would account for the desire which they felt, to see and to worship the Jewish king. There is mention of a Jewish magician in Acts xiii. 6 : They found a certain sorcerer (uayov, magician), a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus.”

iv. 12. “When Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee.” One does not immediately see why the tidings of John's imprisonment should have caused Jesus to remove out of Judea into Galilee. If, as is commonly thought, he wished to avoid the risk of being himself imprisoned, one should have expected that he would go into any part of Palestine, rather than into that which was subject to Herod's jurisdiction. To obviate this difficulty, the commentator Fritzsche conjectures that, John having been imprisoned, Jesus went into Galilee to supply his place. The imprisonment of John had placed Galilee in darkness : but it was now to see a great light, (see ver. 16). The objection to this interpretation is, that Galilee was not the region in which John had mostly preached, nor therefore which most felt the darkness consequent upon moval. Rettig considers this objection as insuperable, and returns himself to the ordinary interpretation. He urges that Jesus would be exposed to less danger in Galilee than in Judea, even though Galilee was the proper seat of Herod's jurisdiction. If, as Josephus informs us, it was the fear of a popular insurrection which caused Herod to put a stop to the Baptist's preaching, it is clear that, after John's imprisonment, the attention of Herod and his government would be mainly directed to the region in which John had preached, and that Jesus might therefore establish himself more securely in a town of Galilee. Capernaum, where Jesus fixed his residence, was peculiarly eligible, as lying on the borders of two countries which were politically distinct.

his re

lamented (October, p. 640) was introduced many years ago to the English reader by the present Bishop of St. David's-our well-read correspondent had put in a caution, common-place though it be, against the hardihood and frequent irreverence, even where there is nothing directly heterodox, of a very large number of the most learned and able German expositors of Scripture.We leave the consideration of M. J. M.'s criticisms to our other biblical correspondents. Some of them appear to us striking and conclusive; but not so all. With regard to the first, for example, we cannot believe that the “ wise men from the East” were sorcerers;" at least, if they once were, they must have “ burned their books” before they worshipped Christ. Dr. Doddridge thinks, that, among all the hypotheses respecting the Magi, there is not one “so wild” as that they were “learned Jews (as Vander Hard conjectured) who came from the colonies carried away by Shalmenezer and Nebuchadnezzar, as ambassadors in the name of the whole body, to pay their homage to the Messiah, and to congratulate their brethren upon his birth.” Certainly this minute specification is "wild;" but there is nothing wild in supposing that they might be oriental Jews who had read their own prophets, and knew the time of the Messiah's advent approached, and were divinely guided by the appearing of the star in the East. But whether Jews or Gentiles, we think with Doddridge that there were “wise and learned men, who, on account of their applying themselves to the study of natural philosophy (and astronomy) were called Magi." Christ. Observ. No. 36.

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viji. 9. “I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me." According to the ordinary explanation of this passage, the centurion institutes a comparison between himself and Jesus. But Rettig pro. perly observes, that, if this was the centurion's meaning, the words “under authority" appear to be superfluous and out of place : for the centurion, in comparing his own authority with that of Jesus, would rather have kept out of view the circumstance, that the former was only a subordinate authority. To get rid of this difficulty, Rettig endeavours, by the aid of the parallel passage in St. Luke's gospel, (vii. 8), to make the centurion say, not that he was under authority, but that he was in possession of authority. It seems to me that a better answer to the objection may be found, by supposing that the centurion compares his own authority, not with that of Jesus, but with that of the inferior agents who were under the authority of Jesus. He urges that Christ's personal presence was not necessary, that he might by a mere word perform the cure. He illustrates this by a reference to his own position. He himself had a subordinate, which yet was an efficient, authority: hence he infers that Jesus had only to speak the word, and subordinate agents would be at hand, who would provide for the execution of his will. And he intends, I think, to suggest, in an indirect manner, that he himself could undertake that whatever Jesus commanded should be done. “I say to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it." If then any thing was to be done by the centurion's paralytic servant in order to the accomplishment of his cure, the centurion had authority to procure that the injunctions of Jesus should be obeyed.

