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The Gospel. Matt. xiii. 24.

The (r) kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed

5. good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat,

6. and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then ap

7. peared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, " Sir, didst not u thou sow good seed in thy field? "from whence then hath it tares?"

28. He said unto them, "An enemy "hath done this." The servants said unto him, "Wilt thou then "thatwe go and gather them up?"

29. But he said, " Nay; lest, while ye "gather up the tares, ye root up

30. "also the wheat with them. Let "both grow together until the "harvest: and in the time of u harvest I will say to the reapers, "Gather ye together first the "tares, and bind them in bundles

24. (r) " The kingdom of heaven," i. e. "God's dispensation under the gospel." In the conclusion of this chapter, our Saviour thus explains this parable to tos disciples: "He that soweth the "good seed, is the Son of Man: the "field it the world: the good seed are "tbe children of the kingdom" (i. e. the true believers), " but the tares "are the children of the wicked one: "the enemy that sowed them is the "devil: the harvest is the end of the "world; and the reapers are the angels: *' As therefore the tares are gathered, "and burnt in the fire, so shall it be in "the end of this world: The Son of "Man shall send forth his angels, and "they shall gather out of his kingdom "all thing&that offend, and them which "do iniquity: and shall cast them into "a furnace of fire—there shall be wail"ing and gnashing of teeth. Then "shall the righteous shine forth as the

"to burn them: but gather the "wheat into my barn."

— 1 —*

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany. The Collect. O God, whose blessed"Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Eputk. I John hi. 1. Behold, what (s) manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the (t) sons of God 1 therefore the

"sun, in the kingdom of their Father." Matt. xiii. 37 to 43. Because God's judgment against an evil work is not executed speedily, it is not to be concluded that it will never come. One objeft of God's forbearance and long-suffering is to lead men to repentance/ Rom. ii. 4 ; and where men do not repent, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguisn, will sooner or" later be rendered to every soul of man that doeth evil. Rom. ii. 6. 8-. 9.

(/) "What manner," &c. i.e. how great has his love been, to treat us as sons.

(/) "The sons of God." So St. Paul assures the Roman converts, Rom.viii. 15. *' Ye have received the spirit of ado p. "tion, whereby we cry Abba, Father;" and Gal. iv. 4, 5. he tylla the Galatians that " God sent forth fcis Son, &c. that '' we might receive t he adoption of sons.'' See ante 46. note on Gal. iv. 6.

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world (u) knoweth us not, (x) be

2. cause it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we (y) shall be: but we know that, when (z) he shall appear, we shall be like (a) him; for we shall

3. see (£) him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth (c) himself even as he

4. is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the

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(a) "Knoweth/" i.e. countenanceth, favoureth, sheweth no attachment to. The word is used in nearly the same sense Ps. i. 7. "The Lord knoweth the way of "the righteous," i.e. favours it, makes it secure.

(*) "Because," &c. So John xv. 19. our Saviour says to his disciples, "If ye "were of the world, the world would "love his own: but because ye are not "of the world, but I have chosen you "out of the world, therefore the world "hateth you."

v.2. (j) >• Shall be," i. e. what further privileges we shall have.

••*• (z) " When he shall appear," probably alluding to his expected appearance at that great perioc'l so often mentioned as *' the coming,'" "the appear"ance," "the day of <:he Lord." See ante 25, note on Rom. Jiiii. 11.

*•*• (<j) " Like him." It is very possible St. John and the other disciples might so far have formed a wrcng notion of the nature of Christ's approaching appearance, as to expeft tli at his faithful followers would at that time be singularly glorified, and perhaps, taken up into heaven: and a mistake in this respect, so •far from impeaching the epistles, seems to furnish a strong argument as to the time when they wen: written, viz. before the destrudion of .Jerusalem: after that event their expectation would be corrected, and they '.-ould no longer be under this mistake. Thus, 1 Thess. iv. 15, &c. St. Paul tnys, " We which are "alive and icrna in" (as if he expeded it whilst some of tl jem ren ained alive before that generation should have passed away) "uuio the con ling of the Lord, shall not "prevent thei n which are asleep : for the "Lord himst if shall descend from heaven

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"with a shout, with the voice of the arch"angel and with the trump of God : and "the dead in Christ shall rise first: then "we which are alive and remain, tlnO "be caught up together with then a "the clouds, to meet the Lord in the "air: and so shall we ever be with tbt "Lord." So Philipp. iii. 20, 21. be says, "Our conversation is in heaven, "from whence also we look for the "Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who "shall change our vile body, that it may "be fashioned like unto his glorioui "body." Again, Col. iii. 4. he says, "when Christ, who is our life, shall "appear, then shall ye also appear "with him in glory." See also 2 PeU iii. 10.—Rom. viii. 18. post, and see ante 30, note on Luke xxxii. I find Dr. Benson supposes the apostles might think the destruction of the world aaJ the end of the world would come to pass at or near the same period. Benson's Introduct. xxix.

(b) " See," &c. i. e. perhaps, have at t.: perfect knowledge as sight ordinarily gives. See note on 1 Cor. xiii. 12. post.

