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■own, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Observe here, 1. That he that received but one talent, is called to an account as well as he that received five. Heathens that have but one talent, namely, the light of nature, must give an account for that one talent, as well as christians that have five must accou.it for five. Observe, 2. The slothful servant's allegation; I knew thee to be an hard man, and I was afraid. Where note, His prejudice against his master, and the effect of that prejudice, he -was afraid; and the fruit of his fear, he hid his talent in the earth. Learn hence, That sinners entertain in their minds very hard and unkind thoughts of God j they look upon htm as a hard Master, rigorous in his commands, and difficult to be pleased. Learn, 2. That such hard thoughts of God do naturally occasion slavish fear, which is a great hinderance to the faithful discharge of our duty to God. Observe, 3. The master's reply to the slothful servant'sallegation, which contains an exprobation, or upbraiding of him for his sloth and negligence; Thou wicked and sloth ful servant. Where note, 1. That the slothful servant is a wicked servant, as well as the unfaithful servant. 2. The wicked and slothful servants, to excuse themselves, will not stick to charge their miscarriages upon God himself: Thou -wert an hard man. 3. That no excuses whatsoever shall serve either the slothful or unfaithful servant at the bar of Christ.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him v hich hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance ; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
These words contain the sentence denounced by Christ upon the slothful servant: his punishment is first a punishment of loss: Take ye the talent from him. Learn hence, That not improving the gifts of God given as talents to us, provokes God to take them from us, as well as misiraproving. From him that hath not; that is, from him that improveth not, shall be taken that which he hath. 2. Follows the punishment of sense: Cast him into outer darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Learn thence, That hell is a place and state of inexpressible misery and torment; a dismal place, as being deprived of the sight and enjoyment of God, of Christ, of saints, and of angels; a doleful place, full of overwhelming sorrow and despairing grief. The gnashing of their teeth, signifies their being full of rage and indignation against God, against the saints, and against themselves.
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth Aw sheep from the goats. 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
From hence to the end of the chapter, we have a draught and scheme of the general judgment. Where observe, The person judging, the Son of man; the persons judged, good and bad; the one called sheep, for their innocency and meekness; the other goats, for their unruliness and uncleanness. Observe also, The manner of his coming to judgment, most august and glorious: glorious in his person, glorious in his attendance. Learn, That Christ's appearance at the great day to the judging of the world, will be a splendid and a glorious appearance: He -wdt come with power, and in great glory, in regard of the dignity of his person, and the quality of his office, and the greatness of his work. He will appear as a king in the midst of his nobles, to take off the scandal and ignominy of the cross, and as a recompense for his abasement and humiliation, to strike
the hearts of his enemies with dread and fear, and to fill the souls of his people with joy and confidence. Let us therefore propound it to our faith, to believe it; to our fear, to tremble at the thoughts of it; to our hope and love, that we may expect and wait, look and long for it. Observe farther, The work of this Judge: he shall first gather all nations. Learn, That at the general judgment all that have lived shall be summoned to the bar of Christ: persons of all sects, of all ages, of all nations, of all conditions; having gathered them together; he shall next separate them, as a shepherd his sheep. Thence learn, That though there be a mixture and confusion of the godly and the wicked here, yet at the day of judgment there will be a separation made betwixt them, and they shall never come together more.
34 Then shall the King say unto his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Here follows the sentence which Christ will pronounce upon the righteous and the wicked at the great day: first the sentence of absolution upon the righteous; then the sentence of condemnation upon the wicked. Learn thence, That at the day of judgment the godly shall be absolved before the wicked are condemned. The reasons are, because it is more delightful to God to reward than to punish, to save than to destroy; because it is suitable to Christ's love to begin with his saints, and to be admired by them: also to put his saints out of fear, as to their eternal condition, and to bring them near to himself, and to set them upon the throne with himself, as assessors and judges of the wicked world, 1 Cor. vi. 3. Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? Lastly, With respect to the wicked, that they may be the more affected with their loss, and have a vexatious and tormenting sense of that happiness which- they have refused. Observe next, The joyful sentence pronounced, Come ye blessed of my Father. Where note, 1. The joyful compellation, Ye blessed. Which term is opposed to these two things: 1. To the world's judgment of them, which accounts them vile and accursed. Here is an absolution from their unjust censures. 0. To the sentence of the law, which pronounces
all its transgressors accursed, Gal. iii. 19.. But, says Christ; I, that have redeemed you from the curse of the law, pronounced you blessed. But why blessed of my Father? 1. To point out the fontal cause of all our happiness, the love of the Father; this prepared the kingdom. 2. This expression shows how the divine Persons glorify one another. As the Spirit glorifies the Son, so the Son glorifies the Father, and refers all to him. Therefore Christ says not, Come, my redeemed ones; but, Come, ye blessed ones: not, Come, you that were redeemed by me; but, Come, ye blessed of my Father: it is his good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Learn hence, That the Lord Jesus Christ at his second coming will adjudge all his people into a state of glorious and evertasting happiness, which his Father has prepared, and himself has purchased, for them. Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave mc drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Here our Saviour sets forth, not the meritorious cause of his saints' happiness, but the infallible signs of such as should inherit that happiness, the character, of the persons that might expect it. Such as fed him, clothed and visited him, in his members. Where note, 1. That the godly having their sins forgiven in this world, some would gather that there should no mention be made of them in the day of judgment. For they observe, that Christ here only mentions the good works of his saints: ye fed me, ye clothed me, not a word of their failings. Observe, 2. That they are not the duties of the first, but of the second table, which here Christ mentions, because works of charity are more visible to the world than works of piety. Learn hence, 1. That at the great day every man's sentence shall be pronounced according to his works. 2. That works of charity done out of love to Christ, shall be particularly observed, and bountifully rewarded, by Christ at the great day. Trie question then will be, not only how have you heard, prayed, or preached, but whom have you fed, clothed, and visited. 3. That whatever good or evil is done to the poor members of Christ, Christ reckons it as done unto himself, / was an hungercd, and ye gave me meat. Christ personal is not the object of our pity and charity, but Christ mystical is exposed to want and necessity; he feels hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, in his members, and is refreshed and comforted in their refreshments and comforts. He takes it as a courtesy, who might demand it by authority. How can we be close-banded or hard-hearted to the necessitous christians, did we steadily believe that in administering to them, we minister refreshments to Christ himself, who parted with the glory of heaven, yea, with his heart's blood, for us?
