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our Lord's peculiar mode of instructing, and, instead of repeated general lessons on religious and moral topics, introducing so many references to time and place, to occasional accurrences and present objects, the evangelists furnish a presumption that his discourses are not artfully and cautiously invented by them, but are always the substance of what he said, and often his very expressions. And as our Lord's conversations so constantly took this turn, it may be collected that his grand purpose was to be useful and instructive, His excellent lessons were likely to be better retained this way; as every object and event to which he had alluded served for a monitor and remembrancer. It may be added, that this manner of teaching must sometimes have given a peculiar animation to his discourses: that a proud display of knowledge and wisdom is best avoided by pursuing this method : that it proves how full our Lord's mind was of the best thoughts, his mouth speaking out of the abundance of his heart: and that it may teach good men distantly to copy his admirable manner, by making a right use of common incidents on fit occasions." 1 Newcome's Observations.
Parable of the Old Garment, &c.
MATT. IX. 16, 17-MARK II. 21, 22.- LUKE V. 36, 37.
“No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment : for that which is put in to fill it up, taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles : else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish : but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”—Matt. ix. 16, 17.
The better to understand the design of the Saviour in this parable, it will be necessary to notice the occasion which called it forth. By refering to the 14th verse, we perceive that the disciples of John came to Jesus with this question: "Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?” In reply he said, “can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them ? But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” As though he had said, fasting is a sign of sorrow. The children of the bridechamber are not sorrowful while the bridegroom is with them, so neither are my disciples sorrowful while I remain ; but the time will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them—when I shall be cut off,—and then, being sorrowful, they will fast ; not however from a sense of duty, but because those who are sorrowful naturally refuse food. Fasting you regard as a duty under the law of Moses ; but in ny kingdom duty is of a higher nature, and consists in love. This is the difference between the two dispensations, the one places importance on rites and ceremonies, the other makes all duty tò consist in love to God and man. Now “nu man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles; else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish; but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." As though the Saviour had continued, you wish to unite the two dispensations, and compel my disciples to observe what you regard as the ceremonies of the Mosaic law. It never was designed that these two dispensations should be united. The gospel was not sent as a patch for the law, but to make an end of it, and remove it entirely. Neither can they be united ; they are so contrary in their natures that the new would destroy the old. As a piece of new cloth sewed to an old garınent inakes the rent worse, and as new wine will cause old bottles to break and perish, so would your religion be destroyed if mine were incorporated with it. Adam Clarke takes the same view of the design of this parable. « The Institutes of Christ, and those of the Pharisees, could never be brought to accord : an attempt to combine the two systems, would be as absurd as it would be distructive. The old covenant made way for the new, which was its completion and its end; but with that old covenant the new cannot be incorporated."
The Scribes and Pharisees on a certain occasion found fault with Jesus, because his disciples transgressed the tradition of the elders, in neglecting to wash their hands when they eat bread. Matt. xv.
And so strong was the disposition to mingle the institutes of Moses and the Pharisees with 1 Commentary on the passage.
those of Christ, that on one occasion, at Antioch, it excited " no small dissension and disputation.” Certain men, who had come down from Judea, taught the Christians, that except they were circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved. It became necessary to send a deputation consisting of Paul, Barnabus and others up to Jerusalem, to settle the matter; and it was decided that circumcision was not binding upon the disciples of Christ. Acts xv.
The force of the parable is easily perceived. A piece of new cloth" put into an old garment will surely make the rent worse. The bottles of which the Saviour speaks were not made of glass, as they now generally are, but of skins. Dr. Campbell translates the phrase, "old leathern bottles;" and adds, in a note, “such vessels were commonly then, and in some countries are still of leather, which were not easily distended when old, and were consequently more ready to burst by the fermentation of the liquor." The modern Arabs, as the Jewish people anciently did, keep their wa. ter, milk, wine and other liquors, in bottles made of skins. These bottles, when old, are frequently rent, but are capable of being repaired, by being bound up, or pieced in various ways. of this description were the wine bottles of the Gibeonites, old and rent, and bound up. Josh. ix. 4. As new wine was liable to ferment, and consequently would burst the old skins, all prudent persons would put it into new skins. Bottles of skin, it is well known, are still in use in Spain, where they are called Bor rachas." The doctrine of Christ was very fitly represented by new wine,—the same figure which the prophet Isaiah uses, lv. 1. The effect of min. gling the doctrine and precepts of Christ with the institutions of the Pharisees, would be to destroy those institutions, as the bottles were destroyed by being made the repositaries of new wine,
1 Four Gospels. 2 Horne's Intro. ii. 389.
One of the traditions of the Pharisees was, that men should wash their hands, when they eat bread, (Matt. xv. 1, 2) and this, not for purposes of cleanliness, but as a religious duty, to render them acceptable to God. On the other hand, Christ laid no stress on mere ceremonies, but made human duty to consist only in works of piety and benevolence. Now these precepts could not be blended; and to allow authority to the precepts of Christ, was to render the others of none effect. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”—this was an ancient tradition, entirely incompatible with the precept of Christ, "resist not evil.” Again, it was an ancient tradition, “thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate
The command of Christ was directly opposed thereto. 551 say unto you love
your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” Matt. v. 44. Such contradictory laws could not both have influence on the mind; and to set up one, was to overthrow the other. To use the words of the figure, the new wine of the gospel would burst the old bottles of Pharisaic tradition.
In the present age of the world, we frequently perceive an unwise rnixing of truth and error, fact and falsehood ; but this always takes place to the disadvantage of error, not of truth." Error, if it stand at all, must stand alone, it can receive no support from truth. Those who believe the doctrine of endless misery, do well to maintain also the doctrine of reprobation to eternal death, by the