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not to feel it; to feel it, and not regard it; to regard it, and yet conceal and hide it. It is not the decent expression of our sorrow then which Christ condemns, but the undue excess and extravagance of it, which our Saviour blames. And the lesson of instruction which we learn from hence is this, that Christians ought to moderate their sorrow for their dead relations, how many afflicting circumstances and aggravations soever do meet together in their death: here was a child, that child a son, that son an only son, that only son carried to the grave in the flower of his age; yet Christ says to the pensive mother, a sorrowful widow, Weep not. Observe, 3. The power of Christ in raising the widow's son to life. The Lord of Life arrests the sergeant Death, and rescues the }. out of his hand. Christ says not, n the name of God, young man, arise; but, I say unto thee, Arise. Christ had a power in himself, and of himself, to command the dead to arise; and the same powerful voice which raised this young man, shall in the last day raise up our dead bodies; for it is as easy for Omnipotency to say, Let them be repaired, as to say at first, Let them be made. The Socinians here own, that Christ raised this young man by a divine power, which God had communicated to him; yet deny him at the same time to be essentially God. But let them prove if they can, that a divine power, which is proper to God alone, ever was, or ever can be, communicated to a creature, without the communication of the divine nature. True, we find St. Peter, Acts ir. 40, commanding Tabitha to arise; but we find all he did was by faith in Christ, and by prayer unto Christ, Acts ir. 34. Jesus Christ healeth thee, arise ; but Christ here raised the widow's son without prayer, purely by his own power; which undeniably proves him to be God. Observe, 4. The reality of the miracle: he sits up, he begins to speak, and is delivered to his mother. Death has no power to hold that man down, whom the Son of God bids rise up : Immediately he that was dead sat up ; and the same power which raised one man, can raise a thousand, a million, a world; no power can raise one man but an almighty power, and that which is almighty can raise all men. It was not so much for the child's sake as the mother's sake, that the son was raised; it was an injury to the son, though a kindness to the mother, for he must twice pass through the gates of death, to others' once; it returned him from rest to labour, from the peaceful harbour, back again to the tempestuous
ocean. Observe, lastly, What effects this miracle had upon the multitude: seeing the divine power thus manifestly exerted, they are filled with astonishment and amazement: they look upon our Saviour with awful and admiring looks; They glorify and praise God for sending a great prophet amongst them, accounting it a great act of favour that God had in this wonderful manner visited his people; yet a prophet was the highest name they could find for him, whom they saw like themselves in shape, but above themselves in power: A great prophet is risen up amongst us, and God hath visited his people.
18 And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things. 19 And |John calling unto him two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another ? 20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come 2 or look we for another? 21 And in the same |hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
About the time of our Saviour's appearing in the world there was a general expectation of a great prince that should come out of Judea, and govern all nations: this prince the Jews called the Messias, or the Anointed, and waited for his appearance. Accordingly, when John the Baptist appeared in the quality of an extraordinary prophet, the Jews sent to know of him, whether he was the Messias or not, John i. 19, he answered that he was not, but only the harbinger and forerunner of the Messias; so that it was very evident that it was not for John's own information that he sent two of his disciples to Christ, to know whether he was the Messias or not; for John was assured of it himself by a voice from heaven atour Saviour's baptism, Matt. iii. ult, but it was
for his disciples' satisfaction that he sent them to Jesus; because John's disciples
were unwilling to acknowledge Christ to be the Messias, out of a great zeal for the honour of him their master; they were not willing to own any person greater than John their master, lest such an acknowledgment should eclipse and cloud him. From whence we may note, How the judgments of the best of men are very apt to be biassed and perverted by faction or interest. No doubt John's disciples were good men, and no doubt their master had often told them, as he did others, that he was not the Messias; yet they will not believe their own master, when they apprehend him to speak against their own interest; for they knew that they must rise and fall in their reputation and esteem, as their master did : therefore that John's disciples might receive full satisfaction from Christ, he sends two of his disciples to him to hear his doctrine, and see his miracles; for John perceiving his disciples to be ill-affected towards our Saviour, and hearing them speak with some envy of his miracles, he sent them to him, that being eye-witnesses of what he did, they might be convinced who he was. Observe next, The way and means which Qur Saviour takes to convince and satisfy John's disciples that he was the true Messias: he appeals to the miracles wrought by himself, and submits those miracles to the judgment and examination of their senses: Go and show John the miracles which you hear and see : the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear. Christ was all this in a literal and spiritual sense also: he was an eye of understanding to the ignorant, a foot of power to the weak, he opened an ear in deaf hearts to receive the word of life, and the poor receive and embrace the gospel. Miracles are the highest attestation, and the greatest external confirmation and evidence, that can be given to the truth and divinity of any doctrine. Now our Saviour's miracles, for their nature, were divine and Godlike; they were healing and beneficial to mankind, freeing men from the greater calamities of human life; for their number, they were many; for the manner of their operation, they were publicly wrought in the sight and view of multitudes of people. To free them from all suspicion of fraud and imposture, he wrought them before his enemies, as well as in the presence of his friends and followers, And this was not done once or twice, or in one place, but at several times, and in several places, wherever he came, and this for a long time, even for three years and a half; so that our blessed Saviour had all the attestation that miracles
can give, to evidence himself the true and promised Messias.
