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23. Luke vi. 1.
Mark ix. 14.
John vii. 1.
law. The man excused himself by declaring, that the person who had miraculously From Matth. cured him, commanded him so to do, which he thought a sufficient warrant; but when xii. 1. Mark ii. they understood that it was Jesus, they (a) brought him before the Sanhedrim, with a John v. 1. to design to take away his life as an open profaner of the Sabbath. Here, in defence of Matth. xvii. 14. himself, he alleged,-That "since God (from whose rest they took the observation of Luke ix. 37. the Sabbath) did, on that day, and all others, exercise the works of providence, preservation, and mercy, there could be no reason why he, who was his Son, and invested with full authority from him, (as (b) he proves immediately in a set speech before the council) might not employ himself on the Sabbath as well as any other day, in actions of the like nature;" which provoked the Jews still more and more against him, for they looked upon him now not only as a Sabbath breaker, but a blasphemer likewise, who, by making himself the Son of God †, had claimed a co-equality with him.
What the result of our Saviour's defence before the Sanhedrim was, we cannot tell, because none of the evangelists have acquainted us; but the sequel of the history informs us, that it no ways abated the malice of the Pharisees, because on the very next Sabbath-day, upon his disciples pulling some ears of corn †2, (as they passed through the fields) rubbing them in their hands, and so eating them, because they were really hungry, they began again to clamour against this violation of the Sabbath; until our Saviour, in vindication of his disciples, both from the example of David †3 and his attendants, (who ate the shew-bread +4, which it was unlawful for the laity to eat) when
(a) John v. 16. [It certainly doth not appear from this verse, nor from any part of the chapter, that a meeting of the Sanhedrim, or great council, was called for the purpose of trying Jesus for a breach of the law. They were probably members of that council who challenged him for what he had done, and with whom he condescended to reason; but it seems evident that he was not brought to trial for his offence.]
(b) Ver. 19. ad finem.
+ From hence it seems to follow, that though the Jews had very high conceptions of the Messiah, and were confident that when he came he would be a mighty prince, and subdue all other nations under his feet; yet they never once imagined that he would be God, or, in the strict and sublime sense of the word, the Son of God, though in the very prophecies which (as they themselves acknowledge) relate to the Messiah, he is called IMMANUEL, Isaiah vii. 14. and elsewhere, "the Mighty God, the Everlast ing Father, the Prince of Peace," Isa. ix. 6. Whitby's Annotations. [This is true of the Jews of that age, but not of their more intelligent and pious forefathers! See Dr Nares's Remarks on the Unitarian Version of the New Testament.]
+ What our Lord's disciples did in this case could not be accounted any unjust invasion of another's property, because the law had indulged them thus far:-"When thou goest into thy neighbour's standing corn, thou mayest pluck the ears with thy hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle to thy neighbour's standing corn," Deut. xxiii. 25. It was not then for plucking the ears of corn, much less (as some say) for breaking their fasts before they had celebrated the public offices, (which was contrary to the custom of the Jews, Acts ii. 15.) that the Pharisees took exceptions to the disciples, but for plucking them on the Sabbath-day, whereof they thought this action
(which, at other times, was lawful enough) to be a
+3 There is something very cogent in our Saviour's
The shew-bread (which in Hebrew is literally the bread of faces) was so called, not because it was set upon the golden table, which was in the sanctu ary, but because it was placed before the Lord, i. e, not far from the ark of the covenant, which was the symbol of his more immediate presence. These loaves, according to the number of the tribes, were twelve: They were made four square, covered over with leaves of gold, and were of a considerable bigness, having about three quarts of flour in each. They were ser
A. M. 4035, they were hungry, and from the example of their own priests, who performed the work
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Ann. Dom. of the temple on the Sabbath-day, endeavoured to convince them, "that works of necessity were sometimes permitted, even to the breach of a ritual command; that acts of mercy were the best and most acceptable method of serving God upon any day whatever; that it was inverting the order of things to suppose that "man was made for the Sabbath, and not the Sabbath for the benefit of man :" But if even it were not so, that he, as the Son of God |, and consequently "Lord of the Sabbath," had a power to dispense with the ceremonial laws (a) concerning it.”
