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it over lightly, but enlarges upon it, that, if they should not be reclaimed, yet others might be confirmed.
He charges the Sadducees with error, and charges that upon their ignorance. They who despise the doctrine of the resurrection, as some do in our age, would be thought the only knowing men, because the only free thinkers, when really they are the fools in Israel, and the most enslaved and prejudiced thinkers in the world. Do
ye not therefore err? Ye cannot but be sensible of it yourselves, and that the cause of your error is, because ye do not know the Scriptures. Not but that the Sadducees had read the Scriptures, and perhaps were ready in them; yet they might be truly said not to know the Scriptures, because they did not know the sense and meaning of them, but put false constructions upon them; or they did not receive the Scriptures as the Word of God, but set up their own corrupt reasonings in opposition to the Scripture, and would believe nothing but what they could see.- - A right knowledge of the Scripture, as the fountain whence all revealed religion now flows, and the foundation on which it is built, is the best preservative against error. Keep the truth, the Scripture truth, and it shall keep thee.-Because ye know not the power of God. They could not but know that God is almighty, but they would not apply that doctrine to this matter, but gave up the truth to the objections of the impossibility of it, which would all have been answered, if they had but stuck to the doctrine of God's omnipotence, to which nothing is impossible. This, therefore, which God hath spoken once, we are concerned to hear twice—to hear and believe, to hear and apply, that power belongs to God. Psal. Ixii. 11; Rom. iv. 19–21. The same power that made soul and body, and preserved them while they were together, can preserve the body safe and the soul active, when they are parted, and can unite them together again; for, behold, the Lord's arm is not shortened. The power of Go:l, seen in the return of the spring (Psal. civ. 30), in the reviving of the corn (John xii. 24), in the restoring of an abject people to their prosperity (Ezek. xxxvii. 12-14), in the raising of so many to life miraculously, both in the Old Testament and in the New, and especially in the resurrection of Christ (Eph. i. 19, 20), are all earnests of our resurrection by the same power (Phil. iii. 21); according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.
He sets aside all the force of their objection, by setting the doctrine of the future state in a true light (ver. 25),—When they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage. It is folly to ask, Whose wife shall she be of the seven? For the relation between husband and wife, though instituted in the earthly paradise, will not be known in the heavenly one. Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. xv. 50. Believers expect better thingseven a full satisfaction in God's love and likeness (Psal. xvii. 15); they are as the angels of God in heaven. It is no wonder if we confound ourselves with endless absurdities, when we measure our ideas of the world of spirits by the affairs of this world of sense.
He builds the doctrine of the future state, and the blessedness of the righteous in that state, upon the covenant of God with Abraham, which God was pleased to own, being after Abraham's death. Vers. 26, 27. He appeals to the Scriptures,—Have ye not read in the book of Moses? We have some advantage in dealing with those that have read the Scriptures, though many that have read them wrest them, as these Sadducees did, to their own destruction. Now, that which he refers them to is, what God said to Moses at the bush, I am the God of Abraham ; not only, I was so, but I am so; I am the portion and happiness of Abraham, a God all-sufficient to him.-It is absurd to think that God's relation to Abraham should be continued, and thus solemnly recognised, if Abraham was annihilated, or that the living God should be the portion and happiness of a man that is dead, and must be for ever so; and therefore you must conclude, that Abraham's soul exists and acts in a state of separation from the body : that therefore, some time or other, the body must rise again ; for there is such an innate inclination in a human soul towards its body as would make a total and everlasting separation inconsistent with the ease and repose, much more with the bliss and joy, of those souls that have the Lord for their God. Upon the whole matter he concludes, Ye therefore do greatly err. Those that deny the resurrection greatly err, and ought to be told so. Let us seek to pass through this dying world, with a joyful hope of eternal happiness and of a glorious resurrection—expecting to be made equal to the angels, while others are content to live and die like the beasts that perish. 28 | *And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together,
and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, Tlie first of all the commandments is, 'Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord : 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, " Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; "and there is none other but he: 33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, ois more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. ”And no man after that durst ask him any question.
1 Deut. vi. 4; Luke x. 87.
* Matt. xxil. 39
01 Sam. s. 22;
m Lev. xix. 18; Matt. xxii. 39; Rom. xiii. 9; Gal. v. 14; James ii. 8. n Deut. iv. 39; Isa. xlv. 6, xlvi. 9.
Hos, vi. 6; Mic. vi. 6-8. p Matt. xxii. 46.
The scribes and Pharisees were (however bad otherwise) enemies to the Sadducees. Now, one would have expected that, when they heard Christ argue so well against the Sadducees, they would have countenanced him, as they did Paul when he appeared against the Sadducees (Acts xxiii
. 9); but it had not that effect : because he did not fall in with them in the ceremonials of religion, bis agreeing with them in the essentials gained him no manner of respect with them. Only we have here an account of one of them, a scribe, who had so much civility in him as to take notice of Christ's answer to the Sadducees, and to own that he had answered well, and much to the purpose (ver. 28); and we have reason to hope that he did not join with the other scribes in persecuting Christ; for here we have his application to Christ for instruction, and it was such as became him not tempting Christ, but desiring to improve his acquaintance with him.
