmation of my doctrine, they do what they can to promote the spiritual worship and ardent love of the true God: and, as effectually as possible, excite men to the practice of universal justice, benevolence, temperance, and self-government, all these virtues being powerfully recommended by my doctrine. But thus to make the evil spirits fight against themselves, is evidently to make them ruin their own interest, unless it can be thought that the strength and welfare of a society is advanced by jarring discord and destructive civil wars. Your judgment therefore, of my conduct, is palpably malicious and absurd. His second argument is taken from the conduct of their children, who professed to cast out devils. Whether these men were imitators of the miracles of Christ, or had carried on this practice before the commencement of his ministry, is not now easy to be determined. We know, however, that many of them were addicted to exorcising, and made use, for that purpose, of the following form: "By the authority of the glorious and fearful name, I adjure thee, Asmodeus, king of the devils, and all thy company, &c. that ye hurt not, nor put in fear, nor trouble, such an one, the son of such an one; but that ye help him, and sustain him (or deliver him) out of every distress and anguish, and from every evil thing, and from all diseases, &c." Having thus successfully vindicated his character and that of his miracles, he proceeds to