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Socinians argue against the Divinity of Christ: thus, " He to whom the title of fi-oorfdoth not belong, cannot be God Most High. But by our Lord's words this title belongs not to him, but only to God the Father: therefore God the Father must be God alone." Answer, Christ may be supposed to speak to this young man thus: "Thou givest me a title which was never given to the most renowned rabbins, and which agrees to God alone : now thou oughtest to believe that there is something in me more than human, if thou conceivest that this title of good doth belong to me." Observe, 2. That our Saviour might convince him of the error of the Pharisees, who believed that they might without the knowledge of him, the true Messias, enter into life, by keeping the law of God according to that lax and loose interpretation which they, the Pharisees, had given of it; he bids him keep the commandments. Where note, Christ calls him off from outward ceremonies, which the Pharisees abounded in, to the practice of moral duties; yet withal lets him understand, that if he expected salvation by the moral law, he must keep it perfectly and exactly, without the least deficiency, which is an impossibility to man in his lapsed state. Learn, 1. That such as seek justification and salvation by the works of the law only, must keep the whole law, or covenant of works, perfectly and exactly. Learn, 2. That the best way to prepare men for Jesus Christ, is to let them see their own impotency to keep and fulfil the covenant of works.
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 1 yet?
Observe here, That the duties which our Saviour instances in, are the duties of the second table, which hypocrites are most failing in; for the sincere practice of our duty to our neighbour, is a signal evidence of our love to God. These duties of the second table the young man says he nad kept from his youth, and perhaps might say it truly, according to the Pharisees' inter
pretation, which condemned only the gross outward act, not the inward lust and motion of the heart. Learn hence, How apt men are to think well of themselves, and to have too high an opinion of their own goodness and righteousness before God: All these have 1 kept from my youth up.
21 Jesus 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.
That is, " Thou hast been all thy days a Pharisee; if now thou wilt be a christian, thou must maintain a readiness and disposition of mind to part with all that thou hast in this world, at my call and at my command, and follow after me." Learn, 1. That such as enter themselves disciples of Christ, must be ready, at Christ's call, to part with all for Christ's sake that they have in this world. 2. All that profess themselves to be Christ's disciples, must be his followers r that is, they must obey his doctrine, and imitate his example, bis holiness, his humility, his heavenly-mindedness, his patience, his meekness, his readiness to forgive injuries, and the same mind must be in us which was in Christ Jesus.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
This parting with all for Christ seemed so hard a condition to the young man, that he went away sorrowful from Christ. Whence learn, 1. That a man wedded to the world will renounce Christ rather than the world, when both stand in competition. 2. That unregenerate and carnal men are exceeding sorrowful, and sadly concerned, that they cannot have heaven upon their own terms, and win it in their own way. The young man went away sorro-wful.
23 Then said Jesus unto hisdisciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Our blessed Saviour takes occasion from what had passed, to discourse with his disciples concerning the danger of riches, and the difficulties that attend rich men in their way to salvation. A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of God. Whence note, 1. That rich men do certainly meet with more difficulties in their
way to heaven, than other men: if is difficult to withdraw their affections from riches, to place their supreme love upon God in the midst of their abundance. It is difficult to depend upon God in a rich condition. The poor commit let b himself to Goil, but the rich man's wealth is his strong tower. 2. That yet the fault lies not in riches, but in rich men; who by placing their trust, and putting their confidence in riches, do render themselves incapable of the kingdom of God.
2 I And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
These words were a proverhial speech among the Jews, to signify a thing of great difficulty, next to an impossihility: and they import thus much: "That it is not only a very great difficulty, but an impossihility, for such as abound in wor ldly wealth to be saved, without an extraordinary grace and assistance from God. It is hard for a rich man to become happy, even by God, because he thinks himself happy without God."
25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
The disciples, understanding how naturally and strongly men love the world, and how idolatrously and inordinately their hearts run out upon it, they say unto Christ, Lord, who then can be saved .* Learn, 1. That when the general difficulties which lie in the way of salvation are laid forth and sufficiently understood, we may justly wonder that any are or shall be saved. 2. That such are the special and peculiar difficulties in the rich man's way to heaven, that his salvation is matter of wonder and great admiration to the disciples of Christ. When the disciples heard this, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
As if Christ had said, " Were all men left to themselves, no man either rich or poor would be saved; but God can bring men to heaven by the mighty power of Jris grace; he can make the rich in estate,
poor in spirit; and them that arc poor in this world, rich in grace." Learn, l.That it is impossible for any man, rich or poor, by his own natural strength, to get to heaven. 2. That when we are discouraged with a sense of our own impotency, we should consider the power of God, and act our faith upon it: With God all things are possible.
