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12. And from the days of John, &c. "With the ministry of John the New Testament dispensation began to be introduced, and the kingdom of heaven' to be preached: and whilst the careless, the formal, the moral, and the learned in general, disregarded it, persons of the worst characters (who might previously have been expected violently to have plundered men's houses) with great earnestness sought admission into the Messiah's kingdom; so that it seemed to suffer violence, and the violent seized it by force; and they who were supposed to have the least right to these blessings, obtained possession of them,-while the scribes, Pharisees, priests, and rulers, who considered the benefits of the Messiah's coming as their own inalienable inheritance, were excluded, and the publicans and harlots entered before them." See Luke vii. 28-30.
14 And if ye
He that hath
13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
m Mal. iv, 6. n Mal. iv. 5; Chap. xvii. 12; Luke i. 17. o Chap. xiii. 9; Luke viii. 8; Rev. ii. 7, 11, 17, 29, iii. 6, 13, 22.
13. All the prophets, &c. The coming of the Messiah formed the great theme of the prophets. In the Law, the same event was foreshadowed by a great variety of significant types. They foretold that event as future. With the mission of the Baptist the Gospel dispensation commenced. "John declared the Messiah as at hand, and even pointed him out as already come. And, if the people would receive and believe this open declaration, John was indeed the very person who had been predicted under the name of Elijah, as sent to prepare the way of the Messiah. This information highly concerned all men; and every one who was capable of hearing, was bound to listen to it, as a truth immediately connected with his duty and happiness."
But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
p Luke vii. 31. 9 Chap. ix. 10. r Luke vii. 35.
16-19. But whereunto shall I liken, &c. Our Saviour in these verses exposes the inconsistency and perversity of the Jews. He does so by employing an expressive similitude. He compares them to children out of temper, who refuse to attend to, and be captivated by, any attempts made by their companions to please them, and allure them to join in those diversions for which they were met together. The first attempt to win them was by piping a cheerful tune. It would not dothey remained sullen and obstinate. They changed their mode of address, and piped a mournful air, as better suited to their sour humour. This also was unsuccessful-they still remained obstinate and unsocial. Various means were employed by our Lord to win sinners to repentance, and induce them to become partakers of the blessings of the Gospel. His forerunner came in one way, and he himself in another. John appeared in the wilderness, clothed in camel's hair, and feeding upon locusts and wild honey; he was austere in his manners, and mixed little in society, and of him they said, "He hath a devil," he is actuated by a bad spirit, is strange, sullen, irregular, and cannot be a good man. The Son of man came eating and drinking. Our Lord manifested no peculiar austerity, he partook of those things set before him. The Saviour of sinners, he despised not the chief of sinners, but went amongst them to preach the Gospel, and press upon their acceptance the offer of eternal salvation through faith on his name. Instead of being attracted and won by the condescension and kindness of his manner, they maligned him, and said, "Behold a man gluttonous, a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.' But Wisdom is justified of her children, Those who are the children of God, waiting upon the leadings of his holy providence, will have much insight into them, perceive the reasons of them, and be able to explain and defend them. When this insight is in any case withheld, when any of the ways of the Lord are hidden in darkness, they will patiently wait till light dawns upon them; and in the meantime, from past experience of his love and mercy, and present confidence in him, they will approve of, and acquiesce in, and adore them all.
20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
s Luke x. 13.
20. Then began he to upbraid, &c. That is, to reprove, rebuke, or denounce heavy judgment. After having pronounced rebuke, and threatened judgment upon the unbelieving Jews in general, our Lord proceeded to specify some of the cities in which he had wrought many miracles, in confirmation of his doctrines, and whose inhabitants still remained impenitent, as the subjects of severe retribution.
21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago 'in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, "It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
t Jonah iii. 7, 8, u Chap. x. 15, ver. 24.
21. Chorazin and Bethsaida. These were towns not far from Capernaum, but their precise situation is unknown. Bethsaida means literally a house of hunting or of game, and it was probably situated on the banks of the sea of Galilee, and supported itself by hunting or fishing. It was the residence of Philip, Andrew, and Peter. John i. 44. Tyre and Sidon. These were cities of Phoenicia, formerly very opulent, and distinguished for merchandise. They were situated on the shore of the Mediterranean sea, and were on the western part of Judea. They were, therefore, well known to the Jews. Tyre is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament as being the place through which Solomon derived many of the materials for building the temple. 2 Chron. ii. 11-16. It was also a place against which one of the most important and pointed prophecies of Isaiah was directed. Isa. xxiii. Both these cities were very ancient. Sidon was situated within the bounds of the tribe of Asher. Josh. xix. 28. It was famous for its great trade and navigation. Its inhabitants were the first remarkable merchants in the world, and were much celebrated for their luxury. In the time of our Saviour it was probably a city of much splendour, and extensive commerce. It is now called Seide, or Saide. It was subdued successively by the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romansthe latter of whom deprived it of its freedom.
