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1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
Ver. 1. He departed thence to teach, &c. ] Never out of action: the end of one good work was with our Saviour the beginning of another. So must it be with ministers: let them never look to rest till they come to heaven; but (as St Paul, that insatiabilis Dei cultor, as Chrysostom called him) teach God’s people publicly and from house to house, incessantly warning every one night and day with tears, Acts 20:20 ; Acts 20:31 . Dr Taylor, martyr, preached not only every Sabbath day and holy day, but whensoever else he could get the people together. So did Bishop Ridley, Bishop Jewel, &c. So did not their successors, once a year was fair with many of them (like the high priest in the law), as if they had concurred in opinion with that Popish bishop, that said, It was too much for any man to preach every Sunday, and that bishops were not ordained to preach, but to sing mass sometimes, leaving all other offices to their suffragans. It is as rare a thing at Rome, said Dr Bassinet, to hear a bishop preach as to see an ass fly. Oh what will these slow bellies do when Christ riseth up? and when he visiteth, how will they answer him? Job 31:14 .
To preach in their cities ] That is, in the cities of his twelve disciples, in the coasts of Galilee, while they were doing the same in Jewry. Maldonate the Jesuit will not have this to be the sense of this text, and only quia, inquit, est hereticorum, because it is the sense that the heretics (as he calls the Protestants) set on it. A goodly thing he holds it to dissent from them, though in a manifest truth. So George, Duke of Saxony, was heard to say, Though I am not ignorant that heresies and abuses are crept into the Church, yet I will never obey the gospel that Luther preacheth. For hatred to the man he would not hearken to the truth he taught. This is to have the faith of Christ "in respect of persons," James 2:1 .
2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
Ver. 2. Now when John had heard in the prison ] "Put this fellow in prison," said Ahab of Micaiah, 1 Kings 22:27 ; who is thought to have been he that told him so barely of letting go Benhadad. So Jeremiah, that concionator admirabilis (as Kerkerman calleth him), was for forty years’ pains and patience cast into a deep and dirty dungeon. a The apostles were often imprisoned: so were the ancient bishops under the ten first persecutions. "From the delectable orchard of the Leonine prison:" so Algerius, the Italian martyr, dates his letter. Within a few days of Queen Mary’s reign, almost all the prisons in England were become right Christian schools and churches. Bocardo, in Oxford, was called a college of quondams or the disposed, Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, and others, being there kept captive. This is merces mundi: look for no better dealing.
a Kerk. Rhet. Ecclesiast. c. ult. λαμπροτατα πραξας αλγεινοτατα επαθεν .
3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
Ver. 3. Art thou he that should come, &c. ] This question the Baptist moved not for his own sake (for he was well assured, and had sufficiently testified, Joh 3:27-36 ), but for his disciples’ better settlement and satisfaction. This, while Tertullian observed not, he hath done the Baptist palpable injury in three different places; as if himself had doubted of the person of Christ. Let not us be troubled to be in like manner mistaken and misjudged.
4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
Ver. 4. Jesus answered and said, &c. ] Our Saviour rated them not, chased them not away from his presence, though zealously affecting their master, but not well, John 3:3-43.3.21 , and envying for his sake, Galatians 4:17 . The man of God must not strive, but be gentle, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, &c.,2 Timothy 2:24; 2 Timothy 2:24 . Friar Alphonsus, a Spaniard, reasoning with Bradford, the martyr, was in a wonderful rage, and spake so high that the whole house rang again, chafing with om et cho, &c. So that if Bradford had been anything hot, one house could not have held them.
Go and show John what things, &c. ] He gives them a real testimony, an ocular demonstration. This was the ready way to win upon them, who might have suspected a simple assertion, not seconded with such undeniable arguments. Let our lives as well as our lips witness for us: Vivite concionibus, concionamini moribus, saith one. Nos non eloquimur magna, sed vivintus, said the Church of old. This is the way to slaughter envy itself, and to reign in the hearts of the righteous.
5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Ver. 5. The blind receive their sight ] Our Saviour seems to say the same to John, that she did to Judah, Genesis 38:25 . Discern, I pray thee, whose works are these. The end of his miracles was the proof of his majesty.
The poor have the gospel, &c. ] Gr. are gospelized ( ευαγγελιζονται ): they not only receive it, but are changed by it, transformed into it.
