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of the commandment, which required him to love his neighbor as he loved himself; and being willing to justify himself, he said unto Jesus, and who is my neighbor? To this question the parable was designed as a reply; and it appears evidently to have been the intention of Jesus, to make this lawyer answer his own question. It should be remarked, that the Jews considered persons of their own nation only to be neighbors to them. They contracted a great aversion to other nations, more particularly to the Samaritans, with whom they would hold no intercourse. The lawyer did not consider himself as having violated the divine command; but he felt fearful that Jesus would give too wide a signification to it, and thereby convict him of disobedience, which was the result he intended to guard against, in proposing the question, who is my neighbor? To this question, we have stated, Jesus intended the lawyer should furnish an answer, and in that design, proposed the parable before us.
'A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho,' i e. a certain Jew went down to Jericho. Dr. Campbell translates the sentence, a man of Jerusalem travelling to Jericho. 2 The whole energy of the parable depends on this circumstance, that the person who received the charitable aid was a Jew, and the person who afforded it a Samaritan.
"And fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half
1 Dr. Lightfoot has cited a striking illustration of this fact from Maimonides. "A Jew sees a Gentile fall into the sea, let him by no means lift him out for it is written, Thou shalt not rise up againt the blood of thy neighbor.' But this is not thy neighbor." Works ii. 152.
2 Note on the place.
dead." The scene of this parable is very judiciously laid. Jesus placed it on the road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho, because the chain of mountains which extended from the mount of Olives near Jerusalem to the plain of Jericho, was always infested with robbers. No place can be imagined more favorable for the attacks of banditti, or better adapted than were its caves for their concealment;1
1 In Buckingham's Travels in Palestine, we have the following account of this road:
"The whole of this road from Jerusalem to the Jordan is held to be the most dangerous about Palestine, and, indeed, in this portion of it, the very aspect of the scenery is sufficient, on the one hand, to tempt to robbery and murder, and on the other, to occasion a dream of it to those who pass that way. It was partly to prevent any accident happening to us in this early stage of our journey, and partly, perhaps, to calm our fears on that score, that a messenger had been despatched by our guides to an encampment of their tribe near, desiring them to send an escort to meet us at this place. We were met here accordingly, by a band of about twenty persons on foot, all armed with matchlocks, and presenting the most ferocious and robberlike appearance that could be imagined. The effect of this was heightened by the shouts which they sent forth from hill to hill, and which were re-echoed through all the valleys, while the bold projecting crags of rock, the dark shadows in which every thing lay buried below, the towering height of the cliffs above, and the forbidding desolation which every where reigned around, presented a picture that was quite in harmony throughout all its parts. It made us feel most forcibly, the propriety of its being chosen as the scene of the delightful tale of compassion which we had before so often admired for its doctrine, independently of its local beauty. One must be amid these wild and gloomy solitudes, surrounded by an armed band, and feel the impatience of the traveller who rushes on to catch a new view to every pass and turn; one must be alarmed at the very tramp of the horses' hoofs rebounding through the caverned rocks, and at the savage shouts of the footmen, scarcely less loud than the echoing thunder produced by the discharge of their pieces in the valleys; one must witness all this upon the spot, before the fall force and beauty of the admirable story of the Good Samaritan can be perceived. Here, pillage, wounds, and death would be accompanied with double terror, from the frightful aspect of every thing around. Here, the unfeeling act of passing by a fellow creature in distress, as the Priest and Levite are said to have done, strikes one
and indeed, on account of the many robberies committed there, it was called, as Jerome says, the bloody way. The classes or stations of the priests and Levites were fixed at Jericho as well as at Jerusalem, and 12,000 of them are said to have resided there; a circumstance which accounts very naturally for the priest and Levite happening to pass in that road. It should be remembered, that they were of the same nation with the Jew; but when they saw him in his miserable condition, they passed by and gave him no relief.
At length "a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, (articles with which travellers in the east frequently furnished themselves) and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him." The Samaritans were a people towards whom the Jews cherished an unconquerable hatred; and they, on their part, resented the conduct of the Jews, with great indignation. The evangelists furnish proof of this. On passing through Samaria, Jesus on a certain occasion, asked water of a woman of that country; and she marvelled saying, 'How is that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria, for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.’ This enmity was carried to such an extent, that the woman was surprised to find a Jew asking of with horror, as an act almost more than inhuman. And here, too, the compassion of the Good Samaritan is doubly virtuous, from the purity of the motive which must have led to it, in a spot where no eyes were fixed on him to draw forth the performance of any duty, and from the bravery which was necessary to admit of a man' exposing himself by such delay, to the risk of a similar fate to that from which he was endeavouring to rescue his fellow creature."
her so small a favor as a draught of water. So, on another occasion, as Jesus was travelling towards Jerusalem, he sent messengers before him, to a Samaritan village, to make ready for him. Because he was going to Jerusalem, the Samaritans would not receive him; and the disciples immediately, in the common spirit of their countrymen, requested permission of Christ to command fire from heaven to consume them, a request for which they received a severe rebuke from their master.
The Samaritan in the parable, when he came to the wounded Jew, forgets all the indignities his countrymen had suffered from that nation, and immediately began to afford him all the relief in his power. Jesus represents him, as parting with all the money he had about his person, to pay the expences at the inn; and leaving his promise, when he separated, that, if there were any further charge, he would see it paid.
Having thus gone through the parable, Jesus proposes this question to the lawyer: which now of these three (i. e. the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan) thinkest thou was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? What answer did the lawyer return? The very answer that he was obliged to return, although it was against his own practice, and a direct condemnation of the customs of his countrymen. He declared that the Samaritan, who showed mercy on him, was neighbor to him that fell among thieves. And here the design of the parable appears-it was to shew the lawyer that, while he hated other nations, he did not obey the divine law; and that the practice of the Jews in limiting the command to the love of their own conntrymen was highly erroneous; that our neighbors are not confined to the country in which we
live, nor to the sect or denomination to which we belong; but any person in distress, and needing our assistance, is our neighbor, and it is our duty to love him, and assist him by the means which God has placed in our hands. We have here another instance, of the success of our Saviour, in producing the strongest feelings of self condemnation, by means of his parables.
The occasion is closed by the Saviour with a beautiful moral-"Go thou and do likewise." Imitate the good Samaritan; let your love, like his, know no bounds; do good to the unfortunate of every name and nation. This is the sense of the divine cominand, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Let the emotions of benevolence predominate in our hearts towards all mankind; reckon them as related to us, as being members of the great family to which we belong, and consider ourselves under obligations to render them kindness and compassion whenever occasion demands.
"Go thou and do likewise." Christians of the present age, here is a lesson for you. Have you felt a peculiar friendship for those of your own sect? Where will you find any thing in the conduct of your Lord, that will stand as an example for this? Have you possesed the spirit of bitterness and wrath towards persons of other faiths, and other names? Have you calumniated their characters, misrepresented their opinions, and done them other injuries? Remember the conduct of the good Samaritan, and the design which your Lord had in view in framing the parable in which his benevolent character is drawn.
It is worthy of remark, that the parables of our Lord, are all fruitful in moral sentiment, and inculcate, in the strongest manner, the practice of the