27 Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee: what shall we have therefore? 2B And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The apostles having heard our Saviour's command to the youug man, to sell and give to the poor, St. Peter, in the name of the rest, tells Christ that they had left all, and followed him j Behold! we have left all. Where note, How Peter magnifies that little which lie had left for Christ, and ushers it in with a note of observation and admiration also, Behold! we have forsaken all; what shall we hare then? Learn thence, That although it be a very little that we suffer for Christ, and less that we have to forsake upon his account, yet we are apt to magnify and extol it, as if it were some great matter. Lord, we have forsaken all What all* His tattered fisher-boat and his ragged nets; scarce worthy tn be mentioned: yet how is it magnified! Behold, Lord, we have left all! But observe our Lord's kind and gracious answer; ** You that have left all to follow me, shall be no losers by me: for in the regeneration, that is, at the resurrection, when believers shall be perfectly renewed, both in soul and body, and shall enjoy my kingdom, then, as I pit upon the throne of my glory, so shall you sit with me in a higher degree of dignity and honour, judging the twelve tribes of Israel; that is, the Jews first, for their unbelief, and then all other despisers of gospel grace and mercy." Learn, 1. That such ministers as do most service for Christ and forsake most to follow him, shall in his kingdom partake of most honour and dignity with him and from him. 2. That as the ministers of Christ in general, so his twelve apostles in particular, shall sit nearer the throne of Christ, and have an higher place in glory at the great day, than ordinary believers.
29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
The foregoing promise, ver. 28. respected the apostles; this, all christians who forsake their dearest enjoyments for Christ; he assures them, they shall be recompensed in this life an hundred-fold. How? Non formaliter, sed- eminenter: not in specie, but M valore; not in kind, but in equivalence; not an hundred brethren, or sisters, or lands; but, First, He shall have that in God, which all creatures would not be to him, if they were multiplied an hundred times. Secondly, The gifts and graces, the comforts and consolations, of the Holy Spirit, shall be an hundred-fold better portion than any thing we can part with for the sake of Christ and his gospel here. Though we may be losers for Christ, yet shall we never be losers by him. Christ gives present recompenses as well as future rewards; insomuch, that they who have suffered and lost most for Christ, have never complained of their sufferings or losses. Therefore never be afraid to lose any thing for Christ, he will not only see you indemnified, but plentifully rewarded; in this world an hundred-fold, in that to come eternal life.
30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
A two-fold sense and interpretation is given of these words: the first respects the Jews and Gentiles in general: the second all professors of christianity in particular. * The Jews (as if Christ had said) look upon themselves as first, and nearest to the kingdom of heaven, but for their infidelity they shall be last in it; that is, never shall come there. And the Gentiles, who were looked upon as dogs, and farthest from heaven, shall be first there, upon their conversation to me, and faith in me." As the words respect all professors, the sense is, " Many that are first in their own esteem, and in the opinion of others, and forward in a profession of religion, yet at the day of judgment they will be last and least in mine and my Father's estimation and account. And many that were little
in their own, and less in the esteem of others, who had a less name and vogue in the world, shall yet be first and highest in my favour." Learn hence, That the day of judgment will frustrate a great many persons' expectations, both as touching others, and concerning themselves. Many will miss of heaven, and be last, who looked upon themselves to be first. And many will find others in heaven, whom they least expected there. The Lord judgcth not as man judgeth. We judge of man by outward appearances, but we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth. He can neither be deceived, nor yet deceive.
CHAP. XX. TpOR the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, 4 And said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, 1 will give yon. And thev went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
A two-fold sense and interpretation is given of this parable: but both analogical. One of which relates to the calling of the Gentiles. The Jews were the first people that God had in the world; they were hired into the vineyard betimes in the morning, the Gentiles not till the day was far spent: yet shall the Gentiles, by the favour and bounty of God, receive the same reward of eternal life which was promised to the Jews, who bare the heat of the day while the Gentiles stood idle. In the other analogical sense we may understand all persons indefinitely called by the gospel into the visible church; those that are called last, shall be rewarded together with the first; and accordingly the design and scope of this parable is, to show the freeness of divine grace in the distribution of those rewards which the hand of mercy confers upon God's faithful servants. The vineyard is the church of God, the husbandman is God himself: the labourers are particular persons. God's going at divers times into his vineyard, imports the several ages of man's life; some arc called early in the morning, some at noon, others at night . Now when God comes to dispense his rewards, those that entered first into the vineyard, and did most service for God, shall"be plentifully rewarded by him; and such as came in later, but did faithful service, shall not miss of a merciful reward. Learn, 1. That so long as a person keeps out of Christ's vineyard and service, he is idle. Every unregenerate roan is an idle man. 2. That persons are called by the preaching of the gospel at several ages and periods of life into God's vineyard; that is, into the communion of the visible church. 3. That such as do come in, though late, into God's vineyard, and work diligently and faithfully, shall not miss of a reward of grace at the hand of free mercy.
