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Chap. xii. ver. 14—21.
CHRIST APPEALS TO THE SCRIPTURE,
14. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
Doubtless you think that this was very hard and unjust, Are you sure you have no secret ill-will to him? Is there nothing in his doctrine that you think bears too hard upon you? If so, your will is to destroy him.
15. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew bimself from thence : and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all ;
Jesus would make the best use of the short time he had upon earth, and therefore withdrew himself, and not for fear of anything they could do to him, for he came into the world to die by their hands. To what purpose do we read the close of this verse, if we go without healing from Christ ? Let us come to the point; either we want him for our souls, or we do not.
16. And charged them that they should not make him known:
According to what follows, to avoid popularity; which was contrary to the meekness of his nature, and the humble character he had assumed. What poor ground of self-exaltation is all eminence in man, compared with his! And what will mortify our pride, if this does not ?
17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
18. Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased :
God has chosen him to make all others his chosen servants, and show them the way of being so! God is well pleased with all others, only as being in him, members of his body, and following his pattern.
18. I will put my spirit upon him,
Without which, as to his human nature, he could not have been his chosen servant, and the beloved of his soul.
18. And he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
That justice, or righteousness, by which they shall be his people in common with the Jews, and acquitted in judgment.
19. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
Notwithstanding the provocation of his enemies, and the encouragement he had from the popular favour, to be loud in his own vindication.
20. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking fax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
“ A bruised reed shall he not break,” but strengthen and bind it up. Let us not be content with our weakness; but feel it, and seek to him for strength. “ And smoking flax shall he not quench.” If there is the least spark of a true life, he will blow it up into a flame. But be sincere with him; let us put ourselves into his hands, nor quench our little spark, or let it die away, by taking ourselves from him. “ Till he send forth judgment unto victory.” By overcoming all opposition to him in our souls, and getting the victory in judgment over the enemies of our souls. He, He must do this. O blessed Jesus, do it in us !
21. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
In his teaching, illumination, grace, and power, for wisdom, righteousness, and strength ; never in themselves. The sacred writers knew what they said, or rather had their words given them. Trusting in his name, would have been a very improper expression, if nothing more had been meant by it than barely receiving him as a lawgiver, or teacher of morality, and professing his doctrine. It was never said of Socrates or Plato, or any other man, that their disciples trusted in their names.
Chap. xii. ver. 22–37.
A DEVIL CAST OUT BY CHRIST.
22. Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb; and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
23. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David ?
24. But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
Take notice that the Pharisees, persons of learning and superior attainments, stand recorded as instances of the blindness, stubborn pride, and great perverseness of man's heart, when it is not brought under the divine teaching and divine power. Nothing could be more absurd and weak than their pretension that Christ cast out devils by the power of the devil, and yet, with all their wisdom, they were not ashamed to allege it as the ground of their standing out against him.
25. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said uuto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand :
26. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand ?
27. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out ? therefore they shall be your judges.
He observes this to show, that what they reproached him with, was merely the effect of their malice, since they did not reason thus in other instances of the like nature. It appears from hence, that some amongst the Jews attempted to cast out devils, and sometimes with success.
28. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Just so far unto, and in, every man, as the devil with his works is cast out.
29. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man ? and then he will spoil his house.
Who is the strong man in us but the devil ? And who can bind, or turn him out of possession but Christ? We are now reading of him, that we may know this and fly to his power.
30, He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
There must be no halting with Christ; therefore, think where you are, on his side, or the devil's ; and whether you are with him in heart, will, and affection, or opposing his work in your own hearts and the world.
31. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
That is, ascribing Christ's miracles, which were wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost, to the devil. But could not this also be forgiven them upon their repentance? I suppose the meaning is, that it was such a degree of wilful blindness, obstinate unbelief, and opposition to Christ, and such a stumbling block thrown in the way of others, as would provoke God to withdraw his grace from them, and could hardly ever be repented of: “though no sin or blasphemy could be forgiven without repentance.
32. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him : but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Whoso speaketh against the Son of man, in his state of humiliation, and as considered in himself, “it shall be forgiven him," upon his repentance ; great as it is, and for the sake of that very Son of man against whom he speaketh.
In speaking against the Holy Ghost he rejects his help, and, being left to himself, must inevitably perish.
33. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good ; or else inake the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt : for the tree is known by his fruit.
With respect to Christ, the goodness of the tree and its fruits, was evidenced by his doctrine, life, and miracles; with respect to themselves, their malevolent speeches against him were sufficient indications of an evil root and an evil nature.
34. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things ? for out of the abundance of the heart the inouth speaketh.
Were they excusable because they could not? So we are apt to think. But nothing will excuse the evil that is in us; and, therefore, it is a plain intimation that the nature from which it springs must, of all necessity, be changed.
35. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bring. eth forth evil things.
36. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
All spiteful, reviling words, which are here under consideration, and not every merely unprofitable word; for some such are unavoidable in the best of men. However, a well-disposed mind will take occasion from hence to incline as much as may be to the safer side.
37. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
For the reason before given, because such as they are, such is the inward ground of the heart.