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Our Lord having, as has been noticed at large, informed his Disciples of the difficulties and hardships, to which a faithful adherence to him, as his Disciples, would expose them; and having, in the verses just cited, represented to them, the consequences, to their future and everlasting · welfare, of their receiving or rejecting of him as the Messiah ; he now, as if fearful, least they should not have sufficiently adequate ideas of the dangers of the service, in which they were engaged, again reminds them of them, informing them, particularly, that both he and they would meet with a very different reception from what they imagined, and that the consequences, even of the faithful discharge of the duties of their office, would be very far from being such as they expected. They conceived, and very naturally, with the views which they had, of the nature of the Messiah's chara&ter, that the Jews would pay a willing attention to their message concerning it, and that their nation would, by his means, be blessed with the most unbounded prosperity. To correct this erroneous opinion, and to prevent the ill effects which the mighty opposition of the Jews, and the calamities they would have to meet with, might have upon them, he thus forewarns them of them.--V. 34. Think not that I am come to send peace, the peace which you so earnestly expect, upon Earth, or rather upon the land. 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 those of his own house.
In these circumstances, he tells them what, upon the supposition of his having a divine commission, will stand
* It seems highly probable that our Lord here alludes to the sentiments which the Jewish Nation held, of the universal peace which would immediately succeed the establishment of the Messiah's kingdom. But he here tells them, that it was not peace but a sword that they must expe&t; the sword which would go through the land and destroy them.
« Our Saviour must here be understood,” says Mr. Barrow, in his Bampton Lectures, pages 5, 6. “ to express, not the design and purpose of " his appearance upon earth, but its accidental consequences ; what would « arise, not from any imperfection in his revelation, but from human is weakness and passions. As if he had said, though the Gospel is si intended by its Author, and calculated by its nature, to produce “ benevolence and peace among men; yet will its rejection, or perversion, • be too often the occasion of animosity and contention, persecution and ti bloodshed."
the test of the severest criticism, as being perfectly agreeabie io the most sound philosophy, and most congenial to the genuine and unadulterated apprehensions of mankind.--v. 37. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and, he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me ; and he that taketh not his cross, that shrinketh from his duty, on account of any sufferings which he may meet with, is not worthy of me. He that findeih his life, by deserting the post to which duty has called him, shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it. But how find it? Why, says St. John, in a passage,
appears to be an accurate paraphrase of this he shall keep or rather preserve it, unto life eternal.
The whole of this reasoning, every one must immediately perceive, was peculiarly seasonable and admirably adapted to the situation and circumstances, in which the Apostles would find themselves placed, in the execution of the commission, which they had received from Jesus. And, it is worthy of particular observation, that what he said to them in the 37th and following verses, is founded upon that most solid and important maxim, that God is rather to be obeyed than man,or, that duty to him is, at all times, paramount to every
other consideration. And, in order that they might see this, in the fullest, and most advantageous light-he goes on to reason with them, in the following energetic terms. He that receiveth you, receiveth me, and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that
As if he had said If those who receive you, to whom I have given a commission, receive me ; it will necessarily and unavoidably follow that if, I am the Ambassador of God, and bear about me, his credentials-no man can reject me or contemn my Authority, without rejecting the Authority of God himself who sent me ;-Nor will they who treat me, or those to whom I have given a commission, with the respect to which, as the Ambassadors of Heaven, we are justly entitled, lose their reward.—v. 41, 42. He that receiveth a Prophet, in the name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophet's reward or the reward due to one who shall be honored with so distinguished a character--and whosoever receiveth a righteous Man, in the name of a righteous Man, shall receive a righteous Man's reward. And whosoever shall even give to one of these little ones, a cup of cold Water only, to drink,
in the name of a Disciple ; Verily I say unto you, he shall, in no wise, lose his reward.
If ever clearness and perspicuity were to be found in any writing, either antient or modern; surely this has a just and undeniable claim to these important and essential characteristics of good writing. What reasoning can be more close-or better adapted to the situation and circumstances of the Disciples of Jesus, at the moment of his giving them a commission to act, as his Delegates and Apostles, in announcing the approach of the Messiah's Kingdom, than the whole of this discourse ? And at the same time that it stands distinguished, for clearness and perspicuity ; it carries, in every part of it, such unequivocal marks of genuine history, as must leave, upon the mind of every one who considers it, with an impartial and unbiassed attention, no doubt of its authenticity-or à single suspicion that the coming of the Son of Man, in the 23d verse, which it was the principal object of this minute survey, to illustrate, can possibly relate to any other event than to the coming of the Messiah. *
Nor, must it be forgotten that, while it stands recommended to the notice of the judicious and impartial reader, for these essential qualities of good writing; it is no less distinguished for the striking pi&ture, which it affords, both of the firmness and integrity of our Lord's character! So frightful a representation of the difficulties and hardships to which his disciples would; necessarily, be exposed, in the execution of the duties of their office, as even to be hated by all men, and that too, at a moment when their minds must have been considerably elated, from the circumstance of their having received a commission from him, to announce to theit countrymen, the approach of the Messiah's kingdom, is utterly unlike the conduct of an Impostor, and, altogether, the reverse, even of the appearance of fraud or falsehood. And, it is particularly deserving of notice that, with this firinness and integrity of character, were blended the most pleasing and affecting traits, of the benevolence and humanity which he diseovered, in affording them every degree of consolation and encouragement which the peculiarity of their situation, so urgently demanded, and, more particularly, in that most essential and important article, which was the grand foundation of all their hopes and expectations, and of their attachment to him, viz.—the coming of the Messiah.
