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constant use in Rabbinic Canon-law than those of binding' and * loosing.' The words are the literal translation of the Hebrew equivalents Asar (709), which means 'to bind,' in the sense of prohibiting, and Hittir (Tinn, from 90?) which means “to loose,' in the sense of permitting. For the latter the term Shera or Sheri (km, or "70) is also used. But this expression is, both in Targumic and Talmudic diction, not merely the equivalent of permitting, but passes into that of remitting, or pardoning. On the other hand, binding and loosing' referred simply to things or acts, prohibiting or else permitting them, declaring them lawful or unlawful. This was one of the powers claimed by the Rabbis. As regards their laws (not decisions as to things or acts), it was a principle, that while in Scripture there were some that bound and some that loosed, all the laws of the Rabbis were in reference to * binding.': If this then represented the legislative, another preten- Jer. Ber. sion of the Rabbis, that of declaring 'free' or else - liable,' i.e., guilty Meg. 71 a (Patur or Chajov), expressed their claim to the judicial power. By the first of these they bound' or 'loosed' acts or things; by the second they remitted' or retained,' declared a person free from, or liable to punishment, to compensation, or to sacrifice. These two powers—the legislative and judicial—which belonged to the Rabbinic office, Christ now transferred, and that not in their pretension, but in their reality, to His Apostles: the first here to Peter as their Representative, the second after His Resurrection to the Church. " St. John
On the second of these powers we need not at present dwell. That of. binding' and 'loosing’included all the legislative functions for the new Church. And it was a reality. In the view of the Rabbis heaven was like earth, and questions were discussed and settled by a heavenly Sanhedrin. Now, in regard to some of their earthly decrees, they were wont to say that the Sanhedrin above' confirmed what the Sanhedrin beneath' had done. But the words of Christ, as they avoided the foolish conceit of His contemporaries, left it not doubtful, but conveyed the assurance that, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, whatsoever they bound or loosed on earth would be bound or loosed in heaven.
But all this that had passed between them could not be matter of common talk-least of all, at that crisis in His History, and in that locality. Accordingly, all the three Evangelists record-each with distinctive emphasis '—that the open confession of His Messiah
The word used by St. Matthew (dleστείλατο) τηeans
charged;' that by
St. Mark (énetluno ev) implies rebuke; while the expression employed by St.
ship, which was virtually its proclamation, was not to be made public.
But, even so, there was enough of terrible realism in the words of Jesus to alarm Peter. His very affection, intensely human, to the Human Personality of His Master would lead him astray. That He, Whom he verily believed to be the Messiah, Whom he loved with all the intenseness of such an intense nature—that He should pass through such an ordeal—No! Never! He put it in the very strongest language, although the Evangelist gives only a litera translation of the Rabbinic expression —God forbid it, ‘God be
'THOU ART A STUMBLING-BLOCK UNTO ME.'
merciful to Thee:'? no, such never could, nor should be to the Christ! It was an appeal to the Human in Christ, just as Satan had, in XXXVII the great Temptation after the forty days' fast, appealed to the purely Human in Jesus. Temptations these, with which we cannot reason, but which we must put behind us as behind, or else they will be a stumbling-block before us; temptations, which come to us often through the love and care of others, Satan transforming himself into an Angel of light; temptations, all the more dangerous, that they appeal to the purely human, not the sinful, element in us, but which arise from the circumstance, that they who so become our stumbling-block, so long as they are before us, are prompted by an affection which has regard to the purely human, and, in its onesided human intenseness, minds the things of man, and not those of God.
Yet Peter's words were to be made useful, by affording to the Master the opportunity of correcting what was amiss in the hearts of all His disciples, and teaching them such general principles about His Kingdom, and about that implied in true discipleship, as would, if received in the heart, enable them in due time victoriously to bear those trials connected with that rejection and Death of the Christ, which at the time they could not understand. Not a Messianic Kingdom, with glory to its heralds and chieftains—but selfdenial, and the voluntary bearing of that cross, on which the of this world would nail the followers of Christ. They knew the torture which their masters—the power of the world—the Romans, were wont to inflict: such must they, and similar must we all, be prepared to bear, and, in so doing, begin by denying self. In such a contest, to lose life would be to gain it, to gain would be to lose life. And, if the issue lay between these two, who could hesitate what to choose, even if it were ours to gain or lose a whole world ? For bebind it all there was a reality—a Messianic triumph and Kingdom—not, indeed, such as they imagined, but far higher, holier: the Coming of the Son of Man in the glory of His Father, and with His Angels, and then eternal gain or loss, according to our deeds.a
But why speak of the future and distant ? "A sign’-a terrible sign of it from heaven,' a vindication of Christ's rejected 'claims, a vindication of the Christ, Whom they had slain, invoking His
a St. Matt. xvi. 24-27
So the Greek literally. ? In those days the extreme suffering which a man might expect from the hostile power (the Romans) was the literal
cross; in ours, it is suffering not less acute, the greatest which one hostile power can inflict : really, though perhaps not literally, a cross.
a St. Matt. xvi. 28
Blood on their City and Nation, a vindication, such as alone these men could understand, of the reality of His Resurrection and Ascension, was in the near future. The flames of the City and Temple would be the light in that nation's darkness, by which to read the inscription on the Cross. All this not afar off. Some of those who stood there would not 'taste death,'' till in those judgments they would see that the Son of Man had come in His Kingdom.a
Then-only then—at the burning of the City! Why not now, visibly, and immediately on their terrible sin ? Because God shows not signs from heaven' such as man seeks; because His longsuffering waiteth long; because, all unnoticed, the finger moves on the dial-plate of time till the hour strikes; because there is Divine grandeur and majesty in the slow, unheard, certain night-march of events under His direction. God is content to wait, because He reigneth ; man must be content to wait, because he believeth.
| This is an exact translation of the phrase onid Dym, which is of such very frequent occurrence in Rabbinic writings.
See our remarks on St. John viii, 52 i
THE DESCENT :
FROM THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION INTO
THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION AND DEATH.
• But god forbede but men shulde leve
CHAUCER: Prologue to the Legend of Good Women.