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their views and expectations. No such things would take place. From these notions they must be turned, changed, or converted, or they could have no part in his kingdom. These ideas did no fit at all the nature of his kingdom. And become as little children.' Children are characteristically humble and teachable. By requiring his disciples to be like them, he did not intend to express any opinion about the native moral character of children, but simply, that in these respects, they should become like them. They should lay aside their ambitious views, and pride, and be willing to occupy their proper station-a very lowly one. Mark says, ix. 35, that Jesus, before he placed the little child in the midst of them, told them that, if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. That is, he shall be the most distinguished christian who is the most humble, and who is willing to be esteemed least and last of all.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
'The greatest,' &c. That is, shall be the most eminent christian shall have most of the true spirit and blessings of religion.
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
And whoso shall receive one such little child.' That is, whoso shall receive and love one with a spirit like this child? humble, meek, unambitious, or as a real christian. In my name.' As a follower of me; or because he is attached to me. Whoso receives one possessed of my spirit, and who, because he has that spirit, loves him, loves me also. The word 'receive' means to approve, love, or treat with kindness; to aid in the time of need. See Matt. xxv. 35-40.
Mark, ix. 38, and Luke, ix. 49, add a conversation that took place on this occasion, that has been omitted by Matthew. John told him that they had seen one casting out devils in his name, and they forbad him, because he followed not with them. Jesus replied that he should not have been forbidden, for there was no one who worked a miracle in his name that could lightly speak evil of him. That is, though he did not attend them, though he had not joined himself to their society, yet he could not be really opposed to him.
6 But 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.
'Whoso shall offend.' That is, cause to fall, or to sin; or should place any thing in their way to hinder their piety or
happiness. Note, Matt. v. 29. 'These little ones.' That is, christians, manifesting the spirit of little children, humble, unambitious, 1 John ii. I, 12, 18, 28. 'It were better for him that a millstone,' &c. Mills anciently were either turned by hand, (note, Matt. xxiv. 41,) or by beasts, chiefly by mules. These latter were of the larger kind; and the original words denote that it was this kind that was intended. This was one mode of capital punishment practised by the Greeks, Syrians, Romans, and by some other surrounding nations. The meaning is, it would be better for him to die, before he had committed the sin.
7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
"Woe unto the world because of offences.' That is, offences will be the cause of woe, or of suffering. Offences, here, mean things that will proauce sin: that will cause any to sin, or temptations to induce any to sin. Note, Matt. v. 29. 'It must needs be, &c. That is, such is the corruption of human nature, that there will be always some attempting to make others sin; and rejoicing when they have succeeded in causing them to fall. "Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.' He who draws others into sin is awfully guilty. That wickedness must be deeply seated in the heart, which induces any one to attempt to mar the peace, defile the purity, and destroy the souls of
8 Wherefore, if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
If thy hand,' &c. See notes, Matt. v. 29, 30. The meaning of all these instances is the same. Whatever cannot be pursued without leading us into sin, must be abandoned, or the soul must be lost. It is better--to enter into life halt or maimed-or having one eye,' &c. These things are said for the purpose of carrying out or making complete the figure, or the representation of cutting off the hands, &c. The meaning is, it is better to be saved and go to heaven, without enjoying the things so dear to us, that caused us to sin, than to enjoy them here, and then be lost.
Halt.' Lame. Maimed.' With a loss of limbs. Into hell fire. It is implied in all this, that if this is not done, if their
beloved sins are not abandoned, the soul must be lost, or go into everlasting fire. See notes on Mark ix. 44, 46, 48.
10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
'Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones,' &c. That is, one who has become like little children-or a christian. "In heaven their angels do always behold his face. That is, the angels are the guards of his followers, and aid them, and watch over them, Heb. i. 14. They always behold the face of God.' This is taken from the practice of earthly courts. To be admitted to the presence of a king; to have free access at all times; was deemed a mark of peculiar favour, 1 Kings x. 8. Esther i. 14. So, says our Saviour, we should not despise the obscurest christians, for they are ministered to by the highest and noblest of beings; beings who are always enjoying the favour and friendship of God.
