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from his faith, shall be punished with the loss of that life which alone deserves the name, life everlasting. But he who sacrifices his life to his religion in this world, shall be rewarded with eternal life in the world to come.
THE next chapter which seems more pe
1 culiarly to deserve our attention, and to require some explanation and illustration, is the 12th chapter of St. Matthew.
It begins thus. “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath-day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath-day, But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shew-bread, which it was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have
ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath-day the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, that in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless ; for the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath-day. And when he was departed thence, he went into the synagogue. And there was a man which had his hand withered; and they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath-day ? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbathday, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath-day. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth, and it was restored whole, like as the other.”
Although here are two different transactions related, that of plucking the ears of corn, and healing the withered hand, yet as they are closely connected together by the evangelist,
and relate to the same subject, the observation of the sabbath, I have recited the whole pas-, sage comprehending both these incidents at length, that you might have before you at one view all that our Saviour has said on this important branch of our duty, and that we might fully understand what kind of rest it is that our blessed Lord judged to be necessary on the Jewish sabbath, and what limitations and exceptions to it he admitted; from whence we may form some judgment what our own duty is on that holy day which we justly call The Lord's Day, and which must be considered as the Christian sabbath.
From this passage, as well as from many others, it appears, that the Jews had their eyes constantly fixed on Jesus and his followers, and most anxiously sought out for opportunities of fastening some guilt upon them.. It appears also that they were extremely unfortunate in these attempts, and compelled (as in the present instance) to have recourse to the silliest and most trivial charges; and even these turned out to be perfectly unfounded. From whence I think we may fairly draw this inference, that the character and conduct of our
Lord and his disciples were perfectly blameless; since with all the industry of so many sharp-sighted observers, so extremely well disposed to discover guilt or to make it, they could find no real fault in him.
The pretence on this occasion was, that the disciples, by plucking a few ears of corn, and eating them as they passed through a cornfield on the sabbath-day, had violated the rest of that holy day, and thus transgressed the Mosaical law. But to this our Lord replied, that in cases of extreme necessity the severity of that law might be dispensed with and relaxed. As a proof of this, he appealed first to the example of David, the man after God's own heart, who (as may be seen in 1 Samuel, xxi. 6.) when he and his men were reduced to great straits for want of food, asked and obtained from Ahimelech the priest a part of the consecrated bread which had been taken from the altar, and which it was not lawful for any but the priests to eat. The other instance he adduced' was that of the priests themselves, who in the necessary service of the temple on the sabbath-day were obliged to work with their own hands, by lighting the fires, killing