« السابقةمتابعة »
who in it is worthy, and there abide till ye go thence. When ye enter a city, endeavour to find out those who are most remarkable for their piety, probity, and hospitality, who are expecting the Messiah's kingdom, who will receive the news of it with pleasure, and who, in all probability, will assist you in publishing it; and, when ye have found such persons, abide with them till ye leave that city, or village. We have this more fully expressed in the instructions to the seventy. [Luke x. 7.] In the same, house remain, eating and drinking such things as they have: go not from house to house. Doubtless, the disciples, on some occasions, might change their quarters with decency; but our Lord absolutely forbade them to do it for the sake of better entertainment, that they might not give mankind the least handle of imagining they served their bellies. [Mat x. 12.] And when ye come into an house, salute it; or as it is in the instructions given to the seventy, Luke x. 5, Say peace be to this house for, in eastern countries, the form of salutation used among friends was, "Peace be to you, or to this house." Hence our Lord adds, And if this house be worthy; be of a hospitable disposition, and receive you; let your peace come upon it; let your salutation be made effectual, by its enjoying great temporal and spiritual prosperity; so do I command who have the government of the world. But if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you; your benediction shall return to yourselves; for ye shall be sure to find the more kindness elsewhere, that you have been ill used by these inhospitable people. And whosoever shall not receive you, that is, entertain you kindly, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. The Jews fancied that the very dust of heathen countries polluted them; for which reason, when they returned to their own land, they used to stop at the borders of it, and wipe their feet, that the holy inheritance might not be defiled. If our Lord had this custom in his eye, his meaning was, look upon those who refuse you the offices of humanity, and will not hearken to your instructions, as no better than heathens. Accordingly, the direction is thus expressed, [Mark vi. 11.] Shake off the dust under your feet, for a testimony against them: declare, in the plainest manner, that, for the future, you will not have the least intercourse with such an obstinate and impious race. [Mat. x. 15.] Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than for that city. Persons, the matter of whose crimes far exceed theirs, are less guilty than they, because they have not despised such advantages; so that they shall be more lightly punished.
Considering the nature of the tidings which the apostles were now sent out to publish, namely, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand: considering, also, the number and variety of the miraculous cures which they were enabled to perform in confirmation of their doctrine, together with the greatness of the benefits they were empowered to confer upon the families who should entertain them kindly, it is reasonable to think that they were flattering themselves with the hopes of great honour and acceptance wherever they came. In the mean time, the event was, by no means, to be answerable to their expectations; for they were to be delivered up into the hands of public justice, and punished as evil doers. Our Lord, therefore, thought fit to forewarn them of these things, made them large promises of the divine aid, and gave them directions with respect to their conduct in every circumstance. [Mat. x. 16.] Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: I now send you forth, weak and defenceless, among a cruel and wicked people: be ye, therefore, wise as serpents, and harmless as doves on the one hand, be so prudent as, not to irritate the wicked, and those who shall oppose you, either by your behaviour or your doctrine unnecessarily [Mat. vii. 6.]; on the other hand, let not your prudence degenerate
into craft, lest it lead von
betray the truth, or to encourage men in their evil practices. Join prudence and innocence together, rendering yourselves remarkable for integrity, amidst the greatest temptations, and for meekness, under the greatest provocations. But beware of men: though I order you to be meck and patient under injuries, I do not mean that you should not be on your guard, and, if possible, avoid them: No the more circumspect you are in the whole of your conversation with the men of this world, whom I before compared to wolves, it is so much the better; for, after all, you will meet with many indignities, and often be in danger of death, even from the hand of public justice: 'for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in the synagogues as apostates. And ye shall be brought before governors and kings, as malefactors, for my sake. These things did not happen while the apostles were out on their first mission. They came to pass after Christ's ascension, when Peter and John were called before the Sanhedrim, [Acts iv. 6, 7.] and beaten. [Acts v. 40.] Also, when James and Feter were brought before Herod. [Acts xii. 3.] Paul, before king Agrippa, and his wife, and the Roman governors, Gallio, Felix, Festus; and, last of all, before the emperor Nero, and his prefect, Helius Cæsarianus. For a testimony against them and the Gentiles. All these things are ordered to befal you, that your innocence may appear, and that the truth of the gospel may be demonstrated. Accordingly, the patience which the apostles shewed under continual persecutions, and the courage wherewith they went to death in confirmation of their doctrine, became strong proofs of their innocence, and of the truth of the gospel. Moreover, if the apostles had never been brought before the supreme powers, nor defended their cause in the presence of kings and governors, it might have been said, that because Christianity could not bear a strict examination from able judges, it was preached to none but men of vulgar understandings, who were not capable of detecting it. But when persons of the highest distinction, for birth, fortune, capacity, and learning, had the gospel laid before them, in the defences which the apostles were obliged to make at the public tribunals of every country, its standing such a trial was, certainly, a great confirmation of its truth, to persons of inferior note. Wherefore, as Jesus had foretold the persecutions which the apostles suffered, and their being brought before kings, this became a testimony of their innocence, and of the truth of the gospel; and, consequently, an undeniable proof of the guilt both of the Jews and Gentiles, who rejected it. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how, or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak: for it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. This direction was repeated on several occasions afterwards, particularly Luke xii. 11. Mark xiii. 11. The apostles being illiterate men, and wholly unacquainted with the laws of the different countries whither they were to go, and with the forms of their courts, their Master foresaw that they would be in great perplexity when they appeared, as criminals, before persons of the first distinction. He foresaw, likewise, that this circumstance would occur to themselves, and render them anxious to meditate before-hand by what apology they might best defend so noble a cause. More than once, then, he expressly forbade them to be in the least solicitous about the defence they were to make, or so much as to premeditate any part of them; promising to afford them, on all occasions, the aid of their Father's spirit, who would inspire them to speak in a manner becoming the cause they were to defend.
