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traordinary piety; such as was not content to conform itself merely to the letter of the law, but sought, for its direction, a higher and more difficult rule. They measured the worth of their religion by the multitude of its outward observances, however empty and idle most of them might be, and fancied themselves more righteous than others in proportion as they outstripped them in the mere show of devotion; though beneath it might be nothing but hyyocrisy and pride. It was not strange, accordingly, that hypocrisy and pride should actually characterise the sect, and that, since they looked upon mere external rites and appearances, such as strike the attention of the world, as having in themselves the nature of righteousness and highest merit, they should indulge the most selfish passions, always so conge nial to the human heart, even while they seemed to others and to themselves to be continual patterns of the most rigorous piety. The religion which they used, though in many respects it was severe and hard to be complied with, had nevertheless two attractions which would have made it welcome to the carnal mind, if it had been attended with yet far more difficulty: it was in its whole nature ostentatious, and adapted to secure worldly admiration for the gratification of pride; and it was at the same time highly self-righteous, elevating the man to whom it belonged, according to its own representation, to the highest degree of earthly holiness; and giving him assurance, on account of his merit in this respect, of the most unbounded favour of God-all, too, without any restraint upon the inward man, which might still rankle with all manner of corruption like the cavern of a whited sepulchre, and without any regard to the weightier matters of the law, such as judgment, mercy, and faith, which might still be disregarded with contempt, and wantonly trampled under foot. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that the Pharisees-though they distinguished themselves from others as more excellent and holy than they, and were looked upon by the world as the most righteous of the earth-though they made many long prayers in the Synagogues and in the streets-though they fasted with a sad countenance on the second and fifth days of every week-though they washed with the most scrupalous care day after day, and were so afraid of being con

taminated, that they would not so much as eat with Gentiles and those whom they counted sinners, such as publicans and harlots-though they paid tythes of all they possessed, so carefully that not even the smallest garden herbs, mint, anise, and cummin, were neglected-though they affected the most rigid respect to the sabbath, and to every form of worship in the temple and the synagogue-though they made the border-fringes of their garments large and their phylacteries broad in token of their piety-and though they professed the greatest veneration for the ancient prophets, and builded the tombs and garnished the sepulchres of the righteous dead-it is not to be wondered at, I say, that the Pharisees, with all this show of religion, were full of the most worldly spirit, and under the dominion of the most shameful principles-that they prayed and fasted and did all their deeds of piety to be seen of men-that they courted every sort of distinction, the uppermost rooms at feasts, the chief seats in the synagogue, and respectful greetings and titles of honour in public places-that they neglected in a great measure altogether the practice of the highest moral virtues-and that many of them indulged all manner of secret iniquity in their hearts, and under the cloak of extraordinary piety were full of the vilest extortion and excess ;-while yet, all the time, they were blinded to the hollow worthlessness of their character, and really imagined, that, on account of their multiplied duties of outward religion, and the strictness of their formality, they stood high in the favour of Heaven as truly as they procured for themselves the admiration and applause of men. (Matt. vi. 1, 2, 5, 16. xii. 1—14, xiii. 1—14. xxiii. 1-31. Luke xviii. 9-14.) We are not to suppose, however, that all who belonged to the sect were thus egregiously inconsistent and hypocritical; though the general body was undoubtedly corrupt, there were not wanting in it persons of truly excellent and upright character, whose principles of virtue were laid upon a deeper foundation, and whose morality acknowledged a more enlightened and comprehensive rule.

Though we are told that those of them who occupied the seat of Moses, and undertook to explain the duties of religion, used to inculcate a more difficult and laborious

lesson than they were willing themselves to practise, binding heavy burdens on other men's shoulders to which they refused to apply one of their own fingers, (Matt. xxiii. 2-4,) it is yet certain, that, according to their own system of righteousness, which made the reality and merit of religion to consist especially in outward observances, the Pharisees, as a sect, were remarkably strict and severe. They are styled by the apostle Paul, the most straitest sect of the Jewish religion; (Acts xxvi. 5;) and the occasional notices, that are scattered through the gospels, of their minute and careful attention to the wearisome and burdensome forms of their own superstition, are enough to convince us that the character which they had in this respect, was not without reason in their general manner of life. That they had much of a certain sort of righteousness, which, though false and hollow in the eye of God, was nevertheless wrought out with exceedingly great care and pains, far surpassing the common diligence of men in this matter, is intimated also in that declaration of our Lord; I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven. (Matt. v. 20.) The reputation and influence which they acquired by reason of this eminent character for religion, was very great, and made them altogether the most powerful party in the state-an advantage which their pride and ambition were ever prone to abuse, and which was actually employed, from time to time, only to disturb the order and tranquillity of the country.