ix. 16, 17. “ No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment,” &c. In the preceding verses, Jesus had intimated that his disciples could not be expected to fast while he was himself present with them. And here he adds further, that the fastings of John's disciples, as well as those of the Pharisees, belonged to an institution which had passed away. No one (he says) mends an old garment with undressed cloth, or fills old bottles with new wine. He deprecates all intermixture of the new spirit with the ancient forms. In St. Luke's Gospel (ver. 39) it is added, “No man also, having drunk old wine, straightway desireth new : for he saith, the old is better.” Jesus means to say that he would not be displeased, if John's disciples did not yet like the new wine, but preferred that to which they had been more accustomed. This is the explanation which Schleiermacher gives of the passage in his Essay on St. Luke's Gospel.

xi. 12. “From the days of John the Baptist until now the king. dom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” The impatient question which had been proposed to Jesus by the messengers of John the Baptist, leads our Saviour to mention the attempts which had been made to take the kingdom of heaven as it were by storm. An expectation was very generally prevalent among the Jews of our Saviour's time, that the Gentile government would shortly be overpowered by force of arms, and the Messiah's kingdom established in its place. This expectation had been the direct or mediate cause of many insurrections : it was entertained, as a point of faith, by the restless faction of the Zealots. Jesus therefore follows up his rebuke of John's impatience, by warning the people against the zealotistic and disturbing tendencies of the age. To understand the words “from the days of John the Baptist until now," it must be observed not only that John's appearance was simultaneous, or nearly so, with that of the first zealotistic insurgent, the Galilean Judas; but also, and more particularly, that this coincidence was necessary, and not accidental : the epoch at which John declared the kingdom of heaven to be at hand was necessarily the same epoch at which men strove to take possession of it by zealotistic violence. It was a time of movement and anticipated change. “The prophets and the law,” as Jesus proceeds to say in verse 13, “ prophesied until John.” But John's appearance was the signal that the period of prophecy was about to be succeeded by the period of fulfilment. John therefore, as being the first prophet who was also more than a prophet, might properly be regarded by Jesus as the representative of that critical era, in which men's thoughts and feelings were turned into a new direction by their anticipation of the Messiah's near approach.*

xi. 25. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." The word “ answered” shews that there was something immediately precedent which called forth the thanksgiving of Jesus. St. Luke (vii, 29, 30) has told us what this was : “All the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the council of God against themselves.” The latter are “ the wise and prudent,” the former are the “babes."

xii. 5. “ Have ye not read in the law how that on the Sabbath day the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are blameless?" See Numb. xxviii. 9. Here, as on many other occasions, Jesus adds weight to his own sentiments, by adopting, for the expression of them, the language of his adversaries. To do any


the Sabbath day was, according to the Pharisees, a profanation of the Sabbath. Jesus does not dispute with them about the propriety of the term. You term this plucking of the corn a profanation of the Sabbath, and let it be called so if you will : still there is no harm in it: the priests too profane the Sabbath. There is something paradoxical in this assertion. It is obvious that the solemn services of the Jewish temple afforded nothing which was strictly parallel to so trivial an action as that of plucking the ears of corn. But the very remoteness of the analogy adapted it the better for the refutation of a vexatious and frivolous objection. And the same remark will apply to verse 6, where Jesus brings into view a very recondite point of similarity between the Sabbatical services of the priests and that violation of the Sabbath which the Pharisees were now complaining of. The Sabbath-day labours of the priests, which elsewhere would have been unlawful, derived a sanctity from the building in which they were performed. And the place where we now are (says Jesus) is even holier than the Jewish sanctuary. “I say unto you, that in this place is One greater than the temple," or, (which seems to be the preferable reading), “I say unto you, that in this place there is something greater than the temple :" that is, the place is hallowed by the presence of the Messiah himself. It should be

• I have taken this explanation of Kritiken for 1836, which bears the sige the passage from an Essay on Matt. xi. nature of Alexander Schweizer, 12, in the Theologesche Studien und

observed, that Jesus does not so much defend his disciples for pluck. ing the corn, as himself for permitting and authorising it. For the censure of the Pharisees, though addressed immediately to the disciples, was meant to be reflected upon Jesus. And Jesus is quite willing to regard this plucking of the corn as his own act, since it was done by his permission and authority. Hence he defends himself in verse 7, by urging that it was an act of mercy (as proceeding from a consideration of the hunger of his disciples), and that, as such, it was more acceptable to God and this is the explanation of the parodox of verse 5-—than even the sacrifices which the priests offered in the temple. “If," he says, "you had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless ;" you would have understood that by the sacrificial services of the priests the Sabbath is as much, if not more, profaned, than by this plucking of the ears of corn.