6 And blessed is he , whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Ver. 6. And blessed is he, &c. ] This he adds, as correcting the preposterous emulation of John’s disciples, who stumbled also at his meanness. Howbeit our Saviour saith not, Cursed be ye for being offended in me; but, Blessed is he, &c. God’s tender lambs must be gently handled. Evangelizatum, non maledictum missus es, said Oecolampadius to Farellus, who was a most excellent preacher, but over carried perhaps sometimes by his zeal for God. Laudo zelum, mode non desideretur mansuetudo, &c. I commend thine earnestness (as he there goeth on), so thou mingle it with mildness. Wine and oil are in their several seasons to be poured into men’s wounds. Show thyself to be a gentle evangelist, and not a tyrannical law maker.
7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
Ver. 7. And as they departed ] Due praise is to be given to the good parts and practices of others; but rather behind their backs than before their faces, lest we be suspected of flattery, than the which nothing is more odious. Aristobulus, the historian, wrote a flattering book of the brave acts of Alexander the Great, and presented it to him. He read it, and then cast it into the river Hydaspes, telling the author that he had deserved to be so served as his book was, Tu dignior eras ut eodem praecipitareris, qui solus me sic pugnantem satias.
A reed shaken with the wind ] A thing of nothing: a worthless, poiseless person. So the Jews esteemed John Baptist after a while, whom at first they so much admired. But he soon grew stale to them, and then they shamefully slighted him, John 5:35 . And did not the Galatians do the like by St Paul? Once they could have pulled out their eyes for him; afterwards they would have pulled out his eyes if they could have come at him. "Where is then the blessedness ye spake of?" saith he; q.d. Once you held and professed yourselves a people much blessed in me, a how come I am now so fallen out of your hearts? But people are overly soon sated with the heavenly manna, and their affections to godly ministers are as Joab’s dagger, as soon in, and as soon out. Principes farebant Luthero, sed iam iterum videtis ingratitudinem mundi erga ministros, said Melancthon.
a Galatians 4:15 , μακαρισμος , Beatitudinis praedicatio. Beza.
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
Ver. 8. A man clothed in softs? ] ειματα ανηρ Which most men gaze at, go after, fawn upon. Hunc homines decorant, quem vestimenta decorant. Herein they resemble those dogs that kept Vulcan’s temple; of which Hospinian tells us that if any came to the temple with brave clothes, they would fawn upon them; but if in ragged, they would tear them in pieces. Such a vanity as this was crept into the Church, James 2:2 . Fulgent fere monilibus, sordent moribus. Cato could say, Cultus magnam curam, magnam virtutis esse incuriam. The Baptist was not a man of that make. His heart and his habit were equally plain, simple. Buchanan seldom cared for a better outside than a rug gown girt close about him.
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
Ver. 9. And more than a prophet ] Because he pointed out Christ with the finger, whom they only saluted afar off. αστασαμενοι , Heb 11:13 Chrysologus calleth him, legis et gratiae fibulam. The hinge of law and grace. Another resembleth him to the angel, that had one foot in the sea and another on the land. The law he resembleth to the sea, which is rough and movable. The gospel to the laud, which is firm and stable, &c.
10 For this is he , of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Ver. 10. Behold, I send my messenger ] Gr. τον αγγελον μου , mine angel. So Phinehas is called an angel, Judges 2:1 . The priest an angel, Ecclesiastes 5:6 . Ministers of the gospel angels,1 Corinthians 11:10; 1 Corinthians 11:10 . Ministers and angels have exchanged names and offices; for are they not all ministering spirits? Hebrews 1:14 . Did not angels first preach the gospel, Luke 2:9-42.2.14 , the ministration whereof is now committed to us? so that if there be a messenger, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his righteousness, then will God be gracious unto him, &c., Job 33:23 .