– To the poor the gospel is preached.
The poor hear and receive the gospel. See Matt. xi. 5. Note, That all along, in lour saviour's time and since, the poor of the world have been more disposed to hear and embrace the gospel than other men ; and the reasons of it are these: 1. Because the poor have no worldly interest to engage them to reject Christ and his gospel. The high-priest, the scribes and Pharisees, had a plain worldly interest to engage them to oppose Christ and his doctrine; but the poor were free from these incumbrances and temptations. They had nothing to lose; therefore our Saviour's doctrine went down more easily with them, because it did not contradict | their interest, as it did the interest of those who had great possessions. Those that are poor, and enjoy little of the good things of this life, are willing to entertain the glad tidings of happiness in another life. Such as are in a state of misery here, are glad to understand that it shall be well with them hereafter, and are willing to listen to the good news of a future |o. whereas the rich, who have had their consolation here, are not much concerned what will become of them af. |terwards.
23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
No doubt our Saviour uttered these words with particular, respect and reserence to John's disciples, who, out of an extraordinary zeal for the honour of their master, were prejudiced against our Saviour; but the general import of the words doth show that there are many to whom Christ is a Rock of offence; the Jews were offended at the meanness of his extraction, at the poverty of his parents, at the lowness of his breeding, at his suffering condition; from their traditions they expected the Messias should be a temporal prince, whereas the prophets declared he should be a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: be despised, and put to death. Thus at this day many are of. fended at Christ; some are offended at the asserted divinity of his person, and the meritoriousness of his satisfaction. Some are offended at the sublimity of his doctrine, others at the sanctity and strictness of his laws; some are offended at the free dispensations of his grace; others
that the terms of Christianity are very hard, and lay too great a restraint upon
human nature: but, Blessed is he, says Christ, that shall not be offended at me: intimating, that such as, instead of being offended at Christ, do believe in him, and ground their expectations of heaven and salvation wholly upon him, are in a happy and blessed condition: Blessed is he that shall not be offended in me.
24 And when the messengers of John were departed he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 25 But what went you out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. 26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Our Saviour having given, as we may suppose, full satisfaction to John's disciples and sent them away, he enters upon a large commendation of John himself. Where we have observable, 1. The persons whom he commended John before: not his own disciples, but before the multitude; for John's disciples had too high an opinion of their master already, insomuch, that they envied our Saviour for overshadowing their master: John vii. 26. Behold Christ baptizeth, and all men come unto him. It was a great eye-sore to John's disciples, that Christ had more hearers and followers than their master; therefore not before John's disciples, but before the multitude, is John commended: for as John's disciples had too high, so the multitude had too low, an opinion of John; possibly because of his imprisonment and sufferings. There was a time when the people had high thoughts of John's person and ministry; but being now clouded with sufferings, they disesteen and undervalue him. Learn hence, How vain it is for any men, but especially for the ministers of the gospel, to value themselves by popular applause. The people contemn to-day whom they admired yesterday; he who to-day is cried up, tomorrow is trodden down; the word and ministers are the same, but this proceeds
from the fickleness and inconsistency of the people: nothing is so mutable as the
mind of man; nothing so variable as the
opinion of the multitude. Observe, 2.
