Page images


tion, he was able to introduce it, where sERM. otherwise it was not admissible.

Of this ingenious device no example can be more apposite than the parable which the prophet Nathan addressed to David: There were two men in one city, the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing save one little ewe-lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him und with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup; and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the way-faring man that was come unto him, but he took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come unto him.

The king, taking this for a real act of late occurrence in his kingdom, entertained a proper sense of the crime, and denounced a severe but impartial judgement on the offender; As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die. And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, • 2 Sam. xii. 1, &c.


SERM and because he had no pity. And now it

was that Nathan drew aside the veil and said unto him, Thou art the man. The tale, of an imaginary criminal was no other than a disguised picture of the king himself in his dealings to :Uriah, from whom he had taken away his wife, and then had treacherously exposed him to the sword of his enemies. Had Nathan instantly accused him of adultery and murder, he might have revolted from the charge, or lifted up his hand against the man who made it. But by this cautious expedient of keeping his case out of sight for a time, the Prophet surprised him into an equitable judge ment. The charge chus discreetly made produced all the good effects of a salutary reproof. It put him upon so deep an humiliation of himself, and so severe a contrition for his sins, as wrought in him a thorough reformation both of heart and life, and finally restored him to the peace of heaven,

Now this more peculiar use of para ble in conveying reproof, or any other unpalatable truth, will apply to many of those similitudes, which our Lord ad«ressed to the superior orders of the Jews.



When a certain lawyer sought to SERM. know, who his neighbour was, whoin the law required him to love, our Lord would not make him a direct reply, being aware of his prejudice against the clear and open truth; but he gave his own opinion indirectly in a parable; namely, that of a Samaritan administering relief to a traveller in distress, when

Priest and a Levite had severally looked on him, and passed by on the other side." Thus without expressing any doctrine of his own, he brought the lawyer to acknowledge even against his

professional opinion, that he alone supports the character and relation of a neighbour in the spirit of the divine law, who without respect of nation or profession of faith contributes all he can to the peace and welfare of his fellow-creatures.

When the Pharisees and Scribes múrmured at his conduct in receiving sinners and eating with them, he would not openly reprove them for their présumptuous conceit of their own merits, or their want of charity to then brethren who were left in ignorance and error. For what was in them a proper object

: Luke x. 29, &c.



Serm. of reproof they considered as a mark of a

stricter righteousness : in keeping at a distance from the company of sinners they affected an extraordinary zeal for God's honour and service. But in order to justify himself, as also to recriminate on them, he replied to their murmurs under the covert form of

parable. A prodigal youth, after spending all his portion in vicious extravagance, is reduced to wretchedness and want, In this condition being come to himself hé repairs to his father's house a penitent, confessing his guilt and acknowledging his unworthiness.

No sooner did his father see him, than he received him with compassion, with tenderness, and pardon, he acknowledged and attired him as a son, and provided a feast in gratulation of his recovery. But his brother was offended at this parental clemency, and would not partake in the festivities of that occasion: and when affectionately intreated to receive a bron ther with a brother's love, he pleaded his own long and faithful service as a title to superior favour and reward, and murmured at his father's partiality to an undeserving son, who had wasted his patrimony in the criminal gratification of his




passions." Thus, without expressing any SERM. censure of the Pharisecs and Scribes, our Lord conveyed in parable a very keen reproof: for while he justified his own conduct in receiving sinners and conversing with them, he represented the disposition of these murmurers to take offence to be most repugnant to the gracious character of God; as they would have seen upon discovering the design of this similitude, that the father was an image of our heavenly Father in his dealings to repenting sinners, and that the elder son was an image of the Pharisees and Scribes in their presumptuous opinion of themselves and their want of charity to others,

III. AFTER stating the Characters and displaying the Uses of parable, it remains for me now to point out some principle of a right Interpretation. In this preliminary view it may be sufficient to notice one property in its composition, which may sometimes throw difficulties in the way of explanation; though these difficulties will disappear on a closer inquiry into the nature and spirit of this figurative kind!

* Luke xv. 11, &c.

« EelmineJätka »