Imágenes de páginas

some awakening word, some startling providence, or approaching death, and then, Wherewith shall I approach before the Lord? The God of infinite mercy is ever ready, out of pure compassion, to forgive the sins of those that humble themselves before him. Ver. 27. The lord of that servant, when he might justly have ruined him, mercifully released him. The servant's prayer was, Have patience with me; the master's grant is a discharge in full. The pardon of sin is owing to the mercy of God, to his tender mercy (Luke i. 77, 78); He was moved with compassion. God's reasons of mercy are fetched from within himself; he has mercy because he will have mercy. Their is forgiveness with God for the greatest sins, if they be repented of. We never walk at liberty till our sins are forgiven. The pardon of sin doth not slacken, but strengthen, our obligations to obedience; and we must reckon it a favour that God is pleased to continue such wasteful servants as we have been in such a gainful service as his is, and should therefore deliver us, that we might serve him. Luke i. 74. I am thy serrant, for thou hast loosed my bonds.

The second thing in the parable is the servant's unreasonable severity toward his fellow-servant, notwithstanding his lord's clemency toward him. Verses 28-30. This represents the sin of those who, though they are not unjust in demanding that which is not their own, yet are rigorous and unmerciful in demanding that which is their own, to the utmost of right, which sometimes proves a real wrong. Push a claim to an extremity, and it becomes a wrong. The exact satisfaction for debts of injury, which tends neither to reparation nor to the public good, but purely for revenge though the law may allow it,-in order to strike terror,—and for the hardness of men's hearts, yet savours not of a Christian spirit. To sue for money-debts, when the debtor cannot possibly pay them, and so let him perish in prison, argues a greater love of money, and a less love of our neighbour, than we ought to have. Neh. v. 7. Observe how small the debt was, how very small, compared with the ten thousand talents which his lord forgave himhe owed him a hundred pence. Ilow severe the demand washe laid hands on him, and took him by the throat. Proud and angry men think, if the matter of their demand be just, that will bear them out, though the manner of it be ever so cruel and unmerciful; but it will not hold. What needed all this violence? The debt might have been demanded without taking the debtor by the throat, without sending for a writ, or setting the bailiff upon him. How lordly is this man's carriage, and yet how base and servile is his spirit! If he had been himself going to prison for his debt to his lord, his occasions would have been so pressing, that he might have had some pretence for going to this extremity in requiring his own; but frequently pride and malice prevail more to make men severe than the most urgent necessity would do. How submissive the debtor was. His fellow-servant, though his equal, yet knowing how much he lay at his mercy, fell down at his feet, and humbled himself to him for this trifling debt, as much as he did to his lord for that great debt; for the borrower is servant to the lender. Prov. xxii. 7.

The third thing in the parable is the master's just resentment of the cruelty his servant was guilty of. If the servants took it so ill, much more would the master, whose compassions are infinitely above ours. Now observe here,—how he reproved his servant's cruelty (verses 32, 33)—0 thou wicked servant. Unmercifulness is wickedness—it is great wickedness. He upbraids him with the

mercy he had found with his master-I forgave thee all that debt. Those that will use God's favours, shall never be upbraided with them; but those that abuse them, may expect it. Chap. xi. 20. The greatness of sin magnifies the riches of pardoning mercy: we should think how much has been forgiven us. Luke vii. 47. He shows him the obligation he was under to be merciful to his fellow-servant-Shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee? Ile revoked his pardon and cancelled the acquittance, so that the judgment against him evived (ver. 34)-He delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. Though the wickedness was very great, his lord laid upon him no other punishment than the payment of his own debt. Those that will not come up to the terms of the Gospel, need be no more miserable than to be left open to the law, and to let that have its course against them. See how the punishment answers the sin; he that would not forgive, shall not be forgiven. The utmost he could do to his fellow-servant was but to cast him into prison, but he was himself delivered to the tormentors. Our debts to God are never compounded ; either all is forgiven or all is exacted. Glorified saints in heaven are pardoned all, through Christ's complete satisfaction ; damned sinners in hell are paying all, that is, are punished for all. The offence done to God by sin is in point of honour, which cannot be compounded for without such a diminution as the case will by no means admit, and therefore, some way or other, by the sinner or by his surety, it must be satisfied.

We may learn from this parable, that it is necessary to pardon and peace, not only to do justly, but love mercy, It is an essential part of that religion which is “pure and undefiled before God and the Father,” of that wisdom from above which is gentle, and easy to be entreated. Look how they will answer for it another day, who persist in the most rigorous and unmerciful treatment of their brethren, as if the strictest laws of Christ might be dispensed with for the gratifying of their unbridled passions; and so they curse themselves every time they say the Lord's prayer.


