« ZurückWeiter »
by as certain a punishment as these did; 2. Ye shall likewise perish, similitudine pana, by the same kind of punishment; you shall perish by the ruin of your whole city, as they did by the downfall of that tower, if a timely and sincere repentance doth not intervene. Learn hence, That we must judge of persons by their conversation towards God, and not by God's dispensation towards them; all things here fall alike to all. A sudden death, yea, a violent death, as it comes upon many men, so it may come upon the best of men, as well as others: think not, says Christ, that those eighteen were sinners above all that dwelt in Jerusalem, because they suffered such things, I tell you, Nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Teaching us, That repentance is the only way and means to prevent punishment here, and perishing hereafter: Except ye repent, ye shall perish.
6 He spake also this parable A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
Our blessed Saviour, that he might excite the Jews to the practice of the last mentioned duty of repentance, sets forth his long-suffering with them, and forbearance towards them, by the parable of the figtree, which the Master of the vineyard had long expected fruit therefrom, but found none. Where note, 1. The great care that God takes to make poor sinners happy; he plants them in his church, as in a vineyard, that by the cultivating care of his ministers, and the fructifying influences of his Spirit, they may be fruitful in good works. Note, 2. That God keeps an exact account or reckoning, what means and advantages every place and people have enjoyed; These three years have I come seeking fruit, alluding to the three years of his own ministry among them. God keeps a memorial how many years the gospel has been amongst a people, how many ministers they have had, and how long with them, what pathetical exhortations, what pressing admonitions, what cutting reproofs;
all are upon the file, and must be accounted for. Learn, 3. That God expects suitable and proportionable fruit from a people, according to the time of their standing in his vineyard, and answering to the cost and culture which his ministers have expended upon them, and the pains they have taken with them. Note farther, 4. That although God doth and justly may expect fruit from such as are planted, in his vineyard, to wit, the christian church, yet he expects it with much patience and forbearance, waiting from year to year, to see if time will work amendment. These three years I have come seeking fruit, and found none. Lastly, If after all the cost that God has bestowed upon a people by his ministers and ordinances, they continue unfruitful, there is nothing to be expected but excision and final destruction: Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?
him, Lord, let it alone this year 8 And he answering said unto also, till I shall dig about it, and well: and if not, then after that dung it: 9 And if it bear fruit, thou shalt cut it down.
Observe here, 1. The vine-dresser's petition and request, Lord, let it alone this year also. This points out unto us the office and duty of the ministers of God, who are labourers in his vineyard, to be intercessors with God, for sparing a barren and unfruitful people. Lord! spare them a little longer, Let alone this year also. If they cannot absolutely prevent judgment coming upon an unfruitful people, yet they endeavour to respite it, and delay its coming all they can. Observe, 2. The condition upon which the vine-dresser's petition is grounded, Till I shall dig about it, and dung it; phrases which intimate unto us the nature and quality of the ministerial work and service, signifying it to be a very difficult and laborious service. Digging is a painful work, and a spending work: and such is our ministerial work, if followed as it ought to be. We deal in mysteries, in the deep things of God, which are not received without much digging. Observe, 3. A double supposition here made by the vine-dresser: First, Of future fruitfulness; If it bear fruit, well. Secondly, Of future incorrigibleness; If not, after that thou shalt cut it down. 1. Here is a supposition of future fruitfulness; If it bear fruit, well; that is, it will be well
for the Master of the vineyard; herein is he glorified, when his fig-trees bear much fruit: well for the dresser of the vineyard; it rejoices the ministers of God to see their people bring forth fruit unto God: well for the vineyard, and the rest of the trees that are in it but more especially well for the tree itself, thereby avoiding the punishment of barrenness, and procuring the reward of fruitfulness; thus, If it bear fruit, well. Here is a supposition of future incorrigibleness, After that thou shalt cut it down: that is, After thou hast spared it, and I have pruned it; after thy patience and my pains; after thou hast forborne it, and I have manured it, digged, and dunged it; if after all this, it bear no fruit, then I have not a word more to say, Thou shalt cut it down. Thou mayest cut it down, nobody will go about to hinder thee. From hence learn, That a people's continued unfruitfulness under the means of grace, doth in time take off the prayers and intercessions of the ministers of God for them, and provokes God to bring his judgments unavoidably and irrevocably upon them: After that thou shalt cut it down.
