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if not quite in such close historic connexion as in St. Matthew's Gospel might at first sight appear, yet in closest inner relation to it, our Lord Himself deals with the question, and delivers the weightiest words which on this matter fell from his lips.

We go back then to that preceding discourse, and to the circumstances which gave rise to it. The Pharisees were offended with the disciples for plucking ears of corn and eating them upon the Sabbath. It was not the act itself, as an invasion of other men's property, which offended, for the very law which they stood forward to vindicate had expressly permitted as much : “When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand” (Deut. xxiii. 25); by limitations even slight as this upon an absolute proprietorship God asserting that He was Himself the true proprietor of all the land, and that all other held only of Him. Not then in what they did, but in the day on which they did it, the fault of the disciples, if any, consisted. The Pharisees accuse them to their Lord : • Why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful ?' Either He shall be obliged to confess his followers transgressors of the law; or, defending them, shall become a defender of the transgression ;—in either case a triumph for his foes. So they calculate, but the issue disappoints their calculation (cf. Matt. xxii. 15 22). The Lord seeks in his reply to raise the objectors to a truer point of view from which to contemplate the act of his disciples; and by two examples, and these drawn from that very law which they believed they were asserting, would show them how the law, if it is not to work mischievously, must be spiritually handled and understood.

These examples are derived, one from the Old-Testament history, the other from that temple-service continually going on before their eyes. The first, David's claiming and obtaining the show-bread from the High priest on the occasion of


i See Robinson's Researches, vol. ii. p. 192.

his flight from Saul (1 Sam. xxi. 1-6), might be expected to carry weight with them whom He is seeking to convince, David being for them the great pattern and example of OldTestament holiness : “Will ye affirm that they did wrong, David who in that necessity claimed, or the High priest who gave to him, the holy bread ?' The second example came yet nearer home to the gainsayers, and was more cogent still, being no exceptional case, but one grounded in the very constitution of the Levitical service : ‘Ye do yourselves practically acknowledge it right that the rest of the Sabbath should give place to a higher interest, to the service of the temple ; that, as the lesser, it should be subordinated, and, where needful, offered up to this as the greater. The sacrifices, with all the laborious preparations which they require, do not cease upon the Sabbath (Num. xxviii. 8, 9); all which is needful for completing them is accomplished upon that day; yet no one accounts the priests to be therefore in any true sense violators of the law ;' such they would rather be if they left these things undone.'? And then, lest the Pharisees should retort, or in their hearts make exception, that the work referred to was done in the service of the temple, and was therefore permitted, while there was no such serving of higher interests here, He adds, 'But I say unto you, That in this place is One greater than the temple;' One whom therefore, by still better right, his servants may serve, and be guiltless.3

| Ministerium pellit sabbatum, was a maxim of their own.

* He pursues the same argument John vii. 22, 23. For the sake of circumcision you do yourselves violate the Sabbath. Rather than not keep Moses' commandment that the child be circumcised on the eighth day, you will, if that eighth be a Sabbath, accomplish all the work of circumcision upon it; and in thus making the Sabbath, which is lower, give place to circumcision, which is higher, you have right. But the cures which I accomplish are greater than circumcision itself. That is but receiving the seal of the covenant upon a single member; my cures are a making the entire man (ölog ăv0pwnoc) whole. Shall not the Sabbath then by much better right give place to these works of mine ?'

Theophylact: 'Αλλά λέγεις μοι ότι εκείνοι ιερείς ήσαν, οι δε μαθηται ού. Aéyw oŭv öri toù ispoū ucīšív iori lloc. Cocceius: Hoc argumentum urget contra tacitam exceptionem, nempe, discipulos Christi in agro non in


He contemplates his disciples as already the priests of the New Covenant, of which He is Himself the living Temple.' It was in their needful service and ministration to Him, which left them no leisure regularly to prepare food or to eat, that they were an hungered, and profaned, as their adversaries esteemed it, the Sabbath. But if those who ministered in that temple which was but the shadow of the true, might without fault accomplish on the Sabbath whatsoever was demanded by that ministry of theirs --if, as every man's conscience bore witness, they were blameless in such a profanation of the Sabbath as this, and only seemed to transgress the law that really they might keep it, by how much better right were they free from all blame, who ministered about the Temple not made with hands, the true Tabernacle, which the Lord had pitched and not man !