He inquired, Which is the first commandment of all ? Ver. 28. He doth not mean the first in order, but the first in weight and dignity,—“ Which is that command which we ought to have in a special manner an eye to, and our obedience to which will lay a foundation for our obedience to all the rest ?" Not that any commandment of God is little (they are all the commands of a great God), but some are greater than others—moral precepts than rituals—and of some we may say, They are the greatest of all.
Christ gave him a direct answer to this inquiry. Vers. 29-31. Those that sincerely desire to be instructed concerning their duty, Christ will guide in judgment and teach his way. He tells him,
That the greatest commandment of all, which is indeed inclusive of all, is that of loving God with all our heart. Where this is the commanding principle in the soul, there is a disposition to every other duty. Love is the leading affection of the soul; the love of God is the leading grace in the renewed soul. Where this is not, nothing else that is good is done, or done aright, or accepted, or done long.
Loving God with all our heart will effectually take us off from, and arm us against, all those things that are rivals with him for the throne in our souls, and will engage us to every thing by which he may be honoured, and with which he will be pleased ; and no commandment will be grievous where this principle commands and has the ascendant. Now here, in Mark, our Saviour prefixes to this command the great doctrinal truth upon which it is built (ver. 29).—Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord. If we firmly believe this, it will follow that we shall love him with all our heart. He is Jehovah, who has all amiable perfections in himself; he is our God, to whom we stand related and obliged; and therefore we ought to love him, to set our affections on him, let out our desire toward him, and take a delight in him: and he is one Lord, therefore he must be loved with our whole heart : he has the sole right to us, and therefore ought to have the sole possession of us. If he be one, our hearts must be one with him; and since there is no God besides, no rival must be admitted with him upon the throne.
He tells him farther, that the second great commandment is, to love our neighbour as ourselres (ver. 31)—as truly and sincerely as we love ourselves, and in the same instances; and we must show it by doing as we would be done by. As we must, therefore, love God better than ourselves, because he is Jehovah, a being infinitely better than we are, and must love him with all our heart, because he is one Lord, and there is no other like him ; so we must love our neighbour as ourselves, because he is of the same nature with ourselves. Our hearts are fashioned alike, and my neighbour and myself are of one body, of one society—that of the world of mankind; and if a fellow-Christian, and of the same sacred society, the obligation is the stronger. “ Hath not one God created us?" Mal. ii. 10. Has not one Christ redeemed us? Well might Christ say, There is no other com
mandment greater than these ; for in these all the law is fulfilled; and if we make conscience of obedience to these, all other instances of obedience will follow of course.
The scribe consented to what Christ said, and descanted upon it. Vers. 32, 33. He commends Christ's decision of this question,- Well, Master, thou hast said the truth. Christ's assertions needed not the scribe's attestations; but this scribe, being a man in authority, thought it would put some reputation upon what Christ said, to have it commended by him; and it shall be brought in evidence against those who persecuted Christ, as a deceiver, that one of themselves, even a scribe of their own, confessed that he said the truth, and said it well. And thus must we subscribe to Christ's sayings—must set to our seal that they are true.—He comments upon it. Christ had quoted that great doctrine, that The Lord our God is one Lord; and this he not only assented to, but added, “There is none other but he ; and, therefore, we must have no other God besides.” This excludes all rivals with him, and secures the throne in the heart entire for him. Christ had laid down that great law of loving God with all our heart; and this also he explains—that it is loving himn with the understanding, as those that know what abundant reason we have to love him. Our love to God, as it must be an entire, so it must be an intelligent, love; we must love him with all the understanding, or out of the whole understanding; our rational powers and faculties must all be set on work to lead out the affections of our souls toward God. Christ had said, To love God and our neighbour is the greatest commandment of all;" “ Yea,” saith the scribe, “it is betterit is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices, ,—more acceptable to God, and will turn to a better account to ourselves.” There were those who held that the law of sacrifices was the greatest commandment of all; but this scribe readily agreed with our Saviour in this, that the law of love to God and our neighbour is greater than that of sacrifice, even that of whole burnt-offerings, which were intended purely for the honour of God.
