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people. For, if the dust of a minister's feet hear witness against a people, their sermons much more. Observe, lastly, The dreadful judgment denounced by our Saviour against the contemners of his disciples' doctrine: Verity it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city. Where note, 1. That there shall be a day of judgment. 2. That in the day of judgment some sinners shall fare worse than others. 3. That of all sinners, the condition of such shall be saddest at the day of judgment, who, living under the gospel, die alter all in their impenitency and infidelity: It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that city.
13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it shall be rnoTe tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
These cities in Galilee, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, having been the place where Christ preached and wrought his miracles, they have a woe denounced here against them for their contempt of Christ, and the offers of his grace: Woe unto thee, Chorazin, Sec. The higher a people rise under the means, the lower they fall if they miscarry. They that have been nearest to conversion, being not converted, shall have the greatest condemnation when they are judged. Capernaum's sentence will exceed Sodom's for severity, because she excelled Sodom in the enjoyment of. means and mercy. Observe here, 1. Capernaum's privilege enjoyed; She was lifted up to heaven; that is, enjoyed privileges above all other places, namely, the presence, preaching, and miracles of our Saviour. Observe, 2. Capernaum's doom denounced: Thou shalt be thrust down to hell; that is, thy condition shall be sadder than those that never heard of a Saviour; even Tyre and Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah, those rude and barbarous nations, out of the pale of the church, shall be in an easier state and condition, than those that have enjoyed gospel-ordinance*
and church-privileges, but not improved them. Learn hence, 1. That gospel-ordinances enjoyed, are a mighly honour and advancement to the poorest persons and obscurest places: Thou, Capernaum, art exalted to heaven. 2. That gospel-ordinances and church-privileges enjoyed, but not improved, provoke Almighty God to inflict the sorest judgments upon a people: Thou that art exalted to heaven, shatt be thrust down to hell.
16 He that hcareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
Here our Saviour encourages his ministers to faithfulness in their office, by assuring them that he should reckon and esteem all the kindness shown to them, as done unto himself: lie that receiveth you, receiveth me; he that despiseth you, despiseth me. Where note, That all the offices of love and respect, of kindness and charity, which we show to the ministers and members of Christ for his sake, Christ reckons it done unto himself. Note farther, That the contempt of the message and messengers of the gospel runs much higher than men are aware of. They think it no great matter to slight or neglect the messengers of Christ; but verily that contempt flies in the face and authority of Christ himself, who gave them their commission; yea, in the very face of God the Father, who gave Christ his commission: and accordingly they are called God's mouth, Jer. xv. 19. their message and their mission being both from him. Nay, farther, this sin strikes at our own soul's, and we are injurious to them as well as unto Christ; he that despiseth you, despiseth me; yet certainly no age was ever deeper drenched in the guilt of this sin than the present age is.
17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils arc subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Observe here, 1. The seventy disciples return to give Christ an account of the success of their expedition. They return as victors with joy and triumph, showing Christ the trophies of their conquest: Lord, even the devils arc subject unto us through thy name: the weapons of their warfare were not carnal but spiritual, and mighty through Christ; the powers of darkness cannot stand, but must fall before the power of Christ; the devils are no match for Christ, no, not for the meanest of the ministers of Christ, who go forth in his name, armed with his authority and power. Observe, 2. Our Saviour's reply to the seventy disciples upon this occasion: / beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven; a twofold interpretation is given of these words; 1. Some look upon them as a secret rebuke given by our Saviour to the seventy for that excess of joy, and mixture of vainglory, which was found with them, upon the account of those extraordinary gjfls and ahilities of casting out devils, and healing diseases, which were conferred upon them. / beheld Satan, says Christ, falling like lightning from heaven; as if Christ had said, " Take heed of being puft up with pride, upon the account of those endowments which I have bestowed upon you: remember Lucifer the prince of pride, how he fell from heaven by his arrogancy, and labour you to ascend thither by humility." The words in this sense afford this instruction; That those whom Christ has bestowed the greatest measure of spiritual graces, ministerial gifts, and temporal blessings upon, ought to be very watchful against that hateful sin of pride, which has ruined and destroyed so many thousands of angels and men. 2. Some understand this fall of Satan not literally, but figuratively and mystically, of his ruin by the power and preaching of the gospel; as if Christ had said, I know that this is no vain boast of yours, no vaunt nor brag of your value, that devils are conquered by your courage; for when I first sent you forth to preach the gospel, and armed you with divine power, I easily foresaw that the devil's kingdom would shake about his ears, and that his power would be ruined by the power of the gospel, and that wherever you preached, Satan's strength and power would vanish like a flash of lightning, suddenly and irrecoverably. Learn hence, That the powerful and efficacious preaching of the gospel is the special means ordained and appointed by Christ for the ruin and subversion of Satan's kingdom in the world: as the gospel is (he power of God unto salvation to them that believe and obey it; so it is the power of God unto destruction to Satan, and all that fight under his banner against it.