2 Christ healeth the sick : 3 answereth the Pharisees concerning divorcement: 10 showeth when

marriage is necessary: 13 receiveth little children: 16 instructeth the young man how to attain eternal life, 20 and how to be perfect : 23 telleth his disciples how hard it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, 27 and promiseth reward to those that forsake

any thing to follow him. AND

departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan; 2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

In Galilee our Saviour had been brought up, and had spent the greatest part of his life in that remote despicable part of the country. It was only upon occasion of the feasts that he came up to Jerusalem, and manifested himself there; and, we may suppose, that, having no constant residence there when he did come, his preaching and niracles were the more observable and acceptable. He came into the coasts of Judea, beyond Jordan, that they might have their day of visitation as well as Galilee; for they also belonged “ to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Great multitudes followed him. Where Shiloh is, there will the gathering of the people be. The redeemed of the Lord are such as follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes. Rev. xiv. 4. When Christ departs, it is best for us to follow him. It was a piece of respect to Christ, and yet it was a continual trouble, to be thus crowded after wherever he went; but he sought not his own ease, nor, considering how mean and contemptible this mob was (as some would call them), his own honour much, in the eye of the world. He went about doing good; for so it follows, he healed them there. This shows what they followed him for—to have their sick healed; and they found him as able and ready to help here, as he had been in Galilee; for, wherever this Sun of Righteousness arose, it was with healing under his wings. 3 9 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him,

Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and othey twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, 'Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 8 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 10 T His disciples say unto him, "If the case of the man be so with his wife," it is not good to marry.

11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and kthere be eunuchs,

d Gen. ii. 24; Mark x. 5-9; Eph. v. 31. & Chap. v. 32; Mark X. 11; Luke xvi. 18; 1 Cor. vii. 10, 11.

c Gen. i. 27, v. 2; Mal. ii. 15.
Chap. v. 31.
* 1 Cor. vii. 32, 34, ix. 6, 16.

el Cor. vi, 16, vii. 2. Deut. xxiv. 1; Prov. xxi, 19. il Cor. vii. %, 7, 9, 17.


which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake.

He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. We have here the law of Christ in the case of divorce, occasioned, as some other declarations of his will

, by a dispute with the Pharisees. So patiently did he endure the contradiction of sinners, that he turned it into instructions to his own disciples !

The case proposed by the Pharisees (ver. 3)Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? This they asked, tempting him, not desiring to be taught by him. Some time ago, he had, in Galilee, declared his mind in this manner, against that which was the common practice (chap. v. 31, 32); and if he would, in like matter, declare himself now against divorce, they would make use of it for the prejudicing and incensing of the people of this country against him, who would look with a jealous eye upon one that attempted to cut them short in a liberty they were fond of. Their question is, Whether a man may put away his wife for every cause?

That it might be done for some cause, was granted; but may it be done, as now it commonly was, by the looser sort of people, for every cause—for any cause that a man shall think fit to assign, though ever so frivolous ?

Christ's answer to this question comes next. Though it was proposed to tempt him, yet, being a case of conscience, and a weighty one, he gave a full answer to it--not a direct one, but an effectual one-laying down such principles as undeniably prove that such arbitrary divorces as were then in use, which made the matrimonial bond so very precarious, were by no means lawful. Christ himself would not give the rule without a reason, nor lay down his judgment without Scripture proof to support it. Now his argument is this: “ If husband and wife are by the will and appointment of God joined together in the strictest and closest union, then they are not to be lightly and upon every occasion separated ; if the knot be saered, it cannot be casily untied.”

Ile lays down the fundamental law of marriage, which is, that a man skall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife. Ver. 5. The relation between husband and wife is nearer than that between parents and children ; now, if the filial relation may not easily be violated, much less may the marriage union be broken. May a child desert his parents, or may a parent abandon his children, for any cause-for

every cause ? No; by no means. Much less may a husband put away his wife, betwixt whom, though not by nature, yet hy Divine appointment, the relation is nearer, and the bond of union stronger, than between parents and children ; for that is in a great measure superseded by marriage, when a man must leave his parents to cleave to his wife. See here the power of a Divine institution, that the result of it is a union stronger than that which results from the highest obligations of nature.

