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he is to exert himself diligently in his calling. It was never intended that he should live in splendour, or receive any income, and do nothing, or almost nothing, for it. It is reasonable and just, however, that he should be maintained for his work done. Suitable maintenance is his due: how that is to be furnished must depend on various circumstances, but the principle itself is clear and scriptural. In the words of the apostle to the Corinthians: "Do ye not know that they who minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they who wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
As to the city that should reject the message of peace which the seventy were to carry-our Lord said, “It shall be more tolerable in that day," that is, in the great day of judgment, "for Sodom, than for that city." We learn from this, that future punishments will be inflicted in different degrees, according to the different degrees of guilt; and thus while condemnation will be in every case dreadful, so that every sinner ought to flee for safety to the Redeemer, and turn that he may live, it is an awful mistake, if any profligate persons, looking on themselves as lost, act on the principle that it matters not to what pitch of worthlessness they proceed; for, as their guilt increases, so will their misery. We learn, too, from this passage, that the guilt of those who despise Christian privileges is peculiarly great-much greater than that of the heathen; and, therefore, that we are under peculiar obligations to receive the truth, as we would show that we value the most signal privileges, and would escape the heaviest doom.*
Our Lord, being thus led to reflect on the inexcusable obstinacy of many of those among whom he himself had already preached and wrought miracles, exclaims, "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. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you." From a similar passage, in Matt. xi. 20, it appears that Chorazin and Bethsaida were two of the cities in which most of "Christ's mighty works" had been done, and that he thus upbraided them because they repented not. Chorazin is not mentioned in Scripture, except in these two passages: * For an illustration of verse 11, see Lecture on chapter ix. verse 5.
it is supposed to have been situated on the sea of Galilee, near Capernaum. As to Bethsaida, we had occasion, in the preceding chapter, to speak of it, and found Christ preaching and working miracles of healing in the sight of its inhabitants. Though we are incompetent to solve every difficulty which might be raised on the case, if this was not merely speaking according to human probability,* he who knew the hearts of men, declared that if such advantages had been enjoyed by Tyre and Sidon (which, for their idolatry and other crimes, were destroyed according to the predictions of the prophets, they would have repented, wearing sackcloth, or the coarsest cloth, and casting dust and ashes on their heads, in token of humiliation and selfabhorrence. It is a fearful thought, that, naturally inclined to resist the means of grace as the human heart always is, the habit of resistance renders it worse and worse, and doubly depraved and obstinate. Consider this, ye who are now lending a deaf ear to the merciful call of the gospel. If you continue to do so a little longer, even the slight compunctions you yet feel may soon utterly vanish, so that your conscience may become seared as with a hot iron, and your hearts fully set in you to do evil; and so, in your case, a lifetime of increasing depravity may end in an eternity of intolerable woe.
In connexion with these two cities, Jesus mentions another, namely, Capernaum. Born at Bethlehem, and having spent his early years at Nazareth, he afterwards abode chiefly at Capernaum; and there, of course, he often taught and did many mighty works. There, however, general impenitence and unbelief reigned. Therefore, he thus apostrophizes that city, "And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven," that is, in point of honourable religious privileges, still more than worldly advantages, "shall be thrust down to hell" in heavy punishment, because of the abuse of these privileges. From being a flourishing, it became an insignificant place; and those of the inhabitants who died in unbelief perished with an awful and endless condemnation. The fall and destruction of the wicked are set forth under a similar figure, in such passages as these: "Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; yet he shall perish for ever," and "they who have seen him shall say, Where is he?". "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the
*See Ezek. iii. 6.
morning!"*-Now, surely we must acknowledge that our country is peculiarly blessed with religious privileges, as well as with civil. God forbid that the unbelief of its inhabitants should prove its temporal ruin as a nation, and their own still more awful, endless ruin as individuals.
Our Lord closes his instructions to the seventy in words similar to those which, according to Matthew, he addressed to the twelve: "He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me." It is plain that the way in which men treat a messenger is demonstrative of the feeling they entertain towards him who sent him forth. Hence, the Son being sent by the Father, they that honour the Son honour the Father also, and the contrary; and hence, there is no true religion but Christianity. What is here said of the seventy is also substantially applicable to all ministers who come preaching the truth as it is in Jesus. It would be well if those who undervalue and refuse to obey the words of such, would recollect that, whatever excuses they may plead, and whatever objections they may make to the messengers, when the message itself is plainly from Christ, their rejection of it is the rejection of Christ himself. May the great Head of the Church, by the influences of his Spirit, prepare all your hearts to submit to his kingdom, and to bid all his faithful messengers welcome in his name.