The time when our Saviour thus commended John; when he was cast into prison
by Herod. Not when he was in prosperity, when the people flocked after him, when he preached at court, and was reverenced by Herod; but when the giddy multitude had forsaken him; when he was disgraced at court, and had preached himself into a prison; now it is that Christ proclaims his worth, maintains his honour, and tells the people that the world was not worthy of such a preacher. Learn hence, That Christ will evermore stand by, and stick fast unto, his faithful ministers, when all the world forsakes them. Let the world slight and despise them at their pleasure; yet Christ will maintain their honour, and support their cause; as they bear a faithful witness to Christ, so Christ will bear witness to their faithfulness for him. Observe, 3. The commendation itself. Our Saviour commends John for four things! for his constancy, for his sobriety, for his humility, for gospel-ministry. 1. For his constancy: he was not a reed shaken with the wind; that is, a man of an unstable and unsettled judgment, but fixed and steady. 2. For his sobriety, austerity, and high degree of mortification and selfdenial: he was no delicate, voluptuous person, but grave, sober, and severe. He was mortified to the glory and honour, to the ease and pleasure, of the world: John wrought no miracles, but his conversation was almost miraculous, and as effectual as miracles to prevail upon the people. 3. For his humility: John might once have been what he would, the people were ready to cry him up for the Messias, the Christ of God: but John's humble and lowly spirit refuses all: He confessed, and denied not, saying, I am not the Christ, but a poor minister of his, willing, but not worthy, to do him the meanest service. This will commend our ministry to the consciences of our people; when we seek not our own glory, but the glory of Christ. 4. Our Saviour commends John for his clear preaching the gospel, and for his making known the coming of the Messias to the people: He was more than a prophet, because he pointed out Christ more clearly and fully than any of the prophets before him. The ancient prophets beheld Christ afar off, but John saw him face to face. They prophesied of him, he pointed at him, saying, This is he. The clearer any ministry is in discovering of Christ, the more excellent and useful it is.
28 For I say unto you, Among
those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Our Saviour having highly commended John in the former verses, here he sets bounds to the honour of his ministry; adding, that though John was greater than all the prophets that went before him, seeing more of Christ than all of them, yet he saw less than those that came after him. The meanest gospel minister that preaches Christ as come, is to be preferred before all the old prophets who prophesied of Christ to come. That minister who sets forth the life and death, resurrection and ascension, of Christ, is greater in the kingdom of heaven, that is, has an higher office in the church, and a more excellent ministry, than all the prophets, yea, than John himself. The excellency of a ministry consists in the light and clearness of it: now though John's light did exceed all that went before him, yet it fell short of them that came after him; and thus he that was least in the kingdom of grace on earth, much more he that was least in the kingdom of glory in heaven, was greater than John. See note on Matt. x. ll. 29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. These words are our Saviour's farther commendation of John the Baptist; he tells us, That John had two sorts of hear. ers. 1. The common people and publicans. 2. The Pharisees and lawyers: and declares the different effect which John's ministry had upon these two different sorts of persons. As to the former, the common people and the publicans: the common people were accounted by the Jewish doctors as the dregs of mankind, an ignorant and rude mob; the publicans were esteemed notoriously wicked, guilty of great injustice, oppression, and extortion; yet these vile persons were converted sooner than the knowing men of the time, the self-justifying Pharisees and lawyers; for it is said, The publicans were baptized of John, and justified God; that is, they looked upon John as a prophet sent of God; they owned his ministry, received his message, and submitted to o o Those who believe the mesage that God sendeth it, justify Vol. L–39 , and obey it, justify
God; they that do not believe and obey, accuse and condemn God. But of the others it is said, namely, of the Pharisees and lawyers, That they rejected the counsel of God against %. , that is, the revealed will of God: refusing to be baptized of him. This rejecting the counsel of God we are guilty of, when we have low and undervaluing thoughts of Christ and his gospel, when we are ashamed, in times of persecution, to own and profess him, when we stop our ears to the voice of his ministers and messengers, when we submit not ourselves to the reasonable laws and commands of Christ; and this rejection of Christ at the great day, will render our condition worse than the condition of Heathens, that never heard of a Saviour; than the condition of Jews, which crucified their Saviour; yea, than the condition of devils, for whom a Saviour never was intended. Lord! where shall we appear, if we either reject or neglect thy great salvation : The chief thing then observable here, is this, That in rejecting John's baptism and ministry, they are said to reject the counsel of God towards themselves, that is, the gracious design of God in calling them to repentance, by John's ministry; by which refusal they declared, that they approved not of God's counsel as just and right in calling them to repentance, who were such zealots for the law, and so unblameable in their conversation, that it became a proverb amongst them, That if but two persons went to heaven, one of them must be a Pharisee. They therefore judged it an incongruous thing to call such righteous persons to repentance, as they took themselves to be, and to threaten them with ruin who were so dear to God: but the publicans and common people, being conscious to themselves of their sin and guilt, did approve of this counsel which God sent them by his messenger, and submitted to this baptism of repentance, for the remission of sins, to which God by the Baptist now called them.
