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foundation for their morality, they had a good reason for what they did ; and in every period of human life this conduct would stand justified. Not so with the man who heard the sayings of Christ and did them not. Merely to hear these sayings, or to profess to believe them, would not suffice in the day of danger. Jesus instructed his followers, that their conduct must be right, and he had given them a rule by which they might always know when it was right. “Not every one,” said he, " that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Ver. 21. In the
day” of vengeance which came upon the Jews, many said “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name ? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” He represents hiinself as replying, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Vers. 22, 23. They were carried away by the torrent of divine judgments which were sent on that nation. They were loud in their professions of love to Christ, but they did not obey his injunctions. Of course their foundation was insecure, and the floods swept them away:
Parable of the Bruised Reed.
MATT. XII. 20.
s' A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory."
We shall easily obtain the true application of this metaphor, if we take the context into consideration. Commencing at the 14th verse, we read as follows: 6 Then the Pharisees went out, and held council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence; and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; and charged them that they should not make it known; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet,
ying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen ; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased : I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles: He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” In the true spirit of humility, Jesus charged those who were the happy subjects of his miraculous works, that they should not blazon abroad the wonders he performed : he preferred to do his good deeds in retirement, to pour out blessings unostentatiously upon mankind, and enjoy as his reward, not the praise of men, but the approbation of his conscience, and of him 66 who seeth in secret." With what satisfaction must every christian reflect on this trait in the character of his Master, when contrasted with the
pride and ostentation of the Pharisees. Although Jesus frequently rebuked them in strong language, it is easily perceived that the rebuke of his example was still more severe.
In order to show the impropriety of calling public attention, in that age, to himself, any farther than it was absolutely unavoidable, the blessed Jesus referred to a portion of the prophecy of Isaiah, in which the prophet had made reference to him. “He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets." He was to pass unostentatiously through the world; and as he never boastcd of his benevolent deeds, so he charged his disciples to “tell no man;" but to leave the works to give testimony of themselves. "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." Jol
John x. 37, 38. In the same spirit Jesus declared his intention to seek the most obscure, broken down, and perishing individuals ; not to add sorrow to their sorrow,
but to restore them. "A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.” The reed that was bruised he would not destroy, but endeavor to restore it; and the flax so nearly extinguished that it emitted nothing but smoke, he would not quench; as the poet beautifully says,
“He will not quench the smoking flax,
Nor scorns the meanest name."
1 Four Gospels
piring state, when the oil has been all burnt away from it, and nothing is left but a mere snuff emitting smoke.
" This expression,” saith Bishop Pearce, “means that he shall be so gentle, as not to hurt even that which is of itself ready to perish. The Jews used flax as we now do cotton, for candles or in lamps. This, a little before it is quite extinguished, gives more smoke than flame, and therefore this sense seems a proper one.”2 To the same purport is Knatchbull's annotation, who closes by saying, “that to speak to the capacity of the vulgar, it ought to be translated thus : he will not extinguish, or put out, the dying lamp. “Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro ? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?” Job xiii. 25. Whitby's comment is equally interesting. “Here saith St. Jerome, Qui pecatori non porrigit manum, et qui non portat onus fratris sui, he that stretcheth not forth his hand to the sinner, and he that beareth not the burthen of his brother, he breaks the bruised reed ; et qui modicam scintillam fidei contemnit in paroulis, and he that contemneth the small spark of faith in little ones, quenches the smoking flax." The first of these expressions, "a bruised reed shall he not break,” is a figurative way of speaking, denoting that the gentleness of Christ was so great that he would not hurt even that which of itself was ready to perish. The second, “And smoking flax shall he not quench," was intended to signify the same thing in different words, agreeably to the genius of Hebrew poetry.
The whole life of Jesus Christ may be appealed to, as an evidence that the prophecy in regard to him was just. To mourners he was always coni Com. on the place. 2 Com. on the place. 3 Com. on the place. soling; to the oppressed he gave deliverance; to those afflicted with grievous diseases, so that they were just ready to perish, he gave health : and the wicked, the poor abandoned sinner, he did not despise. O my blessed Lord ! how amiable is thy character in my sight. When the malicious Pharisees brought to thee the woman taken in a violation of the law of Moses, thou didst not upbraid ; thou didst kindly say, “neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.'
When the woman who was a sinner, intruded herself upon thee, with a trembling step, in the house of Simon; when, having heard the common report of thy tenderness to the unfortunate, she came bursting with grief and penitence, and washed thy feet with her tears, thou didst not spurn her from thy presence, but in mercy saidst—" thy sins are forgiven thee.” May we have more of thy disposition, and learn what it is to be 66 kind to the unthankful and to the evil.”
We find the principal prophecies in regard to Christ, in harınony with what we have now said. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.' Psalms cxlvii. 3. When on earth, Jesus quoted and applied the following prophecy of Isaiah to himself: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Isaiah lxi. 1, and Luke iv. 18. This passage is a perfect commentary on the parable under consideration.
“ Till he send forth judgment unto victory.” By judgment here is to be understood the statutes and institutions of the gospel, as in verse 18. The sense of the clause seems to be, that Christ would