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194

LukeXVIII.

4.

And declares the Success of Perfeverance in Prayer.

fear not Go D, nor regard Man;

Sect. 129. take any Notice of it: But as fhe ftill perfevered faid within himself, Tho' I in her Petition, he afterwards faid within himself, Tho' indeed I neither fear GOD, nor reverence Man, and therefore care not what becomes of this Cause, or who has the Right, or the Wrong 5 of it; Yet because this importunate Widow gives me Trouble by her continued Application, I will do ber Justice, left by her coming perpetually to me with this Petition, he even ftun and weary me out with her Cries (b).

6

7

5 Yet becaufe this Wi

dow troubleth me, I will tinual coming the weary me. avenge her, left by her con

6 And the Lord faid,

faith.

7 And shall not GoD avenge his own Elect, which him, tho' he bear long with cry Day and Night unto them?

And the Lord faid, Hear, and observe, what the unjust Judge faith upon this remarkable Occa- Hear what the unjust Judge fion, and how he owns himself to be prevailed on by the continual Cries of one, whom otherwise he would not have regarded. And if the earneft Importunity of a poor Widow thus prevailed on an unrighteous Perfon, fhall not a righteous GOD much more be moved to vindicate his own Elect, his chofen and dearly beloved People, that cry to him Day and Night, under the cruel Oppreffion of their infulting Enemies, even tho' he may seem to bear long with them, to give them 8 Space for Repentance (c)? Yes, I fay unto you, He will certainly vindicate them; and when he once undertakes it, he will do it speedily too; and this Generation of Men fhall fee, and feel it, to their Terror. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man, having been put in Poffeffion of his glorious Kingdom, comes to appear for this important Purpose, will be find Faith in the Land (d)? The Perfecu

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8 I tell you, that he will avenge them fpeedily. NeMan cometh, fhall he find Faith on the Earth?

vertheless, when the Son of

(b) She even ftun and weary me out.] The Word unwan is very emphatical, and fignifies to fun, or beat down by violent and repeated Blows on the Head. Compare 1 Cor. ix. 27. (c) Tho' he may feem to bear long with them, &c.] The learned Elfner fuppofes maxpabuuw, with a fmall Alteration, in the Accent, to correfpond to Bowler, and would render it, Shall be not avenge his Elect, who cry to him, and wait patiently for it, i. e. for his Appearance in their Favour? (Elfner. Obferv. Vol. i. pag. 265, 266.) But as I cannot think the Words will naturally bear fuch a Conftruction, or that the Authorities he produces are fatisfactory, I chufe to retain our Verfion. Nor can I, on this Interpretation, perceive any Inconfiftency between ver. 7. and 8. fince it is plain, GoD might wait long, and yet at length execute a Speedy and fudden Vengeance on the perfecuting Enemies of his People. Compare Pfal. Ixxiii. 19. Hab. ii. 3. and especially, Ecclus' xxxv. 18. to which Words Grotius fuppofes, there is an Allufion here.

(d) Will he find Faith in the Land?] It is evident, the Word yn often fignifies, not the Earth in general, but fome particular Land, or Country; as in Acts vii. 3, 4, 11. and in numberless other Places. And the Context here limits it, to the lefs extenfive Signification.

The Believing Hebrews were evidently in great Danger, of being wearied out with

The Parable of the proud Pharifee, and humble Publican.

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195 tion will be fo fevere, as almoft to bear it down: Sect. 129. But let the Remembrance of what I have now fpoken, be a Comfort to my People, and a Warn- 8. ing to those that injure them.

LukeXVIII.

He alfo fpake this other Parable to certain Per- 9
fons, who, like the proud Pharifees, arrogantly
trufted in themselves, that they were righteous, and
defpifed others as Reprobates. There were, faid 10

he, Two Men who went up to the Temple to pray
there, chufing to offer up their particular Devo-

II

tions at that facred Place; and the one of them
was a Pharifee, one of that Sect fo greatly ho-
noured among you, and the other a Publican,
whom you are used to number with the most
contemptible of Mankind.
And the Pharifee 11
ftanding by himself, at as great a Distance as he
could from the miferable Sinner, who had en-
tered the Temple with him, as if he feared being
polluted by touching him, or any other Perfon
lefs holy than himself (e), prayed in this Manner,
Ob GOD, I thank thee, that I am not as the Ge-
nerality of other Men are; but have always had
the Grace to withstand those vile Temptations,
which conquer and inflave them; fo that I am
not like the rapacious, unjuft, adulterous Genera-
tion among whom I live, or even like this wretched
Publican, that stands with me in thine House To-
Day, who probably is all this, and more :
knoweft, O Lord, that I am zealous in all the
Traditions of the Elders; I have learnt by them,
to fast twice a Week (f); and I tithe all that I
poffefs, not excepting even the very Herbs of my
Garden. (Compare Mat. xxiii. 23. and Luke xi.
42.)

