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On the whole, their worship was so schismatical and corrupt, that the Jews were right in looking on it as sinful and idolatrous, and in refusing to hold religious communion with them. The Jews, however, generally speaking, carried this feeling to an unreasonable and uncharitable length; and the Samaritans also, on their part, appear to have indulged an unrestrained dislike for the Jews. The woman of Samaria said to our Lord, at the well near Sychar, "How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria?" and it is added, “For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." This does not signify that the Jews would not deal with the Samaritans in the way of buying and selling; for they were accustomed to deal in that way with heathen nations. It means that they had no friendly intercourse* with them, no intercourse in the way, for example, of borrowing or lending, of bestowing or receiving any favour. The Lord Jesus disregarded all such traditionary customs, as they had no authority in Scripture, or in reason, and were even subversive of common humanity. The inhabitants of this Samaritan village, however, following out their usual prejudice, refused to receive Christ and his apostles, their habitual prejudice being probably strengthened and irritated by the circumstance of these Jews being on their way to keep one of the feasts at the temple of Jerusalem, which was a plain condemnation of the schismatical, and partly idolatrous, worship at Samaria.

The conduct of these Samaritans, in refusing to receive Christ and his disciples, was, indeed, very sinful; but the transport of rage into which that conduct threw his disciples, or at least some of his disciples, and the proposal which it provoked them to make, were most lamentable and most unchristian. That John, especially, whose usual temper was so gentle and so affectionate, should have been so forward in this affair, is very strange, and ought to be considered as an instructive warning of the necessity for the most charitable and meek to be constantly on their guard against the first risings of prejudice, passion, and false zeal,

* Où σuyxo@vται. The English version, "have no dealings," is rather too strong. Neither Beza's translation, " non utuntur," nor the Vulgate, non co-utuntur," brings out the exact meaning. Lightfoot produces several quotations to prove that the Jews had intercourse with the Samaritans and heathens, of a certain kind, but no friendly intercourse. Lexicographers, too, furnish ground for this interpretation of the work ovyxgaoua, as they render it, not only "commercium habeo," but also, 'una cum aliis utor, familiariter utor aliquo, mutuo accipio, utendum


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lest the fierce spirit obtain the mastery over them.-" 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?" There were here, without doubt, a conviction of the miraculous power which was ready to bear testimony to Christ, a zeal of a certain kind for his honour, a burst of indignation at the unworthy treatment shown to him, a submission to his will ("Wilt thou?")—and a reference to scriptural example. But, notwithstanding all these fair appearances, the proposal betrayed great blindness and rashness. Jesus had already been often rejected and insulted by Jews, but had never had recourse to any very severe measure against them, nor had his disciples ever proposed any: these Samaritans, though greatly to blame, were not so much to blame as those Jews who had enjoyed greater opportunities: there was, therefore, something very dreadful in the proposal to reduce this whole village to ashes, and to destroy its inhabitants, without distinction. As to the example they produced from the Old Testament in defence of their proposal, it was by no means applicable to the case in hand. The cir

cumstances referred to are recorded in the 1st chapter of the Second Book of Kings, in the account given of what Elijah, as an instrument in the hand of the Lord, did to two different companies of men who were sent to seize him, by Ahaziah, king of Israel. "The king sent unto Elijah a captain of fifty with his fifty: and he went up to him; (and, behold, he sat on the top of a hill;) and he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty." In the same manner, another captain and other fifty men, sent out for the same purpose, were consumed. There were, no doubt, some circumstances of similarity which might have suggested this tragical history to the minds of the two disciples at this time; yet, in other respects, the circumstances were so different that they ought to have entirely prevented the desire to see the repetition of such a catastrophe. As to Elijah, he was sent to testify against wilful and gross idolatry; his case was urgent, for his liberty and his life were immediately threatened; the dispensation under which he lived was a dispensation of comparative darkness and terror, with the genius of which

such a vindication of the honour of Jehovah was quite congenial; and, moreover, he acted, we may be sure, by divine impulse. But, when we consider the case of these Samari tans, bad as it was, we find that they laboured under prejudices which, though they did not justify, certainly in some degree extenuated, the guilt of their conduct; that there was no such immediate danger to our Lord and his disciples as required any such summary and terrible remedy; that the proposal of the two disciples was, on the very face of it, altogether opposed to the mild genius of the gospel dispensation, and so far from originating in a divine command, was plainly the hasty suggestion of their own minds; and that if these villagers had been destroyed, they would have been considered as sacrificed to human resentment, and the rest of their countrymen would have been more prejudiced against the Saviour than ever. Besides, it must not be forgotten, that Almighty God, whether with or without the instrumentality of miraculously gifted men, may inflict judgments, in his own just and supreme authority, which none of his creatures should presume to imitate, or to take into their own hands. How superior were the views of the apostles afterwards! and how much better the use they wished to be made of miraculous gifts, when they prayed, "Now Lord, behold their threatenings; and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus!”*


