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§ 249. Christ’s Exposition of the First and Great Commandment. (Mark, xii., 28—34.)

The promptness with which Christ silenced the Pharisees and Sadducees inclined towards him many of the better-minded.669669   So, it the council of Costnitz, when John Huss, the witness for Christ and truth, was condemned by a majority of scribes and priests, there were yet a few among the multitude of better spirit, who were moved by the power of truth in his replies and conduct, and manifested their sympathy. One of these, who felt himself compelled to acknowledge Jesus as a witness of truth, if not as a Messiah, put a question to him in good faith, in order to make known his agreement of sentiment with him:670670   We follow Mark rather than Matthew, who represents the question as put in a hostile spirit. Mark’s description coincides with Luke, xx., 39, where certain of the scribes are represented as expressing their assent to the Saviour’s answers.Which, is the first commandment of all?” And when Christ replied that all the commandments were implied in two “the supreme love of God, and the love of one’s neighbour as one’s self,” he assented with all his heart, declaring that this was, indeed, more than “all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.” Jesus, whose loving heart always welcomed the germs of 363truth and goodness, praised the spirit of the man’s reply, saying, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” And in this he intended no more and no less than the words themselves conveyed. Had he considered an earnest moral striving, such as this man expressed, to be sufficient, he would have acknowledged him as not only near, but in the kingdom of God. He tells him, however, that he is on the way to it, because he was freed from the Pharisaic delusion of the righteousness: of works, and knew the nature of genuine piety; and could, therefore, more readily be convinced of what he still lacked of the spirit of the law, which be so well understood. The conscious need of redemption, thus awakened, would lead him to the only source whence his wants could be supplied.

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