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A. M. 4035. sed them not, would be like a man who built his house upon the sand, soon to be blown &c. or 5440. down by the winds, and washed away by the floods †.
This sermon was delivered with such a grace and majesty, as gained the applause of Vulgi Er. 29. the whole audience, and made them very readily declare their sense of the difference
between such Divine discourses and the jejune harangues †2 of their ordinary teachers, the scribes; and, to confirm his doctrine by the testimony of miracles, our Blessed Saviour, upon his descent from the Mount, healed a leper, and then remitted him to the priest, to make his oblation in acknowledgment of his cure.
At his return to Capernaum he cured, at a distance, the favourite servant of the Roman centurion +3, who had made an ample declaration of his Divine power, and thereupon received from him as ample commendation of his faith; and, at his arrival at the gates of Nain +4, he restored to life a widow's only son as the people were carrying him out to his funeral, to the great joy and comfort of his parent, and the no less wonder and astonishment of the spectators, who upon this occasion glorified God, and publicly declared, that (a) " a mighty prophet was sprung up among them; and that God + had visited his people."
Upon the fame of this, and several other miracles which our Saviour did daily, John the Baptist, who was still in prison, sent two of his disciples to enquire of him † whe
The word which we render floods, is in the Greek ToTao, which, though it chiefly signifies rivers, i. e. such streams as arise from springs, does frequently denote land-floods, or torrents, which are occasioned by any tempestuous sudden rains; for so Eustathius explains the word in his notes upon this passage in Homer, Iliad 4.
Ως δ' ὅτε χείμαῤῥοι ποταμοὶ κατ ̓ ὄρεσφί ῥέοντες, Ες μισγάγκειαν συμβάλλετον ὄδριμον ὕδωρ Κρουνῶν ἐκ μεγάλων, &c.
+ The words in the text are, "He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes," Matt. vii. 29. But they certainly are mistaken, who interpret the words in this sense :-" He taught them as the author of the doctrine which he preached; as one who had authority in his own name to propound the terms and life of death;" because it is not only contrary to the nature of his prophetic office, but to his own frequent declarations, that "the doctrine which he taught was not his own, but his who sent him; and that he spake, not of himself or in his own name, but as he had heard from his Father, and as he had commanded him to speak,” John vii. 16, 17, 18. viii. 28. xii. 49. xiv. 10. and therefore the truer interpretation is, what Lightfoot and others give us, viz. "That he spake as a prophet, having authority from God to deliver his message to them, and not as the scribes, who pretended only to deliver the traditions of their forefathers, and to teach them no more than what they had learned from Hillel, Shammai, Abtalion," &c. Whitby's Annotations.
zareth, and not so much from mount Tabor, between which and the city ran the river Kison. From our Saviour's meeting the funeral coming out of the gates, we may learn, that it was a custom among the Jews to bury their dead in the day time, when the nearest friends and relations followed the corpse, which was usually carried in procession through the streets and public places, to the cemeteries, which were generally at a considerable distance from the city, because they looked upon their graves as places full of pollution; whereas we Christians, in hopes of a joyful resurrec. tion, and upon presumption that many of those whose bodies are reposited in the earth are in a state of feli city in heaven, look upon these places with great respect and veneration, and accordingly have our tombs erected always very near, and sometimes within the body of our churches. Whitby's Table of Places, and Calmet's Commentary on Luke vii. 12. (a) Luke vii. 16.
+ The people of Nain do, in these words, acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah, or that great prophet whom Moses had promised to the Jews: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet, from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, unto him shall ye hearken," Deut. xviii. 15. for they describe this prophet in the very same terms that Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, makes use of to denote the Messiah: "The Lord hath visited his people," Luke i. 68. Calmet's Commentary.