Thou 12

their Perfecutions and Diftreffes. (Compare Heb. iii. 12,-14. x. 23,—39. xii. 1,—4. Fam. i. 1-4. ii. 6. v. 10. 1 Pet. ii. 20,-25. iii. 14,—17. iv. 1, 2, 12,—19. v. 9, 10.) Mr. Fleming argues from hence, that Deifm fhall prevail very much toward the Conclufion of the Millennium: (Christology, Vol. ii. pag. 358.) But it is evident from the Connection, as ftated above, that this cannot juftly be inferred from this Text; nor does the Fact itself feem at all probable.

(e) As if he feared being polluted, &c.] Thus Camero well explains this Clause. Compare Ifa. Ixv. 5.

(f) 1 faft twice a Week.] It has been obferved by moft Commentators, that the Jews, efpecially the Pharifees, ufed generally to keep private Fafts on Mondays and Thurfdays, as the Primitive Chriftians did on Wednesdays and Fridays; and our Lord had formerly reproved their oftentatious Manner of doing it: Mat, vi. 16,-18. See Drufius, in loc.

Bb 2

(8) A

196

The humble Publican is juftified, rather than the Pharisee.

Sect. 129. 42.) Thus the Pharifee offered his Devotions,

standing as near as he could to the Court of the Priests; confident in his own diftinguished Sanctity, LukeXVIII. and defirous to be obferved by others. But the

13.

14

Luke xviii. 2.

13 And the Publican

lift up fo much as his Eyes unto Heaven, but fmote upon his Breaft, faying, GOD, be merciful to me a Sinner.

poor humble Publican standing afar off, in the ftanding afar off, would not
Court of the Gentiles, as unworthy to be num-
bered among Go D's People, and much more un-
worthy to appear in the Presence of so holy a
Deity, would not fo much as lift up his Eyes to
Heaven, the Habitation of the Divine Holiness
and Glory; but fmote on his Breast, in Token of
the bittereft Remorfe and deepest Humiliation,
faying, Ob GOD, I intreat thee, be merciful to
me a miferable Sinner (g), who acknowledge, that
I have nothing to hope, but from the Riches of
thine unmerited, and forfeited Goodness.

Now, added our Lord, I fay unto you, and I
would have you diligently obferve it, that this
poor, humble, felf-abafing Man went down to his
Houfe juftified, rather than the other; and would
have been far more acceptable in the Sight of
GOD, than the Pharifee, if he had indeed been
that moral upright Man he pretended: Even in
that Cafe his Pride and Confidence in his own
Righteousness would have blafted all; for every
one that exalteth. himself, fhall be abafed; but he
that humbleth himself, fhall be exalted (h); as no-
thing is more hateful to GOD than Pride, and.
nothing more amiable than Lowlinefs of Mind..

Hi

14 I tell you, this Man went down to his Houfe jusfor every one that exalteth himself thall be abafed; and he that humbleth himself,

tified rather than the other:

fhall be exalted.

IMPROVEMENT.

OW hateful is the Character of this unjust Judge, who neither feared GOD, nor reverenced Man, but centered all his Regards in himself! How hateful, and how contemptible, in any Circumftance of

Life;

(g) A miferable Sinner.] It is very apparent, that the Word Sinner often fignifies an abandoned Profligate, or, as we commonly exprefs it, a wicked Wretch; and not merely one, who has in fome Inftances violated the Divine Law; which, alas, has been, and is the Cafe with the beft of Men. See Pfal. xxvi. 9. Amos ix. 10. Mat. ix. 10, 11. xxvii. 45. Luke vi. 32, 33. vii. 37, 39. xix. 7. John ix. 24, 31. and 1 Tim. i. 9.

(b) Every one that exalteth himself, fhall be abafed; &c.] This appears to have been a Favourite Maxim with our Lord, fince we find it repeated almoft in thefe very Words, no lefs than three different Times; not to mention a Multitude of Expreffions, in Sense nearly equivalent. See Mat. xxiii. 12. and Luke xiv. 11.

Reflections on the Prevalence of Prayer, and Humility.

197

Ver. 5.

Life; efpecially in a Magiftrate, the Guardian of the publick Intereft, Sect. 129. in Comparison of which he ought to forget his own! Yet even He was prevailed upon by Importunity; and our Lord mentions it, to encourage the Fervor of our Addrefes to the Throne of Grace. What then, is the Ver. 1. Blessed God, like this unjust Judge, to be wearied out with a Peal of Ver. 6. Words, and thereby weakly induced, to do what would otherwife have been contrary to his Defigns? Far from us be fo abfurd, and fo impious a Thought! Our condefcending Lord only intended to intimate, that if the repeated importunate Cries of the Afflicted may at length prevail, even on an inhumane Heart, they will be much more regarded by a righteous and merciful GOD, who is always ready to bestow his Favours, when He fees we are prepared to receive them.-We may be fure, that GOD will vindicate his Elect: Let this encourage them, tho' the Rod of the Ver. 7 Wicked may for a while reft on their Back; and let it intimidate the proud Oppreffors of the Earth, who, in the midst of all their Pomp and Power, are fo wretched, as to have the Prayers of Go D's People against them.