What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Ilusband and wife are of God's joining together. God himself instituted the relation between husband and wife in the state of innocence. Marriage and the Sabbath are the most ancient of Divine ordinances. Though marriage be not peculiar to the Church, but common to the world, yet, being stamped with a Divine institution, and here ratified by our Lord Jesus, it ought to be managed after a godly sort, and sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. A conscientious regard to God in this ordinance would have a good influence upon the duty, and consequently upon the comfort, of the relation. Ilusband and wife, being joined together by the ordinance of God, are not to be put asunder by any ordinance of man. Let not man put them asunder ; not the husband himself, nor any one for him; not the magistrate, God never gave him authority to do it. The God of Israel hath said, that he hatcth putting away. Mal. ii. 16.

Our Saviour rectifies their mistake concerning the law of Moses. They called it a command ; Christ calls it but a permission, a toleration. Carnal hearts will take an ell, if but an inch be given them. The law of Moses, in this case, was a political law, which God gave, as the Governor of that people; and it was for reasons of state that divorces were tolerated. The strictness of the marriage union being the result, not of a natural, but of a positive law, the wisdom of God dispensed with divorces in some cases, without any impeachment of his holiness. But Christ tells them that there was a reason for this toleration, not at all to their credit. It was because of the hardness of your hearts, that you were permitted to put away your wives. Moses complained of the people of Israel in his time, that their hearts were hardened (Deut. ix. 6, xxxi. 27)-hardened against God. This is here meant of their being hardened against their relations. There is not a greater piece of hard-heartedness in the world, than for a man to be harsh and severe with his own wife. The Jews, it seems, were infamous for this, and therefore were allowed to put them away ; better divorce than do worse

se_ than that the altar of the Lord should be covered with tears. Mal. ii. 13. A little compliance, to humour a madman or a man in a frenzy, may prevent a greater mischief. Positive laws may be dispensed with for the preservation of the law of nature ; for God will have mercy, and

[ocr errors]

not sacrifice. But then those are hard-hearted wretches, who have made it necessary; and none can wish to have the liberty of divorce, without virtually owning the hardness of their hearts. 13 f 'Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his

hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for mof such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

[blocks in formation]

We have here the welcome which Christ gave to some little children that were brought to him. Observe,—The faith of those that brought them. How many they were that were brought we are not told; but they were so little, as to be taken up in arms. Those who brought them testified their respect for Christ, and the value they had for his favour and blessing. Those who glorify Christ by coming to him themselves, should farther glorify him by bringing all they have, or have influence upon, to him likewise. Thus give him the honour of his unsearchable riches of gracebis overflowing, never-failing fulness. They did a kindness to their children, not doubting but they would fare the better, in this world and the other, for the blessing and prayers of the Lord Jesus, whom they looked upon at least as an extraordinary person—as a prophet

, if not as a priest and a king; and the blessings of such were valued and desired. Others brought their children to Christ, to be healed when they were sick; but these children were under no present malady, only they desired a blessing for them. It is a good thing when we come to Christ ourselves, and bring our children to him, before we are driven to him (as we say) by woe-need; not only to visit him when we are in trouble, but to address ourselves to him in a sense of our general dependence on him, and of the benefit we expect by him, this is pleasing to him.

The disciples were at fault in rebuking them. They discountenanced the address as vain and frivolous, and reproved them that made it as impertinent and troublesome. Either they thought it below their Master to take notice of little children; or, they thought he had toil enough with his other work, and would not have him diverted from it; or, they thought if such an address as this were encouraged, all the country would bring their children to him, and they should never see an end of it. It is well for us that Christ has more love and tenderness in him than the best of his disciples have. And let us learn of him not to discountenance any willing well-meaning souls in their inquiries after Christ, though they are but weak. If he do not break the bruised reed, we should not. He rebuked the disciples (ver. 14)—Suffer little children, and forbid them not; and he rectifies the mistake they went upon- of such is the kingdom of heaven. The children of believing parents belong to the kingdom of heaven, and are members of the visible Church. For this reason they are welcome to Christ, who is ready to entertain those who, when they cannot come themselves, are brought to him.

He received the little children, and did as he was desired; he laid his hands on them, that is, he blessed them. The strongest believer lives not so much by apprehending Christ, as by being apprehended of him (Phil. iii. 12)—not so much by knowing God, as by being known of God (Gal

. iv. 9); and this the least child is capable of. if they cannot stretch out their hands to Christ, yet he can lay his hands on them, and so make them his own, and own them for his own. It has something observable in it, that, when he had done this, he departed thence. Ver. 15. As if he had reckoned he had done enough there, when he had thus asserted the rights of the lambs of his flock, and made this provision for a succession of subjects in his kingdoin. 16 f "And, behold, one came and said unto him, °Good Master, what good

thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good ? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, 'Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus * Mark X. 17; Luke xviii. 18.

