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he should do to inherit eternal life; see § 82, 119. The difficula
The passover at which our Lord was to suffer approaching, he left Ephraim, and went for Jerusalem by the way of Jericho. Soon after his departure, a ruler of the synagogue, or member of the sanhedrim, for the original word signifies both, came running to him by the way, and kneeling down before him, asked him, What he should do to obtain eternal life ? Mark x. 16. And when he was gone forth into the way, 17. There came one run. ning, (Luke, tusice xant, a certain ruler). He expected to have found him in the city of Ephraim; but when he understood that he had just left the place to go to Jerusalem, he ran after him, and coming up with him, he kneeled to him, in token of respect, and asked him, Good master, or, as the words aryals didasxane might better be rendered, Gead teacher, or Infallible doctor, (see on Matt. xxiii. 7,-10. 121.) what shall I do (Matt. what good thing shall I do that I may inherit (Matt. have) eternal life This young ruler in his address pretended to do great honour to Jesus, by kneeling to him, and giving him the title of infallible, and asking him such an important question, with an heir as if he would have acquiesced in his decision, whatever it might be. Nevertheless, the whole was a piece of hypocrisy. For he was so far from believing Jesus to be a teacher from God, or infallible, that he does not seem to have been persuaded of his divine mission, as is evidene from the disposition with which he received our Lord's counsel, “ Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor.” Jesus therefore first of all rebuked him for the flattery and false hood of his address. 18. And Jesus said unto him, Why callest Thou me good teacher, there is none good, i. e. infallible but one, that is God ; xdeus ayados, e fan els, é Jees, there is none infallible but Ged only, for so si jen tas Ines is translated, Mark ii. 7. There
is no teacher good or infallible but God, or those by whom God delivers his will to men; why therefore dost thou use such a ti. ele in speaking to one whom thou dost not believe to be commissioned by God? However, because he had expressed a desire of knowing the way to eternal life, and possessed some virtuous dispositions, Jesus answered his question, by directing him to keep the commandments of the second table of the law, which he mentioned on this occasion, not because they are of greater im. portance than the precepts of the first, but because there is a necessary connection between the duties of piery towards God, and of justice, temperance, and charity, towards men, and because these latter are not so easily counterfeited as the former; see on Matt. XXV. 35. § 123. Matt. xix. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandmenis. 18. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adul. tery, (see on Matt. y. 21,--32. ( 26.) thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness. 19. Honour thy father, and thy another, (see on Mark vii. 10. § 64.) and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; (see on Matt. xxii. 39. $ 119. Mark, Deo fraud not.) 20. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept * from iny youth up, what lack I yet? I have practised all these things from my childhood; pray is there any thing else necessary to render me perfect, in which I am deficient? No doubt the ruler understood these commandments in the lax sense which the doctors put upon them, and which our Lord reprehended in his sermon on the mount; consequently the character he gave of himself might be just. For though he was not a person of the highest probity and virtue, he may have maintain. ed a fair character to the view of men, And as he had acquised that character amidst the temptations of youth, and wealth, and greatness, he was so far praise-worthy, and upon that account might be loved by Jesus. Or he may have been loved by him on account of the sweetness of his disposition, visible even in his countenance; a thing amiable, though found in a character tainted with pride and the love of the world. And to this the words of the evangelist seer best to agree. Mark x. 21. + Then Jesus beholding him, loved him. But notwithstanding the young ruler
* Ver, 20. From my routb , &c.] Ex 11oTTos here should be translate', from my childhood; for he is said to have been but a young man. Matt. xix. 20.
+ Mark X. 21. Turn Jesus beholding him, &c.] This sentence seems to be strained by De Dieu, who, because Psal. Ixxviii, 36. mykancer aora e TW SWUOTI KUTWY, signifies, they praised or fiattered him with their mouths, would have myatycy autov in the evangelist translated, be praised him, viz. ironically, knowing him to be a covetous worldly-minded man. Fostelias thinks the meaning is, that he praised him seriously for the pains he had taken to obey the law : Poisius, that he treated him gently, and did not deal roughly with him.