Not long after this our Saviour left Jerusalem and returned into Galilee, where on another Sabbath-day, while he was preaching, there stood before him a man whose right-hand was shrunk and withered; and when the scribes and Pharisees insidiously watched him whether he would cure him or not, our Lord bad him stand up in the midst of the assembly as an object of public commiseration, and turning to these superstitious observers of the Sabbath, put the question || to them, whether they thought it lawful on the Sabbath-day to do good or ill, actually to save life or negligently to destroy it?" And then from their own practice in running to the relief of any dumb creature on the Sabbath-day, he fairly inferred, that whatever their hypocritical pretences might be, they themselves esteemed it lawful to do good on that day; and so, looking about him with some marks of indignation for their strange perverseness, he command
31, &c. Vulg. Er. 29.
ved up hot every Sabbath day, and, at the same time,
There are some who pretend to infer, from the passage of St Mark, chap. ii. 27. that the words in St Matthew, "The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath," chap. xii. 8. are of the same import with, "The Sabbath was made for man;" so that the Son of man is here put for all men in general, and consequently the sense of the words must be, that every one is Lord of the Sabbath, to observe or dispense with it according to the call or exigency of his affairs. But besides that the phrase "Son of Man," which is used no less than eighty-eight times in the New Testament, is, in all other places, set to denote our blessed Lord, and in Dan. vii. 13. from whence it is originally taken, it is thought by all ancient Jews as well as Christians, to signify the Messiah only; it is plain that these two passages are distinct propositions in St Mark, chap. ii. 27, 28. and that they can relate to no other than our Saviour Christ, because he tells the Pharisees, and therein means of himself, that in that place" there was one greater than the temple," i. e. whose prophetic office was of more consequence to the world than the sacerdotal administrations in the temple, and ought therefore, least of all, to be in
terrupted by a superstitious observation of the Sabbath. "The Sabbath was made for man," must therefore signify, that it was first appointed for the good and benefit of man; and being so, it cannot reason. ably be supposed to oblige him to any thing so contrary to humanity, as starving or debilitating his nature; and therefore as "the Son of Man came not to destroy mens lives, but to save them," he must have power, in such cases as concern the good and welfare of mankind, to dispense with the strict rest of the Sabbath which the law required. Calmet's Commentary, and Hammond's and Whitby's Annotations. (a) Mark ii. 27.
This is not contrary to what St Matthew, Chap. xii. 10. tells us, viz. That they asked him, because both are true. They asked him, "Whether it was lawful to heal?" And he, in reply, says, "I also will ask you one thing, Is it lawful on the Sabbath-day to do good, or to do evil? Luke vi. 9. We are not however to suppose, that by doing evil our Saviour propounded to the Pharisees, whether, on the Sabbath-day, it was lawful to do that which, on any other day, is utterly unlawful; for then, without doubt, they would have had a ready answer for him; bus only, whether, according to the institution of the Sabbath, it was lawful to do good, or not to do it, to save life, or not to save it, when a man had it equally in his power. And the reason why our Saviour instances in saving a life is, because it was a maxim then among the Jews, that on the Sabbath-day all servile work was prohibited, except where the life of any man or beast was concerned; but the modern Jews are of a contrary opinion, and, in hatred to Christians, (as Grotius thinks) have loaded the observation of the Sabbath with such trifling and superstitious practices, as their fore-fathers and ancient doctors knew nothing of. Whitby's and Beausobre's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
ed the poor man to stretch out his lame hand, and that very moment it became as sound From Matth. as the other.
xii. 1. Mark ii. 23. Luke vi. 1.
Mark ix. 14.
