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Instructions of Jesus. At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying : 2 Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ? And Jesus
called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, currency, four drachms in the Gre- explained, and which is of value as cian, and about fifty-six cents in our showing the individual authority and own, and therefore sufficent to pay truthfulness of the writers. Matthe tribute of two persons. Here thew states that the disciples first was a miracle, either of knowledge, asked Jesus ; Mark, that he first inor of power, or both. Jesus knew quired of them the subject of their that a certain fish with the money dispute by the way, and that they would first come to Peter's hook, or were silent through shame. Difcaused that it should first come. It ferent periods in the conversation are has been objected, that the miracle referred to, one taking it up at one was wrought for a trifling object, point, and the other at another. and for Jesus' benefit. But it may Who is the greatest. It has been be remarked, that Peter shared the conjectured, that what led to this advantage with his Master, and that rivalry was the approbation shown Jesus was not individually benefited, to Peter, Matt. xvi. 17, 18, and the except in a very small degree, and privilege granted to him, with James that, in a case in which he might and John, of being present at the have pleaded exemption. The mir- raising of the ruler's daughter, acle, also, was calculated for other Luke viii. 51, and at the scene of ends. It would impress Peter, the the transfiguration, Matt. xvii. 1. other disciples, and the tax-gather- Although Jesus, by announcing his ers, with a new proof of the divinity death, had filled his disciples with of Jesus, whose power thus extend- foreboding apprehensions, he had, ed into the depths of the sea, and also, by predictions of his glory, over the animal kingdom. It would excited their ambition. For they, also serve to enforce upon them and probably, supposed he would estabupon all men, the obligation of obey- 'lish his kingdom-after he was raised ing the laws of the government un- from the dead. Acts i. 6. They der which they live, of “submitting disputed which should hold the to every ordinance of man for the highest place in his kingdom, should Lord's sake," and of contributing occupy the first station in his temto the support of the public institu- poral government. Their hearts tions of religion.
were puffed up with ambition.
2. Called a little child, fc. To CHAP. XVIII.
make a deeper impression, he gives 1-5. Parallel to Mark ix. 33 – them a lesson of humility, in the 37, and Luke ix. 46–48.
most touching manner, by a sym1. At the same time. This con- bolical action, a common mode of nects it, in general, with the prece- instruction in the east, of which ding events. Came the disciples there are instances in John xiii. 4, unto Jesus. Here is a slight dis- xx. 22 ; Acts xxi. 11; Rev. xviii. crepancy, which is capable of being 21. Tradition relates, that this
and said : Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and 3 become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this 4 little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name re- 5 ceiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones 6 which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences ! 7
child was Ignatius, afterwards a little ones. This obscures the sense ; celebrated Father and Martyr of the which is, one of the lowly, humble church, but it is very uncertain. followers of Jesus, as is shown by
3. Be converted, fc.i. e. changed the next words. - Which believe in from the state of ambition to humil- me. Or, as expressed in Mark, that ity. Pointing to the child, he said: “ belong to Christ."
There is no There is your model ; if you do not reference to age. - Millstone. The “ fling away ambition,” and be- original is supposed to mean, not come like him, so far from having one of the smaller stones turned by lofty stations in my kingdom, you hand, usually by females, but a large cannot even become members of it one propelled by asses or mules, the at all. The unambitious, unenvying, upper millstone. The punishment and docile temper of childhood stood of drowning here described was in direct contrast with the worldly common amongst the Syrians, and and aspiring spirit of the disciples. Other nations of the east, though it Matt. xix. 14, xx. 26; 1 Cor. xiv. is said not to have existed among 20.
the Jews. Persons were sometimes 4. The same is greatest. He, rolled up in sheets of lead, or tied whose disposition approaches the to stones, thrown into the water, nearest to a simple, childlike spirit, and drowned. The passage signishall be the most eminent of my fies, It were better for him to die, disciples, and shall share first in the or suffer the worst punishment, than advancement and glory of my king- to cause an humble believer, a babe dom.
