ePub 版

that the case in short comes to this: He that makes shipwreck of
faith and a good conscience to save his life, shall lose that which
is really so, his everlasting happiness; whereas, he that maintain-
eth integrity at the expence of life and all its enjoyments, shall
find what is infinitely better, a blessed immortality. 39. He that
findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my
sake shall find it. 40. He that receiveth
receiveth me;
he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me: Whoso acknow-
ledgeth you as my apostles, and hearkens to you as such, ac-
knowledges and obeys me; and he who does so, really acknow-
ledges and obeys God who has commissioned me to reveal his
will to men, even as I now send you on the same errand. 41. He
that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a
prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the
name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward :
He who obeys a prophet as a person commissioned by God, to
reveal future events and to teach men their duty, who reverences
him as God's messenger, and who assists him in the execution of
his office, shall receive a reward of the same kind with that
which is promised to prophets, on account of their having turn-
ed many to righteousness. And he who respects and encourages
a righteous man, shall receive the reward due to righteousness,
of which this is an excellent instance.-42. And whosoever shall
give to drink unto one of these little ones (see on Matth. xi. 25.
$ 43.) a cup of cold water only, water in its natural state with-
out any preparation, which certainly is the least favour imagina-
ble, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in
no wise lose his reward. He who doth any good office whatever
to the meanest of my disciples, though it should be but the small
service of handing a cup of cold water to them, shall not go un-
rewarded. The above is the common interpretation of this pas-
sage. But other commentators think it improper to interpret
these promises of the rewards of the life to come, because the
offices to which they are annexed may possibly be performed by
very bad men, who on some occasions honour and cherish the ser-
vants of Christ, as Herod did John Baptist. Besides, the pro-
mises thus understood, would not have animated the disciples so
powerfully in the discharge of their duty, under the difficulties
they were to meet with. Wherefore, if the circumstance of
mens suffering persecution, for having done such good offices to
the ministers of Christ, which Le Clerc has supplied here in or-
der to obviate this difficulty, is not admitted, we must understand
these rewards actively, of the temporal blessings, which the apos-
tles, as prophets and righteous men, were empowered to confer
on the families who shewed them hospitality. As prophets they
could heal the sick in those families, and raise their dead. As
righteous men, they could assist them in the management of their


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

affairs, by giving them prudent advice in difficult cases, also might keep them back from sin by their religious conversation and example; and in both capacities might draw down many blessings on them by their prayers. (See ver. 13. of this chapter.) You are to meet, said he, with great opposition, but I will engage men to befriend you; for all who do you any kindness, shall even in this life be so rewarded by your miracles and prayers, that they shall be confirmed in their good will to you; and others observ ing how God has blessed them, shall be excited to imitate their humanity. Calvin thinks this text teaches, that the rewards of the good offices mentioned, will bear a proportion to the dignity of the person receiving them. L'Enfant imagines, that our Lord alludes to the old custom of carrying presents to prophets when persons went to consult them, 1 Sam. ix. 7. But whatever sense we put upon the passage, the declaration and promises here made, joined with verse 14. where our Lord threatens to punish those who should reject his messengers, were excellently calculated to comfort them, under the prospect of the bad reception he told them they were to meet with, while employed in preaching the gospel *.

These instructions were afterwards repeated to the apostles more hriefly, when they were actually sent out, Mark vi. 8. Luke ix. 2. § 58. For it does not appear that they went away immediately upon receiving their commission. They heard Jesus a considerable time after they were or dained apostles. And indeed it was necessary that they should do so, in order to learn more fully the doctrines of the gospel which they were to preach. It is probable, therefore, that they did not depart till they went by two's, an account of which we have in the passages quoted Wherefore, the evident propriety of this supposition, as well as the order of the history, renders it abundantly probable. Yet if the reader shall think that the word *Я, used by Matthew, ver 5. signifies something more than an order given to go forth in due time, he must suppose either that Jesus sent his apostles out twice, or that Matthew gives the history of their mission along with that of their commission, as he might very properly do, notwithstanding their mission did not happen till several months after. His words will easily bear this interpretation, as he only says, these twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, without determining particularly the time when he sent them forth. For that they did not go away iminediately af ter their ordination, may be gathered from this, that we find them accompanying Jesus in his next tour to Nain, Luke vii. 11. § 41. See the note on that passage. Besides, we find the disciples with him in the journey which he took immediately after to the passover.

§ XLI. Jesus goes to Nain and raises a widow's son from the dead. Matth. xi. 1. Luke vii. 11,-17.

OUR Lord having thus delivered to the apostles their commission and instructions, set out with them, probably that very evening, on a new tour through the cities and villages, proposing to preach to as many as would hear him, and to work miracles of healing on those who should apply to him. Mat. xi. 1. And it came


