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THE GOOD SAMARITAN.
[Preached at Delhi, Jan. 2, 1825.]
ST. LUKE X. 36, 37. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour 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.
The discourses which Christ delivered to the people in the form of parables, may be classed under three descriptions. Some of them are short and simple stories intended for our example only, or to explain His doctrine. Such is the parable of the unjust judge, which has no hidden meaning, and is merely introduced to illustrate the force of continued prayer. In some again, such as those where He likens the kingdom of Heaven to a marriage supper, a vineyard let out to husbandmen, and a sower' scattering seed, He describes in obscure language, and under the form of an allegory, His own dealings with mankind, and the future fortunes of the Christian Church. Thirdly, there are some which partake of both these kinds ; they contain an inward and doctrinal meaning, which refers to the faith of Christians, and a practical lesson, if they are taken according to the letter, which is a guide and example to their lives. In both these ways the parable of the good Samaritan affords us valuable instruction. If taken according to the letter, it is a beautiful example of charity; and if we go further into its meaning, and see, as I shall pre
sently explain, the Son of God represented by this benevolent traveller, we then are taught to derive our love for mankind from the love which Christ has shown to us, and His example is enforced by our gratitude.
One of the teachers of the law of Moses, the same order of men who are elsewhere called scribes, had endeavoured to ensnare our Saviour by the solemn question, what shall I do to inherit eternal life ?»* How this question was to ensnare does not immediately appear; it might be to draw from Him something contrary to the law of Moses, or offensive to the prejudices of the people; it might be accompanied by an insulting tone or manner, as if to say, 6 what are these mighty discoveries which prophets and kings have desired in vain ?" At all events, it was asked from motives of ill-will, and in the hope to injure Christ. Our Lord, in His answer, refers him to the passage in Deuteronomy which, from his office, he read publicly every
Sabbath. " What is written in the law ?” are His words, "How readest thou ?" The lawyer replies, “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 neighbour as thyself. And He said unto him, thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live."
But though the scribe had answered right, there were reasons why our Lord's reference to this passage of Scripture was very unpleasing to him. Not only was it so wise, and so true, and so conformable to the law of Moses, that no accusation or slander could be built on it, and all his malice and insult was retorted on his own head; but his conscience could not but inform him that he was openly condemned by his own law. How could he boast of loving his neighbour, who was even then laying snares for the life of Christ; who with the deepest malice and subtlety was asking a solemn question in the hope of ruining, his teacher. He felt, it may well be, that his words had judged himself; and to escape this application of them, (as the Scripture says, “to justify himself”) he caught at
• St. Luke x. 19.
+ St. Luke x. 26–28.
the captious distinctions of the Jewish doctors, and demanded, " who is my neighbour ?"** Jesus, instead of answering as He might have done, “I, Jesus, whom thou persecutest,” is contented with a milder method of instruction in the beautiful parable which follows, and which is too well known to need repetition.
The scenery and circumstances of the story were fami. liar to all who heard them, and were such as might happen daily. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho is now, and always has been, dismal and dangerous. It is through a deep and barren valley, without grass, or water, or inhabitants, except savage bands of robbers, whose cruelties were so frequent that the road was generally known by the name of the bloody way. Any Jew, therefore, who heard our Lord's discourse might have fallen, himself, into the peril which is here described, and the story, if we take it in its plainest sense, told them, more forcibly than ten thousand arguments, to do unto others as they would wish that others should act by them. But this was not the only, nor the main intention of the parable, which, as it applied to the lawyer, was to prove the claim which Christ had to his love and gratitude, and to show the total insufficiency of the law of Moses to rescue human nature from its misera. ble condition. The unfortunate plundered traveller is then, a representative of all mankind. They, like him, have departed from Jerusalem, the city of God, His favour, or the light of His countenance ; and set their face towards the pursuits and pleasures of this world, those temptations which are represented under the name of Jericho, a town which, as you will read in the book of Joshua, was accursed of God, and devoted to everlasting ruin.f And like this traveller, by their departure from Jerusalem, they have fallen into a valley of blood, into the power of the worst of thieves, and the most cruel of murderers, the devil and his angels. And now stripped of his raiment of righteousness, wounded to the very death, and his wounds festering in the face of Heaven, man is left in the naked misery of his nature, without hope, or help, or comfort. A certain priest comes down that way ; by him are signified the sacrifices
• St. Luke x. 29. + Joshua vi. 17.
offered for sin in the earlier ages of the world, the offerings of Melchisedek, Noah, and Abraham. But to help this wretched object the blood of bulls and of goats was vain it could not cleanse his conscience, nor heal the wounds inflicted by his spiritual enemies; the sacrifice passes by on the other side. A Levite next appears ;.
representative of the Jewish law given by Moses, himself of the tribe of Levi, and administered in all its ceremonies by the Levite family. Moses is, indeed, represented as aware of the extent of the evil, and the miserable condition of mankind; he approaches, he looks on the sufferer, but will not, or cannot help him; no ceremonies, no outward form of holiness are here of service; he passes by on the other side.
certain Samaritan,” (do you not remember how the Jews had said to Jesus, “thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil ???*).“ A certain Samaritain," saith our Lord, using their own language, and the insults which they had thrown out against Him, “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.”t Do you not perceive, my Christian friends, do not your own hearts inform you how truly this parable represents our blessed Saviour ? He, when no other help was found, when neither sacrifices nor ceremonies could have saved us from perishing miserably in our sins, He came to us; He bound up the wounds which the malice of the devil had inflicted; He expended His own provision, His own life and blood to heal them; and bore us safely and tenderly to the ark of His holy covenant, which is here represented as an inn, under whose shelter all the sojourners of this world were to be received, of every nation and caste, and however wide had formerly been their wanderings.
Nor does His care stop here ; on the morrow when He departed, for how short alas ! was the stay of God among men! though He is constrained to leave the sufferer, he commits him to kind and careful hands, with sufficient supplies for his present necessity, and a promise of ample payment at his second coming for all the good that should be done to the least of these his brethren. And so closely do even the smallest circumstances of the parable agree with this explanation, that the ancient doctors and fathers. of the Church are of opinion that by the two pieces of silver, (which are in our version rendered pence, though their value was, in fact, much greater) by these two pieces of silver are represented the sacraments which are left for the support of Christians, till their good Samaritan shall return again, and which are committed to the care of the clergy who are represented here as hosts of Christ's inn, and dispensers of His spiritual provision and bounty. “Which now of these three,” continues our Saviour, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves ?" Was it the priest with the sacrifices of blood? Was it Moses the Levite in whose law thou trustest? Or, lastly, was it I whom the Jews called a Samaritan? “He," the lawyer was compelled to answer, "he that showed mercy on him.” Then said Jesus, "As I have loved you, even so do ye also love one another ;-as far as the difference between us will admit, imitate my example--go and do thou likewise."*
* St. John viji. 48.
+ St. Luke x. 33, 34.
The doctrine, then, contained in this parable may be stated in a few words; that mankind by the malice of the devil were robbed of God's grace, and brought into a state of misery, and into the shadow of death, from which neither sacrifices, nor ceremonies, nor any effort which man could make, nor any revelation which God thought proper to declare before the Messiah's coming, were able to recover them; and that in the words of our Church service,) “there is no other name given to man through whom we may receive salvation, but only the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The practical lessons to be drawn from it are also of the most exceeding consequence to our salvation. First, from the example here given us by Christ, we may learn to
go and do likewise ;" to consider all mankind as our
* St. Luke x. 36, 37.