Tyre was situated about 20 miles south of Sidon. It was built partly on a small island, about 70 paces from the shore, and partly on the mainland. It was a city of great extent, splendour, and extensive commerce. It abounded in luxury and wickedness. It was often besieged. It held out against Shalmanezer five years, and was taken by Nebuchadnezzar after a siege of thirteen years. It was afterwards rebuilt, and was at length taken by Alexander the Great, after a most obstinate siege of five months. There are no signs now of the ancient city. It is the residence only of a few miserable fishermen, and contains, amidst the ruins of its former magnificence, only a few huts. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel,-Thou shalt be built no more; though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again (xxvi. 21). ¶ In sackcloth and ashes. Sackcloth was a coarse cloth, like canvass, used for the dress of the poor, and for the more common articles of domestic economy. It was worn also as a sign of mourning. The meaning is, that they would have repented with expressions of deep sorrow. Like Nineveh, they would have seen their guilt and danger, and would have turned from their iniquity.
23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 But I say unto you, 'That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
* See Isa. xiv. 13; Lam. ii. 1. y Chap. x. 15.
23. And thou Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven. An expression denoting singularly great privileges. In this city our Lord spent much of his time and put forth much exertion, in the earlier stages of his ministry. In Capernaum and its neighbourhood many of the most remarkable manifestations of his divine power in working miracles had been displayed. The guilt and condemnation of its wicked inhabitants were greatly aggravated by the privileges they had enjoyed. If the mighty works—had been done in Sodom. Sodom was destroyed on account of its great wicked
ness; but our Lord, who knows all things, declares, that if his mighty works had been done there, they would have repented, and consequently, the city would not have been destroyed. The doom of Sodom shall be less terrible in the day of judgment than that of Capernaum. "It is probable, that many inhabitants of these favoured cities professed to believe in Christ; yet they did not repent, and do works meet for repentance; and our Lord, by upbraiding them for not repenting, emphatically showed the inefficacy of an impenitent faith."
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
z Luke x. 21.
a See Ps. viii. 2; 1 Cor. i. 19, 27, ii. 8; 2 Cor. iii. 14.
b Chap. xvi. 17.
25, 26. From the wise and prudent. That is, from those who thought themselves wise—wise, according to the world's estimation of wisdom-the men of philosophy, and self-conceit, and science, falsely so called. 1 Cor. i. 26, 27. Hast revealed them unto babes. To the poor, ignorant, and obscure ; the teachable, simple, and humble. Such as his disciples were. He had reference here, probably, to the proud and haughty scribes and Pharisees in Capernaum. They rejected the Gospel; but it was the pleasure of God to reveal it to obscure and more humble men. given, the only satisfactory reason, is, that it so seemed good in the sight of God. In this the Saviour acquiesced, saying, Even so, Father. And in the dealings of God it is fit that all should acquiesce. Such is the will of God, is often the only explanation which can be offered in regard to the various events which happen to us on earth. Such is the will of God, is the only account which can be given of the reason of the dispensations of his grace. Our understanding is often confounded; we are stopped in all our efforts at explanation; our philosophy fails, and all that we can say is, "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good to thee." And this is enough. That God does a thing, is the best reason which we can have that it is right.
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
c Chap. xxviii. 18; Luke x. 22; John iii. 35, xiii. 3, xvii. 2; 1 Cor. xv. 27. d John i. 18, vi. 46, x. 15.
27. All things are delivered, &c. This verse contains a remarkable declaration of our Lord's personal and mediatorial dignity. All things have been delivered to him by the Father. That universal power and dominion with which he has been invested, he sways and manages for the advantage of his Church. This power he puts forth to redeem his people, to defend them from all their enemies, to make good to them all the promises he has been pleased to make to them, to uphold their souls in comfort-and by it he shall conduct them through all snares and dangers, into that glorious rest purchased for them by his own blood. No man knoweth the Son. That is, such is the nature of the Son of God,-such the mystery of the union between the divine and human nature,— such his exalted character as a divine person, that no mortal can fully comprehend him. None but God fully knows him. Neither knoweth any man the Father, &c. In the original this is, "Neither knoweth any one the Father, except the Son." That is, no one, man or angel, clearly comprehends the character of the infinite God, but the Son, the Lord Jesus, and he to whom he makes Him known. This he does by revealing the character of God clearly; and more especially, by manifesting his character as a sin-forgiving God, to the soul that is " weary and heavy laden." There is no true knowledge of God, nor quietness of mind, but only in Christ alone. "All the worship, therefore, of the Jews since the nation rejected and crucified their Messiah, of Mohammedans, of modern Deists, and of all unbelievers, is, in fact, rendered to an imaginary deity,-the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ being to them the unknown God.”
