« AnteriorContinuar »
pent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him" (Matt. vii. 1-11)?
Before attempting an interpretation of this passage, I wish to make a few brief remarks.
In respect to the first verse, persons generally view the exhortation which it contains as intended for a rule of Christian guidance; and, to illustrate it, Dr. Whitby remarks, that all rash and uncharitable judgment, and all judgment we pass upon a brother without sufficient ground, is forbidden. The cele brated rabbinical scholar, Dr. Gill, also says, that by the judgment here referred to is to be understood "rash judgment, interpreting men's words and deeds to the worse sense, and censuring them in a very severe manner, even passing sentence on them with respect to their eternal state and condition." These two opinions contain, I think, the substance of all the other commentators who have written on the point.
In regard to the second verse-" With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" I think that, generally speaking, the two expressions or figures used are understood to refer to one and the same thing. All that Dr. Whitby has upon this verse is this: "With what judgment ye judge (men), ye shall be judged (of God), and with what measure ye mete (to them), it shall be measured to you again." Dr. Doddridge, in illustrating the verse, has the following paraphrase of the words: "Ye will find that, according to the judgment with which ye judge others, ye shall be judged; and by that very measure which ye mete to them, it shall be measured back to you. God and man will make great allowances to the character of the candid and benevolent; but those who have showed no mercy must expect judgment without mercy nor can they deny the equity of such treatment." And all that another learned man (Dr. A. Clarke) has upon the verse is-"He who is severe on others will naturally excite their severity against himself. The censures and calumnies which we have suffered are probably the just reward of those which we have dealt out to others." The substance of what Scott seems to have upon this verse in the way of comment is this: "He, who is habitually propense to selfsufficient, presumptuous, and censorious judging of others, gives great cause to suspect that he is devoid of true grace himself, and exposed to judgment without mercy' from God. If a Christian give into so evil a spirit and practice, he may expect sharp corrections; nay, both the world and the church will commonly judge of men according to their method of judging others. Thus in every sense it is verified, that with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us again."
With respect to the third verse, Dr. Whitby remarks, "that the Jews themselves used this proverb familiarly in this very case against those who reprehended the least offences in others, when they themselves were guilty of very heinous offences." The very sentiment of the third verse, too, is expressed in Horace, a Roman writer, who flourished before the Christian era-he died about eight years before Christ -"When you look over your own vices, winking wilfully at them, as it were with sore eyes, why are you with regard to those of your friends as sharp-sighted as an eagle or the Epidaurian serpent* ?"
"Cùm tua prævideas oculis mala lippus inunctis; Cur in amicorum vitiis tam cernis acutùm, Quam aut aquila, aut serpens Epidaurius?"
that is, in the generation which judged their judgeswhen any (judge) said to another, Cast out the mote out of thine eye,' he answered, 'Cast you out the beam out of your own eye,' &c.:" The second—" R. Tarphon said, I wonder whether there be any in this age that will receive reproof; but if one saith to another, Cast out the mote out of thine eye,' he will be ready to answer, Cast out the beam out of thine own eye.' Where the gloss writes thus-Cast out the mote-that is, the small sin-that is in thine hand;' he may answer, But cast you out the great sin that is in yours.' So that they could not reprove, because all were sinners.'"
In regard to the sixth verse-"Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine"-Scott remarks, that the emblems used may be supposed to denote hardened sinners, licentious or covetous professors, fierce and untractable opposers, or manifest apostates; stating that many truths and many instances of the Lord's goodness to us, which are precious to the humble and teachable, are not proper to be communicated to scoffers, or those who pervert sacred things; and that the rule may be extended to the preaching of the gospel among those who obstinately contradict and blaspheme. Dr. Gill, in referring to this verse, states that the phrase is used in a metaphorical sense, and is generally understood of not delivering or communicating the holy word of God and the truths of the gospel-comparable to pearls-or the ordinances of it, to persons notoriously vile and sinful; to men who, being violent and furious persecutors and impudent blasphemers, are compared to dogs; or to such who are scandalously vile, impure in their lives and conversations, and are therefore compared to swine; and that it seems to be the design of these expressions, that men should be cautious and prudent in rebuking and admonishing such persons for their sins, in whom there is no appearance or hope of success; yea, where there is danger of sustaining loss. Dr. Whitby states the sense of the verse to be this: "Continue not to preach the gospel to those whom you find refractory, and pertinaciously confirmed in their infidelity, and so addicted to their evil habits, that they will rather revile and persecute you on that account than hearken to you."
