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LUKE X. 1-20.
"After these things, the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself would come. 2. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 3. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way. 5. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 6. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. 7. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9. And heal the sick that are therein; and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 10. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 11. Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding, be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 12. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. 13. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. 15. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. 16. He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me. 17. And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."
LUKE is the only evangelist who gives us an account of this very important branch of the Gospel history, the appointment, mission, and success of the seventy. After these things," says he, "the Lord," (for so he styles Jesus in a way expressive of his divinity,) "the Lord appointed other seventy also;" that is, in addition to the twelve. In fixing
the exact number of the apostles, Christ seems to have had regard to the number of the tribes of Israel; and so in fixing the exact number of this additional set of labourers, he seems to have had regard to the number of the elders of Israel. The number seventy is, indeed, a remarkable number in Scripture.* The number of Jacob's family who came down into Egypt was seventy. At Elim there were "twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees." Seventy of the elders of Israel were taken up into the mount with Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, to see the glory of God. Seventy elders were afterwards chosen to assist Moses in governing; and the Spirit which was upon him was given to them, and they prophesied. The Jewish sanhedrim, or chief council, afterwards consisted of seventy. And now, our Lord ordains and commissions seventy persons, besides the apostles, to go and preach the gospel, and to prepare the way for him in those cities which he was to visit. From this it appears that, by this time, the cause of Christ was growing, and that the number of his followers was considerable. The names of the seventy are not given, but it is probable that many who are afterwards mentioned as the friends and companions of the apostles were of the number.
You will observe that the instructions given to the seventy are, in most particulars, the same with those given to the twelve, in the beginning of the preceding chapter and the parallel passages of the other evangelists. The instructions are the same with regard to their proceeding two and two-their making no extraordinary provision for the journey, which was to be short-their just title to be supported in the work the indifference they should show to all selfindulgence the prudent way they should conduct themselves when they entered into any city and house-the subject of their preaching, namely, the kingdom of Godthe miracles of healing they were to work in proof of their divine mission-and finally, how they were to wipe off the dust of their feet as a testimony against those who would
* Exod. i. 5, xv. 27, xxiv. 1; Numb. xi. 16. The number now sent out by Christ was, unquestionably, exactly seventy. The number seventytwo, in the Vulgate, is an unjustifiable departure from the Greek, and a manifest corruption. Some writers speak of the sanhedrim, or chief council of the Jews, having consisted of seventy-two, or six from each tribe; but there is no sufficient foundation for that opinion. If, indeed, Moses be counted as presiding over the seventy elders, and if the president of the sanhedrim in later times be counted, the number would be seventy-one.
not receive them. The former account was also introduced by a similar statement of the fewness of labourers, and of an injunction to the disciples to pray that the Lord of the spiritual harvest would thrust forth more. Having so lately considered these particulars, we shall now pass them over entirely, or almost, without remark, and shall only consider the circumstances which did not come before us then.
"Behold," said Jesus, verse 3, "I send you forth as lambs among wolves." Even in this first journey, still more in their subsequent labours, they were to be exposed to the subtlety and cruelty of men, whom he compared to wolves, and whom they could not resist by force and therefore, if he stated as fully to them the way in which they should carry themselves as he did to the twelve, he told them to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves," and added other considerations of a comforting and encouraging nature. The trying situation of the seventy, here so briefly, yet so emphatically described, has often been that of other preachers, and of private followers of the Lord; and they are here reminded that though, in some situations, they may do well to avail themselves of other means of defence, particularly the protection of the law, yet in most cases, their best means of safety, under God, are their own prudence and gentleness. Are any of you who desire to be faithful to Christ, in any way beset and harassed on that account? cautiously avoid whatever would needlessly irritate your troublers, and furnish them with a handle against you; and, at the same time, bear their unkind treatment with all meekness, and cease not to conduct yourselves in a friendly and conciliating manner towards them. In this way, you will probably disarm their hostility at last, and you will, at all events, retain your own peace of mind, and the bation of your blessed Master.