+ The words in the text are, "Art thou he that should come (or rather), he that is coming?" For the prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament were so plain, and yet his person or name so unknown to the Jews, that they were wont to express it by some circumlocution, and more especially by this ofexusvos, he that cometh; for so he is termed, Matth. iii. 11. xxi. 9. Luke vii. 20. xix. 38. John xii. 13. Heb. x. 37. &c. and this name they gathered from Habbakkuk, where he is called, "he that shall come," chap. ii. 3. and from Daniel, where he is styled," he that co
2. Luke vi. 1.
xvii. 14. Mark ix. 14.
ther he himself was the promised Messiah, or some other person was to appear in that From Matth. character? As our Lord was at that time working many miracles ||, curing the deaf, the xii. 1. Mark ii. blind, the lame, &c. and instructing the people that were gathered about him; instead John v. 1. to of giving a direct answer to their question, he bad them go and report what they saw Matth. Xvi to their master. And having thus dismissed them, he began to discourse to the Luke ix. 37. people concerning John, giving a large encomium of the austerity and holiness of his John vii. 1. person †, the greatness of his function, and Divinity of his commission; and hence taking occasion to blame the perverseness of the age, in rejecting both his and the Baptist's testimony, (though the Baptist was a man of a mortified deportment, and he a person of a free and affable behaviour, so that 2 nothing would please them) he proceeded to upbraid the several cities where most of his miracles had been wrought, viz. Chorazin, Bethsaida, and more especially Capernaum, with their obstinacy and impenitence; and having declared that the mysteries of the Gospel revelation were better adapted to the humble and modest, than to the proud and worldly-wise, he concludes his discourse with an exhortation to such as were thus qualified to be his (a) disciples; "Come unto me †3 all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," &c.
meth with the clouds of heaven, chap. vii. 13. Hammond's and Whitby's Annotations.
If it be asked, How the seeing of these things done by our Saviour could be a sufficient argument to John's disciples, that he was, in truth, the Messiah? the reply is, That the performance of these things was exactly answering the character which the prophet had given of the Messiah, viz. That, " at the coming of God to save them, the eyes of the blind should be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; that the lame should leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb should sing," Isaiah xxxv. 4, &c. And therefore, instead of giving them a direct answer, which might be liable to the old objection of his bearing record of himself, John viii. 13. our Saviour refers them to the miracles they saw him do; miracles of the same kind that were predicted of the Messiah, and then leaves it to their own master to draw the conclusions from thence; which was a method of conviction more short and strong, and withal more agreeable to our Saviour's modesty and great humility, than any long detail of arguments would have proved. Pool's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
† Maimonides observes, that though the Jews generally reckon eleven degrees of prophecy, yet two of these were something more sublime and excellent than ordinary prophecy. The one of these was what they called the Gradus Mosaicus, when the prophet had a familiar converse with God upon all occasions; and the other, when he had his revelations, not from a dream or ecstacy, but an immediate dictate of the Holy Ghost. Of this sort was John the Baptist, who was plainly told by the Father, Matth. iii. 17. John xiii. 3. and, as plainly proclaimed it to others, that Jesus was the Lamb of God. Other prophets spoke of the coming of Christ, but then they did it in a dark and obscure manner. They saw him only at a distance, in a dream, or in a vision of the night, and couched their predictions under a veil of enigmatical phrases; but the Baptist spoke of him openly and distinctly. He knew him; he was conversant with him; he pointed him out to the people; had, in short, the VOL. III.
honour of baptizing him, and hearing the voice from
+ The words of our Saviour, to illustrate this, are
(a) Matth, xi. 28.
+3❝ To come unto Christ," in the phrase of the New Testament, is to believe in him, and to become one of his disciples; and this invitation our Saviour
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No sooner had he finished this discourse, but a rich Pharisee (whose name was Simon) &c. or 5440. invited him to dinner; but while he was at table, there happened an incident some
Ann. Dom. 31, &c.
what remarkable: For a certain woman, who not long before +2 had been noted for a Vulg Er. 29. lewd liver, came into the house, and +3 throwing herself at the feet of Jesus, washed
them with the tears which flowed from her eyes, and then having wiped them with her hair, she kissed them, and anointed them with very precious ointment †4.
