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meaning of expiation? Atonement, or reconciliation made for sin. Did the Jews observe any feasts that were not commanded in the law of God? The Jews in later times did so.* To which of the above feasts was our Lord going? To the feast of Tabernacles.t How is his route here described?
came into the What is meant
"He departed from Galilee, and coasts of Judea beyond Jordan.” by his coming into Judea "beyond Jordan"? That he took the road by the farther, or east side of the Jordan, and so crossed into Judea.‡ Why did our Lord take that circuitous road? For the greater privacy.§ After the feast, whither did Jesus retire? To Bethabara.||
2. Who followed our Lord? Great multitudes followed him." Why did they follow him? To see his miracles, and to hear his discourses. Did the blessed Saviour teach them again, as he was wont? Yes. + And what more did he do for them? "He healed them there." Where did he heal them? On the very spot where they came to him. What was the effect of our Lord's teaching and healing the people? Many believed on him there.¶
3. Who were particularly incensed against our Lord on account of his miracles and growing fame? "The Pharisees." How did they show their enmity against the blessed Redeemer? They followed
*As the feasts of Purim and of Dedication. + John vii. 2.
Mark x. 1.
John x. 42.
him from place to place, and tried to set the people Did they follow him on this occasion? Yes. How did they begin their artful and ensnaring conversation? They I came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause ?" What does the word tempt here signify? See xvi. 1. Was there any thing particularly ensnaring in the question, whether a man might lawfully put away his wife for every cause? Yes. How so? Because the answer could scarcely fail to displease some, whichever way the question might be decided. If our Lord had said that a man might put away his wife whenever he chose, who would have been displeased? Those who thought the frequency of divorce a great evil. And, if he had pronounced it unlawful to divorce a wife on every slight pretext, whom would he have offended? Those who thought they had a right to put away their wives whenever they pleased. Was it a common thing among the Jews, for a man to put away his wife? See v. 31. Did not such a practice occasion much grief? Yes. How did Jewish wives, when thus put away, give vent to their afflicted feelings? By weeping and wailing. Where did the pious females, among them, shed those tears of anguish? Upon the altar of the Lord.* Does the Lord take notice of the tears that are shed upon His altar? Yes. When may it be said that our tears fall upon the altar of the
*Mal. ii. 13.
Heb. v. 7.
Lord? When they mingle with believing prayer and supplication."
4. Did our Lord know the wicked motives of the Pharisees in coming to him with the above ensnaring question? Yes. Why, then, did he condescend to answer them? Because the question itself was a weighty one; and he well knew how to answer it prudently.† What was his answer? "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female." What is meant by "the beginning"? The time of the creation. Who were made at the beginning? Adam and Eve. Where have we an account of the creation? In the book of Genesis. Who wrote the book of Genesis ? Moses. Who was Moses? See iv. 2. Was Moses living at the time of those events recorded in Genesis? No. How, then, could he know, so exactly, what took place before his time? Some things he knew by tradition, and some by immediate inspiration. What is tradition? See xv. 2. What is inspiration? See Introductory Questions. Were the things, which Moses learned by tradition, written by him as uninspired history? No; he was moved by the Holy Ghost to record them. Did the Pharisees often read the writings of Moses? Yes; they were read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.‡ Why, then, did our Lord ask them: "Have ye not read," &c.? Because they had not read the Scriptures with due care and
thought. If they had attentively read what is related about the creation of the first pair, what night they have known? That it was not the design of the Creator that a man should put away his wife. What may we call the original, or first law that binds a man and wife together? The law of nature or creation. Was that law sufficient in a state of innocence? Yes. Is it sufficient now-since the fall? No. What law has been superadded to the law of nature? The law of marriage.
5. Was the law of marriage enacted in Paradise? Yes. How does it stand on record? "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh."* What is the meaning of "twain"? It is an old English word, signifying two. Is the tie which binds us to father and mother very strong? Yes; but we are here taught that the tie between husband and wife is still stronger.
6. Who instituted the marriage-relation? God. May that union which God hath appointed be broken asunder by the caprice of his creatures? No;" what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Who was it that drew this conclusion, both from the law of nature and the law of marriage? Our divine and infallible Teacher-the Lord Jesus Christ. What do you mean by infallible? Incapable of error or mistake.
7. Were these captious Pharisees able to deny the truth
* Gen. ii. 24.
of our Lord's statement, or to refute his conclusion? No. What objection did they bring forward? "They say unto him, why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away ?" Was it a fact, that Moses commanded the Jews to put away their wives? No; he did all in his power to prevent their doing so. What did he do, in order to check the evil? See v. 31. 8. What explanation did our Lord give concerning Moses' conduct in this particular? "He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so.' What was it that obliged Moses, in some cases, to allow what he could not approve? The hard-heartedness of the Jews. How did they manifest their hardness of heart? By very passionate and often cruel treatment of their wives, if they happened not to like them. What, then, was the design of the law that suffered divorce? It was to prevent such cruel treatment as might end in murder. Did the fact of the law suffering divorce, make it a right thing in itself? Certainly not, when there was no just cause for it.
9. Is, then, divorce unlawful in every case? No. What did our Lord declare to be his will on the subject? "I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery." From these words, what is the only just ground of divorce?