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allusion to natural history. “ Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?" It is supposed that those of the pharisaic sect who set up as teachers and reformers of the people, and misled those who attended to their instructions, are here particularly reproved. Under pretence of superiour sanctity, they deceived the people, · and concealed their immoral conduct. Pro
bably, therefore, the word serpents, applied to the scribes and pharisees, denotes them to be insinuating, designing, poisonous creatures, whose familiarity is dangerous, and whose lessons are depraving-a “generation of vipers," who conceal the fang teeth and the poison in them, till the unhappy subject they have seized is fatally struck by them.
The people of Israel have been, from remotest times, a stiff-necked and rebellious race; and the scribes and pharisees proved themselves the genuine offspring of their wicked ancestors, enemies of God, and adversaries to all his true worshippers. '
In our Lord's rebukes of the scribes and pharisees, which are recorded by the
Evangelists, (Matt. xxiii. Luke xii.) Dr. Campbell supposes, that “ he was not acting in the character of a judge, pronouncing sentence upon the guilty, or dooming them to punishment. The office of judge is part of the glory to which he was not to be exalted till after his humiliation and sufferings. But he speaks here merely in the character of a prophet, or teacher divinely enlightened, as to the consequences of men's actions, and whose zeal for their good obliged him to give them warning.”
On the Gentleness and Humility of our Lord.
MY DEAR Nieces,
“ Isaiah, in predicting the gentleness and sweetness, the caution and tenderness, with which the Messiah shall manage his administration, happily illustrates it by a prova erb; "the bruised reed he shall not break, the dimly burning flax he shall not quench.' Isaiah xiii. 3. He shall not break even a bruised reed, which snaps asunder immediately; nor shall he extinguish even the smoaking flax, or the wick of a lamp, which, when it first begins to kindle, is put out by every little motion. With such kind and condescending regards to the weakest of his people, and to the first openings and symptoms of a hopeful character, shall he proceed, till he send forth judgment unto victory, or till he make his righteous cause gloriously triumphant over all opposition. And this gentle and gracious administration shall charm mankind, in so sensible and irresistible a manner, that the gentiles shall confide in bis illustrious name, and distant, yea, barbarous nations shall seek their refuge and salvation in his grace."*
The meekness and humility of our Redeemer were eminently displayed, in every scene of bis life, and throughout his instructions. “Come unto me,” says he, “all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls, For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The pure and spiritual religion of the gospel may well be called light and easy; and is strongly contrasted with the heavy burdens imposed by the Jewish teachers.
When the disciples, full of aspiring views of the power and pre-eminence which they ex. pected to enjoy in the Messiah's temporal kingdom, " disputed among themselves who should be greatest,” Jesus, in order to teach them humility, and prepare them for his spi* See Harris' Natural History of the Bible.
ritual reign, placed a little child in the midst of them, and commended its docility, simplicity, and freedom from ambition and guile, as worthy of their imitation.
The meekness of our Saviour was exbibited, in his rebuking his disciples, James and John, who requested him to permit them to call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans, when they refused to receive Christ, because “his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.” The Samaritans had formerly given our Lord a kind reception, in one of their towns, after his conversing with the Samaritan woman, at the well of Sichar. Their present in hospitable treatment was occasioned by religious jealousy ; as they thought that Jesus was going to celebrate one of the solemn feasts at Jerusalem, and was thus preferring the temple in that place, to their temple on Mount Gerizim. Josephus relates a quarrel which took place between the Jews and Samaritans, when the former were going up through the country of the latter, to keep the feast of the Passover at Jerusalem. At such times, the religious bigotry of the Sama