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Ver. 11. There hath not risen a greater ] Because he was Christ’s immediate forerunner, now the nearer to Christ, the more excellent, as the elements, the higher, the purer. John was beyond all the ancient prophets, both in dignity and doctrine; yet he came behind the evangelists and apostles, not in the dignity of his office, but in the clearness of his doctrine concerning the Messiah, whom he saw present, but neither saw nor heard of suffering, dying, rising again, as they did. Macarius writeth that the prophets knew indeed that Christ should be born into the world for the work of our redemption, but whether or not he should die and rise again, this they knew not. Verum longe errat Macarius, Mararius was far from the truth, saith one. The prophet Isaiah writes of all these more like an evangelist than a prophet, and is therefore called by an ancient, the Evangelical Prophet. Now the Baptist knew more than any prophet; being as the morning star that precedes the sun rising. But how Aristotle should be said to be Christ’s forerunner in natural things, as John Baptist was in supernatural, and that he was certainly saved (all which the divines of Collen affirmed in print, a and showed their reasons), I cannot conceive. And yet Sleidan tells us that in the Council of Trent, the salvation of heathens, by the power of nature only without Christ, was cried up, and afterwards defended by Soto, Vega, and Victoria, as Valentia witnesseth.
a Colonienses edunt librum de salute Aristotelis asseruntque illum fuisse praecursorem Christi in naturalibus.
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Ver. 12. And from the days of John, &c. ] The Baptist is further commended from the good success of his ministry, a sweet seal, but no sure sign of a sanctified preacher; since many causes give that to others, that which themselves have not. Thus the lifeless heaven gives life to various creatures, the dull whetstone sharpens iron. A stinking breath may sound a trumpet with great commendation, &c. Howbeit the fruitfulness of the people is the preacher’s testimonial, 2 Corinthians 3:2 ; and God delights to honour those of most sincerity with most success, as1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Corinthians 15:10 .
The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence ] Men are resolved to have it, whatever pains or peril they pass through. As God’s Israel violently invaded and overran the promised land, so do his elect lay hold on the promised inheritance. This true treasure, hitherto hidden,Romans 16:26; Romans 16:26 , is now discovered and exposed to all that have a mind to it. Now therefore they are carried with all strength of affection after Christ; him they must have, whatever else they go without; towards him they fly as a cloud; and as a flock of doves they scour into the columbary, and rush into the windows, Isaiah 60:8 .
And the violent, &c. ] The valiant, Isaiah calleth them, that break through all difficulties, as did David’s worthies, and walk about the world as so many conquerors: yea, more than conquerors they are, Romans 8:37 , and what can that be but triumphers? 2 Corinthians 2:14 .
Take it by force ] Make a prey or a prize of it. Diripiunt, as Hilary rendereth it, making it a metaphor, from a tower or town sacked and ransacked by the enemy. Cyprus is an island so fruitful and pleasant, that it was anciently called Macaria, that is, blessed. And of it Sextus Rufus writeth, that being famous for riches, it thereby solicited the poverty of the people of Rome to seize upon it. a This may be more fitly said of heaven, that habitation of the happy ones, so eagerly and earnestly sought for by the saints, that nothing else will satisfy them. Valde protestatus sum me nolle sic a Deo satiari, said Luther, when great gifts were sent unto him, and a cardinalship offered him by the pope: God, he said, should not put him off with those petty things, he breathed after better. Heaven is had by the violent, earth inherited by those that are meek,Matthew 5:6; Matthew 5:6 . Where, though God would have his servants content with the least mercies (as being less than the very least), yet not satisfied with the greatest things in the world for their portion, since they are born to better. If they be, as most are, slothful in seeking to possess themselves of heaven, he chides them, as Joshua did the seven tribes for their negligence, Joshua 18:2 .
a Cyprus famosa divitiis paupertatem populi Rom. ut occuparetur, sollicitacit.
13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
Ver. 13. For all the prophets and the law, &c. ] i.e. The ministry of the prophets and the shadows of the law determined in John’s preaching. As for the substance of the law, Christ came not to destroy, but fulfil it, Matthew 5:17-40.5.18 . See Trapp on " Mat 5:17 " See Trapp on " Mat 5:18 "
14 And if ye will receive it , this is Elias, which was for to come.
Ver. 14. This is Elias ] Not the Tishbite, but yet the same that Malachi foretold should come in the "spirit and power of Elias." And surely, if we observe it (as here, Christ saith to the Jews, If ye will receive it), there is a wonderful agreement between the times of Elias and John Baptist, between Ahab and Herod, between Jezebel and Herodias, &c. The Jews also have a saying among them at this day, when they are puzzled in any point, Elias, cum venerit, solvet omnia. When Elijah comes, he will explain everything.
