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accused have advisedly answered, “If you condemn traditions, you reject the resurrection from the dead; why, therefore, do you not join the fraternity of unbelieving Sadducees ? '
In the eyes of Jesus, the Pharisees were all, without exception, hypocrites, fools, vipers, serpents, swindlers, murderers, and children of hell condemned to perdition. Is it possible to reconcile this indiscriminate condemnation of a class with reason or revelation ? Is there a more unphilosophic mode of judging men than by their cloth ? And was it consistent with the Sermon on the Mount, to unconditionally exclude the most important members of the Hebrew community from fellowship in the Kingdom of Heaven ?
· Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat : all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do.'1 When we consider that this startling announcement is followed by a bitterness of denunciation which brands them as religious impostors, the inconsistency of this teaching becomes as obvious as if Protestant Reformers, instead of withdrawing men's allegiance from the Papacy, had denounced the characters of mediæval Popes, and yet recommended acceptance of their decrees as the Vicegerents of God on earth.
Eminent apologists suggest that the authority of the Pharisees was only valid in their collective capacity as the Sanhedrim. When, therefore, that great Council condemned Jesus to death, all pious Jews, inclusive of his apostles, were bound to concur in the judgment of
1 Matt. xxiü. 1-3.
the supreme court of the nation. Would it not be more prudent for apologetic theologians to question the accuracy of evangelical annalists, than to explain the inconsistencies of Jesus by conjectural exegesis, which, if even tenable, reaches us with no higher authority than the good intentions of pious apologists ?
The severity with which the Pharisees are denounced in the Evangelists is only possible by magnifying all their faults, and denying them every virtue. The Puritans of the age of Cromwell are depicted by their political opponents as merely vulgar hypocrites, parodying Hebrew fanaticism by borrowing the phraseology of prophets, and wielding “the sword of the Lord and of Gideon ;' and yet among their number were many who combined with these fantastic pretensions to inspired godliness an honest devotion to the sacred cause of civil and religious liberty. Were there no conscientious believers and workers among the brotherhood of Pharisees ? What of that great Rabbi, Gamaliel, who, whilst Jesus uttered his denunciations, sat in tranquil unconsciousness of evangelical anathemas, with Saul at his feet acquiring the education which was to fit him to become the greatest of the apostles ?
The Pharisees were, in fact, the theological product of their age, in the same sense that Franciscans, Jesuits, Lutherans, Puritans, Quakers, Wesleyans, and Ritualists arise in response to some religious tendency of their generation—all moved by an honesty of purpose inseparable (from religious zeal, and devoted to the regeneration of mankind through divergent forms of fanaticism. But when the zeal of their founders has as absolutely perished as the fleeting conditions which
evoked their enthusiasm, their followers, in practising the routine of an established system, seem to the superficial to be hypocrites, when they are simply the automata of an inherited faith.
The Pharisees were doubtless immoderate formalists in the time of Jesus; but the vice of that generation had been the virtue of an age when, as enthusiastic saints (Assideans or Chasîdîm), they had supported the Asmonæan dynasty in an heroic struggle with foreign despotism, and recorded their solemn protest against the Hebrew renegades who adopted the habits and customs of their Grecian masters, by that extreme devotion to the minutest requirements of the Mosaic law which is fully justified by the contents of the Pentateuch. But in the age of Jesus the Asmonean enthusiasm was dead ; national aspirations had been crushed by the invincible power of Rome; and the descendants of the Chasîdîm had relapsed into the lethargic formalism which aroused the indignation of the man who had discovered new sources of enthusiasm in excited expectation of the Kingdom of Heaven.
As, however, indiscriminate denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees is irreconcilable with the character and teaching of Jesus, we must seek the explanation in unreasoning acceptance of some Scriptural formula. In the Book of Enoch we read, “Woe to those who build up iniquity and oppression, and who lay the foundation of fraud ! for suddenly shall they be subverted. Woe to those who build up their houses with crime! for from their very foundations shall they be demolished. Woe to you
Woe to you who recompense your neighbour with evil! for you shall be recompensed according
to your works. Woe to you, ye powerful, who with power strike down righteousness! for the day of your destruction shall come. Woe to you who frustrate the word of the righteous! for to you there shall be no hope of life. Woe to you, ye sinners ! for with the words of your mouths and with the work of your hands have you acted impiously; in the flame of a blazing fire shall you be burnt.'1
This is obviously the source from which Jesus borrowed his formula of denunciation; and in multiplying woes for scribes and Pharisees, regarded by him as atrocious sinners, he piously followed the example of an inspired prophet.
1 Enoch xciii.-xcix.
ALTHOUGH science finds no trace in Nature of the natural, and evangelical miracles have no historical existence, Reason must still contest their claims, until finally rejected by Orthodoxy in harmony with some ingenious apology, indicating that the gospel is quite as independent of miracles as of eternal fire.
Belief in supernatural healing and exorcism was prevalent among Greeks and Romans as well as Hebrews. Tacitus records miraculous cures effected by the Emperor Vespasian ; and Josephus states that he saw one of his own countrymen extracting a demon through the nostrils of a demoniac.
In harmony with the superstition of their age, the Jews expected a supernatural physician in the Messiah ; and the compilers of Matthew accordingly depict Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons. But these scenes in his life might be repeated in our own time, if we could revert to the superstition which saw in insanity the presence of Satan, and in disease the visitation of God. Under these conditions, some venerable Bishop need but summon around him a crowd of patients, to accomplish wonders in healing the sick and vanquishing Satan. It is true that sight would not be restored to the blind, nor hearing to the deaf; a man