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destined purity and perfection, shall be entirely removed; and though now thrashed as wheat on the floor, and sifted as corn in a sieve, not the least grain shall fall to the earth.
May each of us with true humility, cheerful gratitude, and full assurance, be able to say, " To me "who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given." Amen,
MATTHEW, xxi. 44.
And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
THE awful truths taught us in this text, are far more evident than the figurative language is perspicuous. On the former, but one opinion can exist; on the latter, commentators have differed widely, and this diversity of explanation has tended to illustrate and confirm, by common consent, the solemu threatening here denounced against all who reject the Savior.
The lapse of ages, the changes of custom, and the difference of manuers in this country, have conspired to render the allusion in our text less plain,
and not the want of skill on His part who spake as never man spake. Some have thought our Lord referred to a method of punishment, not unusual among the Jews:-the malefactor was first thrown from a high precipice, upon a very large stone, and while lying there, another weighty and massive stone was cast upon him, by which he was, in a manner, ground to powder :-others, and perhaps with a stricter propriety, have considered there is an allusion in the text to the grinding of corn, in which operation, the under millstone is immove
* It is not a little singular, that the resources of our own country, as affording the best stone for grinding, were not known till within these few years. Millstones were formerly imported from France, and were called burrs. This necessary article, the French burr, being difficult to procure during the war, a person a miller by trade, passing by the great rock of Abbey Craig, near Stirling, examined the texture of several masses of the stone, and found one species which appeared to him fit for the grinding of wheat; he brought home a sample, which he shewed to some competent judge. It was agreed that trial should be made of a pair. On being worked, they gave such satisfaction to the customers of the mills, as induced the Alloa Mill Company to discontinue the use of the French burr. Its superior excellence is so apparent that upwards of sixty pair are already at work in this kingdom, and the demand for them is daily encreasing. This happy discovery evinces that good is educed from evil; that each country may be considered as yielding articles essentially necessary: and finally, the mild and humane regulation of the Scriptures is accounted for. "No 66 man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he "taketh a man's life to pledge."-Deuteronomy, xxiv. 6-No -necessary of life might be taken in pawn.
able, and the upper stone, after an orderly and regular method, falls upon the grain, not permitting even one solitary seed to escape, and reducing the whole to powder. Now as the fineness of the flour depends on the weight of the upper and moveable mill-stone, so the total destruction, and the more aggravated ruin of all impenitent persons under this better and more luminous dispensation, is here most significantly represented.
Wind and water-mills are of comparatively recent invention; those used in the days of our Lord were turned by manual labor; this excessive toil was generally allotted to slaves, captives, and females. Thus Sampson, when a prisoner, was made to grind in the place of his confinement; so. also when heavy and complicated calamities were foretold by the prophet Isaiah, as about to fall on the Babylonians, the oppressors of God's people, he says, "Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin "daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground: there " is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for "thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. "Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover "thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers." * So great and universal was the overthrow to be, that even women of the highest rank, were to be reduced to the most servile
Isaiah, xlvii. 1, 2.
and manual occupations; we see also the accuracy of our Lord's allusion: "Two women shall "be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, "and the other left."* Nor is it an unsuitable digression to remark how society is improved through the prevalence of Christianity, it exalts females to their due rank, and places them by man, as his companion and counsellor, and prevents his making them his captives and slaves. "The condition of "woman, (says a celebrated writer,) is the best "criterion of civilization."
The mills thus turned by the hand were of vari ous construction, and some of the stones were but small; and such was the harsh character of that day, that often slaves were compelled to carry suspended on their necks, the upper-stone; to which barbarous practice, the Jewish proverb used even at this day among that devoted people, evidently refers; for to express a person struggling with heavy adversity, they say, "a man with a mill"stone on his neck." These portable stones were affixed to malefactors when they were punished by drowning; to which custom the Scriptures fre quently allude.
From these preliminary remarks, we shall better understand our Lord's prediction in the context,
*Matthew, xxiv. 41.