M. J. M. (To be concluded in the Appendix.)



To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Ir it may be permitted to one who has enjoyed an extensive knowledge of Dissenters, and their public and private worship, for much more than half a century, to give his testimony upon the question proposed in the Christian Observer for October, page 603, by your correspondent "A Watchman," the following is submitted.

I am not aware of its having been the practice of Dissenting ministers to use the particular phrase, in their intercessory prayers, that God would grant his blessing (or other suitable petition) to “our established and protected churches." In endeavouring to look back, I can only bring to remembrance one minister whom I think to have used the expression ; and, if my recollection be correct of having heard it from him, I infer the probability that it was his general habit.

Thinking it probable that Mr. Henry, whose Presbyterian senti. ments would most likely include the approbation of a Church and State Establishment, might have used the phrase, or some equiva. lent, I have looked into his Method for Prayer, 1715 ; but the nearest approaches that I can discover are in these sentences : “We must pray earnestly...for the continuance of the gospel among us, and the means of grace, and a national profession of Christ's holy religion...for the healing of our unhappy divisions, and the making up of our breaches...for all the ministers of God's holy word and sacra. ments, the masters of assemblies." p. 120, 122, 127.

But it does consist with my ample knowledge that it is the practice (I trust and believe universally) for Dissenting ministers to pray for appropriate blessings upon ALL faithful ministers of the Gospel of every denomination, and for the happiest success of their labours. And this is particularly observable when a clergyman of godly life and evangelical doctrine has recently come into a neighbourhood.

It has also occurred to me to observe, that on occasions which suge gested a reason for praying for the Universities, that subject of intercession has not been neglected. I trust to the candour of your correspondent, in saying that be ought not to be surprised at the absence of the particular phrase by him specified, from the ordinary use of public prayer among Dissenters; for, if the term Established Church be understood, as it commonly is, to denote, not the persons belonging to that communion, but the system of laws and observances which distinguish it from other Christian bodies, consistent Dissenters cannot desire its continuance. Whether they are right or wrong, it is their conscientious persuasion, that the connecting of the church of Christ with the civil government, in that way of dependence and subjection which is undeniably the case in every State church combination, is unworthy of being called an Establishment; and that, on the contrary, it is an unestablishing, a degrading, an enslaving of the church, inconsistent with the principles of Christianity as laid down in the New Testament, and practically operating to the delusion and ruin of the greater part of those who are called the members of the National Church. Dissenters do not wish “to raze our national altar;" but, by peaceable and equitable adjustments, and by no other means, to remove stumbling blocks and occasions to fall, which they are solemnly convinced involve “ aggravated sin against God, and (are] attended with awful peril to the souls of men.'

I thus borrow the “ Watchman's " expressions.

He may assure himself, that this conviction, and these apprehensions, in many minds not strangers to habitual communion with God, arise from no secular and undevout spirit, but from a contrary state of mind and motive. Your correspondent, I doubt not an upright and holy man, mentions Dissenters of former days, whose names are precious Were I not afraid of trespassing too far, I would introduce passages from Owen, Watts, and Doddridge, in justification of the sentiments and practice which he condemns, simply, I am persuaded, because he does not correctly apprehend them. It would be a small sacrifice for the maintenance of truth and fairness in this controversy, if he would read, with equitable attention, Dr. Wardlaw's Lectures upon Church Establishments, which may be had for a shilling. He might perhaps be convinced thereby, that his reflections are founded in misapprehension. If he will not, in this or some other fair way, inform himself, I fear that he cannot escape the guilt of passing unrighteous judgment.


P. S. If you think it better, I am willing that the signature be J. P. S., or even my full name, J. Pye Smith; but would much rather keep the signature written.

* As Dr. Smith's letter relates to the opinions and proceedings of himself and his brethren, we have thought it best to affix his name, as he permits, as the authority for his statements.

We regret that our Dissenting friends should deem it necessary to exculpate themselves from the charge of praying for the churches of England and Scotland, though one it appears was guilty of the offence, but Dr. Smith seems to believe this case to have been solitary. It is remarkable, however, that the phrase used in this instance was the very one quoted by our former corres

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