The Pharisees, however, though silenced by his arguments, and surprised at his mi- John v. 1. to racles, would not surcease their malice, but joined in consultation with the Herodians Matth. xvii. 14. (though a sect quite opposite to them in principles) how they might take away his life; Luke ix. 37. which when our Saviour understood, he withdrew with his disciples toward the sea- John vii. 1. side; but which way soever he went, his name was now grown so famous, that vast multitudes, not only out of Galilee, but from Jerusalem, from the provinces of Judea and Idumea †, and all the country about Jordan, as far as the Mediterranean Sea, to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, hearing the report of his miraculous power to cure all diseases with a word of his mouth, the touch of his hand, or barely the touch of his garment, came, with their sick and possessed, for help, and as fast as they came he cured them. Nay, to such a degree was his fame increased, that the very devils and unclean spirits publicly confessed that he was "the Son of God," till upon all occasions they were restrained and compelled to silence.
Finding some inconvenience in the pressures of the people, he ordered his disciples, for the time to come, to have a small vessel always in readiness for him to step into upon occasion; and so retired to a solitary mountain †2, where he continued all night in prayer, intending next morning to make an election of some particular persons, both to be witnesses of his actions and discourses, and after his departure out of the world, his vicegerents upon earth, founders of his church, and propagators of his Gospel.
*It was a direction which our Saviour gave to his disciples, "when they persecute you in this city, flee to another," Matth. x. 23. and a rule which himself put in practice: For when, by his doctrine and miracles, he could do no good upon men by reason of the hardness of their hearts, Mark iii. 5. he usually departed, and retired, that he might give place to their wrath, and secure himself from their malice, Matth. xii. 15. and John viii. 59. When the Providence of God brings trials upon us, we may reasonably hope that his mercy will be magnified in our rescue from them; but there is not the same assurance due to those troubles which our own forwardness or indiscretion involves us in. God hath no where promised to work miracles for our deliverance, nor engaged to save those who are not careful to save themselves. He bath commanded us to take up our cross when he lays it in our way, but he hath not commanded that we should go out and seek it; nay, or that we should meet it when we can pass by another way, and honestly and with a good conscience escape from it. He hath promised" to succour them that are tempted," i. e. such as are purely passive in the thing; but when men break their ranks, and, without orders from their commander, will needs march up (as it were) to the mouth of a loaded cannon, by turning their own tempters, this is not courage, but fool hardiness; and whatever expectations these men may cherish of God's assistance in such cases, they are not the effects of a vigorous faith and well grounded trust, but of a blind and hot-headed presumption. Stanhope's Occasional Sermons.
Though this be no more than a Greek name derived from the Hebrew idiom, yet it is not to be understood of the original habitation of the Edomites, Mount Seir, but rather of that southern part of the
province of Judea, which, during the captivity of the
+ Some have thought that the words in greu To to should be rendered" in an house of prayer of God," or, "in a synagogue dedicated to the service of God;" but then they will be concerned to find out any house of prayer which at this time stood on a mountain, or any place (except the temple) which was called by that name: Nor can we conceive why our Lord should go out into a mountain to pray, if it were not for the privacy and retire. ment of it, which he could not have had in any common place of Divine worship. Our Saviour, however, being about to send out his twelve apostles, thought that so great a work as this could not be done without offering up his solemn addresses to God for their success; and accordingly having found out a place of retirement, he thither betook himself, and, as the evangelists inform us, continued all night in prayer, leaving the bishops and governors of his church an example what they are to do in the great and mo mentous affair of appointing persons to the ministry of the Gospel. Whitby's and Pool's Annotations.
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Ann. Dom. 31, &c.
Vulg. Er. 29.
