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ferred a primacy, but no supremacy -, a priority of order, but no superiority of degree. As the foreman of a grand inquest has a precedency, but no pre-eminency. Judas is named last, with a brand of infamy set upon him, that he was the traitor, the person that betrayed his Lord and Master. Learn hence, That though the truth of grace be absolutely necessary to a minister's salvation, yet the want of it doth not disannul his office, nor hinder the lawfulness of his ministry: Judas, though a traitor, was yet a lawful minister. Inward holiness is not necessary to render the offices belonging to the ministerial function valid and effectual: Judas preaches Christ as well as the rest, and was not excepted when Christ said, He that receiveth you, receiveth me.
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the wav of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
This was only a temporary prohihition, whilst Christ was here upon earth, the Jews being Christ's own people, of whom he came, and to whom he was promised; the gospel is first preached to them; but afterwards the apostles had a command to teach all nations; and after Christ's ascension, Samaria received the gospel by the preaching of Philip. From the character which Christ gives of the Jews, calling them lost sheep, we learn, 1. That the condition of a people, before brought home to Christ by the ministers of the gospel, is a lost condition; sinners are as lost sheep, wandering and going astray from God, till the ministry of the word finds them. 2. That the great work and office of the ministers of the gospel is to call home, and to bring in, lost sheep unto Jesus Christ the great Shepherd. Go, says he, to the lost sheep, Sfc. Mark, Christ calls the Israelites sheep, though they were not obedient to the voice of their Shepherd, oecause they were God's chosen people; and he calls them the lost sheep, because they were both lost in themselves, and also in great danger of being eventually and finally lost, by the ignorance and wickedness of their spiritual guides.
7 And, as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Observe here, 1. The duty enjoined the apostles in order to the bringing home of lost souls to Christ, and that is, preaching;
As ye go, preach. Note thence, That the plain and persuasive preaching of the gospel, is the special mean appointed by Christ for the salvation of lost sinners. Observe, 2. The doctrine they are enjoined to preach, namely, that the kingdom of heaven is at hand; that is, that the promised Messias was come, and had set up his kingdom in the world, and expected their obedience to his laws. Where note, How that the preaching of John, of Christ, and his apostles, was one and the same; namely, the doctrine of repentance: repent, say they all,/or the kingdom of heaven is at hand; that is, the time of the Messiah's appearing, which has been so long expected, is nowcome.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Here our Saviour empowers his apostles to work miracles for the confirmation of their doctrine; but gives them a charge to work them freely, without making any private advantage to themselves. Where observe, 1. How beneficial the miracles were (which Christ and his apostles wrought) to mankind. Moses' miracles were as great judgments as wonders; but these were beneficent, they delivered men from miseries, from bodily diseases, from the power and malice of evil spirits; they healed the sick, and cast out devds. Observe, 2. That Jesus Christ, to show himself a free Saviour, and that whatever came from him was the effect of free grace, gave his apostles a charge to dispense their power in working miracles freely, without ^noney, and without price.
9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass, in your purses: 10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
This command of Christ was temporary, and extended only to the apostles' first journey, which they were soon to despatch: our Saviour encourages them to trust to God; first for protection; take no staves with you, that is, no striking or smiting staves for your own defence. Preachers must be no strikers, though a walking-staff they might take with them: itinerant preachers might be wearied with travelling, as well as with speaking. Next for provision; he would not have them over-solidtous for that neither; saying, the workman is worthy of his meat. As it is a minister's great duty to trust God for his maintenance; so it is the people's duty to take care for the minister's comfortable subsistence. The labourer is -worthy of his hire, and the morkman is worthy of his meat.
11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there ahide till yc go thence. 12 And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upoD it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15 Verily I say unto von, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and fiomorrha in the day of judgment than for that city.
Our Saviour proceeds to direct his disciples how to manage this their first journey in preaching the gospel: he enjoins them, 1. To observe the rules of decency in their going from one place to another; not like beggars wandering from house to house, but having entered a city, or village, to make inquiry who stood best affected to the gospel, and there turn in. 2. Our Saviour enjoins them civil and religious courtesy towards those whom they applied themselves unto. When ye come into a house, salute it; give it a civil salutation, but especially a christian and spiritual salute, wishing them mercy, grace, and peace. 3. He encourages his apostles in the want of success; if they hear you not, shake off the dust of your feet. This action was emblematical, and signified, That Almighty God would in like manner shake off them, and esteem them no better than the vilest dust. Note, That those who despise the message which the ministers of the gospel bring, shall hereafter find the dust of their feet, and the ashes of their graves, to give a judicial testimony against them in the day of Christ. Wherever the word is preached, 'tis for a testimony against them; for if the dust of a minister's feet bear witness against the despisers of the gospel, their sermons much more. Here Grotius well notes, that the sin of those who reject the gospel must be
a wilful sin, which it was in their power to avoid; because it rendered them obnoxious to greater punishment than Sodom and Gomorrha were to suffer at the day of judgment ; and because committed against greater light, and greater confirmation of the truth: doubtless the higher a people rise under the means of grace, the lower they fall if they miscarry.
