by Thomas Manton
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.—MAT. 9:13.
THESE words are part of Christ's plea for his converse with publicans and sinners, at which the pharisees took offence.
Three answers he maketh:—
1. From their necessity, represented in a proverbial speech: 'The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.'
2. From the end of his commission: 'I came not,' as the doctor of the church, 'to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'
3. Here is a third, suggested in the words read to you, by a saying of the prophet Hosea, chap. 6:6, where a general reason is intimated, that a ceremony of the Levitical law must not hinder a necessary duty of the moral law. Therefore his conversing with them for their edification was not unlawful nor uncomely, for all rituals must give way to morals; and so those laws of not accompanying with a heathen, or an unclean person, were never intended to be a bar to an act of mercy or charity, especially spiritual mercy and charity. And therefore, though they held the publicans profane, and unworthy their conversation (therein also stretching the law), yet Christ, without any breach of decorum, might converse with them for their good; for if acts of mercy and charity are to be preferred before the ceremonies of the worship of God, this act of rescuing and saving a soul is to be preferred before all these ritual restraints of conversation with those who were supposed to be unworthy or legally unclean. And it is notable, these words are brought, not only to vindicate this fact of Christ, but secretly to tax the pharisaical hypocrisy of those who place religion in rituals more than morals. Elsewhere you find Christ at this argument again on another occasion, but to the same end and purpose: Mat. 12:7. When the pharisees frowned because the disciples plucked ears of corn for their necessity on the Sabbath-day: 'If you had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless.' So that this one sentence is notably useful to condemn pharisaism, or, which is all one, close hypocrisy, and withal to set us right in the true religion.
Table of Contents
The Epistle Dedicatory
The Preference of Duties: Morals before Rituals
A Description of the True Circumcision
What Kind of Perfection is Attainable in this Life
A Persuasive to Unity in Things Indifferent
Not to be Offended in Christ, the Ready Way to Blessedness
Wisdom is Justified of her Children
The Faithful Followers of Christ must expect Troubles in this World
The Excellency of Saving Faith
A Wedding Sermon