« السابقةمتابعة »
A. M. 4035,
&c. or 5441.
From the Mount of transfiguration our Lord proceeded in his journey through the Ann. Dom other parts of Galilee towards Capernaum; and as they were in the way, he acquainted
31, &c. Vulg. Er. 30.
his disciples, the second time, with his approaching death and resurrection, desiring them to take good notice of what he told them; but the hopes of a temporal kingdom had so intoxicated their minds, that they found it very difficult to believe † or conceive what he said, and yet they were afraid to ask him to explain it.
In the same journey there arose a dispute || among the apostles, which of them should have the chief place of dignity te in their master's kingdom, still dreaming of a tem
and, on several occasions, had found the prevailing power of faith, even when theirs was not so well improved as it was at present; and yet, how faith becomes necessary in the exorcism of devils, when we find strangers doing it in the name of Christ, Mark ix. 38; or how the faith of the apostles came to be defective now, when not many days before it was so very effectual; why some evil spirits were proof against the name of Christ, whilst others fled at the bare mention of it; and why some surrendered at the first summons, while fasting and prayer were the only artillery that could dislodge others: These, and many more questions that might be raised from our Saviour's words, are points wherein the best commentators we have met with have not once attempted to give us any satisfaction. Calmet's Commentary. [In the expression" But this kind goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting"-there must be confessed to be a difficulty not easy to be removed. Whitby however seems to have done more towards removing it, than Calmet in this long note quoted by our author. According to the English commentator, our Lord doth not here mean to express the pertinacity of any particular kind of devils, far less the power which the great sins of the possessed had given them over him, for the person out of whom the disciples could not on this occasion eject the devil had been possessed from his childhood-aidies-when he could have been guilty of no great sin; but the import of the expression was to inform his disciples, that the miraculous faith necessary to the working of miracles, being the special gift of God, was to be sought for by devotion, and all the means calculated to give ardour to that devotion.]
The words in the text are, "They understood not this saying, and it was hid from them," Luke ix. 45. They understood our Saviour's words, no doubt, and what the import was of his being "delivered into the hands of men, and put to death;" but then they could not comprehend how their master, whom they knew to be the Messiah, and Son of God, and whom, consequently, they believed to be immortal and eternal, could possibly be put to death, or suffer the affronts and outrages of men. These notions to them seemed incompatible, and therein they conceived a mystery which they could not understand: But the modern Jews have endeavoured to reconcile these two notions, by inventing the distinction of Messiah Ben Joseph, who was to die, and Messiah Ben David, who was to triumph and live for ever. Calmet's Commentary, and Whitby's Annotations.
There is some small difference in the several
ways wherein the evangelists have related this matter. St Matthew tells us, that "the disciples came to Jesus, saying, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" chap. xviii. 1. St Mark, that Christ put this question to them," and they held their peace," chap. ix. 34. and St Luke, that they had been disputing this point among themselves, and Jesus, " perceiving the thought of their hearts, took a child," &c. chap. ix. 46, 47. Now, to reconcile this seeming repugnancy, we must observe, that as our Saviour was going to Capernaum his disciples followed him, "discoursing among themselves (as St Mark has it) who of them was to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven;" that when they came to him in the house, having still the same ambitious notion in their minds, he asked them, "What was it that you discoursed of in the way?" But they, being ashamed to tell him, "held their peace;" and that then our Saviour, who wel! understood what the subject of their discourse had been, endeavoured, by the example of a child, to cure their distemper, and to inform them what disposition of mind was proper to qualify them both for his kingdom of grace here, and his kingdom of glory hereafter. St Matthew indeed, according to our translation, represents the thing as if the disciples had put the question to their master, "who should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" But that the participle Xiyorres relates not to Jesus, but to the disciples, and means not the external speech, but the inward reasoning of their minds, is obvious from their silence which St Mark takes notice of, and our Sa viour's perceiving the thought of their hearts, which St Luke remarks: For had themselves propounded the question to our Saviour, (as the version in St Matthew seems to imply), we cannot see why they should not answer his demand, which tended to the same purpose; nor can we imagine why he should be represented " as perceiving the thoughts of their hearts," had they already declared these thoughts in plain words. Whitby's Annotations.