gives to all mankind in general, and to the Jews in particular. To all mankind, forasmuch as all (without the knowledge of Christ) are heavy laden with the burden of their sins, and the calamities incident to life; are surrounded with a cloud of ignorance, and held in bondage through the fear of death: and to the Jews in particular, forasmuch as they, under their dispensation, were oppressed with a load of ceremonies," a yoke which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear," Acts xv. 10. besides the additional weight which the Pharisees laid upon them, by their traditions, heavy burdens, and griveous to be borne," Matth. xxiii. 4. Whitby's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
+ It is not a little strange, that any interpreters should ever imagine, that this is the same story with what we find related in Matth. xxvi. Mark xiv. and John xii. since the histories agree scarce in any thing, unless it be in bringing the alabaster box of ointment, and anointing our Saviour's feet, which in these countries, especially at great entertainments, was no uncommon thing. But now the anointing, in the other evangelists, was done at Bethany, within two miles of Jerusalem; this in St Luke, in Galilee; that in the house of one Simon the leper; this, in the house of one Simon a Pharisee; that, but a little before our Saviour's passion; this, a considerable time before it. At that, Judas was offended for the waste of the ointment; at this, Simon for the woman's touching our Saviour: upon that occasion our Lord vindicates the woman from one head of argument, and upon this from another. So that all circumstances make it plain, that these were different actions, done by different persons, and at different times. Pool's An
+ Who this woman was, the Gospel no where tells us. We read indeed of three persons, who by seve. ral evangelists are said to have anointed our Lord's head and feet, viz. Mary Magdalene, Mary the sister of Lazarus, and this other woman whom St Luke calls a sinner and some commentators make these three to be one and the same person. It is to be observed, however, that the sister of Lazarus is all along represented as a person of great sobriety and virtue, who always lived at Bethany, was none of our Lord's attendants, nor ever came into Galilee; and consequently was a woman distinct from Mary Magdalene, who was of his retinue, Luke viii. 2; and from this other woman who anointed his feet in Simon's house: but whether this Mary Magdalene, and this woman, here called a sinner, might not be the same person, is not so easy to determine. The characteristic of Magdalene is, that she was the person, "out of whom our Lord bad cast seven devils;" but then, if the
ejection of these devils be understood (as some will have it) in an allegorical sense, the words will well enough suit with the sinner in St Luke; or suppose they were real devils, the ejection of them might be some time before her coming into Simon's house, and (as our Saviour's vindication of her seems to imply) her reformation consequent thereupon, though Simon knew nothing of it. For these reasons some have imagined, that the sinner in St Luke and Mary Magdalene were both the same person, and that she was called Magdalene from the town and castle of Magdal, where her husband, who had been a man of great distinction, but then dead, had lately his habitation. It must not be dissembled, however, that the most general and prevailing opinion is, that these were two different and distinct women. Calmet's Dissert. sur les trois Maries, and Hammond's Annotations.
The manner of the Eastern people was to lie upon a kind of bed, or couch, while they were at meat; to put off their sandals before they lay down; and to have their servants and domestics stand behind at their feet; so that this woman wanted not an opportunity to express her devotion to our Lord while he was in this posture. Beausobre's Annotations.
That it was a customary thing among the ancients, especially at great entertainments, to use ointments and costly perfumes, appears from several authorities. The Psalmist plainly informs us, that this was the custom of the Jews, when, in acknowledgement of God's great bounty to him, he declares, "Thou has prepared a table for me; thou has anointed my head with oil, and my cup shall be full,” Psal. xxiii. 5. The scholiast upon Aristophanes acquaints us with the same custom among the Greeks, when he makes it a rule, that they who invite to an entertainment should bring forth to their guests crowns and ointments, Pávovs, xai μúga nagstiderav. And στεφάνους, μέρα παρετίθεσαν. that among the Romans, the like usage prevailed, is evident from that sharp but jocular epigram in Marshali:
Unguentum fateor bonum dedisti Convivis, here, sed nihil scidisti, Res falsa est, bene olere, et esurire, Qui non cœnat, et ungitur, fabulle, Hic vero mihi mortuus videtur. lib. iii. The general custom indeed upon these occasions was, to anoint the head, and very seldom the feet: But besides that the latter was a token of more humility, and no less esteem in this woman, she could not perhaps have an opportunity of coming at our Saviour's head, without giving some disturbance to the company. Hammond's Annotations.
