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he who arrogated to himself a power not received from God, who could alone grant it, put himself in the place of God, and was therefore a blasphemer in doing so. They had no suspicion that Christ pretended to be God, but call him profane for assuming a power which could be derived from God only.
4. And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? Why do ye think that I am not sent of God?
The language of Christ may here perhaps allude to that of Zechariah, (viii. 17.) who says to the Jews, “let none of you imagine evil against his brother in
5. For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?
To say to a man who was afflicted with the palsy, which had been brought upon him by his own irregular conduct, or by the just judgment of God, Thy sins are forgiven thee, was the same thing as saying to him, Rise up and walk; for he could not be cured unless his sins were forgiven him*.
6. But, that ye may know that the son of man hath power, rather, “authority,” on earth to forgive sins, then saith he to the man with the palsy, Arise, take up thy bed, “thy couch," and go unto thine house.
“Which is easier, to see the heart and to know that a person is worthy of forgiveness, or to work a miracle?" Newcomo's Observations, p. 110. 4to.
To shew you that, notwithstanding my mean appearance,
possess the high authority which I have assumed, but that I mean nothing more by it than a power to heal the diseases which are the consequence of sin, I now direct the paralytic man to rise and take up his couch; which, by divine power, he shall be instantaneously enabled to do, although he appears now to have lost the use of all his limbs. The
which Christ claims is limited to the remission of the temporal punishments of sin, and did not reach to the future consequences of it, in another world. That was an absurd and profane claim, left for the pretended vicar of Christ and bishop of Rome: the humble Jesus assumed no such authority
7. And he arose, and departed to his house.
His rising up immediately, taking up his couch, and going home, were evident proofs of a perfect and miraculous cure.
8. But, when the multitude saw it, they wondered ; and glorified God which had given such power,
“ such authority," unto inen.
The plural number is here put for tịc singular, ----10 men, instead of to a man, by a way of speaking of whic!ı we have examples in all languages.
The conduct of the multitude upon this occasion shews us what opinion they entertained of Jesus: they did not regard him as the Almighty God, dwelling in a human body; but as a man, who derived all his extraordinary powers from God: to God, therefore, with great propriety, they ascribe the glory of them, and acknowledge his goodness in bestowing upon one of the human race, miraculous gifts of so unusual a nat
And, as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew,
sitting at the receipt of custom, custom-house.” And he saith unto him, Follow me; and he arose, and followed him.
This is the Matthew who wrote this history, and who was afterwards made one of the twelve apostles. The Jews, being subject to the Roman power, paid an annual tribute to them, and persons were stationed in the principal towns to collect or receive it. This was the business in which Matthew was engaged at Capernaum, when he was called by our Lord: it was an office of considerable profit; but he abandoned it immediately, when he was invited to follow Christ. As Jesus had dwelt for some time in this city, and performed here many miraculous cures, it is probable that Matthew knew him before, as well as that he was known to Jesus.
10. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold many publicans and sinners came, and sat down with him and his disciples.
The person at whose house Christ was entertained, is generally supposed to be Matthew; although, from motives of modesty, the evangelist does not mention it. Hence it is that so many of his own profession, or publicans, who had been his former acquaintance, were present. By sinners we are here to understand, not men of infamous character, but Gentiles, of the Roman or any other nation, to whom the Jews gave that name by way of reproach and contempt. Thus Christ, speaking of his own sufferings from the hands of the Jews, says in one place, Matt. xx. 19. '“and shall deliver him to the Gentiles, to mock and to scourge and to crucify him;" but in another, Chap. xxvi. 45. when speaking upon the same subject, he says to his disciples, "sleep on now and take your rest; behold the hour is at hand, and the son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” In the same manner Paul says, in the epistle to the Galatians, (ii. 15.) “we, who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles.”
11. And, when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your master with tax-gatherers and sinners ?
To sit down to meat with heathens, or even with men who held the dishonourable office of tax-gatherers, was what the doctors of the law prohibited to Jews; and this precept the Pharisees were careful to observe.
12. But, when Jesus heard that, he said unto them ; They that be whole, “ who are well,” need not a physician, but they that are sick.
This is a proverbial expression, in use among the Greeks as well as the Jews, by which our Saviour reasons with them upon their own principles. If you are so righteous as you seem and pretend to be, you do not want my assistance; but these men, according to your own ideas of them, greatly want instruction and reformation. The Pharisees were such great pretenders to piéty, that they imposed, not only upon others, but ripon themselves.
They esteemed themselves righteous, as appears by the language which is put into the mouth of the Pharisee in the temple, "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men, or as this publican;" while at the same time their hearts were in reality full of hatred, envy, príde, avarice and cruelty.
13. But go ye, and learn what that meaneth; I will have mercy and not sacrifice, rather, “ I love mercy better than a sacrifice :" for I am not come to
call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.
The first clause of the verse is a quotation from the prophet Hosea, (vi. 6.) where God says to the children of Israel, “ for I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings;” meaning that he loved beneficence and kindness better than ceremonial observances. Sacrifice is here put for all the rites of the Mosaic law, among which it held a very eminent place. This language our Lord applies to the justification of his conduct in the present instance. By mercy then we are to understand, reclaiming an offender from a wicked life; and by sacrifice, as applied to this case, avoiding the society of Gentiles, or of other persons of suspicious character. The former was the natural dictate of true piety, which requires from us beneficence towards all men: the other was ritual, arising from the Mosaic law, which, by its spirit, although not by express words, commanded the Jews to avoid the company of aliens from their commonwealth. God, by the prophet Hosea, seems to reject sacrifice entirely: for he says, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice;" but by this nothing more is intended, than that the performance of moral duties is more acceptable to him than the performance of ceremonies : for it is immediately added, “and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,” which serves to explain the meaning of the former clause. Christ does not therefore intend, by the use which he makes of this passage, to condemn men for avoiding the company of heathen idolaters, or of other persons of a disorderly life; (for he himself directs, in another place, that if a brother who offends refuse to listen to repeated adınonition, he should be to us as a heathen man and a publican) but to teach them that the maxim was to be so observed, that occasions were not to be neglected of bringing men back to the right way, whenever they offered. Since, therefore, it plainly appeared that he was called to those who gave hope of a better way of life, it was very unjustly imputed to him as a fault, that he kept company with them. Agree