to pass when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve
disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities:
He chose to begin his journey in the cool of the evening, that he
might travel more commodiously; for Luke assures us that the
day after the apostles were elected he arrived at Nain, a town si-
tuated about a mile or two south of Tabor, and near Endor.
(See Reland's Palestin. Illustrat.) In this journey, he was at-
tended by a crowd of disciples and others. Luke vii. 11. And it
came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain,
and *
many of his disciples went with him, nd much people.
When Jesus, and the multitude that attended him, came to the
gates of Nain, they met the corpse of a youth whom much peo-
ple of the city were carrying out to burial, accompanied by his
afflicted mother bathed in tears. 12. Now when he came nigh to
the gate of the city, behold there was a dead man carried out, the
only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and much people
of the city was with her. This woman, being a widow, had no
prospect of more children; wherefore, as he was her only son,
the loss she sustained in him was very great. Hence the symp→
thy which she received from her relations and acquaintance was
singular. In testimony of their concern for her, a crowd of peo-
ple much greater than was usual on such occasions, attended her
while she performed the last duty to her beloved son. This cir-
cumstance the evangelist takes notice of to shew, that though
there had been no persons present at the miracle but those who
attended the funeral, it was illustrious on account of the number
of the witnesses. Jesus, whose tenderness made him susceptible
of the strongest impressions from occurrences of this kind, know-
ing that the mother's affliction was bitter, and the occasion of it
real, was greatly moved with compassion at the sorrowful scene. -
13. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and
said unto her, Weep not. Nor was his sympathy vain. He re-
solved to turn their mourning into joy by raising the young man
from the dead. And he could do this with a good grace, because
having met the funeral by accident just as he was finishing a
journey, it plainly appeared that there was no collusion in the case. "
Besides, the multitude of people attending the corpse, as Dr Lard-
ner has remarked, entirely prevents all suspicion, that the person
carried out was not dead; since to manage with success a fraud,
in which so many must have been concerned, was absolutely im-
possible. The miracle therefore being liable to no objection, Je-


Luke vii. 11. Many of his disciples went with him.] I suppose the apostles were of the number of the disciples here said to have made part of his retinue, because it is not to be imagined that he would suffer the chosen witnesses of his miracles (Acts x. 39.) to be absent, when so great a micacle was to be performed as the resurrection of a person from the dead; nay, was to be performed publicly, in the presence of all those who were carrying him out, in order to bury him.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

sus came near, laid hold on the bier, and bade the young man arise. 14. And he came and touched the bier, and they that bare him stood still, and he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise-m No sooner had he uttered this command than the youth revived, having received life from Jesus. 15. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak; and he delivered him to his mother: Instead of shewing him around to the multitude, Jesus, by a singular exercise of modesty and humanity, presented him to his mother, to intimate, that in compassion of her affliction he had wrought the lite-giving miracle. At the same time, as it was performed hard by the city gate, which anciently in those countries was the place of public resort, the youth must have been raised from the dead in presence of many witnesses, particularly the multitude which came with Jesus, the people who accompanied the corpse, and all who on business happened to be at that instant in the gate. Wherefore, being so publicly performed, this great miracle became also a noble confirmation of our Lord's mission. 16. And there came a fear on all: All the people present being sensible, that Jesus shewed in this instance, not only the greatness of his power, but the truth of his mission from God, were seized with a religious awe and reverence, which had him for its object, -and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. This is the expression which Zacharias, the father of the Baptist, used when he spake of the coming of Messiah. Wherefore the meaning of the inhabitants of Nain was this: God hath visited his people, by having raised up among them the great prophet promised to Moses in the law. The envangelist justly observes, that by acknowledging Jesus as Messiah, they honoured God.-17. And this rumour of him, that he was the prophet promised to Moses, or Messiah, went forth throughout all Judea and throughsut all the region round about: Wherever the miracle was reported, which was not only in Judea, but in all the neighbouring regions, it produced the same opinion in those who heard of it, as it had done in the inhabitants of Nain who saw it; so that Jesus was universally believed to be Messiah.

XLII. John Baptist sends messengers to Jesus. They find him at Capernaum. Jesus vindicates the Baptist's character. Mat. xi. 2,-20. Luke vii. 18,--35.

ALL this while, John Baptist was in prison, Herod having confined him for the freedom which he took in reproving his adulterous commerce with Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. But his confinement was not of the closest kind, for his disciples had access to see him frequently. In one of those visits, they gave him an account of the election of the twelve apostles to preach the gospel, and of Christ's miracles; particularly that he had




lately raised from the dead Jarius' daughter, and the widow of Nain's son; as is plain from Luke, who brings in the history of John's message immediately after these miracles, in the following manner: Luke vii. 18. And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things. Mat. xi. 2. Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, he sent, &c. Luke vii. 19. And John calling unto him two of his disciples, sent them unto Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come, the appellation given to Messiah, Hab. ii. 3. or look we for another? Formerly John had pointed our Lord out as Messiah to the people who attended his ministry, and had declared that the discovery was made to him by revelation. It may therefore seem strange, that he should at any time have entertained the least doubt of it, because that would imply a thing which can by no means be admitted, viz. that a prophet might be in an uncertainty with respect to his own inspiration. To obviate this difficulty, some have supposed that John sent his disciples only to learn whether the person who performed those miracles was he on whom the Spirit formerly had descended. But the supposition is improbable, as at this time there was no other worker of miracles in Judea, who could give occasion to the doubt. Besides, when John's disciples spake of Jesus, they must have mentioned him by his name, which the Baptist was well acquainted with, or they must have described him so as to distinguish him sufficiently from all other persons whatever, as we find them doing, John iii. 26. "Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness," &c. Wherefore, the weakness of this solution is evident. Others think that John did not send his disciples to Jesus for the confirmation of his own faith, but for the strengthening of theirs. However, the scope of the passage forbids this solution also, insinuating that he sent the message for his own sake principally. His disciples, it is said, came and related to him Christ's miracles; particularly the two resurrections which had been lately performed. But the more and greater miracles Jesus wrought, the higher must the opinion have been which the Baptist's disciples entertained of him. His miracles, instead of weakening, should have strengthened their faith in him, and in their master's testimony concerning him. Besides, had the greatness of his miracles really staggered their faith, it is not easy to understand how they should have been disposed to believe Christ's testimony concerning himself, rather than their master's concerning him. Not to mention that Jesus bade the disciples go and carry his answer to John, "Go, tell John what ye hear and see," plainly implying, that John had sent the message for his own sake chiefly, and not for the sake of his disciples.

The Baptist entertaining an high opinion of his own gifts, thought it was necessary that he should preach the gospel, and


« 上一頁繼續 »