« FöregåendeFortsätt »
dread the evil spirit in ourselves; and so believe, as to experience thy power in casting every evil out of us.
19. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out ?
The answer will show us, that if we are unhelped, it is because we neglect the means, and trust in our own strength.
20. And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
It is the same unbelief in us, which obstructs the miracle of our own cure.
“ If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed;" ever so little true faith; or, a living, growing faith, with the power of a seed in it, we shall be able to remove the sin which is as much rooted in us as a mountain is in the earth, and as hard to be removed by our own power.
21. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting
As vigorous exercises of faith, proofs of a steady reliance on God, and powerful means to engage his aid. And will not the same faith and the same lively actings of it, conquer sin, as well as cast out devils ?
22. And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:
23. And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
From their worldliness, and ignorance of the necessity and benefits of that precious death. It is worth our while to observe all along, how dull, earthly, and slow of belief the disciples were ; that considering how great a change was afterwards wrought in them, and by what means it was effected, we may have hope of our own, and fly to the
same power of the Holy Ghost, to have our minds enlightened, our faith increased, and our hearts renewed.
24. And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute-money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute ?
Which all above twenty years old were obliged to pay for the use of the temple, that is, to God; and, therefore, Christ, as his Son, was free.
25. He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, Wisat thinkest thou, Simon ? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute ? of their own children, or of strangers ?
26. Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
“Jesus prevented him." Doubtless, to his great astonishment. Mark it well, and take heed what you think, for all hearts are naked before him.
27. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
He knew his right, and how to make it good; but recedes from it, not without the expense of a miracle, to avoid giving offence. The same peaceable, meek disposition, and desire to promote the spiritual good of others, will teach us, in all like cases, what to do.
Chap. xviii. ver. 1-14.
CHRIST WARNS HIS DISCIPLES TO BE HUMBLE AND
1. At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ?
In his kingdom of worldly power, which they imagined he was come to set up, according to the common expectation of the Jews. And when they put the question contained in this verse, they expected he would tell them, and did not doubt but it would be themselves. The disciples were yet carnal, and earthly-minded; they betray it on all occasions, and prove to us, that whilst we are so, we must think and act accordingly, mistake scripture, and be slow of belief. In his answer he corrects their mistake about the nature of his kingdom ; not directly, but by instructing them, and in them all others, how they must be qualified to enter his kingdom of heaven. Therefore, ask not who is the greatest in it, but learn from this whole passage how you must belong to it, and what you will be when you are in it; always remembering, that your admission into it is of mere grace and favour, and the lowest place in it far beyond your deserts.
2. And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
Observe his manner of teaching, and how sweetly and forcibly he gives a check to their vaiu thoughts.
3. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,
Art thou a wise man, knowest many things, and art full in the pride of reason and self-ability? Beware that this does not keep thee from Christ, and shut thee out of the
kingdom of heaven. The declaration is peremptory. Hear how it runs: Be converted ; turn back to thy childhood, and be the same with Christ now, that thou wast then, in thyself, and with those who had the care of thee, or else there is no hope of salvation.
4. Whosoever therefore shall humble hiinself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever shall be as free from aspiring thoughts, as helpless in himself, and as ready to receive the doctrines of the kingdom, as a little child: “the same is the greatest ;" because he has renounced himself and his own miserable pretensions, no longer stands before God in the confidence of a lie, and gives himself up into the hands of him who alone can make him great, and who makes all great in proportion to the sense they have of their own littleness.
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.
One so qualified, so self-emptied, so humble, so child-like, to help, and encourage him in the ways of Christ, in love to him, and for Christ's sake. “ Receiveth me.” Christ in affection ; Christ in such little child; Christ, with all his benefits.
6. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Whoso shall turn such little one from Christ, or hinder hiin in his progress, by example, persuasion, or ill usage: great is the sin, and sad will be the doom, of all those who oppose Christ, or his work, in any of his servants.
7. Woe unto the world because of offences : for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh !
“Woe unto the world because of offences ;" hindrances, or stumbling-blocks, thrown in the way of others to turn them from the truth. And Christ says, “Woe unto the world,” upon this account, as if it was the general, and most common sin of the world at all times.
« For it must needs be that offences come:” considering the nature of men, prone to evil, and whatever pretences they make to goodness, real baters of godliness, so it will be. But the necessity is of their own making, and for which all such must severely answer. “ But woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.” Observe carefully how the woe is repeated, and what sharpness of expression he useth in the matter; that none of you may ever share in the guilt of hindering, or keeping back, husband or wife, child, servant, or neighbour, when they are in earnest in turning to Christ. But if they are turned aside, by force, or threats, displeasure of friends, loss of means, or suffering of any kind, will this excuse them ? No; it is at their peril; duty must not be given up, conscience must not be stifled, Christ must not be deserted, for any worldly consideration. And, therefore, the advice in the two next verses is for them; to bethink themselves what they will gain by keeping all, and losing their souls.
8. Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee : it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire.
9. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it froin thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
It may be a hard trial to which thou art put, like the cutting off a limb, or plucking out an eye; but put hell in the balance against it.
10. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones ; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always bebold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Christ pleads earnestly for these little ones, and dwells upon the subject; knowing that men are too apt to despise them for the very thing which recommends them to