Sat. lib. i. 25-27,
Now, in regard to such interpretations of the sixth verse, if the gospel is to be withheld from certain per sons, there must be, in the first place, a judging of those persons on the part of him who withholds it from them; and in that case, if the first verse forbids private judging of others, there must be, on the part of the persons who withhold an offer of the gospel from another, a violation of the precept said to be contained in the first verse. And this would involve an inconsistency between a declared duty of conduct and a declared metaphorical precept in the teaching of our Lord, which we cannot and ought not to ima gine for a single moment.
Again, if that which is said to be the meaning of the sixth verse be so—that is, if the gospel or truth is to be withheld from those who are of vile character
In regard to the fourth and fifth verses, Dr. Light-hold precious truth could possess themselves of the foot remarks, that this also was a known proverb scriptures, and there read the whole counsel of God, among the Jews, and gives the two following instances, the sum and substance of the Christian minister's extracted from their writings: The first-"It is message. Besides, if we did it, it would be contrary written in the days when they judged the judges—to the injunction of our Lord-" Go, and preach the gospel to every creature"-" Go to the lost sheep;" it would be in direct opposition to the spirit of Christianity; in flat contradiction to the object for which Christ came into the world-namely, to seek and
it involves a practical impossibility. In preaching the gospel to a particular congregation, for instance, how can we make a distinction between the vile and the good, and declare the truth to one and withhold it from the other? It is utterly impossible. But, even if it could be done, those from whom we with
save the lost; at variance, too, with the inspired apostolic direction to pull sinners out of the fire.
The interpretation then given I think an improbable one, and that the whole passage must have a different meaning to that which has been assigned to it; and, in seeking for that meaning, it strikes me that, instead of the sixth verse being a metaphorical precept of our Lord, intended for universal prevalence in his church, he applied a proverb of their own to give greater force and weight to the truth he wished to impress upon the minds of those to whom he addressed himself. And that the sixth verse contains a proverb of the Jews, must be clear to those conversant with the Jewish writings. "It was a common maxim," as Dr. Gill remarks, "with the Jews, 'that they did not redeem holy things to give to the dogs to eat;' alluding to the fact that things profane and unclean, as flesh torn by beasts, might be given to dogs; but nothing that was holy was to be given to them, as 'holy flesh,' or the holy oblations, or any thing that was consecrated to holy uses." It was also a saying among them, as is testified in the Jewish writings -"Do not cast pearls before swine, nor deliver wisdom to him who knows not the excellency of it; for wisdom is better than pearls, and he that does not seek after it is worse than a swine."
I may remark farther, respecting the passage which is the foundation of this article, that the interpretation usually given to it is subversive of all connection in the verses, and leaves much of the passage indeterminate and doubtful as to its meaning; destroying, as I conceive, a beautiful harmony which seems to me to run through the whole of it, and to form one continued subject. The passage appears to me to be one of great force; and I trust that the interpretation which I may now assign to it will render it both clear and in perfect harmony with other holy scriptures, as well as with the general character of the teaching of the Saviour. And, as a key as it were to this interpretation, I will here state, that I conceive the "judge not" in the first verse does not refer to others, but to Christ himself, | in the way of such judging of him as to lead to their condemning him, so as to reject him and his doctrine; assuring them that, if they thus condemned him and rejected him, they also would be rejected of God; and that the second verse contains two positions: the first-" With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged," which is carried out in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th verses, and enforced by a reference to some of their own proverbs; and the second"With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to yon again," which illustrated in the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th verses-a spiritual application which it clearly bears in Mark iv. 24.
Our Lord, in the previous part of his sermon, had been dwelling on a number of important points. He had inculcated on the multitudes whom he addressed, the necessity of all, who would become real subjects of Messiah's kingdom and children of God by adoption and grace, possessing in the first place penitential sorrow for sin, and continuing to evince through their whole life dispositions in accordance with holiness of conduct and spirituality of mind, assuring them that mere outward righteousness-strict attention to outward form and ceremony alone-was not sufficient of itself to procure for them a state of justification with God, and an adoption into his family; that if they would enter into the kingdom of heaven, their rightcousness must exceed that of those who, while fulfilling the law as to the letter of it, thought the moral state of the heart of little consequence, blindly assuring themselves and teaching that, if they abstained outwardly from that which was forbidden, or did outwardly that which was commanded, the feel
• See Gill on Matt.
ings and dispositions of the heart were of no consequence whatever.