23. Luke vi, 1. Matth. xvii. 14.
Simon, who still retained something of the censorious spirit of his sect, seeing this From Matth. woman thus busy in expressing her love and veneration for Jesus, began to think with-xii. 1. Mark il. in himself, that † he could not possibly be a prophet, otherwise he would have known John v. 1 to the woman to be infamous, and consequently not suffered her to touch him: But our Mark ix. 14. Saviour, who well understood Simon's thoughts, proposed to him a parable of a certain Luke ix. 37. creditor who had two debtors, one of which owed him ten times as much as the other, John vii. 1. but because both of them were insolvent, he frankly forgave them both; and then, gaining from him a confession that the debtor to whom the larger sum was forgiven, would, in gratitude, be bound to love the creditor most, he turned to the woman, and (by way of application) not only apologized both for her behaviour and his own, but reproached his host likewise for having omitted some instances of respect and civility, which this contemptible woman (as he esteemed her) had abundantly supplied. And therefore, in return for such uncommon kindness, he gave her a full pardon and absolution of her sins, which some in the company seemed to resent as an invasion of the Divine prerogative; but that gave him no manner of uneasiness.
Upon his leaving Nain, he made a progress for some months round other parts of Galilee, accompanied with his apostles and several devout women whom he had cured of sundry diseases, and who, in gratitude, attended his person, and out of their own substance administered +2 to his necessities; till, returning at length to his own city Capernaum, such multitudes of people, upon the rumour of his being come again, resorted to him, that neither he nor his disciples could find time to eat. But "his meat was to do the will of God," by healing the sick and relieving the oppressed; and therefore as soon as a poor demoniac, both blind and dumb, was brought before him, he immediately restored him both to his speech and eye-sight, insomuch, that all who saw it were greatly astonished, and with a general voice declared, that the person who did such wonderful works could be no other than the promised Messiah.
The Pharisees, however, and doctors of the law, who came from Jerusalem, gave another turn to this miracle. They ascribed it to the power of the devil †3, even to Beel
+ Though the Jewish religion permitted harlots of their own nation to enjoy all the privileges of other women, except that their oblations were rejected as impure, yet the Pharisees, who pretended to a greater degree of sanctity than others, would not admit them to civil usage, or the common benefits of society, and thought religion itself, and the honour of every prophet, concerned in this preciseness. This was the reason of Simon's making this objection within himself: But therein he draws three false conclusions; 1st, That had Jesus been a prophet, he must have known what the woman was; as if prophets knew every thing, and were able to look into the secrets of the heart. 2dly, That as this woman was a sinner, our Saviour should not have suffered her to touch him; as if the external touch of a person, engaged in any vicious course, could communicate pollution to one that was innocent. And, 3dly, That this woman, whom he knew to be a sinner some time before, was still in the same condition; as if it were not in the power of God at any time to touch the heart, and in a moment to inspire sincere repentance. Calmet's Commentary.
It was customary, says St Jerom on Matth. xxvii. 55. among the Jews, for women, and especially for widows, to minister necessaries to their teachers; and this without any scandal or imputation upon their honour. Our Saviour lays it down as a general rule,
that "the labourer is worthy of his hire," Luke x. 7.
+3 That which made the Pharisees thus calumniate our Saviour's miracles was, their finding the people induced by them to believe that he was the Son of David, Matth. xii. 23. which was but another word for the Messiah, the king of the Jews. For though they might have some apprehensions, that if this belief obtained, it might possibly bring the power of the Romans upon them, John xi. 48. yet their chief fear was, that the greatness of his miracles, and excellence of his doctrine, would put an end to their credit and authority among the people, since they were conscious to themselves that they could not vie with him in either. Whitby's Annotations.
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&c. or 5440.
