Page images
PDF
EPUB

there abide till ye go thence. When ye enter into any city, endeavour to find out those who are most remarkable for their piety, probity, and hospitality, who are expecting the Messiah's kingdom, who will receive the news of it with pleasure, and who, in all probability, will assist you in publishing it; and when ye have found such persons, abide with them till ye leave that city or village. We have this more fully expressed in the instructions to the seventy, Luke x. 7. “ In the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they have; go not from house to houfe.” Doubtless the disciples on fome occafions might change their quarters with decency; but our Lord absolutely forbade them to do it for the sake of better entertainment, that they might not give mankind the least handle of imagining they served their bellies. Matt. X. 12. And when ye come into an house, salute it : of, as it is in the instructions given to the feventy, Luke x. 5.

Say, peace be to this house.” For in the eastern countries * the form of salutation used among friends was, Peace be to you, or to this boufe. Hence our Lord adds, 13. And if the boufe be wortby, be of a hospitable disposition and receive you, let

your peace come upon it ; let your falutation be made effectual, by its enjoying great temporal and fpiritual prosperity ; fo do I command who have the government of the world. But if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you ; your benedi&tion shall retum to yourselves, for ye shall be fure to find the more kindness elsewhere, that you have been ill used by these inhospitable people. 14. And whosoever fall not + receive you, that is, entertain you kindly, nor bear your words, when ye depart out of that bouse or city, jake off the dust of your feet The Jews fancied that the very dust of heathen countries polluted them; for which reason, when they returned to their own land, they used to stop at the borders of it, and wipe their feet, that the holy inheritance might not be defiled. If our Lord had this custom in his eye, his meaning was, Look upon those who refuse you the offices of humanity, and will not hearken to your instructions, as no better than heathens. Accordingly, the direction is thus expressed, Mark vi. 11. Shake off the duft under your feet, for a testimony against them : declare in the plainest manner, that for the future you will not have the least intercourse with such an obstinate and impious race. Matt. X. 15. Verily I say unto you, it mall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrab, in the day of judgment, tban for that city : persons, the matter of whose crimes far exceed theirs, are less guilty than they, because they have not despised such advantages, so that they shall be more lightly punished.

against houses for lodging them, called in modern language Caravanserai's, into which travellers brought their own provisions, and accommodated themseives the best way they could. But it was common for persons of humane difpofitions, fuch as cur Lord here calls ažios, worthy persons, to entertain ftrangers according to their ability. See judges xix. 15,-?1.

* The form of falutation, &c.) Thus when Mofes and his father-in-law Jethro met, the text says they asked each other peace, Exod. xviii. 7. that is, asked for peace, prayed for it, wished it to each other. See Jolin xiv. 27.

Ver. 14. Receive you.] In scripture, so receive one, fignifies to allow him the bencfit of our company, to converse familiariy with him, and to do him good offices. See Luke xv. 2. It fignifies ail) !o entertain one hospitably; being applied twice to Rahab's entitaining the spies, Heb, xi. 31. James ii,

15.