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child ; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death; such is the nature of the men among whom ye are going, and such the ob
stinacy with which they shall oppose the gospel, that were their father, their brother, or their son, who preaches it, they would make no scruple of being tive in putting those nearest relations to death. You may, therefore, expect the hottest persation. But, as you are to have great assistances, you need not be dismayed. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake, i. e. ye shall be hated by the generality of men. The apostles and first Christians set themselves in opposition both to the Jewish and Pagan religions, declaring the nullity of the former, and urging the renunciation of the latter, in all its forms, as inatter of indispensable necessity. On the most tre-mendous penalties, they required every man, without exception, to believe in Christ, and submit implicitly to his authority; a demand mest galling to the pride of princes, priests, and philosophers. Moreover, having a lively sense of the importance of the things which they preached, they urged them, not in a cold and indifferent manner, but with the utmost fervency. Need it be matter of wonder then, that, in every country, such a furious storm of persecution arose against them, and the religion they taught; and that they were treated as the filth and off-scourings of the earth? But he that endureth to the end shall be saved. This encouragement Jesus likewise gave to his disciples, when he spake to them of the sufferings they were to meet with about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. [Mat. xxiv. 13.] We may, therefore, believe, that he had those sufferings now in his view. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another; for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. Let not the persecutions ye are to meet with, in any period of your ministry, discourage you; but when ye are sore pressed in one city, flee into another, where ye will meet with an asylum; for I assure you, in spite of all opposition, your labours shall be attended with such success, that ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. Before ye have carried the glad tidings of the gospel to the several cities of Israel, my kingdom shall be established in many places; so that, in the midst of the hottest persecution, ye may always expect to find some who will befriend you. By the coming of the Son of man, here mentioned, Lightfoot understands his resurrection from the dead; others, the destruction of Jerusalem, called the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven [Mat. xxiv. 30.]; others, the miraculous effusion of the Spirit, named by our Lord himself, his coming [John xiv. 18.]; but the last is the more simple and natural explication. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord; if they called the master of the house Bcelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? That you may bear all with a becoming fortitude, consider that they have calumniated, traduced, and persecuted me, your Master; for which cause, you, my disciples, cannot think it hard if they shall calumniate and persecute you. [Mat. x. 26.] Fear them not, therefore, for there is nothing "covered that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. Be not afraid of their calumnies, however false or malicious; for neither shall their wickedness or your innocence be always concealed; both shall be manifested, at least, in the day of judgment. Wherefore, the doctrines of the gospel, which I have delivered to you in private, you ought to preach plainly and publicly without the fear of men. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye hear in the ear, (in private) that preach ye upon the house-tops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. The utmost malice of your enemies cannot reach your better part, your soul, it can only hurt your body; for which reason, you ought to fear theui less than God, who, if you offend him, can
destroy (torment, so the word sometimes signify,) both soul and body in hell. Besides, you should consider that your enemies cannot touch even your bodies without your Father's permission. For the meanest of his creatures are under the protection of his providence, insomuch that nothing befalleth them without its direction. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. The regard which the great Father of the universe has for all his creatures, small and great, is strongly represented in the book of Jonah, where God makes his compassion to brute beasts one of the reasons why he would not destroy Nineveh: "Should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons, that cannot discern between their right hand and their left, and also much eattle?" But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Men number whatever things of value are in their possession, lest any of them should be lost through the carelessness, or knavery, of those who have them in charge. The numbering, therefore, of the disciples' hairs, shews how precious his servants are in God's sight, and what a strict account he takes of every thing that concerns them. Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Since the least of God's creatures are so much the object of his care, ye, who are honoured with so important an employment as that of preaching the gospel, need not be afraid.
Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father, which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father, which is in heaven. [See 2 Tim. ii. 12. Rev. iii. 5. Rom. x. 9.. 11.] Whosoever shall make profession of my religion in time of persecution, and, by an inviolable attachment to its precepts, shall acknowledge me for his master, I will own him as my disciple, in presence of my Father, at the judgment, and will claim for him the rewards which my Father has promised to such: whereas, whosoever does not thus confess me before men, I, also, will not confess him before my Father. There is an unspeakable majesty in this article of our Lord's discourse. Although he was now in the lowest state of humility, he declared that his confessing us before God is the greatest happiness, and his denying us the greatest misery, that can possibly befal us.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. Because the prophets have spoken glorious things of the peace and happiness of the world under the reign of Messiah, [Isa. xi. 6.] whom they have named, for that reason, the Prince of peace, [Isa. ix. 6.] you may imagine that I am come to put the world into that happy state forthwith. But it is For though the nature of my government be such as might produce abundant felicity, and though my religion breathes nothing but love, men will not, at first, lay aside their animosity; nor will they exercise a mutual friendship among themselves, as soon as the gospel is preached to them. No; such is their wickedness, that they shall make the gospel itself an occasion of bitter dissensions, insomuch that it will look as if I had come on purpose to sow discord. For, as I told you before, the nearest relations shall quarrel among themselves, on account of the doctrines of the gospel, and prosecute their quarrels with surprising virulence. The reader will be pleased to observe, that thus to apply our Lord's words to Christians, is the most unfavourable sense that can be put upon them, seeing they may as properly be interpreted the unbelieving Jews and heathens, who persecuted their nearest relations to death, on account of the gospel. In neither sense, however, can it be thought, that they declare the end for which the Son of God came into the work. They only
foretel what the effect of his coming would be. The glorious state of things predicted by the prophets was not instantly to begin; but Christianity was, for a season, to be the innocent occasion of much mischief. However, as these bad consequences are, by no means, peculiar to Christianity, they must not be imputed to it; but to the wickedness of men.
He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me. He that preferreth the friendship of his nearest relations, though the sweetest of all earthly satisfactions, to my religion, renouncing it, that he may enjoy their good-will, does not deserve to be called a Christian. He told them this, very properly, after having declared that their bitterest foes should be the members of their own families. he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. Whosoever does not resolve to suffer the greatest hardships, rather than renounce my religion, is not worthy to bear my name. There is here an allusion to the custom of the Romans, who obliged criminals to bear the crosses, on which they were to suffer, to the place of execution. The figure, therefore, expresses this sentiment with great energy, that no man can be a true Christian, unless he is willing to endure all sorts of persecutions, together with the most shameful and painful deaths, for Christ's sake, when called to it. So 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 maintaineth integrity at the expence of life and all its enjoyments, shall find, what is infinitely better, a blessed immortality. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life, for my sake, shall find it. He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent Whoso acknowledgeth you as my apostles, and hearkeneth to you as such, acknowledges and obeys me; and he who does so, really acknowledges and obeys God, who has commissioned me to reveal his will to men, even as I now send you on the same errand. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward: and he that recciveth 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 turned many to righteousness. And he who respects a righteous man, shall receive the reward due to righteousness, of which this is an excellent instance-And whosoever shall give to drink, unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only, water, in its natural state, without any preparation, (which, certainly, is the least favour imaginable,) 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, because he is my disciple, though it should be but the small service of handing a cup of cold water to them, shall not go unrewarded.
The day after, according to the common reading, or, as other copies have it, some time after that Christ had given these injunctions to his apostles, he travelled with them, and many others of his disciples, as far as the entrance of the city of Nain, a town situated a mile or two south of Tabor. Here they met with a funeral procession, and were soon informed that the corpse, which was now carrying to the grave, was that of the only son of a widow, whom this loss had rendered disconsolate. As Christ was full of compassion, he affectionately addressed himself to this woman, desiring her to refrain from weeping, laid hold of the bier, and commanded the youth to arise. As this mandate was instantly obeyed, Christ immediately presented the young man to his mother, who must now have been equally agitated with astonishment and joy.