The number of these, according to the patriarchs, was twelve; Simon (who is likewise named Peter) and Andrew; James † (commonly called the Great) and John; Philip and Bartholomew †2; Matthew and Thomas +3; James (commonly called the Less) and Simon +4 the Canaanite; Judas, the brother of this James, and + Judas Iscariot, who so justly deserved the title of traitor +6. To these he gave the name of apostles +7; and as he perceived the multitude gathering round him, these he called nearer
+ These two brothers our Saviour calls Boanerges, a word composed of two Hebrew or Syriac words, but what have suffered some alteration in their passing into the Greek language. For whether it be that the Greek transcriber has mistaken them, or that this might be the corrupt way of pronouncing 'them in Galilee, certain it is, that the originals are benei rehem, denoting "sons of thunder," or " of a tempest;" a name given them in allusion to the natural heat and zeal of their temper, and that vehemence and efficacy wherewith our Saviour foresaw that they would preach the Gospel. Of the former of these they gave an early instance, in their desire to call down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans, Luke ix. 54. and in the Acts of the Apostles we find that Peter and John are the chief actors and speak ers in the defence and propagation of the Gospel, and that the zeal of James and Peter seems to be the reason why the one was slain by Herod, and the other imprisoned in order to the like execution. Calmet's Commentary, and Beausobre's and Whitby's
+ The name given here to this apostle is not his proper, but patronymical name, and imports only the son of Tholomew or Tolmai: So that we are still at a loss for his personal name, unless we will admit of the conjecture that he was indeed no other than Nathanael. To this purpose it is remarkable, 1st, That as no other evangelist makes mention of Nathanael but St John, so he never once makes mention of Bartholomew. 2dly, That in the catalogue of the apostles Philip and Bartholomew are always coupled to gether, and were, very probably, sent out together to preach the Gospel: And fit companions they were, supposing Nathanael to be the man with whom, it is plain, that Philip had an intimacy, and was the first instrument of bringing him to Jesus. 3dly, That this Nathanael is, by St John, chap xxi. 2. named in company with several of the apostles, upon our Saviour's shewing himself at the sea of Tiberias, after his resurrection, which the evangelist tells us was the third time of his doing so, ver. 14. and some presumption that he was one of them. 4thly, That at the two former times it is expressly said that he appeared to the eleven, John xx. 19, 26. And here, at the third time of his appearance, those that are named with Nathanael are all of that number. From these considerations it is more than probable, that Nathanael was one of the apostles; which can only be accounted for, by supposing that St John calls the same person by his proper name Nathanael, whom the other evangelist calls by his patronymical, Bartholmew. Stanhope, on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iv.
+3 Thomas, in Hebrew, or Syriac either, signifies
a twin, and so is the same with Didymus, that other name whereby this apostle is sometimes called.
+ Some are of opinion that Simon is here called the Canaanite from Cana, a little town in Galilee, the place of his birth and habitation; but others rather think, since this apostle is by St Luke, chap. vi. 15. called Zelotes, the Kavavires and Znλwns are perfectly the same, just as Cephas and Peter, Tabitha and Dorcas are That there was a faction among the Jews, a little before the destruction of their city and nation, who assumed to themselves the title of Zealots, (out of an hypocritical ostentation of holiness, though at the same time, in their hearts and practices, they were the lewdest of men) we have given a sufficient account above, vol. ii. p. 646, 647. but whether that faction was in being in our Saviour's time, or whether to be of the number of such zealots may not be an injury and reproach to this apostle's memory, is much to be doubted. Hammond's Annot. and Calmet's Comment. + This man's sirname may be taken, either from the place of his birth, which was Carioth, in the tribe of Issachar, whereof we have mention in Josh. xv. 25. and Amos ii. 2. or from the Syriac word Secariat, denoting the purse or wallet which it was the office of this Judas to carry; or from the word Ashara, or Iscara, which signifies to strungle; and therefore a name which the evangelists might give him after his death: But all these etymologies are no more than mere conjectures. Hammond's and Beausobre's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
+ The wisdom of Christ saw fit to admit Judas into the number of his disciples, that by him the counsel of God, in giving up his Son to death, and the predictions of the prophets, might be fulfilled, Acts i. 16. This very person, however, is by our Lord sent to preach the Gospel, to cure diseases, and to cast out devils, who had himself a devil, John vi. 70. thereby to teach us that the mission of a person may be valid, though he be not sanctified, and that in things belonging to the ministerial office, we should hearken even to such persons, and obey them. Whatby's Annotations.