11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
This is a second reason why we should not despise christians, for the Son of man came to seek and save them. It was the great object of his life; and that cannot be worthy of contempt which the Son of God sought by his toils and his death. Son of man.' See note, Matt. viii. 19, 20. 'That which was lost.' A wicked and profligate nan is said to be lost to virtue and happiness. He is useless to society. So all men are lost. They are wicked, miserable wanderers from God. They are lost to piety, to happiness, and heaven. These Jesus came to save by giving his own life a ransom, and shedding his own blood that they might be recovered and saved.
12 How think ye? If a man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, He rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
To show still further the reason why we should not despise them, he introduces a parable. Man rejoices over the recovery of one of his flock that had wanderea, more than over all that
remained. So God rejoices that man is restored, seeks his salvation, and wills that not one thus found should perish. If God thus loves and preserves the redeemed, then surely man should not despise them. See this passage further explained in Luke xv. 4-10.
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone if he shail hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
The word brother,' here, evidently means a fellow-professor of religion. Christians are called brethren because they belong to the same redeemed family-having a common Father, God, and being united in the same feelings, objects, and destiny. Trespass against thee.' That is, injure thee in any way, by words or conduct. 'Go and tell him his fault.' Seek an explanation of his conduct; and if he has done wrong, administer a friendly and brotherly reproof. This is required to be done alone, that he may have an opportunity of explaining it, or of acknowledging his offence, and making reparation, if he has done wrong. It should not be blazoned abroad. This can do no good. It does injury. It is what the enemies of religion wish. Christ is often wounded in the house of his friends; and religion, as well as an injured brother, suffers by spreading his faults before the world. 'Thou hast gained thy brother.' To gain, means, sometimes, to preserve, or to save, 1 Cor. ix. 19. Here it means, thou hast preserved him, or restored him, to be a consistent christian.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
If he will not hear thee,' &c. That is, if he spurns or abuses you, or will not be entreated by you, and will not reform. 'Take one or two more. They should be persons of influence or authority; his personal friends, or those in whom he could put confidence. The law of Moses required two or three witnesses, Deut. xix. 15. 2 Cor. xiii. 1. John viii. 17.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
'Tell it unto the church.' See note Matt xvi. 18. It was to be brought to the church, in order that he might be admonished, entreated, and if possible reformed. This was, and always should be, the first business in disciplining an offending brother. If he neglect to hear the church, let him be,' &c. The Jews gave the name heathen or Gentile to all other nations but themselves.
With them they had no religious intercourse or communion, 'Publican.' See note, Matt. v. 47. The meaning of this is, cease to have religious intercourse with him, to acknowledge him as a brother. Regard him as obstinate, self-willed, and guilty. It does not mean that we should cease to show kindness to him, and aid him in affliction or trial; for this is required towards all men.
18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
See note, Matt. xvi. 19. These words were spoken to the apostles. Christ had used the same words to Peter, ch. xvi. 19. He used them here to signify that they all had the same powerthat in ordering the affairs of the church he did not intend to give Peter any supremacy, or any exclusive right to regulate it.
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
When two of you agree-have the same mind, feelings, and opinion, about the arrangement of affairs in the church, or about things desired for its welfare, and shall ask of God, it shall be done for them. See Acts i. 14-26; xv. 1-29. The promise has primary respect to the apostles in organizing the church. It may also be applied to the ordinary prayers of believers.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
This is a general assertion, made to support the particular promise made, ver. 19, to his apostles. He affirms that wherever two or three are assembled together in his name, he is in the midst of them. In my name. That is, in the place of prayer and praise, assembled in obedience to my command, and with a desire to promote my glory. Every day, perhaps every hour, two or three, or many more, may be assembled in England, in Greenland, in Africa, in Ceylon, in America, in the Sandwich Islands, in Russia, and in Judea-in almost every part of the world-and in the midst of them all is Jesus the Saviour. Millions thus at the same time, in every quarter of the globe, worship in his name, and experience the truth of his promise to be present with them. It is impossible that he should be in all these places, and not be God.
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him ? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not