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or gold, that was undiscovered by others, and unknown to the owner of the field. He hideth.' That is, he conceals the fact that he has found it; he does not tell of it. With a view of obtaining this, Christ says, that a man would go and sell his property, and buy the field. Christ does not intend to vindicate his conduct. He merely states the way in which men do actually obtain wealth. He states a case, where a man would sacrifice his property, practise diligence and watchfulness, to obtain it. The point of the parable lies in his earnestness, his anxiety, his care, and his obtaining it. The gospel is valuable as such a treasure, Psa. xix. 10. Prov, iii. 13-15. From most men it is hid. When a man sees it, and hears it, it is his duty to sacrifice all in the way to his obtaining it; and to seek it with as much earnestness as other men seek for gold. The truth often lies buried, like rich veins of ore, in the sacred scriptures; it must be searched out with diligence; it is what a sinner needs; and it will repay him for all his sacrifices, Luke xiv. 33. Phil. iii. 8.
45 q Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman, seeking goodly pearls : 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
The meaning is, that the proper seeking for salvation, or the proper conduct in reference to religion, is like the conduct of a inerchant. In his searches he found 'one pearl of great value, and sold all his possessions to obtain it. Pearls are precious stones found in the shells of oysters, chiefly in the East Indies. Matt. vii. 6. They are valuable on account of their beauty and because they are rare: the value of them is greater or less according to their size. The meaning of this parable is nearly the same as the other. It is designed to represent the gospel as of more value than all other things, and to impress on us the duty of sacrificing all that we possess in order to obtain it.
47 q Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world : the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
This parable does not differ in meaning from that of the tares. The gospel is compared to a net, dragging along on the bottom of the lake, and collecting all, good and bad. But in the end of the world, when the net is drawn in, the bad will be separated from
the good : the one lost, and the other saved. Our Saviour never fails to keep before the minds of men, the great truth that there is to be a day of judgment, and that there will be a separation of the good and evil.
51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things ? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. 52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
‘Every scribe-instructed unto the kingdom of heaven.' That is, every man who is acquainted with the gospel, or with the truth. A scribe here denotes a man acquainted with the truth. As the disciples had said that they had understood the truth, he says that it should not be unemployed. They should bring it forth in due time, like a householder bringing out of his treasury, or place of deposit, what had been laid up there at any time, as it was needed. • Treasure,' here, means a place of deposit
, not for money merely, but for any thing necessary for the comfort of a family. New and old.' Things lately acquired, or things that had been laid up a long time. Brought forth. As occasion demands; as sickness, or calamity, or the wants of his family, or the poor require. So, said Christ, be you.
This truth, new or old, which you have gained, keep it not laid up and hid, but bring it forth, in due season, and on proper occasions to benefit others. A minister should be like the father of a family: distributing to the church as it needs; and out of his treasures bringing forth truth, to confirm the feeble, enlighten the ignorant, and guide those in danger of straying away.
53 | And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
"Into his own country. That is, into Nazareth. Mark, who has also recorded this, (ch. vi. 1–6,) says that it took place on the sabbath. It was common for our Saviour to speak in the synagogues. Any. Jew had a right to address the people, if called on by the minister; and our Saviour often availed himself of the right to instruct the people, and declare his doctrines. See Matt. iv. 23.
55 Is not this the carpenter's son ? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and
Simon, and Judas ? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things ?
* Is not this the carpenter's son ? Mark says, Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary ? Both these expressions would probably be used in the course of the conversation; and Matthew has recorded one, and Mark the other. The expression recorded by Mark is a strong, perhaps decisive, proof that he had worked at the business till he was thirty years of age. The people in the neighbourhood would understand well the nature of his first employments. It is, therefore, almost certain that this had been his manner of life. A useful employment is always honourable. Idleness is the parent of mischief. Our Saviour, therefore, spent the greatest part of his life in honest, useful industry. Life is not wasted in such employments. They are appointed as tne lot of man; and, in fidelity, in honest industry however humble, in patient labour, if connected with a life of religion, we may be sure that God will approve our conduct. It was, moreover, the custom for the Jews to train all their children--even those of wealth and learning--to some trade, or manual occupation. Thus Paul was a tent-maker. Compare Acts xviii. 3.