Our Lord then proceeded to open to them the divine law-to unfold to them its spirituality-shewing, in illustration of it, that a man's being angry with another without cause as much subjected him to punishment with God as the crime of actual murder; that the lusting after or cherishing in the heart an impure desire for another was, in the sight of God, a crime equal to that of actual adultery, and would as effectually bring down the wrath of God upon him who cherished the feeling; that the forbidding to use the holy and reverend name of Jehovah in vain, equally forbad all swearing by the creature in common conversation, which was equally sinful in the divine sight; that the law of God allowed of no revengeful feeling on the part of one individual against another; that the regarding of an individual who was not of the same nation with one's-self, and looking upon and acting towards him as an enemy, was a violation of the divine command, and a course in opposition to the divine conduct; and that it was the duty of those whom he addressed, in imitation of the principle upon which God acted-who made his sun to arise on the evil and on the good, and sent his rain on the just and on the unjust-to love their enemies, to bless them that cursed them, to do good to them that hated them, and to pray for them that despitefully used and persecuted them.
Thence he proceeded to shew them that the duties of private alms-giving, personal prayer, and individual fasting availed nothing in the sight of God, if they took steps to make known those acts to their fellow creatures, in order to obtain praise of men; that the whole in such cases was mere hypocrisy, and evinced before God no real charity, devotion, or humiliation.
From these points he proceeded to shew what he farther required in those who should become his disciples indeed; that they should unreservedly consecrate themselves to God, divesting themselves of all anxious care about what they should eat or what they should drink, or wherewithal they should be clothed; and that, if they did this, seeking, as of the first and greatest moment and importance, the kingdom of God and his righteousness, the special care and providence of God should be over them to supply their every need, while it should be for his glory and their good that they should tabernacle in a house of clay. (To be continued.)
THE SCRIPTURE.-The scripture hath a body without, and within a soul, spirit, and life. It hath without a bark, a shell, and as it were a hard bone, for the fleshly-minded to gnaw upon. And within it hath pith, kernel, marry and all sweetness for God's clect, which he hath chosen to give them his Spirit, and to write his law, and the faith of his Son in their hearts.-Tyndall (the martyr), Prologue of the Prophet Jonas.
TRUST IN GOD.-The fear of God is not, you sec, a perplexing doubting and distrust of his love; on the contrary, it is a fixed resting and trust on his love. Many who have some truth of grace are, through weakness, filled with disquieting fears; but possibly, though they perceive it not, it may be, in some, a point of wilfulness-a little latent undiscerned affectation of scrupling and doubting, placing much of religion in it. True, where the soul is really solicitous about its interest in God, that argues some grace; but being vexingly anxious about it, argues that grace is low and weak. A spark there is, even discovered by that smoke; but the great smoke still continuing, and nothing seen but it, argues there is little fire, little faith, little love. And this, as it is unpleasant to thyself,
so is it to God, as smoke to the eyes. What if one should be always questioning with his friend whether he loved him or not, and upon every little occasion were ready to think he doth not, how would this disrelish their society together, though truly loving each other! The far more excellent way, and more pleasing both to ourselves and to God, were to resolve on humble trust, reverence, and confidence, being most afraid to offend, delighting to walk in his ways, loving him and his will in all, and then resting persuaded of his love though he chastise us. And even though we offend him, and see our offences in our chastisements, yet he is good, "plenteous in redemption," ready to forgive; therefore "let Israel trust and hope" (Ps. cxxx. 7). Let my soul roll itself on him, and adventure there all its weight. He bears greater matters, upholding the frame of heaven and earth, and is not troubled nor burdened with it.-Archbishop Leighton, Sermon on the Believer a Hero.
THE COURSE OF LIFE.
Translated from a beautiful Spanish poem, by Jorge Manrique, on the death of his father, quoted in the 39th volume of the "Edinburgh Review."
