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had not been able to cast him out. Their faith would not have made it more easy for God to work this miracle, but such was his will; such the way in which he worked miracles, that he required faith in those who were the instruments.
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.
* As a grain of mustard seed.' See note, Matt. xiii. 31, 32. The mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds, but produced the largest of all herbs. The meaning is, if you have increasing, enlarged faith, growing and strengthening from small beginnings, you can perform the most difficult undertaking. There is a principle of vitality in the grain of seed tending to great results, which illustrates the nature of faith. 'Ye shall say unto this mountain,' &c. If they had such faith, they might accomplish the most difficult undertakings-things that at first would appear impossible.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
• This kind' means this kind of devils; this species possession. Where they have had long possession; where they produce such painful, and fixed, and alarming effects.
'Goeth not out but by prayer and fasting'. That is, in order to work miracles of this kind, to cast out devils in cases so obstinate and dreadful as this, faith of the highest kind is necessary.. That faith is produced and kept vigorous by much prayer, and by such abstinence from food as fits the mind for the highest exercises of religion, and leaves it free to hold communion with God.
22 | And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men • See also Mark ix. 30–33. Luke ix. 43–45.
To betray, means to deliver up in a treacherous manner. This was done by Judas Iscariot, called on that account the traitor, Matt. xxvi, 14– 16, 47–50.
23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
See Matt. xii. 40. Mark and Luke add, that they understood not that saying, and it was hid from them, and they were afraid to ask him. They were strongly attached to him, and were exceedingly sorry (Matthew) at any intimation that he was soon to
leave them. They were not willing to believe it. To be beirayed into the hands of his enemies, and put to death, appeared to them to be frustrating all their expectations. Though what he said was plain enough, yet they could not see how he could be the Messiah, and yet be put to death in this manner. Nor did they understand it fully till after his resurrection,
24 | And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute ?
And when they were come to Capernaum.' See note Matt. iv. 13. They that received tribute. In the original this is, they who received the two drachms. The drachm was worth about sevenpence halfpenny of our money. This tribute was paid to the Jewish collectors for the use of the temple service. It was permitted in the law of Moses, (see Ex.xxx. 11–16) that in numbering the people half a shekel should be received of each man for the services of religion. It was devoted to the purchase of animals for the daily sacrifice; wood, flour, salt, incense, &c. for the use of the temple. Two drachms were about equal to half a shekel. • Doth not
tribute ? This tribute was voluntary; and they therefore asked him whether he was in the habit of paying taxes for the support of the temple. Peter replied, that it was his custom to pay all the usual taxes of the nation.
25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What 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.' That is Jesus commenced speaking before Peter, or spoke before Peter had told him what he had said. This implies that though not present with Peter, when he gave the answer, yet Jesus was acquainted with what he had said. 'Prevented. Went before, or preceded. Their own children.' Their sons; the members of their family. 'Or of strangers ?' The word 'strangers' does not mean foreigners, but those who were not their own sons or members of their family. The meaning of this
may be thus expressed : “ Kings do not tax their own sons. This tribute money is taken up for the temple service; that is, the service of my Father. I, therefore, being the Son of God, for whom this is taken up, cannot be lawfully required to pay this tribute."
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 ind a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
• Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them. That is, lest they should think that we despise the temple and its service, and thus provoke needless opposition, it is best to pay it to them. Thou shalt find a piece of money. In the original thou shalt find a stater, a Roman silver coin of the value of four drachms, or one shekel, and of course sufficient to pay the tribute for two, himself and Peter. Here is proof that Jesus was possessed of divine attributes. He knew that in the first fish that came up there would be such a coin, which proved his omniscience. It is by no means strange that a fish should have swallowed a silver coin, such cases have often occurred.
CHAPTER XVIII. 1 AT the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ?
See also Mark ix. 33–41. Luke ix. 46–50. "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? They asked the question because they supposed that Jesus was about to set up a temporal kingdom of great splendour; and they wished to know who should have the principal offices and posts of honour and profit. Mark, ix. 34, informs us that they had had a dispute on this subject in the way. Luke, ix. 47, says that Jesus perceived the thought of their heart: an act implying omniscience, for none can search the heart but God, Jer. xvii. 10. The disciples, conscious that ine subject of their dispute was known, requested Jesus to decide it, Matt. xviii. 1. They were at first silent through shame, (Mark) but perceiving that the subject of their dispute was known, they came, as Matthew states, and referred the matter to him for his opinion.
