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33. Nevertheless, I must walk today and to-morrow and the day following:
Although I must die shortly, yet I shall pursue my work, without fear of interruption, for some time longer.
For it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
Such is the wickedness of the inhabitants of that place, that they have been the chief enemies of the messengers of God in every age; so that they have been put to death no where else.
1. We learn from this passage of Scripture the guilt and danger of rejecting Christ. The Jews were under strong temptations to do this. Their manners were ex: tremely corrupt, in consequence of their placing the whole of religion in the observance of external ceremonies; so that the pure doctrine which Jesus taught was highly distasteful. They expected a great temporal deliverer, and the humble appearance of Jesus corresponded not with their expectations. In the profession of the religion of their fathers they lived in peace; but in professing that of Christ they exposed themselves to the persecution of those in power, and to hatred from all men. The belief and the profession of Christianity, in such circumstances, was a strait gate; and it was necessary that those should strive who wished to enter it. They must contend with their own vices and prejudices, and with the vices and prejudices of other men; yet these difficulties did not excuse their unbelief, or exempt them from punishment. They are ranked with the workers of iniquity, and shut out of the kingdom
of heaven. Their cries for admission are not heard, although accompanied with tears.
Let us take care, in the present day, lest, by following the example of the Jews in rejecting Christ, we incur a like dooin. To receive him as the Messiah is not now attended with the same difficulty as in the early times of the Christian religion; yet there are some still remaining which it requires resolution to surmount. The majority of those around us are believers in Christ; but there are some who are not so, and who, with a zeal worthy of a better cause, endeavour to shake the faith of others, by starting objections to our religion and suggesting doubts. To answer these objections and to remove these doubts satisfactorily, it is necessary that we should inquire with care and diligence whether these things are as they are confidently stated to be; but to this trouble there are many who are not willing to submit, and who choose to remain in doubt; or to give up their faith in Christianity, without examining the foundations upon which it is built. To this they are also tempted by the hope of ranking with men who esteem themselves superior to vulgar prejudices, and who arrogate to themselves the character of wise and discerning; but above all, by the prospect of throwing off the restraints of Christianity with the profession of it. It should be remembered, however, that an unbelief proceeding from these motives is criminal, and that it will bring down upon us the same dreadful consequences which it brought upon the Jews. It shows us to be indifferent about the knowledge of the truth, and more anxious for the indulgence of our passions than for fulfilling the will of heaven. Let every one then be careful how he rejects Christianity, and not resolve upon so important a measure, without the most diligent and impartial examination.
2. The conduct of Jesus, when threatened by Herod, may teach us how we ought to act, when opposed in the discharge of our duty to God by any of the princes or powers of the earth. He declares his intention to pursue his work, in defiance of Herod's threatenings, and to entrust himself to the protection of Heaven. In this he has given us an example of fortitude and courage which well deserves our imitation, if we should be brought into like circumstances. If we should be prohibited from assembling for public worship, or for hearing religious instructions, or for performing any other important duty which our maker claims from us, under the threatened penalty of imprisonment or death, let us do as Christ' did resolve to follow the calls of duty, whatever the consequences may be; and if reproached for opposing lawful authority, let us say, after the example of the apostles, Whether it be right that we should obey God rather than men, judge ye. In matters of religion and conscience we are accountable to God alone for our conduct. If civil rulers offer to interfere with his authority, and prohibit any thing which he has enjoined, we are justified in disobeying them; nay, we are required to do it: to act otherwise would be treason and rebellion against him. Nor need we be afraid of the consequences: the God whose authority we maintain will protect us from danger; or if he permit us to suffer ought from the resentment of man, will make us ample compensation hereafter.
Luke xiii. 33. corresponds with Matt. xxiii.37.
Luke xiv. 1-14.
1. And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees, rather, “ of one of the Pharisees which was a ruler," that is, a member of the Sanhedrim, to eat bread on the sabbath-day, that they watched him.
This invitation seems to have been given Jesus by this ruler, not from motives of respect or hospitality,
but with the insidious design of betraying him ; to find out something in his language or conduct, which, when reported by the Pharisees, miglit injure his character: for we are told that they watched him.
2. And behold there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
As they were endeavouring to ensnare Jesus, it is not unlikely that this man was introduced to him for that purpose: for otherwise it is not easy to account for his finding admission into the house of a ruler, and being permitted to appear, loaded as he was with disease, before his guests. .
3. And Jesus, answering, spake unto the lawyers, that is, “ to the teachers of the law,” and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath-day ?
There were different opinions among the teachers of the law, upon this subject : but the sentiment which generally prevailed, among those of them who were of the sect of the Pharisees, was, that it was unlawful to make up medicines on the sabbath, except where it was necessary to prevent immediate death. On the
present occasion, however, they did not answer Christ's question; being unwilling to prevent him from performing a miracle on the sabbath, or afraid to enter into a controversy with him.
4. And they held their peace; and he took and healed him, and let him go, rather, “ sent him away.”
He might have healed this dropsical person by spcaking a word; but he chose to do it rather by laying his hand upon him, as on many other occasions, that it might appear that the cause of the cure proceeded from himself, and not from any other source. His disorder was obvious, from the unnatural size to which he was
swollen ; and his cure, by the sudden removal of this swelling * 5. And answered them,
them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, rather, a well,” and will not straitway pull him out on the sabbath-day ?
As these teachers of the law had refused to answer his question about the lawfulness of healing on the sabbath, he now justifies what he had done, by appealing to their own practice, in regard to their cattle, when any inisfortune had befallen them, and they were in danger of perishing
6. And they could not answer him again to these things.
7. And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms, rather, “ the chief seats.”
The Jews, like other eastern nations, reclined upon couches at their meals; each couch containing three persons; and the greatest compliment that could be paid to a man was to desire him to place himself first upon the couch. This the Pharisaic teachers of the law were eager to do, without being invited; which drew from Christ the following admonition, which is here called a parable, because Jesus illustrates his meaning by an example.
Saying unto them;
“If any one should ask how this could be," says Dr. Doddridge, “ I answer; he that at ünce could cure the dropsy with a touch, could, if he pleased, annihilate the excess of water which caused it; and it is reasonable to believe the cure was wrought in such a manner as would make the reality and perfection of it immediately apparent." Fam. Ex. vol. ii. p. 151, note.