10 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath : 11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath-day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work : in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath-day. 15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite! doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? 16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath-day? 17 And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
Observe here, 1. The afflicted person, a woman which had a sore disease inflicted upon her by the devil for eighteen years, which almost bowed her together. There is nothing that the devil delights more in, than the miseries and calamities of man. kind. Satan is not satisfied barely to infect the mind, and poison the souls of men; but he delights to afflict and hurt the body, where and when he can obtain leave. Observe, 2. Christ's compassion towards her, and his miraculous healing of her; Jesus called her to him, and with a word speaking healed her. Where note, That the inveterateness of the disease, and the instantaneousness of the cure, made the miracle evident. She that had been bowed down eighteen years, in an instant is made straight, and only by a word of Christ's mouth. Such a miraculous operation was an evident testimony of his divine mission, that he was the Son of God. Observe, 3. How the heart of the poor woman is affected with Christ's hand: she glorified God; that is, she gave thanks to God, and attributed the miracle to him. As the chief end of all God's extraordinary works, either of power or mercy, is the exaltation of his own glory; so the only way brating his praises, and expressing our own that we can set forth his glory, is by celethankfulness: He that offereth me praises and thanks, glorifies me, Psa. 1. ult. Observe, 4. The unreasonable anger and unjust indignation, which was found with the ruler of the synagogue against our holy Lord for working this miraculous cure on the sabbath-day. There is no person so holy, no action so innocent, but may fall under unjust censure, especially where malice and ignorance are combined. What a severe reflection doth this man make upon our blessed Lord for performing a work of mercy on the sabbath-day! Observe, 5. Our and false accusation; 1. He charges his acLord's vindication of himself from calumny cusers with hypocrisy. Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you loose his ox or his ass from the stall on the sabbath-day, and
water him? It is one note of an hypocrite, to condemn that in another which he doth himself: the Jews held it lawful to loose and lead a beast to watering on the sabbath-day, which was a work of servile labour; and yet would condemn Christ for healing a poor woman only with a word speaking. 2. Christ vindicates his own action, by comparing it with theirs, which they judged lawful on the sabbath-day: Was their loosing and watering the beast a work of necessity? much more was his. Was theirs a work of mercy? his much more. Their compassion was to a brute beast, his to a rational creature, to a woman, and that not a stranger, an heathen woman; but one of their own, a Jewish woman, a daughter of Abraham. Nay, farther, Christ's act was an act of far greater necessity, and more special mercy, than theirs. The beast might live a day without water; the beast might not be sick: but this woman was in sore distress, and had been so for eighteen years; nay, she was in the hands of the enemy of mankind, bound by Satan. Was it not then a greater act of mercy and compassion to loose her, than to lead a beast? Observe, 6. What effect our Lord's vindication of him
self had upon the hearers of it: His adversaries were ashamed, and the people rejoiced, ver. 17. His accusers were ashamed, and probably convinced, perhaps silenced; but we read not that they confessed their error, or acknowledged their unjust censure, or craved Christ's pardon. When persons' judgments are under conviction of an error or mistake, it is very hard to bring themselves to confess and own their mistake, because all men stand very much upon the credit and reputation of their understand. ings, and look upon it as a reproach to own themselves mistaken; though it is really otherwise. But though our Saviour's adversaries were only ashamed, others rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It
is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Our Saviour's design in both these parables, is to keep his disciples and followers from being offended at the small beginnings of his kingdom, and to foretel the future great success of the gospel, notwithstanding the present sinall appearance of the efficacy of it. To this purpose he compares the kingdom of God, that is the gospel-church, to a grain of mustard seed, which being one of the least seeds, yet in that country grew into so large a tree, that the birds did roost and lodge in the boughs of it. He also likens it to leaven, which quickly dif fuses itself through the whole mass and lump, instantly turning a great heap of meal into its own nature. Christ shows hereby of what a spreading nature the doctrine of the gospel would be, notwithstanding all the malice and opposition of wicked men. Learn hence, That how small beginnings soever the gospel had in its first plantation, yet by the fructifying blessing of God, and the influence of the Holy Spirit, it has had, and shall have, a wonderful increase.
