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approaching; and led his followers to consider him as the light of the world in a moral sense, as well as in the natural one of restoring sight to the blind.
When one thus respectfully addressed him, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life ?” he did not answer the important question till he had advanced a fundamental religious truth suggested by a casual expression : “Why ' callest thou me good ? there is none good but one, that is God.”
* When questioned about the lawfulness of paying tribute, he was not content with indirectly asserting a civil duty in the words, “Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar's;” but he added a religious lesson," and " unto God the things which are God's.”
When four of his apostles, Peter, James, John and Andrew, asked him on the mount of Olives at what time the temple was to be destroyed, and what was the sign of his coming to punish the Jews, and of the end of the Mosaic dispensation ; he delivered at large a most remarkable prophecy, but at the close of it he was still more copious in enforcing the duties of watchfulness, prayer, and good works.
And, lastly, when our Lord after his resurrection had foretold the manner of Peter's death in his old age, “ Peter, ° seeing John, saith, Lord, and what shall this man do ?” to which question our Lord gave an obscure answer, gently censured Peter's inquisitiveness, and reminded him that the point of high importance was to follow him, to imitate his life and his constancy unto death.
y Mark x. 17.
* Matt. xxiv. 441. b Matt. xxiv. 42. and the p. p. 43–51. xxv. 1-46. Luke xxi. 34, 35. • John xxi. 21, 22.
We see by this induction that as our Lord wrought no unnecessary miracle, so neither did he display unnecessary knowledge ; and that he thought religious knowledge and practical truths by far the most important : we perceive the bent of his mind by the tendency of his discourse : we should ourselves prefer what most engaged his attention; and should particularly bear in mind his weighty and affectionate admonition to his apostles, “ If ye · know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
OF PARABLES, AND THE REASONS WHY OUR LORD USED THEM.
THERE are different significations of the word parable in the writings of the New Testament, and in the Greek versions of the Old.
It is sometimes used for elevated and instructive poetry. Balaam is said to take up his - parable, when he uttered his b sublime poems and predictions
+ See Jortin's excellent sermons, vol. iii. p. 42. Engl. ed. e Jolin xiii. 17. a Heb. 10p the root of which has two senses: 1. dominatus est. And poems and proverbs may be hence named, on account of their superior excellence. See Taylor's Concordance. 2. assimilavit : a sense which the Arabic smp likewise has. And from this root Sep may easily signify a figurative and parabolical way of writing, and then, a proverbial and poetical one in general. See an excellent note on you Heb. prælect. iv. bNumb. xxiii. 7, 18. xxiv. 3, 15, 20, 21, 23.
relating to Israel. David says, “I will incline mine ear to a parable ;” which is equivalent to speaking of wisdom, and musing of understanding.
And in a psalm ascribed to Asaph we find the words, “ I will open my mouth in a parable :” and that the author proceeds to relate historical, but very useful, facts. Hence I apprehend that the word parable denotes in one place of the New Testament weighty instruction in general, without poetical ornaments.
When our Lord had thus explained the nature of moral pollution, “ There is nothing from without a man that, entering into him, can defile him ; but the things which come out of him those are they that defile the man ;” the evangelist adds that, “ when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the e parable.”
It also signifies a proverbial saying. Thus Solomon is said to have spoken three thousand 'parables ; in & Ecclesiasticus the word is translated a wise sentence; and where our Lord observes, “ Ye will surely say unto me this proverb,” the literal rendering is this parable, “ Physician, heal thyself.”
But to come nearer the point. It occurs in the gospels for a short comparison or similitude. “He
< Ps. xlix. 3, 4.
e Mark vii. 15, 17. fó. 1 Kings iv. 32. & C. XX. 20. h Luke iv. 23. i Thus Aristotle, the most accurate of all the ancient writers : “Example is of two kinds ; relating former facts, and feigning them ourselves.” He sub. divides fiction into parable and fable ; and says that parable is in the Socratic manner : for instance, if we shall say that magistracies ought not to be undertaken by lot : for this is like appointing wrestlers by lot:
spakek a parable unto them: No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old : and no man putteth new wine into old bottles : no man also, having drunk old wine, straightway desireth new.” That is, If I now enjoined my disciples austere duties, after having just initiated them into my religion, I should be like one who put a piece of a new garment on an old; or who put new wine into old bottles ; or who expected men to prefer new wine, when they had immediately drunk old. And, again, our Lord is said to have spoken a parable' when he asked, “I Can the blind lead the blind ? shall they not both fall into the ditch ?” That is, He who undertakes to instruct or amend others, while he himself is ignorant or faulty, is like the blind guiding the blind. In these two instances the subject of the comparison is implied; in many others it is expressed, as, m The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed. The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hidden in a field.
not such as are able to contend, but such as obtain it by chance: or like choosing a pilot in the same manner among sailors ; as if he who drew the lot should steer, and not he who was qualified. Rhet. ü. xxi. 2. And Quinctilian, 1. viii. c. iii. In omni parabola aut præcedit similitudo, et res sequitur ; aut præcedit res, et similitudo sequitur. Fræcedit similitudo illa,
Inde, lupi ceu
Georg. i. 512, &c. k Luke v. 36-39.
I Luke vi. 39.
in Matt. xiij. 31, 44. Servius observes on Æn. i. 503, “Exercet Diana choros.” Multi vituperant comparationem hanc, nescientes exempla, vel parabolas, vel comparationes, non semper usquequaque congruere, sed interdum omni parle, interdum aliqua, convenire. Grot. on Matt. xiii. 27. We have happily a key to a sound and rational explanation of all our Lord's parables, by his own interpretation of two which the evangelists have recorded : Matt. xüi. 18—23. 37–43. • See Judges ix. 8-15. 2 Kings xiv. 9. P See a parable of an eagle, Ezek. xvii. 3—10. 9 Luke v. 36-39. I vi. 39. s vii. 41.
Lastly, the word parable occurs for a continued relation of feigned but possible facts; bearing "a general correspondence to the circumstances of those for whose instruction it was designed, or to the real state of things which it was intended to illustrate. If the facts are real, the narration becomes example ; if impossible, it becomes 'fable, a mode of teaching less suitable to the dignity of a divine instructor. In our Lord's parables the facts are not only possible, but the actors are p men ; and thus the application is moral in the most forcible and affecting degree.
I shall now state the reasons why our Lord spake in parables; and make soine general observations on those recorded in the gospels.
The first parables, related by our Lord, are the concise ones of not a putting a piece of a new garment on an old, or new wine into old bottles; of ther blind leading the blind ; and of the two debtors, one of whom owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. The next are those of the rich man whose ground brought forth plentifully; of the watchful" servants; and of the fruitless fig tree : and I think that these were immediately succeeded, on the
i xij. 16-21. * ib. 36--40. w xiji. 6-9.