O! LET the soul its slumber break, Arouse its senses and awake,
To see how soon
Life, with its glories, glides away, And the stern footsteps of decay Come stealing on.
How pleasure, like the passing wind,
How still our present happiness
And, while we eye the rolling tide
Let us the present hour employ,
Let no vain hope deceive the mind;
To-morrow than to-day.
Our gilded dreams of yore were bright; Like them the present shall delight,
Like them decay.
Our lives like hasting streams must be,
Are doomed to fall
The sea of death, whose waves roll on,
Alike the river's lordly tide,
Alike the humble riv'lets glide
Death levels poverty and pride,
Our birth is but a starting place;
From the "Boston Christian Witness."
There all our steps at last are brought;
Long ere the damps of death can blight, The cheek's pure glow of red and white Hath passed away:
Youth smiled, and all was heavenly fair; Age came, and laid his finger thereAnd where are they?
Where are the strength that mocked decay,
The strength is gone, the step is slow, And joy grows weariness and woe When age comes on.
Say, then, how poor and little worth Are all those glittering toys of earth That lure us here
Dreams of sleep that death must break!
JEZEBEL-In March last, as I was repairing to the native village of Bustom to survey a bridge which was thrown across the road, on my route from the station of Jellasore, on crossing the Soubunreekâ river, my attention was attracted to a number of human skeletons, which lay scattered in various directions upon the white sands adjacent to the course of the stream. Upon inquiry I learned that these unfortunate relics were the remains of pilgrims, who were on their road to the great pagoda of Juggernaut, and had been drowned, two evenings before, by means of a ferry-boat sinking with them during a violent north-wester. On my approaching several of these sad vestiges of mortality, I perceived that the flesh had been completely devoured from the bones by Pariah dogs, vultures, and other obscene animals. The only portion of the several corpses I noticed that remained entire and untouched, were the bottoms of the feet and the insides of the hands; and this extraordinary circumstance immediately brought to my mind that remarkable passage recorded in the second book of Kings, relating to the death and ultimate fate of Jezebel, who was, as to her body, eaten of dogs, and nothing remained of her but the "palms of her hands and the soles of her feet." The former narrative may afford a corroborative proof of the rooted antipathy that the dog has to prey upon the human hands and feet. Why such should be the case remains a mystery.-Letter from India.
MUSIC.-M. Burette conceives that music can relieve the pains of the sciatica; and that, independent of the greater or less skill of the musician, by flattering the ear and diverting the attention, and occasioning certain vibrations of the nerves, it can remove those obstructions which occasion this disorder. M. Burette, and many modern physicians and philosophers, have believed that music has the power of affecting the mind and the whole nervous system, so as to give a temporary relief in certain diseases, and even a radical cure.
London: Published by JAMES BURNS, 17 Portman Street, Fortman Square: W. EDWARDS, 12 Ave-Maria Lane, St. Paul's; and to be procured, by order, of all Booksellers in Town and Country.
JOSEPH ROGERSON, 24 NORFOLK STREET, STRAND, LONDON.
BY THE REV. THOMAS BISSLAND, M.A.,
THAT God is righteous in all his ways, and,
VOL. XII.-NO. CCCXLII.
means unusual-that David gives the salutary advice-"Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity."
[London: Joseph Rogerson, 24, Norfolk-street Strand.]
This apparent injustice in the dispensations of a gracious Providence, however satisfactorily it may be reconciled to the mind of the true believer, has yet been employed by the enemies of the truth as an argument that the Supreme Being does not concern himself with the affairs of his creatures; that what are termed the leadings and purposes of his providence are merely the results of chance; for that it is absurd to suppose that God would act so unjustly as to permit his faithful servants to encounter a variety of hardships, not unfrequently to pass their lives in sickness and destitution, while those who have not his fear before their eyes-who despise and set at nought all his requirements-are in the enjoyment of the comforts and frequently of the luxuries of life.
The design of this essay will be to "justify the ways of God to man"-to prove that the injustice so much insisted on by the unbeliever is only apparent, and that, in fact, God's dispensations are all regulated by the tenderest feelings for the welfare of his faithful people. Nor is the establishment of these points a matter of little importance. There is in man a natural inclination to murmur against God-to call in question his goodness, his wisdom, his justice. Of this inclination the enemies of the truth have not been slow to take advantage. How needful is it then for each one of us to become fully convinced that whatever God does must be just as well as merciful; that, if there be any apparent inconsistency in the plans of his providence,
it must be only apparent, and that in reality | all must be ordered by him for the best.
