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Cottager's Monthly Visitor.
THE POOR MAN'S EXPOSITOR, No. VII. Matt. xiv. 25. “ The fourth watch of the night." The Jews, in the time of our Saviour, divided their nights into four watches; the first began at six o'clock in the evening, and ended at nine; the second continued till midnight; the third till three o'clock, which they called the cock-crowing; and the fourth watch continued from that time till six o'clock, when their day began; these four, watches are all distinctly mentioned, Mark xiii. 35. They computed time, during the day, by hours, from six in the morning to six in the evening; consequently their first hour began at six o'clock, their second at seven o'clock, and so on. This explains several passages of Scripture. See Matt. xx. 3. 5, 6. 9. Acts ii. 15. iii. 1. x. 9.
Matt. xv. 3. “ Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your traditions." The Pharisees. substituted innumerable vain and ostentatious ceremonies in the room of pure and vital religion ;-and our Saviour's censure of them applies with remarkable accuracy to members of the Church of Rome, who have adopted many traditions, not only unauthorized by Scripture, but actually repugnant to that sacred volume; and thus, in many instances, they “ have made the word of God of none effect by their traditions;" and to them, as well as to the Pharisees, may be applied the prophecy, saying, “ In vain do
No. 1.- VOL. XI.
they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matt. xv. 8, 9.
Matt. xv. 5. “ It is a gift by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me." The duty of protecting and assisting aged or indigent parents, was pressed very strongly upon the Jews, by the Mosaic law; but in order to render this particular law of “none effect," the Pharisees taught a doctrine, which in truth may be called a “commandment of men,” for it was directly opposed to the word of God; which was, that whenever any person (forgetful of the ties of nature, and the authority of Scripture) said to his parents, “ It is corban, that is, it is a gift, or devoted to God, whatsoever of mine shall profit you," he thus consecrated all he had to God, and must no longer assist his parents, even if they should solicit support at his hands. The iniquity of this doctrine was yet more glaring; for although an undutiful son might thus relieve himself from supporting his parents, yet if he afterwards repented of his rashness, and wished to supply their necessities, he could not do so; for, according to the “ tradition of the elders," the sacred treasury had a claim upon his substance, in preference to his indigent parents.
Matt. xv. 13. “Every plant.” Every doctrine which (like these traditions) is not sanctioned by divine authority shall be rooted up.
Matt. xv. 24. “ I am not sent but to the lost sheep,” that is, to them in the first instance. The same injunction was given to the Apostles, Matt. x. 6.
Matt. xv. 28. “O woman, great is thy faith.” The conduct of this woman, and our Saviour's approbation of it, supplies an invincible argument in favour of persevering faith and active zeal. Though our prayers and supplications to the Almighty may perhaps appear to us to be disregarded, yet let us learn from this occurrence to persevere in our earnest prayer; and we shall “ reap in due season if we faint not."
Matt. xv. 35. “ And he commanded the multitude
to Matt.se traditioned upot sent but to. The same
The Poor Man's Expositor. to sit down." Here is another instance of the publicity of our Saviour's miracles; four thousand men, besides women and children, were partakers of it, many of whom must have lived long after St. Matthew wrote this account, and could have therefore proved the truth of it. “ While we gladly wonder at this miracle of our Saviour, in multiplying the loaves, let us well reflect upon our own condition."-" If the disciples were fed by the loaves multiplied, and we are fed by grain multiplied in the earth, both are the act of the same God. What is this but a perpetual miracle, which Thou, O God, workest for our preservation ?"-Bishop Hall.
Matt. xvi. 18. “Upon this rock I will build my Church.” It was the glorious confession of St. Peter, viz. “ thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," that was the rock on which the Church of Christ was to be built, and not the apostle himself, as the Romanists erroneously maintain. Upon what weak ground they found their plea of the supremacy and infallibility of their Church, is evident from the fact, that even St. Peter himself, upon whom they say these high dignities were conferred on this occasion, was immediately afterwards sharply rebuked by our Saviour, saying, “ Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men;" (ver. 23.) Dr. Macknight very justly remarks, “ If the Papists rightly attended to this passage of the history, they would see their fancies about the primacy of Peter, which they build upon it, in a better light than they seem to do."
• The gates of hell," that is, the power of death, or destruction, or the terror of persecution. This promise of stability is applied to the universal Church of Christ, and is no security to any particular Church, if her faith or works should be found imperfect before God. Matt. xvi. 19. “ The keys of the kingdom of