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 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.
The word converted,' means changed, or turned. It means changed, or turned froin one habit of life, or set of opinions to another, James v. 19. Luke xxii. 32. The phrase, except ye be converted,' does not here imply of necessity that they were not christians before, or had not been born again. It means that their opinions and feelings about the kingdom of the Messiah mus: be changed. They had supposed that he was to be a tempora, prince. And they were ambitiously inquiring who should hold the highest offices. Jesus told them they were wrong in
their views and expectations. No such things would take place, From these notions they must be turned, changed, or converted, or they could have no part in his kingdom. These ideas did nofit at all the nature of nis kingdom. And become as little children.' Children are characteristically humble and teachable. By requiring his disciples to be like them, he did not intend to express any opinion about the native moral character of children, but simply, that in these respects, they should become like them. They should lay aside their ambitious views, and pride, and be willing to оссиру
their proper station-a very lowly one. Mark says, ix. 35, that Jesus, before he placed the little child in the midst of them, told them that, if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. That is, he shall be the most distinguished christian who is the most humble, and who is willing to be esteemed least and last of all.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
' The greatest,' &c. That is, shall be the most eminent christian : shall have most of the true spirit and blessings of religion.
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
And whoso shall receive one such little child.' That is, whoso shall receive and love one with a spirit like this child: humble, meek, unambitious, or as a real christian. ' In my name. As a follower of me; or because he is attached to me. Whoso receives one possessed of my spirit, and who, because he has that spirit, loves him, loves me also. The word 'receive' means to approve, love, or treat with kindness; to aid in the time of need. See Matt. xxv. 35–40.
Mark, ix. 38, and Luke, ix. 49, add a conversation that took place on this occasion, that has been omitted by Matthew. John told him that they had seen one casting out devils in his name, and they forbad him, because he followed not with them. Jesus replied that he should not have been forbidden, for there was no one who worked a miracle in his name that could lightly speak evil of him. That is, though he did not attend them, though he had not joined himself to their society, yet he could not be really opposed to him.
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 offend.' That is, cause to fall, or to sin; or should place any thing in their way to hinder their piety or
happiness. Note, Matt. v. 29. “These little ones.' That is, chris. tians, manifesting the spirit of little children, humble, unambitious, 1 John ii. I, 12, 18, 28. 'It were better for him that a millstone,' &c. Mills anciently were either turned by hand, (note, Matt. xxiv. 41,) or by beasts, chiefly by mules. These latter were of the larger kind; and the original words denote that it was this kind that was intended. This was one mode of capital punishment practised by the Greeks, Syrians, Romans, and by some other surrounding nations. The meaning is, it would be better for him to die, before he had committed the sin.
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. That is, offences will be the cause of woe, or of suffering. Offences, here, mean things that will produce sin: that will cause any to sin, or temptations to induce any to sin. Note, Matt. v. 29. It must needs be, &c. That is, such is the corruption of human nature, inat there will be always some attempting to make others sin; and rejoicing when they have succeeded in causing them to fall.
Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh. He who draws others into sin is awfully guilty. That wickedness must be deeply seated in the heart, which induces any one to attempt to mar the peace, defile the purity, and destroy the souls of others.
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 from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
• If thy hand,' &c. See noies, Matt. v. 29, 30. The meaning of all these instances is the same. Whatever cannot be pursued without leading us into sin, must be abandoned, or the soul must be lost. It is better--to enter into life halt or maimed-or having one eye,' &c. These things are said for the purpose of carry. ing out or making complete the figure, or the representation of cutting off the hands, &c. The meaning is, it is beiter to be saved and go to heaven, without enjoying the things so dear to us, that caused us to sin, than to enjoy them here, and then be lost.
Halt.' Lame. 'Maimed.' With a loss of limbs. 'Into hell fire.' It is implied in all this, that if this is not done, if their