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Dissertation on parables,

St. MATTHEW.

fables, similitudes, fc.

iy say is the best in the ele vrora parallemay be now on

7. It means a simple proverb or adage, where neither com- , to the ancient prophecies, which were delivered concerning parison por similitude was intended : such as that mentioned Christ and the nature of his kingdom.' And to this very subby our Lord, Luke iv. 23. “And he said, Ye will surely say ject, the words are applied and quoted by the Evangelist unto me this proverb, tn 42,307.ny tauny, this parable, Phy- | Matthew in the preceding chapter. (xiii. 35.) sician, heal thyself.In this, neither comparison nor likeness Having traced the word parable through its different meanis intended. The same kind of a proverb is found Luke vi. ings in the Sacred Writings, it may be now necessary to en39. “Can the blind lead the blind,” &c.

quire for what purpose our blessed Lord used that irode of 8. It means a type, illustration, or representation. See speech so frequently : as many have supposed from his own Heb. ix. 9. where the first tabernacle is said to have been a words, Matt, xiii. 11–13. that he addressed the people in figure, apoßoan, a parable, for the time then present; i. e. parables, merely that they might not understand. To you, a thing which, from the peculiar use to which it was appro- | said he, addressing his disciples, it is given to know the mysa priated, shadowed forth or represented the buman body ofteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given : our Lord, and the Christian church which he should es- therefore I speak to thein in parables, &c. Now, to do justice tablish.

to this passage, we must observe, that by mysteries here, we 9. It means a during erploit, an unusual and severe trial, are to understand not only things concerning the scheme of or a case of imminent danger and jeopardy. In these senses salvation which had not been as yet fully revealed; but also the it is used by some of the best and most correct Greek writers, prophetic declarations concerning the future state of the, Chrissuch as Polybius and Xenophon ; and by the best Greek Lexi tian church, as they are signified by the different parables cographers, such as Hesychius and Suidas : with whom norge mentioned in the succeeding parts of the chapter. It was Boros signifies a daring, bold, rush person ; and magabonx, not given to them to know the purport and design of these things extremely dangerous. In this sense the verb is evidently things; They,said our Lord, “are gross of heart :” they used 2 Mac. xiv. 38. where it is said, that Razis, one of the || are earthly and sensual, and do not improve the light they Jewish elders, did “ boldly jeopard (Tropaß:Banuesvos) his body have received; so that when many of them might have been and life with all vehemency, for the religion of the Jews.” preachers of this truth to others, they are found destitute of I know no place in the Sacred Writings, in which it has this salvation themselves, notwithstanding the means of it were sense, unless it be in Heb. xi. 19. where, speaking of the in all within their power: but, said he,“ to you it is given :" lended sacrifice of I: aac, and his rescue, Abraham is said to because I have appointed you, not only to be the first preaclihave rescued him from the most imminent death, ev Oporners of the Gospel to sinners, but also the persons who shall Born, which we translate, in a figure. Now, if we may sup-i transmit accounts of all these things to posterity. The knowpose that the death here referred to, is not that metaphorical ledge of these mysteries, in the first instance, could be given death implied in the deadness of Sarah's womb, and the su-, only lo a few; but when these faithfully wrote and published perannuation of Abraham, but the imminent death to which what they had heard and seen unto the world, then the science he was exposed when Abraham drew his knife to slay his son, of salvation being fully revealed, was addressed to all. Gen. xxii. 10. and was only prevented by the sudden and From ver. 17. of the same chapter we learn, that many miraculous interposition of God; then it is probable, that the prophets and righteous men had desired to see and hear these word here has the above meaning, which, I must own, I think things, but had not that pririlege : to them it was not given : likely ; if so, the text may be read thus : “ By faith Abra- not because God designed to exclude them from salvation, but ham, when he was trieci, offered up Isaac : of whom it was because He who knew all things, knew either that they were said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called ; accounting that God not proper persons ; or, that that was not the proper time : was able to raise him up even from the dead, from whence for the choice of the persons by whom, and the choice of he received him, xy Tapaboaq, he being in the most imminent the time in zchich it is most proper to reveal divine things, danger of losing luis life.”

