« AnteriorContinuar »
us, that they were written entirely with a view to the establishment of Christianity, and that the correction of Jewish errors had the same grand object in view. In all such cases those errors alone were corrected, or at least recorded by the evangelists, which had disfigured or defaced pure maxims or precepts of their law, which were to be of universal observance. We find no corrections of temporary or national ordinances which were to be abolished, when the substance of which they were the prefiguring shadows should take their place, or when their necessity or usefulness should cease with the dissolution of their national polity.
tional polity. He corrects errors in several ordinances which were intended to have a spiritual reference, but which the Jews considered as in themselves meritorious and deserving of reward, while in their practice and their lives they merged and destroyed the spiritual sense. Thus he condemned their frequent washings of their hands, and cups, and platters, and tables, while they were strangers to the purity which those acts were intended to inculcate. He condemned the minute and scrupulous payment of the tithes even of the herbs in their gardens,—mint, anise, and cummin,—while they omitted the weightier matters of the law,-judgment, mercy, and faith. He condemned them for making broad their phylacteries or borders, on which texts of scripture used to be written, with a pretence of increasing the number, for the purpose of ostentation, whilst in reality they had taken away the key of knowledge, and neither entered the kingdom of heaven themselves, nor suffered others to enter. He condemned their corrupt maxims, by which they endeavoured to supersede the fifth commandment, saying that a man was meritorious who presented, as a gift to the temple, what he ought to have expended in the support of his parents, whom he left in destitution and distress. It is however impossible for me, within the limits which I
must prescribe to myself, to give such an induction of particulars as would show at large that all his corrections, which have been handed down to us, were for the sake of disencumbering some moral Christian precept inculcated by their law, but intended to have been permanent, from the false glosses with which the Jews had overlaid them. The abuse of a mere Jewish law or ceremony he never corrects for its own sake; but a law, or a ceremony,—the shadow and representation of some future substance, or the type of some future antitype,-he cleanses, and purifies, and polishes, to make it fit to be transferred into his kingdom, to “be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master's use."
The following are the particular transactions and occasions upon which our blessed Lord corrected, both by actions and conversations, the erroneous opinions which prevailed among the Jews on the subject of the sabbath; and to each I add references to show in which of the four gospels they are to be found.
1. The disciples plucking the ears of corn. Matt. xii. 1. Mark ii. 23. Luke vi. l.
2. The cure of the man with the withered hand in the synagogue. Matt. xii. 10. Mark iii. 1. Luke vi. 6.
3. Cure of a demoniac in the synagogue. Mark i. 23. Luke iv. 33.
4. Simon's wife's mother raised from a fever. Mark i. 30. Luke iv. 38.
5. On the same evening, the cure of all who were diseased, or possessed with devils, and also his approval thereby of their being brought or carried to him. Mark i. 32. Luke iv. 40.
6. On another sabbath, he laid his hands on a few sick folk, and healed them. Mark' vi. 2-6.
7. The woman with a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years cured in the synagogue. Luke xiii. 11.
8. Cure of the dropsy in the house of a chief pharisee. Luke xiv. 1.
9. Impotent man cured at the Pool of Bethesda. John v. 2-16.
10. Feast of tabernacles, and renewed controversy relating to the performance of the preceding miracle on the sabbath. John vii. 14-29.
11. Cure of the blind man. John ix., the whole chapter.
The Gospel of St. Matthew is allowed on all hands to have been written for the Jews, and by many supposed, with great appearance fo truth, to have been written in Hebrew.
St. Mark's was written under the direct superintendence of St. Paul, as a short summary for the use of the Gentiles.
St. Luke, who was the constant companion of St. Paul the apostle of the Gentiles to the very end of his ministry, wrote his gospel for the use of the Gentiles, and addressed it to a Greek.
St. John wrote his gospel after the destruction of Jerusalem and the total overthrow of the Jewish nation and polity. All these three last-mentioned evangelists wrote their gospels in Greek, the most generally-used language in all nations at that day, but less known or used in Judea than anywhere else.
Now, it is very remarkable, that of the eleven aboveenumerated occasions and transactions, two only are recorded by St. Matthew, who wrote for the Jews, six of them are recorded by St. Mark, and seven by St. Luke, who wrote for the Gentiles. St. John wrote his as a supplemental gospel, to supply what had been omitted by the others. He records three of the above occasions, which are not noticed by the others. Thus, then, of the eleven occasions, two only are recorded for the use of the Jewish converts. Whereas, all the eleven are recorded by the other three evangelists for the use of the Gentiles or Christian converts from heathenism.
In St. Matthew, we have only to the extent of fourteen verses on the whole subject. In St. Mark, thirty; and in St. Luke, thirty-four. St. John occupies forty-one verses with the single miracle of the cure of the blind man, and the controversy arising from his performing it on the sabbathday: ix. and eighty-seven with the circumstances of the miracle at the Pool of Bethesda on the sabbath-day, and the controversy thereupon: v. 1-47; and vii. 14-53; or a hundred and twenty-eight verses altogether: and yet St. John wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem. Do not these facts prove strongly that these corrections of our Lord's were intended for the general body of Christians, and therefore that the sabbath was to continue to be observed under the new dispensation ? But I must give this part of the question a more particular consideration.
There are many proofs in the gospels that nothing was recorded by them which was not to be considered as necessary for the establishment and development of the Christian religion. I must, however, be satisfied with a brief seleetion of such proofs :-to the generality of my readers, any proof is unnecessary.
I choose St. John's gospel, which goes more fully into the correction of the error relating to the sabbath than any other, although it was not written until after the subversion of the Jewish state. He informs us that he had made a very scanty selection of the acts and sayings of our Saviour, of such only as were necessary for a particular purpose, viz. for the belief of those to whom he wrote. He concludes his gospel in these words. 66 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one,
that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Compare with this description the short gospel of St. John; and how very limited must be the epitome which he has given? In two other places he gives us a key to judge of the purposes for which he wrote that short epitome. XX. 30, 31 : “ And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, ye might have life through his name. And again, xix. 35: “ And he that saw it, bare record, and his record is true, and he knoweth that he saith true; that ye might believe.” These last words refer to the whole verse.
Therefore what he has written relating to the sabbath Was, together with everything else which he has recorded, 6 written that they might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that, believing, they might have life through his name.” Is not all this accumulated evidence absolute demonstration that the corrections of the sabbath, which he details, were intended for Christians, and therefore that they were to continue to observe the sabbath corrected from the errors of the Jews, from whom they received it, and restored to its original true and spiritual purposes, the sanctification of man and the glory of God?
We must now look a little into the particular corrections, and see whether they be alterations or restorations; and I think we shall find that they are the latter; that our Lord makes no new commandment, makes no alteration in, or addition to, the old, but merely restores it to what was always intended to be its spiritual nature: for I think by the time that we shall have concluded our review of “ The Scripture Account of the Sabbath,” my candid reader, who