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HARMONY OF THE FOUR GOSPELS.
away. On the contrary, may we rather collect an argument from their ingratitude and folly, more strenuously and more affectionately to adhere to him; indeed to whom should we go, but to him? He has the words of eternal life. From him therefore, in all lowly subjection of soul, may we learn those lessons on which our everlasting happiness depends !
May we never, like Judas, conceal a treacherous and disaffected heart, under the specious appearance of piety and goodness! This would be only imposing on ourselves; for his penetrating eye can never be deceived. May we approve the integrity of our souls in his sight, and repose an unlimited confidence in him, as one whom we believe and know to be a Divine Saviour, Christ the Son of the living God!
MATTHEW XV. XXVII. MARK VII. XV
LUKE IX. 18. XXIII. JOHN VII. XIX.
CONTAINING THE PERIOD OF TWELVE MONTHS, FROM THE
END OF THE SECOND YEAR'S PREACHING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, IN THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR TWENTY. NINE, TO THE END OF THE THIRD YEAR IN THE BEGINNING OF THIRTY.
SECTION I. MATT. XV. 1-19. MARK VII. 1-13. Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, and of brazen vessels, and tables. Then the Pharisees and Scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to, but transgress, the tradition of the elders ? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For, laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For God commanded by Moses, saying, Honour thy father and thy mother : and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to honour, or to do aught for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect by your tradition, which ye have delivered : and many such like things do ye. Ye hypocrites, well hath Esaias prophesied of you, as it is written, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit, in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
How miserable is the case of those who, while they earnestly contend for the forms of Divine worship, are losing both the improvement and reward, which might be expected from a regular attendance upon it! This is the case of all, who draw near to God with their lips, while their hearts are far from him. May we abhor the vanity of such hypocritical behaviour in the presence of Him, who searches the heart and tries the reins of the children of men.
Let us learn from this just and severe sentence which our Lord passes on these superstitious Pharisees, to avoid the temper he condemns in them. It much less becomes us as Christians, and especially as protestants. to impose on our brethren with rigorous severity those doctrinal decisions, or those ritual observances, which have not their express foundation in the word of God; to which we so constantly appeal as to our common rule. Happy had it been for the church in all ages and nations, had men exerted thạt zeal for the truths and the institutions of God in the beauty and glory of their native simplicity, which has carried them on to defend and propagate their own inventions, till religion itself has almost sunk under the weight of the ornaments in which they have dressed it, and the unwieldy armour which they have hung about it!
Let children learn from the command which Christ has vindicated, to honour their parents by a tender care of them in their declining days; remembering, that as no filial duty and gratitude can ever fully repay our obligations to such friends, so an affectionate regard to them is a proper and necessary expression of our filial piety to the great Father of our spirits. Justly may he esteem his temples profaned, rather than adorned, by the most costly gifts, which are the spoils of nature, and the trophies of inhumanity.