Christ approved of what he said, and encouraged him to proceed in his inquiries of him. Ver. 31. He owned that he understood well, as far as he went; so far, so good. Jesus saw that he answerr.d discreetly, and was the more pleased with it, because he had of late met with so many, even of the scribes, men of letters, that answered indiscreetly, as those that had no understandiny, nor desired to have any. He answered as one that had a mind—as a rational, intelligent man—as one that had his wits about him—as one whose reason was not blinded, whose judgment was not biassed, and whose forethought was not fettered by the prejudices of which other scribes were so much under the power. He answered as one that allowed himself liberty and leisure to consider, and as one that had considered.-Christ owned that he stood fair for a farther advance,—“ Thou art not far from the kingdom of God, the kingdom of grace and glory; thou art in a likely way to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ. For the doctrine of Christ insists most upon these things, and is designed, and has a tendency direct, to bring thee to this.”—There is hope of those who make a good use of the light they have, and go so far as that will carry them, that by the grace of God they will be led farther, by the clearer discoveries God has to make to them. What became of this scribe we are not told, but would willingly hope that he took the hint Christ hereby gave him, and that, having been told by him, so much to his satisfaction, what was the great commandment of the law, he proceeded to inquire of him, or his apostles, what was the great commandment of the gospel too. Yet, if he did not, but took up here, and went no farther, we are not to think it strange; for there are many who are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither. Now, one would think this should have invited many to consult him; but it had a contrary effect,—No man after that durst ask him any question. Every thing he said was spoken with such authority and majesty, that every one stood in awe of him; those that desired to learn were ashamed to ask, and those that designed to cavil were afraid to ask.
Because we have not loved God and man in the manner required in Scripture, and enforceel by Christ–because our character and conduct are the very reverse, therefore we are con lemned sinners; we need repentance and we need mercy; we need Christ and his atoning sacrifice ; we cannot be justified through the works of the law, but must be saved by grace, through faith in the Saviour, and through the sanctification of the Spirit to obedience. If really interested in this redemption, we shalì daily mourn and be humbled because our obedience is so very defective. 35 | 'And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, Ilow say
the scribes that Christ is the son of David ? 36 For David' himself sail by the Holy Ghost, 'The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right band, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37 David therefore bimself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common
9 Matt. xxii, 41; Luke xx. 41,
+ 2 Sam. xxiii. 2.
& Psal. cx. 1.
t Chap. iv. 2.
* Luke xi. 43.
y Matt. xxiii. 14.
people heard him gladly. 38 9! And he said unto them in his doctrine. "Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and "lor: salutations in the market-places, 39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which devour widowa houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
u Matt. xxiii. l; Luke xx. 46. Christ shows the people how weak and defective the scribes were in their preaching, and for unable to solve the difficulties that occurred in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which the undertook to expound. Of this he gives an instance, which is not so fully related here as it was it Matthew. Christ was teaching in the temple. Many things he said which were not written; be notice is taken of this, because it will stir us up to inquire concerning Christ, and to inquire of his for none can have the right knowledge of him but from himself; it is not to be had from the scribes for they will soon be run aground.
The scribes told the people that the Messiah was to be the Son of David (ver. 35), and the were in the right. He was not only to descend from his loins, but to fill his throne (Luke i. 32).“ The Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David.” The Scripture said it often, be: the people took it as what the scribes said ; whereas the truths of God should rather be quoted from our Bibles than from our ministers, for there is the original of them. * The waters are swelliest when drawn immediately from their source.”
Yet they could not tell them how, notwithstanding that it was very proper for David, in spirit the spirit of prophecy, to call hiin his Lord, as he doth. Psal. cx. 1. They had taught the people that concerning the Messiah which would be for the honour of their nation—that he should be a branch of their royal family; but they had not taken care to teach them that which was for la honour of the Messiah himself—that he should be the Son of God, and, as such, and not otherwise David's Lord. Thus they held the truth in unrighteousness, and were partial in the gospel as wel as in the law of the Old Testament. They were able to say it, and prove it, that Christ was to be David's son ; but if any should object, How then doth David himself call him Lord? they won't not know how to avoid the force of the objection.—Those are unworthy to sit in Moses' seat wb. though they are able to preach the truth, are not in some measure able to defend it when they are preached it, and to convince gainsayers.
Now this galled the scribes, to have their ignorance thus exposed, and, no doubt, incensed there more against Christ; but the common people heard him gladly. Ver. 37. What he preached surprising and affecting; and though it reflected upon the scribes, it was instructive to them, and they had never heard such preaching. Probably there was something more than ordinarily.com manding and charming in his voice and way of delivery, which recommended him to the affection of the common people ; for we do not find that any were wrought upon to believe in him, and follow him, but he was to them as a lovely song of one that could play well on an instrument, di Ezekiel was to his hearers. Ezek. xxxiii. 32. "And perhaps some of these cried, Crucify him, o Herod heard John the Baptist gladly, and yet cut off his head.
Christ cautions the people to take heed of suffering themselves to be imposed upon by the scriber and of being infected with their pride and hypocrisy, -He said unto them in his doctrine, " Bewart of the scribes (ver. 38); stand upon your guard, that you neither imbibe their peculiar opinions
, por the opinions of the people concerning them.” The charge is long as drawn up against them in the parallel place (Matt. xxiii.); it is here contracted.
