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Instead of being intimidated by their question, our LORD retorted their accusation, vindicating the honour of his Father, and clearly proving, that they themselves were transgressors against the law; and as a proof of this charge, he observed, that God had commanded them to honour their father and mother, which implied, that children should relieve the wants of their parents, and contribute as much as possible to their comfort and happiness; whereas, their tradition was, that a man ought rather to give his superfluities to the service of the temple :.so that, if a parent's necessities called for the assistance of his child, the latter might refuse it, provided he could urge in excuse, that what was re. quired of him had been dedicated to religious uses.
Our Lord, to whom áll hearts were open, knew that the great zeal the Pharisees pretended to have for the Jaw of Moses was not sincere, but assumed, to obtain an influence over the consciences of men ; therefore, he openly accused them of hypocrisy, applying to them what. Isaiah had addressed to the superstitious Jews of his generation. This part of our SAVIOUR's discourse appears to have passed with the Scribes and Pharisees in private ; but, as the substance of it was of importance for all persons to be acquainted with, he called the mula titude to him, and told them, that their teachers gave them falsė doctrine.
. His disciples having some apprehension that. the dis. pleasure of the Phariseés, might lead to disagreeable con. sequences, hinted their fears to their Master, who de. sired that they would not concern themselves about these men ; for since they were proud and wilfully igno. rant, they deserved to be rooted out, and also their adherents. It seems, the disciples did not yet fully comprehend the spiritual nature of the divine law, in respect to defilement : Jesus, therefore, explained it to them by a familiar comparison, which they could not mistake; signifying that what we eat and drink is no part of the body, much less of the soul, and that sin is the only thing that can defile the beart. Those who under the Mosaic dispensation ate of such meats as were for. bidden by the Law, were defiled and polluted in the sight of God; not indeed by the meats, but by the sin of disobedience, which had its place in the heart, before the forbidden food entered into the mouth, and rem mained there after it was digested and cast out of the body.
The custom of washing hands was no farther com. mendable than as it related to cleanliness, which could not require such frequent washings, neither could it be necessary to be continually washing their furniture and utensils; but this tradition was calculated to give the populace a high opinion of the holiness of their elders; for the rule was, that if they washed their bands well in the morning, it was sufficient for the whole day, pro. - vided they kepi alone ; but if they went into company they must' wash their hands, to cleanse themselves from the pollurion they were supposed to have contracted by touching others.
From our LORD's discourse, Christians are instructed not to place righteousness in the mere performance of religious ceremonies, nor in the injunctions and inven. tions of men, but in obedience to the commandments of God, and purity of heart. They also learn, that their heavenly Father requires them to shew their obedience to him, by a tender and affectionate care of their earthly parents, since no exeuse will be sufficient for neglecting those to whom they are so greatly indebted. We are in no danger of being deluded by the false
tenets of the Scribes and Pharisees : but there are men who call themselves Christians, pretending to be the true church, who greatly resemble them in many par. ticulars; these are the Roman Catholics. If, therefore, we should be at any time exposed to their delusions, let us recollect this discourse of our LORD's, and resist the false arguments of those who teach for doctrine the com. mandments of men; making the word of God of no effect by their traditions, and assuming a power over the consciences of men.
WOMAN ; ALSO ONE WHO WAS DE AF AND HAD AN
From Mark, Chap. vii.—Matthew, xv.
AND from thence Jesus arose and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it; but he could not be hid.
For behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O LORD, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
(The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by na. tion) and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
But he answered not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away, for she crieth after us.
But he answered and said, I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Then came she and worshipped him, saying, LORD, help me.
But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled : for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
And she said, Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table.
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, o'woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
And again, departing from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coast of Decapolis. And he went up into a mountain, and sat down there.
And they bring unto him one that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech : aud they beseech him to put his hand upon him.
And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue, and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;
And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well, he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak. And great multitudes carne unto him, having with
them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus's feet, and he healed them :
Insomuch that the multitude wondered when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Our Lord did not immediately appear as a public teacher, when he arrived on the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, but retired to a private house. His reason for doing so probably was, that he might be sought by the Gentiles, as his fame had reached these parts; and he could not long be concealed. The
poor woman who applied to him, being a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, had no share in the cove. nant-promise made to Abraham; yet she had a true Faith, for she believed that Christ was able to effect what no one without divine power could perform. Our. LORD seems to have at first disregarded her ; but it is plain, from his subsequent behaviour, that he approved her application, and intended to reward her, and delayed his kindness only to prove her faith, and instruct the Jews, that the Gentiles should be partakers with them of the benefit of his coming into the world. His answer, Let the children first be filled," implied, that there was mercy in store for the Gentiles; though, according to the plan of divine Providence, it first to be offered to the Jews : the latter, proud of the distinction they enjoyed as the descendants of Abraham, regarded all other nations with contempt, and deemed them no better than dogs: it was in allusion to this pride, that our