must ever rest with the all-wise God. 10. It signifies a very ancient and obscure prophecy, Psal. But it is not intimated that our Lord spoke to the Jews in xlix. 4. I will incline mine ear to a parable : I will open my parables, that they might not understand : the very reverse, dark saying upon the harp. Likewise in Psal. lxxviii. I will I think, is plainly intended. It was to lead them by a famiopen my mouth in a parable : I will utter dark sayings of old. liar and appropriate mode of instruction; into the knowledge Probably this kind of dark, ancient, enigmatical prophecy, of God, and the interests of their souls. I speak to them, is what is spoken of Proy, i. 6. To understand a proverb (or said he, in parables, i.e. natural representations of spiritual varable) and the interpretation ; the words of the wise and truths; that they might be allured to enquire, and to find their dark sayings. Now a proverb, in the common accepta- out the spirit which was hidden under the letter. Because, tion of that word, is neither dark, nor requires any particu- said he, seeing the miracles which I have wrought, they see lar interpretation ; it being a plain maxim, easy to be under- not, i. e. the end for which I have wrought them. And stood by the mass of the people, for whose instruction it is | heuring my doctrines, they hear not, so as to profit by what chiefly designed. But parable, in this sense, evidently refers is spoken : neither do they understand, oude TUHLOVGI, they do not Herod hears of the

CHAP. XIV.

fame of Christ.

lay their hearts to it, so as to consider it with that deep at-ij be taken to discover their object and design; and those grand tention which such momentous truths required. But that and leading circumstances by which the author illustrates his they might not continue in their ignorance, and die in their subject. There are few if any parables, whose every cirsins, he adds parable to parable, to make the whole science cumstance was designed to apply to the subject, in reference of salvation as plain and as intelligible as possible. Is not to which they were proposed. Maimonides, in his Morek this obviously our Lord's meaniny? Who that is not most | Nevochim, gives an excellent rule on this head : “ Fix it as miserably warped and begloomed by some Jewish exclusive a principle,” says he,“ to attach yourself to the grand obsystem of salvation, can suppose that the wise, the holy, the | ject of the parable, without attempting to make a particular benevolent Christ, would employ his time in speaking enig- | application of all the circumstances and terms which it commatically to the people, on purpose that they might not prehends." This shews us, that we should not attempt to understand what was spoken? Could the God of truth and find a spiritual meaning, or pointed reference in all the parts sincerity act thus? If he had designed that they should of the parable, to the subject which it is intended to illuscontinue in darkness, he might have saved his time and la trate. And this maxiın of Maimonides is the more to be rebour, and not spoken at all, which would have as effectually garded, because it comes from a person who was perfectly answered the same purpose, viz. that of leaving them in de- well acquainted with the subject; and who lived, if I might structive ignorance, as his speaking in such a way as should so term it, in the very country of parables, and was best render his meaning incomprehensible.

qualified to decide on their use in the Sacred Writings, and On the whole I conclude, that the grand object of para- | the proper mode of interpretation. By not attending to this bolical writing is not to conceal the truth, but to convey in-| rule, many have disgraced both themselves and the Scriptures. formation to the hearts of the hearers, in the most concise, | The most dignified subjects in such hands, have been rendered appropriate, impressive, and effectual manner.

contemptible by their injudicious modes of elucidation. See In preaching on parables and similitudes, great care should the notes at the beginning of this chapter.

CHAPTER XIV. Herod. having heard the fame of Christ, supposes him to be John the Baptist, risen from the dead, 1, 2. A cit

cumstantial account of the beheading of John the Baptist, 3—12. Five thousand men, besides women and children, fed with five loaves and two fishes, 13–21. The disciples take ship, and Jesus stays behind, and goes privately into a mountain to pray, 29, 23. A violent storm arises, by which the lives of the disciples are endangered, 94. In their extremily, Jesus appears to them walking upon the water, 2527. Peter, at the command of his master, leares the ship, and walks on the water to meet Christ, 28–31. They both enter the ship, and the storm ceases, 32, 33. They come into the land of Gennesaret, and he heals many diseased people, 34-36. A.M. 4031. A T that time a Herod the tetrarch || is John the Baptist; he is risen from A. M. 4031. A.D. 97. A

A.D. 27. An. Olymp. heard of the fame of Jesus, the dead; and therefore mighty works An. Olymp.

CCI.3. 2 And said unto his servants, This do shew forth themselves in him.

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NOTES ON CHAP. XIV.

Verse 2. This is John the Baptist] Oy tyw ATEXEDance, Verse 1. Herod the tetrarch] This was Herod Antipas, the || Whom I beheaded. These words are added here by the Coson of Herod the Great. See the notes on chap. ii. 1. where | dex Bezæ and several others, by the Saxon, and five copies an account is given of the Herod family. The word tetrarch of the Itala.–See the power of conscience! He is miserable properly signifies a person who rules over the fourth part of because he is guilty; being continually under the dominion a country; but it is taken in a more general sense by the l of self-accusation, reproach, and reinorse. No need for the Jewish writers, meaning sometimes a governor simply, or a Baptist now : conscience performs the office of ten thousand king; see ver. 9. The estates of Herod the Great were not, accusers! But to complete the misery, a guilty conscience at his death, divided into four tetrarchies, but only into offers no relief from God-points out no salvation from three : one was given by the emperor Augustus to Archelaus; sin. the second to Herod Antipas, the person in the text; and the li He is risen from the dead] From this we may observe. third to Philip: all three, sons of Herod the Great.