ties and villages, teaching, and jour-
Observe here, 1. The unwearied pains and diligence of our holy Lord in preaching and publishing the glad tidings of the gospel to lost sinners: He went through the cities and villages teaching; not in great and populous cities only, but in poor and obscure villages also; not preaching by his exemplary life only, but by his holy doctrine likewise. Let such preachers, who look upon the work of preaching as the least part of their business, consider the indefatigable pains which our Lord took in that work; and how will his diligence shame our negligence! Observe, 2. A curious question put to our Saviour conbe saved, whether they should be few or cerning the number of those that should many: Lord, are there few that be saced? Where note, How curiously inquisitive we naturally are after the knowledge
of things that do not concern us, how forward to pry into unrevealed secrets, and to search into God's hidden counsel; it concerns us rather to understand what sort of persons shall be saved, than how many shall be saved, and to make sure that we be of that sort. Observe, 3. Our Saviour gives no direct answer to the curiosity of this inquiry, but turns his speech from him to the people: Jesus said unto them, strive to enter in at the strait gate, &c. For the clear understanding of which expression we must know, that Christ alludes to the feasts and marriage suppers among the Jews: they that were invited did enter by a gate which was very strait and narrow; and as soon as the invited were once entered, the gate was shut, and opened no more. Here Christ bids them strive to enter into the kingdom of heaven, before the gate is shut against them, and their entrance, by means of their coming too late, be made impossible to them: Strive to enter, &c. for many will seek, &c. Where note, 1. The metaphor which Christ is pleased to set forth heaven, and the happiness of a future state, by; he compares it. to a strait gate to a gate, to denote the possibility of entering; to a strait gate, to denote the difficulty of entrance: a gate supposes the entrance possible, but a strait gate bespeaks the entrance difficult. 2. Here is a duty urged and enforced upon all those that expect the happiness of another life, and desire to enter in at this strait gate, and that is, a diligent and industrious striving: Strive to enter in at the strait gate. 3. We have a forcible argument and motive to excite and quicken us to the practice of this duty, drawn from the paucity, or small number, of those that shall obtain salvation in a dying hour: Many will seek to enter in but shall not be able. Learn thence, 1. That heaven or the happiness of a future state, is attainable. 2. That it is not attainable without labour and difficulty. 3. That all those difficulties may be happily overcome by a diligent and industrious striving.
25 When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are 26 Then shall ye begin to say, We
have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. shall come from the east, and from 29 And they the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
Our Saviour having exhorted all his followers, in the foregoing verses, to make sure of heaven and salvation to themselves, whilst the door of hope and salvation is open to them, by this parable of a master of a family inviting guests to his table, waiting for their coming, and at last shutting the door against them, because they either denied or delayed coming, Christ hereby represented to the Jews the great danger they were in, if they neglected the present season of grace and salvation, which now they did enjoy; telling them farther how little it would profit them at the day of judgment, to allege that they had eaten and drank in his presence, and that they had heard him preach in their streets, if they did not forsake their sins, and obey his gospel. Adding farther, that it would be an heart-piercing sorrow, a soul-rending grief to them at the great day, to see not only the patriarchs and prophets, and other Jews, but even the despised Gentiles from all quarters and nations, whom they thought accursed, admitted into the kingdom of heaven, and themselves eternally shut out: For the last shall be first, and the first
that is, the Gentiles who were afar off shall receive the gospel, when you for rejecting it shall be cast off. From the whole note, 1. That there is a determined time when souls must (if ever) accept of made unto them; now is the door open, the offers of grace and salvation, which are Jesus Christ, who now stands at every one and persons invited in. 2. That ere long of our doors waiting for our compliance with his gospel-terms, will wait no longer
upon us, nor strive any further by the
is the condition of such miserable souls
31 The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. 32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do curse to-day and tomorrow, and the third day I shall
It may seem strange that the Pharisees, who had no kindness for our Saviour, should come here and acquaint him with a danger that he was in from Herod: Get thee hence, for Herod will kill thee. It is probable they had a design to drive him out of the country, because his reputation was so great amongst the people, who were admirers of his person, hearers of his doctrine, and witnesses of his miracles. But what intention soever they had in acquainting Christ with his danger, it is very evident that our Saviour slighted it, by the message which he sent to Herod; Go and tell that for; Where we must not suppose, that our Lord did fix this name of for upon Herod as an opprobrious title, thereby reflecting the least dishonour upon him as a king; but it was as a prophet, to let him know, that being about his Father's work, he feared neither his power nor his policy; neither his cruelty nor his craft; and that nothing should take him off from finishing the work of man's redemption. Learn hence, That when God calls forth any of his servants to any special service for him, all the combined power and policy of the prince of darkness, and his instruments, shall never be able to hinder them, till they have finished their course, and done the service which God designed: I must work to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following; as if Christ had said, "Let Herod know that my time is not in his hand, and, as to this matter, I am not under his command or power; ere long my work will be finished, and then I shall be perfected." Observe here, That to impose this ignominious but agreeable name on Herod, is not contrary to the command, not to speak evil of the ruler of the people; it being the office of a prophet, not to spare kings when they reprove their offences. Accordingly Christ here uses his prophetic call and power, in giving this tyrant a name so suitable to his actions: Go and tell that for, from me, a prophet sent of God, and therefore authorized so to style him, down my life there, not fearing to be killthat I am hastening to Jerusalem to lay ed by him in the way; for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem,