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shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.'
Our blessed Saviour also upbraided them with their superstitious practices, in observing the minutest parts of the ceremonial precepts of the law, and at the same time utterly neglecting the internal and indispensable rules of righteousness: Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tythe of mint, and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
The Son of God also took notice of their hypocrisy ; for they spared no pains to appear virtuous in the eyes of the world, and maintain an external conduct that should require the praises of men; but, at the same timé neglected to adorn their souls with the robe of righteousness, which is the only ornament that can render them dear in the sight of their Maker; Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind
Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.* Cleanse first thy mind, thy inward man, from evil dispositions and affections, and thy outward behaviour will of course be virtuous and praise-worthy.
Our dear Lord also animadverted upon the success of their hypocrisy: they deceived the simple and unthinking part of mankind, with their pretended sanctity, appearing like whited sepulchres, beautiful on the outside, while their internal parts were full of uncleanness : Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisces, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead
men's boncs, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within full of hypocrisy and iniquity.'
He also censured them for the pains they had taken in adorning the sepulchres of the prophet, because they pretended a great veneration for their memory, and even condemned their fathers who killed them, saying, that if they had lived in the days of their fathers, they would have opposed such monstrous wickedness, while at the same time, all their actions abundantly proved, that they still cherished the same spirit they condemned in their fathers, persecuting the messengers of the Most High, particularly his only begotten Son, whom they were determined to destroy: Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righ teous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
Our blessed Saviour added, that the Diving Being was desirous of trying every method for their conversion, though all these instances of mercy were slighted; and therefore, they must expect such terrible vengeance. as should be a standing monument of the divine displeasure against all the murders committed by the sons of men, from the foundation of the world.
Thus having laid before them their heinous guilt and dreadful punishment; he was, at the thought of the calamities which were soon to fall upon them, exceedingly moved, and his breast filled with sensations of pity to such a degree, that unable to contain himself, he broke forth into tears, bewailing the hard lot of the city of Jerusalem; for as its inhabitants had more deeply imbrued their hands in the blood of the prophets they were to drink more deeply of the punishment due
to such crimes: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that kil lest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under ker wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
This exclamation of the benevolent Redeemer of mankind, is such as can hardly be read without a tear, and conveys a strong idea of his love for that ungrateful nation. How often had the Almighty called upon them to return from their evil way, before he sent his only begotten Son into the world! How often, how emphatically, did the compassionate JESUS entreat them to embrace the merciful terms now offered them by the Almighty! And with what unconquerable obstinacy did they refuse the benevolent offers, and resist the most winning expressions of the divine love! By the word house, our blessed Saviour meant the temple, which was from that time to be left unto them desolate; the glory of the Lord, which Haggai had prophesied should fill the second house, now was departing from it; adding, I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. As if he had said, As ye have killed the prophets, and stoned them whom the Father had sent from the courts of heaven, and will shortly put me, who am the Lord of the temple, to death; your holy house shall be left desolate, and your nation totally deserted by me; nor shall you see me any more till the whole nation is converted to Christianity, when all the descendants of Jacob shall, with one voice, cry out, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, as the multitude lately did.
In this manner the blessed JESUS stripped the Scribes and Pharisees of their hypocritical mask. He treated them with severity, because their crimes were of the blackest dye; and hence we should learn to be really good, and not flatter ourselves that we can cover our
crimes from that piercing eye to which nothing is con. cealed with the cloak of hypocrisy.
At these discourses, the people could not fail of being astonished, as they had always considered their teachers as the most righteous among the sons of men; nay, the persons themselves against whom they were levelled, were confounded, because their own consciences convinced them of the truth of every thing laid to their charge. They therefore knew not what course to pursue; and they let JESUS depart without making any attempt to seize him, or inflict on him any kind of punishment, being prevented from putting their wicked purposes into practice until the work was finished for which he was sent of his Father into the world to do.
CHRIST valueth the poor Widow's two Mites above all the gifts of the Rich: He foretelleth the Destruction of the Temple; sheweth what Signs and Calamities should go before, and what should happen at the Time of his Coming: He delivers the Parable of the ten Virgins; and of the Talents, which a King distributed among his Servants, to be improïed by them: and in a third Parable, delivered at the same Time, he gives a Description of the last Judgment.
AFTER our dear Lord had exposed the secret practices of the Scribes and Pharisees, he repaired with his disciples unto the court of the temple, called the treasury, from several chests being fixed to the pillars of the portico surrounding the court for receiving the offerings of those who came to worship in the temple. While he continued in this court. He 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 all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.' Mark xii. 41, 42 43,
This poor widow's offering was, in itself, very small, yet, in proportion to the goods she enjoyed, it was remarkably large; for it was all she had, even all her living. In order, therefore, to encourage charity, and shew that it is the disposition of the mind, not the magnificence of the offering, that attracted the regard of the Almighty, the Son of God applauded this poor widow, as having given more in proportion than any