Page images

his father, The maintenance that I might have allowed you is an offering vowed to God, and thus evade the maintenance of his father and mother.

It was sometimes a custom with the Jews solemnly to devote to God, that is, to the use of the public treasury in the temple, whatever they should give to any particular person; meaning to put it out of their power to do any thing for them. This rash vow, when made in this particular manner, though it should respect a father or mother, the Pharisees deemed to be lawful, and rigorously exacted it. It was frequent also to leave whole estates to the treasury after their deaths, and thereby deprive their descendents of their subsistence. This violation of the law they might be more inclined to support, because part of the produce came to the priests, who were most of them Pharisees; and Luke tells us that they were covetous.

The word "honour” is here used for assisting and supporting. This is the meaning of " honouring widows who are widows indeed,” in Paul's epistles. So also, when he says that an elder is worthy of double honour, it is synonymous to worthy of a double stipend.

Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect, by, rather, for,” your tradition.

The Pharisees pretended to justify themselves upon this principle; that precepts relating to God are to be preferred to those which relate to the advantage of men. In the former class they ranked vows and oaths; in the other, all acts of beneficence: but they ought to have remembered that vows and oaths are only methods by which we are bound; and that we cannot be obliged by them to do that which was unlawful. The precept to observe oaths or vows supposes that what we promise is lawful and right to be done: if otherwise, it ceases to be of any force.

7. Ye hypocrites! Well did Esaias prophecy of you, rather, teach concern

ing you,i. e. use words which are applicable to you, see Is, xxix, 13. saying,

These words, however, are only to be found in the Greek translation; the Hebrew, and therefore the English, which is taken from it, is rather different.

8. This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

9. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

By commandments of men, or human commandments, both Isaiah and Christ mean not only those things which oppose the divine law, but such likewise as are required by human authority alone, without any divine injunction; such were some of the things about which he had been now treating.

10. But he called the multitude and said unto them, Hear and understand.

11. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, that is, provided it enter without any fault of the human will; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

In Mark, this last clause is more general and intelligible: “the things which proceed out of the man,' that is, the things which proceed from his will, “ defile a man;" but Christ, that the opposition between the two parts of the sentence mischt be more conspicuous, repeats the word mouth, although the vices which he afterwards mentions are, several of them, by no means the vices of the tongue.

Christ does not here teach any thing contrary to the law, which made a distinction among meats; yet, while he shows that nothing was nat. urally unclean, he



for the abrogation of it: for if what he asserts be true, the substance of those laws was in itself indifferent.

12. Then came his disciples and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying?

That is, at what he had said about the tradition of the elders; because the Pharisees set the highest value upon the traditions or opinions of wise men, and made the greatest part of divine worship consist in the observance of those traditions, and of certain rites which they had enjoined upon themselves.

13. But he answered and said, Every plant, rather, every plantation," which my heavenly father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

As if he had said, I am not concerned at their resentment: every addition which these men have made to the law of God it is my business to extirpate; and it shall certainly be done.

14. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind; and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch, or, “ pit.

Regard not what they say or do against my doctrine, seeing they do it from the blindness of their minds. Let us, however, take care of the common people, who in following such blind leaders will run into destruction.

15. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable, this sentiment; i. e. that delivered in v. 14.

16. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding ?

Ye, who ought long since to have learnt from me those things in which true piety consists?

17. Do not ye understand that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught ? “ into the sink.

Christ here explains how there can be no natural uncleanness in meat, which can penetrate to the mind: he supposes, what was deemed evident among the Jews, , that the heart was the seat of the mind; whence it would follow that the uncleanness which cannot reach the heart cannot affect the mind: but meat, when it is taken into the body, does not go to the heart, but into the stomach and belly, and is thence cast out. There can be no impurity in it, therefore, that can defile the mind.

18. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man.

The language of the lips is tainted with the corrupt dispositions of the heart, which is the source of every thing which is defiling and wicked.

19. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, rather, wicked reasonings; " such as those of the Pharisees; mur.


ders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, rather, "evil speaking."

20. These are the things which defile a man, which render him odious to the Divine Being. But to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.


1. From the means which God has employed, to secure to parents honour and respect from their child ren, we may learn the importance of this branch of duty and the best manner of performing it. It is not left to a child's own option whether he will shew respect to his father and mother, or not; nor is it left to be inferred from other precepts; but it is made the subject of an express command, and that command has the first place in the second table. It is also distinguished by being, as the apostle observes, the first coinmandment with promise: a notorious neglect of it doomed the transgressor to the punishment of death.

The obligation to this duty arises from the plainest principles of gratitude and justice: for what can be more reasonable than that those who have fed and supported us; who have spent their time in instructing us in our duty, and in forming us to virtuous habits and useful characters; who have experienced so much anxiety, and submitted to great labour, for these benevolent purposes, should receive a considerable return of gratitude and attention for these services? Must not that mind be insensible to every principle of goodness, and wholly brutish, that

« PreviousContinue »