in Christ, to apostatize and fall. 5. Shall receive one such little child. Yet how many are made to fall from Or, receive with honor and affection virtue and hope by the scandalous one whose character is like that of lives, the hypocritical professions, this little child, in its innocence and the corrupt doctrines, and the superhumility. The Syriac version reads, stitious practices of the so called
one that is as this child." - In Christian world! Let Jew, and my name. For my sake, or as my Mahometan, and Pagan, and Infidel disciple. Matt. xxv. 40. He before declare ; who have been repelled praised the humble ; he now com- from the Great Master on account mends those who respect and love of the absurdities, and inconsistenthem, as showing marks of esteem cies, and abominations of his disto himself.
ciples, and who will rise up as con6-9. Parallel to Mark ix. 41 – 48. demning witnesses against them at
6. Whoso shall offend, i. e. cause the bar of heaven. to offend, or ensnare. One of these 7. Woe. Rather, alas. An ex
For it must needs be that offences come ; but woe to that man 8 by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore, if thy hand or thy
foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee ; it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than, having two hands, or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from
thee ; it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye,
rather than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell-fire. 10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for
I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold 11 the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of 12 Man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? pression of concern and sorrow, one of my humble, childlike discirather than of denunciation. Of- ples. Jesus reverts to the topic in fences. Rendered temptations in the verse 6. - Their angels do always Ethiopic version, i. e. causes of sin. behold the face of my Father. Heb.
- It must needs be. Such is the i. 14. Their angels are high in the constitution and condition of man, Divine favor. It was customary in that it is to be expected that there eastern countries for kings to live will be sin. Taking men as they secluded from common notice. To are, we are to look for offences and behold their face therefore, or to en
Free agency will be abus- joy their presence and society, was ed ; but that does not excuse the a mark of the highest favor. In individual transgressor, for he is re- representing his lowly followers as sponsible for the sin he commits, the under the care of guardian angels, evil he causes to others as well as as a reason why they should be held to himself.
in honor, he refers to a prevalent 8, 9. See note on Matt. v. 29, 30. opinion among the Jews and other Causes of offence come from our- nations, and by this lively figure deselves, as well as from others. But picts the tender, minute care of God it is better to renounce the most cher- over his creatures. Jesus always ished indulgences and sins, though used popular language and imagery it be like dismembering the hand as the most forcible instrument of or the eye, rather than persist in conveying his truth. them at the risk of the most terri- 11. Another reason is assigned, ble consequences, imaged here by why the humble-minded should not everlasting fire. We must deny be despised. The Son of Man came ourselves the inferior gratifications to save them and all who would of a sensual nature, if we would obey him. The greatest Being possess the purest pleasures of the came to save the lowest. That spiritual life, and escape the flames which was lost. Those, who, like of an accusing conscience. To en- sheep, had wandered and strayed ter into life halt or maimed. These from the true fold. Jesus came not figures are not to be pressed too " to call the righteous, but sinners, far, but regarded as adornings of to repentance,” to cure the sick, not the comparison.
the well, to restore the endangered 10. One of these little ones i. e. and the lost, not the strong and safe.
if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And 13 if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so, it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven 14 that one of these little ones should perish.- Moreover, if 15 thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother ; but if he will not hear thee, then take with 16 thee one or two more ; that in the mouth of two or three wit
Therefore be of good cheer, ye who which the foregoing parable is an are heavy-laden with sin and sor- illustration. As if he had said: A row, bewildered and wandering. faithful shepherd is not more conFor it was for persons of just your cerned for the smallest of his flock, condition, that Jesus lived and died. than is your Father that not the
12. How think ye? As if he least of his rational offspring should would appeal to their personal ex- be lost. perience and feelings. He would 15. Thus far Jesus had admonillustrate the compassion of God for ished the offending. He now gives the lost, and his joy at their recove- advice to the offended, and shows ry, by the feelings of the shepherd how they were to treat those who for his flock. The general subject injured them. — Thy brother, i. e. of the preceding verses is here con- thy Christian brother, or thy brother tinued. - Ninety and nine. The use
Go and tell him. Lev. xix. of round numbers of this kind was 17; Luke xvii. 3. Wait not till he common then as now. -Into the comes to you, but be willing to go mountains. These words are con- to him, and expostulate and argue nected in the best authorities with with him kindly, and, if possible, ninety and nine, thus : Doth he not convince him of his fault. Obtain leave the ninety and nine in the redress in private, if it is in your mountains, and go, &c. Luke, xv. power, rather than blazon the mat4, has it, “ in the wilderness,” or ter abroad. Many difficulties arise, uninhabited region.