had maintained a fair character, and was blessed with a lovely sweetness of disposition,' he was not only puffed up with an high opinion of his own righteousness, but altogether faulty in respect of his affection to sensual enjoyments; a sin which perhaps had escaped his own observation. Wherefore Jesus, willing to make him sensible of the secret sore of his mind, touched it gently. To shew him that he lacked a great deal still, and had by no means arrived at that pitch of virtue which he boasted, but was worldly-minded in a great degree, Jesus required him to sell his estate, to distribute the price of it to the poor, and to become a preacher of the gospel, promising him a much greater estate in returri. This the ruler could not refuse to do, if he was the good man he pretended to be, seeing he had in words acknowledged Christ's divine mission, and had desired to know what more, besides obedience to the moral law, was necessary to render him perfect in goodness. Matt. xix. 21. Jesus said unto him, (Luke, ret lackest thou one thing, in reproof of his boasting speech, “ What lack I yet ?") * If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast,
. (Mark, • Ver. 21. If thou wilt be perfect, &c.] On this subject it is proper to ebserve, that the terms of salvation here settled, are not different from those mentioned elsewhere in scripture. For though faith is declared by our Lord himself to be the condition of salvation, it is such a faith as either proceeds from, or influences to the universal righteousness here described : If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. Moreover, the Christian religion being from God, is established upon such solid evidences, that every virtuous person to whom it is offered, will receive it with pleasure. And if any man refuse it, his infidelity can be owing to no other cause but this, that his deeds are' evil. So our Lord himself says expressly, John it. 19. And, therefore, in returning a general answer concerning the terins of salvation, Jesus fitly directed this ruler first of all to a sincere, constant, and universal obedience. And when he replied, that he had arrived at that already, and desired to know if he lacked any thing more, namely, to render him perfectly good, our Lord, who knew that he was not thoroughly tinctured with the principles of virtile, required him to become his disciple, which, as he had acknowledged his divine mission, he could not refuse to do, if he was the man he pretended to be; assuring him, that by this course alone he would be perfect, i. e. demonstrate that he was really possessed of the virtues he laid claim to. At the same time, he let him know, he could not be his disciple, and much less a preacher of the gospel, withoit renouncing his worldly possessions ; because, as matters then stood, the very profession of his religion, and inuch more the preaching of it, would intallibly expose him to the loss of his estate. Here therefore our Lord has declared, that all men to whom the gospel is ofiered, must believe it, and make profession of it, else they cannot be saved ; and that true virtue, wherever it subsists, necessarily leads men to this belief and profession. But he by no means says, tliat Christians must sell their goo's, and give them to the poor. An entire renunciation of the world was necessary indeed is the firatages, when the profession of Christianity, but especially the preaching of it, exposed men to persecution and death; which was the reason that Jesus mentioned it to the ruler as his indispensable duty, especially as he aimed at acquiring the highest degree of goodness. But now that the Clisistian religion is established by law in
(Mark, whatsoever thou hast. Luke, all that thou hast) and give (Luke, distribute) to the poor, (see Luke xii. 33. § 88.) and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: shalt have a much more valuable treasure in the life to come, than that which I advise thee to part with now. Throw away then that load of riches with which thou art cumbered, and come (Mark, take up the cross. See on Luke ix. 23. § 71.) and follow me : become my disciple, and a preacher of the gospel, When the ruler heard that this was necessary to render him perfect in goodness, the point which he pretended to aim at, he was greatly disconcerted; insomuch, that, without making any reply, he went away very sorry; for he had a great estate which he would by no means part with. Matt. xix. 22. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, (Mark, He was sad at thot saying, and quent away grieved. (Luke, He was very sorrowful), for he had great possessions : (Luke, he was very rich.) From the citcumstance of his being called a young man, it is conjectured by some, that this ruler was unmarried, on which account our Lord's command was less grievous to him than if he had had a wife and children.
The behaviour of this ruler affording a melancholy example of the pernicious influence of riches, Jesus thought fit to caution his disciples against the love of them, by declaring with what difficulty rich men become his disciples. The difficulty was next to an impossibility, because rich men commonly trust in their riches, that is to say, place their happiness in the enjoyments which their riches procure for them; and consequently could not easily become his disciples, at least in those early days, when the profession of the gospel exposed men to so much persecution. Luke . xviii. 24. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, (Mark, Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples) How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God ? Matt. xix. 23. Verily I say unto you, that a rich man skall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. Mark x. 24. And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God? Rich men, having ever obtained all the necessaries and superfluities of life by means of their riches, they are apt to consider them as the scurces of their happiness, and to depend upon or trust in them as such, forgetting altogether their dependance on God; see Luke xii. 15,
88. xvi. 25. 96. It is otherwise with the poor. They are exposed to manifold afflictions, and labour under the pressure of continual wants. These serve to convince them of the vanity of
the the world, and to put them in mind of their dependence upon God; at the same time, the unexpected deliverances and supplies which they meet with, rivet the idea more firmly. Wherefore, in the very nature of things, the poor are nearer to the kingdom of God than the rich ; and if the latter, yielding to the temptations of their state, trust in their riches, words can scarce be invented strong enough to paint the difficulty of bringing them to that virtuous temper of mind, which will qualify them for the · kingdom of God. 25. * It is easier for a' camel to go through
many countries, all that our Master requires of us is, that we be in constant readiness to part with the world, and that we actually do so when Cod in his providence calls us thereto. See on Luke xiv. 33. $ 93.
the eye of a needle, (a common proverb among the Jews to express the great difficulty of a thing) than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. The disciples, who were following their Master in expectation of becoming both great and rich, were exceedingly astonished when they heard him declare that it was next to impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. They thought, that if the rich and the great could not enter his kingdom, he never could have any kingdom at all; and therefore they asked one another with great surprise, “Who then can be saved ?" 26. And they were astonished out of measure,
saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? But Jesus, who spake chiefly of rich mens entering into his kingdom on earth at that particular season, replied in return to their private discourses, that though it was impossible for men, by any art of persuasion which they were possessed of, to prevail with the rich to become his subjects at the expence of their estates, it was not impossible for God to do it. 27. And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible. (Luke, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.) The energy of the Divine grace is able to make a man despise the world with all its pleasures, when the eloquence and persuasion of his fellow-meri are not able to do it. Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Joanna, the wife of Chusa, Herod's steward, and Manen, Herod's foster-brother, were remarkable instances of this triumphant power of grace.
This answer, however, did not satisfy the disciples, who no doubt had often thought with pleasure on the honours and pro
• Ver. 25. It is easier for a camel, &c.] Without doubt these strong expressions, in their strictest sense, must be understood of the state of things at that time subsisting. Yet, in some degree, they are applicable to rich men in all ages. The reason is, riches have a woeful influence upon piety in two respects : 1. In the acquisition ; for not to mention the many frauds and other sins that men commit to obtain riches, they occasion an endless variety of cares and anxieties, which draw the affections away from God, 2. They are offensive to piety in the possession ; because if they are hoarded, they never fail to beget covetousness, which is the root of all evil; and if they are enjoyed, they become strong temptations to luxury, and drunkenness, and lust, and pride, and idleness.