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in ? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Here we have a dialogue or interchangeable discourse betwixt Christ and his faithful servants at the great day. Where observe, Their question and his reply. Their question, Lord, when did we feed thee, clothe, or visit thee? We have forgot the time, though such is thy goodness to remember it. Learn thence, That Christ keeps a faithful record of all our acts of pious charity, when we have forgotten them. If we remember to do good, Christ will be sure to remember the good we have done; aye, and reward it as well as remember it. Again, this question of theirs may proceed from admiration and wonder, and from an humble sense of their own nothingness, and from the greatness of Christ's condescension, in taking notice of such mean services, and requiting them with such a transcendent reward. Learn hence, That when Christ comes to reward his children and people, they will wonder and be astonished at the poverty and meanness of their own services, and at the transcendency and greatness of his rewards. Observe next, Our Lord's reply. In as much as ye did it to the least
of these my brethren, ye did it unto me. Where observe, 1. The title put by Jesus Christ upon his poorest and meanest members, My brethren. 2. The resentment of the kindness showed to his brethren, as shown unto himself; In as much as ye did it to them, ye have done it to me. Learn thence, That such is the endearing intimacy between Christ and his members, that whatsoever is done to any of them, is esteemed by him as done unto himself.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and liis angels;
Here we have the sentence of condemnation denounced against the wicked. Where observe, 1. The posture in which they are found; at Christ's left hand. This doth not so much denote the ignominy of the place (though placing at the left hand is less honourable) as the impiety of their choice; they took up with left-handed mercies, the mercies of the footstool, wealth and riches, dignity and honour. As for the good things which are at God's right hand for evermore, they never sought after these. Verily a man may know his future state by his present choice. Observe, 2. The title given to wicked men, Ye cursed. Not cursed of my Father, because cursing is God's strange work; we force him to it, he delights not in it. Observe, 3. The sentence itself. Where note, 1. The punishment of loss, Depart from me. Learn thence, 1. That it is the hell of hell to the damned, that they must everlastingly depart from, and lose tlie comfortable fruition and enjoyment of, God in Christ: it is to be deprived of an infinite good. Hell is a deep dungeon, where the sunshine of God's presence never cometh. 2. The punishment of sense, Depart into everlasting fire. Where note, Its severity, it is fire: its eternity, it is everlasting fire. Learn thence, That there are everlasting torments in hell prepared for the wicked; there is a state of torment, and a place of torment, provided by God. All princes have not only their palace, but their prison. God has the palace of heaven, for the enjoyment of himself and his friends; and the prison of hell, for punishing his enemies. The nature of the damncd's misery is set out by fire; the whole man, body and soul, shall be tormented in it. 1. The body in all its members , their eyes with affrighted spectacles, the devil and his angels, and their old companions in sin: every time they behold these, it revives their guilt, and enrages their despair. Their ears are filled wiih yelling■ and bowlings, and hideous outcries. 2. The soul shall suffer in hell, by reflecting upon its own choice, by remembering time sinfully wasted, seasons of grace sadly slighted, the mercies of God unworthily abused. Lord! how will the remembrance of past mercies aggravate present miseries! Note farther, 1. That Christ saith not of the punishment, as he doth of the blessing, that it was prepared from the beginning of the -world, lest it should be thought that God designed men's punishment before they sinned. Note 2. That although Christ saith, Come,ye blessed of my Farmer, hesaith not, Go, ye cursed of my Father, because God is the Author and Procurer of men's happiness, but man only is the author of his own misery. Note, 3. That Christ speaks of this eternal misery by fire, as designed originally not for man, but for the devil and his angels; but man, by giving up himself to the power and thraldom of sin and Satan, and working himself down to the infernal regions, becomes like unto him in torments, whom he so much resembled in manners and qualities.