57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
They were offended in him.' That is, they took offence at his humble birtn; at the poverty of his family; they were too proud to be taught by one whom, in family connexions, they took io be their equal or inferior. Men always look with envy on those of their own rank who advance pretensions to uncominon wisdom or superior power. A prophet is not without honour,' &c. This seems to be a proverbial expression. Christ advances it as a general truth. There might be some exceptions to it, but he was not an exception. Every where else he had been more honoured than at home. There they knew his family. They had seen his humble life. They had been his companions. They were envious of his wisdom; and too proud to be taught by him.
58 And he did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
• Did not many mighty works. Miracles. This implies that he performed some miracles. Mark tells us what they were. He laid his hands on a few sick folk, and healed them. Because of their unbelief.' We are not to suppose that his power was limited by the belief, or unbelief, of men. But they were so prejudiced, that they were not in a condition to judge of evidence, and to be convinced. Compare John X. 20. It woult
have been of no use, therefore, in proving to them that he was from God, to have worked miracles. He gave sufficient proof of his mission, and left them in their chosen unbelief, yet without
It is also true, in spiritual things, that the unbelief of a people prevents the influences of the Holy Spirit from being sent down to bless them. God requires faith. He hears only the prayer of faith. And when there is little true belief, and prayer is cold and formal, there the people sleep in spiritual death, and are unblessed.
CHAPTER XIV. 1 AT that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
'Herod the tetrarch.' See also Mark vi. 14–16. Luke ix. 7—9. This was the son of Herod the great, who died about three or four years after the birth of Christ, and left his kingdom to his three sons, of whom this Herod Antipas was one. He ruled over Galilee and Perea. See note, Matt. ii. 15. The title tetrarch literally denotes one who rules over a fourth part of any country.
2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.
• This is John the Baptist. His conscience smote him for his crimes. He remembered that he had wickedly put John to death. He knew him to be a distinguished prophet; and he concluded that no other one was capable of working such miracles. The alarm in his court it seems was general. Herod's conscience told him that this was John. Others thought that it might be the expected Elijah, or one of the old prophets, Mark vi. 15.
3 | For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. 4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. 5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
For Herod had laid hold on John,' &c. See Mark vi. 17–20. Luke iii. 19, 20. This Herodias was a grandaughter of Herod the Great. She was first married to Herod Philip, by whom she had a daughter, Salome, probably the one that danced and pleased Herod. Josephus says that this marriage of Herod Antipas with Herodias took place while he was on a journey to Rome. He stopped at his brother's; fell in love with his wife; agreed to
put away his own wise, the daughter of Aretas, king of Petræa; and Herodias agreed to leave her own husband, and live with him. They were living, therefore, in adultery and incest; and John, in faithfulness, though at the risk of his life, had reproved them for their crimes.
6 But when Herod's birth-day was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. 7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
See also Mark vi. 21—29. But when Herod's birth-day was come. Kings were accustomed to observe the day of their birth with much pomp, and commonly also to give a feast to their principal nobility. See Gen. xl. 20. Mark adds that this birthday was kept by making a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates in Galilee. • The daughter of Herodias.' 'That is, Salome, her daughter by her former husband. There is no evidence that it was common for females to dance in this manner in the presence of men. It was a violation of all the rnles of modesty and propriety. One great principle of all eastern nations is to keep their females from public view. If they appear in public, it is always with a veil, so closely drawn that their faces cannot be seen. No modest woman would have appeared in this manner before the court; and it is probable, therefore, that she partook of the dissolute principles of her mother.
8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
' Being before instructed of her mother.' Not before she danced, but afterwards; and before she made the request of Herod. See Mark vi. 24. 'In a charger.' The original word means a large dish, on which food is placed. We should have supposed that she would have been struck with abhorrence at such a direction. But she seems to have been gratified. John, by his faithfulness, had offended the whole family; and here was anıple opportunity for an adulterous mother and dissolute child to gratify their resentment. It was customary then for princes to require the heads of persons ordered for execution to be brought to them, to gratify their resentment, and to ascertain that the sentence had been executed.
9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
And the king was sorry. Herod had a high respect for John, and feared him. He knew that he was a holy man. He had done some things in obedience to John's precepts, Mark vi, 20.