1:1. That the resurrection of the dead was a common opinion

Account of the beheading

St. MATTHEW.

of John the Baptist.

A. M.4031. 3 4. For Herod had laid hold on | 7 Whereupon he promised with an A. M. 4031. A.D. 27.

A. D. 27. An. Olymp. John, and bound him, and put him oath to give her whatsoever she would An. Olymp. CCI. 3.

CCI. 3. om in prison for Herodias' sake, his bro- | ask. ther Philip's wife.

8 And she, being before instructed of her mo. 4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful ther, said, Give me here John Baptist's head for thee to have her.

in a charger. 5 And when he would have put him to death, | 9 And the king was sorry : nevertheless for he feared the multitude, because they counted the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at him as a prophet.

meat, he commanded it to be given her. 6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the 10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the daughter of Herodias danced "before them, and prison. pleased Herod.

11 And his head was brought in a charger,

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among the Jews : and 2. that the materiality of the soul were termed birthdays. See 1 Sam. xii, 1. and Hos, vii. 5. made no part of Herod's creed. Bad and profligate as he The kings of Persia were accustomed to reject no petition was, it was not deemed by him a thing impossible with God that was preferred to them during the entertainment. See to raise the dead : and the spirit of the murdered Baptist Herodotus in Calliope, and Esther v. 3. • had a permanent resurrection in his guilty conscience. | The daughter-danced] This was Salome, mentioned be

Verse 3. For Herodias' sake] This infamous woman was fore, Danced-by a literal rendering of the saltavit of the the daughter of Aristobulus and Berenice, and grand-daugh- Vulgate in my old MS. of the English Bible, the whole of this ter of Herod the Great. Iler first marriage was with Herod business seems to be treated with sovereign contempt : for Philip, her uncle, by whom she had Salome: some time after, thus says the Translator, Shee leped in the myddle. she left her husband, and lived publicly with Herod Antipas Verse 8: Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.] her brother-in-law, who had been before married to the The word charger formerly signified a large dish, bowl, or daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia Petræa. As soon as drinking cup: the Saxon has disce, a dish, Tindal, a platter; Aretas understood that Herod had determined to put away any thing is better than charger, which never conveyed much his daughter, he prepared to make war on him : the two meaning, and now conveys none. The Evangelist says, she armies met, and that of Herod was cut to pieces by the was instructed before by her mother, to ask the Baptist's Arabians : and this, Josephus says, was supposed to be a || head! What a most infernal mother, to give such instrucjudgment of God on him for the murder of John the Bap- tions to her child! and what a promising daughter to receive tist. See the account in Josephus, Antiq. lib. xviij. c. 7. [them! What a present for a young lady! the bloody head

Verse 4. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee of the murdered forerunner of Jesus ! and what a gratificato hate her.] Here is an instance of zcal, fidelity, and con- tion for an adulterous wife, and incestuous mother! The rage, bighly worthy of imitation. Plainness, mildness, and disturber of her illicit pleasures, and the troubler of her modesty, are qualifications necessary to be observed when brother-husband's conscience, is no more! Short, however, we reprove the great. The best service a subject can render was their glorying! See on ver. 3. his prince is, to lay before him in the plainest but most re li Verse 9. The king was sorry] He knew John to be a rightspectful manner, what the law of God requires of him, and eous man, and at first did many things gladly, which John what it forbids. Ilow unutterable must the punishment of told him it was his duty to perform : Mark vi. 20. those be, who are chaplains to princes, or great men, and who Nevertheless for the oath's sake] The OATHS, opxoushe either flatter them in their vices, or wink at their sins! "had probably sworn again and again-one sin begets many.

Verse 5. He feared the multitude] Miserable prince ! who And them which sut with him at meat] Who were probably fears more to offend his people, than to sin against his God, such as himself, and would have considered it a breach of by shedding innocent blood. When a man resists sin only honour, if he had not fulfilled his sworn promise : he therefore by the help of human motives, he cannot long defend him- commanded it to be given!

U Verse 11. His head was given to the damsel: and she Verse 6. Herod's birthday] Either the day in which he brought it to her mother.) There is no person so revengeful was born, or the day on which he began to reign ; for both as a lascivious woman when reproved and blamed. A preacher

2

self.