15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Ver. 15. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear ] Let him attentively listen, not with that outward ear only, that gristle that grows upon his head: but let him draw up his heart to his ears, that one sound may pierce both at once. Thus hear, and your souls shall live, Isaiah 4:3 . A heavy ear is a singular judgment, Isaiah 6:10 . The good Hebrews are taxed for their dull hearing, Hebrews 5:11 . Such ears are likely to be forced open by correction, Job 33:16 , and be made hear the rod, Micah 6:9 . So that if they did but see their danger they would do as the prophet requires, "cut their hair and cast it away," under the sense of the horror of God’s heavy displeasure, Jeremiah 7:24 ; Jeremiah 7:29 .
16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
Ver. 16. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? ] So great was the contumacy and obstinace of this perverse people, the Pharisees especially, that the wisdom of God seems to be lacking for a fit word to utter to them, for their better conviction. And do not some such sit before us to this day, as senseless every whit of what is said to them, as the seats they sit on, the pillars they lean to, the dead bodies they tread upon? We may speak to them, alas, till we spit out our lungs, and all to as little purpose as Bede did, when he preached to a heap of stones.
17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
Ver. 17. We have piped unto you, &c. ] It is probable that children in those days were wont to solace themselves with songs in this sort: and thence our Saviour seeks to repress the pride and set forth the sin of his untoward hearers. Fit similes do excellently illustrate: and he is the best preacher, saith Luther, that delivereth himself vernacularly, plainly, trivially: not speaking in a Roman, English, or other lofty language, that the hearers are nothing the wiser for; nor yet puzzling them with scholastic craggy disquisitions, that breed wind, and not nourishment. But so attempering their discourses to the hearers’ capacities, that their desires and endeavours may answer his: as it was between St Paul and the elders of Ephesus, Acts 20:31-44.20.37 . He tells them of his tears, and they answer him with tears: O happy compliance! But most of our hearers are like these in the text, which whether piped to or mourned to, are nothing at all affected.
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
Ver. 18. For John came neither eating, &c. ] So froward men are and gobble up, that no preacher can please them. If he preach plainly, it will seem careless slubbering: if elaborately, curious affectation. And for his life; austere John hath a devil, sociable Christ is a winebibber. And it was the worse, because from scribes and Pharisees, whose word must carry such credit with it, as alone to condemn Christ; and whose life must be a rule to others. Do any of the Pharisees believe in him? In this case duty must be done, however it be construed. Evil men, when they learn to think well, will learn to report well. Let our lives and labours in the Lord’s work confute them: and though they should by their reproaches bury our good names in their throats, those open sepulchres, yet at utmost, when Christ comes to judgment, there shall be a resurrection of names as well as of bodies. "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord," James 5:7 .
And they say he hath a devil ] So Staphylus and Surius said that Luther learned his divinity of the devil. The Jesuits affirm that he was stirred up by the devil, and they were sent out by God to resist him. Himself knew all this, and took it well aworth. Prorsus Satan est Lutherus (saith he in an epistle to Spalatinus), sed Christus vivit et regnat: Amen. He adds his Amen to it.
19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
Ver. 19. The Son of man came eating and drinking ] Teaching us thereby, in the use of things indifferent, to do what we can to preserve our good esteem with others, that we may the sooner prevail with them. This was St Paul’s "all things to all men." He turned himself into all shapes and fashions both of speech and spirit, to win men to God. St Austin spoke broken barbarous Latin to the Roman colonies in Africa, to the end that they might understand him. a "When I come to Rome," saith Ambrose to Monica, "I fast on the Saturday: when I am at Milan I fast not." So you, to what church soever you come, eius morem serva, do as others do; not giving offence carelessly, nor taking offence causelessly. Calvin was cast out of Geneva for refusing to administer the Lord’s supper with wafer cakes or unleavened bread. " De quo postea restitutus nunquam contendendum putavit " (saith Beza in his Life), of which being afterwards restored, he thought best to make no more words, but to yield: though he let them know that he had rather it were otherwise. b Christ sets us to learn of the unjust steward, by all lawful (though he did it by unlawful) means, to maintain our reputation with men. For this defect he noted in the best, when he said, "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light," Luke 16:8 .
But wisdom is justified of her children ] Who all having a right estimate of her worth, do meanly esteem of other courses and discourses, do stand to her, and stickle for her, though never so much slighted by the world. There are those who read it thus, "But wisdom is judged of her children," c viz. the perverse Jews, who preposterously pass sentence upon their mother, whom they should rather vail to, and vote for.
a As Ossum for Os, dolus for dolor, floret for florebit.
b Minime tamen dissimulans quod alioqui esset probaturus. Beza.
c Iudicatur, vel sententia pronunciatur. Camerar. Scultet.