+ The word 'Azóctonos signifies an envoy, and was a name given by the Jews to any messenger in general, but more especially to such persons as were sent by the high priest and heads of the people, to collect the tithes and other dues belonging to the temple or synagogue, or to carry their orders and mandates to the cities and provinces, when any affairs relating to religion were transacted; and to this custom St Paul seems to allude, where he styles himself" an apostle, not of man, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ," Gal. i. 1. Our Saviour indeed, as he was no lover of innovations, took the word from among the Jews;
than the rest to him, and began that most excellent discourse which the great principles of the Christian religion, and is commonly called the the Mount."
comprises all From Matth. "Sermon on xii. 1. Mark ii.
23. Luke vi. 1. John v. 1. to
Mark ix. 14.
Herein he pronounces divers blessings, both spiritual and temporal, to such as the Matth. xvii. 14. generality of the world esteemed miserable: To the poor in spirit, or humble minded; Luke ix. 37. to the kind and merciful; to the pious mourners; to the peace makers; to the meek John vii. 1. and patient, to the pure in heart; to such as hunger and thirst after righteousness; and to such as are persecuted upon the account thereof. Herein he instructs the apostles more especially in their duty; and in several comparisons setting before them the high station wherein he had so lately placed them, and how much it would redound to their honour if they behaved well, and to their dishonour if otherwise; he recommends to them, above all other things, purity of life and conversation. Herein he expounds the true meaning, and shews the just extent of several moral precepts, viz. the laws against murder, against adultery, against perjury ; that concerning retaliation, and that of loving our neighbour; and rescues them from the wretched glosses and interpretations which the Jews had put upon them. Herein he explains, and teaches, the proper method of performing with acceptance the several duties of charity to the poor, prayer, and fasting. Herein he dissuades us from all covetous inclinations, and anxious thoughts concerning the things of this world, from a consciousness of our being under the providential care of God; and having laid down several other precepts and instructions, he concludes the whole with this admonition,-"That whoever heard, believed, and practised the things contained in his discourses, would, in the event, be like a wise builder, who laid the foundation of his house upon a rock, not to be affected by wind or weather; but that he who heard and practi
but then he raised it to a much higher and more honourable signification; for himself declares, that he sent out his apostles, even as his Father sent out him, John xx. 21. i. e. with a full commission to act in his stead, even as he did in God's: And accordingly we may observe, that as the "Father gave judgment to the Son," John v. 22. so in effect the Son gives judgment to the apostles, Matth. xix. 28. and Luke xxii. 30. that as the Father gave the son power to "forgive sins upon earth," Matth. ix. 6. so the Son gives power to the apostles to "remit sins on earth likewise," John xx. 23. that as the Father gave the Son the honour" to sit down with him on his throne," so the Son gave the apostles the privilege to "sit with him on thrones," Matth. xix. 28. and Luke xxii. 30. and that as the Father gave the Son to be "the foundation or corner-stone" of the church, Mat. xxi. 42. so the Son gave the apostles to be founda tions upon a foundation; for so the church is said to be built upon the "foundation of the apostles, Christ being the chief corner-stone," Eph. ii. 20. Hammond's Annotations.
+ The mountain where our Lord delivered his discourse is generally supposed to be Tabor; for by comparing St Mark, chap. iii. 13. with the other two evangelists, Matthew, chap. xiv. 23. and Luke, chap. vi. 12, &c. we may perceive that it was not far dis tant from some part of the sea of Tiberias, whither our Lord had retired very lately from the Pharisees, and about five or six leagues from Capernaum, whither he returned after his descent from this mount.
But then the question is, whether this sermon be the