19 Behold, I give Onto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Our Lord finding that his seventy ambassadors had managed their former commission so well, he here enlarged it, adding thereunto a promise of divine protection: Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents, and nothing shall hurt you: as if Christ had said, Go forth again in this armour of power, with which I have girt you, and I warrant you sword-free and shot-free; nothing shall by any means hurt you, neither strength nor stratagem shall overcome you. Neither the power, the presence, nor protection, of God, shall be wanting to any of Christ's ministers or members, who go forth in his strength against the spiritual enemies of their salvation. As we have a promise of power in this text to enable us to resist the devil, so we have a promise of success elsewhere upon our resisting him: Resist the devil and he will fly from you, St. James iv. 7.
20 Notwithstanding, in thi3 rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you ; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
In these words of our Saviour there is something corrective, and something directive? the corrective part lies in the first words, wherein Christ checks the suspected excesses of their joy for victories gained over evil spirits: In this rejoice not: that is, let not your hearts too much overflow with joy upon this occasion. The negative is not absolute, but comparative only. Christ doth not forhid, but only qualify and moderate their joy: That the spirits are subject to you, that is, the devils. Where note, 1. That though the evil angels by their fall have lost their happy condition, yet not their original constitution; their honour, but not their nature: they are spirits still. 2. The subjection of those evil spirits to the power of Christ, is not a free and professed, but an involuntary and imposed subjection, like that of a slave to his lord, whether he will or no. Learn hence, 1. That evil spirits are subject to the power of Christ! not only to his personal, but to his ministerial power. 2. That it is matter of great joy to see evil spirits brought into subjcction by the power of Christ. To seethe evil spirit of pride and contention, of envy and malice, of error and falsehood, of jealousy and self-love, of animosity and division, not only chained but changed; to see not only an unwilling subjection, but a subjection of the will given to Christ; is matter of great joy and unspeakable rejoicing. The directive part of our Saviour's words lies in the latter part of the verse: but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven. There are no literal records in the court of heaven, no pen or ink, paper or parchment; but to be written in heaven, is to have a title to eternal life, and to be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light . Learn, 1. That God has in heaven a book of life; a book written with the golden rays and beams of his own eternal love. Observe, 2. That there are names written in this book. 3. That persons may know that their names are written in that book, otherwise they could not rejoice, for no man can rejoice in an unknown good. 4. That it is greater matter of joy and rejoicing to know that our names are written in heaven, than to have a power to cast out devils here on earth. A man may have power to cast forth devils out of others, and yet at the same time the devil may have power in and over himself: Therefore in this rejoice not, that the devils are subject unto -you, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven. If you say, With what spectacles shall we read that at such a distance? Who will ascend up into heaven to see whether his name be written there? or who can send a messenger thither to search the records? I answer, Turn thine eyes inward: if the name of God be written in thy heart, thy name is certainly written in heaven; if you in your daily actions write out a copy of God's book (the blessed Bible) here below, assure yourselves the hand of God has written your names in his book above; that is, you shall certainly be saved.
21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. 22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man know
eth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
Here we find our Saviour glorifying his Father, and magnifying himself. 1. He glorifies his Father for the wise and free dispensation of his gospel-grace to the meanest and most ignorant persons, whilst the great and learned men of the world undervalued and despised it: / thank thee, Father, that thou hast revealed these things to babes. Learn hence, 1. That till God reveals himself, his nature and will, no man can know either what he is, or what he requires: Thou hast revealed. 2. That the wise and knowing men in the world have in all ages despised the mysteries of the gospel, and having therefore been judicially blinded by God: Thou hast hid these thingsfrom the wise and prudent. When men shut their eyes against the clearest light, and say, they will not see, God closes their eyes, and says, they shall not see. 3. That the most ignorant, if humble, and desirous of spiritual illumination, are in the readiest disposition to receive and embrace the gospel revelation: Thou hast revealed them unto babes. 4. That this is not more pleasing to Christ than it is the pleasure of his Father: Even so, Father, for to it seemed good in thy sight. Observe, 2. Our Saviour magnifies himself, 1. His authority and commission: All things are delivered unto me; that is, all power is committed to me as mediator from God the Father. 2. His office to reveal his Father's will to a lost world: No man knoweth the Father, but the Son, or the Son but the Father; that is, no man knoweth their essence and nature, their will and pleasure, their counsel and consent, their mutual compact and agreement betwixt themselves, for saving a lost world, but only themselves, and those to whom they have revealed it. Learn thence, That all saving knowledge of God is in, by, and through Christ; he, as the great prophet of his church, reveals unto us the mind and will of God for our salvation: None knoweth but he to whom the Son rcvealcth.
23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24 For I tell you, that manv prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
From the very first giving out of the proraise of Christ to Adam after the fall, Gen. iii. 15. there was in all good men a longing desire and expectation to see that person who should be so great a blessing to mankind. Prophets and kings desired to see the promised Messiah. Now, says our Saviour to his disciples, Blessed are you, for you have seen with the eyes of your body what others only saw with the eyes of their mind; with your bodily eyes you have seen the promised Messias coming in the flesh, and also the miracles to confirm you that I am he, have been wrought before your eyes; therefore blessed are the eyes of your body, which have beheld me corporally; and blessed also are the eyes of your mind, which have beheld me spiritually. A sight of Christ by a believing eye, much more by a glorified eye, is a blessed sight. Blessed are those eyes which see Christ in his dispensations of glory hereafter.
