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Deficiency of the Scribes and Pharisees.

Deficiency of the Scribes and Pharisees.

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Published by glennpease

MATT. V. 20.

Isay Unto you thexcept your righteousness
shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees,
ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of

MATT. V. 20.

Isay Unto you thexcept your righteousness
shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees,
ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of

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Published by: glennpease on Jun 23, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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DEFICIENCY OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES.REV. JOHN VENN, M.AMATT. V. 20.Isay Unto you thexcept your righteousnessshall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees,ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.1 HE example of others may be of material be-nefit to us, if we use it in order to excite a greaterabhorrence of evil, or to animate our ardour inthe pursuit of good. Thus the example of thetransgressing Israelites in the wilderness is setbefore us by the Apostle : " Now these thingswere our examples, to the intent we should notlust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neitherlet us commit fornication, as some of them com-mitted, and fell in one day three and twenty thou-sand. Now all these things happened unto themKIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES, &C. 103for examples ; and they are written for our ad-monition, upon wiiom the ends of the worldare come." On the other hand, the example ispresented to us of those who through faith andpatience have inherited the promises. Their faithAve are exhorted to imitate; and, ''seeing we are en-cornpassed with so great a cloud of witnesses,"we are to " lay aside every weight, and the sinAvhich doth so easily beset us."In allowing, hovvever, that both good and evilexample may be of the highest utility, it is pre-supposed that we fully understand what is evil andwhat is good. This knowledge being obtained, theexperience of others may be made subservient to thepurpose of strengthening our dread of that whichis evil, and our attachment to that vvhich is good.But example is often lamentably misapplied : itbecomes the subject of blind and indiscriminateimitation ; and fallible man is made the standardof faith and practice, instead of the word of God.
This is what our Saviour has forbidden : " Call noman master, for ye have one who is your Masterin heaven." Yet this was the fault of the Jews,and it has been the fault of every age. The Jewslooked to the Scribes and Pharisees as the onlyteachers and models of right. They were there-fore disposed to reply to our Lord, when urginghiore religious strictness than that to which they104 DEFICIENCY OF THEhad been accustomed; " Our Scribes, those whoseoffice it is to teach religion; and our Pharisees,
■whom we reverence as most exemplary persons ;
do not press upon us that inward and spiritualreligion on which you insist." To this objectionour Lord replies in this decisive manner ; What-ever false teachers may affirm, or formal pro-fessors practise, I say unto you, that "except yourrighteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no caseenter into the kingdom of heaven." It is there-fore important,I. To inquire what was the righteousness of theScribes and Pharisees ;II. To shew wherein it was deficient, and inwhat quality and degree we must exceed them ;III. To impress upon our consciences the ab-solute necessity that our righteousness should ex-ceed theirs, if we would enter into the kingdomof heaven.I. Let us inquire what was the righteousnessof the Scribes and Pharisees.The Pharisees professed greater strictness andpurity in religion than the rest of their nation.They had the Law and the Prophets always beforetheir eyes, and considered themselves bound toobserve both the righteousness of the Old Testa^KICHTEOUSiVESS OF THE SCRIBES, &C. 105
ment and the traditions of tlie elders with the mostrigid punctuality.The Pharisees were sound in most of thedoctrinal points of religion. They acknowledgedthe one true God of Israel, and were zealous inendeavouring to make proselytes to the truth. Theybelieved in the resurrection of the dead, and in thedeparture of the soul to a state of happiness ormisery after death.In their observance of the ceremonial parts of the Law, they were not only blameless, but scrupu-lously e.Kact. They paid not merely tithes of allthings usually demanded, but even of the smallestherbs that grew in the garden.In their devotions they were frequent. Theywere constant at the Temple at every hour of prayer ; they fasted often ; and they were suchstrict observers of the Sabbath as to be shocked atour Lord's healing of the sick on that day, whichthey considered as a violation of its sanctity ; and,from the same principle^ we find that they wereoffended at his disciples for rubbing out ears of corn in their hands on the Sabbath-day, as theypassed through a field.With respect to their outward morals also, asfar as they acted according to their profession,they were blameless. And that they were, ingeneral, free from gross and outward sins, is pre-106 DEFICIENCY OF THEsumable from the reputation for religion \vhiclithey possessed : for who could imagine, a societyof openly licentious, intemperate, or dislionest mento be held in esteem as a religious sect? Add tothis, that they seem to have been, in a measure,charitable to the poorj giving alms of that whichthey possessed.,- Such were the Pharisees. And if men are thusfar sound in doctrine, punctual in the performanceof ceremonies, frequent in their acts of devotion,

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