31, &c. Vulg.
son of a kingdom or house divided against itself, (which is the readiest way to bring it to desolation) shews the absurdity of their allegations, since by that means the devil r. 29. would take the most effectual course to destroy his own empire. Nay, he argues from
their own pretensions of having certain allowed exorcists +3 among them, that evil spirits might be cast out by the finger of God; that, when they were apparently so, it was very manifest that the kingdom of God, or the Messiah, was come among them; that obstinately to resist the evidence of such miracles, or to ascribe them to a diabolical power, was that "sin against the Holy Ghost," which is of a nature unpardonable; and that, since they had been so impious as to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, by which he wrought them, nothing less could be expected, than that the devils ejected by him, finding nowhere among the heathens such desirable habitations of rest and contentment, as among them, would endeavour to return, with several others worse than themselves, and, by their prodigious wickedness and obstinate infidelity, finding them more prepared than ever to receive them, would there take up their settled abode; and having made them more incredulous and obdurate, more impure and wicked, more hypocritical and blasphemous than they were before, would bring upon them too a more lamentable destruction."
All this, however, hindered not the scribes and Pharisees from demanding of our Saviour some new sign or miracle in evidence of his mission; but as he had given them? sufficient number of these already, he only referred them to one that would not come to pass till after his death, namely, that of Jonas, whose deliverance from the whale's
By several passages in the Gospel it seems evident, that the Jews at this time had a notion of a kind of empire, and subordination among the infernal powers, and that the prince of this empire was called Beelzebub. Beelzebub signifies properly the "god of flies;" but why a name of so mean an import should denote the head of the apostate angels, it is not so easy a matter to determine, unless we will admit of this conjecture, viz. That as the people of Ekron had an idol which they styled Beelsamen, i. e. " the god of heaven," by other nations called Jupiter Olympius, the Jews, who used to give nick names or names of contempt to all false gods, called it sometimes Beelzebub or the god fly, because these heathens worshipped it under the figure of that insect, and sometimes Beelzebul, or the god of ordure, because some sort of flies delight to feed on excrements. However this be, it is certain that the apostles, in several places of their writings, do seem to insinuate, that among the apostate spirits, there was one superior to the rest, whom therefore they call "the Prince of Darkness," Luke xxii. 53. “the Prince of this World," Johu xii. 31. and "the Prince of the power of the Air," Eph. ii. 2. who, in the days of Tobit, went under the name of Asmodeus, chap. iii. 8. and is now by the Jews generally called Sammael, and by the Christians Lucifer. Beausobre's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
+ The argument which our Saviour employs against the Jews upon this occasion is what we call ad hominem. He supposes, as they did, that among evil spirits there was a form of government which was to last unto the end of the world, and in it a certain subordination which made it subsist; and from this prin
ciple he argues-" That it was impossible that an empire divided against itself should last long; incongruous to think, that a prince, who knew his own interest, would send part of his forces to engage his own generals, and compel them to surrender to the enemy what they had lately taken from them; and therefore a thing utterly incredible, that the prince of the devils should give orders to other inferior devils, to quit the bodies which they had taken possession of, and consequently that he should expel any in the name or by the authority of Beelzebub." Calmet's Commentary.
+3 That it was customary among the Jews to cast out devils by the invocation of the name of the Most High, we may learn from Justin Martyr, who, in his dialogue with Trypho, tells him, that" if any Jew exorcised a devil in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, perhaps he would obey him;" from what Irenæus tells us, viz. That, "by the invocation of the name of God, even before the advent of our Lord, men were saved from evil spirits, and all kinds of demons ;" and, from what Origen (cont. Cels.) affirms, viz. That" the name of the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, being used by the Jews, in the incantation of devils, did great miracles :" and if this was a common practice among the Jews, then will the force of our Saviour's argument be this," You make no doubt but that your exorcists, who use the name of God, do eject devils by virtue of that name; and how partial is it then in you to pass an unjust censure upon me, in whom you see far greater evidences of the finger of God in my casting out all manner of evil spirits, and healing all kinds of diseases?" Whitby's Annotations.