+ The apostles, as well as the other Jews, had imbibed the notion, which they never got quit of, until the descent of the Holy Ghost instructed them better, that the Messiah, when he came upon earth, should erect a temporal kingdom; and, as the Jews in general expect, that they should then be constituted Lords over all other nations; so the apostles, who believed their master to be the Messiah, were naturally led to think, that they should have the preference before all other Jews; and that, since the king Messiah, according to the custom of other sovereigns, was to have some officers of the highest rank,
23. Luke vi. 1.
John vii. 1.
poral sovereignty. This our Saviour by his Divine Spirit knew; and therefore, to give an From Matth. effectual check to their ambitious thoughts, he first informed them, that the only way for xii. 1. Mark ii. any man to become great in his kingdom, was to be lowly in his own esteem; and then John v. 1. to calling a little child †, and setting him in the midst of them, he proposed him as a Mark ix, 14. pattern of meekness and humility; recommended such children, and in them all hum- Luke ix. 37. ble Christians to the favour of mankind; cautioned them against doing any injury †2, or giving any offence to such, because of their guardian angels *; and, to remove the occasion of all such offences, exhorted them to mortify their inordinate affections, though they were as dear to them as an eye, an hand, or a foot, because his heavenly Father (like a diligent shepherd that delights in the recovery of a stray-sheep) was unwilling that any believer should perish. Together with these reasons against scandal and offences, he prescribed some excellent rules in relation to brotherly reproof, churchcensures, and forgiveness of injuries; and, for the enforcement of this last duty, he propounded the parable of a certain king, who, calling his servants to account, found Dead Sea with a stone tied to them." It is certain, from Diodorus Siculus, and others, that, among the Greeks, this was the ancient punishment for sacrilegious persons; and from Suetonius we may learn, that, for the pride and covetousness wherewith some in public offices had infested the province where they lived, Augustus had them cast into the river with great weights about their necks. Whitby's Annotations.
* It were too nice, perhaps, to say, that every distinct man has his distinct guardian angel. It may be true, sometimes, that many have but one, and it may be true, at other times, that one has many, as we find Jacob had at Mahanaim, and Elisha at Dothan ; but this we may safely affirm, that no good man is without an angel, to inspect his behaviour, and to solicit his well-being. To this purpose Abraham tells his servant, travelling to Nahor, "The Lord will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way," Gen. xxiv. 40. and Jacob makes mention of one who " had redeemed him from all evil," and wishes the same protection to his children, Gen. xlviii. 16. The Psalmist gives us express testimony, that the "angel of the Lord standeth round about those that fear him," Psalm xxxiv. 7. And that passage which the devil applies to our Saviour," he shall give his angels charge over thee, and keep thee in all thy ways," is delivered by the Psalmist as true of every servant of Christ, as well as of Christ himself; for they are all ministring spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." Young's Serm. vol. ii.
they made no question but that some of them would be made choice of, though they were not so well agreed who were the fittest or most deserving of these high posts of honour. Some of them were our Lord's relations, and others had parts and endowments extraordinary; of some he had given high commenda tions, and others he had admitted to a participation in his most secret retirements. These things might possibly raise some emulation among them; and therefore, as our Saviour's dominion was not of this world, he plainly tells them, that all such worldly desires and expectations were inconsistent with that spiritual kingdom which he was to erect, and wherein "he, who desired to be first, was to be last of all, and servant of all," Mark ix. 35. Whitby's and Pool's Annotations.
† Some of the ancients are of opinion, that this child was St Ignatius, who was afterwards bishop of Antioch, and famous in the Christian church for his writing and dying in the defence of the truth. How ever this be, it is certain, that a child, who has no concern for dominion or empire over others, who is free from all covetous desires of wealth, and knows nothing of what a post of honour means, was in this case a very proper emblem of that simplicity, innocence, and humility, that our Lord requires in all his disciples. Calmet's Commentary, and Whitby's An
+ The words in the caution are,-" Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea," Matth. xviii, 6. To offend, or scandalize, is to discourage men in the profession and practice of religion, and by indignities and persecutions, as well as by bad examples, to occasion their apostatizing from the faith; for we can hardly imagine, that so severe a punishment as is here threatened should be inflicted for a crime of less aggravation than what this amounts to. Grotius, upon the place, is of opinion, that the millstone about the neck alludes to a custom of drowning among the Syrians. But St Jerom thinks that this manner of execution was in use among the Jews; for, according to Dr Alix, it was customary for them "to cast execrable men into the
[This seems to me to be very erroneous and very dangerous doctrine, which hath no foundation in the word of God. If no good man be without an angel to inspect his behaviour, and to solicit his well-being, then is it not true that there" is but one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." That the holy angels are often employed by God in his government of this sublunary world, is indeed clearly to be proved by holy writ; that they have powers over matter and inferior minds analogous to the powers which men possess-greater indeed in extent, but still limited, is a thing which might reasonably be supposed, if it were not declared; but if there be a proposition in metaphysics or ontology which is incon
A. M. 4035,
&c. or 5441.
31, &c. Vulg. Ær. 30.
that one of them owed him an immense sum, no less than ten thousand talents †, which upon his insolvency, and humble petition, he freely forgave; and yet this very wretch was no sooner out of the king's presence, than he seized upon his fellow-servant for a trifle of a debt, a debt of an hundred pence only, and cast him into prison, even though he had used the same pathetic intreaties to him, that himself had done to the king his master: which when the king came to understand, he sent for the ungrateful villain; upbraided him with his baseness and cruelty; and then in great rage ordered him to prison until he should discharge the whole debt. "And + so likewise shall my hea venly Father (says our Lord in the application) deal with all such as will not forgive their brother's trespasses from their hearts."
While he was giving these instructions to his disciples, he was interrupted by John, the son of Zebedee, informing him of a certain stranger +3 who cast out devils in his name, but because he was not of their fraternity, that he had forbidden him; which conduct Jesus by no means could approve of, because he looked upon it as a sure argument, that whoever did miracles in his name could be no enemy to his person.
With this discourse they arrived to Capernaum, where the collectors † of a certain
trovertible, it is surely that no created being is pos-
+ Which in our money amount to one million eight hundred and seventy five thousand pounds; whereas, the hundred pence that his fellow servant was indebted to him, was but about three pounds two shillings and sixpence.
The doctrinal observation that properly results
from the text is this,That our sins, once forgiven, may, by a forfeiture of that pardon by our future misbehaviour, be again charged upon us; for God's pardons in this life are not absolute, but conditional only. According to the petition of the Lord's prayer, they are answerable to our dealings with others, and are likely to be no longer continued to us than we perform the condition. Whitby's and Hammond's Annotations.
+3 That this man did truly cast out devils, our Lord's answer supposes, and his disciples saw with their eyes: But then the question is,-How a person who did not follow Christ could cast out devils in his name? To which it may be answered, 1st, That this person might believe in Jesus, without being one of his retinue, and follow his doctrine, though he did not his person. 2dly, He might do miracles in the name of Jesus Christ, without being one of his true disciples, even as Judas is supposed to have done, and those others to whom our Lord will profess, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye workers of iniquity," Matth. vii. 23. Or, 3dly, He might be a disciple of John the Baptist, and so do his miracles in the name of Christ, shortly to come. But by what means soever it was that he did them, it is no small confirmation of the truth of Christianity, that our Saviour's name was thus powerful, even among those that did not follow him, and therefore were incapable of doing any thing by way of compact with him. Whitby's and Pool's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
+ Every Jew that was twenty years old, was obliged to pay annually two attic drachms, or half a shekel, (about fifteen pence of our money) for the use of the sanctuary, Exod. xxx. 13. 16. or to buy sacrifices and other things necessary for the service of the temple: And that this was the tribute which the collectors here demanded, and not any tax payable to the Roman emperors, (as some imagine) is evident not only from our Saviour's argument, viz. That he was the Son of that heavenly King to whom it was paid, and consequently had a right to plead his exemption; but from the word, didgaxua, which, according to Jō
Mark ix. 14.
