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Christ than those who deny him, because he receiveth sinners and has compassion upon them.
Notwithstanding Simon, who was, undoubtedly, a man of respectable character, of an honorable standing in the religious order to which he belonged, of a good natural disposition, and a tolerably discerning mind, on account of his religious education was led to think that Jesus was no prophet, and that he did not know what manner of woman that was who approached him, yet he was that prophet of whom Moses spake, Deut. xviii. 15: The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.' And he not only knew what manner of woman that was, but he also knew the thoughts of Simon's heart, and was divinely wise to reprove him, and to correct his religious
And notwithstanding there are many in the present day, of whom we might speak and think as favorably as we have of Simon, who now have the same opinion of the true spirit of Jesus Christ, as Simon had, who now reject that blessed spirit of pardon and forgiveness with as much religious zeal as the Pharisees in general did Jesus, and though they call this divine master of the house, Beelzebub, and those of his household nothing better, yet this blessed spirit is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of their hearts, and a wise reprover of their unbelief and religious bigotry.
'And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by him on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil, and wine, and set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out
two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him: and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go and do thou likewise'-Luke x, 30-37.
THIS parable of the man among the thieves, was spoken by Christ, to a lawyer, in answer to the lawyer's question, who asked, whom he should consider to be his neighbor. And the answer contained in the parable, communicates one of the most important duties which was ever enjoined on man.
1. A man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho falling among thieves, being stripped, wounded and half dead, is a suitable object of charity, which is the greatest of all christian virtues; and without which, the professor of ever so much goodness, or religion, is nothing.
2. A priest and a Levite beholding the suffering man, and treating him with cold neglect, is a just representation of the Pharisee and his religion. The
priest would, undoubtedly, have been willing to offer a sacrifice that the suffering man might bring, as an expiation of guilt; it being so, that he who administered at the altar lived of the things of the altar; having never learned, that mercy was more acceptable to God than sacrifice. And being a stranger to heaven born charity, he could leave a distressed object of pity, to the scorching heat of day, to the cold damps of night, to nakedness, and to the deathlike gnawings of hunger.
3. One possessed of the real principles of true religion and a heart taught to feel for the distress of others, whose soul has been fired with divine charity, but does not conform to all the customs and traditions of the elders, wherewith they make void the law of God, is represented by a despised Samaritan pouring oil and wine into the wounds of suffering humanity. O, ye vain and formal professors of christianity! open your ears to reproof. What is all your profession of faith, of zeal for religion and the service of God? If you have not charity, you are nothing. He who had compassion on him who fell among thieves, was willing to go on foot, that the wounded might ride; neither did he ask another to show mercy and excuse himself, but having it in his power to relieve, asked none to assist in the expense. The lawyer having acknowledged that he who had compassion, was neighbor to him who fell among thieves, in preference to the priest and the Levite; Christ exhorts him to go, and do likewise.
In the subject of this parable, we are presented with a striking and powerful argument, by which is clearly
shown, that the spirit of the law is mercy and life. To make this argument plain to the reader, the following particulars will be noticed :
1. The subject which occasioned this parable.
2. How the parable answers the question to which it was directed, in relation to the first subject; and, 3. Some necessary inferences.
The subject which occasioned this parable, we learn from the context, verses 25-28: 'And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he, answering, said, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right this do, and thou shalt live.' Here the law is recited in its true spirit and meaning, and the Saviour said, This do, and thou shalt live. To this agree the words of the beloved disciple; see 1 John iii, 14: 'We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren; he that loveth not his brother abideth in death.' But here is room in which, he who is in darkness, will take the liberty to cavil, and ask, who is my brother? So did the lawyer, who tempted Christ. See verse 29: 'But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?' To answer this question Jesus spoke the parable under consideration, which may now be examined, as to its relation, not only to the question to which it immediaiely applies, but also to the first and major question in the general subject.
1. Why did neither the priest nor the Levite have compassion on the distressed man? Answer, because
they did not love their neighbor as themselves. wounded man, it appears, had a very just claim upon them, being a Jew and from Jerusalem; one of their brethren as appertaining to that part of Israel which worshipped at Jerusalem, and of course paid tithes to that priesthood. They could make no reasonable excuse for their neglect, on account of this man's having travelled from Jerusalem to Jericho; for, 1. They were travelling the same road themselves; and, 2. If they viewed him to have been a very wicked Jew, it was their duty agreeably with their office, to have made atonement for his sins, besides relieving his temporal distresses. But for the want of love, all duty is neglected.
2. Why did the Samaritan have mercy on this distressed Jew? Not because the latter was a worshipper in the mountain of Samaria; not because the Jews and the Samaritans were in the habits of friendship and good neighborhood, for the reverse in the extreme was the case; but because that love possessed his heart which answers to the requirement of the divine law, by which he loved his enemy and could do good to one who hated him. Jesus asks the lawyer, which of the three he thought was neighbor to him who fell among thieves; to which the lawyer replied, 'He that showed mercy on him.' Jesus then concludes the subject saying, 'Go and do thou likewise.' By this the lawyer was informed that he must consider those to be the objects of his love, who where as great enemies to him as the Jews were to the Samaritans ; and that for him to inherit eternal life, he must love such as he did himself: which amounts to the exact requirement of the law.
3. From this divine lesson of instruction the following conclusions may be drawn: