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untary gift upon the altar, to deter us from seeking an immediate reconciliation.. Christ here teaches us also, that the duty of benevolence is to be preferred to ritual observance; since the one is to be neglected till the other be performed. The scribes and pharisees taught, on the contrary, that gifts, brought to the altar, would expiate all offences, which the judges did not punish, and that even without reformation.

We find our Lord, in this discourse, decidedly forbids the rash and profane oaths, which the Jews were in the habit of using upon every trivial occasion. As by their law, they were directed to swear by the name of God, (Deut. vi. 13.) they supposed themselves bound to perform vows, or oaths, made in the name of God. But to keep in their power, as they thought, the performance of their promissory oaths and vows, they chose to swear not by the name of Jehovah, but by heaven, by the earth, by their heads, by the temple, by the altar, the gold of the temple, &c. and because the name of God was not mentioned in these oaths, the Jews considered them as imposing but small, if any obligation. But we find our Saviour condemns these acts of deception, and shews, that in all these forms of swearing, there is a secret reference to God.

The meaning of our Lord in Matt. xxviii. and the following verses, appears to be, that, though Moses allowed, as a judicial regulation, the exacting of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, (Levit. xxiv. 17-23.) and though the pharisees inculcated this law as a means of private revenge, yet that he did not allow his followers to resist evil, or an injurious man, either by violent opposition, or liti

Whoever," says our Lord, shall compel thee to go a mile, yo with him twain.” These words refer to the practice of governors

in the East, who compelled persons to accompany and assist them in any public business.

The scribes and pharisees restricted the great law of loving our neighbour, to their relations, friends, or persons of their own nation. It was a precept among them, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thy enemy. The latter part of this sentence is not found in the law of Moses, but probably was received by the Jewish teachers long before the Chris

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The Mosaical law inculcates kindness to strangers, and enforces the duty of treating them with humanity by powerful considerations. Our Lord enforces yet higher benevolence. His sacred injunčtion is, “ Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." This precept of our Lord may well be called a new commandment; as it was not found in any moral code, till our Saviour gave it a place in his; and it constitutes one of the many proofs of the originality of his character and religion.

The Publicans were collectors of the duties and customs which the Romans imposed upon the Jewish nation; and this people, from principles of conscience and patriotism, deemed it criminal for their countrymen to follow this employment. In general, they were men of immoral character, and frequently increased the hatred of the public, by exacting more than their due, and enforcing their demands by military punishment. The Jews, in the time of our Lord, would not address the

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usual compliment of Peace be with you, to either heathens or publicans; and the latter would use it to those only who followed the same employment, but not to heathens. Our Saviour enjoins his followers to lay aside this morose and bigoted temper, and to cherish a benevolent disposition towards all around them. “ If,” says he, “ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others; do not even the publicans so?” If your affection is limited to your friends, you do no more than that which is practised by those, whom you esteem to be among the worst of men.

Our divine Instructer, after exhorting his hearers not to imbibe the morose prejudices of the Jews, exhibits the Deity as a pattern for our imitation; “ Be ye therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.The image, which perpetually occurs throughout the Gospels, and under which our Lord delights to mention God, is that of our heavenly Father, who " maketh his sun to shine on the evil, and on the good, and sendeth his rain on the just, and on the unjust," and “is kind to all, even to the evil and unthankful."

LETTER IX.

The Subject continued.

MY DEAR NIECES,

I will proceed to point out other allusions to Jewish opinions and habits, in our Saviour's sublime discourse on the mount.

Our Lord continues his divine instructions, by rebuking the ostentation of the Jews, particularly that of the Scribes and Pharisees, in the performance of religious duties; “ Take heed," says he," that you do no not your alms before men to be seen of them, otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." See also the three following verses. That is, if we propose our own selfish ends in this world by our good actions, we have acquired the object of our solicitude, and have no reason to expect a reward in the kingdom of heaven. By hypocrites, our Saviour intends the Scribes and Pharisees; and by their sounding a trumpet before them, he

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