Considering the nature of the tidings which the apostles were now sent out to publish, namely, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, considering also the number and variety of the miracu- . lous cures which they were enabled to perform in confirmation of their doctrine, together with the greatness of the benefits they were empowered to confer upon the families who should entera tain them kindly, it is reasonable to think that they were flattering themselves with the hopes of great honour and acceptance wherever they came. In the mean time, the event was by no means to answer their expectation. They were every where to be despised, persecuted, delivered up into the hands of public juftice, and punished as evil doers. Our Lord therefore thought fit to forewarn them of these things, made them large promises of the divine aid, and gave them directions with respect to their conduct in every circumstance. Matt. x. 16. Bebold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves : I now send you forth weak and defenceless among a cruel and wicked people. Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves : on the one hand, be so prudent as not to irritate the wicked, and those who shall oppose you, either by your behaviour or your doctrine unnecefsarily, (Matt. vii. 6.); on the other hand, let not your prudence degenerate into craft, left it lead you to betray the truth, or to encourage men in their evil practices. Join prudence and mnocence together, rendering yourselves remarkable for integrity amidst the greatest temptations, and for meekness under the greatest provocations. 17. But beware of men : though I order you to be meek and patient under injuries, I do not mean that you should not be on your guard, and if poffible avoid them. No; the more circumspect you are in the whole of your conversation with the men of this world, whom I before compared to wolves, it is so much the better ; for, after all, you will meet with many indignities, and often be in danger of death, even from the hand of public justice ; for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues as apoftates. 18. And ye shall be brought before governors and kings, as malefactors, for my fake. These things did not happen while the apostles were out on their first mission. They came to pass after Christ's afcenfion, when Peter and John were called before the sanhedrim, Ads iv. 6, 7. and beaten, Acts v. 40. Also when James and

Peter

Peter were brought before Herod, A&s xii. 3. Paul before king
Agrippa and his

wife, and the Roman governors Gallio, Felix,
Feitus; and, last of all, before the emperor Nero, and his prefect
Helius Cæfarianus. For a testimony against them and the Gene
tiles : all these things are ordered to befal you, that your inno-
cence may appear, and that the truth of the gospel may be de-
monstrated. Accordingly, the patience which the apostles shew-
ed under continual persecutions, and the courage wherewith they
went to death in confirmation of their doctrine, became strong
proofs of their innocence, and of the truth of the gospel. More-
over, if the apostles had never been brought before the supreme
powers, nor defended their cause in the presence of kings and
governors, it might have been said, that becausc Chriftianity
cauld not bear à ftrict examination fem able judges, it was
preached to none but men of vulgar understandings, who were
not capable of detecting it. But when persons of the highest di-
ftinction for birth, fortune, capacity and learning, had the gospel
laid before them in the defences which the apostles were obliged
to make at the public tribunals of every country, its standing
such a trial was certainly a great confirmation of its truth to per-
fons of inferior note. Wherefore, as Jesus here foretold, the per-
secutions which the apostles suffered, and their being brought be-
fore kings, became a testimony of their innocence, and of the
truth of the gospel, and consequently an undeniable proof of the
guilt both of the Jews and Gentiles who rejected it.
wbea they deliver you up, take no tbought how or wbat ye shall
Ipak, for it fball be given you in that same bour what ye shall
Speak 20. For it is not ye that speak but the spirit of your
Fatber wbicb speakerb in you

This direction was repeated on several occasions afterwards, particularly Luke xii. 11. Mark xiii. 11. The apostles being illiterate men, and wholls unacquainted with the laws of the different countries whither they were to go, and with the forms of their courts, their Master foresaw that they would be in great perplexity, when they appeared as criminals before persons of the first distinction. He foresaw, likewife, that this circumstance would occur to themselves, and render them anxious to meditate beforehand, by what apology they might best defend so noble a cause. More than once, therefore, he expressly forbade them to be in the least folicitous about the defences they were to make, or so much as to premeditate any part of them; promising to afford them on all occasions the aid of their Father's spirit, who would inspire them to speak in a manner becoming the cause they were to defend.

21. And the brother fall deliver up the brother to death, and the fatber the child, and the children fall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death : such is the nature of the men among whom ye are going, and such the obstinacy with which Vol. II, B

they

19. Put

H

they shall oppose the gospel, that were it their brother, their father, or their son who preaches it, they would make no scruple of being active in putting those nearest relations to death. You may therefore expect the hottest persecution. But as you are to have great assistances, you need not be dismayed.