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and 'lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
e John xiii. 15; Phil. ii. 5; 1 Pet. ii. 21; 1 John ii. 6. f Zech. ix. 9; Phil. ii. 7, 8. g Jer. vi. 16. h1 John v. 3. 28-30. Come unto me, all ye that labour, &c. So long as men, under concern for the salvation of their souls, seek to establish a righteousness of their own in order to their justification, they can find
no rest, no peace, no security. The law which they have so often broken, and are continually breaking, in thought, word, and deed, is for ever hanging its awful threatenings over them; for justification cannot be obtained by the works of the law, without a complete, uniform, and perfect obedience to all its demands-to the letter and the spirit of them; and such an obedience no man can render. It is a blessed thing when sinners are so convinced of their sin and misery, that they can take no rest, and find no comfort, and are in a state of alarm, groaning under bondage, and an intolerable burden. For such there is hope-a resting-place is at hand; in Christ there is complete security. He is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe. When the sinner flees to Christ, and submits himself into his hand, takes him as all his hope and salvation, his burden falls from his shoulders he is a new man. Christ's righteousness is made over to him-accounted as his own-stands him in the same stead as if he, by his own acts, had wrought it out for himself. He appears in the sight of God as if he had never done any violence to the law. The righteousness which Christ wrought out for his people is such as the law required, and has been accepted of the Father. When the Holy Spirit convinces a man of it, and lends him grace to appropriate it, that man is a "justified person," the law has no demand to make upon him. All who accept of the invitation which Christ makes in this verse to all who are labouring under a sense of sin and misery, shall find rest-rest from their sins, from the pangs of an awakened conscience, from the terrors of the law, and from the fear of eternal death. Not only so; but, being renewed in the spirit of their minds, they shall find the service of Christ (for his subjects must serve him) no bondage, but exceedingly delightful. It will become as their meat and drink to submit to his holy will, and observe his commandments. With enlargement of heart, and the feeling of perfect freedom, they shall render a willing and sweet obedience. The commandments of Christ, the laws of his kingdom, are exactly those which a soul emancipated from the delusion and slavery of sin, and renewed in the image of God, would spontaneously choose, and adopt as the rule of its conduct. In resting on Christ, there is a peace which passes understanding-a joy unspeakable, and full of glory. In following the Redeemer through evil and good report, the believer experiences a comfort which the world giveth not-an anticipation and lively foretaste of glory to be revealed-an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory.
1. Indifference to religion, so prevalent amongst men, is a singular manifestation of the "deceitfulness of sin." With death, judgment, and eternity before them, it is wonderful that they can take any rest until they have made serious inquiry about the concerns of the soul, and how it is to stand with them when they shall appear before the tribunal of God. Men will enter with the zeal of enthusiasm, and with the most earnest application of all their powers, upon almost any question which touches their temporal interests, or even their amusements and every-day occupations; but esteem it an encroachment upon their time, and a misapplication of their labour, to bestow any consideration upon the things which are "invisible"-the "mystery of godliness," in which their eternal concerns are involved. To thousands the question may soberly be addressed, "Who hath bewitched you?" for no description of folly is so delusive in itself, or in its consequences so terrible, as this trifling with the everlasting wellbeing of the soul. To excuse themselves in this so deplorable carelessness, many jestingly, with Pilate, put the question, "What is truth?" and prove their insincerity by pushing on without waiting for an answer. Our Lord (verses 4, 5) answered the disciples of John, inquiring " Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" by referring them to the works he performed. Though these miraculous works are no longer performed in confirmation of the truth of Christianity, it has still the use and advantage of them as historical proofs. No proposition, or series of propositions, requiring to be established by moral evidence, rests on so broad or solid a foundation as Christianity. The external evidences of its truth are manifold, and over and over again have been shown to be, at every point, invulnerable. No body of evidence was ever subjected to so searching a scrutiny; for unbelievers of every description, and in every age, have exhausted all their time, and exercised all their ingenuity and learning, in the attempt to invalidate that evidence. Antiquarians-scholars-metaphysicians-men of science, in every department of what was ever graced with the name of philosophy-idealists-materialists-atheists-pantheists have spared no pains in their endeavour to wound the Faith, through the external evidences on which it rests. All their attempts have been in vain. The truth is mighty, and has prevailed. Though such miracles as the healing of the blind, the diseased, the maimed, the cleansing of lepers, &c., have ceased, there is a miraculous work displayed in the conversion of every sinner, which might well convince men (if they wished to be convinced) that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. It cannot be denied, that in the case of every one who sincerely believes it, it produces a complete and remarkable change-a change in the heart so real that it at once manifests itself in