simply from a misunderstanding, 13. He rejoiceth more of that sheep. which a private interview would In his remarks upon human nature correct. Angry passions would be and its manifestations, our Lord ever less likely to be excited where there shows that he knew what was in were no witnesses to a man's fault
" The nature of joy is to en- and disgrace. The best opportunilarge itself less upon ordinary occa- ty would thus be afforded for reparasions, than upon extraordinary and tion, if wrong had been done. accidental ones." A small, unex- Thou hast gained thy brother. Hast pected favor produces more joy, be- recovered him to the Christian cause more surprise, than a large brotherhood, or regained his confiblessing long possessed.
dence and friendship, and brought 14. It is not the will of your Fa- him back to penitence and virtue. ther, dc. This is the doctrine of 1 Cor. ix. 19.
17 nesses every word may be established. And if he shall ne
glect to hear them, tell it unto the church ; but if he neglect to
hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a 18 publican. —Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind
on earth shall be bound in heaven ; and whatsoever ye shall 19 loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, I say unto
you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of
Father 20. which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered
together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
16 But if this step fails, resort to made to Peter, and now extended a second.
Take with thee one or to all the Apostles, probably with two more, &c. If inclined to deny more particular application to the his fault and resist your remon- case of discipline mentioned in the strance, the presence and advice of last verse. John xx. 23. This verse other persons of confidence and utterly annihilates the Roman Cathweight would control his passions; olic pretensions to authority and intestimony might thus also be borne fallibility, so far as grounded on our to the injury, and to the unsuccess- Savour's commendation of Peter, in ful attempt at reconciliation on the Matt. xvi. 18, 19. Some think an side of the injured party. Allusion answer is here given to the question is made to the Mosaic law. Deut. proposed in the first verse :
" Who xix. 15. - In the mouth. A He is the greatest in the kingdom of brew idiom for by the testimony. heaven?”
I confer 17. Tell it unto the church. Tyn- no peculiar authority on Peter, but dale’s rendering is better, congrega- grant you all an equal power in the tion, for such is its meaning in the administration of my religion. original. The particular religious 19. If two of you shall agree on community or body to which you earth, fc. A strong motive for both belong. This was in conform- union is here presented, that what ity to the usages of the Jews, who they in common asked in the Chrisadmonished offenders in their syna- tian cause, in which they were engogues. As an heathen man and gaged, would be granted. -Any
2 publican. Matt. v. 47. Language thing. Should be every thing, i. e. derived from the conduct of the whatever related to the promulgation Jews towards the Gentiles and tax- of the Gospel. General expressions gatherers. He is to be cut off from are to be limited by the connexion your communion and friendship as a in which they stand. This promise, Christian brother, and is to be re- like the foregoing in verse 18, and garded by you as one of the world the subsequent one in verse 20, is, at large. Still the common offices from the nature of the case, restrictof humanity are not to be denied ed to the Apostles. Acts i. 14-26 ; him. Only rebuke, not revenge or
XV. 1-29. malice, is permitted. Rom. xvi. 17; 20. Gathered together in my name, 2 Thess. iii. 14.
i, e. 'as my disciples, or with my 18. Bind - loose, i. e. forbid and authority, for the sake of my.
relipermit. See note on Matt. xvi. 19. gion. There am I in the midst of Here is a repetition of the promise them. This figurative language is
Jesus says :