20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
Ver. 20. Then began he to upbraid ] Haply, because these cities, drawn by the authority of the Pharisees, made less account of our Saviour’s doctrine or miracles, by them maliciously depraved and disparaged. The blind led the blind, but both fell into the ditch, though their leaders lay undermost.
Because they repented not ] There is a heart that cannot repent; that hath lost all passive power of coming out of the snare of the devil; that is, become such through long trading in sin, as neither ministry, nor misery, nor miracle, nor mercy can possibly mollify,Romans 2:5; Romans 2:5 . Upon such you may write, "Lord, have mercy upon them." "Oh!" said a reverend man, "if I must be put to my option, I had rather be in hell with a sensible heart than live on earth with a reprobate mind."
21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Ver. 21. Woe unto thee, Chorazin ] These littorals, or those that dwell by the sea coast, are noted to be duri, horridi, immanes, omnium denique pessimi, rough, harsh, thievish, peevish people, and as bad as those that are worst. But that which aggravated these men’s sin, and made it out of measure sinful, was the contempt of the gospel: which, as it is post naufragium tabula, so "how shall they escape that neglect so great salvation?" See that ye shift not off him that speaketh from heaven, &c., μη παραιτησησθε , Hebrews 12:25 . Jerome tells us that Chorazin was in his time turned into a desert, being two miles distant from Capernaum. As for Bethsaida, our Saviour had there hence taken three of his apostles at least, to be lights of the world, but the inhabitants of this town loved darkness rather than light; the apostles, their countrymen, could do no good upon them. Our Saviour therefore would not allow so much as the blind man whom he had cured to be their preacher, but led him to the town’s end, and there restoring him to sight, sent him away.
They would have repented long ago ] Blind heathens, when any misery was upon them, would to their sackcloth and sorrows, thinking thereby to pacify God, and so they rested. In like sort there are among us, that when they are afflicted, especially in conscience, set upon some duty, so to lick themselves whole again, Isaiah 58:5 . They do as crows, that when they are sick give themselves a vomit, by swallowing down some stone, and then they are well. They rest in their repentance: hence Austin saith, "Repentance damns more than sin."
22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
Ver. 22. It shall be more tolerable ] Men are therefore the worse, because they ought to be better: a and shall be deeper in hell, because heaven was offered unto them, but they would not. Ingentia beneficia, flagitia, supplicia, say the Centurists. Good turns aggravate unkindnesses: and men’s offences are increased by their obligations. If Turks and Tartars shall be damned, debauched Christians shall be double damned: because, though they defy not, yet they deny the Lord that bought them; while by their unchristian conversation they tell the world that either there is no such thing as Christ, or if there be, yet that he is but a weak Christ, and that there is no such power in his death, or efficacy in his resurrection, to sanctify those that belong unto him.
a Ideo deteriores sumus quia meliores esse debemus. Salvian.
23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Ver. 23. Which art exalted unto heaven ] viz. In the abundance of the means of grace, many times called the kingdom of heaven: for as the harvest is potentially in the seed, so is eternal life potentially in the ordinances. God sends up and down the world to offer salvation. Hence that phrase, My salvation is gone forth; hence they that reject the word preached are said to judge themselves "unworthy of everlasting life,"Acts 13:46; Acts 13:46 ; hence, while Israel was without a teaching priest, they are said to have been "without the true God," 2 Chronicles 15:3 ; hence the Psalmist makes the blessings that come out of Sion to be better than any other that come out of heaven and earth, Psalms 134:3 .
Shalt be brought down to hell ] With a violence, with a vengeance. As Ahasuerus said of Haman, that so much abused his favour, Hang him on the gallows that is fifty cubits high: so shall God say of such, Plunge them into hell much deeper than others, that while they were on earth set so light by my grace, though it even kneeled unto them, wooing acceptance, 2 Corinthians 5:20 .