31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? 32 They are like unto children sitting in the market-place, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drink. ing wine; and ye say, He hath a
2. c 2
devil. 34. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinmers' 35 But Wisdom is justified of all her children. Our blessed Saviour in these words describes the perverse humour of the Pharisees, whom nothing could allure to the embracing of the gospel, neither John's ministry nor Christ's. This our Saviour sets forth two ways, allegorically and o by way of allegory he compares em to sullen children, whom nothing would please, neither mirth normourning; if their fellows piped before them, they would not dance; if they sang mournful songs to them they would not lament: that is, the Pharisees were of such a censorious and capricious humour, that God himself could not please them, although he used variety of means and methods in order to that end. Next our Lord plainly interprets this allegory, by telling them that John came to them neither eating not drinking, that is, not so freely and plentifully as other men, being a very austere and mortified man, both in his diet and habit; all which was designed by God to bring the Pharisees to repentance and amendment of life. But, instead of this, they censure him for having a devil, because he delighted in solitude, and was not so free in conversation as some men, according to the ancient observation, “That he that delighteth in solitude, is either an angel or a devil,” either a wild beast or a god. John being thus rejected, Christ himself comes to them, who being of a free and familiar conversation, not shunning the society of the worst of men, no, not of the Pharisees themselves, but complying with their customs, and accompanying them innocently at their feasts; yet the freedom of our Saviour's conversation displeased them as much as John's reservedness of temper; for they cry, Behold a man gluttonous, a friend of publicans and sinners; Christ's affability towards sinners they account an approbation of their sins; and his sociable disposition, looseness and luxury. Learn hence, That the faithful and zealous ministers of Christ, let their temper and converse be what it will, cannot please the enemies of religion, and the haters of the power of godliness; neither John's austerity, nor Christ's familiarity, could gain upon the Pharisees. It is the duty of the ministers of God, in the course of their ministry, to seek to please all men for their good: but after all our endeavours to please all, if
sers of the gospel.
we strenuously oppose the errors and vices of the times, we shall please but very few. But if God and conscience be of the number of those few, we are safe and happy. Observe, 2. That it has been the old policy of the devil, that he might hinder the success of the gospel, to fill the minds of persons with an invincible prejudice against the ministers and dispenHere the Pharisees are prejudiced unreasonably both against John and against Christ, that the success of both their ministries must be frustrated and disappointed. Observe, 3. That after all the scandalous reproaches cast upon the Christian religion, and the ministers and professors of it, such as are Wisdom's children, wise and good men, will justify religion, that is, approve it in their judgments, honour it in their discourses, and adorn it in their lives: Wisdom is justified of all her children.
36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster-box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
Observe here, 1. The Pharisee's civility and our Saviour's courtesy: the Pharisee invites Christ to eat with him; Christ readily accepts the invitation, never refusing any opportunity for doing good. There is a duty of civil courtesy which we owe to the worst of men: none are so bad but we may soberly eat and drink with them; only let us take care, that if our converse do not make them better, their example may not make us worse. Observe, 2. What an opportunity our Saviour lays hold upon in the Pharisee's house of 'doing good to a sinful woman; who coming to Christ bowed down in a sorrowful sight and sense of her sins, finds an hearty welcome to him, and is dismissed with comfort from him. The history runs thus: Behold, a woman in the
city which was a sinner, that is, a Gentile, say some; a remarkable, notorious, and infamous sinner, say others; probably, a lewd, unclean woman: she is led in with a note of admiration, Behold a woman that