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Our Saviour, in this and the following verses, arms his apostles against all the difficulties, dangers, and discouragements, which they might meet with in the course of their ministry: he tells them, hesentthem forth as sheep amongst wolves; intimating thereby unto them, that the enemies of the gospel have as great an inclination, from their malicious nature, to devour and destroy the ministers of Christ, as wolves have from their natural temper to devour sheep: he therefore recommends to them prudence and innocence; be ye wise as serpents, to avoid the world's injuries, and harmless as doves, in not revenging them. The ministers of Christ must not be altogether doves, lest they fall into dangers; nor altogether serpents, lest they endanger others. For as piety without policy is too simple to be safe, so policy without piety is too subtile to bo good. Our Saviour in this text teaches us that wisdom and innocency should dwell together. Offend none by word or example.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues: 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what yc shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
Here our Saviour lets his apostles know, that for their owning him, and preaching his gospel, they should be brought before all sorts of magistrates, and in all kinds of courts: but he advises them, when they are brought before kings and princes, not to bo anxiously thoughtful what they should say; for it should be given them in that hour, what they should answer. Learn hence, That though truth may be opposed, yet truth's defenders should never be ashamed; and rather than they shall want a tongue to plead for it, God himself will prompt them by his Spirit, and suggest such truths to their minds as all their opposers should not be able to gainsay. Yet, note, That Christ doth not here forhid all fore-thoughts what to say, but only distrustful thoughts; that they should not, like orators or advocates, strive to make studied pleas or rhetorical apologies for themselves, since the Spirit would be in their mouths, and give them immediate supplies. Note also, That because Christ here promised his apostles an immediate assistance from the Holy Spirit, how vain the Anabaptists and Quakers are, who by virtue of this promise do now expect the same assistance in prayer and preaching: but they may as well pretend to cast out devils as the apostles did, by virtue of the same assistance which the apostles had; whereas these extraordinary gilts have long ceased.
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child : and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Our Saviour goes on in a farther discovery of the world's hatred and enmity against the gospel, and the preachers of it; and gives all christians in general, and his ministers in particular, to understand, thatsuch . is the enmity of the world against holiness, and the professors of it, that it will overcome and extinguish even the natural affections of the nearest and dearest relations towards each other. Grace teaches us to lay down our lives for the brethren, but corruption teaches a brother to take away the life of a brother; The brother shall deliver the brother to death. Yet observe, Our Saviour comforts his disciples that there will be an end of these sufferings; and assures them, that if their faith and patience did hold out unto the end, they should be saved. This is our comfort, that if our sufferings for Christ end not in our,life-time, they will end with our lives.
23 But when they persecute you
in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come.
Our Saviour here directs his apostles to a prudent care for their own preservation, and allows them to flee in time of persecution; assuring them, that before they had gone through all the cities of the Jews, preaching the gospel, he would certainly come in judgment against Jerusalem, and with severity destroy his own murderers and their persecutors. Learn, That Christ allows his ministers the liberty of flight in time of persecution, that they may preserve their lives for future service. Surely it is no shame to fly, when our Captain commands it, and also practises it, Matt. ii. Christ by his own example has sanctified that state of life unto us, and by his command made it lawful for us.
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his Lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
Our Saviour here teaches all christians, but especially ministers, how unreasonable and absurd it is for them to expect kinder usage from an unkind world than he himself met with. Are we greater, holier, or wiser than he? Why then should we expect better usage then he? Was he hated, persecuted, reviled, murdered, for the holiness of his doctrine and the usefulness of his life? Why then should any of us think strange of the fiery trial, as if some strange thing had befallen them .* 1 Pet . iv 12. Is it notenough that the disciple be m his master, and the servant as his lord, but must he hope to be above him?
26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house-tops.
Christ here exhorts his disciples to a free profession and open publication of the doctrine of the gospel, from this consideration, that whatever they say or do shall be brought to light, proclaimed and published to the world. 1 will make the excellency of your doctrine and the innocency of your lives shine as the light; your integrity in dispensing of it, and patience in suffering for it, shall redound to God's glory and your commendation, at the revelation of your Lord from heaven. As wicked men have cause to fear because their evil deeds shall be made evident, so good men have cause to rejoice because their goodness and good deeds shall be made manifest. Let it be our care to do good, and it shall be Christ's care to discover the goodness which we do, to vindicate itfrommisconstructiou, and set it in its clearest light.
