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answering said, Master, thou hast well said. And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.
With what satisfaction should we read this vindication of so important an article of our faith and hope! Easily was this boasted argument of the Sadducees unravelled and exposed, and all the pride of those bold wits, who valued themselves so much on that imaginary penetration which laid men almost on a level with brutes, covered with just confusion. Indeed objections against the resurrection, much more plausible than this of theirs, may be answered in that one saying of our Lord's: Ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God. Were the scripture doctrine of the resurrection considered on the one hand, and the omnipotence of the Creator on the other, it could not seem incredible to any that God should raise the dead. (Acts xxvi. 8.)
How sublime an idea does our Lord give us of the happiness of those who shall be thought worthy to attain it! They shall be equal to the angels! Adored be the riches of that grace which redeems us from this degenerate and miserable state, in which we had made ourselves so much like the beasts that perish, (Psalm xlix. 12,) to raise us to so high a dignity, and marshal us with the armies of heaven!
Let us esteem so glorious a hope aright, and with the greatest intenseness of soul pursue and insure it. And as for those enjoyments of this present world, which are suited only to the mortality and imperfection of it, let us moderate our regards to them, and cultivate those higher entertainments with the most solicitous care, which will be transplanted into the paradise of God, and ever flourish for the delight of his immortal children.
Christ, we see, argues a very important point of doctrine from premises, in which, perhaps, we might not have been able to have discovered it without such a hint. Let us learn to judge of scripture arguments, not merely by the sound, but by the sense of the words. And as our Lord chose a passage from the Pentateuch, rather than from the prophets, for the conviction of the Sadducees, let us be engaged to study the tempers, and even the prejudices, of those with whom we converse; that we may, if possible, let in the light of Divine truth on their hearts on that side by which they seem most capable of receiving it.
In a word, let us with pleasure think of the blessed God under that gracious title by which he manifested himself to Moses at the bush. Still he is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; the God of our pious ancestors, the God of all our departed friends who are now sleeping in Jesus: for all their souls now live unto him, and their bodies
shall ere long be awakened by him. In like manner, if we are followers of them who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises, when we are gathered to our fathers, and our names, perhaps, forgotten among succeeding generations, he will still be our God. He will shew us, by the blessed experience of eternity, that when he treated with us by that title, and admitted us into the covenant by which he bears it, he intended for us something far nobler and better than the transient scenes of earth and of time could admit.
MATTHEW XXII. 34-40. MARK XII. 28-34.
BUT when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they also were gathered together. And one of them, which was a lawyer, came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the first and the great commandment of all in the law? Jesus answered him, and said unto him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. And the Scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast Isaid the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
Whatever might be the design of the Scribe in putting this question to Christ again, which was in effect the same with what another had proposed before, (Luke x. 25, sect. cvii.) we have reason to rejoice in the repetition of so important an answer. Oh that it might be inscribed on our hearts as with the point of a diamond!
The first and great commandment requires us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength; and the second, which is like unto it, to love our neighbour as ourselves. But alas, what reason have we to complain of our own deficiency on both these heads! and how much need of being taught again even these first principles of the oracles of God! (Heb. v. 12.)
Can we say, with regard to the first, that the blessed God has the whole of our hearts? Is the utmost vigour of our faculties exerted in his service? Do we make him the end of all our actions, of all our wishes, of all our pursuits? Or are we indeed such equitable judges between ourselves and others as the second of these great commandments would require; so as to seek our own particular interests no farther than they may be subservient to, or at least consistent with, the good of the whole? Do we make all those allowances for others which we expect or desire they should make for us?-Surely we must own we are far from having yet attained, or from being already perfect. (Phil. iii. 12.) But if this be not in the main the prevailing and governing temper of our minds, in vain are our burnt-offerings and our sacrifices; in vain are all the solemnities of public worship, or the forms of domestic and secret devotion; and by all our most pathetic expressions of duty to God, and friendship to men, we do but add one degree of guilt to another. Let us then most earnestly entreat that God would have mercy upon us, and by his Holy Spirit write these laws in our hearts.
On these subjects let Scribes instructed to the kingdom of heaven insist, lest they be condemned by this expositor of the Jewish law. And let those whose notions are thus wisely regulated, take heed, lest, while they seem near to the kingdom of God, by resting in mere notions, they come short of it, and sink into a ruin aggravated by their near approach to the confines of salvation and glory.
MATT. XXII. 41-46. MARK XII. 35-40. LUKE XX. 41-47.
WHILE the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, while he taught in the temple, How say the Scribes that Christ is the son of David? What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him, in the book of Psalms, Lord; saying by the Holy Ghost, the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? David therefore himself calleth him Lord: If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. And the common people heard him gladly.
Then in the audience of all the people he said unto his disciples, in his doctrine, Beware of the Scribes, which love to walk in long robes, and love salutations in the market-places, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts; which devour widow's houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.
As for that question of Christ with which the Pharisees were perplexed, the gospel has given us a key to it. Well might David in spirit, call him Lord, who according to the flesh was to descend from his loins: for before David or Abraham was, he is. (John viii. 58.) Let us adore this mysterious union of the Divine and human natures in the person of our glorious Emmanuel; and be very careful that we do not oppose him, if we would not be found fighters against God. Already is he exalted at the right hand of the Father: let his friends rejoice in his dignity and glory, and with pleasure wait the day of his complete triumph, when all his enemies shall be put under his feet, and even the last of them be swallowed up in victory. (1 Cor. xv. 25, 54.)
LUKE XXI. 1-4.
MARK XII. 41-44.
AND Jesus sat over against the treasury, and he looked up, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And he saw also a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
But though he had done so many miracles before them, Yet they believed not on him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Our Lord Jesus Christ had his eye on those who were bringing their gifts unto the sacred treasury. Let us remember his eye is also upon us, to observe in what degree we are ready, on proper occasions, to contribute for the glory of God and the good of mankind; and in what proportion to the ability which God has given us. Let not the poorest be discouraged from doing something for these good purposes, however little they may have it in their power to perform; since Christ may