It would have remained until this day ] But God rained down hell from heaven upon them, and turned them into ashes, saith Peter; yea, their fire burned to hell, saith Jude.2 Peter 2:6; 2 Peter 2:6 ; Judges 1:7 . Some footsteps of it are yet to be found in the place, as Josephus relateth (B. J. S.), and something also may be read of it in Tacitus and Solinus. Both St Peter and St Jude say, they were set forth for an example, Alterius perditio tua sit cautio. Let their destruction be our instruction; lest heathen Herodotus rise up in judgment against us, who said that the coals and ashes of Troy burned by the Greeks were purposely set before the eyes of men for an example of this rule, that national and notorious sins bring down national and notorious plagues from a sin revenging God, των μεγαλων αδικηματων μεγαλαι εισι και αι τιμωριαι παρα τω θεω ..
24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Ver. 24. It shall be more tolerable ] Infidelity then is, in some respect, a worse sin than sodomy, and a heavier doom abides it. They that suffer least in hell, suffer more than they can either abide or avoid. All they suffer here is but typical of the wrath to come. Here the leaves only fall upon them, as it were, but there the whole trees too. Here they sip of the top of God’s cup, there they must drink the dregs, though it be eternity to the bottom. Howbeit Sodom shall suffer less than Capernaum, mitius punietur Cicero quam Catilina, saith an ancient, non quod bonus, sed quod minus malus. Cicero will be punished more milder than Catiline, not because he was good but because he was less wicked. The beast and the false prophet were cast alive into the burning lake (which imports a most direful and dreadful degree of torment), a when the rest of the antichristian rabble shall be first slain with the sword (not cast in alive) and then thrown to the infernal vultures, to be torn in pieces as a prey,Revelation 19:20-66.19.21; Revelation 19:20-66.19.21 .
a Dirissimum exitii genus. Pareus.
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Ver. 25. At that time Jesus answered ] Here to answer is to continue to speak. Albeit if we compare herewith Luke 10:21 , it may seem to be spoken in answer to the seventy disciples now returning, and relating what they had said and done in their voyage.
" Laetius est quoties magno sibi constat honestum. "
26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
Ver. 26. Even so, Father, for so, &c. ] Christ being tired out, as it were, by the untractableness of his hearers, turns him to his Father, and comforts himself with the consideration of his most wise decree and counsel: so must we in like case, accounting that we are a sweet savour unto God howsoever, even in them that perish, and that God shall have his end upon them, though we have not ours,2 Corinthians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 2:15 .
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him .
Ver. 27. All thinys are delivered unto me ] This the world’s wizards acknowledge not; hence they stand off. But Christ is the Father’s pleni-potentiary and privy counsellor, "unto all that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God,"1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 1:24 , as light as the world makes of him. But the more men see into his worth, the more they will repair to him.
And he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him ] Qui non habet Christum in horoscopo, non habet Deum in medio coeli. Who does not have Christ in time, does not have God in the midst of heaven.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Ver. 28. Come unto me ] Why do ye go about, as Jeremiah Jer 31:22 hath it, and fetch a compass? "Why labour ye for that which satisfieth not?" Isaiah 4:2 ; "Can the son of Jesse give you vineyards and olive yards," &c.? as Saul said; so say I, Can the world or the devil do for you as I can? Why come ye not unto me, that ye may be saved? Can you mend yourselves anywhere? &c. But the poor soul is ready to hang her comforts on every hedge, shift and shark in every bycorner for comfort, and never come at Christ with the hemorrhoids, till all be spent, till she be forsaken of her hopes. Men will not desire Christ, till shaken, Haggai 2:7 .
All ye ] All is a little word, but of large extent. The promises are indefinite, and exclude none. It is not for us to be interlining God’s covenant, and excepting ourselves, however bad, if broken hearted.
That labour ] Even to lassitude ( κοπιωντας ), but to no purpose, labour in the fire where you can make nothing of your labour.
And are heavy laden ] Poised to an inch ( πεφορτισμενοι ), ready to be weighed down to hell with the turn of a scale, with the dust of a balance superadded. Others might have Christ if they would come to him; but till then none will come. Steep thy thoughts in this sweet sentence, thou burdened soul, and come away to the Master (as they said to blind Bartimeus), for, "behold, he calleth thee."