"Salute no man by the way," said our Lord to the seventy. Neither this, nor any other part of Scripture, can be justly considered as discountenancing the ordinary tokens of civility between man and man. There may be some Pharisees who vainly "love salutations in the marketplaces," but that is no reason why Christians should not be courteous, or why they should affect needless singularity of manners. Our Lord here intended, by the prohibition, not to do away salutations in general, but to impress on the minds of the seventy the expedition with which they should * Matt. x. 16.
proceed to accomplish their important mission. Thus, when Elisha sent away his servant, Gehazi, to Shunem, in haste, he said to him,* "Go thy way; if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again." It is to be remembered that salutations, in the East, were not made by a slight gesture, or a word; but were very formal, and required considerable time.t
Our Lord further directed the seventy that "into whatsoever house they entered, they should first say, Peace be to this house." This was the usual form of salutation on
entering a house. "Get ye up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name," said David to his ten young men, and thus shall ye say to him, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast." Peace, in such salutations, seems to have been put for every blessing; and in using the expression, the seventy must have referred, not only to all providential good, but to the blessings of the gospel of peace, which they were sent out to publish and propose. "And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it." According to a Hebrew form of expression, persons are called the sons, or children, of that by which they are characterized, or to which they are exposed, whether good or evil. Thus, we are to understand by "children of disobedience," disobedient persons; by the "children of this world," worldly persons; by the "children of light," enlightened persons; by "sons of Belial," wicked persons; by “children of wrath," persons exposed to wrath; by "sons of death," persons appointed to die; by "the children of the promise," the persons to whom the promise was made, and on whom its blessings were to come. So, by "the son of peace," we are to understand any man who was in possession, or who was desirous, of the blessings included in the word peace, or, any one on whom He from whom all blessings flow intended to confer peace. If there be any such person in the house, "your peace shall rest upon it;" your prayer for a blessing shall be answered favourably for the object of it: and "if not "if there be no such person there, yet your prayer, though lost to the house, shall not be lost to yourselves "it shall turn to you again," you yourselves shall be the better
* 2 Kings iv. 29.
"Salutationes istæ non fiebant levi gestu verbove, sed multis percunctationibus, bonisque ominibus trahebantur, non sine multis corporis flexionibus, osculis, amplexibus."-Grotius, in locum.
for these pious and benevolent wishes. Thus, the Psalmist testifies that "his prayer" for his enemies "returned into his own bosom." And, as in Isa. xlix., "Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain; yet surely, my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with 66 God."my Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength." Let us all habitually cherish a sincere and ardent desire for the temporal and spiritual welfare of those with whom we may have any intercourse; hoping, as we may justly hope, that in some cases that desire will be fully gratified, and believing what our own experience will completely confirm, that when it shall not succeed as to its direct object, it will reflect back the happiest influence on our own edification and comfort.
Our Lord directed the seventy to remain wherever they were received, "eating and drinking such things as they gave," and "as were set before them :"+"cheerfully and contentedly eating and drinking what they found; for, it was beneath them to be very solicitous and nice, and to occasion any unnecessary trouble in the family." In this, too, our Lord, probably, referred to those complicated rules of the Pharisees respecting meats and drinks, which were founded on their own traditions, and not enjoined in the law of Moses. They were extremely punctilious in these matters; and it was difficult to set a meal, or a dish, before them, with which they would not find some fault, or with regard to which they would not raise some scruple about partaking of it. Christ directed them to disregard all such trifles. If not yet actually arrived, the time was at hand when the rule was to be followed, which was afterwards expressly laid down by the apostle Paul: "If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go, whatsoever is set before you eat, asking no questions for conscience' sake."
Jesus stated, as the reason why the seventy should readily receive such assistance, that "the labourer is worthy of his hire." With the same view, he said (Matt. x. 10) in reference to the twelve, "The workman is worthy of his meat.' The minister of the gospel is a labourer, or workman; and
* Ps. xxxv. 13.
+ Τα παρατιθεμενα—Ην δε τα μεν παρατιθεμενα ἀει ἰσα αὐτῷ σε τοις καλουμενοις ἐπι το δειπνον, “The same things were always set before Cyrus, as before those who were invited to the entertainment."-Cyropæd. lib. ii. + Doddridge.