Jesus hearing of it,

“ CHAP. XIV,

.. withdraws to the desart. A. M.401. and given to the damsel : and she multitude, and was moved with com. A. M. 4031, A. D. 97.

A. D. 27. An. Olymp. brought it to her mother. . passion toward them, and he healed An. Olynıp. CCI. 3.

CCI. 3. 1.3. 12 And his disciples came, and took their sick. up the body, and buried it, and went and told: 15 And when it was evening, his disciples Jesus.

came to him, saying, This is a desart place, 13 [ When Jesus heard of it, he departed and the time is now past; send the multitude thence by ship into a desart place apart: and away, that they may go into the villages, and when the people had heard thereof, they follow. buy themselves victuals. ed him on foot out of the cities.

16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not 14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great depart; give ye them to eat.

* Ch. 10. 23. & 12. 15. Mark 6. 32. Luke 9. 10. John 6.1, 2.

• Ch. 9. 36. Merk 6. 34.---- Afark 6. 35. Luke 9. 12. John 6. E.

of the Gospel has most to fear from this quarter :—the stretched out against him also: he withdrew therefore, not first of this profession lost his life for the sake of truth and through fear, but to teach his messengers rather to yield to chastity; and others, especially those who have any thing to the storm, than expose themselves to destruction, where, do with men in power, who are profligates, may learn what they from circumstances, the case is evidently hopeless. are to expect in return for a faithful discharge of their duty. The people-followed him on foot] TES", or, by land, which

Verse 12. His disciples came, and took up the BODY] The is a common acceptation of the word in the best Greek writ. HEAD was in the possession of Herodias, who, 'tis probable, ers. See many examples in Kypke. took a diabolic pleasure in viewing that speechless mouth, Verse 14. Jesuswas moved with compassion] ErThayxvoli, which had often been the cause of planting thorns in her be was moved with tеrder compassion, so I think the word criminal bed; and in offering indignities to that tongue from should in general be translated : see the note on chap. ix. 36. which she could no longer dread a reproof. Her character As a verb, it does not appear to have been used by any but justifies every bad conjecture that can well be formed on this ecclesiastical writers. It always intimates, that motion of the bead : and St. Jerome positively says, that when she got it, bowels, accompanied with extreme tenderness and concern, whick she drew out the tongue, and thrust it through with her bod- is felt at the sight of the miseries of another. kin. On the whole we may observe,

Verse 15. Send the multitude away, that they may go-and That the diversions of the world, feasting and dancing, are buy] The disciples of Christ are solicitous for the people's but too commonly the occasions of sin. After so fatal an temporal as well as spiritual welfare: and he is not worthy example as this, can we doubt whether balls are not snares to be called a minister of Christ, who does not endeavour to for souls ; destructive of chastity, modesty, and sometimes promote both, to the uttermost of his power. The preach. eren of humanity itself; and a pernicious invention to excite the ing of Christ must have been accompanied with uncommon most criminal passions ? How many on such occasions have power to these people's souls, to have induced them to leare sacrificed their chastity, and then to hide their shame, have their homes, to follow him from village to village, for they stifled the feelings of the human being and the parent, and could never hear enough ; and to neglect to make use of any by direct or indirect means, have put a period to the inno- li means for the support of their lives, so that they might still cent offspring of their criminal connections ! Unhappy mo- have the privilege of hearing him. When a soul is either ther, who exposes her daughter to the same shipwreck her-' well replenished with the bread of life, or hungry after it, self has suffered, and makes ber own child the instrument, the necessities of the body are, for the time, little regarded. of her lust and revenge! Behold here, ye professedly re- || Verse 16. They need not depart] lle that seeks first the : ligious parents, the fruits of what was doubtless called in kingdom of heaven, is sure to have every temporal requisite. those times, elegant breeding and accomplished dancing! Fix! When a man ensures the first, God always takes care to your eyes on that vicious mother, that prostituted daughter, throw the other into the bargain. He who has an interest and especially on that murdered ambassador of God, and then in Jesus, has in him an inexhaustible treasure of spiritual send your children to genteel boarding-schools, to learn the" and temporal good. Theugin the means by which man may accomplishment of DANCING! where the fear of God makes help his fellows, have failed, we are not to suppose that the no part of the education.

bounty of God is exhansted. When we are about to give. Verse 13. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence] Had up all hope of farther supply, the gracious word of Christ the blessed Jesus continued in that place, 'tis probable the still holds good- They need not depart; give ye them to eat. hand of this impure, female murderer would have been! Give ye them to cat ] Should we say, Lord, how shall thy poor

Five thousand men fed with

St. MATTHEW.

five loaves and two fishes.