tribute for the use of the temple, came to Peter, and asked him if his master was accus- From Matth. tomed to pay it? And when Peter went in to acquaint him with the officers demands, xii. 1. Mark ii. "Of whom (says our Lord, preventing him) do the kings of the Gentiles take tribute? John v. 1. to Of their own children, or of strangers?" Peter answered, "Of strangers: If so, (re- Math xvii. 14. joined our Saviour) then are the children free;" meaning, that since Gentile kings did Luke ix 37. not exact tribute of their own houshold, this tribute, which was paid to God for his John vii. 1. temple, was not due from him, who was his Son, nor from them who were his domestics; however, to avoid all occasions of offence, he ordered him to go and cast an hook into the sea, because in the mouth of the first fish that he caught, he would find a piece of money †, just of proper value to give to the collectors for them both: Which accordingly came to pass.
About this time the + feast of Tabernacles drew near; and some of our Lord's rela tions (out of vanity more than good will) were very earnest with him to go up to Jerusalem at this great concourse of people, in order to shew his miracles in the capital, which hitherto (as they said) had been concealed in an obscure part of the world: But our Lord, for the present †3, would not yield to their importunity, though in a short time he set forward to Jerusalem, but in a very private manner, for fear of awakening the jealousy of his enemies. As he was to pass through the province of Samaria †, he sent some of his apostles to provide him lodgings + in one of the villages; but the in
+ The feast of Tabernacles kept in commemoration of the Israelites sojourning in the wilderness, and living in tents for the space of forty years, was one of the three great annual festivals, wherein all the males were obliged to appear at Jerusalem. It began to be celebrated on the fifteenth day of the month Tizri, (which answers in part to our October and September) and is the first month of their civil, and the seventh in their sacred year. Calmet's Commentary.
+ Our Saviour's words upon this occasion are,"Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet to this feast, for my time is not yet fully come," John vii. 8. Here Grotius takes notice, that the particle ow, which answers to not yet, was not originally in the text, because (according to St Jerom, contra Pelag. lib. ii.) Porphyry accuses Christ of inconstancy and mutability, in saying, "I go not up to the feast," when afterwards he went; and therefore, he very modestly concludes, that this particle was added by some Christians, to avoid the force of this objection. But why must Christians be accused of altering the Scriptures, merely to save the credit of an heathen, and
professed enemy to Christianity, who might either
+Samaria was a province that lay between Galilee and Judea, and our Saviour's nearest way to Jerusalem was through it. But then it may be questioned, why the Samaritans, who lived at a less distance from Jerusalem than the Galileans, came to be more corrupted in their religion? To which the most probable answer is,-That when the king of Assyria had taken Samaria, and carried away the people cap. tive, 2 Kings xvii. in their room he planted colonies of his own subjects, who were gross idolaters, and more especially in the country of Samaria properly so called, because it was a province which lay in the heart of his new conquest, and might therefore keep the others that depended on it in subjection. Now these idolaters, mixing with the Jews that were left behind, made up a strange medly of religion, which was not quite reformed even in our Saviour's time; and therefore he tells the Samaritan woman, at Jacob's well, "ye worship ye know not what," John iv. 22. whereas the people of Galilee, having few of the Assyrians planted among them, kept their religion more pure and unmixed, and, after the destruction of the temple of Gerizzim by John Hyrcanus, held constant communion with the temple of Jerusalem, even though Gabinius, when he was governor of Syria, had built the Samaritans another; and in relation to this communion it is, that our Saviour tells the same woman (speaking of himself among other Galileans), we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews."
+ The great multitude that accompanied our Sa
A. M. 4035, habitants, perceiving that he was going to Jerusalem to the feast,
were so uncivil as
&c. or 5441. Ann. Dom.
to refuse him entertainment.