But let us observe what reception the proposal of these two disciples met with from our Lord himself. turned” he turned short round upon them, beholding them, no doubt, with an eye of authority and displeasure; and so he may be justly considered as still regarding all who entertain similar thoughts; "and he rebuked them," as he may still be considered as rebuking all his erring people, in the disapproving declarations of his word, for he himself says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." He rebuked them," and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." They were ignorant, nay, they were entirely mistaken, as to their spirit, their temper, or disposition. They imagined that they were influenced by a purely religious spirit-by a hatred of sin, and a regard to the honour of Christ: whereas, they were really led to make such a proposal by the original prejudice which, as Jews, * Acts iv. 29.

they indulged against the Samaritans, and still more, by their now irritated pride, party feeling, blind zeal, personal resentment, violence, and passion. They were by no means aware how bad their spirit, in this case, was upon the whole, and in particular, how inconsistent it was with the great design of Christ's coming into the world. "For," adds be in the last verse at present under consideration, "the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” Unquestionably, the express leading design of our Lord's coming was to save men's souls. "The Son of man," says

he elsewhere, "is come to seek and to save that which is lost."-" God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." And again, “If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." There is a close connexion, however, between the temporal life and the soul, in this respect, that the destruction of the temporal life of sinners involves the loss of their souls: and indeed the destruction of these Samaritans by fire from heaven, would have been their everlasting destruction, at least in the opinion of the disciples. Besides, it is the tendency of the gospel to save the natural lives of men, by the justice, and mercy, and peace, which it inculcates and cherishes. It embodies in its very nature, in every sense of the words, not only glory to God in the highest, but " on earth peace, and good-will towards men." It disowns every attempt to propagate it by violence or compulsion; and nothing could be more directly contrary to its whole spirit than the proposal now made. In all probability, our Lord had here also a reference to the nature of almost all his miracles. It is a common, just, and important remark, that they were almost all miracles of direct and obvious kindness and mercy, such as, feeding the hungry, casting out devils, healing the sick, and raising the dead.The proposal, then, being submitted to his consideration, he silenced those who made it, with this sharp rebuke: and without punishing, or resenting, in any way, the affront shown him by these people, he peaceably departed with his disciples, and he and they went" forward "to another village." So, when resistance to the truth is very obstinate and violent in any particular place, it may be proper, instead of further contending, to withdraw, at least for a season, and try whether men may not be found elsewhere more accessible to the light.

What now is the further and more full improvement which we ought to make of this passage?

1. Let us admire, and in our sphere and measure, imitate, the noble firmness displayed by our Lord and Master on this occasion. Going back, in imagination, to the time and the place here referred to, we see on the highway which leads from Galilee to Jerusalem-Jerusalem, that compact city whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord, and where are set the thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David-we see many solitary pilgrims, and some groups of pilgrims, passing along to that sacred capital, that they may be present at the approaching feast, and offer sacrifices, and join in the various services of the temple. But behold one peculiarly interesting company of at least thirteen men, of whom one, who appears to be their chief, is leading the way, with that mildness of aspect and modesty of gait, which betoken meekness and lowliness of heart, and yet with that undauntedness of countenance and firmness of step, which show him to be resolutely bent on some noble purpose. It is the Son of man, with his apostles, and be has "stedfastly set his face" to go to Jerusalem, notwithstanding all the heavy sufferings, and the dreadful death which he knows are ere long to befall him there. Still more striking, however, than the expression in this passage, is this description, relating, probably, to a period still nearer the fatal hour:* "And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him." How strikingly, too, was his resolution, nay, his desire, to go forward, expressed in the words, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" How worthy of admiration this courage, especially when viewed in connexion with the noble ends to which it led!

In this, however, there is not only much to be admired, but something to be imitated. As in his conduct in general, so in this part of it in particular, he has left us an example, that we should follow his steps. "Forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, let us arm ourselves likewise with the same mind." Let us, in the strength of God, * Mark x. 32.

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