42 For I was an hundred, anil ye pave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 4 t Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Observe here, 1. How Christ lays the charge of the wicked's damnation upon themselves alone, Ye gave me no meat, ye took me not in: man, and man alone, is the cause of his own destruction and damnation. Observe, 2. The kind of sin charged on the wicked at the great day. Consider it, 1. In general, it is a sin of omission. Whence leam, That sins of omission are certainly damning as well as sins of commission, or want of love to Christ and his members. Learn thence, That one reign
ing sin, one prevailing corruption, is enough to damn a person, because it deprives a man of the grace of the gospel, and exclude* him from all the benefit of the promises. Note lastly, If such as do not give to Christ in his members shall be miserable at the great day, what will the condition of them be that take from them, who strip and starve them, who persecute and hate them, wbo imprison or banish them? If the uncharitable shall scarcely be saved, yea, shall certainly be damned,where shall the unmerciful and cruel appear?
40 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.
Observe here, 1. That though the righteous are first judged, yet the sentence is first executed on the wicked. They shall go into everlasting punishment. Observe, 2. That men's states and conditions in another world will be different, as their ways and doings have been in this world. 3. That everlasting life shall be the portion of the godly, and everlasting punishment the portion of the wicked. God grant that the horrors of eternal darkness, and the dismal thoughts of a miserable eternity, may effectually discourage every one of us from a wicked and impenitent course of life! For who can dwelt with devouring fire . * Who can dwell with everlasting burnings?
CHAP. XXVI. A ND it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. 3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. 5 But they said, Not on the feast-rfay, lest there be an uproar among the people.
Several things are here observable; as, 1. The persons conspiring against our blessed Redeemer's life, namely, chief priests, and scribes, and elders, that is, the whole sanhedrim, or general council of the Jewish church: these lay their malicious heads to
», to contrive the destruction of the innocent Jesus. Here was a general council of them, consisting of priests, doctors, and elders, with the high-priest their president, yet erring in a point of doctrine concerning the Messiah, not believing Jesus to be the Son of God, notwithstanding all the convincing miracles which he had wrought before them. Observe, 2. The manner of this conspiracy against our Saviour's life; it was clandestine, secret, and subtle: They consulted how they might take him by subtilty and kill him. Learn hence, That Satan makes use of the subtilty of crafty men, and abuseth their parts as well as their power, for his own purposes. Satan never sends a fool on his errand. Observe, 3. The time when this conspiracy was managed; at the time of the passover. Indeed at first the chief priests did not incline to that tane,fearing a tumult and uproar among the people; but Judas presenting them with a fair opportunity to apprehend him, they changed their purpose, and accordingly at the feast of the passover our Saviour suffered. This was not without a mystery, that Christ, the true Lamb of God, whom the paschal lamb typified and represented, should be offered up at the feast of the passover; signifying thereby, that he was the true paschal Lamb, and that the legal shadow ought to cease in the exhihition of him. Learn hence, That not only the death of Christ in general, but all the circumstances relating to it, were fore-ordained of God himself; as, the place where, at Jerusalem; the time when, at the time of the passover; that time did God devise best for this Lamb to be a sacrifice.
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he sat at meat.
This woman St. John says was Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who, to show her love to Christ, and put honour upon him, took a precious box of ointment, and poured it upon our Saviour's head, according to the custom of the eastern countries, who used ao to do at their feasis and banquets; to whichDavid alludes, Psal. xxiii. 5. Learn hence, 1. That where true love to Christ prevails in the heart, nothing is adjudged too dear for Christ. This box of ointment
murmuring Judas valued at three hundred pence; which, reckoning the Roman penny at seven pence halfpenny, makes of our money nine pounds seven shillings and sixpence. Love (we see) spares no cost; but where the esteem of Christ is high, the affection will be strong. Note, 2. That where strong love prevails towards Jesus Christ, it sutfers not itself to be outshined by any examples. The weakest woman that strongly loves Jesus Christ, will piously strive with the greatest apostle to express the fervour of her love unto him. I do not find any of the apostles at so much cost to put honour upon Christ, as this poor woman was at. Love knows no bounds, no measures.
8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 0 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
That is, when Judas, and some other disciples whom he had influenced, saw this action, they murmured: particularly Judas blamed this holy woman for needless prodigality, and did tacitly reflect upon Christ himself, for suffering that wasteful expense. O! how doth a covetous heart think every thing too good for Christ: he that sees a pious action well done, and seeks to undervalue it, shows himself possessed with a spirit of envy. Judas's invidious spirit makes him censure an action which Christ highly approved. Learn thence, That men who know not our hearts, may, through ignorance or prejudice, censure and condemn those actions which God doth commend and will graciously reward. Happy for this poor woman, that she had a more righteous Judge to pass sentence upon her action than wicked Judas!
10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Observe here, How readily our Lord - vindicates this good woman: she says nothing for herself, nor need she, having such an Advocate. 1. Christ rebukes Judas, Why trouble ye the woman? Plainly