4. Ni. 4031. 17 And they say unto him, a We have blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves A. M. 4031. A. D. 27.

A. D. 27. An. Olymp. here but five loaves, and two fishes. to his disciples, and the disciples to the An. Olymp.

CCI. 3." - 18 He said, Bring them hither to multitude. me.

20 And they did all eat, and were filled : 'and 19 And he commanded the multitude to sit they took up of the fragments that remained down on the grass, and took the five loaves and twelve baskets full. the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he | 21 And they that had eaten were about five

* John 6. 8, 9. 2 Kings 4. 43.

0 ch. 15. 36.

Chap. 16. 7. Isai. 55. 1. Luke 9. 17.

feeble ministering servants feed so many hungry souls as attend | Blessed be our God, the king of the universe, the creator of the thy word ? Begin, at the command of Jesus—make the attempt fruit of the vine ! -divide what you have—and the bread of God shall be mul- | And brake] We read often in the Scripture of breaking tiplied in your hands, and all shall eat and be satisfied. bread, never of cutting it: because the Jews made their

Verse 17. We have here but fire loaves, and two fishes.] When | bread broad and thin like cakes, and to divide such, being we are deeply conscious of our own necessities, we shall be led || very brittle, there was no need of a knife. to depend on Jesus with a firmer faith. God often permits his Verse 20. They did all eat, and were filled] Little or much servants to be brought low, that they may have repeated op- |is the same in the hands of Jesus Christ.--Here was an inportunities of proving the kindness and mercy of their gra- || contestible miracle-five thousand men, besides women and cious Lord and Master.

children, fed with five cakes and two fishes ! here must have Verse 18. Bring them hither to me.] No creature of God been a manifest creation of substance—the parts of the bread should be considered as good or safe without the blessing of were not dilated to make them appear large, nor was there God in it. If thou have but even a handful of meal and a any delusion in the eating—for they all ate, and were all few herbs, bring them to Christ by prayer and faith, and he | filled. Here then is one miracle of our Lord attested by at will make them a sufficiency for thy body, and a sacrament to least five thousand persons ! But did not this creation of thy soul. Let the minister of the Gospel attend also to this bread prove the unlimited power of Jesus? Undoubtedly : - let him bring all his gifts and graces to his Maker-let him and nothing less than eternal power and god-head could have ever know, that his word can be of no use, unless the bless-effected it. ing of Christ be in it.

y They took up-twelve baskets] It was customary for many Verse 19. And took the five loaves, &c.] This was the act of of the Jews to carry a basket with them at all times : and the father of a family among the Jews_his business it was to Mr. Wakefield's conjecture bere is very reasonable :-“ By take the bread into his hands, and render thanks to God, the number here particularized, it should seem, that each before any of the family was permitted to taste of it.. Apostle filled his own bread basket.Some think, that the Jews

Looking up to heaven] To teach us to acknowledge God || carried baskets in commemoration of their Egyptian bond.as the Supreme Good, and fountain of all excellence. age, when they were accustomed to carry the clay and

He blessed] The word God should, I think, be rather | stubble to make the bricks, in a basket that was hung inserted here than the word them, because it does not appear about their necks. This seems to be what Sidonius Apollithat it was the loaves which Christ blessed, but that God who || naris refers to in the following words, Epist. vii. 6. Ordinis had provided them : and this indeed was the Jewish custom, l res est, ut, (dum in allegorica versamur Ægypto) Pharao iznot to bless the food, but the God who gave it. However, I cedat cum diademate, Israelita cum coprino. there are others who believe the loaves are meant, and that These words of Alcimus Avitus, lib. v, ver. 30. are to the he blessed them, in order to multiply them. The Jewish || same effect : form of blessing, or what we term grace, before and after

Servitii longo lassatam pondere plebem, meat, was as follows:

Oppressos cophinis humeros, attritaque collo.
BEFORE MEAT.

It appears that a basket about the neck, and a bunch of hay,

Il were the general characteristic of this long enslaved and opBaruc attah Elohinoo melec haðlam hamotse lechern min haarets :

ölum hamotse lechem min haarets : | pressed people, in the different countries where they sojourned. Blessed art thou, our God, king of the universe, who bringest

il Juvenal also mentions the basket and the hay: kread out of the earth! AFTER MEAT,

Cum dedit ille locum, cophino fænoque relicto,

Arcanam Judæa tremens mendicat in aurem. Baruc Elohinoo melec haộlam boré peri hagephen ;

Sat. vi. 542.

ברוך אתה אלהינו מלך העולם המוצא לחם מן הארץ :

ברוך אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי הגפן:

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