But it is not enough to absolve his disciples of any fault in this matter; the malignant accusation must not pass without rebuke; these “judges of evil thoughts' shall themselves be judged. But if ye had known what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. If with all their searching into the Scripture, all their busy scrutiny of its letter, they had ever so far entered into the spirit of that law, whereof they pro

templis fecisse opus non sacerdotale. Christus ostendit majorem templo hîc esse, significans se Dominum templi esse, Mal. iii. 1; Jer. xi. 15. Quemadmodum igitur" sacerdotes licite fecerunt opera, quæ pertinebant ad cultum Dei ceremonialem ; ita discipuli Christi licite fecerunt illa quæ necesse erat facere, ut servirent ipsi vero templo et Domino templi. The argument is not affected by admitting urifov instead of weitwr into the text, as Lachmann and the best critical editions bave done: cf. Matt. xii. 42, ίδου πλείον Σολομώντος ώδε. .

1 Augustine (Quæst. xvii. in Matth. qu. 10): Unum exemplum datum regiæ potestatis de David, alterum sacerdotalis de iis qui per ministerium templi sabbatum violant: ut multo minus ad ipsum evulsarum sabbato spicarum crimen pertineat, qui verus rex et verus sacerdos est, ideo Dominus sabbati.

2 Irenæus (Con. Har. iv. 8, 3): Per legis verba suos discipulos excusans, et significans licere sacerdotibus libere agere. Sacerdotes autem sunt omnes Domini Apostoli, qui neque agros neque domos hæréditant hîc, sed semper altari et Deo serviunt.

fessed to be the jealous guardians and faithful interpreters, as to understand the prophet's meaning here, they would not have blamed them in whom no true blame could be found. The citation, not now made for the first time by our Lord (cf. Matt. ix. 13), is from Hosea (vi. 6), and has some ambiguity for an English reader ; which would be avoided by such a rendering as this, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. In these memorable words we have one of those prophetic glimpses of the Gospel, one of those slights cast upon the law even during the times of the law, an example of that ' finding fault' on God's part with that very thing which He had Himself established (Heb. vii. 8), whereby a witness was borne even for them who lived under the law, that it was not the highest, God having some better and higher thing in reserve for his people (Ps. 1. 7-15; Jer. xxxi. 31-34). The prophet of the Old Covenant is here anticipating the great Apostle of the New, saying in other words, but with as distinct a voice, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing' (1 Cor. xiii. 1-3). He is declaring that what God longs for on their part who profess to be servants of his, is not the outward observance, the sacrifice in the letter, but the inward outpouring of love, that wbich the sacrifice' symbolizes, the giving up of self in the self-devotion of love (cf. Heb. x. 5-10; Ps. xl. 6-8; 1. 8–14; li. 16, 17; Jer. vii. 22, 23). This must underlie every outward sacrifice and service which shall have any value in his sight; and when a question arises between the form and the spirit, so that the one can only be preserved by the abandonment of the other, then the form must yield to the life, as the meaner to the more precious. In this spirit those bave acted, and with a true insight into the law of love, as the highest law of all, who in great necessities have sold

1 In the LΧΧ, "Ελεος θέλω, ή θυσίαν, και επίγνωσιν θεού, η ολοκαυτώματα. .


the most sacred vessels of the Church for the redemption of captives, or for the saving, in a time of famine, of lives which otherwise would have perished.

But the application of the words in the present instance still remains unsettled. They might be taken thus: If you had at all known what God desires of men, what service of theirs pleases Him best, you would then have understood that my disciples, who in love and pity for perishing souls had so laboured and toiled as to go without their necessary food, were offering that very thing;' you would have seen that their loving violation was better than other men's cold and heartless fulfilment of the letter of the commandment.' Or else the words may refer more directly to the Pharisees : * If you had understood the service wherein God delights the most, you would have sought to please Him by meekness and by mercy,—by a charitable judgment of your brethren, -by that love out of a pure heart, which to Him is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices (Mark xii. 33), rather than in the way of harsb, severe, and unrighteous censure of your brethren' (Prov. xvii. 15; Isai. v. 23). So Olshausen :2 • This merciful love was just what was wanting in the fault-finding of the Pharisees. It was no true bettering of the disciples which they desired; no pure zeal for the cause of God urged them on. Rather sought they out of envy and an inner bitterness to bring something against the disciples; and, in fact, out of this did, in an apparent zeal for the Lord, persecute the Lord in his disciples. They condemned the guiltless ;'' for the disciples had not out of ennui, for mere pastime's sake, plucked those ears, but out of hunger (ver. 1). Their own they had forsaken, and they hungered now in their labour for the kingdom of God. They

1 Maldonatus : Hoc est quod Apostolos maxime excusabat, quod in prædicando et faciendis miraculis adeo fuissent occupati, ut nec parare cibum nec capere possent.

? So Wolf (Cure, in loc.): Non dubitaverim verba hæc opponi judicio Pharisæorum immiti et rigido, de discipulis tanquam violatoribus sabbati, rato.

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