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—or to this: εἰδότες ὅτι οἱ διὰ τὸν Θεὸν ἀποθνήσκοντες ζῶσι τῷ θεῷ, ὥσπερ ̓Αβραὰμ, Ἰσαὰκ, καὶ Ἰακώβ, καὶ πάντες οἱ πατριάρχαι 5.
The answer, as we learn expressly from St. Luke and by implication from St. Mark, gave so much satisfaction to certain Scribes present-doubtless of the sect of the Pharisees-as to draw forth an open avowal of their approbation; Διδάσκαλε, καλῶς εἶπας. Its effect upon the multitude is stated by St. Matthew only; but the impression it produced upon the interrogators, as the sect of the Sadducees in particular, that they durst not ask him any thing more, that is, try to renew the dispute either on that, or on any other subject, is noticed most distinctly by St. Luke. This sect therefore was now put to silence.
One of the above-mentioned Scribes, as we may collect from St. Mark, it was consequently, who put the next question, concerning the greatest commandment in the Law; which St. Luke has omitted altogether, and St. Matthew has recorded only in part; the reason of which omission, and why St. Mark was probably induced to give a further, and a more distinct account of this incident than St. Matthew had given, cannot now be stated at large; because they are both closely connected with the parable of the good Samaritan, related exclusively by St. Luke. The motive of this inquirer I believe was good; and therefore that St. Matthew's Tεipálov, in reference to his act, must be literally interpreted of making trial only, and with a sincere desire of information. Nor when he says, just before, that the Pharisees were collected together, is it implied that this man was put forward by the rest; or acted as their spokesman, and not of his own
g De Maccabæis, 16.
accord *. It may be inferred from both Evangelists, that the terms of the question were probably these— ποία ἐστὶ πρώτη πασῶν ἐντολὴ, καὶ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ; and the terms of our Lord's decision, as a categorical answer to a categorical question—αὕτη ἐστὶ πρώτη, καὶ μεγάλη, ἐντολή h—do so far confirm the inference. After this, as we learn from St. Mark, No man durst ask him any more questions: an observation, which comes somewhat later in St. Matthew, viz. at the end of the next transaction; but is clearly to be understood reflexively of the effect of this.
The whole time hitherto taken up it may not be possible exactly to determine; but the last particular could not be much earlier than the incident relating to the widow's mite; nor that incident than the commencement of evening service, one of the stated times when such oblations were wont to be made; viz. from the ninth hour of the day to the eleventh.
While the Pharisees were still assembled together, as we learn from the same authority, and consequently, not long after the last question; our Lord, in his turn, began to interrogate them, by demanding publicly whose son the Christ was to be. Now it appears from St. Mark and from St. Luke, who do not mention his personally addressing himself to the Scribes and the Pharisees in the first instance, but suppose him to argue directly from some tenet or admission of their's, that his motive, in putting the question, was to make them commit themselves by returning the answer; upon which, without continuing to speak to them, he
* The Pharisees being a distinct body, whose numbers, in his own time, Josephus represents at 6000-they might be
collected together; so many at least of them, as happened to be present at a given time and in a given place.
h Matt. xxii. 38.
must have turned to the people, and reasoned on the answer as St. Mark and St. Luke describe him to have done. Nor is St. Matthew at variance with them: for first, in direct refutation of the answer of the Pharisees we may suppose our Lord to have said to them -πῶς οὖν Δαβὶδ, ἐν πνεύματι, Κύριον αὐτὸν καλεῖ; and then, turning to the auditors, as St. Mark and St. Luke each imply, to have reasoned more at length, πŵs déγουσιν οἱ Γραμματεῖς, κ', τ. λ. with which the residue of St. Matthew's account is obviously reconcilable.
This incident also furnishes a strong argument in favour of the proper divinity, and yet of the proper humanity of Jesus Christ; without the admission of both which a Socinian of the present day would be as much puzzled by our Saviour's question as a Pharisee of old. The true drift of that question is to prove the divinity of the Christ, and yet not to dispute or disprove the humanity; and to those who acknowledge both these truths, but to those only, there is no difficulty how to answer it. I apprehend that it was never meant to be denied, neither by our Lord himself, nor by those to whom he was speaking, that the Christ was to be the Son of David; but I do apprehend it was meant to be implied by him, whether they, with whom he was arguing, were disposed to admit it or not, that he was also to be the Son of God. For if the Christ was the Lord of David, the Christ was superior to David; and if the Christ was superior to David, the Christ was something more than the Son of David: that is, besides being the Son of David, he I was also the Son of God. The Christ, therefore, was both man and God; man, as the Son of David, and God, as the Son of God. It is impossible that these distinctions can hold good of the Christ, if his genera
i Matt. xxii. 43.
tion was altogether in the natural way; but they may obviously do so, if the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation is scriptural and true: for then the Christ, by the assumption of flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin, became as truly the Son of David, as by virtue of his eternal generation he was previously, and still continued to be the Son of God.
After this we must place Mark xii. 38-40, and Luke xx. 45-47, the first personal and direct attack upon the Scribes, as recorded by St. Mark and by St. Luke in terms almost the same; and which it is impossible to confound with that longer and later invective, Matt. xxiii. throughout. First, because this is levelled against the Scribes as such alone; that, at the Pharisees also, or at the Scribes only as the same with the Pharisees; so that in none of the woes, though eight times repeated, does the mention of either occur apart from the other. Yet Scribe and Pharisee were not necessarily convertible terms, as Acts xxiii. 6. alone would be sufficient to prove *. Secondly, because this was addressed, as we learn from St. Luke, to our Lord's own disciples in particular; that, to the multitude at large, or to others as well as to them. Thirdly, because this is levelled against a single vice, the pride or arrogance of the parties addressed; that, against a complication of vices. Fourthly, because this can, on no principle, be considered merely as an epitome of that; and if it is not an epitome of it, it must be distinct from it. Fifthly, because a good reason may be assigned why St. Luke in particular might omit the second invective, though he recorded the first, provided they were really distinct; viz. its resemblance to what he had related the Pharisees might belong to any of the tribes.
* The Scribes were probably all of the tribe of Levi; but
before; but no reason, why he should record one sentence, and not the remainder of the same discourse. Sixthly, because such a discourse as the invective recorded by St. Matthew must needs have been recited in full; or omitted altogether. It is so entirely one piece-so connected from beginning to ending—so solemn, energetic, and dignified, considered in any point of view; that no Evangelist would have thought of exhibiting it in detail, nor except as one whole. Seventhly, because this preliminary caution may be very well attributed, on the principle of association, to the preceding conversation; errors in doctrine, if authorized by any party or persons, naturally suggesting errors in practice, which may be countenanced by the same. Eighthly, because it may be regarded as a becoming prelude to the more serious invective, about to ensue; and would render that the less unexpected, when it arrived. Ninthly, because that invective was clearly the fruit of a long accumulation of offences, and due to many serious grounds of rebuke; but chiefly to the sin and the guilt of infidelity, and to the failure of our Saviour's personal ministry with the people at large; a guilt and a failure, supposed to lie mainly at the door of the parties addressed; whose systematic hostility and opposition to him, with their influence over the common people, were principally chargeable with the result. Tenthly, because after the delivery of that longer invective it is morally certain that our Lord immediately left the temple, and never returned to it again: whereas St. Mark and St. Luke both attest that, when he had made an end of the former address, he spent some time in contemplating the resort of the people, with their respective contributions, to the treasury; upon which occasion they record the anecdote
k Ch. xi. 37-the end.