Verse 17: "And the seventy returned." We are not informed how long they were out: from the circumstances of the history, however, it seems as if their mission had not lasted long. Some think that they were sent out when Jesus was about to go up to the feast of tabernacles, and after visiting the appointed places, met him at Jerusalem, or the neighbourhood, before the feast (which lasted eight days) was over. They returned to give an account to their Master of the success of their mission: and so must all who preach the gospel. Yes, it is a serious consideration for you, as well as for us, that we watch for your souls as those who must give an account. Obey, therefore, and submit yourselves in the truth, that we may give in our account with joy, and not with grief; for that would be unprofitable for you. The seventy returned again "with joy," delighted
* Job xx. 6; Isa. xiv. 12-15. Addressing himself to Antony, concerning the fall of his colleague, Cicero says, "Collegam tuum de cœlo detraxisti-Thou hast pulled down thy colleague from heaven;" and he says of the overthrow of Pompey, "Ex astris decidisse,”—that he had fallen from the stars.-Philippic ii. and Ep. lib. i. 20.
with the miraculous power which they had been enabled to display; and informing our Lord that, though he had only spoken to them of healing diseases, "even the devils were subject to them," and departed from possessed persons at their word pronounced in "his name," and accompanied with his power. On this, Jesus said unto them, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." The Son of God had beheld Satan and his angels literally expelled from heaven immediately on their rebellion against the Almighty. His all-seeing eye also accompanied the seventy, beholding what they did in expelling Satan from the bodies of the possessed, and from the height of his power; so that what they told was no new information to him. In this success, too, he beheld a pledge of his final and complete conquest over the devil, for the purpose of destroying whose works he was manifested.
enemy; and In these words he
In the 19th verse, Jesus may be considered as renewing the mission of the seventy, and confirming their miraculous gifts: Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the nothing shall by any means hurt you." appears to have alluded to Psalm xci. 13: "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet." Our Lord also said, in Mark xvi. 17: "These signs shall follow them that believe". "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them." As addressed to the seventy and to the other followers of Christ, the words may be understood both literally and figuratively. Though many of the inspired teachers were at last to be hurt and put to death, yet they were all secured, for a time, and as long as their labours were necessary. "Be not afraid," said Jesus to Paul, "but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city." The same apostle experienced an extraordinary literal protection on the island of Melita; where, though a viper had fastened on his hand, he felt no harm. This implied that the seventy were to be protected from danger while they had any work to do, and that they were to continue to cast out devils. And it implied, in the figurative sense, that not only the seventy, but all believers, were to triumph over all their spiritual adversaries. Personally, and in his people, the Seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent. Though his
people may be exposed to outward annoyance, their souls are safe. They shall be more than conquerors: and the God peace shall bruise Satan under their feet shortly.
It would seem as if our Lord saw something not altogether right in the spirit by which the seventy were influenced, when they came to him with joy, saying, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us, through thy name." Or, if they had not actually lost, they were, perhaps, in danger of losing, a becoming frame of mind; so that he saw it proper to put in a caution. They were, probably, in danger of vanity and false trust, because of the wonderful power with which they found themselves invested; at the very time they were confessing that they had done all in his name, they were glorying in the gift, as reflecting honour on themselves; and it is likely that they, with the other disciples, were thinking that such gifts might be the means of raising them to temporal power. However this may have been, Jesus addressed them in words calculated to check all such ideas, and pointed out to them a far superior cause of joy: "Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." It frequently happens that when, in scriptural phraseology, two things are brought together, so that the one is in words recommended, and the other in words forbidden, the passage is to be understood, not absolutely, but comparatively; the thing thus in words forbidden being not wrong in itself, but only of much less importance than the other. Thus, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice;" that is, mercy rather than sacrifice, for, sacrifice was then required. "Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life;" that is, labour more for the latter, than the former; for, diligence to obtain the necessaries of this life is certainly incumbent. "Look not at the things which are seen, but at things which are not seen;" that is, not so much, nor so anxiously, at the former as at the latter. And so, in the passage before us, our Lord did not prohibit all joy on account of the success mentioned, for, it was a just cause of joy, and we are told he himself" in that hour rejoiced in spirit;" but he saw that the seventy were looking too much to the mere miracles, and in a great measure forgetting a far nobler circumstance, namely, that connected with their own personal salvation, in which they should have rejoiced much more. It does not necessarily follow, from the way in which he here expresses