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any of thy faithful ministers and ambassadors meet with the like usage and treatment from a wicked world; when any lie in wait to catch something out of our mouth, that therewith they may ensnare us, give us thy prudence and thy patience, that we may cut off occasion, from those that seek occasion against us, and disappoint them of their purpose; or else furnish us with such measures of meekness and patience, as becomes persons of our holy character and profession, that we may glory in reproaches, in persecutions and distresses, for Christ's sake, and that the spirit of glory and of God may rest upon us.
N the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3 Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear, in closets, shall be proclaimed upon the house-tops.
In this chapter our blessed Saviour furnishes his disciples with many instructions for the worthy discharge of their function in preaching the gospel; particularly he recommends unto them two gracious qualifications, namely, uprightness and sincerity, ver. 1, 2, 3. Secondly, courage and magnanimity, ver. 4, 5. 1. He recommends unto them the grace and virtue of sincerity: Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Learn hence, that hypocrisy is a dangerous leaven, which ministers and people are chiefly to beware of, and to preserve themselves from. Hypocrisy is a vice in vizor; the face is vice, the vizor is virtue; God is pretended, self intended: hypocrisy is resembled to leaven; partly for its sourness, partly for its diffusiveness. Leaven is a piece of sour dough, that diffuses itself into the whole mass or lump of bread with which it is mixed. Thus hypocrisy spreads over all the man; all his duties, parts and performances, are leavened with it. Again, Leaven is of a swelling,
as well as of a spreading, nature; it puffs
4 And I say unto you, my friends,
The second duty which our Saviour presses upon his disciples, is that of holy courage and resolution: as if Christ had said, The preaching of the gospel will stir up many enemies against you, which will malign and oppose you, vex and persecute you; but I say unto you, fear them not who can only kill the body; but fear him who, if you fail in your duty, can cast both body and soul into hell. Here note, 1. An unwarrantable fear condemned, and that is, the sinful, servile, slavish fear of man: Fear not them that kill the body. 2. An holy, awful, and prudential fear of the omnipotent God commended: Fear him that is able to kill both body and soul. 3. The persons whom this duty of fear is recommended to, and bound upon; disciples, ministers, and ambassadors, all the friends of Christ. They not only may, but ought to fear him; not only for his greatness and goodness, but upon the ac
count of his punitive justice, as being able to cast both soul and body into hell. Such a fear is not only lawful, but laudable; not only commendable, but commanded, and not misbecoming the friends of Christ. The ministers of God may use arguments from fear of judginents, both to dissuade from sin, and to persuade to duty. It is not unsuitable to the best of saints to keep in heaven's way for fear of hell; 'tis good to bid a friend fear, when that fear tendeth to his good.
by him at the dreadful judgment of the great day. Christ may be denied three ways: doctrinally, by an erroneous and heretical judgment; verbally, by oral expressions; vitally, by a wicked and unholy life: but woe to that soul that denies Christ any of these ways!
word against the Son of man, it 10 And whosoever shall speak a shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven.
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? and not one of them Christ did, yet there were those that spake Although never man preached or lived as is forgotten before God. 7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Observe here, 1. The doctrine which our
Saviour preaches to his disciples: and that is, the doctrine of the divine providence, which concerns itself for the meanest of creatures. Even the birds of the air, and the hairs of our heads, do fall within the compass of God's protecting care. Observe, 2. The use which our Saviour makes of this doctrine: namely, to fortify his disciples' spirits against all distrustful fears, and distracting cares. Learn hence, 1. That the consideration of the divine care, and gracious providence of God over us and ours, ought to antidote our spirits against all distrustful fears whatsoever. If an hair from the head falls not to the ground without a providence, much less shall the head itself. If the very excrements of the body (such are the hairs) be taken care of by God, surely the more noble parts of the body, but especially the noblest part of ourselves, our soul, shall fall under his peculiar regard.
against him; the person of Jesus was contemned and reproached, for the meanness of his birth, for the poverty of his condition, for the freedom of his conversation; but this sin did not exclude the hope of pardon: Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forChrist, as man, were pardonable: But him all the reproaches cast upon given whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him ; that is, whoever affirms that divine power by which I do my miracles, to be the power of the devil, such blasphemy will be unpar donable, because it is to resist the last remedy, and to oppose the best means of men's conviction; for what could be done more to convince men that Christ was the true and promised Messias, than to work so many miracles before their eyes to that purpose. Now these miracles, though evidently wrought by the power of God, the Pharisees ascribed to the power of the devil, which our Saviour calls Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and a sin unpar
11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magis8 Also I say unto you, Whosotrates and powers, take ye no thought ever shall confess me before men, how or what thing ye shall answer, him shall the Son of man also conor what ye shall say: 12 For the fess before the angels of God; 9 Holy Ghost shall teach you in the But he that denieth me before men, same hour what ye ought to say. shall be denied before the angels of God.
Note here, 1. That not to confess Christ, is in his account to deny him, and to be ashamed of him. 2. That whosoever shall deny or be ashamed of Christ, either in his person, in his gospel, or in his members, for any fear or favour of man, shall with shame be disowned, and eternally rejected
Here our Saviour acquaints his apostles, that for preaching his doctrine, and professing his religion, they should be brought before all sorts of magistrates, and into all kinds of courts; but advises them, when they should be so brought, not to be anxiously thoughtful, or solicitously careful what they should say, for it should be suggested to them by the Holy Ghost, what they should speak
in that hour. Thence note, That though the truth of Christ may be opposed, yet the defenders of it shall never be ashamed; for rather than they shall want a tongue to plead for it, God himself will prompt them by his Holy Spirit, and furnish them with such arguments to defend the truth, as all their adversaries shall not be able to gainsay In that hour the Holy Ghost shall teach you what ye ought to say.
13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
Whilst our Saviour was thus instructing his disciples and the rest of his auditors, in things appertaining to the kingdom of heaven; one of the company being more intent, as it seems, upon his temporal than his eternal concerns, desired him to speak to his brother to divide the inheritance with him. Christ tells him, he would neither be judge nor arbitrator in any civil affairs, or secular concerns. This work, as if Christ had said, belongs to the civil magistrate, to divide inheritances, and decide controversies betwixt man and man; but my work is of another nature, namely, to preach the gospel to a lost world, and to direct men how to secure an inheritance in heaven, not to divide inheritances here on earth. Teaching us, That matters of civil justice do not belong to those whom Christ sends forth to preach the gospel; that work alone is sufficient for them: the proper work of a minister is work enough; one branch of which is to manage a persuading task betwixt neighbour and neighbour, to prevent differences, and to compose them but as Christ's commissioners and ministers of the gospel, they have no authority to intermeddle in eivil judgments: Who made me a judge over you? said our great Master; that is, a judge in civil
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in
the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Our Saviour, upon the occasion given him in the foregoing verses, admonishes all his disciples and followers to take heed
and beware of the sin of covetousness, as
suring them, that neither the comfort nor
continuance of man's life doth consist in an abundance; for though something of this world's goods is necessary to the comfort and happiness of life, yet abundance is not necessary. Here observe, 1. The manner of our Lord's caution: he doubles it; not saying, take heed alone, or beware only; but take heed, and beware, both. This argues that there is a strong inclination in our natures to this sin; the great danger we are in of falling into it, and of what
fatal consequence it is to them in whom the caution, of the sin which our Saviour this sin reigns. Observe, 2. The matter of warns his hearers against, and that is covetousness: Take heed, and beware of covetousness. Where, under the name and notion of covetousness, our Saviour doth not condemn a provident care for the things of this life, nor a regular industry and diligence for obtaining of them, nor every degree of love and affection to them; but by covetousness, is to be understood an eager and insatiable desire after the things of this life, or using unjust ways and means to get or increase an estate; seeking the things of this life with the neglect of things infinitely better, and placing their chief happiness in riches. Observe, 3. The reason of this caution: Because a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Human life is sustained by a little; therefore abundance is not necessary either to the support, or comfort of it. "Tis not a great estate and vast possessions that make a man happy in this world, but a mind suited to our condition, whatever it be.
them, saying, The ground of a cer16 And he spake a parable unto tain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow This will I do : I will pull down my my fruits? 18 And he said, barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided ?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.
The design and scope of our Saviour in this parable, is to show men the vileness and vanity of the sin of covetousness, or an eager and insatiable desire after the things of this world. When men heap up riches, and lay up treasures in this life, taking no care to be rich towards God in faith and good works, our Saviour illustrates this by the parable of a rich man, whom God had blessed with great plenty, yet his desire of more wealth was never satisfied, but he is projecting how he may lay up goods in store for many years. Where note, 1. That the parable doth not intimate any indirect and unjust ways of gain which this man used to increase his estate, but condemns his insatiable desire and thirst after more. So that hence we may learn, That an eager and inordinate desire after the things of this world, though it be free from injustice, and doing wrong to others, is one species, or kind, of the sin of covetousness. Observe, 2. How this rich man looked no farther than himself, not looking upon himself as God's steward, but his own carver; he cries out, What shall I do, because I have no room where to lay my fruits? Not considering that the houses of the poor should have been his granaries for the abundance of his increase. Charity to the necessitous is the best way of bestowing our abundance. God's extraordinary bounty is to be laid out for the relief of others' necessities, not for the gratifying of our own luxurious desires. Observe, 3. The brand of infamy which the wise God fixes upon this covetous rich man : Thou fool, says God. Learn thence, That it is an act and instance of the most egregious folly imaginable, for persons to spend their time and strength in getting and laying up treasure upon earth; in the mean time neglecting to be rich towards God in faith and good works: Thou fool. Observe, 4. The doleful tidings and threatening news brought unto him: This night thy soul shall be required of thee. Learn hence, 1. That a man's wealth is not able to preserve his life, much less to save his soul: and if wealth cannot save a man's life, why should men endanger their lives, nay, hazard their souls, to get or increase wealth? Learn, 2. That God takes away men's lives many times when they least suspect it: This night, says God; many
