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The two things which Christ required from the young man, Peter says had been done by bimself and his fellow-disciples; they had forsaken all, and followed him: he presumes, therefore, to ask what reward they were to expect. They had forsaken their friends, their houses, and occupations, which were every thing to them.
28. And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed ne, in the regeneration, when the son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The whole of this language is highly metaphorical. The regeneration here spoken of is not the change which shall take place in mankind after the general resurrection; but that which should be produced by the gospel of Christ in the present world: all mankind being regenerated by the principles and motives which it presents to them; agreeably to which way of speaking, St. Paul says that “Christians are new creatures;" “old things are passed away; all things are become new.” When this state of things arrived, Christ would sit upon the throne of his glory; that is, his authority being acknowledged, and his laws obeyed, he would attain the highest degree of honour, such as men obtain when they come to a throne. This honour his apostles should share with him: for they should be employed in propagating the christian religion, and their precepts regarded as the rule of life, and next in point of authority to those of their master. The twelve tribes of Israel are here put for the Jews, with reference to the apostles, who were twelve in number; and judging, which is an exercise of great power, for authority in general. Thus it was that the apostles would be rewarded: from them he proceeds to mention what would be the reward of his disciples in general.
29. And every one that hath forsaken houses or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my name's sake, from attachment to my religion, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlast
Christ here speaks of the more excellent blessings and advantages which his followers would receive in the present world, in the place of what they might lose. This appears from the express words of Mark (x. 30.) and from the last clause of the sentence, in which the reward of eternal life is mentioned, in addition to what had been said before. The construction of the passage is likewise illustrated by the event: for in the place of one house which they might lose, they had the free use of many houses: for a few brothers and sisters, an innumerable multitude of the disciples of Christ: for their children, as many as they converted to the faith, who regarded them as their fathers in Christ: for lands, all the wealth of Christians, which became common.
30. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
Many who are first with respect to advantages, like the Jews, will be the last to improve them; and many who are last in this respect, as the Gentiles were, will distinguish themselves most by an early and zealous attachment to the gospel.
1. The inquiries made by this young man are such as it is very proper for each of us to make for himself; what good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? The object to be obtained is so extremely important and valuable, as to deserve our first and most serious concern: how we may get wealth or become great, are trifling inquiries, when compared with this; it involves in it our most valuable interests, our eternal welfare; yet how many are there of mankind, who never make this inquiry for themselves; whose only concern it is to provide for the happiness of the present life, and who are as totally unconcerned about the next, as if they were to have no existence at all, or their happiness in it were secure! Foolish and inconsiderate men!
be so anxious for the enjoyments of a moment, and unconcerned about those of eternity; to prefer the pleasures of sense to those of the mind; the comforts of this life to the joys of heaven!
Have we, my brethren, neglected to make this inquiry? then have we still the first step to take towards wisdom and happiness. The most important business of life has been neglected: let us not defer it a moment longer, lest another opportunity of doing it should never Occur.
If we have informed ourselves of the necessary con ditions of salvation, and complied with them; yet there is another question of great importance which we ought to propose to ourselves; what lack I yet? what is necessary to improve my virtues, to perfect my character, and fit me for the highest station in heaven? what service can I perforın for God or my fellow-creatures, which shall evince the strength of my affection for both, and tend to improve it? After every attainment which you perceive you have made in religion, stop to ask this question; what lack I yet? and when you have discovered, by the light of conscience or Scripture, what you have further to do, do not turn away from your duty with sorrow, as this rich young man did; but resolve to perform it, although it should be with the loss of your friends, of your substance, and even of life.
2. We see on what our preparation for eternal life depends: not upon the mere belief of certain articles of faíth, obscure and difficult to be understood, and which have no influence upon the practice: not upon the observance of many ceremonies, which have no tendency to mend the heart; but upon keeping the commandments, upon observing all the moral precepts of the law. Happy was this young man, in being able to say, “ All these have I kept from my youth up." but his weakness appeared in not being willing to do something more, and to go on unto perfection. Happier still shall we be, if to the keeping of these commandments we are able to add the performance of every other service which God may require from us.
3. From the conduct of this young man, and the declarations of Christ, we may learn what powerful obstacles the possession of riches throws in the way of our duty. He was prevented by them from following Christ, and from attaining the highest degree of perfection and happiness which was within his reach. The sacrifice required from him indeed was great; and such as is not necessary nor called for, in the ordinary state of things; but parting with a portion of wealth which falls much short of the whole, often tempts men to neglect their duty. Let those, therefore, who have large possessions be aware of their danger, and take the alarm: they are surrounded with snares and temptations, which require constant watchfulness and care: the love of money is the root of all evil: let them see that it does not tempt them to neglect any important service which they are able to render to mankind; and especially, that it does not lead them to acts of fraud and injustice, of cruelty and oppression.
If the cause of religious truth is to be promoted in the world; if a reformation of manners is desirable, we must not in general expect such services from the rich and great. They have not fortitude to incur odium of danger, nor generosity to make the necessary sacrifices, It is men in the middle or lower class of life who are the most ready for this important work; the disciples, who were fishermen and mechanics, forsook all to follow Christ, while the rich man could not be induced to sell his possessions. In this sense also, as well as that which has been mentioned, is the saying of Christ verified, that the first shall be last, and the last, first.
Lastly, We have here a striking example of the piety and humility of Christ. He was displeased with the language and address of one who ascribed to him excellency which belonged to God only: let no one, therefore, imagine that he shall please Christ, by attributing to him divine honours, and exalting him to an equality with his heavenly Father: he wishes for no honours, but such as arise from the character of a divine prophet, and the greatest benefactor of the human
Matthew xx. 1---20.
1. For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an housholder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
The conduct of God in the Christian dispensation is like that of a master of a family, who goes out in the morning, to hire labourers to work in his vineyard: The general design of this parable is to show that at whatever time men come to the belief of Christianity, whether early or late, their rewards will be the same; their merit consisting in obeying the call, whenever it was given, and the time of the call depending upon the will of him who made it. The occasion which led Christ to use this parable is mentioned in the last chapter, verse the twenty-seventh; where Peter says, in the name of the other apostles, “ Behold we have forsaken all, and followed thee: what shall we have therefore:” By this question he plainly insinuates that their conduct had been particularly meritorious; both in embracing the gospel when it was rejected by others, and in doing it with the loss of all they had in the world; and that therefore for such distinguished merit some ex