How instructive is this Parable of the Publican and Pharifee? and Ver. 9, how well connected with the former, to teach us that Humility, without which repeated Prayers will be repeated Infults, and Affronts to Heaven? Let us not trust to ourselves, that we are righteous, and defpife others; but rather be fevere to our own Faults, and candid to theirs.

Behold this arrogant Pharifee, ftanding apart from the Publican, but Ver. 11. as near as he could to the Seat of the Divine Majefty! And hear him boldly celebrating his own Praises, rather than thofe of his Maker! GOD, I thank thee, that I am not as other Men. We fee a Man may acknowledge, it is the Grace of GOD, which makes the Difference between him and others; and yet while he profeffes that humbling Doctrine of the Gofpel, may be blown up with Pride: Yea, he may nourish, and exprefs that Pride, by the Words in which he declares his Faith.. Miftaken Creature! that imagined this Encomium on himself was a Prayer,. and trusted in this defective Morality, and thefe Ceremonies of human Ver. 12.. Device, while an utter Stranger to real vital Religion. Happier, a thoufand Times happier, the poor Publican, when abafing himself in the Duft;. when fmiting on his Breaft; when owning himself a Sinner, and im- Ver. 13, ploring the Divine Mercy as his only Hope. Lord, we equally need it: May we with equal Humility feek it! May we habitually maintain those Views of ourselves, which may promote that Humility, fo neceffary in order to the Acceptance of our Addreffes, and therefore to the Happiness of our Souls.. And indeed, if in our Approaches to GOD, we can place our Confidence in any Righteousness of our own, whatever we may imagine of our own Knowledge or Holiness, we have need to be taught again the first Prin ciples of both, and are Strangers to the Effentials of Religion.

SECT

198

CHRIST meets with One that was born Blind,

CXXX.

Sect. 130.

John IX. 1.

2

SECT.

CHRIST opens the Eyes of a Man who was born Blind; and the Sanhedrim examine ftrictly into the Evidence of the Miracle. John IX. 1,---23.

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he faw a Man which was blind from his Birth.

UR Lord was now come to Jerufalem, at AND as Jefus paffed by, the Feaft of Dedication, about the Middle of December (a); and as he was paffing along. thro' the Streets of that City, he faw a poor Man, who had been Blind from his Birth, that fate, and afked Relief from thofe that went by.

And his Difciples, taking Notice of the poor Man's Cafe, applied themselves to Jefus, and asked him concerning it, faying, Rabbi, we defire thou wouldft tell us, who it was that finned, in fo extraordinary and aggravated a Manner, as to occafion fuch a Judgment? Had this Man himself been guilty of fome heinous Crime, as fome of our Doctors fuppofe he might be, in a pre-existent State (b)? or had his Parents before committed

fome

2 And his Difciples asked him, faying, Mafter, who did fin, this Man, or his Pablind?

rents, that he was born

(a) About the Middle of December.] See John x. 22. and the Note there. Sect. 134. Notwithstanding all the Pains which Mr. Whiston has taken, to prove that the Cure of the Blind Man, of which we have an Account here, happened feveral Months before Chrift discovered himself to him in the Temple, and indeed at the preceding Feast of Tabernacles, I chufe, with the Generality of Criticks, to introduce it here; not merely that the Thread of the Story might not be interrupted; but because Mr. Whifton's Reafons (in his Harmony, pag. 385.) appear inconclufive. For I fee not, but all here recorded might happen, within the Compafs of two or three Days at moft, nay, perhaps, of one fingle Day. And it seems much more probable, that wapaywv, [as he passed,] might be ufed here without any immediate Reference to apnyer, in the preceding Verfe; (John viii. ult. Sect. 105.) than that, when Chrift was fleeing out of the Temple in the hafty Manner defcribed there, his Difciples, as he passed away from his Enemies, fhould put fo ́nice a Question to him, (as in ver. 2.) or that he should stand ftill to difcourfe with them, and to perform fuch a Cure in fo leifurely a Manner, as it is plain this was done.

(b) In a pre-existent State.] Dr. Lightfoot (Hor. Heb. in loc.) fhews, that fome Rabbi's have wildly fancied, a Child might fin in its Mother's Womb: But most Commentators, with jufter Reafon, agree, that this refers to the Notion the Jews had, of the Tranfmigration of Souls. They thought, that if a Man behaved himself amifs, he was afterwards fent into another Body, where he met with great Calamities, and lived on much worse Terms than before; whereas a more advantageous Situation than the former, was fuppofed the Reward of diftinguished Virtue: A Notion, which they borrowed from the Pythagoreans; which feems to be hinted at by Jofephus, and is plainly referred to, Wifd. viii. 19, 20. (Compare Mat. xiv. 2. xvi. 14.)Perhaps the Difciples might put this Question on purpose to learn

our

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