Imágenes de páginas

ritans rcodered them peculiarly inhospitable ; and they felt exasperated, that Christ, whom they considered as a great prophet, should exhibit a decided preference for the Jewish worship.

The national, animosity of the disciples against this people, was excited to such a degree by their treatment of our Saviour, that they wished to consume them with fire from heaven. On this occasion, our Lord rebuked their intemperate zeal. But his censure wore a benign aspect, and suggested their ignorance as a palliation of their conduct. “ Ye know not," said he, " what manner of spirit ye are of, for the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." That is, their vindictive temper was contrary to the spirit of the Christian religion, which they had professed to embrace, and unworthy the character of the disciples of him who gave his life for the redemption of mankind.

Our Lord, in every part of his behaviour to his disciples, exhibited an illustrious example of benevolence and condescension. He compassionated their weakness, instructed their ignorance, reproved their ambitious spirit, and rectified their mistaken ideas of his kingdom. He gave them a lesson of humility, by performing the menial office of washing their feet. This condescension of our Saviour was intended, in a striking manner, to teach them by action, what he had previously taught by precept, that his kingdom was not to be a temporal one; and that, instead of coveting eartbly honours and distinctions, they ought not to think any employment degrading, by which they might serve each other, or benefit mankind.

Having, through every part of bis life, given an illustrious example of benevolence and humility, he, at his death, in the midst of his suffering, breathed out a prayer for his murderers, alleging the only extenuation of their guilt of which it was capable, saying, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.


On our Lord's Parables.


I will now direct your attention to the parables of our Lord, all of which are replete with instruction. The word parable is often used in Scripture in a general sense, and applied to short sayings or aphorisms, full of sentiment, and expressed in a figurative or proverbial manner. We frequently find in our Saviour's discourses, comparisons which are short and lively, having a beautiful tendency to illustrate his argument, and place it in a more easy and familiar point of view. But these are not parables in the same sense with the larger and longer narratives of a figurative kind, to which that appellation more properly belongs. A parable, strictly so called, is a continued comparison, or extended similitude, in which objects of a moral and spiritual nature are represented by images or examples,

[ocr errors]

drawn from things sensible, and from the occurrences of this present life.

This figurative method of communicating knowledge was much in use among the ancients, especially among the Eastern nations, and particularly the Syrians, Arabians, and Jews. So that our Lord, in his method of teaching, accommodated himself to the taste of the people among whom he lived and conversed.

The inhabitants of the East were induced, by the despotic nature of their governments, to make use of this method of conveying reproof, which might exasperate, rather than correct, if delivered in plain language. Even at the present time, in the East, information respecting oppressive acts of government is conveyed to the tyrannical Asiatic rulers, under the semblance of parables. An ancient instance of this occurs in the reproof conveyed to David by the prophet Nathan, in the parable of the poor man and the ewe lamb. The prophet, in this way, engaged the attention of the king, excited the passions of pity and indignation, and then, by the application, " thou

art the man,” made him sensible of the greatness of his crime, which induced him to become a sincere and humble penitent for his aggravated offence.

Our Lord's parables are of two kinds, practical and prophetic. The former of which relate more immediately to various parts of our duty to God and our neighbour; and the latter refer particularly to the character of the Messiah, and the spiritual nature of his kingdom ; to the persecution of himself and followers; to the rejection of his doctrine by the Jews, and to its acceptance by the gentiles -truths, which were at that time so repugnant to the prejudices of his countrymen, that their full and unreserved disclosure would have occasioned a general disgust among his follow

Hence our Saviour did not choose to open them even to his disciples, except by degrees, as their moral notions became more pure, and their intellectual sight more able to endure the unclouded splendour of the light of immortality.

The niode of instructing by parables has the peculiar advantage of engaging men's at


« AnteriorContinuar »