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of fair, or foul weather. What are those more important signs which our Lord blamed the Pharisees and Sadducees for not discerning? "The signs of the times." How did he reprove them for not discerning the signs of the times? "O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” What did the signs of the times denote? That the promised Messiah was come. Mention one of the signs, by which the Jews might have known that the Messiah was come? The sceptre was departed from Judah.* What do you understand by the sceptre having departed from Judah? That the Jews had no longer a king of their own. By whom, then, were they governed? By sub-governors, under the Roman emperor. Mention a second sign of the times of Messiah? The number of weeks† predicted by Daniel was just expired.‡ What was to take place at the end of those weeks? Messiah was to come, and to be cut off, but not for himself. Mention a third sign of the times of Messiah's being come ? The miracles wrought by Jesus of Nazareth were precisely those, which prophecy ascribed to the Messiah.§ Ought the Pharisees and Sadducees to have been observant of these signs of the Redeemer's advent? Yes. How was it that they did not observe them? Because they had no liking for the subject. Do men never excel in that for which
Gen. xlix. 10. + i. e. Prophetical weeks, or weeks of years. Dan. ix, 25, 26.
Comp. Matt. xi. 5, with Isa. xxxv. 5.
What must we
they have no liking? do, then, in order to arrive at Christian excellence? We must give our whole hearts to religion.
4. What more did our Lord say? "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas." (See Questions, chap. xii. 39, 40). When our Lord had answered these men, what did he do? “He left them, and departed." Why did our Lord leave the Pharisees and Sadducees? Because he will not tarry with those that tempt him.
5. Whither did our Lord go?
He entered into the ship again, and departed to the other side of the lake.* Who went with him? "His disciples." Had the disciples forgotten any thing? Yes; "they had forgotten to take bread." When did they discover their mistake? As they were sailing across the lake. Had they no bread with them in the ship? Only one loaf.* What, do you think, had become of the seven baskets full of fragments that were left, after the miraculous dinner? They may have been given to some of the multitude, who came from far, to feed them on their way home. 6. Did our Lord reprove his disciples for their carelessness in forgetting to provide themselves with bread? No; he drew from the circumstance a lesson of instruction. What should we learn
* Mark viii. 13, 14.
from our Lord's improving this circumstance for the benefit of his disciples? We should try to improve by every event-even by past mistakes. What instruction did our Lord give to his disciples on the occasion? "Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." What is meant by leaven? Depraved principles, and false doctrine. What was the leaven of the Pharisees? Self-righteousness* and hypocrisy.† What was the leaven of the Sadducees? Infidelity. Į Why are self-righteousness and infidelity compared to leaven? Because they spread through the character and conduct, as leaven spreads through the flour. When does leaven begin to work? See xiii. 33. How does it work? See xiii. 33. Are the workings of pride and unbelief in the heart very secret and very powerful? Yes. Why did our Lord say, "Take heed and beware," of selfrighteousness and unbelief? Because we are so much in danger of their secret operation. is implied in this double form of admonition, Take heed and beware? It is as if our Lord had said, Keep thy heart with all diligence.§
7. Did the disciples understand, that our Lord referred to the depraved principles of the Pharisees and Sadducees? No; "they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread." What, then, did they understand our Lord to mean? That they were not to accept of
* Luke xviii. 11, 12.
+ Luke xii. 1.
any bread from the Pharisees and Sadducees, nor to eat bread with them. Was that what our Lord meant? No; He spoke of bread, not literally, but parabolically. What do you mean by parabolically? In the way of a parable. What is a parable? See ch. xiii. 3. What was the image here used? Bread, or leaven. And to what did that image refer? To the self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and infidelity of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
them for it.
8. Did our Lord perceive that his disciples did not understand the hidden meaning of his words? Yes. Was it very dull and carnal of them, not to understand him? Yes; and our Lord reproved What did he say to them? "O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?" Did Jesus, here, blame them for not having brought bread? No; He blamed them for having so much anxious thought about the want of it. But is it not very wrong to be careless, and neglectful to provide for ourselves? It is a dishonour to religion to be careless; but still more to be anxiously careful. there any occasion for the disciples to be anxiously careful about a supply of bread ? Certainly not, whilst they had Jesus with them.
9. What made their carefulness, and want of faith, the more inexcusable? The proofs they had had of their Master's power and grace.
to be reminded of those proofs? to have lost sight of them.
Did they need Yes; they seemed Are we, in this
respect, very much like them? Yes; we too soon forget the mercies and deliverances we have experienced. How did our Lord bring those things to their recollection? "Do ye not understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?" How many baskets full of fragments were left on that occasion? Twelve.
10. What was the other instance of Christ's power, of which the disciples required to be reminded? "The seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets" they "took up." How many baskets full were left on that occasion? Seven. 11. Did our Lord further rebuke his disciples for their dulness of apprehension ? He said: "How is it that ye do not understand, that I spake it not unto you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees?"
12. When our Lord said these words, did light begin to break in upon their understandings? Yes; "then understood they, how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." Did our Lord's words (ver. 11) convey any explanation of his meaning? No; they conveyed a reproof to the disciples for not having understood his meaning. If our Lord merely reproved their dulness, how was it, that the disciples now began to understand him? Because their thoughts were stirred up, and assisted by the Spirit of wisdom, to arrive at the sense of