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vent. “ Think not,” says he, " that I am come to send peace on the earth, nay, but a sword.” (Sée Matt. x. 34, 35.) The Jews supposed, that, when the Messiah should come, all kinds of temporal prosperity would abound in Judea. Dr. Doddridge and other able commentators maintain, that the word translated earth, in our version, often signifies merely the land of Judea, rather than the whole earth. Christ came not, therefore, to send upon the land of Judea those joyful and peaceable days which the Jews expected, but a sword and continual war, which finally terminated in the utter destruction of their country. As the Christian religion is eminently calculated to promote peace and happiness among men, it is obvious, that Christ here, speaks, prophetically, of the consequences it would occasionally produce, through the evil passions of men ; which the experience of the Christian world has verified. He refers not to the design of his coming, or of his religion, but to the effects that would result from it, perverted, as he foresaw that it would be, from the purposes of that infinite benevolence, in which it originated, and to which it is wholly to be ascribed.
! On various Passages in our Lord's Discourses.
MY DEAR Nieces,
Our Lord, in speaking of bis indigent condition while on earth, says, “ The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” i. e. He had no secure and fixed place of residence. Natural history informs us, that the fox does not, like the wolf and other beasts of prey, wander in the desert without any certain place of rest, but lives in a settled, domestic state, koows well where to choose the situation of his dwelling, and how to render it safe and commodious. He digs his abode at the entrance of a wood, if possible, within hearing of some hamlet where his game is plenty; and at the bottom of a rock, or among the roots of trees, where he cannot be uncovered. He fits up the place he has chosen for his own accommodation. Here he has a more settled habitation, than was that of the Saviour of sinners, while he dwelt with mankind. He who was “appointed heir of all things,” submitted to be despised and rejected of men, and to move in the humblest walks of life. " The poor," says our Lord, “ have the gospel preached to them ;" and while on earth his conduct was distinguished by his attention and tenderness to the needy and destitute; while he taught, in energetic terms, the vanity and dangerous tendency of great riches and of worldly prosperity.
The Evangelists have recorded a striking, instance of the fatal effect which the possession of great wealth produced on the mind of a young ruler, who appears to have been of an amiable character; for St. Mark informs us, that “ Jesus, beholding him, loved him.” His veneration for our Saviour, and confidence in bis ability to direct him, induced the young man to inquire with earnestness, “ What good thing shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life ?” When “ Jesus” had “ said unto him, if thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have
treasure in heaven ; and come and follow me," the young man clearly evinced, that he valued his large possessions more than eternal life ; for he went away sorrowful.
On this occasion, Jesus said to his disciples, “How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of heaven! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” To pass a camel through a needle's eye, was a proverbial expression among nations of high antiquity, denoting a difficulty which neither the art nor the power of man can surmount. The Talmudical wri. ters have a similar proverb, concerning him who proposed to accomplish an impossibility, which they expressed in the following terms. “ Thou art perchance from Pombeditha, where they send an elephant through the eye of a needle.” Another Hebrew adage bears a striking resemblance to this. « They neither show one a golden palm, nor an elepbant which enters though the eye of a needle.” It was the object of our Lord, in using the figure which he employs, to show how extremely difficult it is for rich men to forsake all for God and truth, and thus obtain salvation. Riches naturally engage so much of a person's thought, care, and affection, as to leave him little time to attend to things of infinitely more importance.
Another allusion to the camel occurs in our Saviour's cutting reproof to the scribes and pharisees : “ Ye blind guides, which strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.” See Matt. xxiii. 24. In these words he charges them with being extremely scrupulous about very small matters, while they betrayed a glaring and criminal negligence respecting things of great importance. The design of our I ord was to teach, that the minutiæ of the law, in which the pharisees displayed such scrupulous accuracy, as the tithing of mint, annise, and cummin, were as much inferior to the weightier matters of the law, as a gnat is smaller than a camel.
In the same chapter, where the meek and benevolent Jesus reprehends the scribes and pharisees in the seat of their authority, he addresses them in these terms, which contain an