(c) "Purifieth," &c. i.e. endeavours v.} to purify—" as be," i e. God,

(it) " Take away," i.e. to remove r.5 the penal consequences of the past, and to restrain us from sinning in future.

(e) "Abideth in," i.e. adheres sted- t>.6. fastly to.

(/) " Sinneth not." Takes care to v.6commit no sin.

(y) "Not seen him," &c. i. c. not to »6any purpose.

(h) " Is righteous," &c. i.e. endea- v-, ▼ours to be perfect in righteousness; no one can be considered as " doing righte"ousness" who does not aim at this perfection.

purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might (1) destroy the works of the devil.

The Gospel. Matt. xxiv. 23.

Then (k) if any man shall say unto you, " Lo, here is Christ," 14. or " there;" believe it not. For there shall arise false (/) Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs (/;/) and wonders; insomuch («) that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very

D.8. (i) " To destroy," &c. i.e. to reform mankind; according to Tit. ii. 14. "to purify to himself a peculiar people, "zealous of good works."

23. (') "Then," &c. This is part of our Saviour's noted prophecy in answer to the question " when the temple "should be destroyed, and what should "be the sign of his coming."

24. (/) " False Christs." Many impostors, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, did accordingly appear before the destruction of Jerusalem, before the siege and during it. Their appearing at this time, and havingfollowers, is an argument that there was then a general expectation of the Messiah's coming. This refers to those who appeared during the siege of Jerusalem; he had noticed the appearance of others before it in v. r.

'. 24. (m) "Great signs." A miracle is not necessarily a proof that the doer has God's approbation. God may sanction a miracle from an impostor, to try men's faith. Thus, Deutr. xiii. 1, a, 3. Moses •ays, "if there arise among you a pro"phet, and he giveth thee a sign or a "wonder, and the sign or the wonder "cometh to pass, whereof he spake "unto thee, saying, let us go after "other gods, thou shalt not hearken "unto the words of that prophet, for "the Lord your God proveth you, to "know whether you love the Lord "your God with all your heart." Something may depend upon the character of the miracle, and the doctrine, &c. it is brought forward to sanction.

kM- (») "Insomuch that," &c. The rendering may be, " in order to de"ceive," and then it only implies what

elect (0). Behold, I have told you 25. before. Wherefore if they shall 26. say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth : Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the light- 27. ning (p) cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For (q) wherefo- 28. ever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Im- 29. mediately after the tribulation of thofe days shall the (r) sun be

was the object of the signs, &c. without importing that they were to be so extraordinary as to be likely to accomplish the object.

(0) "The very elect," i. e. the most v. 24. faithful Christians, those who had most manfully withstood all temptation, opposition, and persecution.

(/>) "As the lightning," &c. i. e. as <y. 27. the hghtning is not confined to place, not stationary, not waiting that any one may come to look at it, but extends in a moment from one end of heaven to the other, so the Son of man's coming shall not be confined to place, &c. he shall not be the object of sight, he shall be seen only by his effects, and those effects shall occur wherever his adversaries are.

(n) Wheresoever," &c. i.e. as cer- v. 28. tainly as the eagle or vulture will find out a dead carcase, so certainly will the instruments of the Messiah's vengeance find out his enemies. Job gives this character of the eagle, " where the slain "are, there is she." Job xxxix. 30. It is observable too, that the Roman armies were in this instance the instruments of God's vengeance, and their ensign was an eagle.

(r) " The sun shall be darkened." v. 29. In prophetic language great commotions, &c. on earth are represented by commotions, &c. in heaven, and the overthrow, &c. of earthly potentates by defects, &c. in the lights of heaven. In antient hieroglyphics the sun, moon, and stars stood for states, potentates, kings, &c. When God was foretelling by Isaiah the destruction of Babylon, Isaiah xiii. 9. he says, " Behold the day of the Lord

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darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall ■fall from heaven, and the powers .of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign (s) of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes (r) of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming (u) in the clouds of heaven with power 31. and great glory. And he shall send (x) his angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together his ele£t from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

.*•' cometh, cruel both with wrath and "fierce anger, to lay the land desolate, "and he shall destroy the sinners thereof "out of it. For the stars of heaven and "the c .mtellations thereof shall not give "their light, the sun shall he darkened in "his going forth, and the moon shall not "cause her light to shine," &c. So Joel ii. 31. speaking prophetically of the destruction of Jerusalem, says, "the sun "shall be turned into darkness, and the "moon into blood, before the great and "the terrible day of the Lord come." See also Ezek. xxxii. 7, 8.—Dan. viii. jo.

«. 30. (s) "The sign," &c. The vengeance will prove that he was the Messiah.