8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard safth unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 3 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, 1 do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with
mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
Hero observe, 1. That the time of God's full rewarding of his labourers, is the evening of their days; that is, when their work is done. When the evening was come, the Lord of the vineyard called his labourers, and gave them their hire; not but that they have part of their reward in hand, but it is chiefly laid up in hope. Observe, 2. That though God makes no difference in his servants' wages for the time of their work, yet he will make a difference for the degrees of their service. Undoubtedly they that have done most work, shall receive most wages. He that soweth bountifully, shall reap bountifully; God will reward every man according to his works; that is, not only according to the nature and quality, but the measure and degree, of his works. All shall have equity, but all shall not have equal bounty. Observe, 3. That all inequality in the distribution of rewards, doth not make God an unjust Accepter of persons; he may dispense both grace and glory in what measure and degree he pleases, without the least shadow of unrighteousness. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own . * Observe, 4. That when we have done much service for God, by labouring longer than others in his vineyard, it is our duty to have a low esteem both of our services and of ourselves, for the first shall be last, and the lastfirst; that is, they that are first and highest in their own esteem, shall be the last and least in God's account.
17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem: and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 10 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
This is now the third time that Christ had acquainted his disciples very lately with his approaching sufferings, and bloody passion. He did it twice before, chapter xvi. and chapter xvii. yet now he mentions it again, tfiat they might not be dismayed,
and their faith might not be shaken to see him die, who called himself the true Messias and the Son of God. . The first time he told his disciples of his death in general; the second time he declares the means, by treason; now he tells them the manner, by crucifying: that he should be scourged, mocked, spit upon, and crucified: all this he did, to prevent his disciples' dejection at his sufferings. Learn thence, That it is highly necessary that the doctrine of the cross be often preached to us; that so being armed with the expectation of sufferings before they come, we may lie the less dismayed and disheartened when they come. Our Lord's frequent forewarning his disciples of his death and sufferings was to fore-arm them with expectation of his sufferings, and with preparation for their own.
20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saithunto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
To sit on the right hand and on the left, is to have the most eminent places of dignity and honour after Christ. This the mother might be encouraged to ask for James and John, because of their alliance to Christ, and because Christ had admitted them with Peter to be with him at his transfiguration. However, the rest of the disciples hearing of this ambitious request of the two brethren, and being as desirous, and in their own opinion as deserving, of the same honour, they had indignation against them. Whence note, That none of the disciples did imagine that Christ had promised the supremacy to Peter, by these words, Tu es Petras, thou art Peter; for then neither James nor John had desired it, nor would the rest liave contended for it. Observe here, 1. The persons making this request to Christ, Zebedee's children; that is, James and John, by the mouth of their mother. They speak by her lips, and made use of her tongue, to usher in a request which they were ashamed to make themselves. Observe, 2. The request itself, Grant that these two may sit, the one on thy right hand, the other on thy left hand. Where notej How the.«
disciples did still dream of Christ's temporal kingdom, (although he had so often told them, that his kingdom was not of this world,) and ambitiously seek to have the preference and pre-eminence in that kingdom. See here how these poor fishermen had already learnt craftily to fish for preferment. Who can wonder to sec some sparks of ambition and worldly desires in the holiest ministers of Christ, when the apostles themselves were not free from aspiring thoughts, even when they lay in the bosum of their Saviour? Ambition has all along infected churchmen, and troubled the church, even from the very first original and foundation of it. Observe, 3. Both the unseasonablencss and unreasonableness of this request made by the disciples. Christ speaks of his sufferings to them,' and they sue for dignity and great places from him, in optimis non nihil est pessimi: the holiest, the wisest, and best of men, in their imperfect state, are not wholly free from passionate infirmities. Who would have expected, that when our Saviour had been preaching the doctrine of the cross to his disciples, telling them that he must be mocked, scourged, spit upon, and crucified for them, that they should be seeking and suing to him for secular dignity and honour, pre-eminence and power! But we plainly see, the best of men are but men, and that none are in a state of perfection on this side heaven.
22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
As if Christ had said, " You do but abuse yourselves with fond and idle dreams; there is other work cut out for you in the purpose of God, than sitting upon thrones and tribunals: to think of suffering would do you more service." And accordingly our Saviour in his answer tells these disciples, 1. That they were greatly ignorant of the nature and quality of his kingdom, which was not secular, but heavenly; but the carnal notion of a glorious earthly kingdom upon earth, in which they should be delivered front the Roman power, was so deeply imprinted in their minds, that they frequently declared their expectation of it, notwithstanding all the assurances which Christ liad