They (the scribes) affect to appear very great ; for they go in long clothing, with vestures doma to their feet, and in those they walk about the streets. Their going in such clothing but their loving to go in it--priding themselves on it-valuing themselves on it-commanding respect by it—saying to their long clothes, as Saul to Samuel, “ Honour me now before this people —this was a product of pride. Christ would have his disciples go with their loins girt.
They affect to appear very good; for they pray—they make long prayers—as if they intimate with heaven, and had a deal of business there. They took care it should be known that they prayed—that they prayed long-which, some think, intimates that they prayed not for thema selves only, but for others, and therein were very particular and very large. This they did ferment pretence, that they might seem to love prayer, not only for God's sake, whom hereby they pretended to glorify, but for their neighbour's sake, whom hereby they pretended to be serviceable to:
They herein aimed to advance themselves. They coreted applause, and were fond of it. The loved salutations in the marketplace, and the chief ceata in the syndyr og uds, and the upper mott
was not sinful
rooms at feasts. These pleased a vain fancy. To have these given them, they thought, expressed the value they had for them who did know them, and gained them respect from those who did not.
They herein aimed to enrich themselves. They devoured widows' houses—made themselves masters of their estates by some trick or other. It was to screen themselves from the suspicion of dishonesty, that they put on the mask of piety; and that they might not be thought as bad as the worst, they were studious to seem as good as the best. Let fraud and oppression be thought the worse of for their having profaned and disgraced long prayers ; but let not prayers, no, nor long prayers, be thought the worse of, if made in humility and sincerity, for their having been by some thus abused. But as iniquity, thus disguised with a show of piety, is a double iniquity, so its doom will be doubly heavy,—These shall receive greater damnation--greater than those that live without prayer-greater than they would have received for the wrong done to the poor widows, if it had not been thus disguised.—The damnation of hypocrites will be of all others the greatest damnation. 41 T’And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people
cast || money “into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That "this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she lad, “even all her living.
Luke xxi. I.
A piece of hrass money: see Mact. x. 9. that brass money.
6 2 Cor. viii, 12.
a 2 Kings xii. 9. # It is the seventh part of one piece of c Deut. xxiv. 6; 1 John iii, 17.
of story was not in Matthew, but is here, and in Luke; it is Christ's commendation of the poor widow that cast two mites into the treasury, which our Saviour, busy as he was in preaching, found leisure to take notice of.
There was a public fund for charity, into which contributions were brought, and out of which distributions were made; a poor's-box, and this in the temple; for works of charity and works of piety very fitly go together. Where God is honoured by our worship, it is proper he should be honoured by the relief of the poor; and we often find prayers and alms in conjunction, as Acts x. 2, 4. It is good to erect public receptacles of charity for the inviting and directing of private hands in giving to his poor ; nay, it is good for those who are of ability to have funds of their own, to lay by as God has prospered them (1 Cor. xvi. 2), that they may have something ready to give when an object of charity offers itself, which is before dedicated to such uses. Jesus Christ had an eye upon it,--He sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people
money into it; not grudging either that he had none to cast in, or had not the disposal of that which was cast in, but observing what was cast in.-Our Lord Jesus takes notice of what we contribute to pious and charitable uses—whether we give liberally or sparingly—whether cheerfully or with reluctance and ill-will; nay, he looks at the heart; he observes what principles we act upon, and what our views are, in giving alms; and whether we do it as unto the Lord, or only to be seen of men.
many that were rich cast in much ; and it was a good sight to see rich people charitable, to see many rich people so, and to see them not only cast in, but cast in much. Those that are rich ought to give richly. If God give abundantly to us, he expects we should give abundantly to the poor; and it is not enough for those that are rich to say, that they give as much as others do, who perhaps have much less of the world than they have, but they must give in proportion to their estates; and if objects of charity do not present themselves, that require so much, they ought to inquire them out, and to devise liberal things. There was a poor widow that cast in two mites, which make a farthing. Ver. 42.
(The word translated nuite, denotes a small coin made of brass, the smallest in use among the Jews. The precise value cannot now be easily estimated. It was much less than any coin we have.) Our Lord Jesus highly commended her; called his disciples to him, and bid them take notice of it (ver. 43); told them that she could very ill spare that which she gave—she had scarcely enough for herself—it was all her liviny-all she bad to live upon for that day, and perhaps a great part of what she had earned by her labour the day before; and that forasmuch as he knew she did it from a truly charitable disposition, evincing thereby her love and self-denial, he reckoned it more than all that put together which the rich people threw in; for they did cast in of their abundance, bub she of her want. Ver. 14. Now, many would have been ready to cenoure this poor widow, and to