25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Here we have a lawyer, that is, an interpreter and expounder of the law of Moses, tempting our Saviour; that is, making a trial of him, whether he would deliver any doctrine contrary to the law of Moses; he propounds therefore a question, What he should do to inherit eternal life? Where note, he believed the certainty of a future state. 2. He professes his desire of an eternal happiness in that state. 3. He declares his readiness to do something in order to the obtaining of that happiness. Hence learn, That all religion, both natural and revealed, teaches men that good works are necessary to salvation, or that something
must be done by them who desire to enter
into life: What shall I do to inherit eternal life .* It is not talking well, and professing well, but doing well, that entitles us to heaven and eternal salvation; and this the very light of nature teaches. Observe, 2. Our Saviour's answer: What is vritten in the law? how readest thou .* Intimating to us, that the word and law cf God is the rule and measure of our duty; our guide to direct us in the way to eternal life. The man replies, That the law of God requires that we love God with all our heart, soul, and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves. Where note, 1. That the fervour of all our affections, and particularly the supremacy of our love, is required by God as his right and due. Love must pass through and possess all the powers and faculties of our souls. The mind must meditate upon God, the will must choose and embrace him, the affections must take complacency and delight in him, the measure of loving God is to love him without measure. Note, 2. That the best evidence of our sincere love to God is, the unfeigned love of our neighbour: love to nan is both a fruit and testimony of our love to God. For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can be love God whom he hath not seen? Note, 3. That as it is every man's duty to love himself, so is he to love his neighbour as himself; not as he does love himself, but as be ought to love himself; not with the same measure and degree of love, but in the same manner and kind of love that we love ourselves. Do we love ourselves freely and readily, sincerely and unfeignedly, tenderly and compassionately, constantly and perseveringly > so should we love our neighbour also. Though we are not required to lore our neighbour as much as we love ourselves, yet are we commanded to love him like as we love ourselves. Observe lastly, Our Lord's reply: Thou hast answered right. This do, and thou shalt live. Where note, That Christ intimates to him, that the law considered in itself could give life, but then a person must keep it perfectly and exactly, without the least deficiency; which is impossible to man in his fallen state; for the law is not weak to us, but we are weak to that, Rom. viii. 3. the law becomes weak through the weakness of our flesh. Such as seek salvation by the worts of the law, must keep the law perfectly and exactly; which being impossible in our fallen estate, Christ has obtained of his Father, that for his sake our sincere, though imperfect obedience, shall And acceptance with God and be available to our salvation.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, w hen he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 3d And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him: and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
The design of our Saviour in this parable is to convince the lawyer, who put that question to him, Who is my neighbour? v. 29. that every one is, and ought to be, accounted our neighbour, to whom God affords us an opportunity of doing good; contrary to the strait notion of the Pharisees, that by the word neighbour, understood friends and kinsfolk, brethren by blood, neighbours by hahitation, and persons of the same religion. Our Saviour by this parable taught him, that even strangers and professed enemies, every one that needed our help and relief, is to be accounted our neighbour. To convince him
hereof, Christ propounds this parable of a Jew that fell among thieves, who was neglected by his own countrymen, but relieved by a Samaritan, who, though a professed enemy upon the score of religion, yet was so exceeding kind and charitable, that he became physician, surgeon, and host, and a real neighbour to the unknown traveller wounded by thieves in his journey to Jericho. From the whole learn, 1. That every person in misery is the object of our mercy, our neighbour, and capable of our charity. 2. That no difference in religion, much less in some doubtful opinion, will excuse us from exercising acts of charity and compassion towards such as are really in want, and need our assistance. Our holy and merciful religion makes all persons the object of our compassion, who are indigent and helpless; though they be strangers and foreigners, heathens or hereties, friends or enemies; yea, be they good or bad, holy or wicked, as we have opportunity we must do good unto all; and imitate the example of our merciful God, -who is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. 3. That real charity is an active operative thing; it consists not in good words given to the distressed, nor in compassionate beholding of them, nor in a pitiful mourning over them, but in positive acts of kindness towards them. The Samaritan here is an example of a real and thorough charity ; he turns his face towards the forlorn man, his feet hasten to him, his hand pours in wine and oil into his wounds, after which he set him upon his own beast, brings him to the inn, stays with him all night; and the next day, because his recovery would be a work of time and expence, he leaves him, but first leaves money with the host, and a special charge to take care of him; with a punctual promise that whatever was expended more should he repaid. Behold here an instance and pattern of a complete charity, managed with as much discretion as compassion: well might our Lord say to this person, and in him to every one of us, Go, and do thou likewise.
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
Observe here, 1. The great work and business of our Saviour's life: it was to go