And, first, it may be well to consider whether the way of the wicked may be said to prosper, or that they can be happy "who deal very treacherously." Prosperity and adversity are terms which convey very different notions to different minds. To the worldling they convey the notion of an abundance of earthly possessions, and the sensual gratification which this abundance places within man's reach. But, by the true believer, he only is regarded as prospering whose soul is advancing in grace and in knowledge, and in meetness for a participation of heaven's glories; and he only is esteemed happy who, being mercifully reconciled to his heavenly Father, is enjoying the privileges, and participating in the blessings, and animated by the hopes conferred upon the adopted children of God. The wicked may prosper in a worldly point of view. Their riches may increase; their flocks and herds may multiply; their garners may be full and plenteous with all manner of store; and upon the change or in the market-place they may be regarded as persons of consequence and of property, and as exceedingly fortunate in all their speculations, and lucky in all their enterprizes; and yet, meanwhile, they may be utterly destitute and poor and wretched in God's sight; and they may be total strangers to that peace of conscience and serenity of mind without which happiness can never be found. Who would declare that Dives was prospering, when his purple and fine linen and daily sumptuous fare were only hardening his heart against his heavenly Benefactor? It was Lazarus who was prospering-not Dives: it was the humble beggar who lay at the gate-not the occupier of the splendid mansion: it was the diseased, destitute, afflicted child of God-not the pampered worldling. It is of importance to feel assured, then, that outward prosperity as it may exist with internal destitution, so it is not to be regarded as a mark of the divine favour, nor as an evidence of real happiness and substantial joy and this conviction will enable us to perceive how untenable is their position who, viewing man's estate sim-sations of his providence. We shall then ply with regard to his external circumstances, admit that we are very inadequate judges of scruple not to affirm that there is injustice in his modes of procedure, and that, so far the dispensations of the Almighty. from cavilling, we ought to submit with the most entire resignation to his most holy will. But the class of objectors alluded to appear entirely to lose sight of the fact that this world is but the dawn of man's existence; that, however life may be protracted, it can bear no ratio to eternity. They argue solely on the supposition that man's life is to consist in the abundance of the things which he
Now, if we keep in view this great and important truth, that this world is to all of us but a passing scene, on which when the eye of man closes, it must open upon an eternal state of being; if we only habitually endeavour to realize the fact, that every thing is necessarily evil which has a tendency to hurt the soul, and that nothing is essentially valuable which does not tend to promote the soul's advancement in meetness for glory, our estimate of God's providential dealings will differ much from those who accuse him of injustice in the dispen
But, again, it may be remarked that this very prosperity which calls forth the envy and excites the astonishment of so many, who, discontented with their own condition, scruple not tos it in judgment on the Almighty's procedure in the government of the universe, may prove, and must prove, a curse rather than a blessing to its possessor, if not em
ployed, as God would have it, in the furtherance of his glory and the promotion of the good of others. How frequently is the man of wealth an object of envy, even at the very moment he deserves to be an object of most intense commiseration; and such he ought to be when he squanders on the indulgence of his own selfishness-in pampering his appetites and gratifying his pride-those resources which are placed within his power for far higher, and nobler, and more important ends. It has been well said, indeed, that "the prosperity of fools shall destroy them;" and in how many instances has this been the case? How melancholy is it to observe the tendency of worldly riches to alienate the soul from God, to impede their possessor in the road that leads to Zion, and ultimately to cause him to tread a broader and easier path! Perhaps there is not an object on earth more painfully distressing than of a man prospering in the things of time, and yet a bankrupt with respect to those of eternity; a man for whom God has done much, but who will do nothing for God; who has received many blessings from the hand of his Creator, and yet will not dispense with his own hand for the supply of his fellow-creatures' necessities. Surely such a one ought not to excite our envy: surely his wretched condition need not be the object of our desire. Over him we ought rather to weep, as we doubt not the angels of God are weeping, while we earnestly pray that he may yet feel the tremendous responsibility that there is laid upon him, to improve the talents committed to his care.