.« 30. {t) "The tribes of the earth," i. e. the adversaries of Christ's religion; the unbelievers, the men of this world.

i). 30, («) "Coming in the clouds of hea '* ven:" not literally, but figuratively: with as strong marks of his power as if he came visibly riding in the clouds. Daniel, speaking prophetically of the Messiah, Dan. vii. 13. says, "one like the "Son of Man came with the clouds of "heaven:" and, with reference to this prophecy, one of the names by which the Messiah was spoken of before the time of our Saviour was Auani, which signifies the clouds; and, when in answer to the question, whether he were the Christ the Son of Cod i our Saviour told the high priest that he was: he added, that they should "sec the Son of Man sitting at "the right hand of Power, and coming "in the clouds <f heavn" Matt. xxvi. 63 to 66. Mark xiv. 62. Coming in the clouds

Septuagesima Sunday, or the Third Sunday before Lent.

The Colled.

O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodnefs, for the glory of thy Name, through Jefus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

was perhaps never applied but to God, or to signify divine power. In Ps. xvin. to. it is said that God " rode upon the ck"rubims, and did fly; he came flying "upon the wings of the wind;" and Ps. civ. 3. that he maketh " the clouds "his chariot, and walketh upon the "wings of the wind."

(*) "Shall send," &c. not, perhaps, t •'• literally, but he shall as effectually provide for their preservation, as if he did. It is supposed that not a single Christian perished in these times. Dux Saviour had cautioned them, Matt. xxiv. 15. to flee as soon as they should see the abomination of desolation (i. e. the Roman ensigns) standing in (or about) tli .■ : ■'■<■ place; or, as St. Luke expresses it, Luke xxvi. 20. when they should see Jerusalem compassed with armies. Jerusalem was first besieged by Gallus; but he raised the siege, and the Christians all took the opportunity, and fled; so that when it was afterwards besieged by Titus, there was not one Christian remaining in it. 1,100,000 Jews perished in Jerusalem, 97,000 were taken prisoners, and 247,490 perished elsewhere. The preservation of the Christians had been foretold, Joel ii, 32. "And it shall "come to pass, that whosoever shall call "on the name of the Lord shall be de"livered: for in Mount Zion, and in "Jerusalem, shall be deliverance, as the "Lord hath said, and in the remnant "whom the Lord shall call." Sec a very able reading on this prophecy, 2 Poiteus's Lectures, 166, 199, Leo tures 19 and 20.

The Epistle. I Cor. ix. 24. (y)

Know ye not that they which

run m a race run all, but one re

ceiveth the prize? So run, that

15. ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

16. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly (z); so fight I, not as one

that (a) beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.

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{y) St. Paul presses upon the Corinthian converts exertion and self-denial, by reminding them how much they underwent to endeavour to succeed in their games, where however one only could be successful, and where the crown or prize, when obtained, was nothing to what would ultimately be conferred upon the faithful servants of Christ. The Isthmian games were celebrated near Corinth 5 so that the Corinthians would peculiarly feel the force of this species of argument.

(z) "Uncertainly." To a Christian, who strives to the utmost, success is certain: in a race, as one only can succeed, many who strive to the utmost must faiL

(a) "One that beateth the air," whose blow fails, is evaded by the opponent. In the Christian warfare no exertion can be thrown away.

(b) "The kingdom of heaven," i. e. God's dispensation under the gospel.

(c) "Like," &c. The objects of this parable seem to have been, to check Peter for having asked, Matt. xix. 27. "what they should have for having for"saken all and followed our Saviour," to prevent extraordinary expectations in the first converts, and to let them know that God alone was to apportion to each man his reward, that the lowest he would give would be to the utmost as much as any one could claim, and that he was not to be questioned if one appeared to have a greater proportion of reward than another. Our Saviour had indeed told him, that when he " should sit in the throne of "his glory, they should sit upon twelve "thrones, judging the twelve tribes "of Israel," tec. See ante 60. Matt, xix. 28. But he added, that " many "that were first should be last, and the "last should be first." And then he

27.

The Gospel. Matt. xx. I.

The (b) kingdom of heaven is like (c) unto a man that is an householder, which went out

spake this parable, which he concludes, "so the last shall be first," &c. as if that were the position he was meaning to establish. He might mean, that in after times, the exertions, sufferings, &c. of others, in the cause of Christianity, might be such as to entitle them to as great rewards as the first apostles, or that persons who became converts at an advanced period of their lives, and had not had an earlier opportunity, if they then exerted themselves to the utmost, might be entitled to the same rewards as persons converted younger; but the chief point seems to have been to convince them, that God was to apportion the reward, and not man, and that it was man's duty to be thankful for what was given to him, without looking jealously upon what was given to others. This is one proof of our Saviour's sincerity. An impostor would rather raise the expectations of his followers than depress them. Another objeft of the parable might be, to let the Gentiles know, that if they embraced Christianity, and endured with firmness the dangers and difficulties it might bring upon them, they, who had been so long in a state of spiritual idleness, because they had not received the benefits of revelation, and were therefore in an unhired state, might receive the same advantages from it as the Jews, who had been so long God's people and servants, and that the Jews would hav.e no right to complain, or to be envious, if God did allow the Gentiles those advantages. According to Rom. ix. 15. God is entitled to have "mercy on whom "he will have mercy, and to have com"passion on whom he will have com"passion.." If God gives to every man to the full as much as he has a right to, (and he gives -much more), no one is

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