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fruitless: they are the poor devices of human wisdom against that which is divine; the feeble efforts of an arm of flesh against the hand of the Almighty. Let not the friends of religion be alarmed by such endeavours; let them not especially have recourse to any unjustifiable methods for its defence. Let thein not attempt to restrain by force any such attacks, or to de: feat them by any kind of fraud or stratagem. The cause in which they are engaged is too well established to need the assistance of such
arts. This church which Christ has founded has already lasted eighteen hundred years: in that time the world has been agitated with convulsions, which have torn the mighty empires and kingdoms of it from their foundations; but this building has stood secure; por will it be impaired by eighteen hundred years more, if the world should last so long: heaven and earth shall sooner pass away than the words of Christ fail,
Matthew xvi. 21. to the end,
21. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and Scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Jesus, having, by the commendation which he bestowed on Simon Peter's answer, acknowledged that he was the Messiah, endeavoured to of his disciples, which were filled with the expectation of temporal felicity, for the last scenes of his life; lest they should be too much offended with these events and their belief that he was the Christ be overturned. It appears, by what follows, that the apostles were not even now ready to receive these things; nevertheless,
prepare the minds
from these predictions of Jesus, to which the event exactly corresponded, and from his firm purpose to submit to the most cruel and ignominious death, it is evident how remote his conduct was from all imposture and fraud; and even from that which is called pious fraud, by wluch men are deceived with a design of doing them good.
The elders here mentioned by Christ as the authors of his sufferings, were not necessarily persons advanced in years, but the members of the Jewish Sanhedrim, by whom he was tried and condemned. The chief priests were also a part of this bocly; but they are mentioned here separately, on account of the great influence which their opinions had in public affairs. The Scribes were learned interpreters of the law, who assisted this court with their advice in difficult cases. These thrce classes of men are mentioned in promiscuous order, whenever the Sanhedrim is spoken of in the New Testament.
22. Then Peter took him, rather, “ took him up,” and began to rebuke liim, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord, so master;" this shall not be unto thee,
We have here a fresh example of the forwardness of Peter: in consequence of the praises which had just been bestowed upon him, he acquired such boldness as not to fear to reprove his master himself: he thought that those things which Jesus had said, concerning the calamities which were coming upon him, and concerning his death, by no means agreed with the dignity of the Messiah; and therefore reprimanded him for saying things which little became him: as if he had said; “If any thing of this kind threatens thce, as thou wilt be a king, thou must employ thy royal power, to preserve thyself for thy friends; nor can it be borne that such unworthy things should happen to thee.”
23. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind
thee behind me, “ go out of
my sight,” Satan; thou art an offence
“ a snare unto me.” Satan is a llebrew word, which significs an adversary, or one who gives bad, useless, or pernicious counsel; an evil adviser. So when Abishai advised David to put Shimci to death, 2 Sam. xix. 22. David replied, “What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should be adversaries'unto me?" or, as it is in the original, Satan unto me? By giving Peter this appellation, Christ shows that under the appearance of affection he was really his adversary. “ Thou art a snare unto me; as far as in thee lies, thou inspirest me with a dread of ignominious torments and death, which the weakness of nature is too apt to feel, and which would lead me to decline suffering, and to neglect my duty.”
For thou savourest not, “ thou regardest not,” the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Thou attendest to and thinkest much of those things which please men, and which relate to the conveniences of this life, rather than those which are necessary for reestablishing and preserving mankind in the paths of salvation, which is the design that God has in view.---Peter, imagining that the Messiah was to be a temporal king, thought of nothing but what would suit such a plan, and totally overlooked the spiritual purposes of his inission, which might be most eifectually promoted by sufferings and death.
24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples; If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
If any one will attend upon me, he must renounce his own convenience, and chearfully submit to the greatest evils; such as taking the cross, to be crucified upon it, must be.
Christ here alludes to the opinion of the vulgar, which he therefore refutes: for that man, in their estimation, renounces and disowns himself, who does not labour with all his care to preserve the conveniences of life, and especially life itself: yet such'a deserter of himself the Christian must be: he must hold in contempt his own life, and be ready to submit to the loss of it, for the profession of the Christian religion: this loss Christ here recommends to his disciples, from the consideration that it will be their greatest gain.
25. For whosoever will save,“ wishes to save,” his life, shall lose it; and whosoever will, “ shall,” lose his life, for my sake, will find it.
The meaning of these words is this: “He who wishes to preserve his life, in this world, will render himself miserable in the next; and he who submits to death in my cause here, provides for his own happiness hereafter. To wish to preserve life, is to be unwilling to submit to death for the sake of religion; to wish rather to live on earth than to be thrown into prison, and to submit to a public execution: for at this time the greatest dangers were often to be encountered by the professors of the gospel.
26. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul; rather, “ his life:" for so the word is translated in the preceding verse; and agreeably to this Luke says, “ lose himself;" or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?
What will it profit a man if he should acquire all the wealth of the world, but not otherwise than with the loss of life. This is a proverbial maxim, which Christ transfers from this temporal life to that which is eter
nal: he had just been telling his disciples, in the preceding verse, that if they submitted to the loss of life in his cause, they would be gainers by it; which he now endeavours to prove in this manner: “If we think that all the things which we possess are wisely expended, in order to preserve ourselves in this life, how much more should the conveniences of this life, and this mortal life itself be resigned, to render ourselves partakers of that happiness which the Messiah has promised shall be conferred upon his disciples in a future life!"
27. For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward, rather, “ he shall render to,” every man according to his work.
Christ teaches that it would certainly happen that they would experience loss who spared their lives, and that those would have gain who despised life for the sake of the gospel; because a day of recompence was approaching The glory of God sometimes signifies the divine majesty, the attributes and excellencies on account of which the highest honours are due to him; at other times, it signifies a particular branch of the divine excellencies, according as the design of the writer or speaker happens to be.
Thus in Ps. xix. 1. it is said that the heavens declare the glory of God; that is, the power of God. As Christ, therefore, in the passage before us, after mentioning the glory of God, immediately adds that he was about to come, that every one of his followers might receive for himself a recompence suitable to his actions, there can be no doubt that by the glory of God is signified the power which God possesses of determining concerning the life and actions of men; which power Jesus declares was given to himself by the Father: for he tells us that the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the son; that all men should honour the son, even as they honour the Father. By coming with angels, mentioned in