22. And

ус Fall be hated of all men for my name's fake, i. e. ye shall be hated by the generality of men. The apostles and first Christians fet themselves in opposition both to the Jewih and Pagan religions, declaring the nullity of the former, and urging the renunciation of the latter in all its forms, as matter of indispensable necessity. On the most tremendous penalties they required every man, without exception, to believe in Christ, and submit implicitly to his authority; a demand most galling to the pride of princes, priests, and philosophers. Moreover, having a lively sense of the importance of the things which they preached, they urged them not in a cold and indifferent manner, but with the utmost fervency. Need it be matter of wonder then, that in every country such a furious storm of persecution arose against thein and the religion they taught, and that they were treated as the filth and offscourings of the earth? But be that endureth to the end shall be saved. This encouragement Jesus likewise gave his disciples, when he spake to them of the sufferings they were to meet with, about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matt. xxiv. 13. We may therefore believe, that he had those sufferings now in his view. 23. But when they perfecute you in this city, flee ye into another ; for verily I say unto you, ye shall not haveřgone over the cities of Ifrael, till the Son of man be come.

Let not the persecutions ve are to meet with in any period of your ministry discourage you ; but when ye are sore pressed in one city, flee into another, where ye will meet with an asylum ; for I assure you, in spite of all opposition, your labours thall be attended with such success, that ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come : before ye have carried the glad tidings of the gospel to the several cities of Israel, my kingdom shall be established in many places ; so that in the midst of the hottest persecution, ye may always expect to find some who will befriend you. By the coming of the Son of man here mentioned, Lightfoot understands his resurrection from the dead; others the destruction of Jerusalem, called the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven, Matt. xxiv. 30.; others the miraculous effufion of the Spirit, named by our Lord himself, his coming, John xiv. 18.; but the last is the more simple and natural explication. 24. The disciple is not above his master, or the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as bis master, and the Servant as his lord: if they have calied the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more Mall they call them of his housebold? That you may bear all with a becoming fortitude, consider that

they

they have calumniated, traduced, and persecuted me your master, for which cause, you my disciples cannot think it hard if they fhall calumniate and persecute you. Matt. x. 26. Fear them not tberefore, for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and bid that shall not be known: Be not afraid of their calumnies, however false or malicious, for neither shall their wickedness nor your innocence be always concealed; both shall be manifefied, at least in the day of judgment. Wherefore, the doctrines of the gospel which I have delivered to you in private, ou ought to preach plainly and publicly without the fear of men. I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye bear is the ear (in private) that preach ye upon the house tops. See on Mark ii. 4. 33. 28. And fear not ihem wbich kill the body, but are not able to kill the foul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both foul and body in hell. The utmost malice of your enemies cannot reach your better part, your soul, it can only hurt your body; for which reason you ought to fear them less than God, who, if you offend him, can destroy (torment, so atomicut fometimes signifies) both soul and body in hell. Besides, you thould consider that your enemies cannot touch even your bodies, without your Father's permission. For the meanest of his creatures are under the protection of his providence, insomuch that nothing befalleth them without its direction. 29. Are not two Sparrows fold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. The regard which the great Father of the univerfe has for all his creatures, small and great, is strongly represented in the book of Jonah, where God makes his compassion to brute beasts, one of the reasons why he would not destroy Nineveh. “ Should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than fix score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left, and also much cattle?” 30. But the very bairs of your bead are all numbered. Men number whatever things of value are in their possession, left any of them should be lost through the carelessness or knavery of those who have them in charge. The numbering therefore of the disciples hairs, shews how precious his servants are in God's fight, and what a strict account he takes of every thing that concems them. 31. Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value iban many sparrows : since the least of God's creatures are so much the object of his care, ye who are honoured with so important an employment as that of preaching the gospel is, need not be afraid. 32. Whosoever therefore all confess me before men, bim will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33. But wbofoever fball deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Fatber wbich is in heaven (See 2 Tim. ii. 12. Rev. iii. 5. Rom. x. 9,-11.) Whofoever fall make profeflion of my religion in time of persecution, and by an inviolable at

27. What

tachinert

« PreviousContinue »