the whole outward walk and conversation. He who before was profligate, unjust, profane, utterly abandoned-living openly in what even the world characterises as disgraceful and reprobate behaviour, and restrained from the commission of the grossest outrages upon society only by the terror of the punishment which human laws execute upon the breakers of them-no sooner becomes the disciple of Jesus than he loathes all his former acts of iniquity, and lives in the practice of true godliness. To produce such a change all human power is wholly inefficacious. One great lesson, which every one who has studied human nature in books, and by reflection, must have borne in upon mind is, that all human laws, all restraints upon vice, all theories of morals, however excellent they may be in other respects, are wholly inefficient to produce a real, complete, and internal reformation upon the hearts of men. This is what is effected every day by the Gospel. The inference need not be formally stated. In the case of every converted man, there has been put forth an exercise of power (and all who choose may witness it) as completely superhuman and miraculous as would be required for the raising of the dead, and restoring them to the use and exercise of all the functions of living men. And all this evidence (a small portion of which would be reckoned conclusive on any other subject), be it remembered, is only a part (and not the strongest, though that which can alone, perhaps, be urged with effect upon a numerous class of individuals) of the proof on which Christianity rests. What, then, is to be thought of those who, unable to deny the evidences of the truth of the Gospel, treat it as a "cunningly devised fable?"
2. For the edifying of " the body of Christ," a variety of gifts are bestowed upon the ministering servants of the Church. This man possesses one grace and endowment in an eminent degree, and that man another. All of them are to be used to the end for which they have been given. The Lord is at hand, to take an account. As ministers are to stir up the gift that is in them, to the end that the Redeemer's glory may be advanced-sinners converted,-the converted built up in the hope and consolation of the Gospel; so, those who hear the Gospel are to beware of raising up hinderances in the way of their conversion and edification. This will assuredly be done, if we look more to the vessel which contains the treasure, than to the treasure which it contains. It is to be feared that the gratification of taste, intellect, &c., is often too busy in the house of prayer-that we are often more taken up with the manner of the preacher, than with the message he brings. "What went ye out to see?" may be put to us as appropriately, perhaps, as to the Jews who crowded to the wilderness in the days of John. Let us exercise ourselves with the fact, and take it with us to the public assemblies, "That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practise it in our lives."
3. And let us ever bear in mind the awful responsibility which attaches to our privileges. this great light and fulness of the Gospel," with which our land has been so singularly blessed, how fearful is our condition, if we are living in spiritual darkness-unawakened, unconverted, unsanctified! Have we been instructed from childhood in the doctrines of salvation? Have our Sabbaths been undisturbed? Duly as they came round, have we gone up to God's house with those who keep the solemn holy days? Has the Lord, so to speak, been pursuing us day and night all our lives long with the offer of mercy, unwilling to take a denial, and let us go? And are we still in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity? If we live and die in this state, will it be wonderful if, on the day of judgment, the heathen, and the worst of them, stand up and condemn us?
4. If any sinner, reflecting over his past life, his impenitence, rebellion, and crucifying of the Lord of glory, feel perplexing thoughts arise within him; if he be mourning over his iniquity, and crying out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"let such an one thank God, and take courage. He is the very person that Christ has in view, the very individual he is seeking to allure and draw to himself, in these precious and comfortable words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”—ED.
1 Christ reproveth the blindness of the Pharisees concerning the breach of the sabbath, 3 by scriptures, 10 by reason, 13 and by a miracle. 22 He healeth the man possessed that was blind and dumb. 31 Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven. 36 Account shall be made of idle words. 38 He rebuketh the unfaithful, who seek after a sign: 49 and showeth who is his brother, sister, and mother.
AT that time "Jesus went on the sabbath-day through the corn; and
his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn,
« Deut. xxili, 25; Mark ii. 23; Luke vi. 1.