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tention unawares, without giving alarm to their prejudices and passions. It is particularly suited to an early and uncultivated state of society, before the minds of men can enter into abstract reasoning, or understand the force of argument. Jesus Christ, therefore, with the utmost propriety, used this mode of instruction, to represent spiritual things, by easy similitudes, to his infant church.
An ingenious author observes, that “all the parables of our Redeemer, are so many judicious lessons, admirably adapted to rouse the understanding, to engage the affections, and to touch the sensibility of his hearers, by the most delicate strokes of nature and passion. Indeed we might almost appeal to his parables alone, for the authenticity of our Saviour's pretentions to a heavenly designation.” .
On the Parable of the good Samaritan
My dear Nieces,
The beautiful parable of the good Samaritan strongly exhibits the prejudices of the Jewish nation, who, as we learn from our Lord himself, had established it as a maxim, that they were to love their neighbour, and hate their enemy. As they considered none their neighbours but their own countrymen, the consequence was, that they imagined themselves at liberty to hate all the rest of the world. They indulged this liberty without reserve, and against none with more bitterness, than the contiguous nation of the Samaritans. When, therefore, the lawyer in the Gospel asked our Lord who was his neighbour, had Christ attempted to prove to him by argument, that he was to consider all mankind, even his enemies the Samaritans, as his neighbours, the lawyer would have treated his an
swer with contempt; and all his native prejudices and absurd traditions would have risen up in arms against so offensive a doctrine. But our Saviour, well knowing the impossibility of convincing the lawyer by direct argument, related to him a parable of the Jewish traveller who fell among robbers, was stripped, wounded, and left half dead upon the spot. lo this distressed situation, “ by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” “ And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and also passed by on the other side.”
It is conjectured that the priest resided in Jericho, to which place he was returning, after performing his periodical duty in the service of the temple; where he had been offering sacrifice to God, imploring his forgiveness, and supplicating his favor, for himself and his nation. But he had officiated at the temple without learning humanity; and though not only a fellow creature, but a brother Israelite, one of those, for whose welfare he had recently offered prayers in the temple, was lying
in agony by the way side, he only stopped to gaze on his misery, and then proceeded on his own way. The inhumanity of the priest was equalled by the Levite, who came near the spot, and, coldly surveying the unhappy man, passed on, destitute of sympathy. He perhaps was repairing to Jerusalem, for the purpose of singing hymns and hosannas in the temple, and, it may be, secretly congratulated himself on the rigor of his piety, in rather suffering a fellow creature to perish, than omit any part of his professional duty.
We are informed that a certain Samaritan next passed the road, who appears to have had some more rational notions of religion, - and more tender feelings of humanity, than either the priest or. Levite. Though he was of a nation abhorred by the Jews, who shrunk with horror from any social intercourse with the Samaritans, and though the road was.infested with robbers, to whose attacks he was every moment exposed, and it was not improbable he might himself be accused by the malicious Jews of having robbed and wounded the very stranger whose life he saved ; yet 1" these considerations could not chill the ardor of his humanity. Despising personal inconvenience, he hastens to the assistance of the wounded man. He strives to relieve the wants, and sooth the woes, of a stranger and an enemy. “ He went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him upon his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” He then consigned the poor man to the charge of others, enjoining his host to treat him kindly, and undertaking himself to defray every expense.
Our Lord, at the conclusion of this parable, having, probably, in some degree, overcome the prejudices, and softened the feelings, of the lawyer by his pathetic recital, puts this question to the inquirer : “ Which now, of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour to him that fell among thieves ?! The lawyer was constrained to give an answer, but he seems cautiously to avoid mentioning the name of Samaritan; for he says, “ He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus, go thou, and do likewise,” which was, in effect, to command him to lay aside selfishness, partial