And I will give yon rest ] No rest to the weary soul but in Christ (as the dove found no rest till she returned to the ark). It flies from this thing to that, as the bee doth from flower to flower to get honey, as Saul sought his asses from place to place. But as he found them at home after all, so must we find rest and refreshing in Christ, or not at all. Let him that walketh in darkness, and hath no light, "trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." As for those that will kindle a strange fire, and compass themselves about with the sparks of their own tinderboxes, let them walk while they will in the light of their fire, and in the sparks that they have kindled, but this shall they have of Christ’s hand, they shall lie down in sorrow,Isaiah 50:10-23.50.11; Isaiah 50:10-23.50.11 .
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Ver. 29. Take my yoke upon you ] q.d. Though freed by me from the damning and domineering power of sin, you must not think to live as you wish. In the greatest freedom is the least licence. a To argue from mercy to liberty is the devil’s logic: from mercy to duty is the right reasoning, as Romans 12:1 . Christians must not be yokeless, aweless, masterless, Belialists, that wander at will as wild asses, or canes, αδεσποτοι , but they must yield the obedience of faith, and be adding to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, &c., linking the graces hand in hand as in a dance (so the word signifies, επιχορηγησατε ), 2 Peter 1:5 ; 2 Peter 1:11 , so shall they have an entrance ministered unto them further and further into Christ’s glorious kingdom.
And learn of me ] The Arch-prophet, the Counsellor, that excellent speaker, as he is called in Daniel 8:13 , that came out of the Father’s bosom, and hath his Father’s will at his fingers’ ends. Besides what he taught us by himself and his servants, he hath written for us those excellent things of his law, those lively oracles. He hath also left us, as here, his own practice for a pattern of the rule, and for a complete copy (as St Peter calleth it, υπογραμμον , 1Pe 2:21 ), to write after. Pindarus saith of Hiero Syracusanus, that he had cropped off the tops of all virtues; b Melancthon, of Frederick the elector of Saxony, that he had picked out the flower of all noble abilities and endowments, c The same author proposeth George, Prince of Anhalt, for an example of unparalleled piety, worthy of all men’s imitation. Machiavel sets forth Caesar Borgia (a far worse man) as the only pattern for a prince to express. St Jerome, having read the religious life and death of Hilarion, folding up the book said, Well, Hilarion shall be the champion whom I will imitate, How much rather should we say so of Christ: every one of whose actions, whether moral or mediatory, were for our imitation. In his moral actions we should learn of him by doing as he did,1 Peter 2:23; 1 Peter 2:23 . In his mediatory, by translating that he did to our spiritual life, as to die to sin, live to righteousness, &c.
For I am meek and lowly in heart ] Lo, here is a piece of Christ’s yoke, which he therefore so calleth, because as the yoke maketh the heifer hang down her head and frame to hard labour, so doth humility (the mother of meekness) work in our hearts, Hosea 10:11 . d Ephraim was a heifer used to dance and delight in soft straw, and could not abide to plough: but the Lord will make him (and all his) both bear and draw, and that from their youth up, Lamentations 3:1-25.3.66 . And whereas meekness and lowly mindedness go coupled here together, we must know that they are virtutes collectaneae, as Bernard calleth them, a pair of twin sisters, never asunder. Remember, saith Mr Tyndale to Mr Frith, that as lowliness of mind shall make you high with God, even so meekness of words shall make you sink into the hearts of men.
And ye shall find rest unto your souls ] These Christian virtues have virtutem pacativam, they lodge a sweet calm in the heart, freeing it from perturbations and distempers. A humble man saith, Who am I but I may be despised, abused, injured? And that which will break a passionate man’s heart, will not break a meek man’s sleep. e
a In maxima libertate minima licentia. Salvian
b δρεπων κορυφας αρετων απο πασων .
c Freder. selegit florem ex omnibus virtatibus. Scultet. Annal.
d ταπεινος quasi εδαφεινος , ab εδαφος , terra. Humilitas, ab humo.
e Socrates cum in comoedia taxaretur ridebat: Polyagrus vero seipsum strangulabat. Aelian. 5.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Ver. 30. For my yoke is easy ] a After a man is once used to it a little: he cannot fudge so well with it perhaps at first, because an untamed heifer: but after a while, his commandments will be nothing grievous, "I delight to do thy will, O God," saith David.
And my burden light ] Such as you may as easily bear away as Samson did the gates of Gaza; such as you may well run under, as a horse doth without a load, or a hind upon the mountains. It is no more burden than the wings are to the bird, wherewith it flies aloft where it listeth.
a χρηστος , useful, opposed to πονηρος , painful, tedious.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 11". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent