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THE HARD SAYING OF CHRIST AND THAT OF THE DISCIPLES.

335

CHAP.
XXII

Sot, v. 1

* whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery,' is more difficult of interpretation. Generally, it is understood as implying that a woman divorced for adultery might not be married. But it has been argued, that, as the literal rendering is, 'whoso marrieth her when put away,' it applies to the woman whose divorce had just before been prohibited, and not, as is sometimes thought, to "a woman divorced (under any circumstances].' Be this as it may, the Jewish Law, which regarded marriage with a woman divorced under any circumstances as unadvisable,4 absolutely forbade that of the adulterer • Pes. 112 a with the adulteress.

Whatever, therefore, may be pleaded, on account of the hardness of heart' in modern society, in favour of the lawfulness of relaxing Christ's law of divorce, which confines dissolution of marriage to the one ground (of adultery), because then the unity of God's making has been broken by sin-such a retrocession was at least not in the mind of Christ, nor can it be considered lawful, either by the Church or for individual disciples. But, that the Pharisees had rightly judged when “tempting Him,' what the popular feeling would be on the subject, appears even from what ‘His disciples' [not necessarily the Apostles] afterwards said to Him. They waited to express their dissent till they were alone with Him 'in the house,'' and then urged that, if it were as Christ had taught, it would be better not to marry at all. To which the Lord replied, that 'this saying' of the 4 St. Matt. disciples: it is not good to marry,' could not be received by all men, but only by those to whom it was 'given.' For, there were three cases in which abstinence from marriage might lawfully be contemplated. In two of these it was, of course, natural; and, where it was not so, a man might, 'for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake'—that is, for the service of God and of Christ-have all his thoughts, feelings, and impulses so engaged that others were no longer existent. For, we must here beware of a twofold misunderstanding. It is not a bare abstinence from marriage, together with, perhaps, what the German Reformers called immunda continentia (unchaste continency), which is here commended, but such inward preoccupation with the Kingdom of God as will remove all other thoughts and desires. It is this which must be given' of God; and which he that is able to receive it'who has got the moral capacity for it is called upon to receive. Again, it must not be imagined that this involves any command of

Canon Cook argues this with great also applied to that of Christ. ingenuity.

3 For, it is not merely to practise out* This is the general view. But the ward continence, but to become in mind saying' may, without much difficulty, be and heart a eunuch.

e St. Mark X. 10

xix. 10-12

BOOK
IV

* Comp. 1 Cor. vii, 1, 25-40 St. Matt.

St. Mark x. 13-16; St. Luke xviii, 25-17

celibacy; it only speaks of such who in the active service of the Kingdom feel, that their every thought is so engrossed in the work, that wishes and impulses to marriage are no longer existent in them.a 1

4. The next incident is recorded by the three Evangelists. It xix: 13-15; probably occurred in the same house where the disciples had

questioned Christ about His teaching on the Divinely sacred relationship of marriage. And the blessing of infants' and little children' by Him most aptly follows on the former teaching. It is a scene of unspeakable sweetness and tenderness, where all is in character-alas! even the conduct of the disciples, as we remember their late inability to sympathise with the teaching of the Master. And it is all so utterly unlike what Jewish legend would have invented for its Messiah. We can understand how, when One Who so spake and wrought, rested in the house, Jewish mothers should have brought their little children,' and some their infants,' to Him, that He might 'touch,' 'put His Hands on them, and pray. What power and holiness must these mothers have believed to be in His touch and prayer; what life to be in, and to come from Him; and what gentleness and tenderness must His have been, when they dared so to bring these little ones! For, how utterly contrary it was to all Jewish notions, and how incompatible with the supposed dignity of a Rabbi, appears from the rebuke of the disciples. It was an occasion and an act when, as the fuller and more pictorial account of St. Mark informs us, Jesus was much displeased'-the only time this strong word is used of our Lord and said unto them: “Suffer the little children to come to Me,3 hinder them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God.' Then He gently reminded His own disciples of their grave error, by repeating what they had apparently forgotten, that, in order to enter the Kingdom of God, it must be received as by a little child—that here there could be no question of intellectual qualification, nor of distinction due to a great Rabbi, but only of humility, receptiveness, meekness, and a simple application

e St. Matt. xviii, 3

The mistaken literalism of applica- Any practice of this kind would have been tion on the part of Origen is well known. quite contrary to Jewish law (l'es. 112 b; Such practice must have been not un- Shabb. 110 1). frequent among Jewish Christians, for, ? The other places in which the verb curiously enough, the Talmud refers to occurs are: St. Matt. xx. 24 ; xxi. 15; it, reporting a conversation between a xxvi. 8; St. Mark x. 41 ; xiv, 4; St. Luke Rabbi and such a Jewish Christian xiii. 14 ; the substantive in 2 Cor. vii. eunuch (89893 2978), Shabb. 152 a.

11. The same story is related, with slight 3 The · and 'before hinder' should be alterations, in the Midrash on Eccles. X. omitted according to the best MSS. 7, ed. Warsh. p. 102 a, last four lines.

CHRIST BLESSING LITTLE CHILDREN.

337

CHAP.
XXII

to, and trust in, the Christ. And so He folded these little ones in His Arms, put His Hands upon them, and blessed them, and thus for ever consecrated that child-life, which a parent's love and faith brought to Him; blessed it also by the laying-on of His Hands—as it were, ordained it,' as we fully believe to all time, strength because of His enemies.'

1 As Mr. Bronn McClellan notes, in his learned work on the New Testament, the word is an intensitive com

pound form of blessing, especially of
dearest friends and relations at meeting
and parting.'

VOL. II.

z

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE LAST INCIDENTS IN PEREA -THE YOUNG RULER WHO WENT AWAY

SORROWFUL-TO LEAVE ALL FOR CHRIST-PROPHECY OF HIS PASSION
THE REQUEST OF SALOME, AND OF JAMES AND JOHN.

(St. Matt. xix. 16-22; St. Mark x. 17-22; St. Luke xviii. 18-23; St. Matt. xix. 23– 30; St. Mark x. 23–31 ; St. Luke xviii. 24-30; St. Matt. xx. 17-19; St. Mark 1.

St. Luke xviii. 31-34; St. Matt. xx. 20-28 ; St. Mark x. 35-45.)

32-34 ;

BOOK
IV

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As we near the goal, the wondrous story seems to grow in tenderness and pathos. It is as if into these days were to be crowded all the loving condescension of the Master; all the pressing need, and the human weaknesses of His disciples. And with equal compassion He beholds the difficulties of them who truly seek to come to Him, and those which, springing from without, or even from self and sin, beset them who have already come. Let us try reverently to follow His steps, and learn of His words.

As . He was going forth into the way' -we owe this trait, as one and another in the same narrative, to St. Mark—probably at early morn, as He left the house where He had for ever folded into His Arms and blessed the children brought to Him by believing parents His progress was arrested. It was a young man,' 'a ruler,'* probably of the local Synagogue, who came with all haste, “running,' and with lowliest gesture [kneeling],” to ask what to him, nay to us all, is the most important question. Remembering that, while we owe to St. Mark the most graphic touches, St. Matthew most fully reports the words that had been spoken, we might feel inclined to adopt that reading of them in St. Matthew which is not only most strongly supported, but at first sight seems to remove some of the difficulties of exposition. This reading would omit in the address of the young ruler the word 'good' before · Master, what good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?' and would make Christ's

* St. Luke

St. Mark

• St. Matt. xix. 16

I This is the exact rendering.

2 Dean Plumptre needlessly supposes him to have been a member of the Great Sanhedrin, and by a series of conjectures

even identifies him with Lazarus of Bethany.

3 This is well pointed out by Canon Cook on St. Mark x. 19.

CHAP.
XXIII

ed. Buber,

THE QUESTION OF THE YOUNG RULER.

339 reply read: Why askest thou Me concerning the good [that which is good]? One there is Who is good.' This would meet not only the objection, that in no recorded instance was a Jewish Rabbi addressed as Good Master,' but the obvious difficulties connected with the answer of Christ, according to the common reading : Why callest thou Me good ? none is good, save only One : God.' But on the other side it must be urged, that the undoubted reading of the question and answer in St. Mark’s and St. Luke's Gospels agrees with that of our Authorised Version, and hence that any difficulty of exposition would not be removed, only shifted, while the reply of Christ tallies far better with the words “Good Master, the strangeness of such an address from Jewish lips giving only the more reason for taking it up in the reply: Why callest thou Me good ? none is good save only One: God. Lastly, the designation of God as the only One 'good' agrees with one of the titles given Him in Jewish writings: “The Good One of the world' (obvy bag 120).a 1 a Pesikta,

The actual question of the young Ruler is one which repeatedly p. 161 a, occurs in Jewish writings, as put to a Rabbi by his disciples. Amidst the different answers given, we scarcely wonder that they also pointed to observance of the Law. And the saying of Christ seems the more adapted to the young Ruler when we recall this sentence from the Talmud : “There is nothing else that is good but the Law.” But "Ber. 5 a, here again the similarity is only of form, not of substance. For, it middle; Ab. will be noticed, that, in the more full account by St. Matthew, Christ leads the young Ruler upwards through the table of the prohibitions of deeds to the first positive command of deed, and then, by a rapid transition, to the substitution for the tenth commandment in its negative form of this wider positive and all-embracing command: Lev. xix. • Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Any Jewish Ruler,' but especially one so earnest, would have at once answered a challenge on the first four commandments by 'Yes'-and that not selfrighteously, but sincerely, though of course in ignorance of their real depth. And this was not the time for lengthened discussion and instruction: only for rapid awakening, to lead up, if possible, from earnestness and a heart-drawing towards the Master to real

last lines

Sar. 196

18

To really remove exegetical difficul- genious, is not supported. And then, ties, the reading should be further altered what of the conversation in the other to ev doti td ayatov, as Wünsche suggests, Gospels, where we could scarcely expect who regards our present reading els dotiv a variation of the saying from the more 8 ayabós, as a mistake of the translator in easy to the more difficult ? On the aprendering the neuter of the Aramaic plication of the term “the Good One' to original by the masculine. We need God, see an interesting notice in the Jüd, scarcely say, the suggestion, however in- Liter. Blatt, for Sept. 20, 1882, p. 152.

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