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no human ear heard it, and will redeem its pledge, though God alone was witness to the transaction. "Whosoever therefore shall break one of the commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."



MATT. xxiii. 25-39.

25. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

26. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean


27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

28. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.1

Whatever we read of these scribes and Pharisees

I Ch. v. 19.

1 See Mark vii. 3, 4.

in the gospels, shows that what they put for religion was outward form, not inward piety or purity. The single instance is sufficient, which we find in the account of our Lord's condemnation, where it appears, that those who, by the most unjust means, were compassing the death of Jesus, "went not themselves into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled but that they might eat the passover." It would have defiled them, and rendered them unfit for the sacred duty, to enter the court of judgment: to contrive the sin which was carried on in the court of judgment did not defile them. As the heart is too naturally inclined to satisfy itself with the form of godliness, those who encourage this error, instead of opposing it, are indeed blind guides, most dangerous to follow.

29. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

30. And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

31. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

32. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

33. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Ye bear testimony against yourselves: because your conduct is the same. They persecuted the They killed the mes

prophets, ye persecute me.

sengers, and ye are preparing to kill the Son; "the

2 John xviii. 28.

heir." Therefore ye are true children of such fathers. Ye are Ye are filling up the measure of their iniquity.

34. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.


35. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar? 3

36. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would 1 have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !

38. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

39. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Here an awful sentence is pronounced upon the Jewish nation. Their evil deeds are summed up,

3 See Chron. xxiv. 20, 21. "The Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the Son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones, at the commandment of the king, in the court of the house of the Lord."

We observe, that Zechariah is there called the son of Jehoiada, here of Barachias. Many of the Jews had two names; as among the apostles, Matthew is once called Levi; Bartholomew, Nathanael; and Jude, Thaddeus.

and the inevitable consequence declared; with this aggravation, that they had brought all upon themselves. How often had God called them to repentance, and they would not! By the prophets, whose blood they had shed; and now by his Son, and the apostles-the wise men and scribes-whom he was about to send forth with a fresh message of mercy, but whom they should crucify, and scourge, and persecute !

It is with nations as with individuals, and with individuals as with nations. God willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live. He "would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth;" and for this purpose he calls them to repentance, he calls them to knowledge. He sets before them such motives as are suited to their nature; motives addressed to their conscience and their reason; he "draws them with the cords of a man, with bands of love." 5

For this purpose he sends them his word; the Scriptures of truth, teaching them the way in which they should live, "righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world;" and teaching them how they may be enabled so to live, and to overcome the enemies of their salvation. And even if they have gone astray from the paths of righteousness, and wandered from their Father's fold, he invites them back to it again, saying, "Return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon you.' 'Why will ye die, O house

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5 Hosea xi. 4.

Such were the dealings of God towards the Jewish nation, and such are his dealings towards ourselves. How often would he gather his children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings!

But as men are too apt to be deaf to the voice of God, whilst it is the "still small voice" of instruction and love; he sometimes speaks more loudly, and addresses them in the language of judgment. The Jews had, from time to time, been visited with pestilence, and with the sword, and with captivity. So God visits the careless and the rebellious with sickness, or with sorrow and thus warns them to consider their ways, while there is yet time. He reminds the sinner,-That sickness which you now feel, may not be unto death: but there must be a sickness unto death; a last, a fatal sickness; and how art thou prepared to meet thy God? He reminds the mourners,-Ye have followed your friend to the grave," the house appointed for all living:" so your friends must, some time or other, follow you. Therefore see that ye are at peace with him, before whom ye must appear, and to whom ye must give account. See that ye are reconciled, are justified, are sanctified, through Him whose "blood cleanseth from all sin."

Thus does God call his children to take refuge from the storm, before it shakes the earth. And he sent his prophets to the Jews; and he commissions his ministers to us, to declare and enforce his word and his warnings. And he has prepared something within us, which tells us, that we ought to listen to his call. Conscience tells us, that we ought to be

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