« السابقةمتابعة »
duct. In like manner, for the general prosperity of the Church, it is certainly of great importance that all good men, without giving up any thing they deliberately consider to be scriptural, or sacrificing their consistency, should unite in forwarding objects in which they are agreed.
I shall only add, that these truly enlightened and truly charitable and liberal views, should not be abused to that spurious liberality which is nothing but latitudinarianism, or indifference to all opinions and practices whatever. As to private persons, though saving grace is not tied down to any particular forms, it is not to be calculated on out of the visible Church, or when men are not walking according to scriptural order. And as to public teachers, though good may be done by some who have no regular outward call to the ministry, that does not justify needless irregularities in this way; for none can now warrantably lay claim to any miraculous call. May the great Head of the Church greatly increase, throughout the world, the number both of preachers and of hearers who are really on his side: and may he also greatly increase their light, and zeal, and holiness. May the Churches have rest, and be edified, and, walking in the fear of God and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, be multiplied.
LUKE IX. 51-56.
"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52. And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. 53. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. 54. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55. But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."
As Luke is the only one of the four evangelists who relates this part of the sacred history, we have no direct assistance from any of the other three in settling its time, or other circumstances, more particularly. Commentators are generally agreed that it is here introduced by Luke, not in the order of time, but (as is often done in other cases, and as is also a very natural arrangement,) because of its similarity to what he had been relating immediately before. He had been telling how the apostles were for restraining a certain man from working miracles, because he did not move in their company; and now he introduces an account of the still greater extremity to which some of them were for proceeding against certain Samaritans. There are difficulties, however, and differences of opinion, as to the exact time here referred to. None can suppose that this took place during our Lord's last progress from Galilee to Jerusalem, after his resurrection, and immediately before his ascension: for then it could hardly have been introduced so near the beginning of the Gospel; besides, he did not present himself so publicly at that time, nor had he any sufferings or difficulties then to apprehend, which it required any courage to face. Though some are for referring this occurrence to his going up to the feast of Tabernacles mentioned in the 7th chapter of John, the circumstances of his performing that journey secretly after his brethren had gone up, of its not
being his last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem before his death, and of that feast being more than half a year before his death, are unfavourable to that opinion. That this was not his journey up just before the Passover at which he was crucified, is certain, for then he went from Ephraim, and passed through Jericho; so that his way did not lie through the country of Samaria, in which this occurrence took place.* Hence, it is probable that our Lord was now going up to the feast of the Dedication of the Temple, of which we read in John x. 22. Nor is the expression "the time was come," or the days being fulfilled, "that he should be received up," to be so rigidly interpreted as not to admit of the supposi tion of any interval at all; for similar modes of expression are used to signify, in general, that a time referred to was drawing near. Indeed, the circumstance of his not again returning to Galilee before his death, may, of itself, have been sufficient to justify this expression.
There seems no good reason to doubt that the first and most obvious idea which the other expression, being “received up," suggests, is the right one, namely, Christ's ascension, as the glorious termination of his sufferings and death. It is in this sense that the word is used, in the account of his ascension, in Mark xvi. 19: "So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." The same word is used, in the same sense, thrice in the 1st chapter of the Acts of the Apostles,+ and also in the close of the noble climax in the 3d chapter of the First Epistle to Timothy: "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
There was an exact period fixed in the counsels of heaven, when Messiah was to die, and rise, and ascend. He knew that period well. He foresaw, too, all its circumstances, all its sorrows, and all its joys. Desirous to glorify his Father, to save sinners, and to receive the due reward of his humiliation, instead of shrinking back, or being afraid, he proceeded with resolution, and would not be dissuaded -he bent his course in a certain direction, and would not turn aside from it—" he stedfastly set," he confirmed, or fixed, "his face to go to Jerusalem." This reminds us of the
* See John xi. 54; Luke xix. 1; and Doddridge's Note.
mode of expression employed in the 50th chapter of Isaiah, in a passage prophetical of Christ, and descriptive of this very feature of his character: "The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back."-"For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." So also, in describing how he had qualified Ezekiel for his office, the Lord said to him,* “Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant, harder than flint, have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.”
Having adopted this resolution, Jesus did not take any circuitous course, in order to avoid the country of the Samaritans; but, as it lay directly in his way, he proceeded right through it, accompanied by the twelve, at least, if not by other disciples. Having to pass through “a village of the Samaritans" (what that village was we have no means of determining, nor would the knowledge of it be of any importance)," he sent messengers before his face"-he sent some of his attendants on before himself and the main body of his disciples," to make ready for him"-to give notice of his approach, with a considerable number of his followers, that their coming might not excite surprise, or give offence, or be inconvenient to secure their immediate admittance into the village-and to have some place prepared, where they might have suitable lodging and refreshment. This is usual and proper, when any numerous party are travelling together. Had this proposal been favourably entertained by the inhabitants, an extensive and acceptable opportunity of publishing to them the way of salvation would have been afforded, and the result might have been very happy. Thus, John the Baptist was Christ's messenger in a very emphatical sense, to prepare the way before him; and thus, as we find in the beginning of the next chapter, Jesus sent the seventy, "two and two before his face, into every city and place whither he himself would come.'
But the inhabitants of the village "did not receive him.” They would not admit him into their village, or, at least, into any of their houses; they would not show him common hospitality; and of course they would not listen to his instructions-so completely did prejudice blind them to the
* Ezek. iii. 8.
duties of ordinary civility, and to their own best interests. Now, there is hardly anything of which men are guilty, which is so bad that no kind of a reason can be produced for it these Samaritans, accordingly, had their reason, such as it was, for their conduct on this occasion. Their reason was, "Because his face was as though he would go" -his face was directed, he plainly appeared to be on his way" to Jerusalem.”
An antipathy of great strength, and of long standing, existed between the Jews and Samaritans. About fifty years after the revolt of the ten tribes from Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, the city of Samaria was built by their king, Omri, on the hill of Shemar. This city became the capital of the kingdom of the ten tribes, or of Israel, as distinguished from Judah, and, in process of time, gave name to the surrounding country and its inhabitants. When Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, took Samaria, and carried away a great part of its inhabitants into captivity, he replaced them by Babylonians, and other idolaters, who, intermixed with the Israelites still remaining in the land, joined the worship of idols with the worship of the true God. This mixed race were called Samaritans. On the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and their beginning to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem, the Samaritans, as we read in the 4th chapter of Ezra, wished to join them in the work, and to be admitted to religious fellowship with them. But, as they were a mixed race, and, though they might have, to a certain extent, honoured Jehovah, as they were far from being truly and scripturally. religious, and as it even appeared that, with all their professions of friendship, they would have, in reality, impeded the work, their offer was refused. On this, they, without disguise, set themselves to thwart the Jews in their pious undertaking. And when their efforts in this way proved ineffectual, they, some time after, built another for themselves on Mount Gerizim. The Samaritans regarded only the five books of Moses, and paid no attention to the other inspired books of the Old Testament. Though they wished to be considered as the worshippers of Jehovah, their corruptions, both in theory and in practice, were very great; and they gave a most shameful proof of their impiety, when, in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, the persecutor of the Jews, and the profaner of the true temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem, they voluntarily dedicated their temple to Jupi