9 Chap. xv. 4.

r Lev, xix. 18; Chap. xxii. 39; Rom. xiii. 9; Gal. v. 14; James ii. 8.

o Luke x. 25,

p Exod. xx. 13; Deut. v. 17.

said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, "go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

s Chap. vi. 20; Luke xii. 33, xvi. 9; Acts ii. 44, vi. 34, 35; 1 Tim. vi. 18, 19. Concerning this young man in the text, we are told how fair he bid for heaven, and came short, and how kindly and tenderly Christ treated him, in favour to good beginnings.

He gives Christ an honourable title-Good Master. His calling him Master, bespeaks his submissiveness, and willingness to be taught; and good Master, his affections and peculiar respect to the Teacher, like that of Nicodemus, Thou art a Teacher come from God. He comes to him upon an errand of importance, and he came not to tempt him, but sincerely desiring to be taught by him. His question is, What good thing shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life? By this it appears, That he had a firm belief of eternal life; that he was no Sadducee. He was convinced that there was a happiness prepared for those in the other world, who are prepared for it in this world. That he was concerned to make it sure to himself that he should live eternally, and was desirous of that life more than of any of the delights of this life. It was a rare thing for one of bis age and quality to appear so much in care about another world. The rich are apt to think it below them to make such an inquiry as this, and young people think it time enough yet; but here was a young man, and a rich man, solicitous about his soul and eternity. That he was sensible something must be done, some good thing, for the attainment of this happiness. It is by patient continuance in well-doing, that we seek for immortality. Rom. ii. 7. We must be doing, and doing that which is good. The blood of Christ is the only purchase of eternal life (he merited it for us), but obedience to Christ is the appointed way to it. Heb. v. 9. That he was, or at least thought himself, willing to do what was to be done for the obtaining of this eternal life. Those that know what it is to have eternal life, and what it is to come short of it, will be glad to accept of it upon any terms. Such a holy violence does the kingdom of heaven suffer. While there are many that say, Who will show us any good ? our great inquiry should be, What shall we do, that we may have eternal life? What shall we do, to be for ever happy_happy in another world ? For this world has not that in it that will make us happy.

Observe the encouragement that Jesus Christ gave to this address. It is not his manner to send any away without an answer, that come to him on such an errand; for nothing pleases him more. Ver. 17. In his answer, He tenderly assists his faith; for, doubtless, he did not mean it for a reproof, when he said, Why callest thou me good ? But he would seem to find that faith in what he said, when he called him good Master, which the young man perhaps was not conscious to himself of. He intended no more than to own and honour him as a good man, but Christ would lead him to own and honour him as good God; for there is none good but one, that is God. He plainly directs his practice, in answer to his question. He started that thought of his being good, and therefore God, but did not stay upon it, lest he should seem to divert from, and so to drop, the main question, as many do in needless disputes and strifes of words. Now Christ's answer is, in short, this, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He desired to know how he might have eternal life. Christ tells him how he might enter into it. We have it by the merit of Christ

, a mystery which was not as yet fully revealed, and therefore Christ waives that; but the way of entering into it is by obedience, and Christ directs us in that. By the former, we make our title ; by this, as by our evidence, we prove it. It is by adding to faith virtue, that an entrance (the word here used), is ministered to us in the everlasting kingdom. 2 Pet. i. 5, 11. Christ, who is our Life, is the Way to the Father, and to the vision and fruition of him. He is the only Way; but duty, and the obedience of faith, are the way to Christ. Keeping the commandments of God, according as they are revealed and made known to us, is the only way to life and salvation ; and sincerity herein is accepted through Christ as our Gospel perfection, provision being made of pardon, upon repentance, wherein we come short. Through Christ, we are delivered from the condemning power of the law; but the commanding power of it is lodged in the hand of the Mediator, and under that, in that hand, we still are under the law to Christ (1 Cor. ix. 21)—under it as a rule, though not as a covenant. Keeping the commandments includes, faith in Jesus Christ, for that is the great commandment (1 John iii. 23); and it was one of the laws of Moses that, when the great Prophet should be raised up, they should bear him. Our Saviour, in answer, specifies second-table duties only; not as if the first were of less account, but because they that now sat in Moses

' seat either wholly neglected or greatly corrupted these precepts in their preaching. While they pressed the tithing of mint, anise, and cummin-judgment and mercy, and faith, the summary

« AnteriorContinuar »