But while the religion of this sect professed to take for itself the strictest rule, and affected to do even more than the letter of the written law required, it not only gave indulgence to the worst feelings and passions of the heart, as we have already noticed, but proceeded also to pervert the true meaning of the word of God, and to erect a different standard of morality, less at variance with the natural temper of the human mind. Thus, as it added to the truth of Heaven in one quarter, it secretly took away from it in another; loading it with the dreams of a self-righteous superstition, while it sought to strip it of its native spirituality and power, in order that it might seem to ac

cord completely with that defective and carnal, though highly imposing scheme of piety which they held up to the admiration of the world. In some cases, they perverted the spirit of Scripture, by exalting mere civil statutes into the place of moral rules, or insisting, that whatever the law of Moses allowed must needs be in its own nature right and safe, under all circumstances; not making a proper discrimination between principles of public government, and principles of private morality; and forgetting that without a continual miracle exerted to control the minds of men, some things must be permitted, on account of the hardness of the people's hearts, in the constitution of every civil society, which are not in themselves proper, nor may at all be adopted as safe maxims for individual conduct. In this way, they derived some countenance from the Bible to maxims that were selfish and unjust, and contrary to the whole general tenor of the Scriptures. (Matt. v. 31-42. xix. 3-9.) At other times, they adhered too closely to the very letter of the law, or rather attached to the letter too narrow a sense, which was altogether at variance with its true spirit. Thus they limited the obligation of the law, which required them to love every man his neighbour, to the narrow compass of their own friends around them, or at least their own people, and considered themselves at liberty to despise others, and to hate their enemies, as much as they pleased. (Matt. v. 43, 44. Lukc x. 29-37.) By attaching, also, an undue importance to ceremonial precepts and outward observances, or looking upon them as if they comprehended the greatest piety in their mere forms, they lost sight, in many cases, of true morality; and brought themselves to be indifferent about that spiritual service which the Lord requires in all who worship him, and without which the most diligent and laborious show of religion can have no worth whatever in his sight. In this way they verified, in a remarkable manner, the old proverb which we find applied to them by our Saviour: Blind guides! which strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel! They made clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but gave themselves no concern about the much more serious defilement that lodged within; so that, while it was counted a sin of dark enormity to

neglect an appointed washing of the hands, anger and malice, and every impure affection were allowed and indulged with little or no sense of their offensive nature; and it was even taught, that the commandments of God had respect only to the grosser forms of the evils they condemned, as if the secret workings of the soul came not equally under the eye of the Almighty, or the fountains of iniquity might have less odiousness in his sight than the streams that carried their pollution abroad. (Matt. v. 21— 24. 27-30. xii. 7. xv. 1-14. Luke vi. 7-11.)

Though all the Pharisees maintained a general feeling of regard for each other, as members of one and the same sect, they were not at the same time without differences of sentiment and practice among themselves, such as divided them into various subordinate parties. Tradition tells us, that there were as many as seven regular classes of them, which were distinguished from each other with no inconsiderable unlikeness, and aimed at very various degrees of perfection. Mention has already been made, in a different part of this work, of the Galileans, who sprung, in a great measure, out of this sect about the twelfth year of our Saviour's life: they became a separate sect, distinguished more for their notions about government, or rather for their violence in urging into practice the general notion of the Pharisees on this subject, than for any thing else.



ACCORDING to the common account of its origin, this sect took its rise between two and three hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ. It derived its name, it is said, from one Sadoc, a disciple of one of the most celebrated teachers of the age, who fell into, what became afterwards, its principal error, by mistaking, or abusing, the sense of a particular doctrine inculcated by his master. That distinguished man had taught, that the service of God, and the practice of virtue, ought to be disinterested, as being in

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