* Dr. Lardner has a Sermon upon the meaning of the phrase the son of Nian, in the New Testament, and he very properly observes that it does not, of itself, signify the Messiah; but when our Lord connects with it, his coming in his kingdom ; it is submitted to the judicious Reader's attentive consideration, whether the Disciples could possibly put any other meaning upon it than the coming of the Messiah ; for, if they did not understand it in that sense; it is absolutely incomprehensible how the Apostles could have continued to adhere to him: And what is more, the use of a language, which did not convey the idea of the coming of the Messiah, would have had no effect in securing their attachment, at a moment, when, from the troubles which he had in the strongest colors presented before their eyes; it became indispensible! It must, however, be most carefully observed, that our Lord did not declare that he himself was that Son of Man THE MESSIAH; for that, upon the fairest principles of prudence, he, at this early period, most cautiously avoided.
These Observations the judicious and intelligent Reader will find, upon an attentive examination, are not the result of an artful design of enhancing the credit of Christianity, beyond what it has a just and undeniable claim to. They are the natural and necessary deductions, arising from a narration of plain and uncontrovertible facts, and from a careful perusal of the chapter itself. If it be read and attended to as an History, and as an History of the claims of Jesus, on the one hand, to to the Character of the Messiab and, of the prejudices and expectations of the Disciples, on the other, respeeting those claiins ; it contains internal evidence of its true meaning, which the plainest understanding may readily perceive, and which the most subtle ingenuity can scarcely misapply. In one word, it is most evidently employed in apprizing the Disciples of the ardent and difácult service in which they had engaged, by accepting of a commission from him--in laying down rules for the regulation of their conduct, in the execution of their commission, and, in affording them such encouragement as their peculiar situations so urgently required !
But besides the internal proofs, drawn from the chapter itself, of the object of it--the Evangelist, in the beginning of the following chapter, has very distinctly stated it, in the following words--chap. xi. 1. And it came to pass when Jesus had made an end of commanding or as the original word properly signifies of laying down rules, for the regulation of the conduct of the Disciples, in the execution of their commission ; he departed thence to teach and to preach the Gospel--or good news of the Kingdom, in their Cities : Alld in this connection the Evangelist introduces, an account of a message which
John John the Baptist, while under confinement in prison, sent to Jesus, respecting the nature of his claims.--V 2. Now when John had heard, in the prison, the works of Christor rather of Jesus, as there is reason to suspect it should have been; for he was not yet acknowledged as the Christm-or the Messiah he sent two of his Disciples and said to him---Art thou hë that should come, he whom we, as Jews, are anxiously expecting, as now about to appear or are. we to look for another
This Message of John the Baptist, is one, among a multiplicity of unequivocal proofs, of the general expe&tation of the coming of the Messiah, at the time, when Jesus made his appearance, in the world. And, his answer to the question of the Baptist, is well worthy of notice, not only as it shews, his cautious and guarded manner of conducting himself, when questioned, concerning the true nature of bis charakter,---but, because it will afford an opportunity, of presenting to the attentive Reader, another striking and incontestible proof, of the true meaning of the phrase --the kingdom of heaven, in a connection which cannot be mistaken. The messengers of John, it appears, from v. 7.
addressed Jesus, in the hearing of the multitudes, and, upon this account, it was particularly necessary that he should be extremely cautious and guarded, with respect to the answer, which he should return to the Baptist's message. That he might have the desired information upon the subject of his query, Jesus, instead of direétly and explicitly acknowledging himself to be the Messiah, referred them, to his excellent instructions, and to the many wonderful miracles, which he had wrought. V.4, 5. Go and shew John again those thing's -which ye do hear and see-The blind receive their sight-the-lame walkthe lepers are cleansed--the deaf hear the dead are raised up, ånd, he adds, in exact harmony with the antient prophecy, côncerning THE MESSIAH-the poor have the Gospel preached to them! The following verse seems to be particularly temarkable, as it appears to have a manifest allusion to the general prejudices of the Jews, respecting the nature of the Messiah's character,v.6. Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. As if he had said Happy is the man who shall not be offended, at my present humble appearance--but shall own-me-to be the person, which my works declare me to