This indignity put upon their master so exasperated James and his brother John, Vulg. Er. 30. that they desired leave of him (in imitation of Elias) to command fire down from heaven to consume such inhospitable wretches; but instead of giving any such permission †2, our Saviour took care to inform them, that the marks of a Christian were meekness and love, not fury and revenge; that the true end and design of his coming into the world" was, not to destroy, but to save mens lives;" and (that he might prove his doctrine by his practice) when ten leprous persons, who came out of the neighbourhood where he had been so rudely treated, presented themselves with loud cries to him for help, his compassion was as ready to relieve as their necessity to ask; for while they were going to +3 shew themselves to the priest (as he directed them), they all found themselves cured. But see the great ingratitude of human nature ! Of the ten who received this miraculous blessing, but one returned to give our Saviour thanks, and he was a Samaritan.
Having thus returned good for evil, and the greatest kindness for the most palpable affront, our Lord proceeded on his journey, and came to another village, where he lodg ed that night; but before he arrived at Jerusalem he sent out seventy † of his disciples
viour, and the little or no provision that he usually
*Josephus tells us," That as it was an usual thing for the Galileans to travel by the way of Samaria to Jerusalem upon the celebration of their festivals, one time, as they passed by a village called Nais, under the jurisdiction of Samaria, and situated in the great plain, there happened a quarrel between the passengers and villagers, wherein several of the Gali. leans were slain, and which afterwards occasioned civil war between these two provinces." And as it was a common thing for the Samaritans to be angry with the Galileans in general for their passing by their temple to go to Jerusalem; so they might much . more resent it in our Saviour, because, as he was accounted a prophet sent from God, by this action he plainly decided the controversy between them and the Jews, touching the place which God had appointed for his religious worship. Joseph. Antiq. lib. xx. c. 5. Jewish Wars, lib. ii. c. 11. and Whitby's Annotations. + The history of Elias (to which the apostles refer us) is doubtless that where, by the direction of God, that prophet called for fire from heaven to destroy those captains and their companies whom king Ahaziah sent out to apprehend him, 2 Kings i. 10, &c. And when these two apostles desired the like judge ment upon the village of Samaria, for refusing to receive their master, they verified their name of being sons of thunder, which, upon account of their fiery zeal, their master had before given them, Mark iii. 17. + What the two apostles had to allege in behalf of their intended severity against these Samaritans was, That they were schismatics, and had set up another temple in opposition to that at Jerusalem; that they were heretics, and, together with the worship of the
God of Israel, had mixed that of Pagan idols; that the person whom they had affronted had a character much superior to that of Elias; and that, by an examplary punishment inflicted upon this village, they might convince the rest of the Samaritans of God's displeasure against their way of worship, and of the Divine mission of their master, who was the true Messiah. But notwithstanding these plausible allegations, our Saviour rebuked them, and in his rebuke gave them to understand, that a spirit of severity towards erroneous persons, in whomsoever it is found, is highly opposite to the calm temper of Christianity, which is "pure and peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good works," James iii. 17. and that it was repugnant to the end for which he came into the world, which was to discountenance all fierceness and rage, and furious zeal, that occasion so many mischiefs among mankind, and to beget in all his followers such a disposition as exerts itself in "love, peace; long suffering, gentleness, goodness, and meekness," Gal. v. 22, 23. even to those of the most contrary tempers and persuasion. Whitby's Annotations.
+3 By the priests, to whom our Saviour remits these lepers, we are to understand the priests at Jerusalem; for we can hardly suppose that he would send them to those of Mount Gerizzim, when himself, both in his words and practice, had sufficiently declared the illegality of their institution: And therefore, by sending them to Jerusalem, where they were to make their offerings for their cleansing, Lev. xiv. 2, &c. he not only decided the controversy between the Jews and the Samaritans, but gave them likewise to understand, that, before they reached Jerusalem, he would undoubtedly heal them. Whitby's Annotations and Hammond's Paraphrase.
Those who would have it, that these missionaries were chosen according to the number of the Sanhedrim, imagine, that they were seventy-two, though the round sum only be mentioned; but the general testimony of the ancients is, that they were no more