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§ 55. The Conversation with the Samaritan Woman.

We have thus far confined ourselves to Christ’s declarations as given 91by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, avoiding John, because the credibility of his reports of Christ’s discourses has been more disputed. But, having shown the tendency of Christ’s doctrine of the Law from the first Gospels alone, we are surely now entitled to appeal to his conversation with the woman of Samaria (John, iv., 7-30), in which he set forth the Christian view, that religion was no more to be confined to any one place. In fact, the discourse involves no doctrine which cannot be found in Christ’s declarations elsewhere recorded. Perfectly accordant with his declaration to the hostile Pharisees who clamoured so loudly for the ritual law—“the manifestation of the Son of Man is greater than the Temple; and he is Lord of the Sabbath”—was his answer to a woman (ignorant, to be sure, and destitute of a spiritual sense of the Divine, but yet free from prejudice, and susceptible of receiving instruction from him, because she believed him to be a prophet), when she inquired as to the right place to worship God: “The time is coming when the worship of God will be confined to no visible temple for the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” This declaration could only have been founded on the fact that something greater than the Temple had appeared among men.

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