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Observe here the following particulars, 1. An unwarrantable fear condemned; and that is, the sinful, servile, slavish fear of impotent man: Fear not him that can kill the body. 2. An holy, awful, and prudential fear of the omnipotent God commended: Fear him that is able to kill both body and soul. 3. The persons that this duty of fear is recommended to and bound upon— Christ's own disciples, yea, his ministers and ambassadors ; they both may and ought to fear him , not only for his greatness and goodness, but upon the account of his punitive justice; as being able to cast both soul and body into hell, such a fear is not only lawful, but laudable, not only commendable, out commanded, and well becomes the servants of God themselves. This text contains a certain evidence that the soul doth not perish with the body; none are able to kill the soul, but it continues after death in a state of sensihility; it is granted that men can kill the body, but it is denied that they can kill the soul: it is spoken of temporal death; consequently then the soul doth not perish with the body, nor is the soul reduced into an insensible state by the death of the body; nor can the soul be supposed to sleep as the body doth till the resurrection; for an intelligible, thinking, and perceiving being, as the soul is, cannot be deprived of sensation, thought, and perception, any more than it can lose its being: the soul, after the death of the body, being capable of bliss or misery, must continue in a state of sensation.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head arc all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore ; yc are of more value than many sparrows.
Observe here, 1. The doctrine which our Saviour preaches to his disciples: and that is the doctrine of divine provideuce; which concerns itself for the meanest creatures: even the hirds of the air, and the hairs of our head, do fall within the compass of God's protecting care. 2. Here is the use which our Saviour makes of this doctrine; namely, to fortify the spirits of his disciples against all distrustful fears and distracting cares. Learn, That the consideration of the divine care and gracious providence of God over us and ours, ought to antidote our spirits against all distrustful fears whatsoever. If an hair from the head fal Is not to the ground without a providence, much less shall the head itself; if the very excrements of the body, (such are the hairs,) be taken care of by God, surely the more noble parts of the body, and especially the noblest part of ourselves, our souls, shall fall under his particular regard.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shiill deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Observe here, 1. That not to confess Christ, in his account, is to deny him: and to deny him, is to be ashamed of him. 2. That whosoever shall deny, disown, or be ashamed of Christ, either in his person, in his gospel, or in his members, for any fear or favour of man, shall with shame be disowned, and eternally rejected by him at the dreadful judgment of the great day. Christ may be denied three ways; doctrinally, by an erroneous and heretical judgment; verbally, by oral expressions ; vitally, by a wicked and unholy life. But woe to that soul that denies Christ any of these ways!
34 Think not that \ am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 Fori am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughterin-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
We must distinguish here betwixt the intentional aim of Christ's coming, and the accidental event of it. His intentional aim was to propagate and promote peace in the world; but through the corruption of man's nature, the accidental event of his coming is war and division: not that these are the genuine and natural fruits of the gospel, but occasional and accidental only. Note, That the preaching of the gospel, and setting up tlie kingdom of Christ in the world, though it be not the natural cause, yet it is the accidental occasion, of much of that war and tumult, of much of that distraction and confusion, which the world abounds with.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that fmdeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall rind it.
Note here, That by worthiness we are not to understand the meritoriousness of the action, but the qualification of the person. He that cometh to Christ, (that is, will be his disciple,) must, by a deliberate act of the understanding, and well-advised choice of the will, prefer him before all the world, and his dearest relations whatsoever; not that our Saviour by these expressions doth condemn natural love and affection, either to our relations or our own lives, but only regulates and directs it; and shows that our first and chief love must be bestowed upon himself. We may have tender and relenting affections towards our dear relations; but then the consideration of Christ's truth and religion must take place of these; yea, of life itself; nay, when these come in competition, we are to regard them no more than if they were the objects of our liatred. Luke xiv. 26. If any man hate not his father, frc. Learn hence, That all the disciples of Christ should be ready and willing, whenever God calls them to it, to quit all their temporal interests and enjoyments, even life itself, and to submit to any temporal inconvenience, even death itself; and all this willingly, cheerfully, and patiently, rather than disown their relation to Christ, and quit the profession of lus truth and re
ligion. 2. That such as for secular interest, and the preservation of temporal life, do renounce their profession of Christ and his religion, they do not only greatly hazard their temporal life, but expose their eternal life to the greatest danger. He that findeth his life shall lose it, fyc.
40 He that rcceiveth you, receiveth me; and he that rcceiveth me, rcceiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet, in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, He shall in no wise lose his reward.
Here in the close of the chapter, our blessed Saviour encourages his apostles to faithfulness in their office, by assuring them that he should reckon and esteem all the kindness shown to them as done unto himself; and to encourage the world to be kind to his disciples and ministers, he assures them that even a cup of cold water should meet with a liberal reward. How cold is their charity who deny a cup of cold water to the ministers and disciples of Christ! Learn, 1. That there is some special and eminent reward due to the faithful prophets of God above other men. 2. That he that shall entertain a prophet, and do any good office for him, under that name, that is, for his office sake, shall be partaker of that reward. 3. That the least office of love and respect, of kindness and charity, which we show to any of the ministers or members of Jesus Christ for his sake, Christ accounts it as done unto himself, and it shall be rewarded by himself,
CHAP. XI. A ND it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence, to teach and to preach in their cities.
Our blessed Saviour having sent forth his twelve apostles in the foregoing chapter, to plant and propagate the gospel, we find him in this chapter following them himself in that great and necessary work: he departed to teach and to preach in their cities. Christ,