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of our Lord's reproving the Pharisees for

their Violation of the divine Law; and of the Pharisees and Sadducees' requiring a Sign from Heaven.

MY DEAR Nieces,

As I wish to give you some idea of the meaning of the passages in our Lord's discourses, which allude to the opinions of the Jews during his abode on earth, I will now call your attention to the following passages of scripture.

It appears from Matt. xv. 5. that the reports of Christ's miracles gave great uneasiness to the scribes and pharisees of Jerusalem ; and some of them had sought him in order to watch his conduct, and to obtain matter of accusation against him. But finding, that neither he nor his disciples reglected any part of the Mosaic law, they objected to him his disciples' disregard to the traditions of the elders, in neglecting to wash their hands when they ate bread. Our Saviour replies to their censures on that subject; by charging them with their violations of the divine law by their traditions : “ For," said he, “ God commanded, saying, honour thy father and mother, and he that curseth father or mother let him die the death.Our Lord, by quoting both the commandment, and the denunciation against the opposite crime, has shown, that the pharisees not only allowed the omission, but, in certain cases, prohibited the observance of the duty. According to their doctrine, if a man should say to his distressed father or nother, “I give or devote to the altar, whatsoever of mine might be appropriated to thy relief,” he shall pot afterwards be obliged to honor or relieve his parents, by giving to them any part of his property. Corban signifies any sacred offering, whether it consisted of a sacrifice or gift in money.

It was a custom among the Jews solemnly to devote to God, that is, to the use of the public treasury in the temple, what they might otherwise have given to their relations and

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friends, meaning, by this practice of binding
themselves by a vow, to put it out of their
power to assist their parents. It was frequent,
also, for the Jews to leave whole estates to the
treasury, and thus deprive their descendants
of any share in their property. This usage
was encouraged by the pharisees, because the
priests, who were chiefly of this sect, abun-
dantly shared in the gifts devoted to the altar.
They had so much influence over the people,
that it became a common practice with the
latter not to give any thing to their parents,
under pretence that they had devoted their
property to religious uses. .
· The Mishna, which contains a code of the
Jewish civil and canon law, gives an account
of a Jew who had, by a vow, excluded his
father from being benefitted by his property.
Afterwards, upon the marriage of his son, he
wished to have his father present at the nup-
tials. In this dilemma, what was to be done?
He surrendered the court where the entertain-
ment was to be made, and the feast itself, to a
neighbour, on condition that he would invite
the old gentleman to the wedding.

As an instance of Pharisaical strictness in observing their traditions, we are told, upon the authority of the Jewish Talmud, that when Rabbi Akiba was confined in prison, with only a small allowance of water, he chose rather to die of thirst, than omit the custom of washing his hands.

The Jews had seen our Saviour perform many of the most benificent miracles ; such as healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, making the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and multiplying a few loaves and fishes into provisions for many thousands. But notwithstanding these amazing acts of divine pow= er, blended with 'benevolence, the pharisees and sadducees, who hated each other on account of the difference in their religious opinions, united in desiring Christ to show them a sign from heaven. The sign they requested to see was, perhaps, similar to what the prophets exhibited; Moses brought down hail and lightning upon the Egyptians ; Samuel caused thunder and hail, and Elijah called down fire from heaven.

The Jews might pretend, that there was room for artifice and illusion in those miracles which were performed upon earth ; but that the art of man could not reach the heavens. The pharisees strongly evinced their arrogance in cherishing the idea, that the Deity ren he ser would afford miraculous signs whenever they Miracles. might call for them. Our Saviour refused to gratify their presumption, and declared, “ An DEAR NI evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a There sign; and there shall no sign be given it but hew, whi the sign of the prophet Jonah.This signed to his c was, his own resurrection on the third day; Milo perso which, as predicted and accomplished, to the fishopindisappointment and confusion of his powerful pions I su enemies, and as connected with its extensive The belie and permanent effects, was vastly more conclu- ksiah wo sive than any transient sign from heavenjection could have been.


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