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1. The divine law is a law of life, and this life being love, which is the nature of God, is eternal.
2. Jesus Christ, as the minister of eternal life to sinful man, fulfils the law and makes it honorable, administering wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption to those who are his inveterate enemies: all which the law of his Father requires.
3. Whatever priesthood, in whatever age of the world, fails of administering this life to the sinner, comes as short of the ministration of the gospel, as it does of removing the distresses of sin and death.
4. As the doctrine which Jesus taught by this parable was perfectly calculated to destroy the enmity which unhappily existed between the Jews and Samaritans, so it is equally well calculated to destroy that equally unhappy and disgraceful enmity which now exists between the different denominations of the christian church.
The author of these notes and illustrations entertains no expectation that his labors, on this subject, will be any more agreeable or pleasing to those, in the present day, who contribute with all their zeal, to the support of those divisions, than these arguments of Jesus were to the lawyer to whom he spake, or to the priests and Levites whom he reproved, and who were zealous to enrage their disciples against the Samaritans.
In order to modify this parable, so as to have it correspond with that religion which is dictated by the wisdom of this world, it would be necessary to introduce a number of important alterations, such as the following:
1. A certain learned divine, being a doctor of the law, as he journied that way, came within call of the half dead, wounded man, and stood still; and lifting
up his voice like a trumpet, told him that he felt great compassion for him, that he could not bear to leave him in that pitiful and forlorn condition to perish. He goes on and proposes that if he will rise from the ground where he lies wallowing in his blood, and stand upright as a man ought to stand, and walk to him without stumbling or fainting, he will grant him all needed assistance. The poor wretch now exerts the little strength, which remains in his broken limbs, but is immediately told by this merciful friend, that every struggle he makes renders his state still worse!
2. The reverend father draws still nigher with a view to examine, more closely, the miserable object before him. On coming near, he asks him concerning his creed. Do you believe that it would be perfectly just and right for me to go off and leave you here to die? Do you feel perfectly willing to lie here while life remains? Should you love me as well if I should break all your bones which the thieves have not broken, and leave you to perish, as you should if I should bind up your wounds and restore you to soundness? And he tells him that he must answer all these questions in the affirmative, or there is no mercy for him. The poor dying man looks confused!
3. This faithful minister of comfort proceeds to lay before this object of pity some more important subjects; and to inform him that there are a great multitude of persons in the same situation with himself, and that it is necessary for him to believe, that he is determined to let the greatest part of them die in that condition, which, if he does not believe, he cannot be saved himself! The wretch forlorn looks wild with amaze
4. Faithful to his profession, this lover of unfortunáte sufferers goes on with great zeal to inform this perishing man that in order that a few of the many who are in his situation should be relieved and enjoy his favor, it is necessary that the greatest part of them should perish in the most awful manner; and that as a condition of his deliverance, he must possess true benevolence, and be willing to be one of the many who are not delivered, so that his dreadful sufferings may redound to the glory of the deliverer of the few, and to their greater happiness! The sufferer begins to draw a comparison between this professed friend, and the thieves who had wounded and robbed him, and is rather puzzled to find an important difference!
5. With a view to leave nothing undone which can be done to save this miserable object of charity, this minister of truth is determined to clear his garments of his blood; which to do, he proceeds with an affectionate exhortation, in which he sets forth the dangerous situation which all are in, who, like him, have fallen among thieves. He sets forth in the most glowing colors, the dreadful torments to which he is exposed, unless he complies with the conditions which have been proposed; which conditions, he urges, are perfectly reasonable, and all within his power, and if he perishes, it is his own fault entirely. And he further says, that all who do perish, might be saved if they would, that it is their own will alone which prevents! This exhortation produces either delirium or despair!
The difference between the conduct of this orthodox minister, and the conduct of the goodly Samaritan in the parable, discovers the difference between the wisdom of this world, and the wisdom of God; between the tender mercies of the wicked, which are
cruelty, and the mercy of the Lord, which endureth forever.
As has been suggested, the instruction, communicated in this parable, is as well calculated, if wisely improved, to destroy the hurtful enmity, now existing between the different denominations of the Christian church, as it was to destroy that which existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. This would be making a very profitable use of the parable; and it must be considered a lamentable dereliction of the spirit and principles of the gospel of Christ, in the clergy of the present day, that they strive to alienate their followers from one another of different denominations.
Without applying this general subject to the use for which it was evidently intended, in a primary sense, the parable contains the most perfect example of true charity, and is one of the most beautiful pictures of moral virtue that can be found in all the writings of the moralist.
This Jew was an enemy to the Samaritan by education. When the Samaritan finds him in his deplorable misery, he does not stop to reproach him of any unworthiness, does not inquire the business which brought him there, nor the means by which he was disabled from helping himself; but, immediately proceeds to acts of compassion and mercy, binds up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and makes provision for the future, at his own expense.
'I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.'-Luke xi. 8.
We find a similar passage to the above in chapter xviii, ver. 5: 'Yet, because this woman troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.' These passages were both introduced for the same purpose, viz. to show the necessity of prayer, in which we ought to be exercised without fainting, or doubting. The reader will turn to those scriptures, and read them with their connexions, and undoubtedly, evidence may appear in support of the following
1. Prayer is the channel through which God communicates spiritual blessings to the soul; as it is necessary for us to feel our wants, in order to enjoy those blessings which are calculated to remove them.
2. When we pray, we ought to entertain the strongest conviction that the favors needed will be granted; for, if a man who was comfortably in bed with his children, would not arise and wait on his neighbor, merely because he was his friend, yet would, because of importunity; certainly, our heavenly Father, who is the author of all our rational wants, and the giver of the spirit of prayer, will grant his divine