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thinkest thou, was neighbor to him that fell among the thieves. And he answered: He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him: Go thou and do likewise."
This difference of the Jews with the Samaritans gave occasion to one of the noblest passages in the life of Jesus, whether we consider the exquisite humanity of his conduct, the sublime and glorious truths which he uttered, or the striking predictions which he delivered of the vast changes in the religious condition of the world, which he, then a solitary and weary traveller, was about to accomplish. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of historical painting in all literature.
Soon after he commenced his ministry he had occasion to go from Judea to Galilee, and he must needs pass through Samaria. “ Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore being weary with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Sa. maria to draw water. Jesus saith unto her; Give me to drink. For his disciples were gone unto the city to buy meat. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou being a Jew, askest drink of me which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus an
swered, and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him : Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him; Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go call thy husband and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her; Thou hast well said I have no husband. For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband; in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him; Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her: Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what, we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him; I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ; and when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified ; He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come to him they besought him that he would tarry with them, and he abode there two days. And many believed because of his own word, And said unto the woman: Now we believe not because of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."
What an emphatic rebuke to religious bigotry to the end of time! How odious, how contemptible, does he make that fierce and inhuman spirit to appear! Here were the Jews and Samaritans in near neighborhood of each other, the only nations on earth who worshipped the true God, both believing in the Divine mission of Moses, and both waiting for the same Messiah, yet of all nations bearing to each other the most bitter hatred! How insignificant and mean their sentiments and conduct! “The Jews have no
dealings with the Samaritans !” Why? for any moral delinquency? By no means. One worshipped God in Jerusalem, and the other on Mount Gerizim. But no such sentiment can find a place in the pure and magnanimous bosom of the Saviour! His affections go forth to embrace humanity in every form, and they meet that return which frankness and generosity always receive. The brazen wall of prejudice, which for ages had separated Jew and Samaritan, is melted down, and many Samaritans welcome that Messiah with joy whom the Jews rejected with disdain. O! that Christians were more like Christ, and less like the Jews and Samaritans !
This conversation is interesting on another account, as exhibiting the expectations of the Samaritans with regard to the Messiah. It shows them to have been more just than those of the Jews. They expected him to come and teach them all things with respect to religion. That office he really assumed. They expected him as the Saviour of the world. The Jews expected him as the Saviour of their nation and the destroyer of all others.
The Gospel was preached to the Samaritans by the Evangelist Philip, the next year after the ascension of Christ, with great success.
A small community of them are still found by travellers at the foot of Mount Gerizim at the present day, preserving their ancient religion with all its prejudices. They are said to have the oldest copy of the Pentateuch now extant.
The principal sects which we read of in the New Testament among the Jews, were the Pharisees and Sadducees. We read of no religious sects in the Old Testament, it is said, because there was then prophetic authority for settling all disputes. A more probable reason is, that the nation was not sufficiently advanced in intellectual cultivation to dispute about abstractions. The introduction of the Greek language, learning, and philosophy, by the conquest of Alexander, brought with it investigation, thought, opinion, and of course difference of opinion, in other words, sects and parties. When people think, they will differ. If they are wise and just, this difference will do no harm. But if they are destitute of wisdom and principle, opinion runs into party, and party into violence and persecution. Violence and extravagance on one side, produce equal violence and extravagance on the other, till both are driven to extremes.
Indeed the foundation for religious parties seems to be laid deep in the very elements of human nature. There always has been, and there always will be a division of the religious world into the moderate and the enthusiastic, the scrupulous and the people of common sense, when all the while one party is really, and at heart no better than the other. There are