years, says he. God will not have us think of rest in a place of disquiet, nor of certainty in a condition of inconstancy; we are dependent creatures, and our time is in God's hand: This night shall thy soul be taken away from thee. Learn, 3. That the souls of ungodly men are taken from them by force and compulsion: Thy soul shall be required of thee. Good men have the same reluctances of nature which others have, yet they sweetly resign their souls into the hands of God in a dying hour; whereas a wicked man, though he sometimes dies by his own hand, yet he never dies with the consent of his own will; he chooses rather to eat dust (with the serpent) than to return to dust. Observe, 5. The expostulatory question : Whose then shall those things be, which thou hast provided? Intimating, 1. That they should not be his: a man's wealth lasts no longer than his life, neither has he any longer the comfort of it: lay up gold, and it perishes with thee; but treasure up grace, and it shall accompany thee: Whose shall those things be? Not thine, undoubtedly. 2. As these things shall not be thine, when thou art gone, so thou knowest not whose they shall be after thou art gone; whether they shall fall into the hand of a child or a stranger; of a wise man or a fool: the wealthiest man cannot be certain who shall be his heir, and whose goods his shall be. Observe lastly, The application which our Saviour makes of this parable to his disciples: So is every one that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God. Learn hence, That such as are not rich in grace, rich in good works, shall find no benefit by, and take no comfort in, all their worldly riches in the time of their greatest need, at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment. Learn farther, How brutish and unworthy of a man it was, for this person to cheer up his soul with the hopes of worldly provisions, to bid his soul eat, drink, and be merry. Alas! the soul can no more eat, drink, and be merry with carnal things, than the body can with spiritual and immaterial things: it cannot feed upon bread that perisheth; but bring it to a reconciled God in Christ, to the covenant of grace, and sweet promises of the gospel; set before it the joys and comforts of the Spirit ; and if it be a sanctified and renewed soul, it can make a rich feast upon these. Spiritual things are proper food for spiritual souls; deservedly then is this person
branded with the name of fool, for saying, Soul, thou hast goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, and be merry.
22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more
than meat, and the body is more
than raiment. 24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them. How much much more are ye better than the fowls? 25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? 26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies how they grow; they toil not, they spin not: and yet I say unto you, That Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29 And seek not ve what ye shall eat, or what shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
There is a twofold sense and interpretation given of these verses. 1. Some take them as spoken only to the apostles, directing them absolutely to cast off all care for the things of this life, that so they might attend upon Christ's person, and wholly give up themselves to that work to which he had called them and therefore St. Luke here takes notice, that after he had cautioned his hearers in general against covetousness, he applies himself particularly to his disciples, and tells them, that he would have them so far from this sin of covetousness, that they should not use that ordinary care, and common industry about the things of this life, which is not only lawful but necessary for men in all ordinary cases, verse 22. And he said unto his disciples, There
fore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or drink. But if we understand the words in this sense, we must look upon it only as a temporary command, given to the apostles for that time only; like that in St. Matt. x. 9. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass, in your purses: neither coat nor
which no man ever understood scrip; as a general law to all christians, but as a particular precept to the apostles at that time. 2. Others understand these injunctions of our Saviour to be consistent with a prudent and provident care for the things of this life, not forbidding a regular industry and diligence for the obtaining of them, but condemning only an anxious, vexatious, tormenting care, and an oversolicitous diligence for the things of this life; and taking our Saviour's words for a general and standing rule to all christians, they only forbid distrustful thoughtfulness, distracting cares, which drive a man's mind this way and that way, (like meteors or clouds in the air, as the word signifies.) Now against this vexatious care, and solicitous thoughtfulness, our Saviour propounds many weighty arguments or considerations; four especially. He tells us, such cares are needless, fruitless, heathenish, and brutish. 1. 'Tis needless: Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things, and will certainly provide for you; and what need you take care, and God too? cast your care upon him. 2. 'Tis fruitless: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature? We may sooner by our carping care add a furlong to our grief, than a cubit to our comfort. All our own care, without God's help, will neither feed us when we are hungry, nor nourish us when we are fed. 3. 'Tis heathenish: After all these things do the Gentiles seek, Matt. vi. 32. The ends and objects of a christian's thoughts ought to be higher and more sublime than that of heathens. Lastly, 'Tis brutish, nay, worse than brutish. The birds of the air, the beasts of the field, the ravens of the valley, all are fed and sustained by God, without any care of their own; much more shall his children. Has God a breakfast ready for every little bird that comes chirping out of its nest, and for every beast of the field that comes leaping out of its den; and will he not much more provide for you? Surely, that God that feeds the ravens when they cry, will not starve his children when they pray.